Why speculate about disembodied Nazgul occluding the stars when a Nazgul on a Fell Beast is a better supposition?

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
The class went on at length about the hypothesis that the shadow (seen and felt) flying fast and against the wind, was a disembodied Nazgul not yet returned to Mordor.

The Nazgul have had plenty of time since the Fords of Bruinen to get back to Mordor, get mounted on Fell Beasts, and get back to Hollin.

There is no evidence that the shadow was incorporeal. It says that Frodo 'saw or felt' the shadow. If he saw it, it is not incorporeal, and could easily have been a Fell Beast.

I suggest that a mounted, scouting, Nazgul is a simpler and more straightforward explanation than a lingering disembodied Nazgul.

My suggestion is that Sauron sent one or more mounted Nazgul out to dispatch his spy network out towards Rivendell and environs. It was one of them who sent the crebain. It was one of them that sent the wargs over the mountains. Several of them also made a circuit of Rivendell, and this is one of those heading back.

As first-time readers, it makes much more sense that the Crebain are Sauron's spies than Sarumans (a movie induced fallacy in my opinion). We know that Sauron has spies. We have never heard of Saruman having spies. We know that Sauron has birds and beasts as spies. We have no conception that Saruman can control birds - that is Radagast's job.

So, it's a Nazgul, in my opinion. And a corporeal Nazgul riding on a Fell Beast. And the crebain are Sauron's, not Saruman's.
 

Starfriend

New Member
I agree on you that the shadow was a Nazgul riding Fell Beast, mainly because I'm not convinced that Nazgul can't fly without their mounts, bodied or unbodied. They are still men, and like Balrogs humans have no wings.

I disagree on the Crebain, they live near Saruman and their use as spies seems way too amateurish for Sauron. The great flocks are a sure way to alert everyone that something is up and act accordingly, as the Fellowship does in the event. The hawks Aragorn mentions seem much more likely candidates to be spies of Sauron: they have excellent eyesight and a single hawk is much more likely to stay unnoticed than than plethora huge flocks of crows.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Hi Starfriend,

Good thought that Nazgul, like Balrogs, have no wings!

It is possible that the Crebain have been sent by Saruman, rather than by Sauron.

I am mainly suggesting that this is an unlikely hypothesis for the first-time reader to generate. The first-time reader remembers Elrond saying, "You should fear the many eyes of the servants of Sauron....Soon now his spies on foot and wing will be abroad in the northern lands. Even of the sky above you must beware as you go on your way."

The first-time reader knows that Sauron has spies, both birds and beasts. He has not heard of Saruman having spies, and Elrond has not warned of winged spies of Saruman.

So, I think the logical assumption of the first-time reader is that the Crebain are spies of Sauron.

However, even for those who have read beyond the first-time reader, I think that the Crebain have more likely been sent by Sauron than by Saruman. One would think that if Saruman had Crebain spies, he would have sent them out to scout around the Shire as soon as Gandalf disappeared from the top of his tower. That does not seem to have happened. Sauron, on the other hand, has his agents heading for the Shire (the Nazgul). No need to send out the Crebain. If we assume that Sauron does not know what happened in the Shire or to the Ring until his Nazgul trek back to Mordor. Then assume that he mounts the Nazgul on Fell Beasts, and sends them out to scout around Rivendell, and send out other spies and forces (the Crebain and the Wargs), the timing makes more sense. The Crebain fly because Sauron now knows that the Ring made it to Rivendell, and he wants to know if it is still there or moving. The time from the Nazgul being caught in the flood at the Fords of Bruinen to arriving in Mordor sometime before January 8, being mounted on Fell Beasts, flying back to dispatch spies, and have a look themselves, before returning to Mordor works. There are more than two months between the events at the Ford on October 20, and the flight of the Crebain on January 8. Plenty of time for the Nazgul to get back to Mordor, report, head out again, and launch spies.

If it was Saruman who launched the Crebain, why did he not send them out on September 18, when Gandalf escaped from Orthanc?

I guess it is possible that Saruman launched the Crebain on instruction from Sauron, once Sauron knew that the Ring had been in Rivendell. However, this is an un-necessary complication. Simpler to have them just be Sauron's spies. Also, I very much doubt that Sauron would have wanted Saruman to be aware of exactly where he was searching for the Ring, and particularly would not have wanted information on the whereabouts of the Ring to get back to Saruman via Crebain reports, if they had managed to detect anything. Saruman must be on Sauron's list of people who could be dangerous to him should the Ring fall into their possession. Saruman certainly seems to think so. "The Ruling Ring? If we could command that, then the Power would pass to us."
 

Anthony Lawther

Well-Known Member
Hi Starfriend,

Good thought that Nazgul, like Balrogs, have no wings!

It is possible that the Crebain have been sent by Saruman, rather than by Sauron.

I am mainly suggesting that this is an unlikely hypothesis for the first-time reader to generate. The first-time reader remembers Elrond saying, "You should fear the many eyes of the servants of Sauron....Soon now his spies on foot and wing will be abroad in the northern lands. Even of the sky above you must beware as you go on your way."

The first-time reader knows that Sauron has spies, both birds and beasts. He has not heard of Saruman having spies, and Elrond has not warned of winged spies of Saruman.

So, I think the logical assumption of the first-time reader is that the Crebain are spies of Sauron.

However, even for those who have read beyond the first-time reader, I think that the Crebain have more likely been sent by Sauron than by Saruman. One would think that if Saruman had Crebain spies, he would have sent them out to scout around the Shire as soon as Gandalf disappeared from the top of his tower. That does not seem to have happened. Sauron, on the other hand, has his agents heading for the Shire (the Nazgul). No need to send out the Crebain. If we assume that Sauron does not know what happened in the Shire or to the Ring until his Nazgul trek back to Mordor. Then assume that he mounts the Nazgul on Fell Beasts, and sends them out to scout around Rivendell, and send out other spies and forces (the Crebain and the Wargs), the timing makes more sense. The Crebain fly because Sauron now knows that the Ring made it to Rivendell, and he wants to know if it is still there or moving. The time from the Nazgul being caught in the flood at the Fords of Bruinen to arriving in Mordor sometime before January 8, being mounted on Fell Beasts, flying back to dispatch spies, and have a look themselves, before returning to Mordor works. There are more than two months between the events at the Ford on October 20, and the flight of the Crebain on January 8. Plenty of time for the Nazgul to get back to Mordor, report, head out again, and launch spies.

If it was Saruman who launched the Crebain, why did he not send them out on September 18, when Gandalf escaped from Orthanc?

I guess it is possible that Saruman launched the Crebain on instruction from Sauron, once Sauron knew that the Ring had been in Rivendell. However, this is an un-necessary complication. Simpler to have them just be Sauron's spies. Also, I very much doubt that Sauron would have wanted Saruman to be aware of exactly where he was searching for the Ring, and particularly would not have wanted information on the whereabouts of the Ring to get back to Saruman via Crebain reports, if they had managed to detect anything. Saruman must be on Sauron's list of people who could be dangerous to him should the Ring fall into their possession. Saruman certainly seems to think so. "The Ruling Ring? If we could command that, then the Power would pass to us."
Try this for size:
Gandalf escapes Orthanc, is flown to Rohan and then rides Shadowfax to the Bree-land and the Shire where Saruman already has spies who will likely report Gandalf’s arrival. Apart from getting Shadowfax this is quite predictable, so no need for Crebain spies.

When Gandalf gets to the north he runs around visibly, including a very brief visit to the Shire where Saruman believes Gandalf has stashed the Ring, and then departs east toward Rivendell. This would be consistent with Gandalf recovering the Ring and heading to Rivendell to recruit or eliminate Elrond.

Assuming Saruman’s spies (at least some of whom are working for the Nazgûl) aren’t watching the Lone-lands or the Trollshaws closely, it takes them some time (weeks?) to determine that they should report Gandalf’s disappearance to Saruman.

When Saruman receives this report he considers his options for canvassing all of the land between the area Gandalf was last seen and his most likely destinations: Rivendell, Isengard, or the passes across the mountains to Lothlorien.

I think Saruman is susceptible to the same folly as Sauron: he can’t imagine that, having escaped Orthanc, Gandalf wouldn’t go to the Shire, claim the Ring, and then consolidate his power to defeat first Saruman and then Sauron.
Gandalf with the One will almost certainly defeat Saruman in a direct confrontation, but maybe Gandalf would be unable to defeat a large group of creatures. Crebain, Orcs and Wargs are Saruman’s best options, and at this point the Orcs are being dedicated to attacks on Rohan.
He gathers the Crebain and sends them en masse to hunt down and attack the new Ring Lord, bringing the Ring to Isengard.

No need for Sauron to be involved beyond dispatching the Wargs, the timing of which could have been coincidence or an action of the Nazgûl.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
It is clearly stated the Crebain were natives of Dunland and Fangorn forest and servants of Sarumans.How a disembodied Nazgul should wander the sky and darken a primieval light i do not understand, a living flying being such as a Fellbeast IMHO is a sufficient explanation.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Try this for size:
Gandalf escapes Orthanc, is flown to Rohan and then rides Shadowfax to the Bree-land and the Shire where Saruman already has spies who will likely report Gandalf’s arrival. Apart from getting Shadowfax this is quite predictable, so no need for Crebain spies.

When Gandalf gets to the north he runs around visibly, including a very brief visit to the Shire where Saruman believes Gandalf has stashed the Ring, and then departs east toward Rivendell. This would be consistent with Gandalf recovering the Ring and heading to Rivendell to recruit or eliminate Elrond.

Assuming Saruman’s spies (at least some of whom are working for the Nazgûl) aren’t watching the Lone-lands or the Trollshaws closely, it takes them some time (weeks?) to determine that they should report Gandalf’s disappearance to Saruman.

When Saruman receives this report he considers his options for canvassing all of the land between the area Gandalf was last seen and his most likely destinations: Rivendell, Isengard, or the passes across the mountains to Lothlorien.

I think Saruman is susceptible to the same folly as Sauron: he can’t imagine that, having escaped Orthanc, Gandalf wouldn’t go to the Shire, claim the Ring, and then consolidate his power to defeat first Saruman and then Sauron.
Gandalf with the One will almost certainly defeat Saruman in a direct confrontation, but maybe Gandalf would be unable to defeat a large group of creatures. Crebain, Orcs and Wargs are Saruman’s best options, and at this point the Orcs are being dedicated to attacks on Rohan.
He gathers the Crebain and sends them en masse to hunt down and attack the new Ring Lord, bringing the Ring to Isengard.

No need for Sauron to be involved beyond dispatching the Wargs, the timing of which could have been coincidence or an action of the Nazgûl.
Hi Anthony,

I think your supposition is logical, and represents an alternative to mine that someone who had read the entire book should consider. I believe, however, that it is unlikely to occur to the first-time reader. Such a reader has no reason nor evidence to assume that Saruman has any spies in the Shire. So, although Saruman knows that Gandalf hangs out in the Shire, once Gandalf disappears from Orthanc, Saruman should dispatch Crebain spies (if he has Crebain spies) to cover the Shire and its approaches. He does not. Therefor it is hard for the first-time reader to assume that the Crebain are spies of Saruman.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
It is clearly stated the Crebain were natives of Dunland and Fangorn forest and servants of Sarumans.How a disembodied Nazgul should wander the sky and darken a primieval light i do not understand, a living flying being such as a Fellbeast IMHO is a sufficient explanation.
Hi Haerangil,

You are correct that it is clearly stated (by Aragorn) that the Crebain are natives of Dunland and Fangorn. However, I do not believe that it is stated that they were servants of Saruman. If you have found such a statement, please let me know where.

Dunland and Fangorn are geographically closer to Isengard than to Mordor. This, however, should not necessarily indicate that the Crebain are more likely to belong to Saruman than to Sauron. We have been informed that Sauron will have spies watching the route from Rivendell to the Havens, which is even farther away from Mordor. We know that Sauron's spy network is stated to be very geographically extensive. We have not heard that Saruman has any spies at all. All we know of Saruman's resources is what Gandalf reports seeing from the top of Orthanc, "Wolves and orcs were housed in Isengard, for Saruman was mustering a great force on his own account, in rivalry of Sauron and not in his service yet."

So, we know that Saruman is building forces in Isengard, but we have not heard of any of his forces or agents operating outside of Isengard, and we have not heard that he operates spies of any description.

Meanwhile, we are told (by the Eagle via Gandalf) that Rohan is paying a tribute of horses to Sauron, indicating that Sauron has his agents just as close (in Rohan) to Fangorn and Dunland as Isengard is.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I do not have lotr as a searchable pdf by my hand but i think Treebeards dialogue on Saruman and the Crebain can hardly be understood in any other way.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Hi Haerangil,

I cannot find anywhere that Treebeard links Saruman and the Crebain? Perhaps you are remembering Theoden's comment to Saruman at Orthanc, where he says, "When you hang from a gibbet at your window for the sport of your own crows, I will have peace with you and Orthanc."

So, this indicates that Orthanc had crows. We might possibly infer that Saruman having 'his own crows' indicates that the Crebain also were Saruman's. Still, it is at best a weak inference. More importantly, we have not yet reached this passage, so the first-time reader should not be able to use this possible inference to assume that the Crebain were Saruman's rather than Sauron's.
 

Forodan

Active Member
If it was Saruman who launched the Crebain, why did he not send them out on September 18, when Gandalf escaped from Orthanc?

I guess it is possible that Saruman launched the Crebain on instruction from Sauron, once Sauron knew that the Ring had been in Rivendell. However, this is an un-necessary complication. Simpler to have them just be Sauron's spies. Also, I very much doubt that Sauron would have wanted Saruman to be aware of exactly where he was searching for the Ring, and particularly would not have wanted information on the whereabouts of the Ring to get back to Saruman via Crebain reports, if they had managed to detect anything. Saruman must be on Sauron's list of people who could be dangerous to him should the Ring fall into their possession. Saruman certainly seems to think so. "The Ruling Ring? If we could command that, then the Power would pass to us."
Who's to say he did not send them out when Gandalf escaped? Was anyone in Eregion to see them? No one we meet in the narrative, anyway. This seems unlikely to be a one-off event. He is probably sending them out at regular intervals. Depending on how long it takes them to cover the assigned area, maybe weekly? Since they don't seem to have spotted the company, it is quite likely they flew around the region at least a few more times even after the company had entered Moria.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Who's to say he did not send them out when Gandalf escaped? Was anyone in Eregion to see them? No one we meet in the narrative, anyway. This seems unlikely to be a one-off event. He is probably sending them out at regular intervals. Depending on how long it takes them to cover the assigned area, maybe weekly? Since they don't seem to have spotted the company, it is quite likely they flew around the region at least a few more times even after the company had entered Moria.
Well, Strider and the Hobbits didn't see them, and if they were scouting the Shire or the road in late September or October, they would have.

Then, Elrond sends out scouts covering extensive areas from late October to mid December, and none of them seem to report suspicious Crebain. 'In no region had the messengers discovered any signs or tidings of the Riders or other servants of the Enemy."

I think we have quite a lot of evidence that there was probably no suspicious Crebain activity in the broad environs of Rivendell until the Crebain of early January appear in Hollin.
 
We are, of course, explicitly told that the winged Nazgul will only cross the river for the War. But our source for this is not a particularly reliable one, so I don't think we can reject the idea on that ground alone. It could have been some sort of test flight. But if so, what was it doing? If Sauron believed that a night-flying Nazgul would be able to detect the Ring using its spidey-sense then he was evidently wrong. Frodo remains undetected. In fact part of the idea of the winged Nazgul is that the beasts can see in the daylight and relay their findings to their rider. Sending one out to spy at night therefore either makes no sense or is an experiment that failed.

But also, if the wisp _is_ a flying mounted Nazgul, why is it a unique event? Why is their journey south not dogged by them night and day?

(More generally, everything that happens on this journey to Lothlorien is dogged by these mysteries. Every encounter - the crebain, the wisp, the wargs, Caradhras, the Watcher in the Water, the Balrog - raises the same question: who is working for Saruman, who for Sauron, and who is freelance? But the wisp is the most mysterious of them all. Maybe it was just a cloud :) )
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
"They are not natives here; they are crebain out of Fangorn and Dunland"

"About fifteen leagues, as the crows of Saruman make it,"

"Orcs travel fast. But Saruman has many ways of learning news. Do you remember the birds?’"

"He walks here and there, they say, as an old man hooded and cloaked, very like to Gandalf, as many now recall. His spies slip through every net, and his birds of ill omen are abroad in the sky."

"But the birds became unfriendly and greedy and tore at the trees, and threw the fruit down and did not eat it. Then Orcs came with axes and cut down my trees."

Conjecture but...
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
We are, of course, explicitly told that the winged Nazgul will only cross the river for the War. But our source for this is not a particularly reliable one, so I don't think we can reject the idea on that ground alone. It could have been some sort of test flight. But if so, what was it doing? If Sauron believed that a night-flying Nazgul would be able to detect the Ring using its spidey-sense then he was evidently wrong. Frodo remains undetected. In fact part of the idea of the winged Nazgul is that the beasts can see in the daylight and relay their findings to their rider. Sending one out to spy at night therefore either makes no sense or is an experiment that failed.

But also, if the wisp _is_ a flying mounted Nazgul, why is it a unique event? Why is their journey south not dogged by them night and day?

Hi Gorhendad the Old,

Grishnakh's comment, "Not yet, not yet. He won't let them show themselves across the Great River yet, not too soon. They're for the War - and other purposes." Is made at the very end of February. I don't really doubt that Grishnakh has probably gotten the gist of Sauron's policy correct. However, this is the policy at the end of February. There is no real implication that it was the policy in early January, when the mysterious flying object was discerned. Also, the first-time reader has not yet encountered Grishnakh's comment.

As to why the journey south might not have been dogged by flying Nazgul. A supposition is that the flying Nazgul were sent out chiefly to activate Sauron's spies (Crebain and Wargs - perhaps others) and perhaps to do a quick scout themselves, but primarily to activate other assets and then return to Mordor for war preparations, rather than to continue scouting themselves.
 
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Flammifer

Well-Known Member
"They are not natives here; they are crebain out of Fangorn and Dunland"

"About fifteen leagues, as the crows of Saruman make it,"

"Orcs travel fast. But Saruman has many ways of learning news. Do you remember the birds?’"

"He walks here and there, they say, as an old man hooded and cloaked, very like to Gandalf, as many now recall. His spies slip through every net, and his birds of ill omen are abroad in the sky."

"But the birds became unfriendly and greedy and tore at the trees, and threw the fruit down and did not eat it. Then Orcs came with axes and cut down my trees."

Conjecture but...
Hi Haerangil,

I think that all these quotes, besides the first, come after the mysterious flying thing incident. My conjecture, from my first post has been from the point of view of the first-time reader. "As first-time readers, it makes much more sense that the Crebain are Sauron's spies than Sarumans."

I don't think that the first-time reader is likely to assume that the Crebain are Saruman's. Now, the repeat reader has more evidence to question that initial assumption, and wonder whether the Crebain were Saruman's or Sauron's. However, I think the initial assumption should be that they are Sauron's, and then later evidence might make the reader wonder and see if the Saruman hypothesis fits better. To jump straight to the assumption (as the class did) that the Crebain are Saruman's, is, I suggest, an unjustified jump too far.
 

Anthony Lawther

Well-Known Member
Hi Haerangil,

I think that all these quotes, besides the first, come after the mysterious flying thing incident. My conjecture, from my first post has been from the point of view of the first-time reader. "As first-time readers, it makes much more sense that the Crebain are Sauron's spies than Sarumans."

I don't think that the first-time reader is likely to assume that the Crebain are Saruman's. Now, the repeat reader has more evidence to question that initial assumption, and wonder whether the Crebain were Saruman's or Sauron's. However, I think the initial assumption should be that they are Sauron's, and then later evidence might make the reader wonder and see if the Saruman hypothesis fits better. To jump straight to the assumption (as the class did) that the Crebain are Saruman's, is, I suggest, an unjustified jump too far.
emphasis added

I agree, and the more I think about this, the more I think the first-time reader is likely to be simply mystified rather than drawing a conclusion as to who (if anyone) is controlling the crebain. I think that most first-time readers would simply take what is written at face value and wait for the other shoe to drop.
That helps explain why the general approach of the repeat readers here is 'These are probably Saruman's crebain' rather than 'I was surprised when I first figured out that these were probably Saruman's crebain'
 
When we get there, the discussion of the warg attack is going to be wild. I foresee several episodes on Gandalf's "Hound of Sauron" exclamation alone :)
 
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