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Reviews For Character of the Month Biographies
Thanks for such an interesting biography.
I almost missed it: I didn't see it until I read January newsletter.
Yes, their fate is uncertain, but I prefer to think they worked against Sauron in the East, and helped to diminish his power and influence.
I want to thank you again for writing this. I was in a hurry during copyediting and did not spare much time for the nice things I should have taken the time to say.
This is bio #80 (!!!) for you, and I am constantly in awe of all that you have given and continue to give our site.
This bio, like so many, reminds me of how little I truly known of the canon outside my area of specialization. Of course, I knew who the Blue Wizards were, but most of this information and the sources were unfamiliar to me. I read the "Istari" essay; it was one of the first things I read after finishing the Silm, so that was more than 12 years ago now!
Like Himring, I prefer to think that they accomplished something. Radagast too. It may not have been the drama of overthrowing a Dark Lord, but I believe so strongly that every small kindness and effort toward making the world a better place is worth something. And really isn't that one of the biggest themes of Tolkien? That one does not need to be a hero and win battles to change the world for the better? No ... all of the Istari but Gandalf could not have failed.
I continue to want to do these character bios, because I learn an enormous amount every month, whether I am dealing with totally new areas of canon for me or going over material that I thought I knew like the back of my hand.
I really need to believe that there is no monolith of evil that does not meet some resistance and that every progressive effort has a positive consequence even if it feels like one step forward and two steps back at times. I believe it seems more likely in the context of the Ring War that there could have been mitigating circumstances that kept defeat from being inevitable and it wasn't entirely the Elves (who sort had their heads up their ass most of the time), or the strength of the common people--the Hobbits (the isolation of rural life was Tolkien's pastoral dream, but progress in the real world does not give much evidence of living the dream). Heresy! I like the idea that a certain amount of enlightenment and rational thought could have survived in East. I can see the appeal of Sauron as the Giver of Gifts, but with the gloves off he seems a lot less appealing. Wizards in the East could have done some good without engaging directly with the Elves, Dwarves, and Men to their south and west.
There was a cut frame that appeared in the extended version of LotR, the face of a young, handsome, Easterling warrior, killed in a skirmish with Faramir's rangers near Henneth Annun that tells me that PJ and/or one or more of his writers also picked up that concept from the original texts. These men from the East were not monsters or orcs, but Men, in the case of this beautiful young soldier not unlike the cannon fodder of Tolkien's youth spent in WWI.
Thank you for writing this, Oshun!
I prefer the alternative that the Blue Wizards did achieve something against Sauron, I must say.
The idea that Gandalf only succeeded and everyone else "failed" seems so severe to me and rather black-and-white--as if partial success was not an option.
Thank you so much! I feel that way very strongly as well. In real world history, things are never that black and white. In almost every circumstance of oppression, backwardness, or just bad and scary things happeningl there is an opposition, some are more successful than others, but at the very least they can enable some to hang on so they can fight tomorrow!