Good topic, but if you want to talk about the entire Arda then I will have to go with my man Tulkas. I big up this Lord so much, back in 2002/03 I used to have intense discussions in the pub with friends over this ass-kicker.
But in the actual Lord of the Rings series... I would say perhaps Bombadil (even tho not alot is said about the character).
Sauron was powerful, but when he is just the eye of sauron then he doesnt do much.
Witchking, Gandalf, Galadriel, Celeborn.... all good contenders
"In the year of our Lord 1314, patriots of Scotland, starving and outnumbered, charged the fields at Bannockburn. They fought like warrior poets. They fought like Scotsmen. And won their freedom."
Greatest who were directly involved in lord of the rings.
1) Tom Bombadil and / or Goldberry. Tom is the master. Much mystery surrounds them, they could even be the great Valar Aule and Yavanna, they could be Maia, or even the personification of Arda or of the great Music. Their true strength is unknown, but It is hard not to give them a high ranking.
2) Sauron. Even without the ruling Ring he was extremely dangerous and powerful. He holds the nine rings and several of the three.
3) Galadriel... a elf maiden... Controversial placement. But the greatest of the high elves still remaining in middle earth. She has been building her power and contesting her will against Sauron - and keeping her mind shut to his. She was also able to capture the light of a Silmaril and trapped it in Frodo's star glass. "Three times Lorien had been assailed from Dol Guldur, but beside the valour of the elven people of that land, the power that dwelt there was too great for any to overcome , unless Sauron had come there himself".
4) Gandalf the white... Potentially more powerful then Galadriel, but his powers are still being limited under the guise of the Istari. He is there to advise, and bring hope not to openly confront the enemy.
5) Saurman the white... overcome and imprisoned Gandalf the Grey .Forged a copy of a ring of power.
6) Glorfindel... A powerful high elven lord, fought and killed a Balrog in the first age. In the appendices it is told how he lead the Elvish forces of Rivendell, the Havens and Lothlorien against the forces of the witch king in the battle of Fornost. The Witch-king fled before him. He was the most powerful of the few eleven lords left in Imladris , he is sent by Elrond in the direction that the Nazgûl are most likely to come, and even holds the Bridge of Mitheithel against several single-handedly.
7) Gandalf the Grey.. More of his powers were being with-held, but still able to defeat the Balrog of Moria. He also had one of the three elven rings.
8) Balrog of Moria. Fiery servant of Morgoth. A maiar which was corrupted to the will of morgoth during the singing of the great music.
9) Shelob. Hard to decide where to place her. Below the Balrog or above Sauron... Last of the brood of Ungoliant. Her brood are the great spiders of Mirkwood. She resides in Mordor but remains indepedent of Sauron and his infleunce. She was not afraid of the light of Eärendil because she has seen it before. She has probably tasted high elf. Due to her relative unimportance to the story, and the fact she got defeated by a enraged hobbit she only made number 9 on the list.
10) Elrond the half elven. A wise and powerful elven lord who kept the elven ring Vilya. He was decedent from Elves, Man and Maiar. The reason behind the low ranking is that his power is in wisdom and council more then open confrontation. One of the mighty rulers of old that remained in Middle Earth.
11) Radagast the brown. Maybe a bit of a pacifist and a coward. But still a Maia if one confined in the body of a old man like the other Istari.
12) Cirdan the shipwright. One of the oldest named elves in Middle-Earth and lord of the havens. He was able to see through the disguise of Annatar (Sauron) and refused him entry to the havens. While advising the elves at Eregion not to forge the rings of power. He recognized Gandalf to be the most wise and powerful of the Istari and gave him the elven ring Narya ""Take now this Ring," he said; "for thy labours and thy cares will be heavy, but in all it will support thee and defend thee from weariness. For this is the Ring of Fire, and herewith, maybe, thou shalt rekindle hearts to the valour of old in a world that grows chill"
13) Thundail, King of Rohan. For one brief moment, he was god-like. " Fey he seemed, or the battle-fury of his fathers ran like new fire in his veins, and he was borne up on Snowmane like a god of old, even as Oromë the Great in the battle of the Valar when the world was young.". He was killed by no forces of Sauron, but by his own Steed, Snowmane a Mearas, decedent of Nahar, horse of the vala Oromë.
Other mentions: High elves in Rivendell and the Havens. Uncertain where they would place. The watcher in the lake outside Moria. The Witch-King (and other nazguls), the other human hero's (Aragorn, Eomer, Faramir, Boromoir, Denethor and prince imrahill), Legolas, Thranduil, Celeborn, Sons of Elrond and other elves of note. Gimli, Dáin II Ironfoot to represent the mighty among the dwarves. For raw physical power the Oliphaunts deserve a mention. Treebeard the leader of the Ents. Last but probably not less Gwaihir the Windlord, greatest of the eagles at the time of Lord of the Rings.
Tom Bombadil is purposely mysterious, so...that whole debate is, in a way, pointless.
At the time of the books, I'd say that Sauron and Galadriel would be the most powerful forces...but Sauron more so, being a Maia. Bombadil's power is limited to the area of the Old Forest where he lives.
Who is Thundail? Théoden was actually killed by the Witch-king...and I don't really understand why you would place him above Aragorn, who is basically supposed to have been better than any other of "men," due to his strict Númenórean and royal heritage...
I think Bombadil is best left aside. I don't personally think he's uber powerful, no more than someone like Gandalf. He wasn't effected by the Ring because of who he was, not because he was so powerful.
There was discussion among the Council of Rivendell to give Bombadil the ring but I think it was Gandalf who pointed out that that was a bad idea on two counts, first Tom probably wouldn't care about the ring and just toss it aside for someone else to find and second because eventually Sauron's forces would come for him. That implies that he's not invincible, or at least the Council didn't think he was.
“Where the longleaf pines are whispering
to him who loved them so.
Where the faint murmurs now dwindling
echo o’er tide and shore."
-A Grave Epitaph in Santa Rosa County, Florida; I wish I could remember the man's name.
Looks like I had Thranduil on my mind when writing that, kind of a mysteriously merged version of Thranduil and Theoden I think
For most of the book Aragorn is more powerful then Theoden. But look at how he was described in his moment of glory.... Only one other character in Tolkien universe gains a description of equal magnitude.
This is Theodens last ride.
I can not think of any other character in LOTR which even approaches such a mighty and valiant description, Any character which is described "even as Oromë the Great" deserves respect. You have to read the Simlarillion to find a equal description. Which was the last ride of Fingolfin probably the greatest elf King of the Noldor.
Theoden was not killed by the Witch-King. The Witch-King did not even touch him.
A quick note on Bombadil.
We also have this quote from I think Glorfindel
""soon or late the Lord of the Rings would learn of its hiding place and would bend all his power toward it. Could that power be defied by Bombadil alone? I think not. I think that in the end, if all else is conquered, Bombadil will fall, Last as he was First; and then Night will come.""
How much the wise truly know about Bombadil is a mystery. But assuming that Glordfindel was correct. "Last as he was first". He would survive after all good is defeated around him. He would be a isolated pocket in a sea of darkness. It sounds like it would take Arda united against him in darkness to finally break him.
While no time frame was giving, after Frodo summoned him his appearance at the barrow seemed instant.
There was a comment "Bombadil's power is limited to the area of the Old Forest where he lives." Yes that is true, but it is Tom who set the boundaries and there is no evidence to suggest that he could not shrink or increase those boundaries if he so choices.
I thought so, but I wanted to make sure. Sorry if I came across strong.
I think it's still safe to say that Théoden was killed by the Witch-king - the terror of the Nazgûl is what reared up Snowmane, after all, and allowed him to be hit...
I understand what you mean about Théoden, but you have to take it with a grain of salt: It's poëtic imagery. In all of Tolkien's works it's made very clear that people of Númenórean descent were wiser, stronger, etc. Aragorn just isn't portrayed in such a martial rôle because he'd already gone through that phase of his life and ended up choosing a more behind-the-scenes path...
I think you're reading too much into that one quote about Bombadil: What Glorfindel is saying is that he would fall to Sauron just as everything else would, although his little land might remain to the end. And I think it's implied that such a survival would be due mostly to his refraining from dealing with Sauron than any great power of his own.
The problem of Bombadil is addressed at the Council: According to the Wise, Bombadil simply doesn't care about all the issues at hand, he wouldn't "understand the need" to keep the Ring and hide it, nor to help everyone else, although he "might do so, if all the free folk of the world begged him."
Also I would undoubtedly rank Gandalf over Galadriel. When he returns he tells Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli that he is the most powerful being in Middle earth they will ever meet unless they meet Sauron himself.
Melkor does not play any part in LOTR, he might get the occasional mention but thats it. Plus he is chained with Angainor and cast through the door of Night into the void where he would remain until the end of time. So he is powerless during LOTR.
Technically Eru plays a large part, but underhanded part which is not directly mentioned. So yeah, he is the most powerful but I feel it is comparable in claiming the player is the most powerful piece in a game of chess.
The Valar, although powerful have their oath not to interfere 'greatly' with the affairs of Middle Earth, so they are fairly powerless to affect change due to their oath. Although, there are plenty of likely examples of them potenitally getting involved (Faramir and Boromirs dream, Frodo's dream, Boromir body surviving the trip down the falls, The wind change which blew away Saurons darkness, Eagles arriving at the final battle, Elronds Flood)
Even Melkor was free of his chain and the void, I still would not consider him the most powerful among the Valar, he has wasted a lot of his inherent energy in corrupting the world and fighting against the Valar, by the time of the War of the Jewels he is a much weaker force then he was at creation.
The strongest in fighting would undoubtedly belong to Tulkas and Orome. Most powerful overall would still be Manwe, Ulmo, Aule, Varda ect.... can not remember their exact placings.
Ancalagon the black has been dead for thousands of years by the time the story started. Not many dragons are still alive by the time LOTR started and none get a mention... Although they are hard to place, they are immensivly powerful creatures, gandalf feared that Smaug would destory Rivendell but he died from a single arrow... Even Glaurung the father of the fire dragons who sacked Nargothrond died from a single well placed blow. So its difficult to place a Dragon, but they have to be amoung the strongest of characters and even equal to the Maiar.
Last edited by Birch_Tree on Jun 24th, 2011 at 04:23 AM
Notice I did not say they were the most powerful characters during the Third Age, or Lord of the Rings timeline, but I said "Of Tolkien's characters". I don't really think you can argue Morgoth's power in the Silmarillion.
"Beneath this mask there's more than Flesh, there is an idea; and ideas are bulletproof."
Notice the thread is about "Most powerful LOTR character". Tolkiens most powerful characters is still a interesting topic, so I am going to continue on.
I agree, its in the text, that Melkor was the most powerful when first descended into the world.
But he squandered his powers corrupting the world "Morgoth's Ring', and by the time of the slaying of the two trees he had lost the ability to change shape, and no longer had the strength to fight off Ungoliant relying on his Balrogs to save him. Although still mighty, he was a shadow of his original glory.
Tolkien wrote in one of his essays " 'Sauron was 'greater', effectively, in the Second Age, than Morgoth at the end of the First. Why? Because, though he was far smaller by stature, he had not fallen so low."
True, however, most people think that all that Tolkien made was The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit. In presuming that this was the case, I opened the gate to establish the all time greats. And you could make a case that Morgoth was a LOTR character based on the 'six degrees of separation"
"Beneath this mask there's more than Flesh, there is an idea; and ideas are bulletproof."