- Gandalf, also known as Olorin, is a Maiar and served the most powerful Vala, Manwë, before joining the Fellowship of the Ring.
- He learned empathy from the Valar, particularly from Nienna, which made him stronger and enabled him to succeed where more powerful Wizards failed.
- Gandalf was a member of the White Council, an important advisory and research role, and also mentored Thorin Oakenshield on his quest to reclaim Erebor.
He’s been known by many names, such as Olorin, Stormcrow, and Mithrandir, but should one meet him he would introduce himself as Gandalf. Fans of The Lord of the Rings movies recognize him as a Wizard, but only readers of the books know of his true nature. Gandalf is a being known as a Maiar, which is similar to an angel, and was having epic adventures for thousands of years before he joined the Fellowship of the Ring.
Lord Of The Rings: Gandalf’s 13 Best Quotes From The Movies
Unsurprisingly, Gandalf has plenty of memorable quotes from the Lord of the Rings movies that fans surely remember.
Now that The Hobbit has also been adapted into movies, some of Gandalf’s exploits as a Member of the White Council and a traveling Wizard are part of movie and literary history. His past as a Maia during the Time of the Lamps is more obscure, existing only in literary form thanks to LotR copyright claims. Either way, Gandalf did some amazing things generations before the other members of the Fellowship were even born.
6 The Time Of The Lamps
One Of The Chosen Istari
The Valar were the highest order of beings that lived in Middle-earth, and they had an order of lower beings who served them known as the Maiar. In these ancient days, Gandalf was known as Olórin, and he mainly served the most powerful of them, a Vala called Manwë.
Olórin was different from his fellow Maia in the sense that, even though he served Manwë, he traveled throughout Arda and sought knowledge from the other Valar. He was one of the five Maia selected to travel to Middle-earth, and it was an epic undertaking similar to Elrond sending the Fellowship into the wilderness to destroy the Ring.
5 The Teachings Of Nienna
To Learn Of Mercy And Sorrow
Although he served as the leader of the Vala, Olórin traveled among his peers and learned from them. These included Varda, the queen of the Vala and the spouse of his master, Lórien, who governed the realm of dreams and desires, and Nienna, who taught him about sadness and suffering.
Lord Of The Rings: 6 Things Only Book Readers Know About Gandalf
Gandalf is one of the central characters of The Lord of the Rings, but only book readers know these lesser-known details about the wizard.
Learning empathy might not seem all that impressive, but the fact is, it’s something a lot of people never learn, and all of humanity suffers for it. Tolkien seems to have intended that this knowledge is what made Gandalf stronger, not weaker, which is why he succeeded when more powerful Wizards like Saruman failed.
4 A Member Of The White Council
The Most Powerful Force For Good In Middle-earth
The White Council could be the precursor to the Fellowship of the Ring, but with a membership that included the most powerful and influential magic-users in Middle-earth, as opposed to hardened adventuring types. Gandalf the Grey was added upon Galadriel’s request, and in addition to the other Wizards, the other Elven Ringbearers also had seats at the table.
Gandalf’s role in the Council wasn’t only an important advisory one, but also one of research and diplomacy, communicating with lords and leaders along with combing their libraries, courts, and sometimes even their prisons. There’s a representation of the White Council in The Hobbit movies, but the actual books have very little information on the subject other than exposition after the fact.
3 He Mentors Thorin Oakenshield
Guided And Watched Over The Future King of Erebor
Thorin Oakenshield had already been leading his people for decades, since the destruction of his father’s kingdom under the fire and brimstone of Smaug and the orcs that live in the mountains. He hoped to lead them back to Erebor eventually. It was a chance meeting in Bree that brought him and Gandalf together.
Lord Of The Rings: Worst Things Done By Gandalf
Gandalf is one of the most well-known characters, but even though he seems all powerful, he still has made some terrible mistakes in his time.
It wasn’t completely dumb luck, since the Wizard was concerned about the weakening state of the North with the fall of both the Dwarven kingdom and the human city of Dale. A Dwarf reclaiming of Erebor could weaken Sauron and prevent him from recruiting a powerful dragon into his ranks. In this way, the ultimate goals of Thorin and Gandalf converged, leading Gandalf to spend many years mentoring Thorin.
2 Takes Bilbo On An Adventure
Recruits The Lucky Number
It was a tenuous connection with the adventuring Took bloodline that led Gandalf to Bilbo’s doorstep when he was searching for a “burglar” and a “lucky number.” Tolkien never gets into the finer details of why Gandalf thought that the typically quiet and unassuming Bilbo would have been able to take on a dragon, never mind a forest crowded with giant spiders and hostile elves, but the Stormcrow’s instincts proved correct.
Gandalf might not have lit the adventuring spark in Bilbo, but he certainly kindled it, and it burned strong enough in the heart of our favorite Hobbit to pass it on to another generation. Gandalf seemed to know intuitively that Frodo would have the strength to carry the One Ring, perhaps an effect of the empathy he learned from Nienna.
1 Discovers The One Ring
Bilbo Found It, But Gandalf Discovered It
Bilbo tried to keep his ring a secret from the rest of his companions, but of course, the Wizard figured it out. However, Gandalf didn’t think that the ring Bilbo had found was the One Ring of Sauron. He thought it was just a generic magic ring, which exists in Middle-earth, or at best one of the lesser rings given to the Dwarves, several of which remained lost at the end of the Third Age.
It was only after careful research in several far-flung locations, with the dense and crowded libraries of Minas Tirith being the most famous example, that Gandalf realized what the Ring was. By then, it has been passed to Frodo, and the servants of the Dark Lord were on their way to the Shire to find both it and him.
The Lord of the Rings
- Created by
- J. R. R. Tolkien
- Current Series
- The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
- Where to watch
- HBO Max