Maiar Lore The 'Lord of the Rings' Movies Don't Tell You

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Vote up the most interesting pieces of Maiar lore.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy and subsequent Hobbit trilogy detail the world of Middle-earth and its many inhabitants. These include Hobbits, Elves, Orcs, Goblins, Men, and more. In the "more" category, you have beings like Sauron, Saruman, Gandalf, and others who are shown but are barely explained. Who are these people, and how did they get their powers?

While the movies are scant on this information, J.R.R. Tolkien was not. He wrote additional books like The Silmarillion and a plethora of notes explaining as much as possible about the enigmatic characters called the Maiar. This list takes a look at the lore that didn't make it into the movies and details some of the most important Maiar lore the Lord of the Rings movies don't tell you.

Photo: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring / New Line Cinema

  • 1
    162 VOTES

    The Wizards Passed From Sight After The Third Age

    When Sauron was finally defeated at the end of the Third Age, the incarnate Wizards' mission came to an end. Gandalf left Middle-earth, passing over the sea with the Last Riding of the Keepers of the Rings. The Blue Wizards' fate is unknown, as Tolkien barely mentioned them in his writings, though he did say all but one of the Istari failed in their mission (Gandalf being the standout).

    Saruman was overthrown during the War of the Ring and banished from the Istari Order by Gandalf. He eventually attempted to take over the Shire but was slain by a servant, leaving his Maia spirit to wander formless, as he was banished and couldn't return to Aman after his betrayal of Manwë and his original purpose. Radagast never left the wilderness and remained out of sight of Men while continuing to care for the plants and animals of Mirkwood.

    162 votes
  • 2
    179 VOTES

    There Are 16 Named Maiar In Tolkien's Works

    Tolkien didn't go into too much detail concerning the entirety of the Maiar, but he did take the time to name 16 of them. The ones that are known from his work include the following:

    • Arien - The Maiden of Sunlight who was the Guardian of the Sun. She was the second most powerful of all the Maiar.
    • Curumo - Known to the Free Peoples of Middle-earth as Saruman the White.
    • Eönwë - The Chief of the Maiar alongside Ilmarë. He was also the herald and banner-bearer of Manwë.
    • Pallando - Known to the Free Peoples as Rómestámo, or Pallando the Blue. He traveled east before the War of the Ring.
    • Alatar - Known as Morinehtar, or "Darkness-slayer," to the Free Peoples of Middle-earth. He was one of the two Blue Wizards.
    • Aiwendil - Known as Radagast the Brown or the Tender of Beasts. He served the plants and animals of Middle-earth.
    • Mairon - Best known as Sauron or the Abhorred. He was a fallen Maia who sowed disorder and chaos across Middle-earth.
    • Melian - The fourth greatest and most powerful of the Maiar, Melian was also the most beautiful and wise being on Middle-earth.
    • Olórin - Known to the Free Peoples as Gandalf the Grey (later Gandalf the White). He aided the Free Peoples in their fight against Mairon.
    • Salmar - The Maia who created the Ulumúri for his lord Ulmo. They were great conches who produced the music of the sea.
    • Tilion - Known as "The Horned." He was the guardian of the Moon.
    • Uinen - The Lady of the Sea whose name means "Ever Water." She was the third greatest and most powerful Maia.
    • Durin's Bane - The Balrog who dwelled deep within the mines of Moria. He slew Gandalf the Grey and was, in turn, destroyed by him.
    • Gothmog - The Lord of Balrogs during the First Age, who was also the greatest and most powerful Balrog to walk Middle-earth.
    • Ilmarë - Chief among the Maiar, known as Starlight. She was the handmaiden to Queen Varda and was the most powerful of the Maiar.
    • Ossë - A Maia associated with Ulmo who worked as the spirit of the sea.
    179 votes
  • 3
    107 VOTES

    Sauron Followed In The Footsteps Of Morgoth

    With the long-awaited defeat of Morgoth, the people of Middle-earth had some time to rebuild. Unfortunately, his second-in-command wasn't far behind, and about halfway through the Second Age, Sauron approached the Elves in disguise. He called himself Annator, the Lord of Gifts. Through his machinations, he managed to create the Rings of Power and the One Ring.

    Some of the Elves trusted Annator while others didn't, and as a result, Sauron didn't touch the Three Rings forged for the Elves. He wasn't able to control them with the One Ring, so he demanded their return. When the Elves refused, Sauron raised an army of Orcs and Balrogs. This led to the War of the Last Alliance, which saw Men, Elves, and Dwarves join forces. This conflict was briefly mentioned and shown in The Fellowship of the Ring. It concluded when Isildur succeeded in cutting off the One Ring from Sauron's hand, which dispersed his spirit, leaving his army without its master.

    Twelve years of conflict came to an end, as did the Second Age, without the destruction of the One Ring, and as a result, Sauron's spirit remained.

    107 votes
  • 4
    165 VOTES

    Balrogs Were Maiar That Were Nearly Extinct By The Third Age

    Balrogs, also known as Valaraukar, were Maiar who were seduced and corrupted by Melkor (also known as Morgoth, the first Dark Lord). They first dwelled in Utumno, but when Melkor was defeated, they escaped to Angband. They were prevalent during the First Age, but during the War of Wrath that brought that age to an end, most were slain. The ones who remained managed to escape deep into the earth. 

    A Balrog was awakened in 1980 of the Third Age when the Dwarves mined too deep in Moria. It managed to drive them from their land, slaying King Durin VI, earning the name Durin's Bane. When the Fellowship of the Ring passed through Moria, they encountered Durin's Bane as it pursued them to the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. It was there Gandalf the Grey fought the Balrog as they fell into the abyss. When the conflict ended, both were slain, and Gandalf was reborn as Gandalf the White.

    165 votes
  • 5
    143 VOTES

    Gandalf's History Is The Best-Known Of The Istari

    If you only know Gandalf from watching the films, there's a good chance you don't know much about him. On the surface, he is an enigmatic wizard, but he's far more than that. Gandalf was originally called Olórin, dispatched to Arda to help the Valar shape the world. That makes him a near-primordial spirit and a member of the Istari, who are five Maiar spirits specifically sent to aid the Free Peoples of Middle-earth against the rising threat of Sauron.

    Olórin, known as the wisest of the Maiar, was created by Ilúvatar before the Music of the Ainur, making him older than the Eä (Universe). He was particularly fond of the Elves and walked unseen among them, or appeared as one of them for a long time. He was dispatched back to Middle-earth at the dawn of the Third Age to council the Free People, and during this time, he took on the name Gandalf the Grey.

    He remained in this visage as a stranger who visited the many Free People of Middle-earth, yet he was always aware of the danger Sauron's return would induce. After helping to form the Fellowship of the Ring, he fought against a Balrog and emerged as Gandalf the White. He remained as such, replacing Saruman, who joined forces with Sauron during the War of the Ring. When the conflict came to an end, Gandalf joined Frodo, Bilbo, and Elrond, and finished his 2,000 years on Middle-earth, never to be seen again.

    143 votes
  • 6
    130 VOTES

    Five Maiar Became The Incarnated Wizards In The Third Age

    Five Maiar Became The Incarnated Wizards In The Third Age
    Photo: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring / New Line Cinema

    In the Third Age, five Maiar spirits took physical form to become the incarnated Wizards (Istari). They were dispatched with the sole purpose of aiding the Free Peoples of Middle-earth in their fight against Sauron. Each of the wizards was arrayed in a different color, and all of them appeared as old men to those who met them.

    The Heren Istarion, or Order of Wizards, included two Blue Wizards, Alatar and Pallando, who traveled east before the War of the Ring. Radagast the Brown was primarily concerned with the plants and animals of Middle-earth and spent most of his time in Mirkwood.

    Saruman the White and Gandalf the Grey associated themselves more freely with the Free Peoples. Saruman became a wise and respected Wizard, but his pride and jealousy turned him toward Sauron's influence, corrupting him. Gandalf remained true to his purpose and helped the Free Peoples defeat Sauron.

    130 votes