Great Eagles


J.R.R. Tolkien



Global Admins
Admin Jobs



            Theme       Basis in the novels
Mechanics       Abilities and characteristics
Demeanor       Noble, selfless, good
Appearance       Size, colour, and eyes
Summation       The conclusion of our studies


The Great Eagles (Thoronath) of Beleriand play a very decisive and prominent role in Professor Tolkien's literary works. Indeed, this race is mentioned numerous times and plays a major role in the overall epic. It is for that reason that player characters belonging to this RRC (Restricted Racial Class) are clearly within the bounds of theme on this MUSH.

It is also important to point out that the Eagles of Beleriand are counted among the most ancient of races and are notably renown as the messengers of Manwë, thus obviously a noble and goodly race (The Silmarillion P. 44 - 45).

The eryies of the Eagles as stated in the texts, are located in the peaks Crissaegrim about the Tumladen Vale (The Silmarillion P. 144 and P. 149).

As taken from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion. Published by Ballantine Books ISBN 0-345-32581-8, Copyright 1977 by George Allen & Unwin (Publishers) Ltd.

P. 44-45
Then Manwë awoke, and he went down to Yavanna upon Ezellohar, and he sat beside her beneath the Two Trees. And Manwë said: 'O Kementári, Eru hath spoken saying: "Do then any of the Valar suppose that I did not hear all the song, even the least sound of the least voice? Behold! When the Children awake, then the thought of Yavanna will awake also, and it will summon spirits from afar, and they will go among the kelvar and the olvar, and some will dwell therein, and be held in reverence, and their anger shall be feared. For a time: while the Firstborn are in thier power, and while the Secondborn are young." But dost thou not now remember, Kementári, that thy thought sang not always alone? Did not thy thought and mine meet also, so that we took wing together like great birds that soar above the clouds? That also shall come to be by the heed of Iluvatar, and before the Children awake there shall go forth with wings like the wind the Eagles of the Lords of the West.'

Then Yavanna was glad, and she stood up, reaching her arms towards the heavens, and she said: 'High shall climb the trees of Kementári, that the Eagles of the King may house therein!'

But Manwë rose also, and it seemed that he stood to such a height that his voice came down to Yavanna as from the paths of the winds.

'Nay,' he said, 'only the trees of Aulë will be tall enough. In the mountains the Eagles shall house, and hear the voices of those who call upon us. But in the forest shall walk the Shepherds of the Trees.'

P. 144
Upon the left hand of Sirion lay East Beleriand, at its widest a hundred leagues from Sirion to Gelion and the borders of Ossiriand; and first, between Sirion and Mindeb, lay the empty land of Dimbar under the peaks of the Crissaegrim, abode of eagles.

P. 149
It has been told how by the guidance of Ulmo Turgon of Nevrast discovered the hidden vale of Tumladen; and that (as was after known) lay east of the upper waters of Sirion, in a ring of mountains tall and sheer, and no living thing came there save the eagles of Thorondor.


In all references throughout the texts cited in the body of this work, the Eagles of Beleriand seem to be referred to as nothing more than very intelligent giant specimens of their lesser cousins.

They can most certainly speak (The Silmarillion P. 281) and are obviously very wise and intelligent since they are known to counsel with kings (The Silmarillion P. 281).

Aside from those aspects their natural abilities (of the more average specimen) seem to be quite common to a lesser eagle.

They can obviously fly at great speeds; 'swifter than the wind' as stated in the texts (The Silmarillion P. 221). In regards to their ability to fly, it must also be noted that even the average specimens of Thorondor's race are quite capable of lifting a full-grown man in flight (The Silmarillion P. 129, P. 186, P. 191 and P. 221, The Lays of Beleriand P. 341).

As well, the Eagles are described as a force to be feared (The Silmarillion P. 343 [Though this reference is taken from a section describing happenings in the Akallabêth, it is important to note the fear associated with the appearance of the flight of the Eagles. Seemingly something that comes from long ages of a well-earned reputation of fierceness in battle. Bear in mind that the setting described in that passage (in regards to the interpretation of the Númenóreans of the red glow being that of the Eagle's anger etc) seems an artistic rendition of the state of the sun and the lighting conditions and is not due to any mystical power of the Eagles.)] and Unfinished Tales P. 45).

In fact, the text describes some of the exploits of the Eagles and how this fierce reputation came about (The Silmarillion P. 312). The text relates the sound victory of the Eagles over the Dragons of Angband, certainly no small feat (The Silmarillion P. 312).

It is also interesting to note that in the text outlined in The Silmarillion P. 312, Professor Tolkien makes no note of the Eagles outnumbering the dragons or vice versa. One may conclude therefore, that the numbers were relatively even in that battle. In that case, one might also conclude that the fighting prowess of an Eagle rivals that of a Dragon. Though perhaps not in raw physical strength, but rather a greater agility in battle.

The final natural ability of the Eagles of Beleriand seems to be their exceptional eyesight. Though here again, there seems no proof in the texts to support that this natural ability is anything more special than that possessed by their smaller, more mundane cousins.

The text makes mention of several instances where men are viewed by the Eagles in their eyries from 'great distances' and so forth (The Silmarillion P. 191, P. 221, and P. 281 and The Lays of Beleriand P. 341). Even still, regular eagles are quite capable of perceiving a mouse in a field at 200 feet (60.96 m). So this ability of the Eagles of Beleriand is not a mystical quality necessarily, but rather something that is inherently natural to the species as with their speed of flight.

Aside from the abilities of the average Eagle in this setting, there are some references that cite the prowess of Thorondor himself, the King of the Eagles of Beleriand.

For example, Thorondor is described as having wounded Morgoth to such an extent that the scar never healed (The Silmarillion P. 186, The Lays of Beleriand P. 341). Obviously Thorondor is a dreadful foe to have in battle if he is capable of wounding Morgoth to such a degree. It can also be surmised therefore, that the average individual among his people, even if they possess even half of his prowess, are well worthy of their fierce aspect attributed to them by their enemies.

As taken from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion. Published by Ballantine Books ISBN 0-345-32581-8, Copyright 1977 by George Allen & Unwin (Publishers) Ltd.

P. 129
And seeing no better hope he cried to Manwë, saying: 'O King to whom all birds are dear, speed now this feathered shaft, and recall some pity for the Noldor in their need!'

His prayer was answered swiftly. For Manwë to whom all birds are dear, and whom they bring news upon Taniquetil from Middle-earth, had sent forth the race of Eagles, commanding them to dwell in the crags of the North, and to keep watch upon Morgoth; for Manwë still had pity for the exiled Elves. And the Eagles brought news of much that passed in those days to the sad ears of Manwë. Now, even as Fingon bent his bow, there flew down from the high airs Thorondor, King of Eagles, mightiest of all birds that have ever been, whose outstretched wings spanned thirty fathoms; and staying Fingon's hand he took him up, and bore him to the face of the rock where Maedhros hung.

P. 186
And Morgoth took the body of the Elven-king and broke it, and would cast it to his wolves; but Thorondor came hasting from his eyrie among the peaks of the Crissaegrim, and he stooped upon Morgoth and marred his face. The rushing of the wings of Thorondor was like the noise of the winds of Manwë, and he seized the body in his mighty talons, and soaring suddenly above the darts of the Orcs he bore the King away. And he laid him upon a mountain-top that looked from the north upon the hidden valley of Gondolin; and Turgon coming built a high cairn over his father. No Orc dared ever after to pass over the mount of Fingolfin or draw nigh his tomb, until the doom of Gondolin was come and treachery was born among his kin. Morgoth went ever halt of one foot after that day, and the pain of his wounds could not be healed; and in his face was the scar that Thorondor made.

P. 191
There Thorondor espided them, and he sent two of his eagles to their aid; and the eagles bore them up and brought them beyond the Encircling Mountains to the secret vale of Tumladen and the hidden city of Gondolin, which no Man yet had seen.

P. 221
Thus the quest of the Silmaril was like to have ended in ruin and despair; but in that hour above the wall of the valley three mighty birds appeared, flying northward with wings swifter than the wind. Among all birds and beasts the wandering and need of Beren had been noised, and Huan himself had bidden all things watch, that they might bring him aid. High above the realm of Morgoth Thorondor and his vassals soared, and seeing now the madness of the Wolf and Beren's fall they came swiftly down, even as the powers of Angband were released from the toils of sleep.

Then they lifted up Luthien and Beren from the earth, and bore them aloft into the clouds. Below them suddenly thunder rolled, lightenings leaped upward, and the mountains quaked.

P. 281
But the watch of the great eagles was now redoubled, and they marked Hurin well, far below, forlorn in the fading light; and straightway Thorondor himself, since the tidings seemed great, brought word to Turgon. But Turgon said: 'Does Morgoth sleep? You were mistaken.'

'Not so,' said Thorondor. 'If the Eagles of Manwë were wont to err thus, then long ago, lord, your bidding would have been in vain.

P. 312
Then, seeing that his hosts were overthrown and his power dispersed, Morgoth quailed, and he dared not to come forth himself. But he loosed upon his foes the last desperate assault that he had prepared, and out of the pits of Angband there issued the winged dragons, that had not before been seen; and so sudden and ruinous was the onset of that dreadful fleet that the host of the Valar was driven back, for the coming of the dragons was with great thunder, and lightening, and a tempest of fire.

But Earendil came, shining with white flame, and about Vingilot were gathered all the great birds of heaven and Thorondor was their captain, and there was battle in the air all the day and through the dark night of doubt. Before the rising of the sun Earendil slew Ancalagon the Black, the mightiest of the dragon-host, and cast him from the sky; and he fell upon the towers of Thanggorodrin, and they were broken in his ruin. Then the sun rose, and the host of the Valar prevailed, and well-nigh all the dragons were destroyed; and all the pits of Morgoth were broken and unroofed, and the might of the Valar decended into the deeps of the earth.

P. 343
Then the Eagles of the Lords of the West came up out of the dayfall, and they were arrayed as for battle, advancing in a line the end of which diminished beyond sight; and as they came their wings spread ever wider, grasping the sky. But the West burned red behind them, and they glowed beneath, as though they were lit with a flame of great anger, so that all Numenor was illuminated as with a smouldering fire; and men looked upon the faces of their fellows, and it seemed to them that they were red with wrath.

As taken from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lays of Beleriand. Published by Ballantine Books ISBN 0-345-38818-6, Copyright 1985 by Frank Richard Williamson and Christopher Reuel Tolkien.

P. 341 (line 3611)
Lo! from throne
that Manwë bade him build on high,
on peak unscaled beneath the sky,
Morgoth to watch, now down there swooped
Thorondor the King of Eagles, stooped,
and rending beak of gold he smote
in Bauglir's face, then up did float
on pinions thirty fathoms wide
bearing away, though loud they cried,
the mighty corse, the Elven-king;
and where the mountains make a ring,
far to the south about that plain
where after Gondolin did reign,
embattled city, at great height
upon a dizzy snowcap white
in mounded cairn the mighty dead
he laid upon the mountain's head.
Never Orc nor demon after dared
that pass to climb, o'er which there started
Fingolfin's high and holy tomb,
till Gondolin's appointed doom.

Thus Bauglir earned the furrowed scar
that his dark countenance doth mar,
and thus his limping gait he gained;
but afterward profound he reigned
darkling upon his hidden throne;
and thunderous paced his halls of stone,
slow building there his vast design
the world in thraldom to confine.

As taken from Unfinished Tales. Published by Ballantine Books (first published by Houghton Mifflin Company) ISBN 0-345-35711-6, Copyright 1980 by George Allen & Unwin publishers Ltd.

P. 45
"Short is the sight of mortal men!" said Voronwë. "I see the Eagles of the Crissaegrim; and they are coming hither. Watch a while!"

Then Tuor stood at gaze; and soon high in the air he saw three shapes beating on strong wings down from the distant mountain-peaks now wreathed again in cloud. Slowly they descended in great circles, and then stooped suddenly upon the wayfarers; but before Voronwë could call to them they turned with a wide sweep and rush, and flew northward along the line of the river.

"Now let us go," said Voronwë. "If there be any Orc nearby, he will lie cowering nose to ground, until the eagles have gone far away."


The Eagles, ruled by Thorondor, are well noted to be a goodly race and no friends of evil (The Book of Lost Tales, Part II P. 193). All of their efforts throughout the texts are certainly undertaken on the side of good.

Similarly, there are noble and selfless acts depicted in the texts as when Thorondor endangers himself to retrieve the body of Fingolfin after he has been slain (The Silmarillion P. 186 and The Lays of Beleriand P. 341).

As taken from The Book of Lost Tales, Part II ISBN 0-345-37522-X, Copyright 1984 by Frank Richard Williamson and Christopher Ruel Tolkien.

P. 193
Then arose Thorondor, King of Eagles, and he loved not Melko, for Melko had caught many of his kindred and chained them against sharp rocks to squeeze from them the magic words whereby he might learn to fly (for he dreamed of contending even against Manwë in the air); and when they would not tell he cut off their wings and sought to fashion therefrom a mighty pair for his use, but it availed not.


In this regard there seems nothing in the texts to fully describe an Eagle, except to say that Thorondor has a 'golden beak' (The Lays of Beleriand P. 341 and The Shaping of Middle-earth P. 212). It seems logical therefore, to assume that they appear as nothing more than a regular eagle, though on a much larger scale. It does, however, seem best to consider a standardized description. Perhaps having them appear similar to a golden eagle for example.

Thorondor is described as being the most magnificent and the largest of all birds (The Silmarillion P. 129), having a wingspan of 30 *fathoms* (180 feet or 54.864 m [Random House Dictionary P. 821 and P. 478]).

Though it must also be pointed out that Professor Tolkien originally noted Thorondor's wingspan at 30 *feet* or 9.144 m (The Shaping of Middle-earth P. 212). It seems reasonable therefore, to assume that the average Eagle might be roughly three quarters the size of Thorondor. Thus, the average wingspan of an Eagle would be about 135 feet or 41.148 m.

As taken from The Shaping of Middle-earth. Published by Ballantine Books ISBN 0-345-40043-7, Copyright 1986 by Frank Richard Williamson and Christopher Ruel Tolkien.

P. 212
With the account here of the challenge of Fingolfin and his death compare the Lay of Leithian Canto XII. This dates from late September 1930, and is later than this section of Q (see the commentary on 10), as is seen by the reference to Thorondor's 'beak of gold' (line 3616, found already in the A-text of the Lay), in contrast to his 'claw' in Q, emended to 'bill' (note 23).*

*CF. also 'thirty feet' as the span of Thorondor's wings emended to 'thirty fathoms in Q8 (note 7), 'thirty fathoms' in the Lay (line 3618).

As taken from Random House Webster's College Dictionary, 2nd. ed.. Published by Random House ISBN 0-375-40741-3, Copyright 1999 by Random House, Inc.

P. 478
Fathom (fath'em), n., pl. fath.oms, (esp. collectively) fath.om, v. -n. 1. a nautical unit of length equal to 6 feet (1.8 m). Abbr.: f., fath, fm -v.t.

P. 821
1 foot equals 0.3048 meters.


Eagles are similar in all regards to a regular eagle except on a much larger scale. Eagles enjoy the ability of swift flight and keen eyesight as well as a renown battle prowess. Also, their reputation seems to proceed them. Thus causing a degree of natural fright in their enemies. Though there is nothing in any of the texts that could be found to lead one to believe that they have any mystical abilities aside from their high intelligence, wisdom and ability to speak.

< Credits: Gaerelin

Realms of the Great Eagles

Vote for Beleriand on TMC!     Beleriand     Elendor     Ardalambion     TinyFugue     Firefox     Valid HTML 4.0 Transitional

Created and maintained by: Ulmo
Game hosted by: Billo Systems, Ltd. Co.