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).
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.'
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.
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.
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.
'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.
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. 341 (line 3611)
Thus Bauglir earned the furrowed scar
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).
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.
*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).
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.
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