The Third Age

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Unfinished Tales, Part Three: The Third Age, Chapter 1: Disaster of the Gladden Fields:

“So it came to pass that late in the afternoon of the thirtieth day of their journey they were passing the north borders of the Gladden Fields,13 marching along a path that led to Thranduil’s realm,14 as it then was. The fair day was waning; above the distant mountains clouds were gathering, reddened by the misty sun as it drew down towards them; the deeps of the valley were already in grey shadow. The Dúnedain were singing, for their day's march was near its end, and three parts of the long road to Imladris were behind them. To their right the Forest loomed above them at the top of steep slopes running down to their path, below which the descent into the valley-bottom was gentler. Suddenly as the sun plunged into cloud they heard the hideous cries of Orcs, and saw them issuing from the Forest and moving down the slopes, yelling their war-cries. 15 In the dimmed light their number could only be guessed, but the Dúnedain were plainly many times, even to ten times, outnumbered. Isildur commanded a thangail 16 to be drawn up, a shield-wall of two serried ranks that could be bent back at either end if outflanked, until at need it became a closed ring. If the land had been flat or the slope in his favour he would have formed his company into a dirnaith 16 and charged the Orcs, hoping by the great strength of the Dúnedain and their weapons to cleave a way through them and scatter them in dismay; but that could not now be done.” TRAVEL; CULTURAL; TACTICS; GONDOR; MEN; ORCS; 2A; 3A

“First they let fly a hail of arrows, and then suddenly with a great shout they did as Isildur would have done, and hurled a great mass of their chief warriors down the last slope against the Dúnedain, expecting to break up their shield-wall. But it stood firm. The arrows had been unavailing against the Númenórean armour. The great Men towered above the tallest Orcs, and their swords and spears far outreached the weapons of their enemies. The onslaught faltered, broke, and retreated, leaving the defenders little harmed, unshaken, behind piles of fallen Orcs.” (285). TACTICS; WEAPONS; PHYSICAL; GONDOR; MEN; ORCS; 2A; 3A

“This time they did not charge, but used all their forces. They came down on a wide front, which bent into a crescent and soon closed into an unbroken ring about the Dúnedain. They were silent now, and kept at a distance out of the range of the dreaded steelbows of Númenor, 21 though the light was fast failing, and Isildur had all too few archers for his need.22” WEAPONS; GONDOR; MEN; 2A; 3A

“Isildur turned west, and drawing up the Ring that hung in a wallet from a fine chain about his neck, he set it upon his finger with a cry of pain, and was never seen again by any eye upon Middle-earth. But the Elendilmir of the West could not be quenched, and suddenly it blazed forth red and wrathful as a burning star. Men and Orcs gave way in fear; and Isildur, drawing a hood over his head, vanished into the night. 25” ARTIFACTS; GARMENTS; GONDOR; MEN; 2A; 3A

“So it was that [Isildur] came at last to the banks of Anduin at the dead of night, and he was weary; for he had made a journey that the Dúnedain on such ground could have made no quicker, marching without halt and by day. 27 The river was swirling dark and swift before him. He stood for a while, alone and in despair. Then in haste he cast off all his armour and weapons, save a short sword at his belt, 28 and plunged into the water.” ARMOR; WEAPONS; TRAVEL; GONDOR; MEN; 2A; 3A

Unfinished Tales, Part Three: The Third Age, Chapter 1: Disaster of the Gladden Fields: The sources of the legend of Isildur’s death:

“Elendur's esquire, named Estelmo, and was one of the last to fall, but was stunned by a club, and not slain” WEAPONS; ORCS; 2A; 3A Apparently some of the Orcs were armed with blunt weapons.

“There were rescuers who came on the scene too late, but in time to disturb the Orcs and prevent their mutilation of the bodies: for there were certain Woodmen who got news to Thranduil by runners, and also themselves gathered a force to ambush the Orcs – of which they got wind, and scattered, for though victorious their losses had been great, and almost all of the great Orcs had fallen: they attempted no such attack again for long years after.” TRAVEL; TACTICS; RHOVANION; MEN; 2A; 3A

“…his mail, helm, shield and great sword (but nothing else) had been found on the bank not far above the Gladden Fields; thirdly, that the Orcs had left watchers on the west bank armed with bows to intercept any who might escape the battle and flee to the River (for traces of their camps were found, one close to the borders of the Gladden Fields…” ARMOR; WEAPONS; TRAVEL; GONDOR; MEN; ORCS; 2A; 3A

“Though it was a long journey, each of the Dúnedain carried in a sealed wallet on his belt a small phial of cordial and wafers of a waybread that would sustain life in him for many days—not indeed the miruvor or the lembas of the Eldar, but like them, for the medicine and other arts of Númenor were potent and not yet forgotten. No belt or wallet was among the gear discarded by Isildur.” TRAVEL; ARTIFACTS; FOOD; DRINK; GONDOR; MEN; 2A; 3A

“...a small case of gold, attached to a fine chain; it was empty, and bore no letter or token, but beyond all doubt it had once borne the Ring about Isildur’s neck." ARTIFACTS; JEWELRY; GONDOR; MEN; 2A; 3A


Unfinished Tales, Part Three: The Third Age, Chapter 1: Disaster of the Gladden Fields: NOTES:

“7 The Númenóreans in their own land possessed horses, which they esteemed [see the "Description of Númenor," p.177]. But they did not use them in war; for all their wars were overseas. Also they were of great stature and strength, and their fully-equipped soldiers were accustomed to bear heavy armour and weapons. In their settlements on the shores of Middle-earth they acquired and bred horses, but used them little for riding, except in sport and pleasure. In war they were used only by couriers, and by bodies of light-armed archers (often not of Númenórean race). In the War of the Alliance such horses as they used had suffered great losses, and few were available in Osgiliath. [Author's note.]” LIVESTOCK; WEAPONS; NUMENOR; GONDOR; MEN; 2A; 3A

“8 They needed some baggage and provisions in houseless country; for they did not expect to find any dwellings of Elves or Men, until they reached Thranduil's realm, almost at their journey's end. On the march each man carried with him two days' provisions (other than the "need-wallet" mentioned in the text [pp. 288-89]; the rest, and other baggage, was carried by small sturdy horses, of a kind, it was said, that had first been found, wild and free, in the wide plains south and east of the Greenwood. They had been tamed; but though they would carry heavy burdens (at walking pace), they would not allow any man to ride them. Of these they had only ten. [Author's note.]” TRAVEL; GONDOR; MEN; 2A; 3A Then where did the rescuing Woodmen^ come from? Was their existence in the area unknown to the Numenoreans?

“9 Yavannië 5, according to the Númenórean "King's Reckoning," still kept with little change in the Shire Calendar. Yavannië (Ivanneth) thus corresponded to Halimath, our September; and Narbeleth to our October. Forty days (till Narbeleth 15*) was sufficient, if all went well. The journey was probably at least three hundred and eight leagues as marched; but the soldiers of the Dúnedain, tall men of great strength and endurance, were accustomed to move fully-armed at eight leagues (24 miles) a day “with ease:” when they went in eight spells of a league, with short breaks at the end of each league (lar, Sindarin daur, originally meaning a stop or pause), and one hour near midday. This made a “march” of about ten and half [sic] hours, in which they were walking eight hours. This pace they could maintain for long periods with adequate provision. In haste they could move much faster, at twelve leagues a day (36 miles) (or in great need more), but for shorter periods.” TRAVEL; GONDOR; MEN; 2A; 3A *equivalent to ~26 August – 5 October (Gregorian)

“Long journeys were not, however, undertaken in the North between the beginning of Hithui (Hisimë, November/Blotmath) and the end of Ninui (Nenimë, February/Solmath)* in time of peace.” TRAVEL; ERIADOR; RHOVANION; MEN; 2A; 3A *equivalent to Oct 21 through Feb 20 Gregorian

“16 Thangail "shield-fence" was the name of this formation in Sindarin, the normal spoken language of Elendil's people; its "official" name in Quenya was sandastan "shield-barrier," derived from primitive thandā "shield" and stama- "bar, exclude." The Sindarin word used a different second element: cail, a fence or palisade of spikes and sharp stakes. This, in primitive form keglē, was derived from a stem keg- "snag, barb," seen also in the primitive word kegyā "hedge," whence Sindarin cai (cf. the Morgai in Mordor). The dírnaith, Quenya nernehta "man-spearhead," was a wedge-formation, launched over a short distance against an enemy massing but not yet arrayed, or against a defensive formation on open ground. Quenya nehte, Sindarin naith was applied to any formation or projection tapering to a point: a spearhead, gore, wedge, narrow promontory (root nek "narrow"); cf. the Naith of Lórien, the land at the angle of the Celebrant and Anduin, which at the actual junction of the rivers was narrower and more pointed than can be shown on a small-scale map. [Author's note.]” TACTICS; NUMENOR; GONDOR; MEN; 2A; 3A

“17 Ohtar is the only name used in the legends; but it is probably only the title of address that Isildur used at this tragic moment, hiding his feelings under formality. Ohtar "warrior, soldier" was the title of all who, though fully trained and experienced, had not yet been admitted to the rank of roquen, "knight." But Ohtar was dear to Isildur and of his own kin. [Author's note.]” CULTURAL; NUMENOR; GONDOR; 2A; 3A

“19 They had passed the deep depression of the Gladden Fields, beyond which the ground on the east side of Anduin (which flowed in a deep channel) was firmer and drier for the lie of the land changed. It began to climb northwards until as it neared the Forest Road and Thranduil's country it was almost level with the eaves of the Greenwood. This Isildur knew well. [Author's note.]” PHYSICAL; RHOVANION; 2A; 3A

“28: This was of a kind called eket: a short stabbing sword with a broad blade, pointed and two-edged, from a foot to one and a half feet long.” WEAPONS; NUMENOR; GONDOR; MEN; 2A; 3A


Unfinished Tales, Part Three: The Third Age, Chapter 3: The Quest of Erebor:

“Suddenly in my mind these three things came together: the great Dragon with his lust, and his keen hearing and scent; the sturdy heavy-booted Dwarves with their old burning grudge; and the quick, soft-footed Hobbit…” GARMENTS; DWARVES; 3A

“…Dáin Ironfoot was a worthy successor. And now we hear that he fell fighting before Erebor again, even while we fought here. I should call it a heavy loss, if it was not a wonder rather that in his great age 5 he could still wield his axe as mightily as they say he did, standing over the body of King Brand before the Gate of Erebor until the darkness fell.” WEAPONS; DWARVES; 3A


Unfinished Tales, Part Three: The Third Age, Chapter 3: The Quest of Erebor: NOTES:

"Thorin's eyes glistened as the memories of lost treasures moved in his mind; but 'A paid thief, you mean,' he said scornfully. 'That might be considered, if the reward was not too high. But what has all this to do with one of those villagers? They drink out of clay, and they cannot tell a gem from a bead of glass.'” ARTIFACTS; MATERIALS; SHIRE; HOBBITS; 3A


Unfinished Tales, Part Three: The Third Age, Chapter 4: The Hunt for the Ring:

“‘West through the Gap of Rohan yonder, and then north and a little west, until the next great river bars the way; the Greyflood it is called. Thence from the crossing at Tharbad the old road will lead you to the borders. 'The Shire,' they call it. "Yea, verily, Saruman knows of it. Goods came to him from that land down the road.’” TRAVEL; ECON; ERIADOR; SHIRE; ISENGARD; 3A

“There [Aragorn] crossed Anduin again, with the help of the Beornings*, and passed into the Forest. The whole journey, on foot, was not much short of nine hundred miles, and this Aragorn accomplished with weariness in fifty days, reaching Thranduil on the twenty-first of March.” TRAVEL; RHOVANION; BEORNINGS; MEN; 3A This seems in keeping with Gloin’s comments that the Beornings are responsible for helping travelers cross the River and the High Pass.

  • The entry for Beornings in the Unfinished Tales index simply lists them as “Men of the upper Vales of Anduin.”—making zero mention of their bear-heritage.


“[Saruman] liked to extend his power, especially into Gandalf's province, and he found that the money he could provide for the purchase of "leaf" was giving him power, and was corrupting some of the Hobbits, especially the Bracegirdles, who owned many plantations, and so also the Sackville-Bagginses." ECON; SHIRE; HOBBITS; 3A