Where the Council of Elrond went wrong

Granted that “there is no smith’s forge in this Shire that could change it at all. Not even the anvils and furnaces of the Dwarves could do that [...] nor was there ever any dragon, not even Ancalagon the Black, who could have harmed the One Ring, the Ruling Ring, for that was made by Sauron himself.”

And let’s assume that the obvious eagle hack can’t be done, for some reason.

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But what they could have done was to drop the Ring into molten steel, shape it into a solid sphere, and bid Frodo cast that into Mount Doom.

Just think of the advantages! First, it would be impossible to recognise. Second, it would likely be harder for the Nazgul and Sauron himself to detect at distance. Third, however tempted Frodo was to put on the ring, he would have been unable to. Fourth, it would likely have been easier for him to cast it into the Crack of Doom in this form.

See, that’s the problem with Tolkien. He was a fine scholar, no doubt, a surpassingly great creative mind, and an always-good-sometimes-brilliant author. But he just didn’t think like an engineer.

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12 responses to “Where the Council of Elrond went wrong

  1. Also, this would have added a lot of slapstick humor to the scene where Frodo temporarily loses the ring while touring a ball-bearing factory.

  2. Eh, better a cube than a sphere, so it doesn’t roll if you drop it.

    Hey, better a squared-off donut-like shape than a cube, so you can still hang it around your neck.

  3. If round it could also serve as sling ammo in a pinch… but I guess none of the members of the Fellowship of the Ring used a sling… so, never mind.

  4. “Where Elrond Went Wrong”, “Some More Of Elrond’s Greatest Mistakes”, and “Who Is This Elrond Person, Anyway?”.

    Also, whoever they gave it to to do the forging would have been tempted and kept the ring for themselves.

  5. Ok… So.. they forge it into a sphere. As soon as they get into snowy mountains, the ring-ball slips from a previously undetected hole out of the pouch and is lost in the mountains. They search and search and search, but they cannot find it.

    Or–why *didn’t* they just encase it in metal? Because the ring wouldn’t *let* them.


    Furry cows moo and decompress.

  6. The ring doesn’t always get its own way. For example, the film explicitly says (and I don’t remember if this is in the book) that getting found by a Hobbit under the Misty Mountains is “something the Ring had not foreseen”.

  7. Ha! That’s something to never strike me. Although, Tolkien did say that he didn’t want to explore all the solutions for he aimed for a particular story (in response to the question, “why not ride the eagles”)

  8. I do wish Tolkien had taken the trouble to come up with a story-internal justification for why the Eagles couldn’t fly to Orodruin with the Ring, but could fly there after the Ring was destroyed to rescue Frodo and Sam. I wouldn’t have been hard.

  9. I always thought that was fairly obvious – the eagles are wonderful and powerful, but they’re not omnipotent. Despite having the narrative role of a Deus ex Machina, they’re still normal, vulnerable creatures (In the Hobbit, the Lord of the Eagles speaks of being wounded by a mere hunter’s arrow).

    Flying eagles directly into Mordor would hardly go unnoticed and would, basically, be a full invasion. Sauron and the Nazgul would probably repel it easily.

    After Sauron’s fall, on the other hand, with the Nazgul destroyed and his armies shattered at the Black Gate, mounting a search and rescue mission was relatively simple.

    It’s true that this theory isn’t made explicit in the books, but I think it’s reasonable enough that it doesn’t need to be, and was implicitly covered by the Council’s discussion when they talked about the impracticality of bringing it to Mt. Doom by force.

  10. I don’t buy that at all. Eagles flying to Orodruin would be nothing like an invasion: they’d not need to take ground, establish bridgeheads, set up supply lines or do any of the other things that make invasions difficult. It would be much more like a bombing raid: get in, drop the ring into the volcano, and get gone. All my experience in evolutionary biology tells me that the Eagles would be much faster and more manoeuvreable fliers than the fell-beasts, and that goes double if they have to bear the additional burden of ringwraiths. (For what it’s worth, the this perception is also supported by the Eagle-on-Fell Beast action near the end of the RotK movie.)

    Even accepting that an Eagle mission would not be certain of success, it’s chances would obvious be much better than Frodo’s chance of walking the ring into Mordor and to the Crack of Doom.

    So it was Tolkien’s responsibility to explain why that wasn’t so.

  11. Yobgod Ababua

    My understanding…
    The Eagles, for all their might, mobility, and majesty, lack the inner strength to fly into the gaze of The Eye. Sauron wouldn’t need to send out the Nazgul to repel them… he’d only need to LOOK at them and their hearts would fail.
    Near the end of the story, the threat or proximity of Sauron’s gaze nearly causes Frodo and Sam to fail numerous times, and they are explicitly called out as being made of more resilient stuff than most.

  12. Yobgod, that may be the least inadequate explanation I have seen for why the Obvious Eagle Strategy (hereafter OEG) wouldn’t work. But would it have killed JRRT to throw us a couple of sentences to that effect? What was the problem, was he worried about making the Council of Elrond too long?

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