The Blue Wizards

In the first text presented in Unfinished Tales, dated tentatively by Christopher Tolkien to 1954, the arrival of the wizards to the great havens is given. After a description of Saruman's arrival, some information follows about the blue wizards.

"...But there were others, two dressed in sea-blue...of the Blue little was known in the west [of Middle-earth], and they had no names save Ithryn Luin 'the Blue Wizards'; for they traveled to the east with Curun'r, but they never returned; and whether they remaine in the East, pursuing there the purposes for which they sent; or perished; or as some hold were ensnared by Sauron and became his servants it is not now known. But none of these chances were impossible to be."

There is another text appended to this, which Christopher Tolkien claims belongs to the same time. In it, Gandalf is stated to be the only successful Istar, which first hints at the idea that the Blue Wizards failed their mission: "Indeed, of all the Istari, only one remained faithful, and he was the last-comer" (Unfinished Tales). Here, Radagast is said to have strayed from his mission in becoming enamoured with nature. But for the Blue Wizards, there is no mention of their fate. Still, this text indicates that their fates must be one of failure, though the story of the Blue Wizards was still early in its development.

The next source, chronologically in the development of the story, is in one of Tolkien's letters(which were edited by Humphrey Carpenter in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien). In Letter 180, a draft dated January 14, 1956, Tolkien writes: "There is hardly any reference in The Lord of the Rings to things that do not actually exist on its own plane (of secondary sub-creational reality): sc. have been written." In a footnote labeled at the word exist, Tolkien adds "The Cats of Queen Ber'thiel and the names and adventurers of the other 2 wizards (5 minus Saruman, Gandalf, and Radagast) are all that I recollect."

Thus, it is clear that at this point, really nothing had been determined, by the author himself, about who the Blue Wizards were (this letter even indicates less knowledge of the two wizards than the first text gives above).

Another letter fills the spot of the next significant source for information on the two wizards. Letter 211, written in October 1958, offers more specific information about their fate:

"I really do not know anything clearly about the other two - since they do not concern the history of the N.W. I think that they went as emissaries to distant regions, East and South, far out of Numenorean range: missionaries to 'enemy-occupied' lands, as it were. What success they had I do not know; but I fear that they failed, as Saruman did, though doubtless in different ways; and I suspect they were founders or beginners of secret cults and 'magic' traditions that outlasted the fall of Sauron."

In this text Tolkien does begin to create a little story for the Blue Wizards, or at least an explanation of their fates, somewhat like that given in the first Unfinished Tales text, though here their failure is given as the more likely outcome.

1 comment:

Emmy said...

That's fascinating! I've heard about the blue istari, but never heard anything real detailed about them, just that there were two blue ones. So, this was great! And it gives me a whole list of books I'll need to check out now :)