|Radagast the Brown|
|Tolkien's legendarium character|
|Book(s)||The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)
The Silmarillion (1977)
Unfinished Tales (1980)
Radagast the Brown is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is one of the Istari, also known as "Wizards", who were sent by the angelic Valar to aid the Elves and Men of Middle-earth in their struggle against the Dark Lord Sauron. Radagast appears in The Lord of the Rings and Unfinished Tales, and is mentioned in The Hobbit and The Silmarillion.
Unfinished Tales explains that Radagast, like the other Wizards, came from Valinor around the year 1000 of the Third Age of Middle-earth and was one of the Maiar. His original name was Aiwendil, meaning bird-friend in Tolkien's invented language of Quenya. The Vala Yavanna forced the wizard Saruman to accept Radagast as a companion, which, Tolkien says, may have been one of the reasons Saruman was contemptuous of him, to the point of scornfully calling him "simple" and "a fool". However, he was an ally and confidant of Gandalf, who describes him in The Hobbit as his "cousin". He was also friends with the skin-changer Beorn, who deemed him to be "not a bad fellow as wizards go" and also said to Gandalf that he "used to see him [Radagast] now and again".
Radagast lived for much of his time in Middle-earth at Rhosgobel in the Vales of Anduin, on the western eaves of Mirkwood, between Carrock and the Old Forest Road, near the Gladden Fields, its name deriving from Sindarin rhosc gobel meaning "brown village". Radagast had a strong affinity for – and relationship with – wild animals, and it seemed his greatest concern was with the kelvar and olvar (flora and fauna) of Middle-earth. He was wiser than any Man in all things concerning herbs and beasts. It is said he spoke the many tongues of birds, and was a "master of shapes and changes of hue". Radagast is also described by Gandalf as "never a traveller, unless driven by great need", "a worthy Wizard", and "honest".
Radagast appears in The Silmarillion where he plays a part in helping Saruman, who is a member of the White Council, to stand against Sauron. It is mentioned that there are birds among Saruman's spies due to Radagast lending to him his aid, though Radagast knew nothing of Saruman's treachery and believed that he wished to use the birds for watching the Enemy (Sauron).
In The Fellowship of the Ring, Radagast was unwittingly used by Saruman to lure Gandalf to his tower of Orthanc, where Gandalf was captured. However, Radagast also unwittingly helped rescue him by sending Gwaihir the Eagle to Orthanc with news of the movements of Sauron's forces. When Gwaihir saw that Gandalf was imprisoned on the top of the tower he carried him off to safety before Saruman realized he was gone.
The only other reference to Radagast in The Lord of the Rings is after the Council of Elrond when it is decided to summon all the allies against Sauron together. Scouts are sent to look for help, and it is reported that Radagast is not at his home at Rhosgobel and cannot be found. Tolkien makes no mention of what has happened to Radagast, and he plays no further role in events.
Tolkien wrote that he gave up his mission as one of the Wizards by becoming too obsessed with animals and plants. He also wrote that he did not believe that Radagast's failure was as great as Saruman's and that he may eventually have been allowed (or chosen) to return to the Undying Lands. However, Christopher Tolkien notes in Unfinished Tales that the assumption Radagast failed in his task may not be entirely accurate considering that he was specifically chosen by Yavanna, and he may have been assigned to protect the flora and fauna of Middle-earth, a task that would not end with the defeat of Sauron and the end of the War of the Ring.
Names and titles
According to the essay The Istari from the Unfinished Tales, the name Radagast means "tender of beasts" in Adûnaic, another of Tolkien's fictional languages. However, Christopher Tolkien indicates that his father intended to change this derivation and bring Radagast in line with the other wizard-names, Gandalf and Saruman, by associating it with the old language of the Men of the Vales of Anduin. No alternative meaning is provided with this new association – indeed, Tolkien stated that the name was "not now clearly interpretable". His title The Brown is simply a reference to his earth-brown robes; each of the wizards had a cloak of a different colour.
In the real world, Radagast or Rodogast is extant as a variant of Radagaisus, the name of a Gothic warlord who led an invasion of Italy in 401. Radegast is also the name of a deity in Slavic mythology.
In Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the character (played by Sylvester McCoy) is greatly fleshed out, compared to the original book in which he is mentioned only once. He is portrayed as an eccentric who prefers the company of animals to men, at one point using his powers to heal a dying hedgehog. Radagast is shown to be able to communicate with birds; some nest in his hair, and have excreted down his head. In the film, Radagast is the first wizard to visit Dol Guldur after he realized that an evil power had infected the wood he lived in. He discovered that a Necromancer (Sauron) had taken residence in the ruined fortress. But while in Dol Guldur, he encountered the spirit of the Witch King of Angmar as well as the shadow of the Necromancer himself, but he escapes with the Morgul blade he took from Angmar.
Radagast's means of transportation is a sled pulled by enormous rabbits, a concept entirely original to the movie. Radagast meets Gandalf, Bilbo, and the Dwarves en route to Erebor, tells them of his discovery in Dol Guldur, and gives Gandalf the dagger to present before the White Council. When Thorin's Company are attacked by Orcs riding Wargs, Radagast mounts his sled and provides a distraction, leading the enemy on a chase while Gandalf and the others escape.
Later, Saruman makes contemptuous remarks about Radagast during a meeting with Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel. He accuses the Brown Wizard of indulging in mushrooms, and dismisses Radagast's claim about the Necromancer being a true threat.
Radagast appears as a non-player character in The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar in the city of Ost Guruth. In the epic quest line (Volume I Book II) the player aids Radagast in dealing with corruption in the Lone-Lands, ending in a confrontation with the Gaunt-Lord Ivar, who is bested by Radagast and driven away. After the instance, Radagast relocates to the tower of Barad Dhorn in Agamaur.
In the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, Radagast is portrayed as a user of subtle magics, contrasted with the more overt kinds used by Gandalf and Saruman. Nevertheless, he has certain unique powers.
In the video game The Lord of the Rings: War in the North, Radagast is portrayed as a bumbling and eccentric character, albeit very wise and powerful. After the player character rescues Radagast from the clutches of the spider-queen Saenathra, Radagast (with the help of his animal-friends) provides Eradan, Andriel and Farin with information on the location of the dragon Urgost.
In Lego The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game, Radagast is a playable character who can be found in the outskirts of Bree. In the portable versions of the title, he gives the player an optional quest to find three of his birds which have been captured by enemy forces. In battle, his abilities are similar to Gandalf the Grey's.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien, ed., Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "The Istari", ISBN 0-395-29917-9
- Tolkien, J.R.R. (1937), The Hobbit, "Queer Lodgings"
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1937), Douglas A. Anderson, ed., The Annotated Hobbit, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 2002), ISBN 0-618-13470-0
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), ISBN 0-395-08254-4
- Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. (1981), The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, # 156, ISBN 0-395-31555-7
- "Sylvester McCoy is Radagast the Brown". Filmonic. 27 October 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2011.