Úlairi (in Quenya)
|Book(s)||The Fellowship of the Ring (1954),|
The Two Towers (1954),
The Return of the King (1955),
The Silmarillion (1977),
Unfinished Tales (1980)
The Nazgûl (from Black Speech nazg, "ring", and gûl, "wraith, spirit"), introduced as Black Riders and also called Ringwraiths, Dark Riders, the Nine Riders, or simply the Nine, are fictional characters in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. They were nine Men who had succumbed to Sauron's power through wearing Rings of Power, which gave them immortality but reduced them to invisible wraiths, servants bound to the power of the One Ring and completely under Sauron's control.
The Lord of the Rings calls them Sauron's "most terrible servants". Their leader, known as the Witch-king of Angmar or the Lord of the Nazgûl, had once been the King of Angmar in the north of Eriador. At the end of the Third Age, their main stronghold was the city of Minas Morgul at the entrance to Sauron's realm, Mordor. They dress entirely in black. In their early forays, they ride on black horses; later they ride flying monsters, which Tolkien described as "pterodactylic". Their main weapon is terror, though in their pursuit of the Ring-bearer Frodo Baggins, their leader uses a Morgul-knife which would reduce its victim to a wraith, and they carry ordinary swords. In his final battle, the Lord of the Nazgûl attacks Éowyn with a mace. The hobbit Merry Brandybuck stabs him with an ancient enchanted Númenórean blade, allowing Éowyn to kill him with her sword.
Commentators have written that the Nazgûl serve on the ordinary level of story as dangerous opponents; at the romantic level as the enemies of the heroic protagonists; and finally at the mythic level.
The Nazgûl appear in numerous adaptations of Tolkien's writings, including animated and live-action films and computer games.
Those who used the Nine Rings became mighty in their day, kings, sorcerers, and warriors of old. They obtained glory and great wealth, yet it turned to their downfall. They had, as it seemed, unending life, yet life became unendurable to them. They could walk, if they would, unseen by all eyes in this world beneath the sun, and they could see things in worlds invisible to mortal men; but too often they beheld only the phantoms and delusions of Sauron. And one by one, sooner or later, according to their native strength and to the good or evil of their wills in the beginning, they fell under the thraldom of the ring that they bore and of the domination of the One which was Sauron's. And they became forever invisible save to him that wore the Ruling Ring, and they entered into the realm of shadows. The Nazgûl were they, the Ringwraiths, the Úlairi, the Enemy's most terrible servants; darkness went with them, and they cried with the voices of death.
The Nazgûl or Ringwraiths (Quenya plural: Úlairi) first appeared in the Second Age, according to the "Akallabêth" in The Silmarillion. The Dark Lord Sauron gave nine of the Rings of Power to powerful mortal men, including "it is said"[T 2] three lords of the once-powerful island realm of Númenor, along with kings of countries in Middle-earth.[T 2][T 3]
The Silmarillion states in "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age" that the rings enslaved their bearers to the power of Sauron's Ring, into which he had put much of his own power. The corrupting effect of the rings extended the bearers' earthly lives far beyond their normal lifespans.[T 1][a]
The Nazgûl had a sharp sense of smell. The Lord of the Rings states that their sight worked differently, too: "They themselves do not see the world of light as we do, but our shapes cast shadows in their minds, which only the noon sun destroys; and in the dark they perceive many signs and forms that are hidden from us: then they are most to be feared."[T 6] Their chief weapon was terror; it was so powerful that Sauron faced one disadvantage when using them: they could not easily travel in secret.[T 3] Tolkien added, in Unfinished Tales, that the terror they spread was greater when they were unclad and invisible; and when they were gathered together.[T 7]
Few of the Nazgûl are named or identified individually in Tolkien's works. Their chief, also known as the Lord of the Nazgûl and the Black Captain, appears as the Witch-king of Angmar during the Third Age, instrumental in the destruction of the North-kingdom of Arnor.[T 8] In Unfinished Tales, his second-in-command is named as Khamûl, the "Black Easterling" or the "Shadow of the East".[T 9] Three of the Nazgûl were great Númenórean lords;[T 2] in his notes for translators, Tolkien speculated that the Witch-king of Angmar, ruler of a northern kingdom with its capital at Carn Dûm, was of Númenórean origin.[T 10]
The nine, as Nazgûl, were soon established as Sauron's principal servants.[T 11] They were dispersed after the first overthrow of Sauron late in the Second Age at the hands of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, but their survival was assured by the power of the One Ring.[T 11]
The appendices to The Lord of the Rings state that the Nazgûl re-emerged over a thousand years later in the Third Age, when the Lord of the Nazgûl led Sauron's forces against the successor kingdoms of Arnor: Rhudaur, Cardolan, and Arthedain. He effectively destroyed all of these, but was eventually defeated by the Elf-lord Glorfindel, who put him to flight, and made the prophecy that "not by the hand of man will he fall".[T 12] He escaped, and returned to Mordor. There, he gathered the other Nazgûl in preparation for the return of Sauron to that realm.[T 12][T 13]
The Nazgûl besieged Minas Ithil, a fortress located in a valley in the Ephel Duath once belonging to the kingdom of Gondor, and, after two years, captured it and acquired its palantír for Sauron. The city thereafter became Minas Morgul, the stronghold of the Nazgûl,[T 13] and the valley was henceforth known as Morgul Vale (Imlad Morgul). Sauron returned from Dol Guldur in Mirkwood to Mordor late in the Third Age and declared himself openly.[T 14] He sent two or three of the Nazgûl to garrison Dol Guldur.[T 13]
By the time of the main narrative of The Lord of the Rings, Sauron had already learned from Gollum that a hobbit, Bilbo Baggins of the Shire, had acquired the One Ring.[T 15] Sauron entrusted its recovery to the Nazgûl. They reappeared "west of the River", riding black horses that were bred or trained in Mordor to endure their terror.[T 14] They learned that the Ring had passed to Bilbo's heir, Frodo, and hunted him and his companions across the Shire; the hobbits heard what seemed to be snuffling, and sometimes saw them crawling or crouching.[T 16][T 17] The hobbits escaped, via Tom Bombadil's realm of the Old Forest where they were not pursued, to Bree.[T 18][T 19][T 20] A Ranger of the North, Aragorn, arrived ahead of them and for some days led the hobbits on paths not closely followed by the Ringwraiths.[T 21][T 22]
Five of the Nazgûl cornered Frodo and his company at Weathertop, where the Witch-king stabbed Frodo in the shoulder with the Morgul-knife, breaking off a piece of it in the Hobbit's flesh.[T 6] During their assault, they mentally commanded Frodo to put on the One Ring; while wearing it, he saw them as pale figures robed in white, with "haggard hands", helmets and swords. The Witch-king was taller than the others, with "long and gleaming" hair and a crown on his helmet.[T 6]
When all Nine were swept away by the waters of the river Bruinen, their horses were drowned, and the Ringwraiths were forced to return to Mordor to regroup.[T 23] The nine companions of the Fellowship of the Ring left Rivendell as the "Nine Walkers", in opposition to the Nazgûl, the "Nine Riders".[T 24] The latter reappeared mounted on hideous flying beasts.[T 25][T 26]
The Nazgûl came again ... like vultures that expect their fill of doomed men's flesh. Out of sight and shot they flew, and yet were ever present, and their deadly voices rent the air. More unbearable they became, not less, at each new cry. At length even the stout-hearted would fling themselves to the ground as the hidden menace passed over them, or they would stand, letting their weapons fall from nerveless hands while into their minds a blackness came, and they thought no more of war, but only of hiding and of crawling, and of death.
During the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, the Lord of the Nazgûl used magic, including Grond, a battering-ram engraved with evil spells, to break the gates of Minas Tirith. He was faced by Éowyn, a noblewoman of Rohan; and not far away, Merry, a hobbit of the Fellowship. Éowyn boldly called the Nazgûl a "dwimmerlaik", telling him to go if he was not deathless.[b] He cast back his hood to reveal a crown, but the head that wore it was invisible. Merry's surreptitious stroke with an enchanted Barrow-blade brought the Nazgûl to his knees, allowing Éowyn, the niece of Théoden, to drive her sword between his crown and mantle.[T 25] Thus was the Witch-king destroyed by a woman and a Hobbit, fulfilling Glorfindel's prophecy.[T 12] Both weapons that pierced him disintegrated, and both assailants were stricken with the Black Breath.[T 25]
The remaining eight Ringwraiths attacked the Army of the West during the Battle of the Morannon.[T 30] When Frodo claimed the Ring for his own in Mount Doom, Sauron, finally realizing his peril, ordered the remaining eight Nazgûl to fly to intercept him. They arrived too late: Gollum seized the Ring and fell into the Cracks of Doom, destroying the Ring. That ended Sauron's power and everything he had brought into being using it, including the Nazgûl.[T 31]
The Nazgûl's flying steeds are given various descriptions but no name. Beregond calls them "Hell Hawks". Tolkien describes them as "fell beasts", though he also applies the adjective fell ("fierce, cruel") to other creatures throughout The Lord of the Rings – even at one point to the wizard Gandalf. In a letter, he calls the winged mounts "Nazgûl-birds".[T 32] In the absence of a proper name, derivative works sometimes press "fellbeast" or "fell-beast" into service.
In the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, where the Lord of the Nazgûl rode one of the flying beasts against King Théoden of Rohan, his mount is described as:[T 25]
a winged creature: if bird, then greater than all other birds, and it was naked, and neither quill nor feather did it bear, and its vast pinions were as webs of hide between horned fingers; and it stank. A creature of an older world maybe it was ...[T 25]
It is said to attack with "beak and claw".[T 25] Tolkien wrote that he "did not intend the steed of the Witch-king to be what is now called a 'pterodactyl'", while acknowledging "obviously it is pterodactylic" and owed much to the "new ... mythology" [of the "Prehistoric"], and might even be "a last survivor of older geological eras."[T 26]
The medievalist Marjorie Burns compares the fell beast to the Poetic Edda's flying steed Sleipnir, "Odin's eight-legged otherworldly horse". She writes that whereas Gandalf's horse Shadowfax resembles Sleipnir in his miraculous speed and in almost seeming to fly, the Nazgûl's mount actually flies but is a "negative image" of Odin's steed; and, she notes, both Odin and the Nazgûl can cause blindness.
Tolkien began writing The Lord of the Rings with no conception of Black Riders at all. The horseman in dark clothes in the early chapter "Three is Company"[T 16] was originally Gandalf; in 1938, Tolkien called the figure's transformation into a Black Rider "an unpremeditated turn".[T 33] Frodo's ring, too, was simply a magic ring conferring invisibility, both in The Hobbit and early drafts of The Lord of the Rings, with no link to Sauron. However, Tolkien was at the time starting to consider the true nature of the Ring, and the idea that it had been made by the Necromancer, and drew itself or its bearer back to him.[T 34] The Black Riders became Ringwraiths when the hobbit, at that time called Bingo rather than Frodo, discussed the Riders with the Elf Gildor, later in the same chapter. Over the next three years, Tolkien gradually developed the connections between the Nazgûl, the One Ring, Sauron, and all the other Rings of Power. The pieces finally all came together when Tolkien wrote "The Mirror of Galadriel", some hundreds of pages later, around the autumn of 1941.[T 35][T 36]
Shippey writes that the Nazgûl function at different stylistic levels or modes (as categorised by Northrop Frye in his Anatomy of Criticism) in the story. At one level, they serve simply as story elements, dangerous opponents. But, Shippey notes, the level rises from the romantic, with heroes taking on the black riders, to the mythic, giving as example the assault of Minas Tirith. The leader of the Nazgûl directs the attack on the Great Gate; he bursts the gate using both the battering-ram Grond, written with "spells of ruin", and with "words of power and terror to rend both heart and stone".[T 37]
Tolkien was a philologist. Jason Fisher, writing that "all stories begin with words", takes up Edmund Wilson's "denigrating dismissal" of The Lord of the Rings as "a philological curiosity", replying that to him this is "precisely one of its greatest strengths". Fisher explores in detail the connotations of Tolkien's use of "Ringwraith" and its Black Speech translation "Nazgûl", both in languages that Tolkien knew and those that he invented. He notes that "wraith" has a history in folktale and fantasy including usage by the Brothers Grimm, William Morris, and George MacDonald. The word can be connected, Fisher writes, to English "writhe", Old English wrīþan, to bend or twist, and in turn to Gothic wraiqs, curved, crooked, or winding, and wraks, a persecutor. There is also English "wreath", from Old English wrida, meaning a band, a thing wound around something, and indeed a ring. Another cognate is Old Saxon wred, meaning cruel; Fisher comments that all of these stem from Indo-European *wreit, to turn, bend, or wind.
"Nazgûl" has the Black Speech roots nazg, ring, and gûl, wraith. Fisher writes that the former may well be connected, unconsciously on Tolkien's part, to Gaelic nasc, a ring. Gûl has the meaning "magic" in Tolkien's invented language of Sindarin. Fisher comments that this has an English homophone in "ghoul", a wraith, which derives from Arabic غُول ḡūl, a demon that feeds on corpses. The Sindarin word is related to ñgol, wise, wisdom, and to Noldor, Fëanor's elves who became in Fisher's words "bent and twisted" by the desire for the Silmarils.
The only one of the nine Ringwraiths to be named is Khamûl. Fisher suggests a link to Welsh kam, crooked, and kamy, to bend. "Kam" made its way into English usage, including by Shakespeare, as is recorded in Samuel Johnson's 1755 A Dictionary of the English Language. Fisher writes that this may have come to Tolkien by way of his time with the Lancashire Fusiliers in the First World War, with Lancashire dialect words like caimt, crooked or bad-tempered. In short, Tolkien may have felt many philological associations between his "Nazgûl" and "Ringwraith" with the meanings of being bent and twisted as well as ghoulish.
Invisible, but corporeal
Despite his shadowiness and invisibility, Shippey writes, the Nazgûl on the Pelennor Fields also comes as close as he ever does to seeming human, having human form inside his black robes, carrying a sword, and laughing to reveal his power when he throws back his hood, revealing a king's crown on his invisible head.
Yvette Kisor, a scholar of literature, writes that while the Ringwraiths and others (like Frodo) who wear Rings of Power become invisible, they do not lose any of their corporeality, being present as physical bodies. They require, she writes, physical steeds to carry them about, and they can wield swords. She notes that only a person in a body can wield the One Ring, so the invisibility is just "a trick of sight". When Frodo, wearing the Ring, saw the Nazgûl in the "twilight world", they appeared solid, not shadowy. He also saw Glorfindel in that world, as a figure of white flame; and Gandalf explains later that the Ringwraiths were "dismayed" to see "an Elf-lord revealed in his wrath".[T 38] Frodo is in danger of "fading" permanently into invisibility and the twilight world, as the Ringwraiths have done, living "in another mode of reality". She writes, too, that Merry's sword, with the special power to sever the Witch-king's "undead flesh" and in particular to overcome the "spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will",[T 25] has in fact to cut through real, but invisible, sinews and flesh.
Steve Walker, a Tolkien scholar, writes that the story gives the Ringwraiths credibility through a "gradual incarnation of bodiless presence". Little by little, in his view, Tolkien increases the reader's insight into their nature, starting with Black Riders who are "spies more human than diabolical", rather than developing their character. Walker sees this as appropriate in psychological terms: the Nazgûl's main weapons are psychological, namely fear and despair. He writes that the progressive revelation of their capabilities, and their "escalation of steeds" from horses to fell beasts, builds up in the reader's mind an "increasingly infernal vision".
The Black Breath
The Nazgûl spread terror and despair among their enemies, and discomfited those on their own side. The Black Breath is stated to have afflicted many during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Dr Jennifer Urquart, writing in Mallorn, describes its normal course as "progressive loss of consciousness and hypothermia, leading to death". She comments that the Black Breath, contracted by "excessive proximity" to a Nazgûl, seems to be a "spiritual malady" combined with "fear, confusion, reduced levels of consciousness, hypothermia, weakness and death." Faramir, on the other hand, who was thought to be suffering from the Black Breath, she diagnoses as most likely exhaustion with heat stroke, combined with "psychological distress" and pain, as his symptoms were quite different. Judy Ann Ford and Robin Anne Reid note that Aragorn's use of the herb Athelas to heal Faramir and others of the Black Breath, a condition "which harms the spirit more than the body", identifies him to his people as the true king.
Michael and Victoria Wodzak discuss how the hobbit Merry Brandybuck can be affected by the Black Breath when the Witch-King has not noticed him, pointing out that Tolkien nowhere says that the Nazgûl breathes on him or on Éowyn. Instead Éowyn "raised her shield against the horror of her enemy's eye", and the Wodzaks comment that the Nazgûl uses his eyes "to overwhelm". In their view, the seeming inconsistency is resolved by identifying the Black Breath with his "pneuma", his evil spirit, and assuming that it is this which causes the harm all around him.
Tolkien's biographer John Garth finds Christopher Gilson's Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in "The Lord of the Rings" especially interesting for its rendering of two of the Dark Lord Sauron's epithets, Thû meaning "horrible darkness, black mist" and Gorthu meaning "mist of fear". Garth comments that these names "anchor him in the primal night" of Tolkien's giant spiders, the Black Breath, the fog on the Barrow-downs, and the terror of the Paths of the Dead. He adds that this fog of terror may ultimately derive from Tolkien's First World War experience "of smoke barrages, gas attacks and 'animal horror' on the Somme." Earlier, in his 2003 book Tolkien and the Great War, on the other hand, Garth merely notes the "Black Breath of despair that brings down even the bravest" as one of several elements of The Lord of the Rings which "suggest[s] the influence of 1914–18".
In her Tolkienesque 1961 short story "The Jewel of Arwen", the fantasy and science fiction writer Marion Zimmer Bradley provides "Translator's Notes" which assert as part of her frame story that the Nazgûl were contaminated and enslaved by a monstrous form of radioactivity which transformed "the very cells of their protoplasm". They thereby became radioactive and "immune to radiation poisoning, as is shown by their dwelling in the blasted tower of Minas Ithil [which glowed in the dark]." Further, Bradley writes, the Nazgûl gave off "radioactive contamination", causing the Black Breath.
The Nazgûl are featured in adaptations of The Lord of the Rings on radio, film, and stage. In Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated film version of The Lord of the Rings, the Nazgûl "shamble and limp like zombies". They hack and slash the Hobbits' beds at The Prancing Pony inn, whereas Tolkien does not identify the assailants.[T 39]
In the Rankin-Bass adaptation of The Return of the King, the Nazgûl are robed skeletons with white hair. They ride winged horses, although the Witch-king rides a creature more in line with the book when he confronts Éowyn. The 1981 BBC Radio serial of The Lord of the Rings has the Nazgûl chant the Ring-inscription in the Black Speech of Mordor. The 1991 Russian television play Khraniteli features a group of Nazgûl galloping through a snowy pine forest; they wear black cloaks, with glimpses of red equipment.
In The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2001–2003) by Peter Jackson, the Nazgûl are almost always concealed by cloaks; they attack the inn at Bree themselves. During the siege of Minas Tirith, the Witch-king wears a distinctive helmet over his hood resembling a mask and a crown, rather than the crown worn underneath his hood in the book. Their shrieks are distorted recordings of producer and screenwriter Fran Walsh's scream.
Minas Morgul is shown first in The Fellowship of the Ring, when the Nazgûl leave the city and ride towards the Shire to pursue the One Ring. It features again when Frodo and Sam make their way towards Cirith Ungol. These sets were designed by the illustrator John Howe. All nine Nazgûl are shown riding winged monsters. Jackson's monsters explicitly differ from Tolkien's description in that they have teeth instead of beaks. The Nazgûl use them in battle more extensively than in the book. In the film the Witch-king's mount is largely responsible for the death of Théoden and his horse Snowmane, a departure from the book. As confirmed in the films' audio commentary, the design of the monsters was based largely on illustrations by John Howe.
In Jackson's 2012–2014 The Hobbit film trilogy, the men who became the Nazgûl are said to have been buried and sealed within the invented High Fells of Rhudaur. In the first film, Radagast briefly encounters the Witch-king while investigating Dol Guldur, and gives the Nazgûl's Morgul dagger to Gandalf to present at the White Council as proof of their return. In the second film, at Galadriel's behest, Gandalf heads to the High Fells and finds that all the Nazgûl have left the tomb. This confirms the Necromancer's identity as Sauron, as the Nazgûl appear alongside their master in the third film in spectral forms wearing Morgul armour and fight Elrond and Saruman before being driven away by Galadriel.
The Nazgûl are featured in the video game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and its sequel Middle-earth: Shadow of War. In the latter, Isildur is revealed to be one of the Nazgûl before he is killed by the game's protagonist, Talion. Talion takes Isildur's ring to prolong his life and eventually became Isildur's replacement until the demise of the Nazgûl in the Return of the King. For the expansion to its real-time strategy game The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II, The Rise of the Witch-king, Electronic Arts invented the name Morgomir for one of the Nazgûl.
The fantasy novelist George R. R. Martin's 1983 The Armageddon Rag tells the tale of a rock promoter who had managed a band named the Nazgûl, and was found ritually murdered on the 10th anniversary of the band's breakup.
Gothic rock band Trivalia released several of their albums through their own independent record label Black Rider and for a period of time issued a fanzine titled Black Rider, inspired by The Lord of the Rings.
- Tolkien in some places stated that the Ringwraiths wore their rings, and in others that Sauron kept control by holding the rings himself: "They would have obeyed . . . any minor command of his that did not interfere with their errand — laid upon them by Sauron, who still through their nine rings (which he held) had primary control of their wills".[T 4] They were by far the most powerful of his servants, and the most suitable for such a mission, since they were entirely enslaved to their Nine Rings, which he now himself held.[T 5]
- "Dwimmerlaik" represents a word in Rohirric, the speech of Rohan, translated into Old English; Tolkien glosses it in the index as a "work of necromancy", a "spectre". It derives from Old English (ge)dwimor, "phantom, illusion" and -leikr, the Old Norse ending corresponding to Anglo-Saxon -lac, meaning "a state or act".[T 28] Tom Shippey writes that Tolkien borrowed the word from a Middle English poem, Layamon's Brut.
- Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull comment that fans' suggestions that Gothmog was a Nazgûl are "no more than speculation". They note that an earlier Gothmog was "Lord of Balrogs", who killed Fëanor and Fingon, and was killed in the assault on Gondolin. They note also that "lieutenant of Morgul" could mean the second-in-command either of Minas Morgul or "more likely" of the Morgul-lord, the Lord of the Nazgûl.
- Tolkien 1977, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
- Tolkien 1977, "The Akallabêth", p. 267. "Yet Sauron was ever guileful, and it is said that among those whom he ensnared with the Nine Rings three were great lords of Númenórean race."
- Tolkien 1980, 4. "The Hunt for the Ring" i. "Of the Journey of the Black Riders"
- Carpenter 1981, #246 to Mrs Eileen Elgar, September 1963
- Tolkien 1980, "Journey of the Black Riders"
- Tolkien 1954a book 1, ch. 11 "A Knife in the Dark"
- Tolkien 1980, 4. "The Hunt for the Ring" ii. "Other Versions of the Story"
- Tolkien 1955, Appendix A, 1 "The Numenorean Kings"
- Tolkien 1980, Index, entry for Khamûl
- Tolkien writes: "the name and origin of the Witch-king is not recorded, but he was probably of Númenórean descent." Hammond, Wayne G. & Scull, Christina, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 20. Tolkien later removed the passage; it does not appear in the version in Jared Lobdell's A Tolkien Compass.
- Tolkien 1955, Appendix B, "The Tale of Years", entries in "The Second Age"
- Tolkien 1955, Appendix A, I, iv "Gondor and the heirs of Anarion"
- Tolkien 1955, Appendix B, "The Tale of Years", entries in "The Third Age"
- Tolkien 1954a, book 2, ch. 2 "The Council of Elrond"
- Tolkien 1954a, book 1, ch. 2 "The Shadow of the Past"
- Tolkien 1954a book 1, ch. 3 "Three is Company"
- Tolkien 1954a book 1, ch. 4 "A Short Cut to Mushrooms"
- Tolkien 1954a book 1, ch. 6 "The Old Forest"
- Tolkien 1954a book 1, ch. 7 "In the House of Tom Bombadil"
- Tolkien 1954a book 1, ch. 8 "Fog on the Barrow-downs"
- Tolkien 1954a book 1, ch. 9 "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony"
- Tolkien 1954a book 1, ch. 10 "Strider"
- Tolkien 1954a book 1, ch. 12 "Flight to the Ford"
- Tolkien 1954a book 2, ch. 3 "The Ring Goes South"
- Tolkien 1955, book 5, ch. 6, "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields"
- Carpenter 1981, #211 to Rhona Beare, 14 October 1958
- Tolkien 1955, book 5, ch. 4 "The Siege of Gondor"
- Tolkien 1990, p. 372
- Tolkien 1955, book 5, ch. 6, "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields". "There they had been mustered for the sack of the City and the rape of Gondor, waiting on the call of their Captain. He now was destroyed; but Gothmog the lieutenant of Morgul had flung them into the fray..."
- Tolkien 1955, book 5, ch. 10 "The Black Gate Opens"
- Tolkien 1955 book 6, ch. 3, "Mount Doom"
- Carpenter 1981, #100 to Christopher Tolkien, 29 May 1945, expressing his "loathing" for the Royal Air Force: "My sentiments are more or less those that Frodo would have had if he discovered some Hobbits learning to ride Nazgûl-birds, 'for the liberation of the Shire'."
- Carpenter 1981, #26 to Stanley Unwin, 4 March 1938
- Tolkien 1988, pp. 42–43
- Tolkien 1954a, book 2, ch. 7 "The Mirror of Galadriel"
- Tolkien 1989, pp. 259–260
- Tolkien 1955, book 5, ch. 4, "The Siege of Gondor"
- Tolkien 1954a, book 2, ch. 1 "Many Meetings"
- Tolkien 1954a, book 1, ch. 10, "Strider". "In dark and loneliness they are strongest; they will not openly attack a house where there are lights and many people — not until they are desperate, not while all the long leagues of Eriador still lie before us. But their power is in terror, and already some in Bree are in their clutch. They will drive these wretches to some evil work: [Bill] Ferny, and some of the strangers, and, maybe, [Harry] the gatekeeper too."
- Foster, Robert (1978). Guide to Middle Earth. Ballantine Books. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-345-27547-9.
- Shippey 2005, p. 394
- Hammond, Wayne G.; Scull, Christina (2005). The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion. HarperCollins. p. 565. ISBN 978-0-00-720907-1.
- Turbine, Inc. The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar. Level/area: Barad Guldur.
- Burns, Marjorie (2005). Perilous Realms: Celtic and Norse in Tolkien's Middle-earth. University of Toronto Press. pp. 104–106. ISBN 978-0-8020-3806-7.
- Scull, Christina (2006). "What Did He Know and When Did He Know It?". In Hammond, Wayne G.; Scull, Christina (eds.). The Lord of the Rings, 1954-2004: Scholarship in Honor of Richard E. Blackwelder. Marquette University Press. pp. 101–112. ISBN 0-87462-018-X. OCLC 298788493.
- Shippey 2005, pp. 242–243
- Fisher, Jason (2014). "Tolkien's Wraiths, Rings, and Dragons: An Exercise in Literary Linguistics". In Houghton, John Wm.; Croft, Janet Brennan; Martsch, N. (eds.). Tolkien in the New Century: Essays in Honor of Tom Shippey. McFarland. pp. 97–114. ISBN 978-1-4766-1486-1. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
- Kisor, Yvette (2013). "Incorporeality and Transformation in The Lord of the Rings". In Vaccaro, Christopher (ed.). The Body in Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on Middle-earth Corporeality. McFarland. pp. 20–38. ISBN 978-0786474783.
- Croft, Janet Brennan (2014). "Review: The Body in Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on Middle-earth". Mythlore. 33 (1, Fall/Winter 2014): 146–149.
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Bakshi's Nazgúl shamble and limp like zombies, giving them a truly creepy feeling. Understandably unsettled, the hobbits decide to skip Buckland—and also the Old Forest, Tom Bombadil's house, and the Barrow-downs—and head straight to The Prancing Pony in Bree.
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Now, I should add that while eight of the nine Nazgûl are skeletons with beautiful heads of white hair riding on flying horses, the Witch-king is more traditionally invisible. ... The Witch-king does finally appear, riding a decently dragonish fell beast rather than a Pegasus.
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To better distinguish him from his fellow Nazgul, the Witch-king was given additional armor and a large, pointed helm. In the novels, whenever his hood is thrown back, he is described as wearing a king's crown, which floats atop his invisible head and his burning eyes of fire.
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She also performed with Naked Spots Dance, another punk band. (It was probably good practice for what "Rings" fans know as the "Nazgul scream," a high-pitched screech made by Tolkien's evil Ringwraiths and performed by Ms. Walsh. "I'm a very good screamer," she said by telephone. "It's not that I scream at people. But I can scream. I went into the room with the mike and let out all the stress and the horror and the terror of making those films.")
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