If you’ve ever wondered why the Eagles didn’t just take Frodo and the ring to Mordor, let us explain it to you before you do something rash, like post the question to a Lord of the Rings subreddit and get absolutely dragged in the comment section. The question itself isn’t a bad one—the Eagles do tend to miraculously show up just in time before all is lost, but the Eagles aren’t some superficial deus ex machina Tolkien threw in there because he was lazy. There’s lots of complex lore behind the Eagles that people who have only watched the movies might be missing out on. The most obvious reason why the Eagles didn’t deliver the ring to Mordor is because tactically, gigantic birds flying toward Mount Doom would have been pretty stupid. I think the Dark Lord Sauron would have noticed that. If there’s one blaring theme of the Lord of the Rings series, it’s that “even the smallest person can change the course of the future”, and Frodo and Sam were certainly small enough to sneak past Sauron’s gaze.
But what about the Eagle who rescues Gandalf? That Eagle is Gandalf’s old pal Gwaihir the Windlord, who was the Lord of the Great Eagles during the third age. Gwaihir rescues Gandalf from the peak of the Tower of Orthanc (and later from Zirakzigil after his battle with Durin’s Bane) because Gandalf is a Maia—a spirit of the divine order—and has a special relationship with the Eagles. The Eagles are a proud race and don’t do favors for just anyone—wizards like Gandalf and Radagast built trust and relationships with the Great Eagles over many years, and the Eagles understand and support Gandalf’s mission in Middle-earth.
If you liked this little LOTR lore lesson, you’re going to love this week’s dank Lord of the Rings memes!