The Lord of the Rings Maiar Lore

Middle-earth has many powers at work, most defying comprehension. Among the most intriguing are the Maiar. These beings are essential to events not only in The Lord of the Rings, but in all the history of the fantasy world. The sad thing is that their influence probably goes unnoticed by anyone who only watches the movies.

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In fact, JRR Tolkien chronicled many of Maiar’s exploits in his books, including The Silmarillion. Followers of these works have a unique perspective on these mysterious beings. This, in turn, changes the way they live the main line the Lord of the Rings story. As such, their importance cannot be overstated.


seven They are basically angels

The Maiar are vague beings who serve the Valar. They are essentially the gods of Middle-earth and all of Arda. Together with their own master, Eru Ilúvatar, they created the world and hatched a grand plan for its existence.

They then formed the Maiar to safeguard this world. Aiding the divine purpose is their chief duty. This mainly comes down to keeping the peace and keeping all darkness at bay. It’s a job they do tirelessly, as sinister forces always try to fight their way to power.

6 They can change shape

As a kinsman of the Valar, looking directly at the Maiar would likely overwhelm a lowly resident of Middle-earth. Luckily, these spirits can shapeshift. Not only can they pass for Elves or other earthly beings, but they can disappear altogether.

The Maiar used these abilities to appear trustworthy to the Elves of the First Age. The adoption of fair forms helped convince these early residents to migrate from Middle-earth to Valinor. The Valar decreed this to help them escape from imminent danger, especially one of their own.

5 They were corrupted by Morgoth

Even angels can fall, especially when faced with the Devil’s equivalent in Middle-earth. Melkor was originally one of the Valar. His lust for power led him to betray his kin, eventually desecrating their lands with his theft of the Silmarills and gaining the new name, “Morgoth”. As well as being a formidable enemy on his own, he has proven to be extremely skilled in manipulation and mutilation.

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He used these gifts to attract many Maiar to his side. Those under his sway took on many terrifying forms, the most prominent being the demonic balrogs. This would explain their winged and horned appearance. As terrible as these creatures are, however, Morgoth’s betrayal has also produced something worse…

4 Sauron is one of them

Chief among Morgoth’s servants was Sauron. He himself is a Maia and came with many abilities of their own. In particular, he used shapeshifting to transform into wolves and vampires. However, it could also take a fair form. Not only did this aid in his manipulation, but it spoke to what set him apart from other slaves of Morgoth.

Because his master liked him so much, Sauron had more agency than the Dark Lord’s other servants. Suffice it to say, a brainless balrog would have a hard time bending anyone to their will. Unfortunately, Sauron lost much of his deceptive power as well as his beautiful form after causing the destruction of Númenor. This didn’t make him any easier to kill though, as evidenced by The Lord of the Rings. Sauron was perhaps the only Maiar with power comparable to the Valar.

3 One married an elf

Among the most enchanted Maia was Melian. This maiden roamed the forests of Middle-earth, bringing joy to its inhabitants with her song. One of these residents was an elf named Thingol. They met during the mass exodus of his people to Valinor. However, he never made it to this earth.

Rather, they both stayed in Middle-earth and started the kingdom of Doriath. They not only provided a place of sanctuary for thousands of years, but later gave birth to Lúthien. Later, she became known for her own mystical beauty and her romantic adventures with Beren. This makes Melian a direct ancestor of the iconic the Lord of the Rings characters like Elrond and, by extension, Arwen.

2 They trained the five wizards

The Maiar also manifested in the Third Age, taking the form of wizards. They were Saruman the White, Gandalf the Grey, Radagast the Brown and two Blue Wizards: Alatar and Pallando. As before, their goal was to protect the world from dark forces. Most of the time, their duties consisted of thwarting Sauron and his ilk. Although Saruman was originally the most powerful of the group, the pecking order was not absolute, especially once he himself succumbed to corruption.

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In The two towers, Gandalf returned from death as a new white magician. The details surrounding this remain sketchy. He claimed he was fired until his task was completed. This has led many to theorize that he was resurrected as part of a grand plan by the Valar king, Manwë, or the original creator, Eru Ilúvatar. Either way, this phenomenon showed that the Valar still love those who serve them faithfully.

1 They carry the sun and the moon

Part of forming the planet involved creating a cycle. This originally fell to the Two Trees of Valinor. Their rotating cycles of divine light were established day and night. Unfortunately, Morgoth has enlisted Ungoliant the Spider to poison these trees and plunge the world into darkness. Since neither the Valar nor the resident Elves could replicate the sacred energy, the task of bringing the light back to Arda fell to the Maiar.

Two of them transported the last remnants of the trees around the world, thus imitating the cycle. Arien, a powerful spirit of fire, led the ship from the Sun. Talion, a hunter spirit, acted like the Moon. This is why Tolkien refers to these celestial bodies by gender. Moreover, it is a testament to the ingenuity of the Maiar, their endless dedication, and their lasting impact on the world.

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