What Would Happen If There Were No Eagles In Middle-Earth?

Pretty much everywhere the Eagles pop up in Tolkien’s writings, they’re saving the day. Without their presence, countless individuals, armies, and realms would have fallen into darkness. Villains would have remained at large, and the One Ring itself may have been recaptured by Sauron.

And yet, it’s fair to think that none of that may have happened, even if the Eagles weren’t involved in the story. Even if Middle-earth was Eagle-less, there’s a good chance that all of those eucatastrophes would have still happened, even if they looked different. The concept of the eucatastrophe isn’t dependent on Eagles. It has to do with the sudden and unexpected defeat of evil at the hands of good.

In his famous essay “On Fairy-Stories,” Tolkien goes further into the concept of a eucatastrophe, explaining, “The consolation of fairy-stories, the joy of the happy ending: or more correctly of the good catastrophe, the sudden joyous ‘turn’ (for there is no true end to any fairy-tale): this joy, which is one of the things which fairy-stories can produce supremely well, is not essentially ‘escapist’, nor ‘fugitive’. In its fairy-tale — or otherworld — setting, it is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur.”

In theory, then, if there were no Eagles, other factors would create that sudden, miraculous grace. Other powers that be would provide the joyous turn of fate, even if it didn’t come via an Eagle’s talon. Gandalf hints at this at the end of “The Hobbit” when he tells Bilbo, “You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck.” Removing the Eagles from Middle-earth may feel bleak. But that eucatastrophic magic would have bubbled to the surface one way or another in the long run.

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