Full Name: Gandalf
Name Meaning: Elf of the Wand (Old English)
Aliases: Gandalf the Grey, Gandalf the White, the Grey Wanderer, the Grey Pilgrim, Mithrandir, Tharkûn, Incánus, Gandalf Greyhame, Stormcrow, Lathspell, the Grey Fool, the Enemy of Sauron, the White Rider, Olórin
Birth Date: FA
Date of Death: First death: 25th January, TA 3019; second death: unknown
Gandalf was one of the most powerful Maiar, or lower angels. About one thousand years after the Third Age began, the Istari (wizards), who were all Maiar, appeared from across the sea. There were five of them: Saruman, Gandalf, Radagast, Alatar, and Pallando. They came in the form of old men and were ranked according to their power, with white being the highest level. Most inhabitants of Middle-earth believed Saruman to be the most powerful, but when Cirdan the Ship-wright welcomed Gandalf at the Grey Havens, he saw that Gandalf was indeed the most powerful and gave him Narya, the Elven Ring of Fire. Gandalf chose a wandering life, helping those in need of aid, never living in one place for long. He was the only wizard who took a peculiar interest in hobbits, whom the others thought to be lazy and unimportant creatures.
Gandalf was part of the White Council, which was formed to combat Sauron. Saruman was the head of the Council, though Galadriel would have chosen Gandalf. Saruman insisted that the Ring had fallen into the Anduin river and now lay at the bottom of the sea, but doubts assailed Gandalf as to the validity of this conclusion. He constantly studied old scrolls, searching for any solid information as to the fate of the Ring. Gandalf made two visits to Dol Guldur, where Sauron had hidden after his defeat at the end of the Second Age. The first visit took place in TA 2063; the second 787 years later. On the second visit, Gandalf discovered that the master of Dol Guldur was indeed Sauron (on the first visit, Gandalf had been unable to discover who Dol Guldur's lord was), and encountered the imprisoned Thrain the Dwarf. Gandalf received the key of Erebor from Thrain, who died soon after.
In TA 2941, Gandalf crossed paths with Thorin Oakenshield the Dwarf, who was about to depart on a trip to the Lonely Mountain, where he hoped to reclaim his ancestral home from Smaug the Dragon. Thorin was in need of a "burglar" who could sneak around the Mountain without making any noise that would alert Smaug to their presence. Gandalf suggested that Bilbo Baggins could do the job, and Thorin, along with twelve dwarves, visited the shocked Bilbo at Bag End. Gandalf helped bring out the Tookish and adventurous side in Bilbo and convinced him to take part in the quest. During the journey, Gandalf rescued his companions from three monstrous trolls (he alternatingly imitated the voice of each troll, making them argue among themselves until the sun came up and turned the trolls to stone). While the companions were travelling through a mountain pass, they were attacked by goblins. Gandalf managed to distract the creatures with a flash of light from his staff, and the wizard and dwarves escaped. Bilbo was left behind in the confusion, and played a riddle-game with Gollum, and also found the One Ring, while he was stuck in the caves. Afterwards, Bilbo re-joined his friends and told a lie about the finding of his Ring. Gandalf said nothing, but obviously doubted the truth of such a tale. The dwarves reached Mirkwood Forest, where Gandalf left them to continue by themselves. He did not return until the Elves of Mirkwood and the people of Esgaroth surrounded the Lonely Mountain and the dwarves refused to give them a share of the treasure. Gandalf fought in the Battle of Five Armies, and, after the battle, accompanied Bilbo back to the Shire.
In TA 2956, Gandalf and Aragorn met, forming a friendship that would last the rest of their lives. They searched endlessly for Gollum, whom they knew had left the Mountains in search of the "thief" who had taken his precious Ring, but to no avail: Gollum was wary enough to evade his pursuers. In TA 3001, Bilbo hosted his 111th birthday party, to which Gandalf was invited. Bilbo used the Ring to disappear, and planned to leave the Ring to Frodo after his little trick, but found the Ring's power at work. Bilbo grew angry when Gandalf urged him to leave the Ring to Frodo instead of taking it with him, and this caused Gandalf to suspect even more that this Ring was the One Ring. The wizard succeeded in convincing Bilbo, and Bilbo became the first being in history to give up the Ring of his own free will. In TA 3017, Aragorn finally captured Gollum, and Gandalf learned much from the creature. In the same year, Gandalf also read the scrolls that Isildur had written before his death. He grew alarmed and journeyed back to the Shire to test his theory. He had unmistakable proof when he threw the Ring into the fire of Bag End, and the Elf-runes inscribed on the Ring were revealed.
Gandalf immediately advised Frodo to leave the Shire very soon, and they made plans for Gandalf to meet Frodo on September 22nd, at the very latest. Gandalf left the Shire, and, not far from the village of Bree, met Radagast. Radagast told him that the Nazgul were abroad again and that they had crossed the river. He also related that Saruman said Gandalf must seek his aid at once, or it would too late. Gandalf, not knowing that Saruman was in league with Mordor journeyed to Isengard although he stopped at Bree on the way and wrote a letter to Frodo, which he entrusted to the Innkeeper to send to the Shire immediately. At Isengard he discovered Saruman's true intent, and after refusing Saruman's invitation to join the league of evil, was imprisoned on the top of Saruman's tower, Orthanc. Gwaihir the Eagle rescued Gandalf, and brought him to Edoras, capitol of Rohan. Gandalf was ill-received by King Théoden and the king's counsellor, Grima Wormtongue. The King bid him take any horse in the land and be gone, and, to Théoden's distress, Gandalf took Shadowfax, lord of all horses. Though it took days for Gandalf to tame the proud horse, Shadowfax's speed was so great that Gandalf reached the Shire not long after Frodo had set out. After learning that Frodo had left Hobbiton, Gandalf travelled to Weathertop and was surrounded by the Nazgul that night. They fought long, but at sunrise Gandalf escaped and fled to Rivendell, where he arrived three days before Frodo.
After Frodo volunteered to take the Ring at the Council of Elrond, Gandalf decided to lead the Fellowship. The nine companions set out on December 25th, and made for the Pass of Caradhras. Aragorn wished to take the route through the Mines of Moria, but Gandalf distrusted that road and refused. Caradhras conquered them with its deadly snowfalls, and they were forced to follow Aragorn's original suggestion. The Balrog in Moria was awoken when Pippin foolishly threw a stone into a well, and the whole Fellowship fought the horde of orcs that followed the monster. The companions fled to the Bridge of Khazad-dum, where Gandalf remained alone on the bridge to fight the Balrog. When the creature dared to cross the abyss, Gandalf broke the bridge with his staff, and the Balrog fell into the chasm. As it plummeted, it wrapped its whip about Gandalf's legs and pulled the wizard with it.
The two were locked in deadly combat as they fell, but when they hit the deep water at the uttermost foundations of stone, the Balrog's fire was quenched and he became a thing of slime, stronger than a strangling snake. They fought again until the Balrog fled up the Endless Stair to the peak of Zirak-zigil, where Gandalf finally threw down his enemy. The wizard himself passed away, but was sent back to finish his task in Middle-earth. When life returned to him, Gandalf was again rescued by Gwaihir, who took him to Lothlórien, where he gave and received council with Galadriel and Celeborn.
On March 1st, TA 3019, Gandalf was reunited with Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, though they at first mistook him for Saruman. Gandalf called for his horse, Shadowfax, and they rode to Edoras. Gandalf healed Théoden from the poisonous words of Grima, and the four companions, along with the available men of Rohan, travelled to Helm's Deep to battle Saruman's monstrous Uruk-hai. Before arriving at the fortress, Gandalf left the company without giving a reason, but, when the Uruk-hai had nearly won the battle, returned leading Erkenbrand, a thousand men of Rohan, and the Huorns.
After the battle, Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Théoden, Éomer, and a small escort rode to Orthanc, where they saw the flooded grounds: the work of the infuriated Ents. Gandalf talked to Saruman, and gave him the chance to aid them, but Saruman refused and Gandalf broke the wizard's staff, casting him out of their order. Grima aimed a palantir at Gandalf, but it missed and was picked up by Pippin. Gandalf quickly took the seeing stone and hid it away, but that did not prevent Pippin from stealing it that night and looking into it. Pippin saw Sauron, though the hobbit did not speak, and Gandalf thought it wise to take him to Minas Tirith. The two rode off on Shadowfax, leaving the rest of their company behind.
At Minas Tirith, Gandalf tried to advise Denethor, but Denethor had a long rivalry with the wizard and refused his counsel. Gandalf instead turned to Faramir, with whom he had always been well received, but this also angered Denethor. After Faramir was wounded, Denethor's insanity conquered him and Gandalf was forced to command the city and its forces. He nearly combatted the Witch-king of Angmar, but their approaching battle was interrupted by the Rohirrim. Gandalf instead rode quickly to the Tombs, where Denethor was trying to burn alive both himself and his feverish son. The wizard stopped the madness and saved Faramir, though Denethor leapt onto the pyre and was consumed in the flames.
Gandalf presided over the council of the Captains of the West, and came up with the idea of a diversionary battle. Before the Gates of Mordor, the Mouth of Sauron showed the army Frodo's mithril coat, clothes, and Sam's sword. He demanded surrender or the "prisoner" would be subjected to hideous torment. Gandalf, not knowing that Frodo still walked free, refused the terms, though the bitter pain it caused him was evident to his friends. The Last Battle began, and when Gandalf saw the forces of Mordor halt as the will to fight drained out of them, he leapt onto the back of Gwaihir, who had just arrived with many other Eagles, and flew to Mount Doom, where he rescued Frodo and Sam from the fiery streams of lava that would have consumed them.
At Aragorn's coronation, Gandalf had the honor of placing the crown on Aragorn's head. He rode with Théoden's funeral company to Edoras, and continued to accompany the hobbits all the way past Bree. He left them near Buckland, and rode off to have a long conversation with Tom Bombadil.
In autumn of TA 3021, Gandalf, along with Galadriel, Elrond, Frodo, Bilbo, and perhaps Shadowfax, took the ship to his ancient home in Valinor, and was never again seen in Middle-earth.
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