Talk:Fell beast (Middle-earth)

Active discussions

QuestionEdit

On what winged creatures did the other Ringwraiths ride when referred to as Winged Nazgul, if not fell beasts? --Deelkar (talk) 22:51, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Actually, In the Lord of the Rings:The Return of the King, Tolkein does name the 'Fell Beast' In the story, Eowyn names them once, during her battle with the Witch King, calling the creature a Dwimmerlaik. Saying "Begone foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!"-Eowyn to the Witch King of Angmar, the Battle of the Pelennor Feilds. so they do have a name, but that doesnt help determine what they looked like.--BlueChickenẼ

In book five, chapter 1 (Minas Tirith) Pippin remembers the Black Riders from when they were in the shire and describes the Nazgûl as winged terror, shortly afterwards he hears the shriek of one Winged Nazgûl and describes it as:
'It is the sign of our fall, and the shadow of doom, a Fell Rider of the air.'
(page 749 of my edition of "The Lord of the Rings")
--Deelkar (talk) 23:24, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • As I recall, the other creatures aren't described much, except that they resemble birds. Also when Pippin looks in the palantír, they look like bats. Eric119 05:15, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • "Fell beasts" is just a designation we have adopted because it's a description used for them, and Tolkien does not provide a name. "Fell Rider" is another such description (sort of like I might call one "really bad news"). I don't believe it is really common enough to deserve mentioning—is the term used elsewhere? (What evidence is there that the one ridden by the Witch-king is any different from the ones ridden by the others?) -[[User:Aranel|Aranel ("Sarah")]] 05:21, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Is it really proper to refer to the Fell beasts as not being pterasaur like because they don't have beaks? Many pterosaurs had more reptile like mouths with teeth. I'd have to watch the movie again, but I believe the fell beasts walk like a pterosaur and have wings that are pterosaur instead of the four legs and seperate wings of a dragon.

The 'pterosaur' connection isn't as clearly established as the article implies. In Letters #211 Tolkien responds to a direct question of whether the Witch-king's mount was a pterodactyl by saying that he did not intend it to be such when he wrote the story, but that the result was 'pterodactylic' and owed much to the "new mythology" of paleontology. Thus, I think the question of beaks vs no-beaks is likely irrelevant... Tolkien didn't intend such a direct parallel. --CBDunkerson 08:04, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Just watched the movie again, and the wings bone structure and the way that the Fell Beast moves is exactly in line with is being pterosaur like instead of dragon like.

Actually its more of a pterosaur/bat hybrid in its design.

Why are we using the depictions of the movie in order to justify the design of Fell Beasts? I find it pretty repugnant to accept the screen version as canon. Also, what earthly reference do you have to say they are "pterosaur like instead of dragon like?" Have you seen a dragon? Sighter Goliant 16:14, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

Teeth vs. BeakEdit

I don't remember anything specific in the book refering to them having either. Is there a source other than the bird/pteresaur debate? Because if they are meant to be pterasaur-like its possible that they would have either.

Return of the King: "Suddenly the great beast beat its hideous wings, and the wind of them was foul. Again it leaped into the air, and then swiftly fell down upon Éowyn, shrieking, striking with beak and claw." 2606:6000:61CF:3400:8929:EAE1:5A38:549E (talk) 08:05, 8 January 2020 (UTC)

AncientEdit

The Balrog and Fellbeast could have been dinosaurs as thay are depicted as ancient.

Not the Balrogs, for certain. They are Maiar spirits, Quenya valaraukar "demons of power", if I recall correctly. In fact, despite their fearsome size and features as they are depicted in the films, for example their wings and horns, they are in the book not even necessarily so large. The shadow around the Balrog of Moria might span the hall in Khazad-Dûm, but the physical size and shape of the creature is left largely to our imagination. The idea that a Balrog is only roughly man-sized is given further credence by the fact that Glorfindel, a mere (albeit mighty) elf, was able to take one down. With Gandalf's Maiar powers, he would be on par with the Balrog in terms of magical combat, and so the size of the Balrog of Moria could be anything really, but for an elf it would have to be at least vaguely on the same scale.

Entry "In the books" contains information from the movieEdit

"In The Return of the King the fell beast attacked and eventually killed Snowmane, Théoden's horse."

This is what happened in the movie version. In the book, isn´t he pierced by a black dart on the Pellenor Fields after the Witch-King arrives with his "wave of terror"? The horse is already dead when the fell beast tries to "feast on its flesh", right? I don´t have the book with me right now, but I´m pretty positive that this is right.

If you agree, we may change that section to something strictly book-related.

General use of Pterosaur vs PterodactylEdit

Pterodactyl was one of the first pterosaurs discovered, and is almost certainly one of the best publicized (as noted by Tolkien refering to it specifically), but wouldn't it be better to also talk more generally about the various descriptions and thoughts on the pterosaur/bird/fantasy dragon matter?

Tolkien was clear in his description of what it looked like, and said specifically in a cited source that it was not a pterodactyl. The reason it cannot be a dragon is given. Why belabor the point further? And why drag in references from other fantasy works? TCC (talk) (contribs) 20:44, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
pterodactyl is a specific pterosaur though, so Tolkien saying its not a pterodactyl doesn't necessarily mean that its not a pterosaur, and his description does sound pterosaur-like, why not a line referencing that theory?
Tolkien was not a paleontologist. It was very common decades ago for non-specialists to fail to make (or even understand) the distinction. You're splitting a hair that doesn't exist here. TCC (talk) (contribs) 05:16, 29 April 2006 (UTC)
You don't think it might be a good idea to clarify it to make sections further down the page make a little more sense? Even I was wrong about it, pterodactyl refers to a group of pterosaurs instead of just a single pterosaur species. (I was getting it confused with pteranodon for some reason)
What doesn't make sense further down the page? The bit about the movies? That the movie people chose to make their fell beasts look like pterosaurs is neither here nor there as far as Tolkien is concerned. There were numerous visual inconsistencies between the book and the movies. This is just another one of them. Either way, the "general interpretation" claim is still unreferenced. (Most of the movies' variance with the book was against the general interpretation -- or even the unadorned text.) TCC (talk) (contribs) 07:02, 29 April 2006 (UTC)
Numerous visual inconsistancies between the movies and what is described in the books on other matters perhaps. I've been unable to find any problems between the physical appearance of the fell beasts in the movies and the books aside from the teeth/beak issue. They're not described specifically as being pterosaurs, however that is the closest real creature. Otherwise it would be describing them as being small dragons which is certainly incorrect.
Or -- as it most likely -- it was describing a beast entirely of Tolkien's imagination that never existed in either history or legend. That you could use a pterosaur (despite Tolkien saying that's not what they were -- yes, he said "pterodactyl" but I'd be shocked to learn he observed this distinction) and not be too far off is beside the point. A bald bat would have been equally similar. TCC (talk) (contribs) 23:40, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
So no objections to the current version then? It lists both bat-like or pterosaur-like as both would have to be bald to qualify.
No, it's far too wordy and speculative. I have no idea why there's this need to try to identify it specifically. You might as well try to discover the exact taxonomy of Smaug's species. Added: Now that I read it over more carefully, as it stands I see there's really only one sentence I don't think is necessary. I'll cut it, but I won't insist on it. It's not worth the effort. TCC (talk) (contribs) 04:09, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
I also marked a sentence with {{weal}}. Who actually thinks these things are dragons? I've never encountered such a person myself. This should either be made more explicit, referenced, or cut. TCC (talk) (contribs) 04:19, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
Edit summary: "This is useful for making the argument in the following sentence, and points out the (deliberate) ambiguity of Tolkiens statement." The quote from Tolkien is itself enough to establish the reasonableness of the following sentence, and it's not ambiguous at all. (Vague perhaps, but not ambiguous.) Besides, an encyclopedia is not in the business of making arguments, only reporting what has been said elsewhere. I said I wouldn't insist on it, but I was hoping for an acutal answer to this, especially since I asked about it earlier. TCC (talk) (contribs) 05:41, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
Enough confusion in some people that it has been a part of the page for a long time. I've encountered several myself. Whether or not any of these people who never read the books will ever read this wikipedia entry is an open question.
Also the identification is interesting because it does resemble pterosaurs more closely than anything else, and Tolkiens own statements, as they don't particularly resemble anything else in his writing even going back to the earliest periods of middle earth's history. I think its worthwhile simply for a visual aid to counter the more prevalent depiction of them simply as smaller dragons (which happens all too often).
If it was too speculative and wordy hows that?
You succeeded in cutting away much that was interesting, and also much that was definite and cited, or at least citable. They were, for example, certainly beaked. ("Suddenly the great beast beat its hideous wings, and the wind of them was foul. Again it leaped into the air, and then swiftly fell down upon Éowyn, shrieking, striking with beak and claw.") There's also no reason to eliminate Tolkien's own words on its nature. I have no idea why you think it's confusing, except that it punctures this pterosaur idea.
If dragons are a "prevalent depiction" of them, it shouldn't be too hard to find an example. (What's really needed is something that says it's common, not just one or two examples of someone having misread the description.) We can't just put things into articles because we think they're right. We have to be able to prove they're right. TCC (talk) (contribs) 10:06, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
I cut "bat-like" since as described its general form is not at all like a bat. The wing structure is indeed like a bat's, ("...webs of hide between horned fingers..." whereas a pterosaur's wing is attatched to a single finger) so I pointed that up. TCC (talk) (contribs) 10:16, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
The comments above are interlaced, not consistently indented, and sometimes unsigned... so I have no idea who wrote, "Also the identification is interesting because it does resemble pterosaurs more closely than anything else, and Tolkiens own statements, as they don't particularly resemble anything else in his writing even going back to the earliest periods of middle earth's history." Whoever it was, this response is directed to you.
Actually, Tolkien wrote about creatures in the early ages of Middle-earth that had been twisted by Morgoth into monsters with horns and tough hides. Orome, the huntsman of the Valar, used to ride about Middle-earth hunting down these creatures... and it was on one of those excursions that he encountered the recently Awakened Elves. The possibility that these creatures were meant to be 'dinosaurs' (as they were understood in Tolkien's time) has been discussed before and seems to me not unlikely, but was not specifically stated. In any case, the 'fell beasts' as creatures surviving from an elder age do have some similarity to those earlier references. Tolkien viewed 'palentology' as a 'new mythology' which was largely speculative (and indeed, many of the early ideas about dinosaurs were later revised). I believe he incorporated it into his legendarium, but I think it is a mistake to apply modern views of dinosaurs to Tolkien... he simply didn't have that kind of information. He may not even have heard of pterodactyls when he first came up with the 'fell beasts'. They thus might be more Tolkien's imagination of what a 'flying dinosaur' might have been like than actual flying dinosaurs... of which he probably knew very little. --CBDunkerson 11:19, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
The above comments are not in fact interlaced, although they might appear that way because I posted several times in succession at one point. The comment to which you're replying was from 64.6.2.192. The indent is inconsistent as you note.
What you say here is really my point, but as usual you put it better. TCC (talk) (contribs) 20:54, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
Does the quote actually clarify anything in its current form? Perhaps it would be useful to have the full quote, instead of a partial quote (where he dismisses the possibility of them being pterodactyls) followed by a paraphrase with the "older geologic eras" section. This is a confusing statement. As previous versions of the page noted, the only creatures of older geologic eras that resemble the fell beast are pterosaurs.
Clarify anything? The problem here is that you're looking for something definitive where it does not in fact exist. Was Tolkien vague about the nature of the beasts? Then he was vague about it. We have no warrant to go beyond that. He was "open to the idea", but did not intend pterosaurs. Period.
You have misunderstood the reason I attached {{fact}}. It had nothing to do with the wingspan of a Quezalcoatlus. The paragraph as a whole makes assertions about reasons why certain design decisions were made for the movies. A cite is necessary to establish that these really are the reasons and not someone's after-the-fact analysis. TCC (talk) (contribs) 02:24, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
They're in the DVD extras. A little hard to cite against another wikipedia article.
The paragraph is, unfortunately, not phrased so as to inspire confidence. "These differences are likely attributable...." If there's a source, then it's either attributable ir not; there's no need to mince. If the source doesn't say, then we shouldn't go there at all. (Actually, the best reason to make the wings bat-like is because that's how Tolkien described them.)
But of course you can cite a DVD! Try Template:Cite video. TCC (talk) (contribs) 08:07, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Actually, In the Lord of the Rings:The Return of the King, Tolkein does name the 'Fell Beast' In the story, Eowyn names them once, during her battle with the Witch King, calling the creature a Dwimmerlaik. Saying "Begone foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!"-Eowyn to the Witch King of Angmar, the Battle of the Pelennor Feilds {{unsigned|BlueChicken))

She is addressing not the beast, but the Witch-king. "Dwimmerlaik" is an Old English compound meaning "phantom" or "spectre". TCC (talk) (contribs) 23:52, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Am I the only one who notices that whenever Tolkien attempts to use a real-world reference, he's not talking about bats or pterodactyls or pterosaurs or fruit flies? He uses birds. He mentions vultures, and he says, "if bird, then greater than all other birds." Now, I'm not saying it was a bird, but I am saying this argument reeks of people forwarding pet theories. We have no reason in Middle Earth to assume the Fell Beasts were giant bats or dinosaurs of any type. Yet we each make that assumption, then try to argue on the basis of extremely scant "evidence" that our way is better. Frankly, I'm not convinced, and I'm pretty sure that what we should actually put on the article itself is something saying that it's impossible to resolve this issue based on the texts available to us. Sighter Goliant 16:26, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

What issue? There is no issue. There are, as you say, pet theories. What's this impulse to relate a fantasy creature to a prehistorical one? It's absurd. TCC (talk) (contribs) 07:32, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
I agree with you, of course. My problem is with pages and pages in the talk of an argument over something useless, that shouldn't ultimately be in the article to begin with. Sighter Goliant 18:11, 7 October 2006 (UTC)

These fell beasts are as similar to pterosaurs as raccoons are to rats. They bear no resemblance other than flight. Look at the neck: no pterosaur yet discovered has a neck as tubular as that shown in the films. Pterosaurs also had long beaklike structures, with those approaching large sizes having absolutely no teeth at all. Then you have the wings, which are of completely different structure; and the legs, which on pterosaurs are frail. No known pterosaur is anywhere near as strong or corpulent as the fell beasts are shown. Piotr (Venezuela) 06:15, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

I don't know as relying on the movies is a good idea. We should have a section devoted to "Film Depictions," but the rest of the article should not mention them. Sighter Goliant 18:11, 7 October 2006 (UTC)

Books sectionEdit

I corrected the Return of the King portion here. Book Five, page 115 (Houghton Mifflin "collector's edition" ISBN 0-395-19395-8) states Snowmane was killed by a "dart", which clearly could not have been launched by the fell beast itself. It is also stated on page 163 that the forces of the West saw "all the Nazgûl gathered together, hovering above the Towers of the Teeth like vultures." They were therefore on flying mounts, certainly fell beasts, and there's no guesswork at all about what they were riding on the last race to Mount Doom. TCC (talk) (contribs) 05:41, 29 April 2006 (UTC)

DwimmerlaikEdit

I saw a comment posted here suggesting that "dwimmerlaik" be a name for these creatures.

The word "dwimmerlaik", and here I refer to the Encyclopedia of Arda, is derived from the Anglo Saxon words dwimor, pertaining to sorcery, and lich(e), a word for "corpse" preserved in our lich(e)-gates at cemeteries (and a word much overused by unimaginative fantasy authors to describe particularly powerful undead creatures).

A sorcerer-corpse, or something similar, patently has little relationship to a giant bird or reptilian creature - and applies perfectly to the magic-wielding living dead Nazgûl.

The Encyclopedia of Arda is a bit off on the translation of this one. Tolkien did not invent the term. It can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary under the spelling demerlayk - with various alternate spellings (e.g. dweomerlak) listed. The root 'dwimer' is 'phantom / illusion / magic' and the 'layk' part actually the same root found in "wedlock"... Old English 'lak', meaning 'action / play'. All historical uses of the word based on these roots had it meaning something like 'act of magic / sorcery'. This matches Tolkien's definition (in the LotR index), "work of necromancy, spectre". The word 'lich' is completely unrelated. It comes from OE 'lic', meaning 'shape, form'... which later came to be used for the physical body, and then specifically a dead body. Given the 'work of' bit, Tolkien was clearly using the word in its standard form with the 'lak' derivation. --CBD 15:15, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
Interesting. Thanks for the correction there. I wonder if my memory regarding the Encyclopedia of Arda was wrong. So a work of magic still seems more applicable to the Nazgûl, but could it perhaps refer to the "fell beast" as well?
Theoretically yes since they were apparently corrupted/altered by Sauron, but note that in the index Tolkien described 'dwimmerlaik' as "work of necromancy, spectre"... which seem clearly to refer to the Witch king rather than his steed. As to Encyclopedia of Arda, I checked... they only cover the 'dwimmer' part and get that right. I have seen the 'lich' interpretation before though so it might have been there at some point or just a theory elsewhere on the web. --CBD 11:55, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

Good grief. Eowyn's use of dwimmerlaik OBVIOUSLY refers to the Lord of the Nazgul, NOT to his "Fell" beast. In the section of the LOTR appendices on the language of the Rohirrim, Tolkien provides the meaning and derivation. I don't have it in front of me, but you can look it up.169.253.4.21 (talk) 21:15, 25 February 2008 (UTC)Texxasfinn

Use of Term "Fell Beast"Edit

I know "Fell beast" or "Fellbeast" is all over the internet, but Tolkien would have choked to see "fell" used as a proper noun. It is an adjective. He might just as easily referred to the creatures as "horrid beasts" or "ghastly beasts"-- would it then sound right to you to use "Horridbeast" as a proper name? Tolkien uses "fell" many times in LOTR, refering to the Nazgul's winged steeds, to the "fell meats" Sauron nursed them on, to "fell voices" in the air, to "fell creatures" before the walls of Minas Tirith, and even to the "fell-handed" Rohirrim. In "The Homecoming of Beorthnoth," one of the two main characters refers to "fell things" that are about. The professor's not around anymore, but I'd wager all I've got that he would have been exasperated by "fellbeasts" and their proponents. It's an adjective, not a noun!!!!

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I think I'll go look up a few favorite passages in LOTR so that I can read about the Nazgul lord mounting his "Blackhorse," Sam leading Bill, his "Poorpony," and Theoden riding into battle on "Swiftsnowmane." 169.253.4.21 (talk) 21:15, 25 February 2008 (UTC)TexxasFinn

-- Seriously tho...people didn't refer to the Nazgul's steeds as "fell beasts" until the movies came out. In the book iirc they're called "winged steeds" more, and even that's obviously just another description - the same way as "short humanoid" would be a fine description of a Hobbit, but a ridiculous *name* for them. The reason people started acting like Fell Beast was some sort of Official Designation is that in the dvd commentaries & the movie companion books they're always referred to as such. But that doesn't mean they're *called* Fell Beasts - they're meerely *described* as beasts, which are fell, and a lot less often than they're descirbed as other things (such as steeds which are winged). People seem to think Fell Beast is the name of a species, like Orc, and are using it all over the place. Truth is, these creatures were never named. Nobody knows what they are. At the very least, can we PLEASE mention at the top of the article something to this effect. It's kind of aggravating to see people talking about The Fell Beasts as some definite, concrete term for something (I mean the noisy cat outside my garden's a fell beast by any standard...but I'd call it a Cat); almost as annoying as PJ's obsession with referring to The World Of Men.

He's a great action director, and I love the films, but god love him when it comes to his way with words I think JRRT would have a heart attack. 41.240.99.145 (talk) 17:09, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

I completely agree with these two editors. The use of the term "fell beast" is nothing short of silly. Why don't we call it a "terrifying fell beast" if we're into descriptors or what about simply "beast" or "unnamed beast." The creature in question was never named in the books, was never named in any adaptations (to my knowledge), and it's pretty clear that giving it the name "fell beast" demonstrates nothing more than inexperience with the English language. I can't think of a good way to rename this article, so I'm suggesting that we merge it. Please see Talk:Nazgûl#Merge. -Thibbs (talk) 22:40, 27 February 2009 (UTC)

Picture experimentEdit

Tried a little something to place a bat wing and a pterodactyl wing right near each other for comparison with a single caption. I basically ripped off the code that was generated from a <gallery> tag and tweaked it. I suppose it looks OK, and hopefully it won't break in some future release of MediaWiki. TCC (talk) (contribs) 06:12, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

Wyverns and Fell BeastsEdit

The other day it occurred to me that the mythological creatures most resembling the general description of Tolkien's winged creatures/fell beasts were wyverns. It's true that wyverns were originally considered a form of dragon (but now are considered separate from dragons which now always have 4 legs with 2 wings), but as Tolkien must have had a good knowledge of English mythology, I have to wonder if wyverns hadn't influenced his thoughts on fell beasts even a little. After all Wyverns are supposed to be large reptilian creatures with two wings (dragon-like or bat-like) and two legs and are supposed to have long tails. According to the wyvern article, the rest of the appearance could vary, so it wouldn't be too far-fetched to imagine that some wyverns were described as having beaks and possibly not being able to breathe fire. Of course, this is all speculation and will remain so unless Christopher Tolkien finds some notes by his father on the fell beasts being wyverns. Shame J.R.R. Tolkien isn't around so the question could be asked directly.72.27.92.79 19:32, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

JRRT came right out and said they were related to the "new mythology" of dinosaurs, while at the same time he didn't identify them as any one in particular. TCC (talk) (contribs) 22:44, 6 August 2007 (UTC)
Did JRRT say that the fell beasts were solely related to the "new mythology" of palentology or that the "new mythology" contributed (even if greatly) to development of the creature in his work? There is a difference. If he based it solely off paleontology (unlikely considering his background) then one does have to admit that the results are astonishingly similar to the description of wyverns. However, given that Tolkien did have knowledge of mythology (and his knowledge of mythology was probably greater than his knowledge of paleontology) then it is at least likely that knowledge of wyverns (grouped in with the knowledge of dragons, elves, etc.) would have had some influence (even if minute) upon his development of the winged steeds of the Nazgul.72.27.92.79 00:57, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
He said it "owes something to the new mythology" or something along those lines. The idea is that it was roughly based on what he called a "pterodactyl", but not corresponding to any real animal. He never said a thing about wyverns that I recall, and I would guess they weren't much on his radar. I know of no legends about them; they appear primarily as heraldic animals. Modern post-Tolkien fantasy has done somewhat more with them, which may lend the impression that they were more significant in medieval legend than they really were. But don't be so sure you know what he'd be aware of based on his "background". If you go by that, you'd never guess in a million years who one of his favorite modern authors was. TCC (talk) (contribs) 01:21, 8 August 2007 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:Fellbeast.jpgEdit

Image:Fellbeast.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

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BetacommandBot (talk) 20:02, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

CategoriesEdit

Should I leave the categories here or not, as it is now a redirect page? Darth Newdar (talk) 17:54, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

I'm not a member of WikiProject Middle Earth so I may be wrong about this, but all things considered a merged article is no longer really an article in its own right. This page is a redirect so it's meaningless to have class and importance tags given to it. The merged-to article should provide adequate class and importance ratings for this material now. I'll change the top and add a merge-from tag to the new parent article. For the history books, though, this had been ranked a B-class and was recognized as of mid-importance. -Thibbs (talk) 20:54, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Return to "Fell beast (Middle-earth)" page.