I am not quite sure if we are limited to actual steeds in today's challenge or not. If that is indeed the case, I would have to go for Asfaloth - the gleaming white horse of Glorfindel. In the books, Glorfindel is the Elf sent out from Rivendell to seek Aragorn and the hobbits in the Wild. In the movie, of course, it is Arwen, and I understand why that change was made, the original rider being a fleeting character in The Lord of the Rings, and meaningless to anyone who is unfamiliar with the greater Tolkien canon. However, Glorfindel is such a great character - an Elf out of Gondolin, who fought a Balrog single-handedly during the Goblin Wars. And Asfaloth is his trusted steed, who, without the aid of bit or bridle, bears the injured Ring-Bearer away from the Wraith and across the rising Ford of Bruinen. Asfaloth, according to his Elvish master, is fleet and does not allow his rider to fall.
|Asfaloth, from Sandra, Deviantart|
If, on the other hand, we are allowed to name creatures who have born Men, or Elves or Dwarves upon their backs, voluntarily - creatures who are not usually called upon to render this service, then I shall have to name the Great Eagles, who save Thorin and Company in The Hobbit, and the Men of the West during the battle at the Black Gate at the end of The Return of the King. The Great Eagles in Tolkien's Mythology are wondrous creatures - the special messengers of Manwë, the greatest of the Ainur. (The Ainur, in the Silmarillion, are the first of God's creation. They are wise and powerful, and much like angels in the traditional understanding of them.) The Eagles have always been a sign of hope to Arda. The Eagle, Thorondor, guards the Sun and the Moon from the malice of Morgoth. An Eagle rescues Maedhros, the one-handed son of Feanor, who had been captured by Morgoth. The Eagles protected the people of Gondolin, after their city fell. And, of course, Gwaihir, rescues Gandalf from imprisonment in the Tower of Orthanc.
|Bilbo and the Eagles, copyright, Ted Nasmith|
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