I’ve been following The Babylon Bee Reads The Lord of the Rings, and of course the topic of the eagles came up. I decided to wade into this with my first ever fan fiction. I wrote my own section of the book that would go in Book 6, Chapter 4: The Field of Cormallen right after Frodo and Sam are rescued by the eagles. This is meant to correspond with book canon, so if a reference to Tom Bombadil confuses you, go read the books for Pete’s sake.
When Frodo awoke, he found that he was lying on a soft bed. Next to him was Sam, also slowly waking from a great slumber. “Where am I?” he muttered.
“The land of Ithilien,” said a familiar voice.
When Frodo looked to see its source, he couldn’t believe his eyes. There was Gandalf, robed in white, his beard now gleaming like pure snow. Frodo was speechless. It was Sam who spoke first. “Gandalf! I thought you were dead!”
“I’m as alive as you are,” said Gandalf, a twinkle in his eye.
“But how did we get here?” Frodo asked.
“The great eagle Gwaihir the Windlord and his brethren found you just in time,” Gandalf explained, “and bore you here.”
“I think I remember that,” said Sam. “It feels like a dream. But here we are. It’s as real as can be.”
While Sam was merry, Frodo’s brow furrowed with thought. “Wait, so there are eagles that can fly into Mordor?”
“Yes, and lucky there are,” said Sam. “Or we’d have been roasted back by Mount Doom like a couple of conies.”
“The eagles are noble creatures,” Gandalf stated, “and I will pass on your thanks.”
“Yes yes, please do,” Frodo said, still looking quite bothered by something. “It’s just... well... why didn’t we fly the eagles into Mordor in the first place?”
Gandalf looked confused. “Excuse me?”
“Instead of this long treacherous trek by foot, why didn’t we just ride the eagles to Mount Doom?” Frodo asked.
“Oh yeah,” said Sam. “That sounds like it would have been much easier. Why didn’t we do that, Gandalf?”
“Well, that’s... um...” Gandalf took a moment to compose himself. “Well, remember how at the council of Elrond we discussed a number of different possibilities of what to do with the ring? We even talked about giving it to Tom Bombadil.” Gandalf started laughing. “Remember him? What a silly fellow!”
Sam laughed as well. “He was a queer one, that Tom. My gaffer won’t believe me when I tell him about Tom... but he’ll believe little about this adventure.”
Frodo was unamused. “I do remember you bringing up Tom Bombadil, Gandalf. What I don’t remember is eagles getting discussed.”
“I mentioned how Gwaihir rescued me from Isengard,” Gandalf said.
“Yes, but I don’t remember any discussion about using them to get the ring to Mount Doom,” Frodo rejoined.
“Yes, well...” Gandalf stroked his beard. “There you go. It was so obvious that solution wouldn’t work, no one even brought it up.”
Sam nodded. “I guess that makes sense.” He saw Frodo was not convinced. “It would be nice to know what some of those obvious reasons are, though.”
“Well, yes, I suppose,” Gandalf said. “But there are just so many reasons that wouldn’t have worked, it’s hard to even know where to start.”
“Why don’t you just tell us one reason for example,” Frodo prompted.
“Okay. Um...” Gandalf was silent a moment but finally raised a finger. “They are very noble creatures -- as you well know.”
“Quite noble,” Sam agreed.
“They find the affairs of people beneath them,” Gandalf continued. “They’re not just going to give people a ride like some workhorse.”
“Even if the world were at stake?” Frodo asked.
Gandalf nodded. “Even if.”
“That does sound noble,” Sam said. “So noble... they kind of sound like jerks.”
“But they saved us, Sam,” Frodo responded. “If they wouldn’t carry people to save the world, why did they pick us up from Mordor?”
“That’s because...” Gandalf started to say but took a long, drawn-out breath that lasted a few seconds. “...because they do pick up, but not drop off.”
“That makes absolutely no sense,” Frodo answered.
“And the other thing,” Gandalf shouted, looking excited at his new point. “They’re very powerful creatures. You couldn’t let them hold the ring or they’d be tempted by it.”
“I would have held onto it,” Frodo said. “They would have carried me, but I would have kept the ring until the end.”
“Sure, but...” Gandalf exhaled for a while. “...but...” He stroked his beard again. “Eagles can’t fly that far you know. They couldn’t fly all the way from Rivendell to Mount Doom.”
“Then they could fly part of the way,” Frodo suggested, “rest, and then fly the rest of the way.”
“These all sound like manageable problems,” Sam added. “Much more manageable than all the many many things that tried to kill us on the ground on our long walk to Mordor. A giant spider tried to eat us!”
Gandalf shrunk a bit. “Yes, but...” He suddenly went to his full height. “The Nazgûl! Flying about on their fellbeasts! Yes, yes, that’s the main problem there. The eagles never would have gotten past them into the land Mordor. They would have spotted the eagles and slain them.”
Frodo’s face softened a bit. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. The eagles could never have gotten past them while Sauron still had power.”
“Unless we made a distraction,” said Pippin as he walked into the room.
“What are you doing here, you fool of a Took?” Gandalf shouted at him.
“Oh, I just heard you talking about eagles or something,” said Pippin, “and how the Nazgûl would have gotten them. But I bet they could have slipped through if we distracted Sauron and his forces like we did with that feint at the Black Gate.”
“You did what?” Frodo asked.
“Yeah, we did a frontal assault on the Black Gate just to give you time to get to Mount Doom,” Pippin explained as Gandalf scowled at him. “I bet that would have worked even better if you were riding something as fast as eagles.”
“So that’s how we would have done it,” declared Sam. “Lead an attack on the Black Gate so Sauron has all his focus there and then have the eagles slip in from another direction going straight for Mount Doom.”
“Yes,” Frodo said. “That would work. That seems like that would have been the best plan.”
“But you’re forgetting one thing,” Gandalf interjected.
All eyes were on Gandalf. “Well, the thing is...” Gandalf took a long breath and exhaled. “What’s you’re missing here...” He adjusted his robes. “Is that...” He now very carefully fixed his beard. “You have to know...” He stared at the ground, but eventually looked at Frodo and smiled though there was a nervous energy to it. “Hey, the plan we did do sure worked out, though, didn’t it? I mean, except for your finger. And for Boromir. And for the trauma that will last with you until the end of your days.”
Frodo simply glared at Gandalf’s smile.
The smile faded. “Well,” Gandalf said gravely, “I must diminish and go into the West.”
“What does that even mean?!” Frodo yelled, but Gandalf had already run out the door.
“You know,” Sam said, “I get this feeling Gandalf just never thought about using the eagles and was trying to come up with excuses.”
“Ya think!” Frodo exclaimed.
“So do you want to hear about my adventures?” Pippin asked. “Merry and I met some talking trees.”
“Later,” Frodo grumbled. Frodo then noticed some movement in the sky out the window. “And he’s flying off on an eagle. Of course.”