Glamdring and Sting

Discussion in '"The Lord of the Rings"' started by Greenwood, Apr 26, 2005.

  1. Greenwood

    Greenwood The Guild of Ost-in-Edhil

    The following question has occurred to me several times when the topic of Glamdring glowing in the presence of orcs has come up in the movie sections. First, some quick background. We all know that Sting and Glamdring (and Orcrist) are elven blades from the Elder Days and glow in the presence of orcs. On a number of occasions in LOTR Sting is described as glowing blue when orcs are about. (Sometimes, Sting is merely described as glowing without the color mentioned.)

    My question is: Is Glamdring ever described as glowing blue when orcs are near? Certainly Glamdring also glows in the presence of orcs, that is described a number of times; but, does it glow blue? Or is the blue color specific to Sting? I have done a quick look through the LOTR (and The Hobbit) and I find mentions of Glamdring glowing, but the color blue does not seem to be mentioned. I may well have missed or forgotten an occasion. If you know of a time when Glamdring glows blue please give the specific passage from the books.
  2. Arthur_Vandelay

    Arthur_Vandelay Hipster Doofus

    As for Glamdring glowing blue, I haven't come across any references in The LOTR--yet. The following is from The Hobbit, "Over Hill and Under Hill":

    "Bright as blue flame," however, may only be a reference to the brightness of the sword, not its colour. Mind you, when Frodo is upon the flet in Lothlorien while Orcs are prowling about below, Sting is described as flashing and glittering "like a blue flame."

    Hopefully someone will find a passage in the Lord of the Rings that clears this up--but I suspect that you have stumbled upon a Tolkien myth. Perhaps the idea that Glamdring glows blue when orcs are near is a misconception.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2005
  3. Alcuin

    Alcuin Registered User

    The Hobbit, “Riddles in the Dark”:
    “Flies and Spiders”:
    Sting was visible when Bilbo used the Ring.

    FoTR, “The Bridge of Khazad-dûm” (Chamber of Mazarbul)
    “The Breaking of the Fellowship”:
    TT, “Shelob’s Lair”:
    “The Choices of Master Samwise”:
    RotK, “The Tower of Cirith Ungol”:
    BTW, nothing about Glamdring is mentioned at the end of “The Siege of Gondor” when the gates of Minas Tirith are broken and Gandalf faces the Witch-King. (The Witch-King’s sword is mentioned, though.)
  4. Arthur_Vandelay

    Arthur_Vandelay Hipster Doofus

    We might also look for passages that suggest that all Elven blades glow with a blue light in the presence of orcs.

    The entry for "Glamdring" in Robert Foster's Complete Guide to Middle Earth states that "Glamdring shone with a blue light in the presence of orcs." The entry for "Sting" in J E A Tyler's Complete Tolkien Companion states: "Like all Elf-blades, Sting gleamed with a cold blue light if any servants of the Enemy were nigh at hand . . . ."

    Both sources, of course, may be mistaken. But it seems to me that the pertinent question here is whether there is a reference in either The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, or elsewhere in Tolkien's works to it being a property of all Elven blades that they glow blue when orcs are nearby. From there the question of Glamdring's glowing blue is a matter of simple deduction.
  5. Manwe

    Manwe Trogdor!!!

    But from the quotes Alcuin found it seemed that Glamdring shone white. :confused:
  6. Arthur_Vandelay

    Arthur_Vandelay Hipster Doofus

    Yes, that's true. There does however appear to be an assumption that it also glowed blue--an assumption made at least by two authors of Tolkien encyclopedias (one directly, the other indirectly), as my previous post indicates. Greenwood is trying to discover if this assumption is actually supported in the text of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, etc. Do these texts, in other words, actually state if:
    (a) Glamdring glows blue in the vicinity of orcs, and/or
    (b) All elven-blades possess this property.

    Perhaps Glamdring glows blue when orcs are about, and shines white in the heat of battle, "invested" with Gandalf's power.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2005
  7. Alcuin

    Alcuin Registered User

    Glamdring and its mate Orcrist were made for Turgon, king of Gondolin. Sting might have been made as a companion dagger to the swords; sometimes swordsmiths made companion daggers during the Middle Ages to match better swords, as Glamdring and Orcrist clearly were. I don’t think the sword was “invested” with power from Gandalf.
  8. Greenwood

    Greenwood The Guild of Ost-in-Edhil

    Thank you all. Lots of good posts. I was aware of a number of the quotes listed, but not all of them by any means. As I said in my starting post, I knew Glamdring was described as "glowing/shining" in the presence of orcs, but when I started checking the actual passages in LOTR where I remembered the subject coming up, I could not find any that specifically stated Glamdring glowed blue. (Though there is certainly no question about Sting.) Thank you A_V for the passage from The Hobbit -- I had missed that one in a quick review. I knew the TTF members would come up with more instances than I could think of at first.


    You are absolutely right, that I do not place much store in secondary sources such as Tolkien "encyclopedias","guides", etc. I have seen too many cases where secondary sources merely copy each other. I am indeed looking for a definitive statement, by JRRT himself, that Glamdring (or all elvish blades) glow blue in the presence of orcs. That they glow (and that Sting glows blue) is beyond dispute, in my opinion. The passage from The Hobbit would seem to support Glamdring also glowing blue, though it is interesting (curious?) that JRRT never seems (based on what has been found so far) to have mentioned Glamdring as glowing blue in LOTR, though he seems to have had it glowing white.

    I am going to keep looking.
  9. Arthur_Vandelay

    Arthur_Vandelay Hipster Doofus

    I put "invested" in scare quotes because I was uncomfortable with the term. Does Gandalf "invest" or "focus" his power through any of the items he possesses (his staff, for example)? I don't know if it is entirely impossible that Glamdring shone white in the battle with the Balrog because it was wielded by Gandalf. Then again--we are accustomed to thinking of blades as being "silver"--perhaps Glamdring actually was white (not just in the midst of battle).

    Can anyone clear this one up? Has it been answered in another thread?
  10. Arthur_Vandelay

    Arthur_Vandelay Hipster Doofus

    Nor should you. But if the notions--supported in the Tolkien encyclopedias I mentioned in one form or another--that either "Glamdring glows blue in the presence of orcs," or that "All elven blades glow blue in the presence of orcs" turn out to be fallacious (in the sense that they are not supported by anything Tolkien wrote), I wonder where these notions come from?
  11. Valandil

    Valandil High King at Annuminas

    With all those nice quotes together, I would tend to favor a 'pale-blue' or a white with a blueish cast to it - for Glamdring.

    I would agree that all Elvish blades did not necessarily glow blue, or even glow period - though they might have all done either.

    It's interesting now to recall what Bilbo's thought was on the matter (Alcuin's first quote). I don't suppose he would have been an authority on Elvish weapons though - so either he was linking in his mind what he saw of Glamdring before with what he now saw of Sting (as yet un-named), or he was recounting what he knew of legends about Elves.
  12. Flame of Udûn

    Flame of Udûn Durin's Bane

    Glamdring and Sting shone because they were the work of Elvish smiths of the Elder Days, which suggests that other swords of similar lineage may possess that quality too.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2005
  13. Manwe

    Manwe Trogdor!!!

    I think in the instances when Glamdring shone white A_V was spot on when saying Gandalf used it as a magical weapon like his staff. It seems that the sword would already have a capacity to be used afor magic as it had its quality of shining blue. I think though that the original question has been answered by the Flame of Udun's quote, where did you find it?
  14. Greenwood

    Greenwood The Guild of Ost-in-Edhil

    Flame of Udun's quote merely supports Glamdring and Sting both glowing when near orcs, but that was never in doubt and was not the original question. The question is whether Glamdring glows blue. So far the only quote that tends to support that is the one A_V gave from The Hobbit. However, as A_V pointed out, the phrase "bright as blue flame" could be read as only referring to brightness rather than color. So far all the quotes from LOTR merely have Glamdring glowing/shining, with no mention of a blue color. When a color is mentioned, it is white.
  15. Manwe

    Manwe Trogdor!!!

    Oh sorry I must have read that wrong! :rolleyes: . Judging by his quote though is does seem that all elven blades gleam or glow
  16. Manwe

    Manwe Trogdor!!!

    Oh sorry I must have read that wrong! :rolleyes: . Judging by his quote though is does seem that all elven blades gleam or glow
    This seems to me to be indicating that elven blades from the Eldar Days always had the capacity to gleam when Orcs were near, maybe some glow differently depending on who made them?
  17. Nightfall

    Nightfall Registered User

    Doesn't it say in Hobbit about Battle Of Five Armies something like "the spears of elves were glowing from the anger of those that held them" and that arrows glowed like live fire?
  18. Arthur_Vandelay

    Arthur_Vandelay Hipster Doofus

    It seems that people are still missing the point here. We know that all elven blades glow in the presence of orcs: what we'd like to know is whether they all glow blue in the presence of orcs.


  19. Greenwood

    Greenwood The Guild of Ost-in-Edhil

    To be blue, or not to be blue. That is the question. :D
    Last edited: May 3, 2005
  20. Arthur_Vandelay

    Arthur_Vandelay Hipster Doofus

    The more I think about it, Greenwood, the more I'm leaning towards the idea that the passage I cited from The Hobbit indicates that Glamdring (at least) actually does glow blue. Blue flame is an odd metaphor for brightness--surely yellow or red flame would have been more appropriate--unless something in particular was being asserted about the colour of the glowing sword.

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