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Wielded by Gandalf, a Maia
'Anor' is pronounced ah'nor
'Anor' is literally the Sun


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  • Updated 12 March 2006
  • This entry is complete

Flame of Anor

A power wielded by Gandalf

"'You cannot pass,' he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. 'I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass."
Gandalf's challenge to the Balrog
from The Fellowship of the Ring II 5 The Bridge of Khazad-dûm

A mysterious power claimed by Gandalf in the face of Durin's Bane. It is nowhere else referred to, and so its particular meaning remains unclear. Anor is the Sun, and so literally the 'flame of Anor' would be the light of the Sun, which originated in the fiery fruit of Laurelin, one of the Two Trees of Valinor. Gandalf seems to be referring, then, to the power he gains as a servant of the Lords of the West, in defiance to the corrupted darkness of the Balrog.

Alternatively, it has been suggested that Gandalf is referring here to Narya, the Ring of Fire that he bore. This idea certainly fits with the notion that he was the 'wielder' of the Ring, and that it had a fiery character. However, it seems highly unlikely that Gandalf would want to reveal his ownership of a Ring of Power - a matter of utmost secrecy - to one of his greatest enemies.

Actually, the 'flame of Anor' seems to have been a product of simple textual evolution. The earliest forms of this passage were variations on: 'I am the master of White Flame. The Red Fire cannot come this way' (and one variation mixes in the idea of Black Shadow, too). These terms seem to be symbolic - 'white' for the powers of good, but 'red' or 'black' for Sauron and his servants. As the text developed, the 'Red Fire' and 'Black Shadow' were lost. The 'White Flame' remained, but developed into the more poetic 'flame of Anor'. On this reading, then, the 'flame of Anor' doesn't refer to a specific thing, but is Gandalf's way of announcing what he stands for, or perhaps his power as a servant of the Valar. This seems to give further support to the first possibility mentioned above. (The original texts for this passage are found in The History of Middle-earth volume 7, X The Mines of Moria (2): The Bridge).

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