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The ancient past of Middle-earth1
A creature of Melkor
Unknown, but possibly a Maia


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  • Updated 11 May 2008
  • Updates planned: 1

The Rider

Pursuer of the earliest Elves

"'...the dark Rider upon his wild horse ... pursued those that wandered to take them and devour them.'"
Quenta Silmarillion 3
Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor
The Rider

A shadowy creature of Elvish legend, sent by Melkor to trouble the first Elves at Cuiviénen. A dark figure on a fearsome horse, he was said to steal away wandering Elves, and indeed it is possible that those taken by the Rider became the first of the Orcs.

Morgoth's choice of a Rider on a mighty horse may have been part of plan to estrange the first Elves from the Vala Oromë, who also rode a great steed. If so, the plan failed: Oromë did indeed discover the Elves under the starlight of Middle-earth, and though they were alarmed at first, many overcame their fear of him and even followed him into the West.

As for the dark Rider himself, he is never mentioned after the coming of Oromë and the Great Journey into the West. Perhaps he still pursued the Avari who remained in the shadows of the east, but he faded from the tales of the Eldar. Thousands of years later, Sauron's servants, the Ringwraiths, also rode across Middle-earth as Black Riders on black horses, perhaps following the form of Morgoth's own dark Rider from the depths of history.



According to the Grey Annals (in volume 11 of The History of Middle-earth), the spies of Melkor first discovered the Elves in Valian Year 1080, and troubled them until the coming of Oromë in 1085. Five Valian Years translates into just under fifty solar years, so the Rider would have stalked the first Elves for half a century, some four thousand years before the Darkening of Valinor (or, more than eleven thousand years before the War of the Ring).

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