An Interview with
the Legendary Gandalf
Early Sunday morning, I sat on a
rock, my back leaning against an ancient tree. Small white clouds
sailed through the sky above me, and the sun burned warm against my
back, chasing off the slight chill in the air. I waited for my
interview subject to arrive, but according to the way the shadows fell,
he was a good bit tardy.
As I contemplated how uncomfortable my rock-and-tree chair was
becoming a cloaked figure appeared on the horizon. While his long white
hair, beard, and wizened face gave the appearance of age, his stature
was imposing, and he appeared surprisingly lithe. The figure shaded his
eyes with his hand, peering into the glare of the rising sun, and I
climbed to my feet in welcome. As he approached, Gandalf smiled.
Greetings, sir! I called to him.
Youve been waiting here long, Gandalf assumed.
Not too long, I lied, massaging my aching back, Youre only a little
A wizard is never late, nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he
means to, said the wizard. Somehow I knew he was going to say that.
My bent body and stiff neck demanded that I cut to the chase and begin
my interview. The sooner we talked, the sooner I could go home to a
nice cup of tea and a comfortable chair (youd think I was part hobbit). Lets get started then, sir, I said politely, If
youre ready, of course.
Of course, said Gandalf, nodding.
What can you tell me about who you are, and where you come from?
That, said Gandalf, is rather complicated. He reached behind his
beard and seemed to draw a pipe from nowhere. He continued to talk as
he filled the bowl. I came to Middle-earth as one of the Istari, the
order of wizards who arrived after the first millennium of the Third
I nodded knowingly. A reporter is nothing without her research. And
the Istari are of the Maiar; spirits in physical form who descended to
That is the conclusion most draw, yes, said Gandalf, puffing an
enormous smoke ring the sailed off over my head.
Sauron and Sarumon were of the Maiar?
He leveled his gaze at me. Corrupted, was all he said.
I cleared my throat and averted my eyes from the intensity of his stern
look. Indeed, I said. Where once one might have mistaken Gandalf the
Grey, with his fireworks and smoke rings, for a simple conjurer,
Gandalf the White was something altogether different. His power was
quite evident, and while he didnt appear threatening to me, he
How is it you came to suspect that Bilbo Baggins was in possession of
the One Ring? I asked.
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hspace="4" vspace="2">It was quite simple, said the wizard.
When I asked Bilbo how he came to have the ring, he was dishonest. As
Ive known hobbits to be truthful, and Bilbo in particular, this
disturbed me and aroused my suspicion. Later, when I observed Bilbo
using the ring to disappear, as if by some cheap parlor trick, on the
eve of his birthday, I was all the more concerned. Drawing the ring
from the fire in Bilbos house, and reading its inscription, confirmed
what I already knew.
And you convinced Bilbo to surrender the ring...to give it to Frodo.
I did, Gandalf nodded. It was the first time the ring had ever been
given up freely. He added, with a tone of deep respect, Hobbits are
Tell us about Moria, and about your battle with the Balrog. What
really happened there?
The wizard raised his eyebrows, drew another deep pull from his pipe,
and exhaled a cloud of smoke that took the form of a terrifying
creature before my eyes. I jumped back, startled, but the smoke
creature dissipated with a wave of Gandalfs hand. As you may have
heard tell, he said, I broke the bridge to ward off the threat,
sending the Balrog--incidentally, one of the Maiar corrupted by
Melkor--into the chasm below. But as the abomination fell, it wrapped
its whip around my ankle and drew me into the pit.
That much I do know, I said. You said, Fly, you fools! to the
Fellowship as they watched in horror. The story is well known. But what
happened? How did you defeat the Balrog and how did you return from
what appeared to be certain death?
I was not killed by the fall, the wizard said. And neither was the
Balrog. I pursued the creature for eight days until we climbed to the
peak of Zirakzigil, where we fought for two days and nights. In the
end, both of us were defeated--I died after the ordeal.
How can that be? I gasped.
What happens to a spirit as it travels outside of Time? he said with
a smile. The mysteries of Eru, Ilúvatar...are just that;
mysteries. I shall say that I was resurrected, and with that I became
what you see now.
Gandalf the White, I said.
Yes, he answered.
We know the rest of the story, I said, my voice quiet with awe, of
your defeat of Sarumon, and the destruction of the One Ring, and the
downfall of Sauron. Your bravery, and the bravery of all the good
people of Middle-earth, from men to elves to hobbits--perhaps
especially hobbits--is the stuff of legend.
The wizard smiled and tapped his now empty pipe gently against a tree
stump, and I watched as the pipe disappeared back into his beard. I
must be going now, he said gently.
Where will you go? I asked.
I have lingered here for three years since the War of the Ring, and I
have been amongst the peoples of Middle-earth for 2000. The time has
come now to take Bilbo and Frodo and journey with Galadriel and Elrond
across the sea to the Undying Lands.
Im not certain I understand...
Perhaps one day you will, said Gandalf with a smile. He placed a hand
on my shoulder and nodded his head. I couldnt help but feel a certain
peace radiating from him, and I was filled with a sense of well-being.
And with that, the wizard turned toward the sun, and I watched as he
disappeared over the horizon once more.
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