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Shadowfax as portrayed in film

Shadowfax was a descendant of Felaróf, and a chieftain of the race of long-lived Mearas, the greatest horses of Middle-earth. Shadowfax was capable of comprehending human speech and was said to run faster than the wind. Originally belonging to Théoden, King of Rohan, Shadowfax was too wild to be tamed by the Rohirrim. Eventually, Théoden gave him to the wizard Gandalf the White.[1]

Shadowfax's coat is described as silvery-grey in daylight, and hardly visible at night.


Gandalf the Grey first rode Shadowfax during the events preceding the Council of Elrond, after his escape from being imprisoned at Orthanc. When asked by a suspicious Théoden to take any horse and be gone, Gandalf chose Shadowfax (much to the king's displeasure), tamed him, and used the great steed's speed to cross the vast wilderness between Rohan and the Shire in only six days. He dismissed the horse shortly before arriving in Rivendell and Shadowfax returned to Rohan.

He was next seen when Gandalf (now the White) called him when he, Gimli, Aragorn and Legolas needed horses to travel through Rohan. Legolas instantly recognises the race of the horse, exclaiming that it is "of the Mearas". While for the most part, Gimli rode with Legolas upon a grey horse named Arod, provided by Éomer, on the way from Fangorn to Edoras, Shadowfax carried both Gandalf and him, due to his greater strength and stamina when compared to the lesser steeds and the urgency of their journey.

Shadowfax approaching Gandalf the White in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

From then on, and especially after he is officially gifted to him by Théoden, Shadowfax became Gandalf's permanent steed, earning the wizard the epithet The White Rider. Gandalf often used Shadowfax's great speed to his advantage, for instance during the Battle of the Hornburg, where he organized the scattered Rohirrim army under Erkenbrand and led the attack that broke Saruman's army. It was said by Théoden that there will never be a finer horse in Middle-earth again.

He was instrumental in transporting Gandalf and Peregrin Took from Rohan to Minas Tirith, when Sauron believed that Peregrin had the Ring after seeing him in Saruman's palantír.

Shadowfax was vital during the Siege of Gondor, where Gandalf supported the army of Gondor defending the Rammas Echor, while regularly escorting medical transports to the City. Because of the horse's speed he was also able to save Faramir, who had commanded the retreating army's rearguard, from an attack by the Nazgûl. During the later stages of the siege, Gandalf rode Shadowfax as he faced the Lord of the Nazgûl at the Great Gate of Minas Tirith, Shadowfax alone among the free horses of the earth endured the terror and stood unmoving, steadfast before the Witch-king. Finally, Gandalf used Shadowfax's swiftness to help him save Faramir from his crazed father Denethor, who had intended to burn his wounded son and himself alive on a funeral pyre.

Shadowfax was also present at the final battle before the Black Gate, though it is unclear whether or not Gandalf fought on horseback.

He afterwards carried Gandalf on the return journey to the North. It is believed that Shadowfax accompanied Gandalf across the Sea and into the West.


The Rohirric for Shadowfax is Sceadufæx ("shadow-grey mane (and coat)").[2]

Behind the scenes

J.R.R. Tolkien's inspiration to give the horse the name Shadowfax (Shadow Mane) was presumably the most extensive source for Norse mythology, "The Prose Edda" (e.g. Hrimfaxi (Frost Mane) and Skinfaxi (Shining Mane)).

Portrayal in adaptations

Shadowfax in The Lord of the Rings Online

In The Lord of the Rings Online, Shadowfax accompanies Gandalf from his return as Gandalf the White onward.


Foreign Language Translated name
Bulgarian Cyrillic Сенкогрив
Catalan Grisencrín
Chinese (Hong Kong) 影疾
Czech Stínovlas
Danish Skyggefaxe
Dutch Schaduwvacht
Finnish Hallavaharja
French Gripoil
German Schattenfell
Greek Ίσκιος
Hebrew שאדופאקס
Hungarian Keselyüstök
Italian Ombromanto
Korean 셰도우팩스
Lithuanian Žvaigždikis
Norwegian Skuggfax
Polish Cienistogrzywy
Portuguese Scadufax (Brazilian Portuguese)

Facho de Sombra (Portugal)

Russian Серогрив
Spanish (Spain and Latin America) Sombragrís
Turkish Gölgeyele


  1. The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B: "The Tale of Years"
  2. Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings, Shadowfax