Little about the Variags is known about apart from the fact that they fought for Sauron in the War of the Ring. They first appeared in TA 1944 in the northeast of Middle-earth, fighting alongside the Easterling tribe known as the Wainriders. On March 14 - 15 of TA 3019, the Variags fought in Sauron's army at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
Tolkien never described the Variags, and most information about them is speculative. It has been speculated that they were axe-wielding berserkers, based on the real world Varangians.
Portrayal in adaptations
They have been featured in The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, based mostly on Jackson's films. Called the Khandish, they are depicted in an oriental, East Asian theme, much like the Easterlings, their close allies. They are portrayed as axe-wielders as well as using bows. They are skilled horsemen in the game, using chariots in battle. They have banners attached to their backs, similarly to the Japanese samurai of the Medieval period.
In Standing Stone Games' The Lord of the Rings Online, Variags are first encountered as enemies in Far Anórien, guarding the road to Minas Tirith against the passage of Rohirrim. Another group of Variags is found in North Ithilien after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, attempting to retreat home into Khand. Unlike the Easterlings and the Haradrim, the Variags are mercenaries, following Sauron not out of fear or worship but because of the riches promised to them. As such, they hold no real hatred against the Men of the West and at several points players have the option to simply pay them to defuse an armed situation.
Behind the scenes
- In the real world, Variags is another name for the Scandinavian Varangians.
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Kazakh||Варіагс (Cyrillic) Variags (Latin)|
|Serbian||Вариагс (Cyrillic) Variags (Latin)|
|Uzbek||Вариагс (Cyrillic) Variags (Latin)|
The People of Middle-earth
- Matthew Ward, A Shadow in the East, 2005, ISBN 1 84154 695 X, p 48
- Ibid p 18
- Ibid pp 4–5