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The Wizards, initially known as the Istari or Heren Istarion (Order of Wizards), were five Maiar spirits sent to Middle-earth while embodied as old Men to aid the Free Peoples against the threat of Sauron.


In the Undying Lands around TA 1000, Manwë (leader of the Ainur, and King of the Valar and Arda) learned that the dark lord Morgoth's most loyal lieutenant, Sauron, was returning to power. He then summoned a council which concluded that the Valar were to send three messengers to Middle-earth to protect the free peoples and reassure them that the Valar had not forgotten them. Only two Maiar came: Curumo (later named Saruman) sent by Aulë, and Morinehtar (Alatar), sent by Oromë. Manwë summoned Olórin (later named Gandalf), asking if he would go as the third messenger. Olórin claimed he was too weak and that he feared Sauron. However, Manwë said that was all the more reason to go, and he commanded him go, whereupon Varda said, "Not as the third." Yavanna asked Curumo to take Aiwendil also (later named Radagast), and Morinehtar took Rómestámo (Pallando) as a friend. They were forbidden to dominate the free peoples of Middle-earth or to match Sauron's power with power and if they deviated from their appointed task their powers and memory of Valinor would begin to wane.

The Wizards were known by various names and were arrayed in different colors. Of those who came to Middle-earth, sent by the Valar, five are known, the Heren Istarion (Order of Wizards). After arriving in Middle-earth, the two Blue Wizards apparently went east before the War of the Ring; whether they played a part in the events of that war is unknown. (Note: According to Tolkien's letters they may have formed cults for magic worship and practice among the Easterlings and Haradrim.) Radagast the Brown concerned himself mainly with plants and animals, living in Mirkwood for many years. Saruman the White, and Gandalf the Grey spent their time with the Free Peoples: the Elves, Dwarves, and Men. Saruman was wise and respected, later becoming the head of the White Council in TA 2463. However, he became prideful and jealous of the power and purity of Gandalf's spirit and reputation. Saruman slowly came to betray the original purpose of the Wizards and sought power for himself.

At the end of the Third Age, the Wizards passed from sight because with the fall of Sauron their work was done. Gandalf passed over the Sea with the Last Riding of the Keepers of the Rings. Radagast remained in Middle-earth, tending to the wilderness. During the War of the ring, Saruman was overthrown, banished from Istari Order by Gandalf, killed by a servant after a failed attempt to rule the Shire, and even his Maiar spirit was barred from ever returning to Aman due to his betrayal of Manwë and the original purpose of the Wizards. The fate of the Blue Wizards is unknown.


The Wizards resembled elderly men, although they aged very slowly. Despite their aged appearance, they possessed physically strong bodies and highly intelligent minds. Each of the Istari carried a staff and were associated with a color, and possessed a rank within their Order.

Powers & abilities

Despite their outward appearance as old men and inability to challenge Sauron directly, the Wizards were in fact among the most powerful beings to walk Middle-earth. While they could be hindered, harmed and even killed as with other races, death for them was temporary, as they simply returned to the Timeless Halls upon death whereupon the Valar would send them back to Middle-earth until their task was complete, as was seen with Gandalf's death and resurrection. Once their tasks were completed, they were to return to Valinor. Only Gandalf, as a Ring-Bearer, was allowed to go to the Undying Lands.

True to their name, the Wizards each possessed incredible magical powers that allowed them to perform astonishing feats; their power was reputedly greater than that of the Elves. Each Wizard carried and utilised a powerful staff, through which they channelled and performed most of their spells and magic actions. They could, however, use magic without the aid of their staffs such as telekinesis and healing; however it is uncertain how far they could go magically without their staffs. Their magic could cast illusions, shoot firebolts, summon lightning, heal grievous wounds, hurl enemies around with ease, disintegrate structures and even ensnare the minds of other beings. Yet for all their power, the Wizards were expressly forbidden by the Valar from openly using their magic except in times of great need and as such they (with the exception of Saruman) more often relied on their wisdom, quick-thinking and reasoning skills to overcome challenges than through use of magic.

In addition to their magical powers and despite their elderly appearances, the Wizards were gifted with incredible physical and martial prowess and skill with weaponry surpassing those of Men and Dwarves and equalling those of Elves. Though they would only ever fight as a last resort, they were each powerful warriors in their own right; Gandalf in particular was adept in combining his prodigious swordsmanship with his staff to slay numerous orcs, Uruk-hai and trolls in many battles during his time in Middle-Earth. Apart from Gandalf however, the other Wizards were still quite reticent about engaging in armed combat and ultimately remained apart from most of the great battles in Middle-Earth during Sauron's reign.


Istari was a Quenya word (singular: Istar). The Sindarin translation was Ithryn (singular: Ithron).


  • Saruman the White, also known as Curumo, Curunír, Sharku, and "Sharkey." A Maia of Aulë. Original leader of the Istari order and the White Council. After his corruption by Sauron, he renamed himself Saruman the Many-Colored. Cast out from both the White Council and the Istari by a resurrected Gandalf. Ultimately killed by Gríma Wormtongue following the Battle of Bywater.
  • Gandalf the Grey, also known as Olórin, Mithrandir, Tharkûn, and Incánus. The wisest Maia and a Maia of Manwë and Varda. After he was killed by a Balrog, he was reborn as Gandalf the White, the new leader of the White Council and the Istari. Wielder of the sword Glamdring and Narya, the Ring of Fire. Successful in his mission to defeat Sauron, he returned to Valinor at the end of the Third Age.
  • Radagast the Brown, also known as Aiwendil. A Maia of Yavanna. A lover of nature who mostly avoided participating the War of the Ring.
  • Alatar and Pallando, the Blue Wizards, also known as the Ithryn Luin. Both Maia of Oromë. Travelled into the distant east of Middle-earth. Little is known about them and their fates are unknown.






Unfinished Tales PB.jpg
The Blue Wizards
Saruman the White as portrayed in film
Gandalf the Grey as portrayed in film
Gandalf; The White.jpg
Gandalf the White in battle, as seen in The Return of the King film (2003)
Radagast; The Brown.jpg
Radagast the Brown


Foreign Language Translated name
Albanian Magjistarët
Arabic السحرة
Armenian Կախարդներ
Azerbaijani Sehrbazlar
Basque Morroiak
Belarusian Cyrillic Чараўнікі
Bengali জাদুকর​
Bulgarian Cyrillic Магьосници (Wizards)

Истари (Istari)

Catalan Mags
Cebuano Mga salamangkero
Chinese 巫师
Croatian Čarobnjac
Czech Čarodějové
Danish Troldmænd
Dutch Tovenaars
Esperanto Sorĉistoj
Estonian Võlurid
Filipino Mga salamangkero
Finnish Velhot
French Sorciers
Galician Magos
Georgian ჯადოსნები
German Zauberer
Greek Μάγοι (Wizards)

Ίσταρι (Istari)

Gujarati વિઝાર્ડઝ
Hindi जादूगर
Hebrew הקוסמים
Hungarian Varázslók
Icelandic Töframenn
Indonesian Penyihir?
Irish Gaelic Draíodóirí
Italian Stregoni
Kannada ವಿಸರ್ಡ್ಸ್
Kazakh Cyrillic сиқыршылар
Korean 마법사들
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Уизардс
Laotian ຂອງຄວາມຍາວປາ
Latvian Burvji
Lithuanian Vedliai
Macedonian Cyrillic Визардс
Malagasy Mitsiatsiaka
Maltese Sħaħar ?
Marathi विझार्ड्स
Mongolian Cyrillic Шидтэн
Nepalese विजार्डहरू
Norwegian Trollmenn
Pashto سروکاران ?
Persian جادوگران
Polish Czarodzieje
Portuguese Feiticeiros
Portuguese (Brazil) Magos
Punjabi ਵਿਜ਼ਡਾਰਡਸ
Romanian Vrăjitori
Russian Волшебники (Wizards)

Истари (Istari)

Samoan Taulaitu
Serbian Чаробњаци (Cyrillic) Čarobnjaci (Latin)
Slovenian Čarovniki
Somalian Saaxiriinta
Spanish Magos
Swahili Wachawi
Swedish Trollkarlar
Tajik Cyrillic ҷодугарон
Tamil விசார்ட்ஸ்
Telugu విజార్డ్స్
Thai พ่อมด
Tongan Kau fie mana
Turkish Büyücüler
Ukrainian Cyrillic Чарівники
Urdu جادوگر ?
Uzbek Сеҳргарлар (Cyrillic) Sehrgarlar (Latin)
Vietnamese Pháp sư
Welsh Dewiniaid
Yiddish וויזאַרדס