The 5 Wizards of Middle-earth Explained - The Fantasy Review

The 5 Wizards of Middle-earth Explained

Here is a brief article on the 5 wizards of Middle-earth, explaining who they were and why they came to Middle-earth in the first place.

Who Were the Istari?

The Istari, known by Men as Wizards, looked like aged Men with long white beards, and they wore cloaks of various colours, a pointed hat, black traveller’s boots and carried a long staff.

Their staffs symbolised their membership in the Order, and all were wise. The colours of their cloaks were an indication of their speciality or interest, and the members of this group included:

  • Saruman the White
  • Gandalf the Grey
  • Radagast the Brown
  • and two ‘Blue Wizards’, possibly called Alatar and Pallando

There may have been more wizards that we do not know about.

Before going to middle-earth, they were Maiar, spirits older than the World itself.

Check out our Brief History of Gandalf

Why Were the Wizards Sent to Middle-Earth?

They were an Order and a brotherhood sent to Middle-earth from the Undying Lands, for it was perceived that a great evil was growing in the Mortal Lands. They were sent by the Valar about TA 1000 (Third Age) to unite and council the Free Peoples of Middle-earth in their struggle against Sauron:

“It was afterwards said that they came out of the Far West and were messengers sent to contest the power of Sauron, and to unite all those who has the will to resist him; but they were forbidden to match his power with power, or to seek to dominate Elves or Men by force and fear.”

Gandalf the Grey had the most noticeable impact on the battle against Sauron, but Radagast the Brown also assisted in his own way. Little is known of the ‘Blue Wizards’ but that they dwelt in the east.

Saruman the White was cast out of the Order and banished from Valinor for disobeying the injunction forbidding the Istari from matching power with power, and seeking to dominate others. Gandalf the Grey then became Gandalf the White after his resurrection, becoming more powerful than Saruman ever was.


All of the information from this article came from the following books. Have a read of them if you want a more in-depth look into the Istari.

The 5 Wizards of Middle-earth Explained

Related to: The 5 Wizards of Middle-earth Explained

Owner and Editor of The Fantasy Review. Loves all fantasy and science fiction books, graphic novels, TV and Films. Having completed a BA and MA in English Literature and Creative writing, they would like to go on to do a PhD. Favourite authors are Trudi Canavan, Steven Erikson, George R. R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson.

Back to top