The Maiar are great spirits that serve the Valar gods. The Maiar come in the form of almost anything, including fair maidens, wizened old men, and great evil spiders, and also vary greatly in power. Maiar not only served the Valar, but in my opinion were their way of dealing with Middle-Earth.

Some very important Maia were Sauron, Istari, and Ugoliant. After Melkor was thrown into the abyss, Sauron virtually took his place as the great evil of the world. Sauron nearly conquered Middle-Earth, but was destroyed along with the ring of power by the hands of Frodo Boggins and the creature Gollum/Smeagol.

The Valar sent from the Undying Lands five great Maiar. These were the Istari, or more commonly the wizards. Three of which are mentioned in the histories of Middle-Earth: Gandalf the Gray, Saruman the White, and Radagast the Brown. Gandalf was considered most powerful of the Istari and found the ring of power in the Shire. Saruman was considered wisest and was head of their council, but betrayed them and made an alliance with Sauron. Radagast was less mentioned in the histories of Middle-Earth. He was a lover of the forests and nature and was held as the wisest creature of the forest, even by the Ents.

Another powerful Maia was Ungoliant. Ungoliant was a huge spider created by Melkor. He had an undying hunger and consumed light only to vomit darkness. He, along with Melkor, destroyed and consumed the great trees of the Valor. After this cataclysmic event, Ungoliant, with his raging hunger, turned on Melkor and tried to consume him. After this he was shunned by Melkor, and went to the southern waste lands, only to consume himself.

My favorite Maiar spirit is Tom Bombadil. Tom assumes the form of a stout man with a long brown beard and yellow boots. He is a jolly spirit, singing and rhyming in a nonsensical fashion. Beside his carefree attitude, Tom Bombadil is one of the most powerful Maiar. No evil of any sort can touch his domain of the old forest, and he is immune to otherwise deadly things, such as the ring of power.

Maiar play very important roles in Tolkien’s works and add a huge amount of magic and wonder to his tales. These spirits can alter the fate of the world and do the will of the Gods, good or evil.

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