Disclaimer: All of the following are either direct quotes or paraphrasing of excerpts
from A Guide to Middle Earth by Robert Foster.
Hash-marked# names are characters present/mentioned in the Hobbit movies.
*Asterisked names are characters present/mentioned in the LotR movies.
Five beings, sent to Middle-earth by the Valar shortly after the beginning of the Third Age to unite and counsel the enemies of Sauron. With the fall of Sauron at the end of the Third Age, their work was done and they left. The Wizards appeared to be old men and possessed great powers. Each Wizard had his own color and ranking of power (although only three were named and described). In Quenya, their name was the 'Istari' (sing. 'Istar').
The Valar are the Middle-earth equivalent of angels, and have been the guardians of Middle-earth since its creation. They are described as beings of pure spirit, but can appear in physical form as majestic, luminous beings resembling Elves and Men. The Valar dwell in Valinor (also called Valimar or the Blessed Realm) which is part of the Undying Lands. The Valar have also been called the Authorities, the Guardians of the World, the Lords of the West, and the Powers. In Sindarin, their name was 'Belain' (sing. 'balan').
In the order of the Istari, known as Gandalf the Grey - the second most powerful of the five wizards. When Gandalf first arrived in Middle-earth, he was given Narya, one of the Three Rings, and he was a master of lore and of fire. Gandalf labored continually and faithfully for two thousand years toward the Istari's goal of defeating Sauron. In 2941, Gandalf persuaded Thorin to launch an expedition to reclaim Erebor, orchestrated the addition of Bilbo Baggins into the Company, and during the trip obtained the Elven-sword Glamdring. As leader of the Companions of the Ring, he was slain in Moria by the Balrog, but was sent back to Middle-earth as Gandalf the White to complete his task. (Frodo wrote a song about the FALL OF GANDALF while in Lórien.) During the War of the Ring, he released King Théoden from Gríma's spells, cast down Saruman, and during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields single-handedly held the Gates of Minas Tirith against the Lord of the Nazgûl. His mount during the War was Shadowfax, the greatest of Rohan's horses. After the War of the Ring, Gandalf went over the Sea with the Last Riding of the Keepers of the Rings. He was called 'Gandalf' (Grey Wanderer) by the Men of the North, 'Mithrandir' (Grey Pilgrim) by the Elves, 'Tharkûn' by the Dwarves, and 'Gandalf Greyhame' by the Rohirrim. During the War of the Ring, he was known as the White Rider. His real name, given to him in Valinor in his youth, was 'Olórin'.
In the order of the Istari, known as Radagast the Brown. Radagast dwelled near the southern border of Mirkwood and was a master of herb-lore and beast-lore. He was especially friendly with birds, and unwittingly helped Gandalf to escape from Saruman (after likewise unwittingly arranging for his capture) by sending Gwaihir, one of the Great Eagles of the Misty Mountains, to Orthanc as a messenger.
The greatest of the Istari, Saruman the White had great power over men's minds, great skill in his hands, and knew much lore of the Elven-rings and the devices of Sauron. In 2759, he settled in Isengard and befriended the Rohirrim, but in truth he coveted the One Ring. In 2953, he began to fortify Isengard, gathering Orcs and Dunlendings and harassing Rohan and Fangorn. Gríma was sent to Théoden by Saruman to weaken Rohan's power. Saruman changed his name from the White to the Many-Colored and was cast out of the Istari by Gandalf. After the War of the Ring, Frodo found him with Gríma causing mischief in the Shire. Frodo cast them out of the Shire, and Saruman was slain by Gríma. He was called 'Saruman the Wise' by the Men in the North, 'Curunír' by the Elves, and 'Sharkey' (from Orcish 'sharkū' - old man) by the Orcs of Isengard and his Men in the Shire. His emblem was the White Hand.
Evil being (probably Vala), servant of Morgoth in the First Age. Sauron survived the fall of Morgoth and his power began to slowly return after Second Age 500. He settled in Mordor and forged the Rings of Power, using the One Ring to complete the building of Barad-dûr. Sauron was defeated in 3434 by the army of the Last Alliance where he was overthrown by Gil-galad and Elendil. Isildur cut off his finger and took the Ring, so during the Third Age, Sauron was cautious. He finally rose again in Third Age 1000 and resided in Dol Guldur as the Necromancer until his return to Mordor in 2941. As long as the Ring existed, he had the power to crush the West, but when the Ring was destroyed in the Fire of Doom by Frodo, Sauron was so weakened that he was unable to ever take shape again. Sauron's accomplishments include the invention of the Black Speech and the creation of the Uruk-hai and the Olog-hai. He had the form of a Man with black, burning skin, and in the Third Age appeared most frequently as a fearsome Eye. A few of his titles include Sauron, the Enemy, the Dark Lord, the Black One, the Eye of Barad-dûr, Lord of the Ring, Ring-Maker, and by Gollum, the Black Hand.
The mightiest queen of the Valar and a figure of worship and praise by the Elves. Elbereth was believed to have created the stars. It was she who set Eärendil's Silmaril in the sky as a star, and it was through that star that she answered the prayers of Men and Elves. During the War of the Ring, she aided Sam in his fight against Shelob. Her Sindarin titles include 'ELBERETH' and 'Fanuilos', while in Quenya she is called 'Varda' or 'Tintallë'.
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