The Witch-king

By Brent King On April 16, 2014 Under Christian Fantasy, Lessons in Fantasy
witch king

The Witch-king’s Fate

I have often thought on the fate of the Lord of the Nazgûl, the Witch-king of Angmar in Tolkien’s epic tale of Middle-earth. Tolkien describes it in a short paragraph:

“So passed the sword of the Barrow-downs, work of the Westernesse. But glad would he have been to know its fate who wrought it slowly long ago in the North-kingdom when the Dúnedain were young, and chief among their foes was the dread realm of Angmar and its sorcerer king. No other blade, though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his undead sinews to his will.”

Something That Should Have Died

I think it’s interesting that he says the blade clave the undead flesh, and broke the spell that knit his undead sinews to his will. Something was wrong with the Witch-king. He was undead, something he never could have been without the magic power of a ring. It’s very appropriate that Tolkien describes him as being undead, for something was alive in him that should have died.

A Counterintuitive Reality

Men do the same thing today. They lust for all that they can bring to themselves, for all that can bring them power, not realizing that self isn’t found or preserved in the acquisition of power, but in the renunciation of it. It is incredibly misguided of men to wish for power so greedily that they attempt to keep it by linking their soul eternally to the evil of this world, lingering—like the Nazgûl—in a netherworld of horror.

The Bible’s Path to Life

Fulton Sheen, a brilliant and renowned Catholic Archbishop of Tolkien’s time, said, “Each of us comes into life with fists closed, set for aggressiveness and acquisition. But when we abandon life our hands are open; there is nothing on earth that we need, nothing the soul can take with it.” This is the way Christ taught us to live. He said that “whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it” (Luke 17:33). Eastern mysticism teaches that self is an illusion. Western secularism teaches that self is all important. Biblical theism alone teaches that self can only live by dying.

Our Only Hope

Our only hope is to destroy the ring of power and all that it symbolized; to die. The tale of the Witch-king underscores the end of all those who refuse to do this. It is something no one else can do for us. We must do it, and if we do not find a way, no one will. To refuse is to ruin our soul. If we do not hinder ourselves to our betterment then we will be hindered to our ruin.

Is there something alive in you that should die? Will you kill it or will yours be the fate of the Witch-king of Angmar?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. AshleeW
    April 17, 2014
    6:57 pm #comment-1

    Oh my. What an mind-blowing and terrifying thought! And how true it is. There are things alive in all of us that need to die, and need to die daily. The process never ends. Thanks for such a stirring post, Brent – as usual! Going to share this one for sure.

    • Brent King
      April 17, 2014
      7:08 pm #comment-2

      It is terrifying to me Ashlee, because it lies so close to home! That is why it has haunted me like a zombie since I first read the books.

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