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Minas Tirith Forums » Library Council of Minas Tirith » What's the Difference (if any) between Uruks and Uruk-hai? (Page 2)
Author Topic: What's the Difference (if any) between Uruks and Uruk-hai?
The Witch-King of Angmar
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Well The Hobbit claims only of the sun, that "it makes their legs wobble and their heads giddy," and that they cannot fight under the sun; it doesn't say they can't run under it-- indeed, the goblins and other orcs keep up quite well with the Uruk-hai even under the sun.
But do we see any other orcs fight under the sun?
Mordor doesn't count, since that's in Sauron's domain-- particularly at the Black Gate, where he's bending his will on them- even the hill-trolls could tolerate the sun then.

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Galin
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That would seem like an odd hair to split in my opinion ('fight' versus 'run [for hours]' under the sun). If a few Northerners run under the Sun just as well as the Isengarders I think it suggests they were not being affected by it 'in general' (relatively at least).

I guess running isn't as hard as combat, but...

Anyway, with respect to the Orc-chieftain, if training is key then all I'm suggesting is that he could have been dangerous under the Sun as well -- though I still purposely, and again, choose 'could' (or 'possibly') because indeed I can't know in any case.

Galin

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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Every quote we have regarding this is comparing (in one form or another) Saruman's great orcs greater resistance to the sun compared to other orcs. (See the first post for some quotes.) As far as I can recall, there are no quotes comparing Saruman's great orcs with men or any other race regarding resistance to the sun.

This fits in with the basic theme of my argument: Saruman's great orcs were superior to other orkish varieties in several ways. It is clear that in regards to the sun they were superior. To what extent is less important, I think.

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Galin
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With respect to running under the Sun the Uruk-hai are not clearly superior to the Orcs of the Red Eye, nor to certain of the larger bolder Northerners. That the Isengarders gradually pass through the Mordorians, as the text informs, could have been due to some plan (that is, the reason is made unclear in the text).

Of the three quotes posted, the first compares the Uruk-hai with the complaining Northerners. No argument there. The second and third do not speak to the Uruk-hai specifically (or clearly). As posted Treebeard is wondering what Saruman has done, and indeed the Reader finds out he has produced half-orcs (noted also by Gamling) -- who are in my opinion distinguished from the Uruk-hai.

Galin

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The Witch-King of Angmar
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quote:
Every quote we have regarding this is comparing (in one form or another) Saruman's great orcs greater resistance to the sun compared to other orcs. (See the first post for some quotes.) As far as I can recall, there are no quotes comparing Saruman's great orcs with men or any other race regarding resistance to the sun.

Saruman's great orcs, or Uruk-hai in general?
We don't see any incidence of Sauron's Uruk-hai in combat, though they are indeed mentioned by other fighting-orc and the tracker.

quote:
That would seem like an odd hair to split in my opinion ('fight' versus 'run [for hours]' under the sun). If a few Northerners run under the Sun just as well as the Isengarders I think it suggests they were not being affected by it 'in general' (relatively at least).

I guess running isn't as hard as combat, but...

It can also be done with one's eyes closed or head down.

[ 08-13-2006, 10:47 PM: Message edited by: The Witch-King of Angmar ]

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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quote:
But they don't like the sun: it makes their legs wobble and their heads giddy.
Riddles in the Dark, The Hobbit

quote:
"Be swift then!" said Aragorn, looking back towards the Gates. "The Sun sinks early. The Orcs will not, maybe, come out till after dusk, but we must be far away before nightfall…
Compare these quotes regarding Misty Mountain orcs with those quotes on the first page regarding Saruman's great orcs. I think it is clear that there was a superiority there.
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Galin
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I don't think the issue is between Orcs of the Misty Mountains in general and the Uruk-hai however, but rather Uruks 'great soldier-orcs' and Saruman's Uruk-hai (the 'meaning' there based on the information about the word uruk in The Return of the King where uruk '... was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time issued from Mordor and Isengard.')

And I'm not going to buy the idea, if presented, that those greater Orcs who can run for hours under the Sun yet can't fight under it.

Generally I think The Lord of the Rings can 'expand' upon an idea presented in The Hobbit, like for example (in The Hobbit) 'Hobbits had no beards' compared to (The Lord of the Rings) 'No Harfoot or Fallohide had any trace of a beard.'

In The Lord of the Rings we have the Uruks, black Orcs of great strength. The account is quite slim regarding the details of the ultimate taking of Osgiliath, but again, in The Two Towers even a comparison with Grishnákh's band and the Isengarders shows the former do very well under the sun -- they are not the half-trained mountain maggots who complain about running (not fighting) under the Sun, and in the end it is unclear if even the Isengarders are superior at all (to the Mordorians and a few of the Northerners) in this regard.

Galin

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The Witch-King of Angmar
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Again, a specific quote for Mordor regarding the Uruk-hai:

quote:
They went two or three miles further, and the orc-hold was hidden from sight behind them; but they had hardly begun to breathe more freely again when harsh and loud they heard orc-voices. Quickly they slunk out of sight behind a brown and stunted bush. The voices drew nearer. Presently two orcs came into view. One was clad in ragged brown and was armed with a bow of horn; it was of a small breed, black-skinned, with wide and snuffling nostrils: evidently a tracker of some kind. The other was a big fighting-orc, like those of Shagrat’s company, bearing the token of the Eye. He also had a bow at his back and carried a short broad-headed spear. As usual they were quarrelling, and being of different breeds they used the Common Speech after their fashion.
Hardly twenty paces from where the hobbits lurked the small orc stopped. ‘Nar!’ it snarled. ‘I’m going home.’ It pointed across the valley to the orc-hold. ‘No good wearing my nose out on stones any more. There’s not a trace left, I say. I’ve lost the scent through giving way to you. It went up into the hills, not along the valley, I tell you.’
‘Not much use are you, you little snufflers?’ said the big orc. ‘I reckon eyes are better than your snotty noses.’
‘Then what have you seen with them?’ snarled the other. ‘Garn! You don’t even know what you’re looking for.’
‘Whose blame’s that?’ said the soldier. ‘Not mine. That comes from Higher Up. First they say it’s a great Elf in bright armour, then it’s a sort of small dwarf-man, then it must be a pack of rebel Uruk-hai; or maybe it’s all the lot together.’

--ROTK, "The Land of Shadow"

This is a specific mention of Mordor-orcs as Uruk-hai.

quote:
And I'm not going to buy the idea, if presented, that those greater Orcs who can run for hours under the Sun yet can't fight under it.

Which "greater orcs" are you talking about?

[ 08-14-2006, 09:20 PM: Message edited by: The Witch-King of Angmar ]

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Galin
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Those Orcs in the chapter The Uruk-hai who appear 'greater' with respect to the Sun, in comparison to the 'cooked' Northerners who earlier complained they could not run under the Sun.

Galin

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The Witch-King of Angmar
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Of course those weren't Uruk-hai.

The Uruk-hai, or Uruks, were bred 500 years earlier by Sauron, and could tolerate the sun-- just like the Olog-hai.
Saruman probably got them from Sauron, after he looked into the Palantír in TA3000.

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Galin
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quote:
Of course those weren't Uruk-hai.
OK Indeed my point is other Orcs besides the 'Uruk-hai' do very well under the Sun.

Galin

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Galin
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A couple things we do find, Saruman had 'many' Uruks in his service:

'Others also came down from the Misty Mountains, many being great Uruks in the service of Saruman, though it was long before that was suspected.' Appendix A

And something about timeline...

'The Council seems to have been unaware, since for many years Isengard had been closely guarded, of what went on within its Ring. The use, and possibly special breeding, of Orcs was kept secret, and cannot have begun much before 2990 at earliest. The Orc-troops seem never to have been used beyond the territory of Isengard before the attack on Rohan.' Unfinished Tales

Galin

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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Could Saruman have had an independent supply of Uruks, or do you think they "developed" in Mordor originally, which then became the source?
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The Witch-King of Angmar
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quote:
OK Indeed my point is other Orcs besides the 'Uruk-hai' do very well under the Sun.
Galin

Where do you see this? The Uruk-hai themselves were boastful of this difference to Aragorn at Helm's Deep.
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Galin
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The Mordorians and the larger bolder Northerners (chapter The Uruk-hai)... these are Orcs other than the Isengarders (and who are not referred to as Uruk-hai) who run very well under the Sun.

Galin

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The Witch-King of Angmar
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quote:
The Mordorians and the larger bolder Northerners (chapter The Uruk-hai)... these are Orcs other than the Isengarders (and who are not referred to as Uruk-hai) who run very well under the Sun.

Galin

Again, running isn't fighting.
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Galin
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quote:
Again, running isn't fighting.
Nor has it been proven that Tolkien's idea is that the Orcs I am referring to can run for hours under the sun but yet can't fight under it. If that's your opinion then we have differing opinions on this particular point.

In any case I note the Northerners complain about running under the Sun -- they say they can't run under it.

Galin

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The Witch-King of Angmar
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quote:
Nor has it been proven that Tolkien's idea is that the Orcs I am referring to can run for hours under the sun but yet can't fight under it. If that's your opinion then we have differing opinions on this particular point.
That's called "proving a negative" and "arguing from ignorance." You have to back up your claims with facts.

quote:
In any case I note the Northerners complain about running under the Sun -- they say they can't run under it.

Galin


Their exact quotes:

quote:
'Now straight on!' shouted Uglúk. 'West and a little north. Follow Lugdush.'
'But what are we going to do at sunrise?' said some of the Northerners.
'Go on running,' said Uglúk. 'What do you think? Sit on the grass and wait for the Whiteskins to join the picnic?'
'But we can't run in the sunlight.'
'You'll run with me behind you,' said Uglúk. 'Run! Or you'll never see your beloved holes again. By the White Hand! What's the use of sending out mountain-maggots on a trip, only half trained. Run, curse you! Run while night lasts!'

The orcs could either run or die, so they chose to run-- and they couldn't run as well as the Uruk-hai under the sun:

quote:
In the afternoon Uglúk's troop overtook the Northerners. They were flagging in the rays of the bright sun, winter sun shining in a pale cool sky though it was ; their heads were down and their tongues lolling out.
'Maggots!' jeered the Isengarders. 'You're cooked. The Whiteskins will catch you and eat you. They're coming!'

So clearly they couldn't run as fast as the Uruk-hai during the day, but could run faster at night-- and this was only a dim winter sun; a stronger sun would have them helpless.

And when the sun begins to sink, they run faster again:

quote:
A cry from Grishnákh showed that this was not mere jest. Horsemen, riding very swiftly, had indeed been sighted: still far behind, but gaining on the Orcs, gaining on them like a tide over the flats on folk straying in a quicksand.
The Isengarders began to run with a redoubled pace that astonished Pippin, a terrific spurt it seemed for the end of a race. Then he saw that the sun was sinking, falling behind the Misty Mountains; shadows reached over the land. The soldiers of Mordor lifted their heads and also began to put on speed.

The only instance of orcs fighting under the sun, is at the Black Gate-- and again, even the olog-hai trolls could fight under the sun when Sauron's will was on them.

As they stated at Helm's Deep:

quote:
'What of the dawn?' they jeered. 'We are the Uruk-hai: we do not stop the fight for night or day, for fair weather or for storm. We come to kill, by sun or moon. What of the dawn?'

This is in reference to the fact that normal orcs could not fight in the daylight.

It is likely that Saruman did improve the Uruk-hai, making them stronger and resistant to sunlight-- but they were still of the race of Uruk-hai, just like the Olog-hai were still trolls.

[ 09-01-2006, 02:35 PM: Message edited by: The Witch-King of Angmar ]

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Galin
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quote:
That's called "proving a negative" and "arguing from ignorance." You have to back up your claims with facts.
As do you. We simply have different interpretations based on the same texts it appears.

quote:
The orcs could either run or die, so they chose to run-- and they couldn't run as well as the Uruk-hai under the sun:
Excepting those few Northerners and the Mordorians who do run just as well as the Isengarders -- arguably so with respect to the Mordorians, according to the text -- because they could have been acting according to a plan according to the text.

quote:
So clearly they couldn't run as fast as the Uruk-hai during the day, but could run faster at night-- and this was only a dim winter sun; a stronger sun would have them helpless.
The mountain-maggots yes. The text upholds my distinction however. And what would have happened in a stronger Sun is not described of course.

quote:
The only instance of orcs fighting under the sun, is at the Black Gate-- and again, even the olog-hai trolls could fight under the sun when Sauron's will was on them.
I have not referred to this event in any case. Indeed we know why the Olog-hai Trolls could endure the sun, according to the Appendices.

quote:
As they stated at Helm's Deep: 'What of the dawn?' they jeered. 'We are the Uruk-hai: we do not stop the fight for night or day, for fair weather or for storm. We come to kill, by sun or moon. What of the dawn?' This is in reference to the fact that normal orcs could not fight in the daylight.
This is an instance of the Uruk-hai boasting about the fact that they are not worried about the Sun. And as they are in a battle here, not running a marathon, naturally they boast that they can fight under the Sun.

Galin

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Galin
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quote:
The only instance of orcs fighting under the sun, is at the Black Gate-- and again, even the olog-hai trolls could fight under the sun when Sauron's will was on them.
In The Battle Of The Pelennor Fields the Orcs of Mordor appear to fight on after the Sun shines (a great wind blew, and the rain went North). The hosts of Mordor, which I would say included Orcs (Orcs that are said, after Aragorn is revealed, to have hated the Sunlight), were actually enheartened by the Black Sails. Éomer's words include singing in the Sun as he prepared to face Mordor, and then Aragorn and Company are revealed and a dread falls upon the enemy. Indeed these Orcs do not like the Sun but appear quite ready to battle on when thinking that the ships contained enemies of the West.

In The Black Gate Opens however, just before Pippin and his group were engaged in battle, Tolkien described the Sun as having climbed towards the South '... veiled in the reeks of Mordor, and through a threatening haze it gleamed, remote, a sullen red, as if it were the ending of the day, or the end maybe of all the world of light. And out of the gathering mirk the Nazgûl came...'

Galin

[ 09-28-2006, 09:48 AM: Message edited by: Galin ]

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Ulairë Gordis
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It is an interesting thread, so I decided to post here, as Thorin linked to this thread. Here are my 2 cents:

1. I believe there is enough evidence that the terms "Uruk-hai" and "Uruks" are interchangeable.

2. Were Saruman's "great orcs" different from other varieties? (Such as in their tolerance of the Sun).

Here I would like to bring to your attention the quotes already posted in this thread by Galin:

quote:
Saruman had 'many' Uruks in his service:

'Others also came down from the Misty Mountains, many being great Uruks in the service of Saruman, though it was long before that was suspected.' Appendix A

And something about timeline...

'The Council seems to have been unaware, since for many years Isengard had been closely guarded, of what went on within its Ring. The use, and possibly special breeding, of Orcs was kept secret, and cannot have begun much before 2990 at earliest. The Orc-troops seem never to have been used beyond the territory of Isengard before the attack on Rohan.' Unfinished Tales

Note Saruman's breeding program only lasted 30 years
So - most if not all of the half-breeds of Saruman were likely of the FIRST generation of half-breeds,with a 100% uruk and a 100 % Man (or woman) for parents, and NOT children or grandchildren of the half-breeds. (Unless we allow for all half-uruks to become fully mature and reproduce at 14)

Saruman had thousands of uruk-hai. Could ALL of them have been half-breeds? I think it highly unlikely, impossible even. Interbreeding program going at SUCH scale couldn't have been kept secret. So, it is reasonable to suppose that MOST of Saruman's troops were uruks of the same kind as those of Mordor, only with a different style of clothes and weapons.

But Ugluk's company is a different matter altogether. Sent to capture the Ring, they were most likely the best hand-picked soldiers Saruman had. I believe it possible that they were half-breeds.

Note that, as it is usual with the result of mating of different races, the half-breeds would be most different in appearance. Some would take after their human mothers - such as the Southerner in Bree who could pass for a Man. Others would display mixed features (Orc-Men and Men-Orcs. And finally there would be a significant proportion resembling their fathers, the fool-blooded uruks, only with some human features: resistance to light, straighter stature, better intellect, loyalty. Those with the best combination of features could serve in Saruman's elite commando troops.

What do you think?

[ 11-19-2007, 10:14 PM: Message edited by: Ulairë Gordis ]

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Eluchil
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I just think that when Tolkien talks about half-orcs, he names them so (or orcs-men / men-orcs).
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The Witch-King of Angmar
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Half-orcs also look like men, mostly; meanwhile the uruk-hai are unmistakably orcs; for example, the hobbits say that the squint-eyed friend of Bill Ferny's looked like the half-orcs at Isengard, but no one thought he was an orc.
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Galin
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I agree with the point that Merry's (Saruman's of course, but Merry describes them) man-high goblin-faced beings do not appear to remind him of the Uruk-hai. Thus even these appear distinct.

Most of Merry's Isengarders appear to have been 'more orc-like' than the Southerner: 'Do you know, they reminded me at once of that Southerner at Bree; only he was not so obviously orc-like as most of these were.' Some of the Southerner's 'brethren' might have looked too much like Orcs to even show up in the Pony, for example. And so there could be confusion if one is an Ent looking down through the trees at goblin-faced creatures who don't appear to mind the Sun.

I think Tolkien's choice of two terms in MR is intended to draw this distinction, because some half-orcs were too orkish looking to serve as spies -- yet as Witch-king notes, a further distinction appears to be true enough as well, that the half-orcs in general seem distinguishable enough from even the greater 'pure' orcs (and half-orcs were arguably taller in general than Uruks, for one thing).

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