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John Howe - Variag.jpg
Languagespresumably numerous; different from Common Speech
Average heightshorter than Númenóreans
DistinctionsAlliance with Sauron
Lifespanshorter than Númenórean

The Variags were a little-known people who dwelt in the land of Khand.


[edit] History

They were allies of both Rhûn and Harad, to neither of which they belonged.

Khand was southeast of Mordor at the time of the War of the Ring.[1] The Variags were allied to Sauron or under the influence of Mordor, and twice came into the history of Gondor: first in T.A. 1944 when the Variags together with the Wainriders attacked Gondor,[2] and later during the War of the Ring when they fought at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. They were held in reserve in Osgiliath and were sent onto the battlefield by Gothmog after the death of the Witch-king.[3]

They were described as tall and ferocious warriors, wielding large battle-axes in combat and descending on their foes with great wrath.[source?]

[edit] Etymology

The meaning of Variag is unknown; it is, along with mûmak and Khand, one of the few known words from the languages of the Men of the East and allies of Sauron.[4]

[edit] Inspiration

Variag is a Slavic word derived from Norse Varingar "mercenary people" (vár "contract"). The Varamgoa Guard were Norse body-guards of the Byzantine Emperor.

It has been suggested that Tolkien adopted the Slavic term to indicate that the Variags were possibly mercenaries serving a possible Lord of Khand.[5]

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

Variags of Khand in MECCG

1982-97: Middle-earth Role Playing:

Variags, who speak the tongue Varadja, share ties with both Easterlings and Haradrim.[6][7]

1995-8: Middle-earth Collectible Card Game:

Variags of Khand is a Man Faction.

2016: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Variags appear as enemy NPCs encountered in Far Anórien.

[edit] See also


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The West of Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age" [map]
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Appendix on Languages", p. 79.
  5. Jim Allan (1978), An Introduction to Elvish, Obscure Languages
  6. S. Coleman Charlton (1993), Middle-earth Role Playing (2nd edition, hardcover) (#2000)
  7. Peter C. Fenlon, Jr. et al. (1987), Lords of Middle-earth Vol II: The Mannish Races (#8003)