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Riddles in the Dark 17: Radagast the Brown and the Movie App

Radagast the Brown and the Movie App on Riddles in the Dark! Corey Olsen, Dave Kale, and Trish Lambert consider the Brown Wizard Radagast and his...

Radagast the Brown and the Movie App on Riddles in the Dark!

Corey Olsen, Dave Kale, and Trish Lambert consider the Brown Wizard Radagast and his bunny-pulled sled in this episode of Mythgard Institute’s Riddles in the Dark. First, the references to Radagast across Tolkien’s writings are considered (and Corey shares some very interesting pieces about Radagast’s story from the posthumous publications compiled by Tolkien’s son Christopher). Next, the role that Radagast is filling in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy is speculated upon based on available film clips, stills, and interview footage. Talk then turns to the recently released movie app, including the new and shortened “scroll.” Finally, Corey shares some exciting news that should be of great interest to listeners…so be sure to listen all the way to the end!

Riddle: What will be Radagast’s relationship with the White Council in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey??

A.  Honest, a good guy, but has a minor role (closest there is to a book answer).
B.  One of the inner circle, not on the Council but operating on par with Gandalf and Elrond and Galadriel (Bigger role than books suggest).
C.  Saruman’s patsy, clearly being manipulated.
D.  Radagast doesn’t interact with the White Council.

Download: .mp3 (right click and choose “Save As…” to download)


  1. Ed Powell September 14, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

    Don’t forget E: none of the above.

  2. San Diego Dave September 15, 2012 at 12:49 am #

    Hey guys! You’ve mentioned several times that Tolkien rewrote several chapters of the Hobbit in the style of LOTR. Are those chapters published anywhere? The Annotated Hobbit maybe?


  3. Michael Lucero September 15, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    San Diego Dave, you can find them in the second volume of The History of the Hobbit, by John Rateliff.

    An altogether interesting episode. I think I’ll agree and say Saruman’s patsy, although I think Saruman’s betrayal will be very subtle, so much so that those who haven’t seen LoTR might not even pick up on it. Unless you’re right and he does end up somehow causing Radagast’s death.

    A question as to the pronunciation of Rhosgobel. Dave questioned this in the episode, thinking there was something unusual in the “Rh”. I, on the other hand, had always thought that the last syllable would be pronounced as in the word “bell”, as in to ring a bell. I.e., “Ross – go – bell”. But Professor Olsen pronounces the last syllable closer to the word “bull”. Did Tolkien ever comment on how this word was to be pronounced anywhere in his writings?

  4. Ben VB September 16, 2012 at 2:36 am #

    You guys were actually on-topic from the start! I wasn’t sure I was listening to the right podcast…

  5. Trish September 16, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    BEN! I laughed out loud! Thanks for getting my day started with a chuckle. Now, our on-topic-ness may have been accidental, so don’t get your hopes up!

    (BTW, I listened to the ‘cast yesterday, and I laughed in the same spots as in the recording. Dave and Corey absolutely crack me up.)

  6. Murray September 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    Good episode. I came somewhat late to your series but now am hooked. When I first heard about two movies, I had thought Gandalf’s leaving at the entrance to Mirkwood to be a logical split point, but then when it morphed to three and I heard some of your comments, I was less sure. However, I still wonder if a sequence like below could work (perhaps ignoring the Movie 2 title and trying to forget about the Morgul blade and Nazgul tombs business):

    MOVIE 1
    Opening: Thorin out around Erebor, followed by brief attack by (largely unseen) Smaug
    Chap. 1 – Unexpected Party
    Gandalf recounts being in Dol Goldur (finding Thrain)
    Brief Azanulbizar flashback?
    Chap. 2 – Roast Mutton – Dwarves fight trolls?
    Chap. 3 – A Short Rest
    Short semi-White Council scene (Gandalf recounts Nazgul tombs?)
    Chap. 4 – Over Hill and Under Hill
    Chap. 5 – Riddles in the Dark
    Chap. 6 – Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire (to the Carrock direct)
    Scene with Radagast?
    Chap. 7 – Queer Lodgings
    Then Gandalf separates at entrance to Mirkwood, MOVIE 1 ENDS

    MOVIE 2
    White Council scene (Galadriel asks about Gandalf’s hobbit choice?)
    also w/ flashbacks (Gandalf says Necromancer=Sauron, urges attack, Saruman resists)
    Chap. 8 – Flies and Spiders (compressed?) + capture by Elves
    White Council attacks Dol Goldur
    (Gollum departs the Misty Mountains?)
    Rest of Chap. 9 – Barrels Out of Bond
    Legolas/Tauriel dispute?
    Chap. 10 – A Warm Welcome
    Flashback Memories of Dale etc
    Chap. 11 – On the Doorstep
    Smaug attack flashback?
    Chap. 12 – Inside Information – MOVIE 2 ENDS

    MOVIE 3
    Rehash of Bilbo-Smaug conversation?
    Extended pre-attack Laketown scenes
    Chap. 13 – Not At Home
    More Smaug attack memories (as dwarves pick through treasure)?
    Extended pre-attack Laketown scenes
    Chap. 14 – Fire and Water
    Chap 15 – The Gathering of the Clouds
    Laketown master flight?
    Chap. 16 – A Thief in the Night
    Chap. 17 – The Clouds Burst
    Chaps. 18 & 19 – The Return Journey The Last Stage (compressed) MOVIE 3 ENDS

    Just a thought.

  7. Samuel Stephens September 18, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    Here’s the deal on the movie splits: (and take note of Murray’s list, it’s impressive). Just because the movie might end with seeing Smaug’s eye, as Fr. Roderick suggested, DOES NOT mean that Thorin & Co. have to arrive in Laketown, meet Stephen Fry, Introduce Thorin, and set out for the Lonely Mountain. The fact is, the movie could end with Bilbo freeing the dwarves via barrels and looking and seeing the Lonely Mountain faraway, or with Gandalf peering over the mountains at THE Lonely Mountain, zoom into Smaug’s eye, End of Movie 1.

    Regarding Gandalf being everywhere. I think it’s possible that Gandalf will not rescue the dwarves from the Goblin King. Rather, Thorin will step up on that occasion and events will proceed as they do in the book. But, once Bilbo is out of the cave, they will likely re-unite with Gandalf.


  8. Adam September 19, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    On the bunnies for a second, are you guys aware of Giant German Rabbits, PJ is not plucking at strings here, these guys are pretty freaking huge. They are also in lots of folk tales, and when you look at norse mythology with Goats and all sorts of weirdness pulling sleds, I think PJ is on a very quirky and appropriate whimsy here, not a random one!

  9. Adam September 19, 2012 at 7:14 am # a pair of these pulling a sled… no problem, but possibly a little bumpy!

  10. Adam September 19, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    As much as I hate the idea of Radagast dying, when Dave said: “Killing off a character that did not die…” my mind immediately switched to Haldir… who died, and did not, after being used as part of a visual metaphor for something that happened off screen. Isn’t that pretty much what Sarumans growning deciet is, and Radagast is exactly the Haldir character here.

    Oh man, I think that puts me in the C camp, you talked me round here completely. I was going to be an A with a touch of B, perhaps a white council role, but maybe more field agent based, rather than sitting down with pencils type!

  11. Murray September 19, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Those are some impressive bunnies.

    Re Radagast, sad as it is to say it, I think the conversation is spot-on here. Radagast will be fooled by Saruman (subtly) and pay the ultimate price for his trusting nature. I’m just not sure where in the series it will be. If I remember right, whereas Gandalf uses the present tense in mentioning Radagast to Beorn, but in LOTR (books, that is,) he uses the past tense. (Perhaps an unintended clue by Tolkien?)

  12. Tuor son of Huor September 19, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    Ahhh! Can’t wait to hear you lot tear the new trailer to pieces. Be as cynical and sarcastic as you like!
    I must admit that I myself was a little. . . less than thrilled. It looks as though the film is going to be a VERY loose interpretation of the book, with tons of dialogue and scenes added in to flesh out the material. I suppose I was probably being too hopeful. I suppose I need to learn to keep the book and films as separate things in my head, I’m probably just so used to The Lord of the Rings films that I don’t bother about the inconsistencies with the book any more.
    And the thing about The Hobbit having “more comedy”? Well they seem to have taken the lighthearted tone of the book and replaced it with slapstick.
    Hopefully the CGI is unfinished as well as it looked slightly terrible in places.
    Indeed the only part I really liked was the Galadriel-Gandalf “Perhaps it is because I am afraid” bit.
    So overall I didn’t find it too encouraging. I definitely preferred Trailer #1. Ah well…
    I wonder what other people think? Especially you Riddlers.

  13. The_Least_of_Rings September 19, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    Personally, I am somewhat encouraged by what we see. More character stuff (like Thorin’s disdain for Bilbo) which is always good.

    Corey and Dave should be pleased to see the wargs looking somewhat more wolf-like. Mind you I always rather thought the Two Towers film versions were probably the result of Saruman’s meddling (rather like the Uruk-Hai)

  14. San Diego Dave September 20, 2012 at 2:54 am #


  15. Mara September 21, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    Hey Cory, Dave and Trish,

    Great episode this week! I’m looking forward to your take on the new trailer.

    As I was listening, I had an interesting thought about Radagast, his death, and moths. What if, in The Hobbit, Gandalf’s ability to talk to moths and eagles is put in the context of Radagast’s death–to retroactively increase the poignancy of the moment of the moth? What if Radagast teaches Gandalf how to talk to animals at some point in the films? The eagles rescue them at Radagast’s behest, and Radagast gives Gandalf some kind of password that makes him a friend to beasts and insects. Then Radagast dies at the hands of Saruman, but is able to acheive a posthumous revenge when Gandalf uses Radagast’s knowledge to escape the evil wizard.

  16. Brent Sprinkle September 21, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    So apparently the hobbit trivia game assumed we would see the spider burst in to Radagast’s house in the trailer before it came out? By the look of it that’s what we are going to get.

    Anyway Radagast….I knew from the get go that he would have a bigger role in the films than the book. Duh…he could be on screen for 10 seconds and it would be more of a role than the books so I am a little confused how you are defining “minor role” in option “A” since we have no point of reference to go off of in the book. Regardless, that’s not the answer :)

    First I thought it would be completely ridiculous if we saw Saruman being a “bully” and Radagast kinda whimpering or something. Sounds like a weird dynamic to see played out on screen in my head, but then again everyone really seems on board with the whole notion so it gives me pause….but whatever I will be controversial. I’m sure Dave will like that.

    I don’t see Radagast being on the White Council at all. The movie is going to open with Gandalf going to Dol Guldur and running into Radagast there, the shot we have already heard described where Gandalf tells him to leave. This reaction from Gandalf tells me he feels Radagast is “in the way” and needs to leave. Sounds like Gandalf is bullying him, not Saruman. With this reaction from Gandalf I feel that he, and others included, wouldn’t see Radagast as “fit” to be on the Council. They wouldn’t want to lower the standard for membership of the Council. Also, we haven’t seen Radagast in any promo shots of the White Council. Not definitive evidence but evidence nonetheless. The only connection he will have to the White Council is them maybe first learning of the darkness’ return to Mirkwood via our brown friend. They might also hire him as a subcontractor to do some side work for them since talking to animals isn’t a particularly lucrative job. I am going out on a limb hoping for the eagles to catch me when I jump…..option D.

    Will he die? Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

  17. Brent Sprinkle September 21, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    Something to add….
    The problem of him not being in the LOTR trilogy if he has a big role in the Hobbit can be answered two ways. First, as Trish said he will die, but second he could just not have a big role; though bigger than his book role, which was virtually none. The latter supports my answer of D so I am hoping for that one.
    It’s weird…I am starting to care more about getting my answers right than the actual quality of this film haha

  18. Tuor son of Huor September 21, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    You can also find it here:

  19. Trish September 21, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    Brent…just a point of clarification. The “minor role” answer (A) refers to his role on the White Council, not his role in the movie versus the book. However, since you don’t think he’ll be on the White Council, this won’t change your mind at all!!

  20. Trish September 21, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    Ah, beware the lure of the riddle game!!! Laugh!

  21. Bre September 22, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    I can’t wrap my head around what they want to do with Radagast. Since he’s a secondary character that wasn’t in the book, his insertion can’t be too intrusive on the already-existing plot. Instead, he would be used to boost whatever themes and ideas are already present. However, it’s hard to say what themes and ideas the filmmakers will for sure be focusing on.

    I’m not even sure if Radagast is on the White Council, it’s assumed that he is, but it’s never confirmed in the books. However, it would be surprising if he isn’t because the council will be talking about troubles in the south of Mirkwood, and anything in Mirkwood is going to be important to Radagast. At the same time, he feels a bit reclusive. So perhaps, he’ll be present to elaborate on the growing threat of the Necromancer in Mirkwood (even becoming a victim to it, since he is a ambassador of the wild, and the wild is becoming twisted and dying).

    I’m not sure if this train of thought really fits into any of the answers listed though.

  22. Samuel Stephens September 22, 2012 at 5:10 pm #


    What you say makes a lot of sense. Probably the council has a lot of members that come and go, or don’t show up. Radagast seems like he would definitely be present, although I suspect that Saruman will be scoffing at him for his bird-taming. I get the sense that Radagast was more or less ‘kicked out’ of the WC for being crazy, but that they need him as a witness.

    …definitely not the Apache Sage/St. Francis-type that Imagined from the books :-p

  23. Chincilla of Valinor October 9, 2012 at 5:03 am #

    Soon after re-reading LOTR I happened to stumble across the Radegast (ok, different spelling, but, close enough?!) beer in the Czech Republic. It pretty much cemented him as my favourite Tolkien character ( qu- do any other characters have beverages named after them?), so I was disappointed he didn’t make a fleeting appearance in the LOTR films. I have to agree with Trish, and expect to see Saruman’s patsy meet a sticky end. Good job the beer hasn’t though. Perhaps an essential companion to the film premiere?

  24. Chincilla of Valinor October 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    Radagast’s other home (not known to have ever been trashed by spiders):

  25. Jose October 19, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    Why are you that sure of Radagast death? Did you seen or read something about it?

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