I’m inclined to think so. I have a hard time imagining a more dramatic or thrilling kind of foe. The Ring-wraiths are intelligent, relentless, and terrifying.
I still vividly recall watching the animated Lord of the Rings film as a wee lad. The scenes with the Nazgûl were amazing … and very frightening. In particular, the scene in which Frodo and Sam are hiding from one shortly after leaving the Shire, and the Ring-wraith starts ‘sniffing’ for the one ring, especially struck me. Bakshi’s film (although I realize now that it is deeply flawed) ignited my lifetime love of fantasy, and the portrayal of the Úlairi played a huge role in that.
The Ring-wraiths also have a tragic element. Once they were men, powerful sorcerers, kings, and princes. But their desire for power and immortality led to their entrapment. One can understand the temptation. Humanity’s fear of death – and the tragic things that it will do to avoid that fate – is a common theme in Tolkien’s Middle-earth (the fall of Númenor being the most vivid example). Consequently, I feel as much pity as I do fear for the Nine.
Above are three pictures portraying the Nazgûl by one of my favourite fantasy artists, Angus McBride.
(Oh yeah, Happy Canada Day! I’ll be back in the Great White North tomorrow.)