Rise of the Isitari is a fantasy novel and teenage fiction book acting as an unofficial prequel to the Children of Hurin. It is the first of three volumes in the Servants of Morgoth trilogy, the critically acclaimed book is considered one of the most popular entries in the entire Middle-Earth series. Set in a time "long before the troubles of Mr. Baggins", Rise of the Isitari follows the quest of young Isitari Gandalf Olorin to stop servants of the first Dark Lord Morgoth from freeing their master and bringing chaos to the entire continent of Middle-Earth. The story is told in the form of an episodic quest, and most chapters introduce a specific creature, or type of creature, of Tolkien's Classic Wilderland or of original origin. By learning the cold, dark truth of the world, the happy-go-lucky wizard matures in wisdom, realizing there are some people in the world who do not have good morals. The story reaches its climax in the Servant of the White Cloak, as Gandalf discovers that King Tork is secretly serving the white cloak and all of the main characters break out into battle. Personal growth and forms of heroism are central themes of the story. The award-winning book has spanned far beyond simply it's hardback form, spawning platform games, musicals, an MMORPG titled Legend of the Isitari and a planned film based on the book.


Gandalf Olorin, the titular protagonist, is a kind and beloved protector of Middle-Earth. However, his kindness proves to also be his weakness, as his trust for his "friend" Saruman leads to the near destruction of Middle-Earth. After travelling to the Elven City of Darvendell, Gandalf and his good friend Ragadast are introduced to Four Kings of the Men, and the Elven Prince Elrond. On their way to the Ancient Kingdom of Doran, they also meet up with a ranger by the name of Thorn Avalast. Thorn is a brave yet selfish ranger, who puts strength and bravery before intelligence, much to the disliking of Gandalf. Despite making many mistakes during the journey and relying on Gandalf and Ragadast to save him, he proves to be a valuable ally and a spectacular warrior. Ragadast, wizard of brown and one of the other main characters is a proud, kind and wise isitari who serves as best friend to Gandalf. He is very loving of nature, and acts as protector of the forests.


Gandalf, wizard of grey travels upon request of his good friend Ragadast to the Elven Kingdom of Darvendell, where he is introduced to Four Human Kings and the Elven Prince Elrond, who speak of an ancient prophecy fortelling the second rise of Morgoth, the first dark lord. They are led into the great hall of the Elven Palace, where Elrond reveals a secret map showing a path to the ancient Dark Kingdom of Doran. Gandalf, although he is ridiculed as not the wizard they needed (the Kings believing Saruman should have helped them instead) decides to join them on the quest, despite himself. Gandalf is then gifted by the elves with the last peice of the mighty tree Telperion, which serves as a staff and a sword for the young wizard.

The group travels into the wild, where they are captured by some orcs and nearly killed before they are saved by a ranger by the name of Thorn Avalast. They then travel over the Mountain of Krolax, where they meet with the two Blue Wizards, and discover that the group is being followed by a strange necromancer in a cloak of white. The blue wizards tell Gandalf that they fear it may be Saruman, however, Gandalf dismisses this theory saying "Saruman is our leader and he has protected middle earth for a hundred years, I find no reason to call him a traitor". Traveling to the Ancient Cave of Shallax, a hidden passage through the forest of Nevur, Gandalf and Ragadast find the massive body of the dead spider queen Ungoliant, where they find a strange creature, similar in appearance to those corrupted by the rings of power (i.e. Gollum) weeping into his palms. The creature is revealed to be an ancient Mair servant of Morgoth, who after discovering the Isatari beside him proceeds to attack the two wizards, as it is revealed that the blue wizards killed Ungoliant, until Gandalf offers the creature whose name is revealed to be Rodan a large amount of gold to guide them through the passage. Rodan agrees, and guides them to the near end of the tunnel before betraying them and attacking, where they are saved by Prince Elrond. 

They then continue on their path to Doran, where they encounter Orcs, Trolls, and a strange demonic creature by the name of Sliar. Near the end of the book, Tork, third of the human Kings engages in a battle with the main characters aided by various orcs and goblins and a mysterious dark power, as it is revealed that he has been serving the white cloak and revealing their locations to him, and Gandalf is nearly killed, until Thorn beheads Tork, who is revealed to be Tork's brother. They manage to escape the attackers, and the book ends with Gandalf saying "Trust is an important thing, you need to have enough but if you have too much it will grow to become your weakness".


The first authorized adaptation of Rise of the Isitari was a Broadway musical titled "Trials of a Young Wizard" which was greatly disliked and cancelled more than a year later, as the book was barely suitable for music. Tolkien Industries would later sign a contract with DC Comics to produce an eight-part Limited Edition Comic Version of the book, which were later collected and published as a graphic novel. The first silver-screen adaptation of the book was an ABC television special called The Tales of Middle Earth, loosely based off of Rise of the Isitari and acting as a "fictional biography" of Gandalf Olorin. Tolkien Industries later signed a contract with Peter Jackson and Christopher Nolan to create a movie based on the book, and it was released on Christmas Day, upon request of the author. It's first video game adaptation was called The War of Morgoth, and half a year later a critically acclaimed MMORPG by the name of Legend of the Isitari was released for Play Station and for PC. The book is followed by two sequels, which are also being made into a live-action film by Christopher Nolan and Peter Jackson.

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