Uruk-Hai appears to be the Black Speech term for uruks, the great soldier-orcs of Mordor and Isengard. Christopher Tolkien identified “uruks” as an “anglicisation” of “Uruk-hai”. In The Lord of the Rings, Saruman’s orcs identify themselves as the “fighting Uruk-hai”. A tracker-orc in Mordor makes reference to a “pack of rebel Uruk-hai”, apparently in reference towards Gorbag’s troop of orcs.
Tolkien described the Uruk-hai of Isengard as large, swart orcs with slanted eyes, thick legs, and large hands. They were armed with bows made of yew and short, broad-bladed swords. The Isengarders’ equipment was noted as quite different from normal orcish gear (such as that used by the Uruks of Mordor).
Uruks were first created by Sauron late in the Third Age. In the War of the Ring, the Uruk-hai made up a large part of Saruman’s Army, together with the Dunlendings, man-enemies of Rohan. There are suggestions that the Uruk-hai of Isengard were the result of crossbreeding orcs and men. Certainly, there were other creatures in Saruman’s armies, and under his command in the Shire, that appear to have been hybrids. “Half-orcs” were as tall as Men and are never described simply as orcs, as the Uruk-hai frequently are. It has also been suggested that the Uruk-hai are the cross-breeds of goblins and half-orcs. Saruman’s army of Uruk-hai fought against King Théoden of Rohan and his people at Helm’s Deep.
Author: J. Ossorio
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