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At his best, an Uruk is a hardy, cunning warrior, capable of enduring immense pain and privation. At his worst, an Uruk is thuggish, disloyal, and capable of shocking cruelty. The Uruk-hai are much like Mordor itself: dark-hearted, dangerous, and keen to spread pain and war.
The Uruk-hai are Orcs bred for war, and thus they have a heritage that stretches back to the First Age, when Morgoth twisted Elves from the east in to what Middle-earth knows as Orcs today. Celebrimbor used them as the backbone of his army when he assaulted Mordor in the Second Age, and Sauron and laster Saruman altered the Uruks further.
List of prominent Uruks