Sauron – Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, Silmarillion
♦ Silmarillion, Hobbit, Lord of the Rings synopsis/summary:
Sauron, The Lord of the Rings* namesake! He’s one of the most powerful and dangerous villains around. In short, he’s an analog of Satan.
To really understand the Dark Lord, you have to start at the beginning. Sauron’s most active time is in JRR Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, which is a prequel to the LotR that reads like the Book of Genesis in the Holy Bible*. The book covers thousands of years of history. If you enjoyed LotR, you need to read this. You’ll appreciate the trilogy 100x more. Go get The Silmarillion* now!
Since I’m covering…5 books, this will be a longer post. Stay with me, though, because it’s worth it. I wager you’ve never heard a lot of this, since most people haven’t plowed through The Silmarillion. It’s been awhile since I tackled it, so I’m relying heavily on Wikipedia, repository of all human knowledge.
Time before times: Pre Material World
Sauron was an Ainur: an angel of sorts to the supreme being and creator Eru. Sauron was a minor spirit, a Maiar, of the Ainur. He didn’t start out evil. As Elrond stated, “Nothing is evil in the beginning. Even Sauron was not so.”
The Valar (a more powerful type of spirit) Melkor caused rebellion against Eru. Melkor tried to usurp the Music of the Ainur, which was originally for Eru’s praise. “Straightway discord arose around him … some began to attune their music to his rather than to the thought which they had at first.”
The Music illustrated the fight between good and evil until Eru ended the Song of Creation. Eru made the music physical, creating the material World, Eä.
Land ho!: First Age
The spirits tried to organize the world for Eru. Sauron served Aulë the Smith and learned craftsmanship. Sauron’s original name was Mairon (the Admirable), but he became Sauron (putrid, foul, abhorred) after he joined Melkor.
Sauron “loved order and coordination, and disliked all confusion and wasteful friction.” Enter Melkor: “It was the apparent will and power of Melkor to effect his designs quickly and masterfully that had first attracted Sauron to him.” Later, “because of his admiration of Strength he had become a follower of Morgoth [Melkor] and fell with him down into the depths of evil.”
Sauron became chief lieutenant, “desiring the triumph of Melkor, whom in the beginning he had adored.” He could pull off schemes Melkor never imagined or “did not or could not complete in the furious haste of his malice.”
Thus, “when Melkor was made captive, Sauron escaped and lay hid in Middle-earth.” There he bred Orcs like some people grow orchids. Meanwhile, Melkor feigned reform, but eventually escaped back to Middle-earth with the Silmarils of Fëanor. Sauron had repaired Angband and stocked it with Orcs for Melkor, aka Morgoth the Black Enemy.
The Elves warred with Morgoth because of the Silmarils. In that war, Sauron was master of illusions and shapeshifting. Werewolves and vampires were his servants.
When Morgoth left Angband to corrupt Men, Sauron directed the war against the Elves. He conquered the island of Tol Sirion and its watchtower Minas Tirith, renaming it Tol-in-Gaurhoth, the Isle of Werewolves. (I want a movie about this.)
Soon afterward, Lúthien and Huan the Wolfhound arrived, hoping to rescue Beren. Sauron unleashed werewolves and Draugluin, Father of Werewolves, but Huan killed them. In the form of a wolf Sauron attacked but failed.
Eventually, Huan had Sauron held by the throat. Sauron could either surrender to his control over Tol-in-Gaurhoth, or be destroyed and wander as a ghost before Morgoth. It’s the angelic equivalent of pantsing.
Sauron fled in bat form to the woods of Taur-nu-Fuin.
In the War of Wrath later, the Valar finally defeated Morgoth the Dark Lord and exiled him into the Outer Void.
But Sauron escaped. He put on his most beautiful form to meet Eönwë, emissary of the Valar. Although Sauron’s repentance was as real as an apprehended theif’s, he was too ashamed to stand trial. Escape #2(?) followed.
The Rings’ birth: Second Age
About 500 years into the Second Age, Sauron reappeared, imitating Melkor. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, though: “Very slowly, beginning with fair motives: the reorganizing and rehabilitation of Middle-earth, ‘neglected by the gods,’ he becomes a reincarnation of Evil, and a thing lusting for Complete Power.” Tolkien states he “was not indeed wholly evil, not unless all ‘reformers’ who want to hurry up with ‘reconstruction’ and ‘reorganization’ are wholly evil, even before pride and the lust to exert their will eat them up.”
“Though the only real good in, or rational motive for, all this ordering and planning and organization was the good of all inhabitants of Arda … his ‘plans’, the idea coming from his own isolated mind, became the sole object of his will, and an end, the End, in itself. ”
The Rings of Power: we’re not summoning Captain Planet
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
To co-opt Elves, Sauron again wore a lovely form: Annatar, “Lord of Gifts.” No more Spikes of Villainy. He counseled them in art and magic. Sauron pretended to work for Aulë, a favorite of the Elves. But Galadriel and Gil-galad, the High King of the Noldor, distrusted him.
Sauron helped the Elven-smiths forge the Rings of Power. Ah, now we’re in familiar territory! He created the One Ring in the volcanic Mount Doom in Mordor. This “One Ring to rule them all.” The Rings of Power were wild, forcing Sauron to invest the One Ring with much of his own power. But this acted to amplify his power.
The Elves discovered the One Ring’s power. This blew his cover. They removed their Rings. So Sauron waged war. This began the Dark Years. Sauron seized his Seven and the Nine Rings of Power. The Númenor arrived, defeated Sauron, and drove him back to Mordor. The Numenor lived on the island of Númenor and ruled the most powerful kingdom of Men.
Resurgence from Mordor: Ringwraiths’ birth
Sauron became known as the Dark Lord of Mordor. Sauron fortified Mordor and completed the Dark Tower of Barad-dûr. The Seven and the Nine Rings went to lords of Dwarves and Men. Dwarves were too hard headed to control, but Men were easily enslaved. These are the Nazgûl. Sauron gained power over the Men in the East and South as their god-king.
Destruction of Númenor: Deus ex machina, anyone?
In a show of force, Númenórean king Ar-Pharazôn attacked Middle-earth. Sauron took the cunning route: he surrendered and went as a prisoner to Númenor. The plan: to corrupt Númenór from inside. He steadily got into the king’s head and corrupted many of the Númenóreans. Through the power of the Ring, Sauron soon became an adviser and undermined their religion. He became high priest, weakening belief in Eru, introducing the worship of Melkor, and instituting with human sacrifice. Check and mate.
Sauron convinced the king to send a great armada upon Aman to seize immortality from the Valar. The goal: con the Valar into destroying Ar-Pharazôn, taking out Sauron’s last obstacle in ruling Middle-earth. Instead, the Valar appealed to Eru. Deus ex machina, anyone?
Eru destroyed the armada and flooded Númenor. Sauron’s body was destroyed, but you just can’t keep an evil Dark Lord down.
War against the Last Alliance: Another fall
Sauron was back in black, coming in like a wrecking ball. He captured Minas Ithil. Then Elendil and Gil-galad made the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. They would hang together or hang separately.
A battle ensued. This is the flashback in The Fellowship of the Ring*.
The Alliance won and invaded Mordor, besieging Barad-dûr. Finally, Sauron fought the Last Alliance himself. During the final fight on Mount Doom, Sauron was slain by Gil-galad and Elendil, who also died. **Spoiler: Lot’s of people die in this book series** Elendil fell, his sword Narsil breaking. Elendil’s son Isildur used the remaining blade to cut the One Ring from Sauron’s hand. Again Sauron’s “spirit fled far away and hid in waste places.”
Isildur refused to destroy the Ring by casting it into Mount Doom.
Third Age: The age of movies*
Losing the Ring weakened Sauron. He spent the first thousand years of the Third Age dormant.
A few years after the War of the Last Alliance, Isildur’s army was attacked by Orcs in Rivendell. Isildur put on the Ring and swam into the Anduin. But the Ring had its own idea: return to Sauron. It jettisoned Isi, who Orcs killed.
The Ring was lost for thousands of years.
The Necromancer of Dol Guldur: Evil by another name
Sauron finally reappeared with increased strength in 2460. Hobbit Déagol found the Ruling Ring, only to have Sméagol murder him for it. Corrupted by it, Smeagol became Gollum and lived in the Misty Mountains.
Sauron’s power regenerated enough to make another stab at ruling Middle-earth. The Eye of Sauron, a manifestation of his will and attention, became his symbol.
The War of the Ring: Return of the King, fall of the Dark Lord
The Lord of the Rings tell the story of Sauron’s last attempt at achieving world dominion, as the Third Age reached its climax
In The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf explains the Ring: “The Enemy still lacks one thing to give him strength and knowledge to beat down all resistance, break the last defences, and cover all the lands in a second darkness. He lacks the One Ring… So he is seeking it, seeking it, and all his thought is bent on it.”
Sauron captures and tortures Gollum, who blurts out “Baggins.” Sauron dispatches the Nazgûl to the hobbit Shire to fetch the Ring, but Bilbo and Frodo had left.
Read the books and watch the movies to see the Fellowship’s struggle across Middle Earth. I still agree with How LotR Should Have Ended, though.
The Return of the King*: Aragorn, a Ranger and future king, led Sauron to think he and not Frodo had the Ring. The Dark Lord had to move his timeline up and attacked Minas Tirith, capital of Gondor, sooner than he wanted.
Aragorn responded by marching to the Black Gate of Mordor. The 7,000-soldier force was a distraction so Frodo and Sam could reach Mount Doom. Only the fires of Mount Doom could destroy the Ring, as they had birthed it. Aragorn and Co. had a bad go of it, though.
At the last moment, Frodo reached Mount Doom’s interior. Gollum attacked Frodo, chomping off Frodo’s finger, Ring and all. But in a fitting ending Gollum falls over the edge with the Ring, right into the magma.
The One Ring’s destruction dispelled the power Sauron had invested in it. This broke Sauron’s power in Middle Earth. His spirit towered above Mordor in a black cloud, but wind from the West – the direction of the Valar’s Blessed Realm – drove it into oblivion.
Gandalf sums it up: “If it is destroyed, then he will fall, and his fall will be so low that none can foresee his arising ever again.”
Continue to Part 2 for a better understanding of Sauron’s motives and actions. Oh, and how the Dark Lord can help us succeed in life. Also check out his Villain Matrix score.
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