Dark Lord Sauron – Silmarillion, Hobbit, Lord of the Rings
“Only you could accomplish such art, Celebrimbor.” – Dark Lord Sauron – Silmarillion, Hobbit, Lord of the Rings
Spoiler: The Lord of the Rings* IS Sauron! But let’s begin at the beginning, a prequel by JRR Tolkien called The Silmarillion*. After you read this post, go read the book! For a more detailed bio, check out the first post of the Understanding Sauron series next week.
Before the world:
Eru is the creator god of the LotR-verse. He created spirits called Ainur, which were basically angels. Two of note were Melkor and Sauron. Sauron was called Mairon, meaning Admirable then. Melkor, a powerful spirit among the Valar, caused rebellion against Eru by hijacking the Song of Creation. Eru turned the music physical, creating the material World, Eä.
Sauron served Aulë the Smith and learned craftsmanship as the spirits organized the world. Sauron “loved order and coordination, and disliked all confusion.” This trait drew him to Melkor, who executed “his designs quickly and masterfully.” Tolkien says, “Because of his admiration of Strength he had become a follower of Morgoth [Melkor] and fell with him down into the depths of evil.” At this time Mairon became Sauron, meaning putrid, foul, abhorred.
Sauron was chief lieutenant and lord of the stronghold of Angband. He was completely loyal, even though he could envision and implement schemes Melkor “did not or could not complete in the furious haste of his malice.”
Morgoth left to corrupt Men while Sauron fought the Elves, who wanted their Silmarils back, thank you very much. He used his mastery of illusions and shapeshifting, as well as his personal minions, Werewolves and vampires. He made Tol Sirion and its watchtower Minas Tirith his capital, called Tol-in-Gaurhoth, Isle of Werewolves. Branding: You’re doing it right!
He lost control of the island after killing Elven King Finrod Felagund, because this invited Lúthien and Huan’s wrath. If Sauron didn’t give up Tol-in-Gaurhoth, he would wander as a ghost before Morgoth. Very embarrassing.
Bat-form Sauron fled to Taur-nu-Fuin. His master would soon join him in exile, but the Valar would cast Melkor into the Outer Void rather than the back forty.
Sauron roll back into town in Melkor Mode. He wants to be the Big Damn Hero but ends up being the Evil Overlord. Reorganizing and rehabilitating Middle-earth fed his lust for Complete Power. Succeeding in his plans became the End rather than the means to an end.
The Rings of Power:
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.”
—J.R.R. Tolkien’s epigraph to The Lord of The Rings
One of the most powerful villains ever is inextricably linked to the Ring. These words are inscribed on the Ring in Black Speech: One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
Sauron appeared to the Elves as Annatar, “Lord of Gifts.” Despite his teaching the Elves art and magic and claiming to hail from Aulë, a fan fave of the Elves, Galadriel and Gil-galad the High King of the Noldor had doubts.
Elven-smiths forged the Rings of Power with Sauron’s guidance. Meanwhile, he secretly created the One Ring in Mount Doom in Mordor. To control the rebellious Rings of Power, Sauron put his heart into the One Ring, so to speak. Even so, this increased his power when he wore the Ring.
No lie lasts, though, and when the Elves discovered the One Ring they removed their Rings. Sauron reclaimed his Seven and Nine Rings of Power.
Sauron became known as the Dark Lord of Mordor. With the Dark Tower of Barad-dûr as his seat, he gave the Seven to the lords of Dwarves. They were too stubborn to fall to the Rings, but the Lords of Men who received the Nine Rings were easy marks. These are the Ringwraiths, the Nazgûl. Thanks to his efforts, Sauron rose to be god-king of the Men in the East and South.
Enter the Númenor, most powerful kingdom of Men. Their king Ar-Pharazôn attacked Middle-earth. Amazingly, they were too powerful even for the mighty Sauron. Rather, they were too powerful for him to face head-on. Ever the tricky one, he surrendered and went as a prisoner to Númenor. He saw it as free transport to the heart of his enemies. From there he would rework (corrupt) the system. Inside out. Soon Sauron became an adviser to the king and a high priest in the new Melkor-centric religion. He of course decreed human sacrifice as the best way to start a worship service. Sauron won the old trick question, “I am wounded; do you yield?”
But the king still blocked Sauron’s path to Complete Power. Solution: Have the king destroy himself against the Valar. Bonus: the Valar would also expend resources. But the Valar pulled a Hail Marry. In a classic example of Deus ex machina, Eru answered their plea by destroying the king’s armada and flooding Númenor. Sauron’s body was obliterated, but Dark Lord’s get to respawn for free.
The Last Alliance:
Like any villain worth his Spikes of Villainy and skull-cap goblets, Sauron blew back into town like a Sharknado*. As he streamrolled through Middle Earth, Men and Elves decided to put aside their squabbles. (Men called Elves girly because they wore “dresses.” Ok, I’m making that up). They formed the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.
The battle that followed is the flashback in The Fellowship of the Ring*.
Gil-galad and Elendil destroyed Sauron’s body – because that worked so well the last how many times? Elendil was killed, breaking his sword Narsil. His son Isildur used the hilt and blade shard to cut the One Ring from Sauron’s hand. There’s a parallel scene with Frodo and Gollum, remember?
Isildur refused to destroy the Ring. He promptly was ambushed and by Orcs on the Anduin river. He tried to wear the Ring, but it rejected him. This is the problem with sapient inanimate objects.
Here beginneth the movies*!
Replay of Sauron’s spirit fleeing to the “waste places.” Weak after losing the Ring, he brooded for 1000 years. Like its master, the Ring lay hidden for ages.
Off to see the Wizards:
Sauron had his own emissaries, though: the Nazgûl, with the Witch-king of Angmar preiminent.
The War of the Ring: King vs Dark Lord
The Lord of the Rings tells of Sauron’s final rise and fall. It revolves around the Ring. Gandalf explains: “The Enemy still lacks one thing to give him strength and knowledge” to conquer Middle Earth. If he’s reunited with the Ring, his power will be complete. If it is destroyed, Sauron will fall because it’s linked to his own power.
Sauron tortures Gollum and learns the Ring’s location: “Baggins.” The Nazgûl ride to the Shire for it, but the Ring Bearer is gone. The movies and books detail what the Fellowship does to reach Mordor. Go read/watch them!
Aragorn and 7,000-soldiers march to the Black Gate of Mordor. With Sauron’s eye on the army, the hobbits reach Mount Doom. With the unintentional aid of Gollum, they cast the Ring into the molten heart of the mountain.
The eye rolls, the Tower crumbles. Sauron’s spirit hovers over the earth one last time before a wind from the Valar’s Blessed Realm finally dispels it.
Gandalf pronounces doom: “If it is destroyed, then he will fall, and his fall will be so low that none can foresee his arising ever again.”
Shapshifting into appealing forms.
Using gifts and advice to get his own ends.
Playing opponents against each other.
Making calculated retreats.
Using dark minions to extend his reach.
Controlling hearts and minds through religion and magical artifacts.
Using his enemies pride against them.
Outwitting/outmaneuvering his foes when he can’t break them with brute force.
Decimating enemies through superior manpower.
Intimidation, Shapeshifting, Manipulation, Illusions, Werewolf Wrangling, Vampire Management, Orc Creation, Regeneration, Metalcraft, Goldsmithing, Branding, Leadership, Religion Implementation, Advising, Magic, Art, Subterfuge, Fashion, Hiding and Seek
Underestimating the strength, fortitude, and intelligence of his opponents.
Losing sight of the goal.
Lust for Complete Control.
The Ring’s destruction.
The Valar’s power.
♦ Notable achievements:
Chief lieutenant of Melkor.
Lord of Angband.
Executing schemes even Melkor couldn’t.
Escaping destruction multiple times.
Ruling the Isle of Werewolves.
Creating the Rings of Power.
Creating the One Ring.
Becoming the Dark Lord of Mordor.
Creating the Ringwraith, the Nazgûl.
Implementing a new religion with human sacrifice.
Being adviser to the king of Númenor.
Being the Necromancer of Mirkwood.
Creating the Eye of Sauron.
Attacking Minas Tirith.
Dying in a really impressive way. Multiple times.
♦ How Sauron can help us succeed in life:
3-D Negotiation*: victory is all in the set-up.
Slow down and think things through when you’re in desperate situations.
Remember the goal.
Find a niche.
Knowledge is power, and it goes both ways.
Be careful who you throw your lot in with.
Efficiency and organization are good as long as they don’t become all-consuming.
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
Making a good impression works wonders.
Sometimes a retreat is the best option.
Work from the inside.
Keep your eyes open.
♦ Dark Lord Sauron Quotes:
“You cannot hide. I see you. There is no life in the void. Only death.”
“War is coming.”
“The age of the Eldar has come to an end.”
♦ Further reading/reports:
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(*Affiliate link, meaning you get a movie, I get a few pennies, and everybody’s happy!)