Sauron ~ Sauron in the First Age ~ Sauron in the Second Age ~ Sauron in the Third Age ~ Important Dates ~ Names and Titles
Sauron ~ the Dark Lord of Mordor
“The Ring misseth, maybe, the heat of Sauron’s hand, which was black yet burned like fire.”
LOTR: FOTR B2 C2
Few had stood before the throne of the Dark Lord in his impregnable fastness of Barad-dûr at the end of the Third Age in Middle Earth. And fewer still remembered a time when Sauron walked openly under the light. Elrond perhaps… maybe a few others. Sauron was born of the race of Ainur and became a mighty Maiar of Aulë. Sauron was early corrupted by Melkor and became his most trusted lieutenant.
After the War of Wrath and the defeat of his master Morgoth at the end of the First Age, the beginning of Sauron’s reign as Dark Lord began: he set himself no less a goal than the conquest of Middle-earth, and perhaps even of Númenor itself. He took the fenced and mountainous land of Mordor as hos own, and there began building his mighty Dark Tower of Barad-dûr. All of the Ainur had the ability to change their form, but none held so many different shapes as Sauron. During the First Age, his accustomed form seems to have been that of a dark sorcerer, commanding a host of evil things, and especially orcs, wolves and men. He was also known to have taken the form of a great wolf.
In the Second Age, when the great Rings of Power were made, he assumed the semblance of a noble teacher, a form to the was fair elves. He shared with them great knowledge to make the Rings, but he fooled them and made in secret a master Ring to control all others. However, when he placed the One Ring upon his hand the Elves perceived his evil and removed their own. In his rage he attacked the Elves, but he underestimated the combined power of Elves and Men and was himself enslaved.
After the downfall of Númenor in which he played a major role, his form was destroyed and his ability to change shape severely curtailed. He returned to Middle-earth and began to use fear and terror to control all others. This time he gathered the Orcs and other foul creatures in the land of Mordor, but once more Elves and Men united to stop him. In the Battle of the Last Alliance the Ring was cut from Sauron’s hand and a great part of his power was taken. On the slopes of Orodruin, where Gil-galad died, and Elendil fell, and Narsil was broken beneath him, he though his final victory was at hand, but Sauron himself was overthrown, when Isildur cut the Ring from his hand with the hilt-shard of his Father’s sword. The first realm of Sauron was ended and never again was he able to take human form.
After his defeat on the slopes of Mount Doom Sauron fled in to the East. A weak and shapeless spirit, the Dark Lord was unable to take physical form without the power of the Ring. He hid in waste places; and he took no visible shape again for many long years. However, in time Sauron regain his strength and inhabited the ruins of Dol Guldur taking the shape of a vast dark shadow. He once more began to assemble the forces of evil, orcs, wargs, trolls and the Nazgûl he sent to Mordor in secret, to prepare the way for his return.
In the latter years of the Third Age during the War of the Ring, Sauron like his Servants the Nazgûl had no form under the light of day, only a shadow that stretched out in his infinite desire for domination over all of Middle Earth. After his return Mordor, he once took the realm of Power in is ancient fastness of Barad-dûr. The One Ring had been forged in the cracks of doom deep within the fires of Orodruin where he placed a great part of his strength of old and as long as the Ring survived, so did it’s master. They were one… the Ring and the Dark Lord.
Many described the enemy as a great Eye, lidless and wreathed in Flame. After the Dark Lord learned of the fate of the Ring from Gollum, his will was bent on finding it. All of the power of the Dark Lord was in motion. On the the high-seat of seeing upon Amon Hen, Frodo with the power of the Ring was able to see the power of the Enemy.
Soon he came out alone on the summit of Amon Hen, and halted, gasping for breath. He saw as through a mist a wide flat circle, paved with mighty flags, and surrounded with a crumbling battlement; and in the middle, set upon four carven pillars, was a high seat, reached by a stair of many steps. Up he went and sat upon the ancient chair, feeling like a lost child that had clambered upon the throne of mountain-kings.
At first he could see little. He seemed to be in a world of mist in which there were only shadows: the Ring was upon him. Then here and there the mist gave way and he saw many visions: small and clear as if they were under his eyes upon a table, and yet remote. There was no sound, only bright living images. The world seemed to have shrunk and fallen silent. He was sitting upon the Seat of Seeing, on Amon Hen, the Hill of the Eye of the Men of Númenor. Eastward he looked into wide uncharted lands, nameless plains, and forests unexplored. Northward he looked, and the Great River lay like a ribbon beneath him, and the Misty Mountains stood small and hard as broken teeth. Westward he looked and saw the broad pastures of Rohan; and Orthanc, the pinnacle of Isengard, like a black spike. Southward he looked, and below his very feet the Great River curled like a toppling wave and plunged over the falls of Rauros into a foaming pit; a glimmering rainbow played upon the fume. And Ethir Anduin he saw, the mighty delta of the River, and myriads of sea-birds whirling like a white dust in the sun, and beneath them a green and silver sea, rippling in endless lines.
But everywhere he looked he saw the signs of war. The Misty Mountains were crawling like anthills: orcs were issuing out of a thousand holes. Under the boughs of Mirkwood there was deadly strife of Elves and Men and fell beasts. The land of the Beornings was aflame; a cloud was over Moria; smoke rose on the borders of Lórien.
Horsemen were galloping on the grass of Rohan; wolves poured from Isengard. From the havens of Harad ships of war put out to sea; and out of the East Men were moving endlessly: swordsmen, spearmen, bowmen upon horses, chariots of chieftains and laden wains. All the power of the Dark Lord was in motion. Then turning south again he beheld Minas Tirith. Far away it seemed. and beautiful: white-walled, many-towered, proud and fair upon its mountain-seat; its battlements glittered with steel, and its turrets were bright with many banners. Hope leaped in his heart. But against Minas Tirith was set another fortress, greater and more strong. Thither, eastward, unwilling his eye was drawn. It passed the ruined bridges of Osgiliath, the grinning gates of Minas Morgul. and the haunted Mountains, and it looked upon Gorgoroth, the valley of terror in the Land of Mordor. Darkness lay there under the Sun. Fire glowed amid the smoke. Mount Doom was burning, and a great reek rising. Then at last his gaze was held: wall upon wall, battlement upon battlement, black, immeasurably strong, mountain of iron, gate of steel, tower of adamant, he saw it: Barad-dûr, Fortress of Sauron. All hope left him.
And suddenly he felt the Eye. There was an eye in the Dark Tower that did not sleep. He knew that it had become aware of his gaze. A fierce eager will was there. It leaped towards him; almost like a finger he felt it, searching for him. Very soon it would nail him down, know just exactly where he was. Amon Lhaw it touched. It glanced upon Tol Brandir he threw himself from the seat, crouching, covering his head with his grey hood.
He heard himself crying out: Never, never! Or was it: Verily I come, I come to you? He could not tell. Then as a flash from some other point of power there came to his mind another thought: Take it off! Take it off! Fool, take it off! Take off the Ring!
The two powers strove in him. For a moment, perfectly balanced between their piercing points, he writhed, tormented. Suddenly he was aware of himself again. Frodo, neither the Voice nor the Eye: free to choose, and with one remaining instant in which to do so. He took the Ring off his finger. He was kneeling in clear sunlight before the high seat. A black shadow seemed to pass like an arm above him; it missed Amon Hen and groped out west, and faded. Then all the sky was clean and blue and birds sang in every tree.
Frodo rose to his feet. A great weariness was on him, but his will was firm and his heart lighter. He spoke aloud to himself. `I will do now what I must,’ he said. ‘This at least is plain: the evil of the Ring is already at work even in the Company, and the Ring must leave them before it does more harm. I will go alone. Some I cannot trust, and those I can trust are too dear to me: poor old Sam, and Merry and Pippin. Strider, too: his heart yearns for Minas Tirith, and he will be needed there, now Boromir has fallen into evil. I will go alone. At once.’
From The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in the Chapter ‘The Breaking of the Fellowship’
As Frodo Sam and Gollum marched through the Dead Marshes, Frodo was able to feel the presence of Sauron. It came form Mordor in the direction in which they were heading. The terrible presence of the Eye in the Dark Tower… ever searching… for the One Ring!
It was late in the night when at length they reached firmer ground again. Gollum hissed and whispered to himself, but it appeared that he was pleased: in some mysterious way, by some blended sense of feel, and smell, and uncanny memory for shapes in the dark, he seemed to know just where he was again, and to be sure of his road ahead.
`Now on we go! ‘ he said. ‘Nice hobbits! Brave hobbits! Very very weary, of course; so we are, my precious, all of us. But we must take master away from the wicked lights, yes, yes, we must.’ With these words he started off again, almost at a trot, down what appeared to be a long lane between high reeds, and they stumbled after him as quickly as they could. But in a little while he stopped suddenly and sniffed the air doubtfully, hissing as if he was troubled or displeased again.
‘What is it? ‘ growled Sam, misinterpreting the signs. `What’s the need to sniff? The stink nearly knocks me down with my nose held. You stink, and master stinks; the whole place stinks.’
‘Yes, yes, and Sam stinks! ‘ answered Gollum. `Poor Sméagol smells it, but good Sméagol bears it. Helps nice master. But that’s no matter. The air’s moving, change is coming. Sméagol wonders; he’s not happy.’
He went on again, but his uneasiness grew, and every now and again he stood up to his full height, craning his neck eastward and southward. For some time the hobbits could not hear or feel what was troubling him. Then suddenly all three halted, stiffening and listening. To Frodo and Sam it seemed that they heard, far away, a long wailing cry, high and thin and cruel. They shivered. At the same moment the stirring of the air became perceptible to them; and it grew very cold. As they stood straining their ears, they heard a noise like a wind coming in the distance. The misty lights wavered, dimmed, and went out.
Gollum would not move. He stood shaking and gibbering to himself, until with a rush the wind came upon them, hissing and snarling over the marshes. The night became less dark, light enough for them to see, or half see, shapeless drifts of fog, curling and twisting as it rolled over them and passed them. Looking up they saw the clouds breaking and shredding; and then high in the south the moon glimmered out, riding in the flying wrack.
For a moment the sight of it gladdened the hearts of the hobbits; but Gollum cowered down, muttering curses on the White Face. Then Frodo and Sam staring at the sky, breathing deeply of the fresher air, saw it come: a small cloud flying from the accursed hills; a black shadow loosed from Mordor; a vast shape winged and ominous. It scudded across the moon, and with a deadly cry went away westward, outrunning the wind in its fell speed.
They fell forward, grovelling heedlessly on the cold earth. But the shadow of horror wheeled and returned, passing lower now, right above them, sweeping the fen-reek with its ghastly wings. And then it was gone, flying back to Mordor with the speed of the wrath of Sauron; and behind it the wind roared away, leaving the Dead Marshes bare and bleak. The naked waste, as far as the eye could pierce, even to the distant menace of the mountains, was dappled with the fitful moonlight.
Frodo and Sam got up, rubbing their eyes, like children wakened from an evil dream to find the familiar night still over the world. But Gollum lay on the ground as if he had been stunned. They roused him with difficulty, and for some time he would not lift his face, but knelt forward on his elbows, covering the back of his head with his large flat hands.
From that time on Sam thought that he sensed a change in Gollum again. He was more fawning and would-be friendly; but Sam surprised some strange looks in his eyes at times, especially towards Frodo; and he went back more and more into his old manner of speaking. And Sam had another growing anxiety. Frodo seemed to be weary, weary to the point of exhaustion. He said nothing. indeed he hardly spoke at all; and he did not complain, but he walked like one who carries a load, the weight of which is ever increasing; and he dragged along, slower and slower, so that Sam had often to beg Gollum to wait and not to leave their master behind.
In fact with every step towards the gates of Mordor Frodo felt the Ring on its chain about his neck grow more burdensome. He was now beginning to feel it as an actual weight dragging him earthwards. But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself. It was that more than the drag of the Ring that made him cower and stoop as he walked. The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth, and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked, immovable. So thin, so frail and thin, the veils were become that still warded it off. Frodo knew just where the present habitation and heart of that will now was: as certainly as a man can tell the direction of the sun with his eyes shut. He was facing it, and its potency beat upon his brow.
From The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in the chapter ‘The Passage of the Marshes’
Upon slopes of Mount Doom, Frodo turn a last to the east and for only a moment through the shadows he sawa high window atop the Dark Tower and the Eye of Sauron in all it’s terrible glory.
He looked back, and then he looked up; and he was amazed to see how far his last effort had brought him. The Mountain standing ominous and alone had looked taller than it was. Sam saw now that it was less lofty than the high passes of the Ephel Dúath which he and Frodo had scaled. The confused and tumbled shoulders of its great base rose for maybe three thousand feet above the plain, and above them was reared half as high again its tall central cone, like a vast oast or chimney capped with a jagged crater. But already Sam was more than half way up the base, and the plain of Gorgoroth was dim below him, wrapped in fume and shadow. As he looked up he would have given a shout. if his parched throat had allowed him; for amid the rugged humps and shoulders above him he saw plainly a path or road. It climbed like a rising girdle from the west and wound snakelike about the Mountain, until before it went round out of view it reached the foot of the cone upon its eastern side.
Sam could not see the course immediately above him, where it was lowest, for a steep slope went up from where he stood; but he guessed that if he could only struggle on just a little way further up, they would strike this path. A gleam of hope returned to him. They might conquer the Mountain yet. ‘Why, it might have been put there a-purpose!’ he said to himself. ‘If it wasn’t there, I’d have to say I was beaten in the end.’
The path was not put there for the purposes of Sam. He did not know it, but he was looking at Sauron’s Road from Barad-dûr to the Sammath Naur, the Chambers of Fire. Out from the Dark Tower’s huge western gate it came over a deep abyss by a vast bridge of iron, and then passing into the plain it ran for a league between two smoking chasms, and so reached a long sloping causeway that led up on to the Mountain’s eastern side. Thence, turning and encircling all its wide girth from south to north, it climbed at last, high in the upper cone, but still far from the reeking summit, to a dark entrance that gazed back east straight to the Window of the Eye in Sauron’s shadow-mantled fortress. Often blocked or destroyed by the tumults of the Mountain’s furnaces, always that road was repaired and cleaned again by the labours of countless orcs.
Sam drew a deep breath. There was a path, but how he was to get up the slope to it he did not know. First he must ease his aching back. He lay flat beside Frodo for a while. Neither spoke. Slowly the light grew. Suddenly a sense of urgency which he did not understand came to Sam. It was almost as if he had been called: ‘Now, now, or it will be too late!’ He braced himself and got up. Frodo also seemed to have felt the call. He struggled to his knees.
‘I’ll crawl, Sam,’ he gasped.
So foot by foot, like small grey insects, they crept up the slope. They came to the path and found that it was broad, paved with broken rubble and beaten ash. Frodo clambered on to it, and then moved as if by some compulsion he turned slowly to face the East. Far off the shadows of Sauron hung; but torn by some gust of wind out of the world, or else moved by some great disquiet within, the mantling clouds swirled, and for a moment drew aside; and then he saw, rising black, blacker and darker than the vast shades amid which it stood, the cruel pinnacles and iron crown of the topmost tower of Barad-dûr. One moment only it stared out, but as from some great window immeasurably high there stabbed northward a flame of red, the flicker of a piercing Eye; and then the shadows were furled again and the terrible vision was removed. The Eye was not turned to them: it was gazing north to where the Captains of the West stood at bay, and thither all its malice was now bent, as the Power moved to strike its deadly blow; but Frodo at that dreadful glimpse fell as one stricken mortally. His hand sought the chain about his neck.
Sam knelt by him. Faint, almost inaudibly, he heard Frodo whispering: ‘Help me, Sam! Help me, Sam! Hold my hand! I can’t stop it.’ Sam took his master’s hands and laid them together, palm to palm, and kissed them; and then he held them gently between his own. The thought came suddenly to him: ‘He’s spotted us! It’s all up, or it soon will be. Now, Sam Gamgee, this is the end of ends.’
From The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in the chapter ‘Mount Doom’