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Old 12-07-2017, 04:08 AM   #17
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
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Originally Posted by Zigr View Post
Personally I imagine that Shragrat was probably quite open with Sauron, perhaps thinking that he was going to make himself look good. If he was loyal/obedient/stupid enough to deliver Frodo's equipment (and therefore evidence of his own incompetence) to his superiors at Barad-dr, I might be willing to imagine that he was also honest and thorough in his report.
I don't think 'honest and thorough' is entirely accurate - initially. Check out the quote Nerwen posted (with a bit more for context):

Originally Posted by RotK: The Land of Shadow
"That comes from Higher Up. First they say it's a great Elf in bright armour, then it's a sort of small dwarf-man, then it must be a pack of rebel Uruk-hai; or maybe it's all the lot together."

"Ar!" said the tracker. "Theyve lost their heads, thats what it is. And some of the bosses are going to lose their skins too, I guess, if what I hear is true: Tower raided and all, and hundreds of your lads done in, and prisoner got away..."
It sounds like Shagrat's initial report was simply 'we caught a prisoner, here's what he had'. From back in 'The Choices of Master Samwise', we know he probably didn't send that message ahead:

`All right! But if I were you, I'd catch the big one that's loose, before you send in any report to Lugbrz. It won't sound too pretty to say you've caught the kitten and let the cat escape.'

(I feel like there was a point where we saw a Nazgul leave the Tower, but I think that was probably to do with Isengard instead? I may be wrong, but it doesn't really alter the narrative.)

Unfortunately for Shagrat, the next question must have been 'so where is he?'. To which the answer can only be 'he got away'. Uh-oh. 'How? You had an entire army of orcs in that Tower!'

What's a cowardly Captain to say? The answer he's been working on all along: 'this elf-warrior stormed the Tower, killed all my boys, and took him away...'

So the message goes out to scour the Black Land for a tall elf, but Shagrat doesn't get long to bask in the glory. At this point, if he's not already being questioned by Sauron, he gets taken directly to the Lord of the Black Land. I imagine Sauron would operate something like the Romans treated slaves - when an orc tells you something that might be important, torture and interrogate him to check whether it's true. After all, what's one orc less?

And Shagrat's story does change. It emerges that while his mention of an elven sword holds up, the warrior in question was actually 'another one of the little rats' - a halfling, a sort of small dwarf-man. Fine (thinks Sauron), I know Saruman had and lost one of those, I know Gandalf keeps sending them out on all sorts of stupid errands, I know in fact that one was used to sneak into Erebor and scout for the attack on Smaug... clearly this is another sneaky trick like that. And he sends out the word that they need to watch for Hobbits.

At this point, Sauron has already had his showdown with Aragorn via palantir. He's already lost a battle of wills. He's rattled. In fact, he's thrown his entire army at Minas Tirith and failed to take it. He's certain that Aragorn has the Ring - hence why 'Shire! Baggins!' doesn't even occur to him as a reason for Frodo's presence - and he thinks that Frodo and Sam are scouts for the invasion.

Except... that doesn't explain why the Captain of the Tower is here in person, and wounded to boot. Has the invasion already started? Send for Shagrat again!

So now, instead of the prisoner, Shagrat is being interrogated about the fall of the Tower. And yes, he has to admit it fell - but his explanation is garbled (because, y'know, he's been tortured). Sauron manages to gather that it wasn't the Hobbits who killed everyone, or an army from the West - but orcs, claiming to be from Minas Morgul.

And the pieces fall into place in his well-machined mind. Saruman has Uruk-hai in his service. Saruman presented a halfling to his palantir and then fell silent - and the next time the Palantir was used, it was Isildur's Heir, bearing Isildur's Sword, and wielding the Ring Isildur stole (so Sauron believes). Saruman's fortress is full of those irritating children of Yavanna's, with no sign of his armies. Saruman has always been suspect, as a long-time ally of the West. Saruman, not the Grey Fool (what, you thought the Voice of Saruman had no effect on Sauron's thought processes?), is behind everything. Saruman, wielding Isildur's Heir like a puppet, is sneaking his own orcs into Mordor to take over...

It's a perfectly logical story which happens to be wrong in every particular. But it feeds into and off Sauron's prejudices, specifically the belief that no-one would ever give up any source of power. Aragorn must have the Ring, because why would he surrender it? He must have sought alliance with Saruman, because Saruman is strong (and his Voice is persuasive enough to sway anyone). To Sauron's Eye, Aragorn+Saruman is the enemy now, and hobbits + orcs are the invaders.

So out goes the third message: The Enemy Is Us. Look out for rebel Uruk-hai in Mordor. Keep a special eye out for deserters, who might be defecting. And bring everyone up to Udn - the Nazgul are watching the Tower now, he'll know if there's an invasion from that side.

And since Shagrat is now useless - he lost his command, he's been in contact with rebel troops, and he's only got a few fingers left besides - Sauron might as well kill him off.

I don't think there's textual evidence for the 'Sauron believes Saruman has turned' theory, but I do think it all hangs together. So now, naturally, it's going to get ripped to shreds.

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