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Old 01-25-2013, 10:43 PM   #1
Ghanberryghan
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White-Hand Saruman's ring

"But I rode to the foot of Orthanc, and came to the stair of Saruman; and there he met me and led me up to his high chamber. He wore a ring on his finger."

"For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker..."


"'There is something strange at work in this land. I distrust the silence. I distrust even the pale Moon. The stars are faint; and I am weary as I have seldom been before, weary as no Ranger should be with a clear trail to follow. There is some will that lends speed to our foes and sets an unseen barrier before us: a weariness that is in the heart more than in the limb.'
'Truly!' said Legolas. 'That I have known since first we came down from the Emyn Muil. For the will is not behind us but before us.' He pointed away over the land of Rohan into the darkling West under the sickle moon.
'Saruman!' muttered Aragorn. 'But he shall not turn us back! Halt we must once more; for, see! even the Moon is falling into gathering cloud. But north lies our road between down and fen when day returns.
'"

Could Aragorn have been describing the effects Saruman's ring has? Empowering his minions and making it more difficult for his foes to succeed? Isengard was always meant to be a lesser version of Morder, so could Saruman's ring have had some of the similar effects of the One but to a lesser extent?

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Old 01-26-2013, 06:04 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghanberryghan View Post
...Isengard was always meant to be a lesser version of Morder, so could Saruman's ring have had some of the similar effects of the One but to a lesser extent?
Sauron put both his power and his own character into his Ring, which is why anyone else wearing it would be corrupted by it. I do not think it's a case of the similarity lying in the rings (of Sauron and Saruman) but in their makers who, unlike the elven ring maker and bearers, both wished to dominate. Both Gandalf and Galadriel give us a glimpse of what they could become if they wished to dominate, and each would be terrible in their own way.

I suspect that Downers who know more about the lore of the Maiar could help here, because Radagast (one of the seven Maiar) was sent to Middle Earth by the Valar who sang growing things into being, but I do not know what aspect of the creation song Saruman corresponds to.
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Old 01-26-2013, 07:01 AM   #3
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Saruman was (like Sauron in fact) a Maia of Aulė the Smith, whose power lay in crafts and arts and things made with hands and with skill, and in the substances of which Arda was made and the shaping thereof. Saruman's own power seems to have been similar - his attempts to forge a Ring and his knowledge of Ring-lore for instance, and in the perversion of these gifts his breeding of hybrid Orc-Men and the industry of Isengard. Saruman's ring is an interesting matter because of how briefly it's mentioned and then never referred to again. I always assumed that this, combined with his desire to find the One, implied that his own ring was only an experiment which had not particular succeeded. It's worth remembering that there were elements of Ring-lore which were lost after the Second Age. Consider Professor Tolkien's remarks about Saruman in the Foreword to the Second Edition of The Lord of the Rings when he speculates on a deliberately allegorical plot focused on the Second World War: "Saruman, failing to get possession of the Ring, would in the confusion and treacheries of the time have found in Mordor the missing links in his own researches into Ring-lore, and before long he would have made a Great Ring of his own with which to challenge the self-styled Ruler of Middle-earth." (xv)
While the shadow and will which emerges from Isengard during the events of Book Three is ambiguous as to its source, I would suggest that it is not related to the power of a ring so much as it is within the power of an Ainu (even, apparently, as a Wizard) regardless: remember that during the War of the Ring Sauron was also able to invigorate his own forces and oppose the wills of his enemies even in the absence of the One Ring.
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Old 01-26-2013, 07:03 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghanberryghan View Post
Could Aragorn have been describing the effects Saruman's ring has? Empowering his minions and making it more difficult for his foes to succeed? Isengard was always meant to be a lesser version of Morder, so could Saruman's ring have had some of the similar effects of the One but to a lesser extent?
There have certainly been many guesses regarding Saruman's ring, and since there is no real evidence what it really did, we are completely free to guess.

I can tell my personal opinion about what it did, then. Since the "evil will" which suddenly seems to appear and weaken and such occur pretty often in Middle-Earth (when Frodo is in Morgul valley, when Riders appear, on Caradhras, and so on - and in neither of the cases it is explicitely connected to the Ring, the Ring may at most "trigger" it - but in any case, it is not the wielder of the Ring who triggers it), I do not feel it necessary to connect it to Saruman's ring specifically (Sauron also does not hold his Ring at the time, yet the evil will weakens the Hobbits as they try to walk to Mordor, and that's not even conscious effort, since Sauron doesn't know about them). There are many possibilities, the effect of speeding up the Orcs and weakening Aragorn and co. could have been simply Saruman's personal power (he was a powerful being, anyway), maybe even "unconscious", or just some "air" coming from his seat at Isengard. Or a "spell", if you will. So my personal opinion is that it didn't really have anything to do with the ring (not directly, at most the ring could have e.g. "amplified" Saruman's power, but Saruman could have done the same thing even without it, only to a lesser effect, for example). But that is purely personal opinion. You can think of what you find the most probable.

As for the Ring, one could think about several ways Saruman could have decided to use it. Once again, listing some personal opinions, but based on what we know about Saruman. I think he could have chosen to imbue his ring with power to, for example, give him more power or abilities to control people, "amplify his Voice", and similar things. Or, what I think is also quite plausible, the ring might support further his skills in craft and making of more rings and more "technology" (all this "blasting fire" and things, you name it). Or both, or more.

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Sauron put both his power and his own character into his Ring, which is why anyone else wearing it would be corrupted by it.
This is actually pretty important point - but also about the power. So maybe to clarify what I have said above: the Ring would, in some way, be extension of Saruman's own power. So that's why the "craft and manipulation" ideas

Quote:
I suspect that Downers who know more about the lore of the Maiar could help here, because Radagast (one of the seven Maiar) was sent to Middle Earth by the Valar who sang growing things into being, but I do not know what aspect of the creation song Saruman corresponds to.
Okay, just a correction (now I will really sound like "a Downer who knows more", or tries to sound like that ): it was five Maiar, resp. the five Wizards (Saruman, Radagast, Gandalf, Alatar, and Pallando) were Maiar (of whom there were many, many more), and Maiar usually belonged to the folk of one of the fourteen Valar. Radagast belonged to Yavanna, whose domain were the trees, birds and beasts, but Saruman belonged to Aulė, who was by the way Yavanna's husband, he was the craftsman (we can see this side in Saruman), the maker of Dwarves (although Saruman never seemed interested in this folk). By the way, Sauron also originally belonged to Aulė's folk. The temptation of "misusing technology" is somewhat apparent theme in the history of Middle-Earth.

Anyway, these were just some thoughts related to the topic. I think there might also be still some old thread about this topic, too, if you want to see perhaps some thoughts people had about the topic here.

EDIT: crossposted with Zigur, who is apparently of similar opinion and is able to say the same things in much more brief way
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Old 01-26-2013, 08:21 AM   #5
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This is interesting. I always considered Saruman a poser at this point and that his ring was nothing more than adornment.
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Old 01-26-2013, 08:27 AM   #6
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This is interesting. I always considered Saruman a poser at this point and that his ring was nothing more than adornment.
I had been thinking about it that way too, for some time, in the beginning. But then again, it is true that Saruman spent literally hundreds of years by studying the Ring-lore and trying to recover as much as he could about the craft of the smiths of Eregion, so it is actually pretty well-supported to assume that he would have been able to try to create some small Ring of his own.
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Old 01-26-2013, 08:47 AM   #7
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If we look at the reason behind making a Ring of Power in the first place, I'd now be inclined to think Saruman's (assuming he did fashion it) just an ornament.

Sauron made the One and put his power into in order to control the wearers of the other Rings. In doing so, he also took the risk that if the One were ever destroyed, that part of his power would likewise be dissipated forever.

What motive would Saruman have had in trying do the same thing? He could not have exercised control in any special way. A ring created by him should not have led to any increase in his power, or in any of his native abilities. He was already an "inferior" of Sauron's in will and spiritual power, which is why he knew in order to challenge Sauron he must gain Sauron's Ring.

Really, making his own ring wouldn't seem to lead to any specific benefit for Saruman.
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Old 01-26-2013, 09:00 AM   #8
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Narya Uncertainty

I'm not sure, when Gandalf or Saurman use power, if one can say for certain how much is the wizard, how much the staff, and how much the ring. Some writers are highly specific in the mechanics of their magic. Tolkien, not so much.
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:35 AM   #9
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If we look at the reason behind making a Ring of Power in the first place, I'd now be inclined to think Saruman's (assuming he did fashion it) just an ornament.
The ornamental function was definitely present ("Look, I am Saruman the Ring-Maker!", he boasted proudly). But I am pretty convinced that wasn't the only purpose, it would have been too little for him to bother himself with it. And certainly he won't proclaim himself "the Ring-Maker" after he'd just successfully created a nice piece of jewellery. Certainly you wouldn't expect Saruman to say things to the effect of "look Gandalf, I have a new handbag."

Quote:
What motive would Saruman have had in trying do the same thing? He could not have exercised control in any special way. A ring created by him should not have led to any increase in his power, or in any of his native abilities. He was already an "inferior" of Sauron's in will and spiritual power, which is why he knew in order to challenge Sauron he must gain Sauron's Ring.
Sauron had more power when he had the Ring than he would have otherwise. The Ring obviously amplified power, that much we know. It isn't like that Sauron created the Ring, put e.g. half of his power into the Ring, and thus without it, he would have only half of his power, and with it, he would have again just his "normal" power. It isn't like 1-0,5=0,5 and thus in reverse, 0,5+0,5=1. But instead, for some reason, it looks more like Sauron with a Ring equals 1,5 of Sauron rather than just 1 Sauron, if you get my meaning You sacrifice a bit of your power, store it in an item, if you wish, but in return, it would amplify your power - with the risk that if you lose it, then too bad.

Saruman had been researching Ring-lore, he had been interested in making his own Rings, we know about that. If he could create a ring which would make Saruman with a Ring equal to 1,001 Saruman, I think he would still be happy about achieving that. But who says Saruman's ring had to work the same way as the One Ring? The One was very special. But the Elves, Dwarves etc. had Rings with many different and special abilities. For example Thrór's ring "bred gold" (whatever that means, I am imagining bringing some sort of "merchant's luck"), Galadriel's likely helped to preserve Lórien, Elrond's helped him command the river. So why should not Saruman have created something like that?

So I must certainly disagree about that it would "lead to no specific benefit" for him. Besides, he was a Ring-nerd.

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I'm not sure, when Gandalf or Saurman use power, if one can say for certain how much is the wizard, how much the staff, and how much the ring. Some writers are highly specific in the mechanics of their magic. Tolkien, not so much.
Definitely. But there is some vague way in which we could say, for example, "the staff increased his power". In the same sense, we can't even state exactly how did the One Ring influence Sauron's power, but we know that he was much more powerful with it than without it, and we know e.g. that the owner of the Ring had the power over the other Rings.
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:43 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
...What motive would Saruman have had in trying do the same thing? ...He was already an "inferior" of Sauron's in will and spiritual power, which is why he knew in order to challenge Sauron he must gain Sauron's Ring.

Really, making his own ring wouldn't seem to lead to any specific benefit for Saruman.
I think Saruman's ring probably fits Gandalf's description of the lesser rings; an essay in the craft. But his inequality to Sauron would not be an obstacle to such essays, after all, Sauron was not the equal of his predecessor but came to the fore when Melkor/Morgoth was defeated. Perhaps Saruman was preparing for a similar opportunity, whether that meant obtaining the One or becoming a new Power in the event of its destruction.

I can think of no reason to believe his ring would have been bound up with the fate of the One, as were those forged in Eregion. Sauron's influence over him seems to have been restricted to the Palantir of Orthanc. Also he was unlike the Nine, who once were 'mortal men doomed to die'.
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:51 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc View Post
... Certainly you wouldn't expect Saruman to say things to the effect of "look Gandalf, I have a new handbag."
...
Now there's a picture:

With a ring on his finger
And bells on his toes
Saruman has many coloured makeup wherever he goes.

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Old 01-26-2013, 01:35 PM   #12
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Saruman's ring was not on the level of one of the Great Rings and maybe not even the Lesser ones, but it must have had some power. Saruman boast how he is Saurman the 'ring maker'. Tolkien in one of his letters expresses how if his story was allegorical then Saruman would have been able to find the missing links in Mordor and create his own One Ring. So we can see he had enough lore to create a ring, but was missing some key bits of information to really make a Great Ring.
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Old 01-26-2013, 03:04 PM   #13
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Ring

Saruman's Ring was no mere ornament.

He studied and worked long and hard to craft it, and knowing just what we do of Saruman's personality and pride, do you think he would boast to Gandalf of having crafted a useless ornament?

My opinion is that all of the Rings of power (which shall be capitalised from now on in this post) in some way worked on the hroa/fea and worked with sanwe. Anyone who doesn't know what these are - hroa/fea roughly corresponds to body/soul and sanwe is thought transference. Rather a lot about this can be found in a quite obscure essay by Tolkien that was published by an organisation who do work on his created languages. The Rings work on Men/mortals to break down the barrier of the hroa in particular - and in some way, the One may also have this effect on Sauron himself, who has been incarnated for far too long and is hence in a very vulnerable hroa.

Saruman will obviously have faced this problem in crafting his own Ring. Perhaps he managed to get over this in some way...and I have an idea how.

Another of my thoughts is that Light is held as divine in Arda, and we know that Saruman tried to 'break' the Light to see what it was made from. Thus, he becomes Saruman of Many Colours. It is quite possible that he sought this third way of Light breaking (as opposed to following a Light or Dark path) as some means of avoiding the risk Sauron took. Of course, if he did, then it ultimately failed as he was unbodied at Hobbiton.

It's also entirely possible for another One Ring to be made. A different one, yes, but very much possible, if one skilled enough had the know-how.

I'll come back to this because I want to watch some Plantagenets on telly, but meanwhile here's some of my old ramblings touching on this, which have some good quotes (I've nto just posted them because I can't be bothered ):

Rings of Power and Osanwe-kenta

The Mystery of Light
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Old 01-26-2013, 08:34 PM   #14
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Concerning Saruman's Ring. (and I should state, that I'm no expert on the matter, unlike Legate, whom I know to be a fan of this particular aspect of Ring-lore)

When I take into account Norse Mythology, which I hope we can all accept as major inspiration in Tolkien's work. I can not to point few points. I do have no proofs on my claims, but I think they should be quite easy to find or follow. It all is only about interpretation and what isn't nowadays?

First: We all (hope this doesn't insult anyone), and I consider this heritage of 'western-society', some wedding rituals (it's meaning half forgotten through the ages) and myths, that we all know by hearth (although deeper layers aren't known to anyone, save lucky, or not, few) think of ring as "essence condensed into a little precious". I'd argue, that in the aforementioned Mythology (especially Norse, but lets look at Prometheus and a Ring...) was The Ring exactly opposite. It represented "Will imposed onto the whole world". Think of Andvari's ring. Little jewel was only the means of the most powerful curse ever known by the gods or men. Malevolence condensed into single, "simple" piece of metal. And was the metal so important in presisely this shape? The desire of Andvari, his vengeance and hatered were demonstrated just by this simple oranment.

Was 'The One Ring' any different? Wasn't it curse possesing Arda made solid? Fate of the world forged? One that can not be broken, save by some "nearly" impossible tasks? (Shall we look at LotR as 'mostly' symbolic quest? I stand by this.)

But the Ring is much more symbolical. Making the Ring is not some 'hobby'. How many managed in the whole history of Arda? Three? Celebrimbor, Sauron and Saruman? (Correct me here if, I'm not really sure) Ring-lore is not a thing to be simply learned. Would it so, why wouldn't 'all the mighty' (say Galadriel, Elrond, Cirdan) forge their own rings? Those were only elves, but still a representative sample, right? Should I add Thranduil? Durin? Guess not.

Logic, is what I'm counting on here, wrong perhaps, especially when I argue about the whole symbolicity of T's works. Let us now, for the sake of argument, consider It can not be learned, but three (or more) manged still to do so.

Was it question of personal power? Yes, if we consider Sauron. (He was, by far, I think so, one of the most powerful beings in Middle-earth) Possibly, if we consider Celebrimbor. (Well, really, Survived the whole First Age (most of it?), took part in all the events of War of Wrath and after. He could have been easily better/stronger (so imprecise words ) than any elf or man of his age. Consider his heritage - his gran'dad. ) But with Saruman it is a clincher. Could he, in his "human/wizard/whateverhewas" form be more powerful than Galadriel (won't go through her biograpgy! Don't have a lifetime to spare)? Celebrimbor(The same!)? Glorfindel (do all the names begin with G?)? Elrond (finally!)? My answer is No!

Argue now. We can debate this forever. But bear with me just a second longer.

I argue, that capability of forging a ring is closely connected to the desire to "impose oneselve's will upon the World"! It is a character and ambitions manifested, so that they can affect all of creation.

Think of Narya. I believe, that on more than one account it was related to Hope! Unless I'm gravely mistaken Hope is held in very high (that is possibly a understatement) regard by christians. And our author was such. This doesn't relly fit in here... What I wanted to say, is that 'The Ring of Fire' was emotion made solid. Or desire made solid? If so, couldn't other be made in such manner?

Therefore:
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Originally Posted by Ghanberryghan View Post
"'There is something strange at work in this land. I distrust the silence. I distrust even the pale Moon. The stars are faint; and I am weary as I have seldom been before, weary as no Ranger should be with a clear trail to follow. There is some will that lends speed to our foes and sets an unseen barrier before us: a weariness that is in the heart more than in the limb.'
'Truly!' said Legolas. 'That I have known since first we came down from the Emyn Muil. For the will is not behind us but before us.' He pointed away over the land of Rohan into the darkling West under the sickle moon.
'Saruman!' muttered Aragorn. 'But he shall not turn us back! Halt we must once more; for, see! even the Moon is falling into gathering cloud. But north lies our road between down and fen when day returns.
'"
Yes, my view of Saruman, both admiring (strike that) and Dim (very, very dim) is, that where Sauron was pure malevolence and evil. Saruman is "devil's advocate". He is a spirit of doubt. Self-doubt by which the whole humanity suffers. (Symbolicism again...) Aragorn (or Theoden?) is the antagonist of Saruman, whereas Gandalf and Frodo are the ones to get Sauron to his knees.

Therefore I conclude, that the passage cited is indeed 'Saruman's will'. His ability to confuse, befuddle mind of human beings projected. And to invoke doubt in their / our hearts, which they / we luckily withstood and conquered.

Hope this post helps some. Apologies for it's lenght.

Tired now. Good night. Corrections to follow tomorrow.
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:42 PM   #15
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The Ring obviously amplified power, that much we know.
I'm not sure that "amplified" is the best word - "focused" may be more applicable.
I think, for example, of the force a man (or woman) can exert to move a bolder by hand. And then the difference if that same force is directed through a lever; or, even better, through the building of an internal-combustion engine and crane; or, still more, through the production of NitroGlycerin or TNT; or, even more, if the person's abilities are placed into generating an atomic explosion.
  • Without the Ring he had a certain force or power, which he could use according to his native and learned skills and talents.
  • With the Ring, and the part of his life force he placed in it, he could more effectively direct that force to the domination of other wills. No more did he have to sing a song to a specific being (like Felagund) to master him.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:14 AM   #16
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I'm not sure that "amplified" is the best word - "focused" may be more applicable.
I've often perceived the qualities of the One Ring this way as well; perhaps it's worth remembering Galadriel's comments to Frodo: "Before you could use that power you would need to become far stronger, and to train your will to the domination of others." (The Lord of the Rings p. 357)
The greatest power of the One Ring was, evidently, its capacity for enabling the exertion of one's own will over the wills of others, to command and be obeyed. Apparently this was not especially necessary for beings of weak will and evil nature, such as Orcs and Trolls, but was invaluable for the domination of other beings. See for instance Sauron in Nśmenor: "He naturally had the One Ring, and so very soon dominated the minds and wills of most of the Nśmenóreans." (Letter 211) The Ring is also described in said Letter as the object "upon which his power of dominating minds now largely depends."
Saruman's Voice seemingly possessed an equivalent effect without the need of Rings, but evidently the One would have provided a serious enhancement to his strength in that regard. Certainly Saruman was seeking the One with great fervour, which would suggest to me that he desired its powers specifically, as well as, apparently, denying its access and use to Sauron who would seemingly have been able to eliminate this budding rival for power just as he could have dealt with the rest of his enemies. Gandalf claims that "Isengard cannot fight Mordor, unless Saruman first obtains the Ring." (LR p.486)
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I think Saruman's ring probably fits Gandalf's description of the lesser rings; an essay in the craft.
I would agree with this sentiment; Saruman's Ring perhaps had some power like a Lesser Ring, but as Professor Tolkien's remarks from the Foreword which I quoted earlier would suggest he had not managed to craft a Great Ring which would truly have been a formidable tool and weapon. When Saruman openly displayed his Ring to Gandalf and described himself as "Saruman Ring-maker" he was already corrupt, and we have seen his capacity in this way as a liar and deceiver. I would perceive this, then, as largely an act of posturing on his part, perhaps to intimidate Gandalf or maybe even in an effort to convince himself that he was more powerful, and more of an equal to Sauron, than he really was. It's worth noting that shortly after describing himself as a Ring-maker and showing off his own Ring he reveals his desire for the One Ring: "Why not? The Ruling Ring? If we could command that, then the power would pass to us." (LR p.253) This would suggest to me that his own efforts were largely unsuccessful, and that perhaps he was attempting to exaggerate his mastery of Ring-lore.
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Old 01-27-2013, 04:17 AM   #17
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I'm not sure that "amplified" is the best word - "focused" may be more applicable...
If I've understood Lanwende's post #13 (and the links in it) correctly, then the rings acted as if to bridge the gap between the sub-conscious and conscious, or between the creative and logical sides of the brain. So if you're in fact a Maiar or Elf, who has a supernatural essence wrapped in a body, then a ring unlocks that nature.

I have often found that dreams and meditation present me with knowledge I didn't consciously realise I've picked up, but then I've always felt that I'm slower than most people; like Butterbur, slow of thought but able to see through a wall given time. Given the way some people use their mental agility I've often felt I'm in the presence of a Saruman, able to use words with malicious intent, or a Tom Bombadil, who can merrily run circles around me. I think Tom may have been unaffected by The Ring because his brain was permanently set on full awarness.

Another place where I find I have abilities which surprise me (if that makes sense) is in playing musical instruments. Again I'm slow at reading the music but when I stop seeing the dots and 'hear' the tune it all falls into place and my fingers somehow know what to do (and elbows; I play the uilleann pipes). There's something about the process that seems magical, especially when playing with other musicians to create harmonies and counter melodies (does that make me Melkor?). With Saruman it's as though he knows how to play people with his Voice.
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Old 01-27-2013, 06:14 PM   #18
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If I've understood Lanwende's post #13 (and the links in it) correctly, then the rings acted as if to bridge the gap between the sub-conscious and conscious, or between the creative and logical sides of the brain. So if you're in fact a Maiar or Elf, who has a supernatural essence wrapped in a body, then a ring unlocks that nature.
In Elves, the fea is bound to the world. When they die, the hroa obviously withers, but their fea is supposed to go to the Halls of Mandos (not always, as there are 'houseless fea' which linger in Middle-earth - some by choice, some not, in fact that was Saruman's fate). In Men, when the hroa dies, then the fea also leaves the world - the two are much more enmeshed.

Both Elves and Men have an innate ability to communicate with the mind. In Elves, according to the Osanwe-Kenta, this is easier owing to the nature of hroa/fea, in Men, it is more difficult. However, sanwe is less about sending your thoughts to others, more about being open to the thoughts of others. The difference in how well sanwe works in Elves and Men is down to the hroa - in Men it is much more protective.

Tolkien may have put this information into an obscure essay, but it creeps in throughout the published texts. We know that the Elves 'perceive' what Sauron has done when he puts on the One and conceal their own Rings (I take this as the three bearers closing their minds to him, and of course closing the greater perception that might be available due to the Rings they wear). We see it during dream sequences. And of course we see it in how those who wear the One feel observed. There are other intriguing references to hroa/fea such as when Eowyn is threatened by the Witch-king with: "flesh shall be devoured, and your shriveled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye". Which hint at how the Nine rings work on Men to create Ringwraiths.

I think the Rings of Power work in one way to facilitate greater opening of the mind in sanwe (the Three especially), in some cases perhaps even to facilitate control (the Nine, in particular), and they work in another way to break the link between hroa/fea, especially in the case of Men. The One completely and instantly breaks the link between hroa/fea of course in Men/Hobbits, we don't know how it would work with an Elf though (would it destroy or empower him or her?). Wearing it means that Men no longer have the protection that the hroa gives them. It's also possible that one failing it has is that it cannot destroy the hroa, only wither it (a matter of opinion maybe).

So, Saruman may have known very well that a Ring of Power had benefits linked to sanwe. He may also have known that it would work on the link between hroa/fea. The only character we know who was a Maiar apart from Sauron to wear one of these Rings was Gandalf, and we can see that he has a tremendous power - no doubt part of what drove Saruman was to gain some of this, presuming he knew about it.

Saruman makes a Ring that's different and new, crafted based on his own learning. He also forges a new way based on broken Light - another recurring theme throughout Tolkien's work is Light and how various characters seek to possess, devour and destroy it. Saruman seeks to see what it is made from and make something new. I don't have any doubts that if it was crafted correctly then he could have quickly wielded great power - Saruman already had an incredibly powerful command over language and used his voice to persuade to devastating effect and with a Ring that enhanced this...

Whether he was ever going to succeed is an interesting point because it's hard to know just how much he was influenced by Sauron, and how independent he was.

One thing I really wish Tolkien had done at the end of Lord of the Rings was have someone pick up Saruman's Ring and pocket it - like the moment in Doctor Who when we see a hand creep in and take The Master's ring from his pyre...
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:22 AM   #19
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...One thing I really wish Tolkien had done at the end of Lord of the Rings was have someone pick up Saruman's Ring and pocket it - like the moment in Doctor Who when we see a hand creep in and take The Master's ring from his pyre...
I'd forgotten that ring, but remember thinking how the pocket watches of the Doctor and the Master, along with the horcruxes in Harry Potter, do much the same as the Rings in preserving the personality.

With rgards to the idea that Saruman was exploring the properties of light, I wonder if he learned something of the art of Radagast, who Gandalf describes as "a master of shapes and changes of hue". Certainly he regarded Radagast as a "fool", and we know he plied Treebeard for information. As Treebeard says:

"I told him many things that he would never have found out by himself; but he never repaid me in like kind."

He also goes on to say how Saruman's Orcs can endure the Sun, making them more like wicked men, which suggests another way in which the wizard had mastered light.
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:26 AM   #20
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it was five Maiar, resp. the five Wizards (Saruman, Radagast, Gandalf, Alatar, and Pallando) were Maiar (of whom there were many, many more)
We actually know 7 Maiar acting in ME after the War of Wrath - 5 wizards, Sauron and merry old Durin's Bane. But that's true, only 5 of them (the Istari) were SENT to ME by Valar, while the other two remained without a valid permit.
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Old 01-28-2013, 07:21 AM   #21
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We actually know 7 Maiar acting in ME after the War of Wrath - 5 wizards, Sauron and merry old Durin's Bane. But that's true, only 5 of them (the Istari) were SENT to ME by Valar, while the other two remained without a valid permit.
Well, who knows how many there were in reality, I'd guess much more (a couple of other balrog-like things, and there were also many of the weird creatures that are by some considered Maiar or somehow close to Maiar, like Goldberry, Gothmog the Lieutenant of Morgul and of course the ever-present Tom Bombadil. What I think about those is another topic, but I think it's correct to assume the number of Maiar in Middle-Earth did not end at 7).
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:58 AM   #22
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Well, who knows how many there were in reality, I'd guess much more (a couple of other balrog-like things, and there were also many of the weird creatures that are by some considered Maiar or somehow close to Maiar, like Goldberry, Gothmog the Lieutenant of Morgul and of course the ever-present Tom Bombadil. What I think about those is another topic, but I think it's correct to assume the number of Maiar in Middle-Earth did not end at 7).
Well Saruman was not the only one with the power of the Voice. What kind of beings were dragons in the creation song?

"...were they laughing in their sleeves at him all the time? That is the effect that dragon-talk has on the inexperienced... Smaug had rather an overwhelming personality."
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:32 AM   #23
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With regard to Tom and dragons and so forth being Maiar, as Father Jack says, that would be an ecumenical matter....and probably suited for a new discussion.

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I'd forgotten that ring, but remember thinking how the pocket watches of the Doctor and the Master, along with the horcruxes in Harry Potter, do much the same as the Rings in preserving the personality.
I think it's a common theme in literature (and by extension, TV and film) for a character to invest part of themselves into an object - it's something which may even extend into the pre-literary past. The Smiths (as in Wayland, not Morrissey) were seen as magicians with their ability to turn rocks into swords, so it's not difficult to see where the trope comes from. It's one I really like.

Quote:
With rgards to the idea that Saruman was exploring the properties of light, I wonder if he learned something of the art of Radagast, who Gandalf describes as "a master of shapes and changes of hue". Certainly he regarded Radagast as a "fool", and we know he plied Treebeard for information. As Treebeard says:

"I told him many things that he would never have found out by himself; but he never repaid me in like kind."
He also goes on to say how Saruman's Orcs can endure the Sun, making them more like wicked men, which suggests another way in which the wizard had mastered light.[/QUOTE]

Going to have a look at this one in the book as it's passed my notice...cheers!
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:34 AM   #24
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Well Saruman was not the only one with the power of the Voice. What kind of beings were dragons in the creation song?
The dragons were something rather interesting, I would say similar to the ents or eagles or werewolves (or even possibly Barrow-Wights): it is said, or in some cases hinted at, that there were some "spirits" inhabiting the bodies of those creatures, or in other words, the way to e.g. create a werewolf was apparently to call an evil spirit (what exactly do these mean remains a question - it is said about the eagles and ents that the Valar "called spirits from afar" in the account of Aulė and Yavanna, so whether that's supposed to mean some lesser Ainur who had remained outside the world before, or who knows) and trap it in a wolf's body, just like the Barrow-Wights were evil spirits who had entered the tombs of old kings, and so dragons most likely were some similar spirits placed into the bodies of beasts (it is hinted at in the descriptions of Glaurung, the forefather of dragons, concerning "the spirit inside him"). At least when it comes to the "first generations" - later, the breeding of dragons seemed to continue normally - just like the spiders of Mirkwood were simply offspring of Ungoliant, resp. Shelob, and did not need any special "spirits" to inhabit their bodies, it seems. They were simply already "born" that way, just like, excuse the parallel, Melian's daughter also was no longer a Maia, but had her own life.

But I guess all this is a bit outside the scope of this thread...
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Old 01-29-2013, 02:30 AM   #25
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One thing I really wish Tolkien had done at the end of Lord of the Rings was have someone pick up Saruman's Ring and pocket it - like the moment in Doctor Who when we see a hand creep in and take The Master's ring from his pyre...
If I might make a humorous aside before I begin, I'm afraid that to me the modern version of Doctor Who is a bit like the films of The Lord of the Rings: my love is reserved for the original, in this case the Hartnell-to-Radagast, I mean McCoy, era (McGann too), and I'm extremely skeptical of almost everything in the modern interpretations. My mind is reeling at the thought of Professor Tolkien's work being at all improved by having similarities to the writing of Mr Russell T Davies...

Anyway.

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Saruman makes a Ring that's different and new, crafted based on his own learning. He also forges a new way based on broken Light - another recurring theme throughout Tolkien's work is Light and how various characters seek to possess, devour and destroy it. Saruman seeks to see what it is made from and make something new.
Personally I see Saruman's "of Many Colours" routine as being symptomatic of a descent into darkness: first the light is broken, then it goes out. Consider, if you will, Morgoth in Valaquenta: "He began with the desire of Light, but when he could not possess it for himself alone, he descended through fire and wrath into a great burning, down into darkness." To me this act of refraction on the part of Saruman evokes the decay of motives which emphasises him as a feeble imitation of his diabolic role models, much like his attempts to forge his own Ring: "for all those arts and subtle devices, for which he forsook his former wisdom, and which fondly he imagined were his own, came but from Mordor". (LR p.542)
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He also goes on to say how Saruman's Orcs can endure the Sun, making them more like wicked men, which suggests another way in which the wizard had mastered light.
This is another example, I would argue, of how Saruman was merely an imitator of Sauron; the Dark Lord had achieved the same thing with Trolls, the Olog-hai: "they could endure the Sun, so long as the will of Sauron held sway over them."
I personally don't see anything different or new about Saruman's activities, just inferior replications of the evil of Sauron. That his servants needed protection from the light (if this was not a mere effect of them being bred with Men) to me symbolises his evil. It is not an act of mastery; it is a compensation for one of the shortcomings of rebellion - an anathema for and weakness to something holy and good. I would suggest that, much like Sauron in the Second Age, Saruman still had "the relics of positive purposes" at some point in his plan (although I very much doubt that these were still present by the time of the Scouring of the Shire). "Sauron had, in fact, been very like Saruman, and so still understood him quickly and could guess what he would be likely to think and do." (Morgoth's Ring p.396) In this way I tend to see Saruman's fall, with its ring-making and many colours, as a sort of sped-up, rushed version of Sauron's own, and correspondingly fragmented for its brevity and Saruman's relatively lesser strength.
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Old 01-29-2013, 07:40 AM   #26
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just like the spiders of Mirkwood were simply offspring of Ungoliant, resp. Shelob, and did not need any special "spirits" to inhabit their bodies, it seems. They were simply already "born" that way
I don't think Lady Gaga has tried a spider outfit yet, has she? But either way, I now have a weird vision of Shelob forming in my mind

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If I might make a humorous aside before I begin, I'm afraid that to me the modern version of Doctor Who is a bit like the films of The Lord of the Rings: my love is reserved for the original, in this case the Hartnell-to-Radagast, I mean McCoy, era (McGann too), and I'm extremely skeptical of almost everything in the modern interpretations. My mind is reeling at the thought of Professor Tolkien's work being at all improved by having similarities to the writing of Mr Russell T Davies...
RTD is a genius! I will agree that Moffat leaves a lot to be desired though...one day he will choose to focus on Sherlock instead and pass the baton to someone else *crosses fingers*

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Personally I see Saruman's "of Many Colours" routine as being symptomatic of a descent into darkness: first the light is broken, then it goes out. Consider, if you will, Morgoth in Valaquenta: "He began with the desire of Light, but when he could not possess it for himself alone, he descended through fire and wrath into a great burning, down into darkness." To me this act of refraction on the part of Saruman evokes the decay of motives which emphasises him as a feeble imitation of his diabolic role models, much like his attempts to forge his own Ring: "for all those arts and subtle devices, for which he forsook his former wisdom, and which fondly he imagined were his own, came but from Mordor". (LR p.542)
Yes. It can be read in many ways - I have tried to dig down and work out for myself exactly how the Rings worked within the context of Tolkien's creation, but it can also be looked at in the context of what was 'moral' in Eru's world. Which is what I think you are referring to? Light is at once both intangible and very real - it symbolises the 'correct' path in Arda, but it is also something which can be claimed and used (many instances of Light's physical reality: the Two Trees; Silmarils; the Phial of Galadriel etc). Morgoth like many others wants to claim Light for himself, he even teams up with Ungoliant, who turns out to only want to negate Light. The act of trying to claim Light is both a physical act and a spiritual one, a metaphor for descending into evil.

Quote:
This is another example, I would argue, of how Saruman was merely an imitator of Sauron; the Dark Lord had achieved the same thing with Trolls, the Olog-hai: "they could endure the Sun, so long as the will of Sauron held sway over them."
I personally don't see anything different or new about Saruman's activities, just inferior replications of the evil of Sauron. That his servants needed protection from the light (if this was not a mere effect of them being bred with Men) to me symbolises his evil. It is not an act of mastery; it is a compensation for one of the shortcomings of rebellion - an anathema for and weakness to something holy and good. I would suggest that, much like Sauron in the Second Age, Saruman still had "the relics of positive purposes" at some point in his plan (although I very much doubt that these were still present by the time of the Scouring of the Shire). "Sauron had, in fact, been very like Saruman, and so still understood him quickly and could guess what he would be likely to think and do." (Morgoth's Ring p.396) In this way I tend to see Saruman's fall, with its ring-making and many colours, as a sort of sped-up, rushed version of Sauron's own, and correspondingly fragmented for its brevity and Saruman's relatively lesser strength.
And yes, I agree, it could well be that what Saruman tries to achieve is just an echo of what Morgoth and Sauron have also tried to achieve. He does it in a different way though. Morgoth tries to claim Light at every opportunity. Sauron seems to deny it. Saruman however attempts to work out what it is and use the 'base chemicals' to craft something new.

Ultimately yes, his actions only echo what Morgoth and Sauron did before him, as in Arda, it is not acceptable to challenge or claim ownership of Light. But he still tries, and he tries something a little different. This is why I have nicknamed it Saruman's 'third way' - he does not see it as good or evil, it is another path to him. But it is also a slightly different approach to those taken by both Morgoth and Sauron.

I like the thought that just as Light and light refract and splinter, so the attempts by those on the side of evil in Arda also refract - their works shatter, and with each new attempt to gain control, their efforts grow ever weaker.
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:13 AM   #27
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RTD is a genius! I will agree that Moffat leaves a lot to be desired though...one day he will choose to focus on Sherlock instead and pass the baton to someone else *crosses fingers*
Oh dear! I'm afraid I find Moffat occasionally tolerable but RTD (and Tennant) not at all. And Moffat's Sherlock is in the same boat for me as the films of The Lord of the Rings and New Who - a modern interpretation which, to me, seems to miss the point of the source material in an effort to glam up for modern audiences. But I digress.
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Saruman however attempts to work out what it is and use the 'base chemicals' to craft something new.
This comes across as reading into things a tad in my opinion. Gandalf's words, "he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom" evokes to me the idea that Saruman was not breaking it down to understand it, but simply to make change for change's sake: "It serves as a beginning. White cloth may be dyed. The white page can be overwritten; and the white light can be broken." To me this disassembly of his whiteness is largely an effort to make himself seem progressive, more advanced, better, but to transform he can only destroy something complete and whole. All he could do was desecrate his own position and inspect the broken fragments, and so he lost what he had.
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he does not see it as good or evil, it is another path to him. But it is also a slightly different approach to those taken by both Morgoth and Sauron.
I agree that it is, perhaps, different in its means, but I feel the intentions are the same. I daresay Morgoth and Sauron did not consider themselves to be "evil" either. This to me is Saruman's delusion: he was "the White", the highest of the Order and the Council, but he came to convince himself that White was only a base from which to build rather than a summit which he was breaking underneath himself. It turns out he was wrong: being "the White" was promotion; he was effectively demoting himself on a spiritual level. To me this is the same self-deception as Morgoth and Sauron, convincing themselves that there was some property of existence about which they had insights beyond that of Eru, that Eru was wrong and they were right. To me it suggests not a genuine effort to understand light, but a fatuous act of arrogance. Saruman cannot improve on "White", so he shatters it and claims (to himself as well as others) that the broken wreckage is better than the original, unspoiled thing. I suppose what I feel like Gandalf is trying to say is that Saruman could have understood the White light had he tried, but he refuses to do so, because that would involve admitting it as being out of his control, and control is what he desires. The only control he can exert upon it is to break it down, just like Morgoth sought the ruin of Arda because he couldn't stand the notion that it was not solely his and that he could never have absolute power over it, or like how Sauron, fool that he was, convinced himself that Eru had "given up" on Arda and would let him do what he liked with it.
To me this deconstruction of the light is representative of villainous folly in general in Arda: the idea that finite, incarnate beings exerting their limited power over individual constituents of something to which they were themselves internal and a part were somehow capable of turning the ultimate control away from the external, infinite authority - it's completely delusional. They were part of the system; the system can't change itself. Only the person on the outside, Eru, has that power. Breaking things down gives the illusion, however, that they do have that power; the Shadow confounded itself just as readily as its enemies. This is how I read the breaking of the White light.
That being said, thank you for your insights, this has been an extremely illuminating (pun intended or not, your choice) discussion!
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Old 01-29-2013, 11:42 AM   #28
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This is a bit tangential, but I am wondering if, in choosing his new appearance, Saruman had also directly violated one of the cardinal laws of the Istari (the one about not revealing their nature") Based on the way it is described I have always assumed that Saruman's "many hued robe" would be what we would call iridescent. Merely putting muticolored threads next to each other would not accomplish the effect being desrcribed (if they were random, the robe would appear grey or black from a distance, not white (because of the way pigments work versus light). If they were arrayed in spectrum order, you might get gradients of color if the bands were narrow enough but it wouln't change color like described (and from a distance, still could not be mistaken for white). So an iridescent robe (or a robe make of iridescent threads) would seem to be the logical choice. However, making iridescent threads would, I imagine. likey be beyond the tech of ME (unless it is a twisted version of the craft the elves use to make thier camoflague cloaks) The ONLY way I can see someone doing it is through the use of "magic"/ Valarian skills not known in ME, which would violate the rule. Even if the method is one Saruman came up with himself, showing himself with an appearance including something that the other people of ME literally COULDN'T do would probably be a no-no under the rule.
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:34 PM   #29
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A couple of possibly relevant quotes :

Gandalf's explanation has been alluded to above-

Quote:
In Eregion long ago many Elven-rings were made, magic rings as you call them, and they were, of course, of various kinds: some more potent and some less. The lesser rings were only essays in the craft before it was full-grown, and to the Elven-smiths they were but trifles - yet still to my mind dangerous for mortals. But the Great Rings, the Rings of Power, they were perilous
But Galadriel may give us another glimpse of an aspect of the powers of the Three

Quote:
I say to you, Frodo, that even as I speak to you, I perceive the Dark Lord and know his mind, or all of his mind that concerns the Elves. And he gropes ever to see me and my thought, But still the door is closed!
which, I think generally ties in with Lal's hypothesis.

I wonder... exactly when Saruman forged his ring (or rings?) is not told. Nor is his reason for risking the use of the Palantir at that time. Putting two and two together, perhaps Saruman's ring gave him the over-confidence to believe that he could withstand Sauron in a Palantir encouter, or maybe I've made two and two equal five!

Another possible Saruman ring influence: Theoden. Doesn't it seem a little unnatural that Grima Wormtongue, roundly hated by all and sundry in Theoden's court, could exert such influence over the King? Who after all seems a straightforward and noble character underneath.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:36 AM   #30
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Oh dear! I'm afraid I find Moffat occasionally tolerable but RTD (and Tennant) not at all. And Moffat's Sherlock is in the same boat for me as the films of The Lord of the Rings and New Who - a modern interpretation which, to me, seems to miss the point of the source material in an effort to glam up for modern audiences. But I digress.
Sometimes I think the Downs needs a little "Geeks' Corner" for such topics

Anyway...I think in essence we agree on the end result of all these efforts to capture, corrupt or break Light in Middle-earth, it's clearly not possible to ultimately take control and 'beat' Eru at his own game. Eru is after all omnipotent and more than willing to do some smiting, and if plans collapse before it gets to that stage then he is still capable of showing his displeasure (as we see with Saruman's fea being turned away at the end of The Return of the King).

What's interesting is why characters like Morgoth, Sauron and Saruman think they can beat Eru. We might differ a bit here?

Quote:
This comes across as reading into things a tad in my opinion. Gandalf's words, "he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom" evokes to me the idea that Saruman was not breaking it down to understand it, but simply to make change for change's sake:
I think Saruman genuinely thought that he could do things differently. It is backed up by his character and him being one of Aule's people. He is proud and he also possesses incredible skill - and he has that urge that a lot of people have, to see how things work and try and improve them (like a bloke taking apart his bike). But it's more serious than someone taking apart their bike, as Gandalf points out to him.

Quote:
"It serves as a beginning. White cloth may be dyed. The white page can be overwritten; and the white light can be broken." To me this disassembly of his whiteness is largely an effort to make himself seem progressive, more advanced, better, but to transform he can only destroy something complete and whole. All he could do was desecrate his own position and inspect the broken fragments, and so he lost what he had.
Yes, you're right. He can break the Light, and he can make a Ring. But all he achieves by doing so is ultimately failure. The same as Morgoth and Sauron.

Quote:
I agree that it is, perhaps, different in its means, but I feel the intentions are the same. I daresay Morgoth and Sauron did not consider themselves to be "evil" either. This to me is Saruman's delusion: he was "the White", the highest of the Order and the Council, but he came to convince himself that White was only a base from which to build rather than a summit which he was breaking underneath himself. It turns out he was wrong: being "the White" was promotion; he was effectively demoting himself on a spiritual level.
It sheds some light on what Galadriel may have been had she taken the One. It's easier for us to see Saruman as 'evil' as we never seem him in fairer times unlike Galadriel (in contrast, we see her in her fairer days, not so much when she was a Noldorian rebel). And what both Gandalf and Radagast might have been, too. It does pose some very interesting questions - it's easy to see that Morgoth and Sauron did evil in the quest for power, but Saruman sets out with what we may see as good intentions.

Quote:
To me this is the same self-deception as Morgoth and Sauron, convincing themselves that there was some property of existence about which they had insights beyond that of Eru, that Eru was wrong and they were right. To me it suggests not a genuine effort to understand light, but a fatuous act of arrogance. Saruman cannot improve on "White", so he shatters it and claims (to himself as well as others) that the broken wreckage is better than the original, unspoiled thing. I suppose what I feel like Gandalf is trying to say is that Saruman could have understood the White light had he tried, but he refuses to do so, because that would involve admitting it as being out of his control, and control is what he desires. The only control he can exert upon it is to break it down, just like Morgoth sought the ruin of Arda because he couldn't stand the notion that it was not solely his and that he could never have absolute power over it, or like how Sauron, fool that he was, convinced himself that Eru had "given up" on Arda and would let him do what he liked with it.
(An aside - Sauron may have had more motives we haven't considered as he saw what Eru could do in Numenor...that might be another topic...)

I think it's fair enough that Saruman might think the white Light can be used, after all there are examples of crafts of Light like the Silmarils. But Saruman does try to improve on Light - I don't think he does seek to control it in any way, more to use it. If I can use an analogy, where Morgoth/Sauron were more like dabblers in medieval dark arts, Saruman is more like a scientist dabbling in some very morally grey areas. Not sure if that works but never mind....

Quote:
To me this deconstruction of the light is representative of villainous folly in general in Arda: the idea that finite, incarnate beings exerting their limited power over individual constituents of something to which they were themselves internal and a part were somehow capable of turning the ultimate control away from the external, infinite authority - it's completely delusional. They were part of the system; the system can't change itself. Only the person on the outside, Eru, has that power. Breaking things down gives the illusion, however, that they do have that power; the Shadow confounded itself just as readily as its enemies. This is how I read the breaking of the White light.
Yes. You cannot get away from the fact that in Tolkien's creation, Eru is omnipotent and it is ultimately going to fail if you try to harness, control or break Light. It doesn't mean that what Saruman achieved was without power, as we can see that what Morgoth and Sauron achieve is also wrong but it is effective. For a time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rumil
I wonder... exactly when Saruman forged his ring (or rings?) is not told. Nor is his reason for risking the use of the Palantir at that time. Putting two and two together, perhaps Saruman's ring gave him the over-confidence to believe that he could withstand Sauron in a Palantir encouter, or maybe I've made two and two equal five!
Not at all, it's a fair assumption. One of the many good, meaty things about Saruman's tale is that we just do not know how much influence Sauron had over him.
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Old 01-30-2013, 09:47 AM   #31
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it's easy to see that Morgoth and Sauron did evil in the quest for power, but Saruman sets out with what we may see as good intentions.
So did Sauron: "Very slowly, beginning with fair motives: the reorganising and rehabilitation of Middle-earth, 'neglected by the gods', he becomes a reincarnation of Evil, and a thing lusting for Complete Power." (Letter 131) It seems very reminiscent to me of Saruman's speech: "we must have power, power to order all things as we will, for that good which only the Wise can see." (LR p.252)
Once again Saruman was a facsimile of Sauron, his superior in Evil. Saruman lacked the opportunity to embrace Darkness, but the breaking of the Light was in my view a beginning: he tries to break down the Light to understand it, which to me is still an act of possession, like Morgoth's theft of the Silmarils or, maybe even more appropriately, Fėanor's withholding of them. Saruman lacked the time or opportunity (or perhaps the power) to become a full-blown Dark Lord but I see the breaking of the Light as an initial phase. I'm not sure when Saruman "uses" the Light: to me its deconstruction comes back to this threefold purpose: "Knowledge, Rule, Order". The greater his lore, the greater his power, the greater his power the more secure his order. It seems to me very much like Sauron's purpose with the forging of the Rings, just on a lesser scale which never comes to fruition. In Théoden's words, "I perceive only a finger of the claw of Mordor."

Quote:
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(An aside - Sauron may have had more motives we haven't considered as he saw what Eru could do in Numenor...that might be another topic...)
Sauron assumed Eru no longer cared: "He probably deluded himself with the notion that the Valar (including Melkor) having failed, Eru had simply abandoned Eä, or at any rate Arda, and would not concern himself with it any more. It would appear that he interpreted the 'change of the world' at the Downfall of Nśmenor, when Aman was removed from the physical world, in this sense: Valar (and Elves) were removed from effective control, and Men under God's curse and wrath." (Morgoth's Ring)
This seems to me to be awfully similar to Saruman's sentiments: "There is no help left in Elves or dying Nśmenor". Sauron's efforts at rehabilitation were predicated on the notion that the Valar no longer cared and that therefore it was 'up to him' to set things right in the East; later this assumption of apathy was extended to God Himself. Saruman similarly abandons his mission, believing that, contrary to the Valar's instructions, it was the place of higher beings to order the world of Men, but he shows up very late in the scheme of things and doesn't do a very good job even of being a new Enemy. He doesn't even get as far as Darkness; he simply breaks a White Light into Many Colours. The "Many Colours" do emphasise his ambiguity, however, which is I think what makes him interesting, as well as his role as a foil to both Gandalf and Sauron. Maybe instead of being on a "third way" I more see him as a kind of in-betweener.
While I've always considered a lack of humility to be one of his main failings, I've often wondered that the Valar didn't help things much. First he was burdened with Radagast, whom he apparently disliked from the start, and then despite being appointed head of the Order this is undermined before they've even left Valinor by Varda's rather unsubtle remark that Gandalf is "not the third." Obviously Saruman, a servant of the Valar and by extension of Eru, should have been able to deal with this, and obviously no one but he can be blamed for his own failure and fall, but I really can't help shake the impression that this whole 'Wizard plan' on the part of the Lords of the West was not implemented as well as it could have been. I suppose that's why it took Eru's intervention to see it to any kind of fruition.
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Old 01-30-2013, 10:58 AM   #32
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I really can't help shake the impression that this whole 'Wizard plan' on the part of the Lords of the West was not implemented as well as it could have been. I suppose that's why it took Eru's intervention to see it to any kind of fruition.
A view shared by Tolkien himself!

He wrote in one of his Letters (not with my books so don't have the exact ref or quote at the moment), discussing Gandalf's being "sent back until his task was completed", to the effect that
  • The Istari were sent by the "mere prudent plan of the Valar".
  • But the plan had failed, or the crisis had grown too great {i.e. Two had disappeared into the east; one had withdrawn (mostly) from affairs to focus on beasts & birds; one had rebelled; and the last had just been slain by a balrog}.
  • And so the One took up the plan, at the very moment of its failure {i.e. and not a moment before}, and expanded it. Gandalf was restored to life and sent back, with enhanced power - no longer as "The Grey" but as "The White", to finish the job.
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Old 01-30-2013, 11:17 AM   #33
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...I think Saruman genuinely thought that he could do things differently. It is backed up by his character and him being one of Aule's people. He is proud and he also possesses incredible skill - and he has that urge that a lot of people have, to see how things work and try and improve them (like a bloke taking apart his bike). But it's more serious than someone taking apart their bike, as Gandalf points out to him. ...
In the foreword to LotR JRR says that IF he had intended the book to be an allegory of WWII then he would have had Saruman go, not to the Shire, but to Mordor to find "the missing links in his own research..."
In the real war the victorious powers plundered many things from the defeated Germany, most well known are V2 rocket technology and the research of Josef Mengele. Both these fields produced positive and negative results in the form of the space race vs the nuclear arms race, and insights into genetics vs genetic engineering.
The benefits are with us still, as are the fears of the abuses, but one might say that good intentions make the Sarumans of our world brave or heroic, since they acheived what the morally restrained could not ("conscience doth make cowards of us all". as Hamlet says). Saruman's aims justify his means, in his own eyes at least.

By avoiding making LotR an allegory, Tolkien denies us the ability to point to any one figure or event in history and make them a scapegoat; as if to say "X = bad therefore I must be good." Instead, by making the books' themes "applicable", we're left with the uncomfortable questions:
"Who/what does this apply to?"
and
"How might this apply to me?"

ie. Is a man who dissassembles his bike any better than Saruman? I have dissassembled a rat so am I any better then Saruman? Does the fact that I did this as an obligatory part of studying 'A' level Biology provide me with justification?

The power of Saruman's (and Smaug's) Voice lies in saying things that are valid; but these things only work on those who are unprepared, who have not already decided where to draw the line they will not cross.

Gandalf gave Saruman the opportunity to redraw his lines (also a theme of the recent Dr Whos), on the terms that he lay aside his staff and the keys to Orthanc until he'd proved himself trustworthy. He declined and so lost his staff, but in this Gandalf appears to have made a similar mistake to that of Hama at the doors of Edoras. Where Hama failed to part Gandalf from his staff, Gandalf failed to part Saruman from his ring. He knew it existed, so was this an oversight or would removing his ring have had some effect Gandalf would deem undesirable?
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Old 02-05-2013, 02:41 PM   #34
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It seems to me that Gandalf never considered Saruman's ring to be of big significance, as he did not care about it after Saruman's defeat. He would have never left Sauron with The Ring on his own in Barad Dur in similar circumstances, I am sure.

Gandalf might consider Saruman's ring as a lesser one, which was able to amplify Saruman's senses and also his control over his army or to make him invincible in Orthanc. He could also think that with the demise of The One Saruman's ring looses its power. It looks at least probable if Saruman's ring was made with the use of the same knowledge that created older rings of power. Can we guess that the failure of Saruman's ring was the reason why he decided to leave Orthanc one day?

But we can also make up a different story. What if Saruman's ring was a ring of power, much lesser than The One but not attached to Sauron's and elven stock, so the Wielders of The Three had no true knowledge about it. Lalwendė's reasoning gave me an idea that if Sauron's goal was craft, evil and weird indeed, but very personal in its core, Saruman was the Spirit of Technology. Apparently, he built this main skill and interest into his ring and thus it had not failed after Sauron's end but functioned in a pretty different way. Shall we imagine it was initially weak but was able to accumulate its strength in the way technology establishes its power over people (iPhone and iCloud, for instance ). And if we than try to think of our world as a successor of ME (Tolkien himself was inclined to think at some point), it means, Sarumans ring is still around and at work... )))

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Old 02-07-2013, 02:10 AM   #35
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So did Sauron: "Very slowly, beginning with fair motives: the reorganising and rehabilitation of Middle-earth, 'neglected by the gods', he becomes a reincarnation of Evil, and a thing lusting for Complete Power." (Letter 131) It seems very reminiscent to me of Saruman's speech: "we must have power, power to order all things as we will, for that good which only the Wise can see." (LR p.252)
Once again Saruman was a facsimile of Sauron, his superior in Evil. Saruman lacked the opportunity to embrace Darkness, but the breaking of the Light was in my view a beginning: he tries to break down the Light to understand it, which to me is still an act of possession, like Morgoth's theft of the Silmarils or, maybe even more appropriately, Fėanor's withholding of them. Saruman lacked the time or opportunity (or perhaps the power) to become a full-blown Dark Lord but I see the breaking of the Light as an initial phase. I'm not sure when Saruman "uses" the Light: to me its deconstruction comes back to this threefold purpose: "Knowledge, Rule, Order". The greater his lore, the greater his power, the greater his power the more secure his order. It seems to me very much like Sauron's purpose with the forging of the Rings, just on a lesser scale which never comes to fruition. In Théoden's words, "I perceive only a finger of the claw of Mordor."
Fėanor's an interesting comparison for all three of Morgoth, Sauron and Saruman. Ar-Pharazōn, too. I'm just re-reading the Silmarillion and it struck me again how sympathetically Tolkien portrays Morgoth in his desire for something more and his impatience with what might seem to be the complacency of Eru Ilśvatar.

Although in all cases things turned out badly, there is sympathy (and sometimes even admiration) for the rebels.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:04 AM   #36
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It seems to me that Gandalf never considered Saruman's ring to be of big significance, as he did not care about it after Saruman's defeat. He would have never left Sauron with The Ring on his own in Barad Dur in similar circumstances, I am sure.
That to me is a good argument for Saruman's ring being of little or no account. Also, the Council of Elrond heard Gandalf mention it, yet it isn't brought up again.
When Gandalf confronts Saruman at Isengard later, the ring again is of no significance. Gandalf was only concerned with Saruman's staff.

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Gandalf might consider Saruman's ring as a lesser one, which was able to amplify Saruman's senses and also his control over his army or to make him invincible in Orthanc. He could also think that with the demise of The One Saruman's ring looses its power. It looks at least probable if Saruman's ring was made with the use of the same knowledge that created older rings of power. Can we guess that the failure of Saruman's ring was the reason why he decided to leave Orthanc one day?
I can't see Gandalf having any idea of Saruman's ring being in any way connected with the One. Saruman was as well-versed in ring-lore as any in Middle-earth, if not more. Why would he of all people, desiring to usurp Sauron, have fashioned a ring that potentially could have placed him under the power of the wearer of the One?

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But we can also make up a different story. What if Saruman's ring was a ring of power, much lesser than The One but not attached to Sauron's and elven stock, so the Wielders of The Three had no true knowledge about it. Lalwendė's reasoning gave me an idea that if Sauron's goal was craft, evil and weird indeed, but very personal in its core, Saruman was the Spirit of Technology. Apparently, he built this main skill and interest into his ring and thus it had not failed after Sauron's end but functioned in a pretty different way. Shall we imagine it was initially weak but was able to accumulate its strength in the way technology establishes its power over people (iPhone and iCloud, for instance ). And if we than try to think of our world as a successor of ME (Tolkien himself was inclined to think at some point), it means, Sarumans ring is still around and at work... )))
My feeling is that Saruman's ring was a failed attempt at his own Ring of Power, though made differently from the One. That could account for its apparent impotence.
Again, Saruman knew all about Sauron's intent behind the making of the One, and the vulnerability that the existence of it had created for him. Why would Saruman knowingly have made that same mistake?
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Old 02-09-2013, 09:30 AM   #37
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I can't see Gandalf having any idea of Saruman's ring being in any way connected with the One. Saruman was as well-versed in ring-lore as any in Middle-earth, if not more. Why would he of all people, desiring to usurp Sauron, have fashioned a ring that potentially could have placed him under the power of the wearer of the One?
The question is if there was a way to make a ring of power independent of The One. On one hand we know that The Three were made without Sauron's direct involvement and still they were subdued to The One's Master. On the other hand, we don't know if the power of The One was established over the lesser rings made by the elves of The Second Age, which is likely but not for sure. The matter if Saruman's ring was of any power is a subject of speculation as well as the question whether it was under the dominance of The One if it was indeed a ring of power. Again, if Saruman's ring was a total fiasco, why would he wear it? But if it was of any power, why Gandalf was not concerned with it after Saruman's defeat?

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My feeling is that Saruman's ring was a failed attempt at his own Ring of Power, though made differently from the One. That could account for its apparent impotence.

Again, Saruman knew all about Sauron's intent behind the making of the One, and the vulnerability that the existence of it had created for him. Why would Saruman knowingly have made that same mistake?
Saruman could consider the drawbacks Sauron suffered due to the creation of The One not as a mistake but as a misfortune. Sauron's enemies were too strong and even in that situation he almost conquered the west of Middle Earth. Saruman, I believe, could think that Sauron needed to stay in disguise for much longer in order to induce such enmity between races that would have made any interracial alliance impossible. Or he should have convince Ar-Pharazon to conquer Middle Earth instead of launching attack on Aman and later rob kings of their power in one or other way. Achieving goals in disguise was Saruman's own tactic for a while.
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Old 02-09-2013, 10:30 AM   #38
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That to me is a good argument for Saruman's ring being of little or no account. Also, the Council of Elrond heard Gandalf mention it, yet it isn't brought up again.
When Gandalf confronts Saruman at Isengard later, the ring again is of no significance. Gandalf was only concerned with Saruman's staff. ...
The ring is not brought up, but that does not mean it was not significant.
Saruman's staff was symbolic of his status withing the Council of the Wise. To break the saff was to let everyone know his wisdom was no longer to be trusted. His ring would be another matter. We do not know how Saruman would have been effected by the loss of it. Sauron's loss of the One to Isildur did not kill him but, being less powerful, maybe Saruman would have died. I do not think Gandalf's purpose at Isengard included taking that risk.

I think Bayard makes a good point:
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... it struck me again how sympathetically Tolkien portrays Morgoth in his desire for something more and his impatience with what might seem to be the complacency of Eru Ilśvatar.

Although in all cases things turned out badly, there is sympathy (and sometimes even admiration) for the rebels.
Gandalf's sympathy, like Tolkien's, extended to Gollum (whether his part in the fate of the One was for good or for ill), so it would be inconsistant for him not to leave Saruman an oportunity for redemption. After all, Gandalf had a point to prove to Saruman; that he did not want the crowns of the kings and the rods of the Wizards. He did what he had to do but was wise enough not to get carried away by revenge. Leaving him with his ring could have been a way of saying; look, I am breaking your power but not utterly crushing you.


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