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Old 08-15-2014, 09:59 AM   #1
Corsair_Caruso
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Middle-earth What-ifs

So I'm a fan of "alternate history," by which I mean fiction consisting of stories that are set in worlds in which one or more historical events unfolds differently from how it did in this reality. It was, in fact, an alternate history forum that led to me rediscovering my love of Tolkien and ultimately led me to join this forum as an outlet for creative thought and discussion. My primary interest on that forum was exploring how things might have gone differently in Middle-earth, following specific "points of departure" from the original timeline (by which I mean Tolkien's canon writings).

So, for your consideration, what might have happened if any of the the following had occured...

Before the Years of the Sun

1. If Uinen had failed to return Osse to Ulmo's service, and he had remained one of Melkor's lieutenants.

First Age

1. If Argon, son of Fingolfin, did not die in the Battle of the Lammoth.

2. Turgon dies in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad while trying to save Fingon. At this point, Orodreth of Nargothrond becomes High-King (I'm assuming the Gil-galad son of Orodreth, son of Angrod lineage here), and Maeglin likely becomes King in Gondolin. For bonus points, come up with a new, interesting fate for Hurin and Huor. (Both survive and escape? No curse on the Children of Hurin! Hurin dies and Huor is captured? Tuor the Cursed, while Turin is left to live a more normal life? Both are killed? Still no Curse!)

Second Age

1. Celebrimbor and Celebrian fall in love while Galadriel and Celeborn are in Eregion; the two marry and Galadriel never leaves, staying either a, or the, leader of the realm (depending on your reading of UT).

2. Sauron decides that he has put too much work into becoming the behind-the-scenes ruler of Numenor, the most powerful mortal nation in the history of Arda, to waste its power against the Valar. He has Ar-Pharazon assassinated, pinning the blame on some member of the Faithful.

For a bonus, extrapolate what would happen if he successfully pinned the blame on Elendil, or even Elendil and one or both of his sons.

Third Age

1. If the Lords of Belfalas (who would become Princes of Dol Amroth) refuse to acknowledge the Lords of Andunie as their kings, but instead establish a separate kingdom in what would have been Dor-en-Ernil.

2. If King Arvedui of Arthedain had not taken the ship sent by Cirdan to find him in the Forodwaith, surviving the destruction of his kingdom?

2. If the Steward Boromir, affected by the Morgul-wound he suffered at the hands of one of the Nazgul, refused to rule in the name of the line of Elendil, and attempted to claim the crown of Gondor for himself.

3. If Gandalf had accepted the Ring when offered by Frodo (I know, this was explored somewhat by Professor Tolkien. I'm curious if anyone wants to take the matter further).

4. If Shelob had killed Frodo.

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Old 08-15-2014, 10:42 AM   #2
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2. Sauron decides that he has put too much work into become the behind-the-scenes ruler of Numenor, the most powerful mortal nation in the history of Arda, to waste its power against the Valar. He has Ar-Pharazon assassinated, pinning the blame on some member of the Faithful.
This one is of particular interest to me. We know that in the time of Sauron's (disguised) supremacy in Númenor, "men took weapons in those days and slew one another for little cause; for they were become quick to anger, and Sauron, or those whom he had bound to himself, went about the land setting man against man, so that the people murmured against the King and the lords, or against any that had aught that they had not; and the men of power took cruel revenge."

Ar-Pharazôn had no child. He had married Míriel very much against her will, so this is not surprising. With the people in such a state, and no direct heir, the most likely scenario to me seems to be civil war: a war which may have had an outcome not unlike the Great Armament, with the power of Númenor being broken. In my opinion, this was the outcome Sauron desired in any event. See this thread: http://forum.barrowdowns.com/showthread.php?p=686492 for my arguments regarding the notion that Sauron wished to destroy the Númenoreans (because they were dangerous, because he could never truly be their King or God, and because he hated them) rather than rule or even wield them, or at least more than the small remnant of them which served him in the Third Age.
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Old 08-15-2014, 10:42 AM   #3
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As someone pointed out in an attempt to comfort me over poor Finrod getting killed for the sake of Beren, he was doomed anyway, the males of that kin tend to come to sticky or smoky ends. AmazingGilgalad lasted an whole age and no surprise he didn't have children. Argon would have been boiled, broiled, mashed in some other battle.
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Old 08-15-2014, 11:14 AM   #4
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Ar-Pharazôn had no child. He had married Míriel very much against her will, so this is not surprising. With the people in such a state, and no direct heir, the most likely scenario to me seems to be civil war: a war which may have had an outcome not unlike the Great Armament, with the power of Númenor being broken. In my opinion, this was the outcome Sauron desired in any event. See this thread: http://forum.barrowdowns.com/showthread.php?p=686492 for my arguments regarding the notion that Sauron wished to destroy the Númenoreans (because they were dangerous, because he could never truly be their King or God, and because he hated them) rather than rule or even wield them, or at least more than the small remnant of them which served him in the Third Age.
So, first, you're absolutely right that the loveless marriage of Ar-Pharazon and Tar-Miriel resulted in no children; in fact, I do believe that Tar-Palantir made a prophecy that when the Tree of Numenor died, so too would the line of kings. The point is, when Ar-Pharazon is killed, Tar-Miriel retains the Sceptre, as it was originally hers in her own right. That's Sauron's first obstacle.

One fairly easily conquered, in my opinion. Sauron was, if you remember, called a god himself by some of the Numenoreans, and he had turned many of them to his will, regardless of whether they worshiped him alongside Melkor or not. I have no doubt that he could have convinced the Council of the Sceptre that Miriel had gone mad, and that she required a regency or a steward to exercise power on her behalf. Sauron as Steward is not entirely out of the question, in my opinion, with the Council advising, but another royal being declared regent to rule in Miriel's place until she dies and then taking the throne himself is also not out of the question. Of course, said Prince Regent would want the advice of the person closest to the late king, for a smooth transition.

I, personally, believe that Sauron would have been content with the corruption of and subjugation of Numenor to his will, he simply chose another path. He did not anticipate the absolute annihilation of the island and all its people as occurred in the original timeline, but rather the crippling of its military and ruling class. He very well might have rebuilt it under his banner, had Eru not intervened. The professor suggested something similar.

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But though Sauron's whole true motive was the destruction of the Numenoreans, this was a particular matter of revenge upon Ar-Pharazon, for humiliation. Sauron (unlike Morgoth) would have been content for the Numenoreans to exist, as his own subjects, and indeed he used a great many of them that he corrupted to his allegiance. (Morgoth's Ring: Myths Transformed)
This course of events accomplishes Sauron's objective, revenge upon the king who humiliated him and foiled his plans in Middle-earth, as well as corrupting his legacy and taking the very military machine that defeated him as his own. Does it require a modification of Sauron's personality and goals, slightly? Yes, but that's what this thread is all about: not what did happen, but what might have happened had things been different?

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As someone pointed out in an attempt to comfort me over poor Finrod getting killed for the sake of Beren, he was doomed anyway, the males of that kin tend to come to sticky or smoky ends. AmazingGilgalad lasted an wholecage and no surprise he didn't have children. Argon would have been boiled, broiled, mashed in some other battle.
Very likely. I just wonder if he would have survived long enough to have a tenure as High-King of the Noldor in Exile. King Argon might have survived long enough to see the Second Age, with Gil-galad as a possible heir, or he might not. The problem is, such an early POD has so many butterflies that anything could have followed. We know so little about Argon that it's impossible to predict how his presence would have effected subsequent battles and events, for better or worse.

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Old 08-15-2014, 11:23 AM   #5
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I, personally, believe that Sauron would have been content with the corruption of and subjugation of Numenor to his will, he simply chose another path. He did not anticipate the absolute annihilation of the island and all its people as occurred in the original timeline, but rather the crippling of its military and ruling class. He very well might have rebuilt it under his banner, had Eru not intervened. The professor suggested something similar.
The quote from Morgoth's Ring is one I have neglected, but I believe the point you have made about "the crippling of its military and ruling class" is a cogent one. Sauron evidently expected them at least to be destroyed by the Valar. A civil war after the death of Pharazôn would, I believe, have achieved similar goals, with such dissent in the land, and perhaps enabled Sauron to replace the phantom of Melkor as their god as well as openly becoming their ruler. Nonetheless I see the "military and ruling class" still probably being mostly or largely destroyed, with the possible creation of dangerous enclaves in Harad or elsewhere who owed loyalty to no one besides themselves, including Sauron. In any event I believe Sauron's main priority was the destruction of the Elves, and Gil-galad in particular, and he would have taken whatever action necessary to achieve that goal, including becoming master of a Númenórean remnant which might be brought back to Middle-earth. How useful that remnant would be I can't say.
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Old 08-15-2014, 11:43 AM   #6
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The quote from Morgoth's Ring is one I have neglected, but I believe the point you have made about "the crippling of its military and ruling class" is a cogent one. Sauron evidently expected them at least to be destroyed by the Valar. A civil war after the death of Pharazôn would, I believe, have achieved similar goals, with such dissent in the land, and perhaps enabled Sauron to replace the phantom of Melkor as their god as well as openly becoming their ruler.
I don't know if I see him being able to declare himself ruler in the open yet. If the Numenoreans have a single most dominating flaw, at this point in their history, it is pride. Even after Numenor fell, the Exiles still searched for it and longed for the days of yore, to some extent. Elendil himself used the Palantir of Elostirion to try and find the island, or some remnant of it, that they might return. The Black Numenoreans of Umbar, and even the Gondorians, during the times they ruled Umbar, never tore down the monument built to commemorate the humbling of Sauron by Ar-Pharazon; Sauron had the people of Umbar do it after he dominated them. So... while the ruling class of Numenor, after Ar-Pharazon's assassination, might find themselves under Sauron's sway to such a point that he is the de facto ruler, I still don't think they're willing to set him up as king, or any other de jure head of state; even Steward might be a stretch. I think he'll still have to remain the power behind the power.

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Nonetheless I see the "military and ruling class" still probably being mostly or largely destroyed, with the possible creation of dangerous enclaves in Harad or elsewhere who owed loyalty to no one besides themselves, including Sauron. In any event I believe Sauron's main priority was the destruction of the Elves, and Gil-galad in particular, and he would have taken whatever action necessary to achieve that goal, including becoming master of a Númenórean remnant which might be brought back to Middle-earth. How useful that remnant would be I can't say.
If Sauron prevents an all-out civil war, and kills Ar-Pharazon before the Great Armament sets sail, then he has the most powerful military weapon ever assembled by the Children of Iluvatar to make use of. He could blame the assassination on the Faithful, even on the line of Andunie specifically, saying that the leaders of the Elf-friends had colluded with Gil-galad to assassinate the king to put Tar-Miriel, who was known to have Faithful sympathies, back in control of the country. Such an accusation would be eagerly accepted by the ruling class, and Sauron could turn the Great Armament against Lindon and perhaps even the Faithful Colonies in what would have later become Gondor, the most significant of which being what would later be Dol Amroth and Pelargir.
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Old 08-15-2014, 03:06 PM   #7
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Very likely. I just wonder if he would have survived long enough to have a tenure as High-King of the Noldor in Exile. King Argon might have survived long enough to see the Second Age, with Gil-galad as a possible heir, or he might not. The problem is, such an early POD has so many butterflies that anything could have followed. We know so little about Argon that it's impossible to predict how his presence would have effected subsequent battles and events, for better or worse.
Well his name meant High Commander so he was unlikely to have taken after his namesake noble gas and been very inert. Turgon only survived so long because he sequestered himself, Gil-galad because of his youth
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Old 08-15-2014, 03:37 PM   #8
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Well his name meant High Commander so he was unlikely to have taken after his namesake noble gas and been very inert. Turgon only survived so long because he sequestered himself, Gil-galad because of his youth
IIRC, he died because he charged into a bunch of Orks and slew several, including the commander, but then was surrounded and killed himself. Impetuous and daring, and a brilliant fighter, it seems, but either willing to sacrifice himself or lacking some foresight. He very well could have died later in the wars, and I would not be surprised. He might have predeceased his older brothers, as he did in the Original Timeline, but then again, he might not have.
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Old 08-15-2014, 03:49 PM   #9
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IIRC, he died because he charged into a bunch of Orks and slew several, including the commander, but then was surrounded and killed himself. Impetuous and daring, and a brilliant fighter, it seems, but either willing to sacrifice himself or lacking some foresight. He very well could have died later in the wars, and I would not be surprised. He might have predeceased his older brothers, as he did in the Original Timeline, but then again, he might not have.
If he stuck around long enough he no doubt would have been a candidate to be Gil-galad's dad.. I suppose since 2 of Feanor's sons survived to the end of the Age, that Argon might have survived. Maybe he might have be around to alter history at Nargothrond or Sirion
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Old 08-15-2014, 03:54 PM   #10
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1. Celebrimbor and Celebrian fall in love while Galadriel and Celeborn are in Eregion; the two marry and Galadriel never leaves, staying either a, or the, leader of the realm (depending on your reading of UT).
Any takers on this? My preliminary thoughts are: if Celebrimbor and Celebrian marry, have children, etc, this increases the likelihood that Galadriel and Celeborn remain in Eregion and maintain leadership positions there. This means that when Annatar shows up claiming to be an emissary of the Valar here to help out the poor Noldor in Endor, Galadriel is in a better position to tell Annatar to shove off, or advise her son-in-law to do so. Celebrimbor is likely to heed the advice of his mother-in-law, especially with a wife and possible child to think of, and so Sauron is shut out of all the realms of the Eldar in Middle-earth.

Two things happen: one, the Gwaith-i-mirdain never begin making Rings of Power, or at least, not ones using Sauron's blueprints. The One Ring is almost certainly never made, and even if it is, it has no need to be invested with most of Sauron's power, since it has no other Rings to rule over. The Rings as we know them do not exist.

However, without a foothold into any of the Eldarin realms, Sauron is likely to abandon his attempts at subterfuge and move on to military action. The War of the Elves and Sauron begins earlier, but with different stakes. Eregion, in my opinion, is less likely to fall as completely as it did in the OTL, if Galadriel and Celeborn are still around. Despite not having Nenya to bolster her power, she is still one of the most powerful Eldar in Middle-earth (and besides, the Three weren't weapons anyway), as well as one of the wisest.

Now, will Celebrimbor and the Elves of Eregion survive the war? That, I don't know. The individual dynamics of the alternate war would have to be figured out more specifically. Celebrimbor might be advised by Galadriel to evacuate his people in the face of invasion, or he might not. If he is advised to do so, he might heed the advice or ignore it. I think he would evacuate his wife and child in the face of such danger. Such a child, were it to be a male, could be a feasible heir to the High-kingship of the Noldor, since Elrond now has no children (with Celebrian, anyway).

I know what you're going to say: the Feanorians were devested of their claim on the kingship when it was forsworn by Maedhros in favor of the lines of Fingolfin and Finarfin, but I actually think they didn't give up their claim entirely. I interpret it as the House of Feanor's claim on the throne being subordinated to the claims of the Houses of Fingolfin and Finarfin, and without extant members of those houses to exercise a claim, then the kingship would return to the only remaining male-line descendants of Finwe: the heir of Celebrimbor, son of Curufin, son of Feanor.

Also this: the Kingdom of Lindon collapsed at the end of the Second Age! Elrond didn't claim the Kingship because there was neither a kingdom, nor enough Noldor to merit a king. Well, that's a good point, but who knows how Lindon will fare in this timeline? The butterflies from this POD (no Rings of Power, an alternate War with more survivors from Eregion, or even a surviving Eregion?!) prevent us from predicting exactly what shape the Elven realms will be in by the end of the age... unless someone develops a story devoted to exploring it.
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Old 08-15-2014, 04:19 PM   #11
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However, without a foothold into any of the Eldarin realms, Sauron is likely to abandon his attempts at subterfuge and move on to military action.
I'm not sure how this would turn out. The Dúnedain are too strong for Sauron by themselves. They would not even need the Elves to destroy Sauron's forces.
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Old 08-15-2014, 04:35 PM   #12
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I'm not sure how this would turn out. The Dúnedain are too strong for Sauron by themselves. They would not even need the Elves to destroy Sauron's forces.
But the Dunedain don't have much of a presence in Middle-earth at this point, not nearly as much as they did later in the age, anyway. Gil-galad eventually received aid from Numenor in the form of Ciryatur, who brought in a fleet to the Gulf of Lune and sent another up the River Gwathlo, to flank Sauron's armies from Tharbad. The maneuver was extremely effective, and left Sauron on the run with a much diminished force, which was reduced to nearly nothing by further action in Calenardhon.

Obviously, Sauron didn't consider the Dunedain a deterrent to war against the Elves, since said war occurred in the original timeline; he hadn't faced them in battle yet. It was only after this war in the original timeline that he began to consider them a serious threat.

Now, will the Numenoreans come in to save Gil-galad again? It's very likely. The butterflies from this point of departure aren't likely to affect the relationship between the Elves and Numenor, especially not by this point, and especially not in a negative way.

In fact, there are some that theorize that the shadow that fell over Numenor was brought on in large part by the Lord of the Nazgul, who was known to be a Numenorean Lord before he became a Ringwraith. Surely he would have acted in Sauron's interests once he succumbed to the Dark Lord's will; I imagine that Sauron was acting behind the scenes in Numenor for far longer than was directly indicated by Professor Tolkien in Akallabeth. There's a good case for it, anyway.
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Old 08-15-2014, 04:57 PM   #13
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During Tar-Ciryatan's time there was the shadow on Númenor. He was born in 1635 and Sauron got his hands on the lesser Rings by 1697. Perhaps someone among his men got a Ring and influenced things on the island. That would probably be around the 1700s or maybe not until he became King in the 1800s.
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Old 08-15-2014, 04:59 PM   #14
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During Tar-Ciryatan's time there was the shadow on Númenor. He was born in 1635 and Sauron got his hands on the lesser Rings by 1697. Perhaps someone among his men got a Ring and influenced things on the island. That would probably be around the 1700s or maybe not until he became King in the 1800s.
Well, perhaps the shadow's growth was facilitated by an incipient Ringwraith, then, though not started by it. Men don't need supernatural assistance to fall into error and sin.
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Old 08-15-2014, 05:51 PM   #15
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Nor do Elves. Or Maiar.
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Old 08-15-2014, 07:26 PM   #16
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2. Turgon dies in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad while trying to save Fingon. At this point, Orodreth of Nargothrond becomes High-King (I'm assuming the Gil-galad son of Orodreth, son of Angrod lineage here), and Maeglin likely becomes King in Gondolin. For bonus points, come up with a new, interesting fate for Hurin and Huor. (Both survive and escape? No curse on the Children of Hurin! Hurin dies and Huor is captured? Tuor the Cursed, while Turin is left to live a more normal life? Both are killed? Still no Curse!)
Here's another I'm interested in, most of all because I want to know how King Maeglin would fare. How would he deal with Idril continuing to rebuff his advances once he had the crown? Would he be a good ruler of Gondolin?

Would High-King Orodreth, like Turgon, stay hidden inside his city and the leadership of the Noldor be exercised by others on his behalf, as it likely was during Turgon's reign (since he stayed in Gondolin almost the entire time with no contact with his nominal subjects outside in the rest of Beleriand)?

If Hurin's family was not cursed, as in the OTL, what kind of life would Turin have led? Would he still have met Finduilas and perhaps have been united with her, producing another child of both kindreds, or would he have been of less note, leading his farher's land after him and marrying a human woman and having children who might or might not have impacted the history of the Edain?

If Tuor had borne the curse (assuming Huor were captured instead of Hurin), that butterflies away Ëarendil. This almost necessitates the existence of other half-Elven children, likely descended from Turin, if the line of the Half-Elven is to act as the ambassadors of Middle-earth to the Valar, as I believe was Eru's plan.

Thoughts?
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Old 08-15-2014, 08:34 PM   #17
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I doubt Maeglin would tolerate her rejections. His actions towards Idril may impact how the people of Gondolin would view him as their leader. So I'd think he'd be getting off on the wrong foot forcing himself upon her.
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Old 08-15-2014, 08:53 PM   #18
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I doubt Maeglin would tolerate her rejections. His actions towards Idril may impact how the people of Gondolin would view him as their leader. So I'd think he'd be getting off on the wrong foot forcing himself upon her.
This is a difficult subject to explore. Tolkien stated in Morgoth's Ring that one: actions of lust were rare among the Eldar, and that two: if an Elf is raped, their fëa abandons their body and they go to the Halls of Mandos. Maeglin wants Idril to want him, but he doesn't want to kill her. I do think, however, he might try to manipulate her into accepting him, or make her life miserable if she continues to refuse him, but he won't go so far as to force himself on her.

He might try to force her into a political marriage with one of the Lords of Gondolin to exert control over her and push her into a life she doesn't want, as a consequence of refusing him. Or he might try to cut her off from the rest of the city entirely, isolate her and increase her reliance on him emotionally.
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Old 08-18-2014, 10:11 PM   #19
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2. If the Steward Boromir, affected by the Morgul-wound he suffered at the hands of one of the Nazgul, refused to rule in the name of the line of Elendil, and attempted to claim the crown of Gondor for himself.
I actually have a bit of a story developed to go with this one!

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"How many hundreds of years needs it to make a steward a king, if the king returns not?" he asked. "Few years, maybe, in other places of less royalty," my father answered. "In Gondor ten thousand years would not suffice." (The Two Towers: The Window on the West)
All dates indicated are of the Third Age.

1944: the death of King Ondoher of Gondor, his sons Artamir and Faramir, and his nephew, Minohtar, in the battle against the Wainriders.

1945: The Steward Pelendur and the Council of Gondor search for a member of the House of Anarion to take up the Crown of Gondor. Prince Arvedui of Arthedain puts forward a claim for himself, as the Heir of Isildur, once a King of Gondor, and for his wife, Princess Firiel, daughter of King Ondoher. Though according to Numenorean law, Firiel could take the Crown in her own right, becoming first Ruling Queen of Gondor, the Steward Pelendur convinces the Council to deny their claims. They choose instead the General Earnil, victorious commander of the Gondorian armies against the Wainriders and a descendant of Telumehtar Umbardacil. Arvedui does not contest the decision. Earnil II is crowned.

1974: The Kingdom of Arthedain is invaded by the armies of Angmar, led by the Witch-King, and thoroughly defeated. King Arvedui escapes into the Blue Mountains, and then north into the Forodwaith.

1975: Prince Aranarth implores Cirdan to send a ship to find his father. After Arvedui boards, however, the ship is lost at sea, taking the King and many important heirlooms with it. With the destruction of Arthedain and the dispersal of its people, Aranarth declines the title of King, instead calling himself Cheiftain of the Dunedain.

Prince Earnur arrives with a fleet and armies sent by Earnil II for the aid of Arthedain against Angmar, but too late to prevent its destruction. Cirdan and Earnur's forces together route Angmar's armies, though the Witch-King himself escapes after humiliating Earnur. (It is here that Glorfindel gives his famous prophecy: "[The Witch-King] will not return to this land. Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall.").

1998: Pelendur dies, and the Stewardship passes to his son, Vorondil; hereafter the Stewardship becomes hereditary, passing to the Steward's son or nearest male heir.

2000 - 2002: The City of Minas Ithil is besieged by forces out of Mordor led by the Lord of the Nazgûl, whose identity as the Witch-King of Angmar is still unknown. The city falls after two years, and is occupied by Mordor's forces. The Dunedain refer to it hereafter as Minas Morgul.

2043: Death of Earnil II. Earnur is crowned.

2050: Earnur accepts a challenge to single combat from the Witch-King of Angmar, who reveals his identity as the Captain of the Nazgûl and Lord of Minas Morgul. Earnur goes to Minas Morgul and is never heard from again. Having no heir and his fate left unknown, the Steward Mardil, called Voronwe, rules in Earnur's name for many years.

There are no heirs of the House of Anarion whose lineage is beyond question, and Aranarth puts forward no claim on the crown. Out of a desire to prevent another civil war like the Kin-Strife, no King is Crowned, and Mardil Voronwe becomes the first of the Ruling Stewards.

2063: Gandalf goes to Dol Guldur to investigate the nature of the Necromancer (as yet unknown to be Sauron) who flees (to Mordor). Khamûl the Black Easterling rules Dol Guldur in Sauron's absence, and the shadow upon Mirkwood lessens. The Watchful Peace begins.

2063 - 2460: The Watchful Peace: It was during the Watchful Peace that the first 10 Ruling Stewards (Mardil Voronwe, Eradan, Herion, Belegorn, Hurin I, Turin I, Hador, Barahir, Dior and Denethor I) governed Gondor, in which Gondor saw less battle than it had in centuries. They used the time to recuperate Gondor's strength and prosperity.

Though the Nazgûl are quiet in Minas Morgul and Dol Guldur at this time, they too are building their forces in preparation for an invasion of the west. In Minas Morgul, a new breed of Orks is created: the Uruk-hai, larger, stronger, more disciplined and less daunted by daylight.

2460: Sauron returns with greater strength to Dol Guldur; the Watchful Peace ends.

2475: Uruk-hai armies led by the Witch-King invade the eastern Gondorian province of Ithilien, and sack Osgiliath, the former capital. Boromir, son of Steward Denethor I, successfully defeats the Witch-King's armies and repels them from Osgiliath, but the great stone bridge over the Anduin is destroyed and the city left nearly depopulated. Neither Osgiliath nor Ithilien are resettled at this time.

Quote:
"Boromir was a great captain, and even the Witch-King feared him. He was noble and fair of face, a man strong in body and in will, but he received a Morgul-wound in that war..." (The Return of the King: Appendix A: The Stewards)
Boromir fights the Witch-King in Osgiliath, and forces the Witch-King to withdraw, though Boromir suffers a Morgul-wound in the battle. The healers of Minas Tirith save Boromir's life, and though he bears the wound for the rest of his life, his strength of body and will are undiminished. Those who knew him, however, saw a change in him afterward; a shadow had fallen upon his heart, and his pride grew apace.

2477: Death of the Steward Denethor I, Boromir takes up the Stewardship.

Boromir, as commander of Gondor's armies under his father, Steward Denethor I, had answered the first major challenge to Gondor since the collapse of Arthedain and the failure of the Line of Anarion. He had managed to drive the Witch-King and his forces out of Osgiliath. This, especially, fed Boromir's pride. The Witch-King had destroyed the northern kingdom, reduced the heirs of Isildur to be Chieftains of a wandering people, and ended the line of Anarion in Gondor, but Boromir had bested him in battle.

In his mind, the House of Hurin had been chosen by the House of Elendil as their successor, and had proven themselves more than worthy of ruling in their stead, but a house superior in valour and ability to rule. They had kept Gondor safe through 400 years of peace, and he personally had repelled the very enemy that had cast down the line of Elendil in both the north and the south. This, most of all, spoke to the worthiness of the House of Hurin. He knew the people yearned for a King, and that some spoke of the heir in the north who might one day take the crown, but the stewards had long since hardened their hearts to this possibility, and Boromir decided they were no longer worthy to rule. He decided, after long deliberation, that the Crown should pass to the House of Hurin, and that he would do what was necessary to secure the support he would need to take the throne.

The Steward first speaks to his son about the issue, after thinking about it for some time and waiting to act. Cirion speaks against it, not against his father; he respectfully reminds his father of his oath as steward, to rule until the king returns, and that though Cirion agrees the kings may never return, it is not his place to deny them their right to do so. He notes that there will be several lords who will not stand for such a declaration, most especially the Prince of Dol Amroth. He reminds his father that even the matter of multiple Heirs of the House of Anarion brought the kingdom to civil war once before, and nearly a second time after the death of Earnur. Boromir agrees to set the idea aside (for now).

Boromir later approaches various lords privately with the idea, with varying results. The Prince of Dol Amroth in particular vocally indicates his support for the Line of Elendil, and states further that if the line truly did become extinct, that there were houses older and of higher descent than the Heirs of Hurin of Emyn Arnen who might take the crown, basically telling the steward to remember his place and not get uppity. “Thou may think thyself more deserving of rule than thy house which thou servest; so be it. I hold the same belief; but I hold to my vows to serve thee, as thou wilt hold to thy vows to serve in the name of the line of Elendil.” This wounds Boromir's pride, and the two are irrevocably pit against one another.

The Prince of Dol Amroth draws a number of supporters to his side. The Prince "respectfully" asks that the Steward publically denounce any desire to ever make a claim on the crown of Gondor. Boromir gives a very political answer that, while satisfying his detractors for the moment, really promises nothing.

When the Wainriders finally ride against Gondor, the Steward calls specifically on the Knights of Dol Amroth to come and ride in the van, hoping simultaneously to blunt the effectiveness of the chariots with the knights of Dol Amroth, and also cull their numbers so as to weaken them in a potential civil war. The Prince sends but a pittance, and the forces of Minas Tirith take the brunt of the losses for much of the battle. The Eotheod finally arrives under Eorl the Young [consider having Boromir establish close ties with the Eotheod earlier, perhaps Leod and Boromir establish an alliance and marry Eorl to one of Boromir's nieces or daughters]; while the Eotheod's losses are much heavier than in the OTL, the Wainriders are defeated.

Boromir names Eorl the Prince of Calenardhon in an attempt to gain a powerful vassal to use in any upcoming civil war, as well as reward him for his faithful service. Cirion had suggested giving him the province as his own kingdom, but Boromir dismisses the idea: 1. there are fewer of the Eotheod left ITTL, and thus they would have a harder time maintaining the kingdom independently, and 2. Boromir wants to replace Dol Amroth’s seat on the Council of Gondor with one of his supporters, and does so by designating Prince Eorl of Calenardhon in his place.

Eorl is conflicted, but eventually accepts the offer. While he was happy to be the ally of Gondor, he is unused to bending his knee to any man, and some of his men council him to seek independence, with or without Boromir's blessing. Prince Eorl bides his time.

The Steward eventually declares the Prince of Dol Amroth a traitor, that for his pride the province of Calenardhon nearly lost, and strips him of his title, declaring the lands of Dor-en-Ernil forfeit and the title of Prince dormant until a suitable heir is designated by Boromir. Cirion vocally protests this action in Council, but does not act against his father as of yet. Dol Amroth ignores the Steward’s attainting, claiming that his authority as Lord of Belfalas predates the existence of Gondor, and that Boromir has overreached his authority. "Thou servest in the name of the king, thou art not thyself king."

The Steward finally claims the Crown, with a number of the lords of eastern Gondor, including Prince Eorl, supporting King Boromir. He and Cirion nearly come to blows in the Council chambers when Boromir makes the announcement, and when the remaining Lords (all supporters of Boromir's claim) rebuke him, Cirion leaves Minas Tirith and heads to Dol Amroth. Boromir attempts to bar the gates to him, but too late, and send men to retrieve him without success.

The Prince of Dol Amroth and Cirion together declare that with his claim on the Crown of Gondor, Boromir has surrendered the Stewardship, and that Cirion has inherited the position. Dol Amroth swears loyalty to the Steward Cirion and calls upon "all loyal Men of Gondor" to do the same.

Meanwhile, Arahad, Chieftain of the Dunedain, comes south to stand against Boromir’s claim on the crown. When Arahad steps forward, both Dol Amroth and Cirion are hesitant. They ask for time to discuss the matter. None can deny his right to press a claim, but he must prove himself worthy if he is to wear the crown. Meanwhile, an Heir of Anarion appears, a descendant of [pick a later king of Gondor with daughters], whose ancestor had pressed a claim in the time of the Steward Mardil, but had been denied. Now, with multiple claimants, one of Isildur and another of Anarion, the former with an undeniable direct descent from Elendil, the other whose descent is less acceptable, but from the king more preferable to the Gondorian Lords, the matter becomes contentious. So, with three claimants to King, the western Gondorians are without a single leader. King Boromir has solid support, and the Eotheod follow him faithfully, but are also biding their time. Eorl considers the possibility that he might later buy his own crown by support Boromir’s claim on Gondor’s. If the war does not go as planned, then he will consider other methods to securing his rule over Calenardhon.

Boromir allies himself with Umbar, as Dol Amroth and Cirion have swayed the most populous regions of Gondor, and he needs the additional naval power to help him take/defend Pelargir. He offers to recognize their independence in perpetuity, as well as their claims to Harondor, if they support his war effort. The Lords of Umbar accept out of a desire to see a weakened Gondor, knowing that even if Gondor remains whole, it will be weakened. If Boromir succeeds, they have an ally on the throne and increased territory in the north. If he fails, their situation is little changed, save that Gondor has spent part of its power against itself. If Gondor remains divided, then the opportunities for piracy sponsored by Boromir increase and they can further weaken their enemies. This alliance is unpopular even among Boromir's supporters, but none abandon him, over it. Dol Amroth uses the alliance to further discredit Boromir.

Anorien for Boromir
Calenardhon for Boromir
Lossarnach for Boromir? (Likely)
Umbar allied with Boromir (hits Pelargir hard)

Lebennin... It'll be the main battleground, along with Lossarnach. Will Pelargir declare for Boromir or Cirion?

Dor-en-Ernil for Dol Amroth/Cirion (of course)
Lamedon for Dol Amroth/Cirion
Mornan for Dol Amroth/Cirion
Anfalas for Dol Amroth/Cirion
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Old 08-21-2014, 06:13 PM   #20
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Boromir would be dead [2489] by the time the Wainriders attacked [post-2500]. When he got that Morgul-wound "he became shrunken with pain and died twelve years after his father." [Appendix A: The Stewards] I'd think Cirion would be the one making all these calls afterwards should he have ever intended to carry on his father's designs.
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Old 07-02-2015, 10:45 AM   #21
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I don't think we've seen the erstwhile Corsair around here for a while but I thought this was the best place to post something which occurred to me today:

What if Sauron hadn't made the Ring?

I don't mean if he hadn't been an evil tyrant who wanted to rule the world or anything like that. I just mean "if he hadn't made the Ring".

By the time he'd made the Ring he'd completely lapsed back into evil, deeming that the best way to bring peace and order to Middle-earth was through his "benevolent" dictatorship. In fact he'd already been stirring up trouble in the East as early as 500 or so according to the Tale of Years, and Gil-galad sent his letter of warning to Tar-Meneldur in 882. One assumes that by the time he occupied Mordor and began building Barad-dûr, around 1000, he had servants and something of an authority: "Men he found the easiest to sway of all the peoples of the Earth."

In "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age", no mention of Sauron being called a "Dark Lord" and utilising armies of Orcs is mentioned until after the forging of the One Ring. "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn" briefly mentions the deployment of Orcs in the War of the Elves and Sauron.

So this had me thinking: did Sauron need the One Ring to become a "Dark Lord"? If he hadn't forged the Rings, would he have come up with some other equally fiendishly elaborate master plan, and would it have made him as simultaneously mighty and vulnerable as the Ring did? Would he have become a great tyrant among the Men of Darkness, but nothing more? And if so, would he thus be able to antagonise the Noldor and Númenóreans indefinitely, or would he have become trapped, like Morgoth, in one body, and thus ultimately vulnerable to being militarily defeated and killed?

I don't know what people might think about this. It's a bit daft, really, isn't it? But Professor Tolkien indulges in a bit of what-iffery himself so I think it's acceptable.
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Old 07-02-2015, 01:03 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Zigûr View Post
So this had me thinking: did Sauron need the One Ring to become a "Dark Lord"? If he hadn't forged the Rings, would he have come up with some other equally fiendishly elaborate master plan, and would it have made him as simultaneously mighty and vulnerable as the Ring did? Would he have become a great tyrant among the Men of Darkness, but nothing more? And if so, would he thus be able to antagonise the Noldor and Númenóreans indefinitely, or would he have become trapped, like Morgoth, in one body, and thus ultimately vulnerable to being militarily defeated and killed?
As far as Númenor is concerned, I think the failure to make the One Ring is a non-issue.
As ME history stood, he had the One in his possession in his struggle against the Númenóreans, and it didn't bring him victory. Even with its power of Command, his troops would not stand against their enemies.

If Sauron had settled for the short-term goal of defeating Númenor (accomplished by guile in using their fear of death), and had not implemented his ring-plan, I think it would have been very possible to see in the Second Age a victory comparable to that envisioned by Gandalf much later, contingent on Sauron regaining the Ring.

Quote:
'....his victory will be swift and complete: so complete that none can foresee the end of it while this world lasts.'
ROTK The Last Debate

If Sauron had not split his spirit and power by placing it in the Ring, I don't see how Elendil, Gil-galad, Elrond, and Isildur could have done anything against him in the Last Alliance, beyond wounding him bodily. Obviously, no Ring would have meant no opportunity of divesting Sauron of such a large portion of his power to occasion his "maiming" in that event, and eventual permanent disembodiment at the Ring's destruction.
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Old 07-02-2015, 01:46 PM   #23
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If Sauron had not split his spirit and power by placing it in the Ring, I don't see how Elendil, Gil-galad, Elrond, and Isildur could have done anything against him in the Last Alliance, beyond wounding him bodily. Obviously, no Ring would have meant no opportunity of divesting Sauron of such a large portion of his power to occasion his "maiming" in that event, and eventual permanent disembodiment at the Ring's destruction.
So for Sauron the Ring was actually something of an albatross.

The Last Alliance did defeat him militarily even with the Ring. Sauron also had a tendency to flee when placed in physical danger so I think the outcome of the War of the Last Alliance might not have been that different with or without the Ring.
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Old 07-02-2015, 02:05 PM   #24
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I think maybe things would have gone differently had he not made the Ring as far as his plans go. The Rings were meant to control the free people and they would be his slaves. I think in Morgoth's Ring Sauron would rather have slaves than destroy all his enemies. I do not know how he would go about enslaving all the other people. With the Rings enslavement only had limited success since the Dwarves were immune to that sort of thing and the Elves were able to sense their danger before it happened. Only the Men got ensnared. I think also he might have become less powerful with continued effort to dominate the people he became a tyrant over so maybe his sphere of influence grows less over the years. I think the Ring might have given him an endless reservior so that he did not have too much worry about wasting away his power like Melkor did.

How much did the Ring help in his influence over the people of Númenor aside from their own eagerness for immortality? When Sauron wore the Ring Tolkien says that he is actually more powerful, but even so he lost to the Last Alliance and was defeated in combat by Gil-galad and Elendil. He also could not even get his army to fight the Númenóreans when they were still plentiful as a people. So he would be wielding less power in the 2nd Age to some degree against his enemies.

There is the 3rd Age where he almost topples M-E anyway without the One. His enemies have grown weak through infighting, and skirmishes with men out of the east and south for a long time and he likewise had the Witch-king overthrow the North Kingdom. I'd think then that if he was still able to get Númenor toppled then he would probably just wear his enemies out over a long period of time, if not then he'd be done. Also I'd have to think about the Istari. Would Saruman have tried to become a tyrant himself, or would have have remained true to his mission? Apparently Saruman turned aside from his mission because he was in haste to get things done. Obviously he and Gandalf would not be expected to duel it out with Sauron anyway since they were to bring the people together to fight against a common foe.
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Old 07-02-2015, 02:06 PM   #25
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Sauron also had a tendency to flee when placed in physical danger so I think the outcome of the War of the Last Alliance might not have been that different with or without the Ring.
Maybe he does not fight Gil-galad and Elendil?
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Old 07-02-2015, 03:51 PM   #26
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I take it we're talking about a scenario where none of the Rings of Power were forged, right? No One, no Nine, no Seven, and no Three.

I think Sauron probably wouldn't have enslaved the Men of Harad and Rhûn quite so easily as he did by baiting their kings with Rings, but I have no doubt he would have succeeded nevertheless. If even the Númenóreans fell for his gospel of Melkor he would have had little difficulty of passing himself off as a god (or at least his prophet) to people who never were taught any better. We're talking about Men whose ancestors never rebelled against Melkor-worship like the Edain did, there probably was a Melkorist tradition among them he only had to appeal to.

The Seven never affected the Dwarves much in Sauron's favour. Maybe the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm wouldn't have dug quite so deep for mithril without the Ring held by Durin VI fuelling their greed, and thus wouldn't have awoken the Balrog? An undiminished Dwarven kingdom in Khazad-dûm would have made a difference on the political map, I think.

And then there would be no Elven rings. No preserving a semblance of the Undying Lands in Lórien. Elrond, too, would be diminished, and Gandalf would have no Ring of Fire to help him kindle hearts in a darkening world. Like Sauron himself, the leaders of the resistance against him would be both less vulnerable and less powerful.
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Old 07-02-2015, 05:39 PM   #27
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Well, hello, everyone! Sorry for my long absence; doctoral school can be a bit life-consuming. :/

As for the idea of no Ring, I had explored a thought such as this some time ago, in a "What if" that involved a marriage between Celebrimbor and Celebrian in Eregion, and Galadriel remaining in Eregion long enough to convince Celebrimbor not to get involved with Annatar in the first place. But, setting that aside...

So, I think we need a "why" before we figure out how it would have changed things. The circumstances greatly effect the outcome.

Let's say, for example, that Celebrimbor was simply a better judge of character and took after Gil-galad and Elrond when they told the ostensible "Annatar" to shove off. Sauron's plan to seduce the Elves to his service has crashed and burned. This is going to **** him off something awful, as he really, REALLY wanted to make use of the Noldor, and now they're behind his reach in that fashion. His next best strategy, assuming he still wants them in his service at all, is to enslave them and, failing that, destroy them all and use human servants or other, less savory characters, to fulfill his dark plans for Endor.

This means war, most likely. Thus, we might find that the War of the Elves and Sauron comes a little sooner than in the "Original Time Line." However, Sauron will not have spent hundreds of years in Eregion and Ost-in-Edhil, which presumably gave him some inside information that he likely used to his advantage in the war. On the other hand, the Noldor of Eregion also don't have the knowledge of Sauron's impending betrayal via their Ring-connection to his. For all they know Annatar is just some creepy dude that rubbed them the wrong way, with no connection to Sauron. In fact, I don't even know if Sauron was on anyone's radar at this point in the Second Age, period. So, everyone is going into this war with less information, but Sauron has the benefit of more surprise on his side, being a generally unknown factor at this point, aside from their knowledge of him from the First Age. This is a whole different ball game, however.

Now, as for Sauron himself, I'm of the opinion that the forging of the One Ring, while making him vulnerable, also made him more powerful while the Ring was in his possession. The Rings with which Sauron was involved in the making, including his own, all increased the natural powers of the bearers, and I'm of the opinion that the One Ring was no different. Yes, it was made to be so potent so as to control the other 19, but I still believe that part of its basic function was also to increase Sauron's own potency of will, power, etc...

On the other hand, he no longer has the Achilles Heel. He can still be wounded and slain by warriors of sufficient power, but not destroyed utterly beyond all hope of eventual repair. I believe that if Sauron was faced by sufficiently potent warriors in the War of the Elves and Sauron, he could be destroyed (as can most Umaiar). He would regenerate in a few centuries to a thousand years, or so, but during that time there would be no major lieutenant (as far as we know) who could hold the empire together while Sauron put himself back together. Sauron could do it when he finally reappeared, but we would have centuries of no Dark Lord.

What kind of consequences would this have on Middle-earth? First of all, no Ulairi. There are some that believe that early shadow began to fall on Númenor because one of the three Numenorean Ringwraiths spent time in his homeland sowing discord and dissent. This could have been especially damaging to the Royal Line if he were a prince of the royal house. Perhaps the early murmurings and questions of rebellion against the Ban were insitigated by a Numenorean Ringbearer before he went wraith.

That is all speculation, however. What we do know is that, if Sauron is destroyed, the provocation of Ar-Pharazôn first against Sauron's overlordship of Endor, and then by Sauron against the Valar, would not occur as in the OTL. Heck, without Sauron's influence on the world, the entire line of Númenor might have turned out differently, and the analogue to Prince Pharazôn In This Time Line may not have tried to seize power. (We may not even have the same people born, period, so, who knows?)

So, assuming a destroyed Sauron, this means a Númenor that either doesn't fall under the shadow, or (more likely) is much less influenced by the shadow and the influence occurs much later in history. This means that there will be fewer Numenorean colonies in Middle-earth, as permanent settlements were, in part, a symptom of rebellion against the Ban of the Valar. Indigenous kingdoms may have risen up in their place, with more guidance from Númenor, maybe client Kingdoms of Middle-men, especially in what would have become Gondor and southern Arnor. Again, lots of speculation.

Eventually, however, Sauron would have shown up again, and perhaps his attention would have turned, as it did OTL, to the Númenoreans, who onc again would have become the dominant power east of the Pelori. While the Annatar guise may not have worked on the Noldor, who is to say it wouldn't on Men, who have much less acute senses than the Eldar. He needn't take the same form, but even if he did, would anyone associate Annatar with Sauron at this point? Perhaps, but not necessarily. The fall might go differently, take longer, and have to work through different people, but I think he could do to the Númenoreans as he did OTL, or perhaps have caused a civil war, or simply a break against the Eldar and sent them against Gil-galad. There are lots of possibilities.

This has all assumed Sauron's destruction in the earlier War. This is far from assured, and if he DID lose, but survive, then his wrath would be all the greater, but without the humbling experience of his destruction to add to his caution. If the Númenoreans were involved as in OTL, then his attention is drawn to them, if not, then he remains fixed on Middle-earth, most likely.

Now, it was brought up above that without the Ring of Durin pushing the Longbeards in later centuries to delve too greedily and too deep, that Khazad-dum would not be lost. I think this is a strong possibility, but I think we need to consider more immediate consequences.

The Noldor of Eregion and the Longbeards of Khazad-dum had a friendship the likes of which was unheard of between Elves and Dwarves. The Doors of Durin were just one example of the marvels of joint Elven-Dwarven lore and craft. Imagine if that relationship had been allowed to flourish? What kind of cultural growth, new advances in craft, in art, in new ideas and forms of expression could have come from the alliance of Eregion and Khazad-dum? I think that Celebrimbor and the Longbeards would have enriched one another and made one another much stronger. If this is the case, Sauron might have come across a much stronger Eregion later on, one which had a strong alliance with the mightiest Dwarven stronghold in Arda's history, which had likewise been enriched and strengthened over the centuries without a a Dark Lord's interference. In a way, I mourn for what could have been.

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Old 07-02-2015, 09:29 PM   #28
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I think also he might have become less powerful with continued effort to dominate the people he became a tyrant over so maybe his sphere of influence grows less over the years. I think the Ring might have given him an endless reservior so that he did not have too much worry about wasting away his power like Melkor did.
I think this is a good point. We know Morgoth became diminished over thousands of years of spending his power on projects, as well as leeching himself into the earth. Sauron didn't need to go quite so far for the very reason that Morgoth had done it for him, but he still needed some way of taking full advantage of the Morgoth-element in nature as well as tethering himself and his greatest works to Middle-earth indefinitely. Otherwise, he would probably have spent his comparatively small amount of native power very quickly. He might have reached the point where, if defeated and probably executed by his enemies, he would have been incapable of embodying himself again.

So the Ring, or something like it, was probably necessary, and would have been quite clearly so to his intelligent if evil mind. Note that he started building Barad-dûr around 1000, but did not finish it until after he had forged the Ring around 1600. Presumably he knew he needed the Ring or something like it to complete these kinds of projects. It seems a little odd to imagine the foundations (which were the part bound to the Ring) being made after the rest of the structure, but there you go. Perhaps a scenario where he didn't make the Ring (at least by choice) isn't very likely.

As Corsair_Caruso has pointed out, a more likely scenario is a failure to collaborate with the Gwaith-i-Mírdain. This would probably have been the most realistic alternative to what actually happened, and the one with the best outcome. As Elrond states, "It would be better if the Three had never been." (Although he may specifically be referring to a scenario in which the One is regained by Sauron there; the phrasing is a little unclear in context).

It's been noted that Sauron was still defeated by the Last Alliance even while he had the Ring, which is a legitimate observation. I think on the other hand, however, the flaw with Sauron's plan was that he didn't have time to prepare properly for war with Gil-galad and Elendil. He had expected, I believe, that the Númenórean invasion of Valinor would simply force the Valar to wipe out the Númenóreans, not that Eru would intervene in a way which pushed the Faithful to Middle-earth and destroyed Sauron's body. That doesn't really relate to the rest of the issue, but I think it does remind that there were practical considerations to Sauron's policies as well. The Ring was not necessarily an "albatross" as Kuru put it but it certainly couldn't do everything on its own: it made Sauron's work easier, but not effortless.
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Old 07-06-2015, 08:53 AM   #29
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I think this is a good point. We know Morgoth became diminished over thousands of years of spending his power on projects, as well as leeching himself into the earth. Sauron didn't need to go quite so far for the very reason that Morgoth had done it for him, but he still needed some way of taking full advantage of the Morgoth-element in nature as well as tethering himself and his greatest works to Middle-earth indefinitely. Otherwise, he would probably have spent his comparatively small amount of native power very quickly. He might have reached the point where, if defeated and probably executed by his enemies, he would have been incapable of embodying himself again.

So the Ring, or something like it, was probably necessary, and would have been quite clearly so to his intelligent if evil mind. Note that he started building Barad-dûr around 1000, but did not finish it until after he had forged the Ring around 1600. Presumably he knew he needed the Ring or something like it to complete these kinds of projects. It seems a little odd to imagine the foundations (which were the part bound to the Ring) being made after the rest of the structure, but there you go. Perhaps a scenario where he didn't make the Ring (at least by choice) isn't very likely.

As Corsair_Caruso has pointed out, a more likely scenario is a failure to collaborate with the Gwaith-i-Mírdain. This would probably have been the most realistic alternative to what actually happened, and the one with the best outcome. As Elrond states, "It would be better if the Three had never been." (Although he may specifically be referring to a scenario in which the One is regained by Sauron there; the phrasing is a little unclear in context).

It's been noted that Sauron was still defeated by the Last Alliance even while he had the Ring, which is a legitimate observation. I think on the other hand, however, the flaw with Sauron's plan was that he didn't have time to prepare properly for war with Gil-galad and Elendil. He had expected, I believe, that the Númenórean invasion of Valinor would simply force the Valar to wipe out the Númenóreans, not that Eru would intervene in a way which pushed the Faithful to Middle-earth and destroyed Sauron's body. That doesn't really relate to the rest of the issue, but I think it does remind that there were practical considerations to Sauron's policies as well. The Ring was not necessarily an "albatross" as Kuru put it but it certainly couldn't do everything on its own: it made Sauron's work easier, but not effortless.
Two related points:

First, while you are probably right that some item like the Ring was necessary to provide that tie to the world that would allow Sauron to keep coming back as long as the Ring existed, in a way it embodied a form of pessimism for Sauron in that the Ring provided him a safety valve to come back in case he was defeated. However, it also provided an instant self-destruct tool (although, I can't recall, was that clearly understood at the time?) If I had been Sauron, I think I would have opted against the creation of the Ring and tried to avoid being defeated in the first place.

Second, to pose a silly question, could even the Ring have worked in this manner indefinitely? Say Sauron gets defeated repeatedly but the Ring still exists? Would the power provided by the existence of the Ring allow Sauron to keep coming back until he wins? In thinking about it, my belief is that it wouldn't have. Even in his origins, Sauron was not an infinite being and neither was the Ring an object of infinite power as it was created by a finite being. Given those limitations, I believe eventually one and or both of them could be depleted to the point of final impotence. Not that I think this is a particularly likely scenario, but I'm deliberately posing a hypothetical.
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Old 07-06-2015, 09:15 AM   #30
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....some item like the Ring was necessary to provide that tie to the world that would allow Sauron to keep coming back as long as the Ring existed, in a way it embodied a form of pessimism for Sauron in that the Ring provided him a safety valve to come back in case he was defeated.
I don't think Sauron ever considered the idea that he would ever be without the Ring.
The passing of part of his fea into it could have been a mere byproduct of his deliberate act of putting his power in it. That would make the Ring an unintended Horcrux of a sort, pardon the Potterism.

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Second, to pose a silly question, could even the Ring have worked in this manner indefinitely? Say Sauron gets defeated repeatedly but the Ring still exists? Would the power provided by the existence of the Ring allow Sauron to keep coming back until he wins? In thinking about it, my belief is that it wouldn't have. Even in his origins, Sauron was not an infinite being and neither was the Ring an object of infinite power as it was created by a finite being. Given those limitations, I believe eventually one and or both of them could be depleted to the point of final impotence.
Tolkien touched on this somewhat in Letters # 200:

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After the battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to rebuild, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Númenor (I suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy of the spirit, which might be called the 'will' or the effective link between the indestructible mind and being and the realization of its imagination.
So I think you might be correct. Each re-embodiment for Sauron would have taken longer, and resulted in a weaker form. The problem for his Third Age enemies was that they lacked the power of the Last Alliance, and destroying his physical form while the Ring existed would in practice have been close to impossible,
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Old 07-06-2015, 09:31 AM   #31
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However, it also provided an instant self-destruct tool (although, I can't recall, was that clearly understood at the time?) If I had been Sauron, I think I would have opted against the creation of the Ring and tried to avoid being defeated in the first place.
It's a good point. It seems that Sauron knew the Ring could be destroyed at Mount Doom. Presumably otherwise he wouldn't have panicked so much when Frodo put the Ring on at the Sammath Naur. On the other hand, given that Sauron never imagined his enemies trying to destroy the Ring before that moment, I'd argue that even if he knew "academically" that the Ring could be destroyed in that manner, presumably the idea of it actually being destroyed never crossed his mind.

It reminds me of that existentialist thought experiment: "Technically there's nothing stopping me from jumping off this cliff, but why would I?" Technically the Ring could be destroyed by melting it in the Fires of Doom, but to Sauron I imagine such an idea would be completely absurd, not just for him but for anyone: "Why would anyone destroy the Ring when they could use it?" So presumably, in Sauron's mind, the vulnerability of the Ring was so absurdly unlikely to be a problem that he didn't consider it to be a problem at all.

EDIT: It also occurs to me that this is a good additional counterargument to the idea that Sauron left the Ring behind in Mordor when he went to Númenor (which is kind of implied in "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age" but refuted by Letter 211). Letter 211 aside, it seems incredibly unlikely to me that Sauron would ever have voluntarily taken the Ring off for any reason ever. I imagine that, essentially, he expected to be wearing it forever.
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Second, to pose a silly question, could even the Ring have worked in this manner indefinitely? Say Sauron gets defeated repeatedly but the Ring still exists? Would the power provided by the existence of the Ring allow Sauron to keep coming back until he wins? In thinking about it, my belief is that it wouldn't have. Even in his origins, Sauron was not an infinite being and neither was the Ring an object of infinite power as it was created by a finite being. Given those limitations, I believe eventually one and or both of them could be depleted to the point of final impotence. Not that I think this is a particularly likely scenario, but I'm deliberately posing a hypothetical.
I think you have a point. On the one hand, it isn't clear how the Ring could eventually "run out of power" because it seems like the whole point of it was to operate in a way which didn't involve the expenditure of power. I feel as if the power imbued in it was "transformed", in a sense, which made its existence static. That doesn't mean the power is "infinite" - it could only do a certain amount of "work" within the bounds of the power bound in it and its wielder - but the power it did have was contained indefinitely. I think it makes sense to an extent to think of the Ring as a "machine" (albeit one without moving parts) which gives some kind of mechanical advantage, although the "Ring as amplifier" explanation is a bit problematic in my opinion.

At the same time, so much of Arda is entropic. I can't help but imagine that if Sauron's body continued to be destroyed, for instance, he would have severe trouble rebuilding it eventually, Ring or no Ring, because the Ring probably couldn't be used in that way. Then another might claim the Ring and wield it. Perhaps the Ring might eventually wear down and lose its potency, but I believe that Sauron himself would first.

I suppose that's the thing, though. The Ring was made for a very specific purpose which was never properly fulfilled. In Sauron's perfect world, the original Ringbearers would have fallen under his control, with everything else to follow. Instead that didn't work, he had to fight a war for the other Rings, he lost a body in Númenor, he lost another body against the Last Alliance, and he lost the Ring. If none of that had happened, maybe Sauron and the Ring would have kept each other "alive" for a very, very long time.
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Old 07-06-2015, 01:17 PM   #32
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If none of that had happened, maybe Sauron and the Ring would have kept each other "alive" for a very, very long time.
Undoubtedly so, especially since if Sauron had won the War of the Ring his dominion would have been established effectively forever, barring intervention of Eru or the Valar (which I think probably would have happened under the circumstances).
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Old 07-15-2015, 06:10 PM   #33
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If Sauron hadn't created the one ring he would not be able to come back in the third age (He was fully incarnated at the time of the war of the last alliance).
If he would have been able to become the dark lord without the one ring is another matter. Some say that the one ring had the very narrow purpose of only dominating the other rings. If you take that view the one ring was essentially a failure and not necessary for Sauron to become the powerful ruler he was in the original timeline.
On the other hand, some speculate that the one ring made it possible for Sauron to somehow control the "Morgoth Element" ... if you take that view the one ring was actually not only successful but the foundation and cornerstone of Saurons rise to power.

If Borormir had claimed the kingship I'm certain that this decision (and the ensuing civil war) would have destroyed gondor. There are a lot of houses more noble (and with connections to the house of Anarion) than the House of Hurin. The decision to let the stewards rule was a compromise between the great houses of gondor to prevent another civil war and it worked so well precisely because the stewards were a relatively lesser house that couldn't hope to claim kingship and was dependent on the other great houses - a house of cards that falls if a steward decides to rock the boat.
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Old 07-15-2015, 06:50 PM   #34
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If Sauron hadn't created the one ring he would not be able to come back in the third age (He was fully incarnated at the time of the war of the last alliance).
I don't know that I agree with that. We know that Umaiar have been known to suffer multiple slayings of their material form (not really a hröa, per se, since it isn't part of their innate nature as ëalar to have a physical form, unlike the Mirroanwi, who are meant to be fëa and hröa united), and return later. I admit that the Ring ensured against his 'permanent' destruction by traditional means, while also functioning as his Achilles Heel (similar to a Lich's phylactery or the Horcruxes of the Harry Potter mythos, both of which I assume drew from this source material), but I don't think there's any conclusive evidence that his slaying at the end of the Second Age would have proven the end of his spirit's endurance. It's possible you're right, but what makes you so sure?

Furthermore, without the forging of the Ring and the resultant events of the history of the Second Age, who is to say that the War of the Last Alliance would have occurred as it did in the original timeline? That's like saying that Barack Obama would still have been elected President if the United States had conquered Canada in the War of 1812. I mean, sure, it could still have happened, but it seems likely that subsequent events would have led to a very different modern day, in which Barack Obama might have never been elected, or never run for President, or never gotten into politics, or never even existed to begin with.

Then again, it's also possible a similar alliance would have taken place and Sauron very well could have been defeated in personal combat, as he was. Just remember, that was a desperate move on his part. Sauron didn't like to take the field if he could help it, and Barad-dûr (which was built in part with the power of the One Ring, so does it even exist?) had been under siege for so long he had to change the playing field if he was going to come out on top. He ended up killing the enemy commanders, but at the cost of the destruction of his material frame. But who is to say things would have led to the same eventuality had the Ring not been forged?

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If he would have been able to become the dark lord without the one ring is another matter. Some say that the one ring had the very narrow purpose of only dominating the other rings. If you take that view the one ring was essentially a failure and not necessary for Sauron to become the powerful ruler he was in the original timeline.
On the other hand, some speculate that the one ring made it possible for Sauron to somehow control the "Morgoth Element" ... if you take that view the one ring was actually not only successful but the foundation and cornerstone of Saurons rise to power.
Tolkien states, as far as I know, that the Morgoth Element is necessary for most feats of true magic, and so I imagine that he already had some proficiency in manipulating it. Furthermore, his native abilities as a Maia permitted him some level of "magic," really just the exercise of his native power, that surpassed anything the Elves could do. That being said, I agree 100% that the One Ring increased his ability to manipulate the Morgoth Element, thus increase his abilities. The extent of his capabilities in the late Second and Third Ages were due, in part, to his being able to access and control much of the Morgoth Element left behind by his master, without giving up any of his own substance to do so. This, in a way, made him more dangerous than Morgoth, since he had access to much of Morgoth's affinity for the manipulation of Arda, without having to diminish himself. Though I imagine that his total potency was still less than Morgoth's was, probably far less.

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If Borormir had claimed the kingship I'm certain that this decision (and the ensuing civil war) would have destroyed gondor. There are a lot of houses more noble (and with connections to the house of Anarion) than the House of Hurin. The decision to let the stewards rule was a compromise between the great houses of gondor to prevent another civil war and it worked so well precisely because the stewards were a relatively lesser house that couldn't hope to claim kingship and was dependent on the other great houses - a house of cards that falls if a steward decides to rock the boat.
I don't disagree. As I explore the possibilities, there really doesn't seem to be an alternative to that view. Although I don't know that I view "a lot" of the Houses of Gondor as more noble, there were certainly nobler and loftier houses, especially the Princes of Dol Amroth. Still, at least at one point in the mythos, Tolkien believed that the House of Hurin were, in fact, descended from Elendil and Anárion, though not counted among his heirs. This is stated in The Peoples of Middle-earth. I'd be willing to entertain the idea that this was discarded in favor of later developments, but I think it equally likely that there was some degree of descent through a daughter of the royal line, which didn't convey inheritance rights in the royal house of Gondor, as far as we can tell.

But, yes, it would definitely lead to civil war, which would result in the further diminishing of Gondor, at the very least, perhaps in its fractioning into multiple kingdoms, as in Arnor, and eventually to its destruction by enemies from the east or south. Dor-en-Ernil may have survived, becoming a last bastion of the Dunedain in the south, a remnant of the former Kingdom of Gondor, ruled by the Princes.
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Old 07-16-2015, 01:09 AM   #35
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In Morgoth's Ring a passage mentions that "it was the creatures of earth, in their minds and wills, that he desired to dominate." [Myths Transformed] This of course was Sauron's purpose in creating the Rings. It is known that it failed to work on the dwarves and even on the Elves since they took them off as soon as they became aware of Sauron. I think they too could be dominated like Men since they did not dare to wear their Rings so long as Sauron possessed the One.

"in his own Black Land, Sauron made the One Ring, the ruling Ring that contained the powers of all the others, and controlled them, so that its wearer could see the thoughts of all those that used the lesser rings, could govern all that they did, and in the end could utterly enslave them." [Letter of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter # 131

Tolkien mentions that while in Númenor Sauron did become diminished while corrupting it. He was dominating their wills through the Ring itself. I'm not sure about the Ring, if it's like a battery that can be recharged wielding it's former levels of power.

In letter 200 when discussing the shapes the Maiar put on Tolkien says "It was then destructible like other physical organisms. But that of course did not destroy the spirit, nor dismiss it from the world to which it was bound until the end. After the battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to rebuild, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Númenor (I suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy of the spirit, which might be called the 'will' or the effective link between the indestructible mind and being and the realization of its imagination)." I think it might be true to some extent that when Sauron was overthrown he had not quite put everything back together, regained his hold on things as they once were. So the two kings probably took out a less than 100% Sauron, still a major feat in any case.

Regarding the remaining Dúnedain after the fall of the Kings, none of them had a one among them who could hope to claim kingship as it is said that the line failed in the South. When the Stewards took up their roles "to hold rod and rule in the name of the king, until he shall return"[Appendix A: The Stewards] those who had any legit right had either fled with the other Rebels south or had become much diminished in marrying non-Dúnedain women.

"the descendants of the kings had become few. Their numbers had been greatly diminished in the Kin-strife (about 600 year prior); whereas since that time the kings had become jealous and watchful of those near akin. Often those on whom suspicion fell had fled to Umbar and there joined the rebels; while others had renounced their lineage and taken wives not of Númenórean blood.

So it was that no claimant to the crown could be found who was of pure blood, or whose claim all would allow; and all feared the memory of the Kin-strife, knowing that if any such dissension arose again, then Gondor would perish." [Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion]
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Old 07-16-2015, 01:31 AM   #36
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4. If Shelob had killed Frodo.
I think it could have gone 2 ways at least. Shelob discovers the Ring after sucking Frodo dry, or Sam takes it upon himself to finish the quest which he might have an easier time doing at this point than Frodo would, although the influence of the Ring is at its height in its homeland. Could Shelob actually do anything with the Ring herself? I don't know if she can even wear it based on her physical makeup. If Sauron found out she had it I'd think he'd flush her out and take it by force. They were not necessarily friends anyway. But what if she just tossed it away since she could not do anything with it as far as I'm concerned? An orc finds it then what? I doubt an Orc would become the new Dark Lord, not even Aragorn was strong enough to overthrow Sauron with the One face to face. Sam I think would probably finish the quest although giving the Ring back to Frodo and trying to destroy it are not the same thing. There would still be an opportunity for the quest to go on if Frodo was killed.
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Old 07-16-2015, 04:45 AM   #37
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I am also of the opinion that the One Ring allowed Sauron to manipulate the Morgoth Element. While this theory is not directly supported by Tolkien (but then he never directly explains how magic works in his world) it makes sense for the following three reasons:
1. Instead of a merely technical ring-controlling tool the One Ring becomes much more mysterious, powerful and dangerous.
2. It makes Sauron a more successful and cunning villain: his ring scheme did only partially fail because the primary function of the ring was to control the Morgoth Element.
3. And last but not least: the theory explaines how Sauron (in a world that is entropic: everyone becomes lesser and loses power over time, even the Valar!) managed to become more powerful with the ring even though his ring scheme failed and he effectively only dominated the nine: he appropriated the dispersed power of his former master.

Tolkien writes that Ainu, once they become fully incarnated, can be killed like the children of iluvatar and are then not able to rematerialize, they stay "dead" (of course they cannot really be destroyed, their spirits are immortal). Tolkien speculates that maybe the disembodied Melkor could achieve reembodiement in the very distant future (but as Tolkien states he is a special case because of his former greatness); There is, besides Sauron, only one case of an incarnated Ainu that was killed and "came back": Gandalf, and that required an intervention by Eru! Those reappearing Umaiar you mentioned are from relatively early in the timeline and were probably only "clothed" and not incarnated. A merely clothed Umaia that is robbed of his form can easily reshape. I guess that during the War of Wrath most of the Umaia had become incarnated and a Balrog that had been killed during that conflict was effectively "dead".

Concerning Gondor: I actually find it quite unbelievable that a Steward (or another house for that matter) would claim the kingship, it goes against the whole upbringing and cultural/national identity of Gondor and the stewards: Gondor is the land of Anarion, a Gondor that no longer is the land of Anarion is no longer Gondor. In order for that to happen the whole identity and culture of the place would have to change (can anyone imagine a monarchic USA, an anti-Semitic Israel, a Protestant Italy or a republican Japan? Same thing.) You're right in that there probably weren't "A lot" of great houses that were more noble than the House of Hurin and had connections to the House of Anarion, but there were at least a few of them and the house of the stewards was not on top, neither socially nor economically.
Maybe if a Steward achieved some otherworldly success that rivaled Elendil he would have a chance to start a new royal line: defeat Mordor, slay Sauron in single combat, significantly enlarge the realm, renewed contact with the elves plus a marriage, etc. - but that's not very likely is it?

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Old 07-16-2015, 09:34 AM   #38
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However, I've still always been a bit puzzled why Aranarth didn't go south and claim the Crown; he was the only living descendant of Ondoher, and his father was of unimpeachable Numenorean lineage. Arvedui's claim to Anarion's inheritance was shaky, but not his son's.
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Old 07-16-2015, 10:52 AM   #39
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However, I've still always been a bit puzzled why Aranarth didn't go south and claim the Crown; he was the only living descendant of Ondoher, and his father was of unimpeachable Numenorean lineage. Arvedui's claim to Anarion's inheritance was shaky, but not his son's.
From my point of view, Aranarth didn't even try to claim the Kingship of Arnor, thus he didn't feel able to claim the Kingship of Gondor. His father had been rejected based on the various claims, and I don't think Gondor reckons inheritance of royal status through matrilineal descent. The Line of Isildur had essentially been permanently rejected, and they had rejected claim of descent from Anárion by disallowing inheritance through mothers. Notice that in the entire history of Gondor, no sister-son of a king ever inherited the crown. It was always solely through male descent. Furthermore, Fíriel's own claim was rejected by proxy, when Arvedui used it to bolster his own claim, and the withheld the crown. In a way, one could argue that once a claim on the throne is rejected, a descendant further down the line can't resurrect it via the same justification. He'd have to find a new way to justify his claim on the crown of Gondor.

That being said, there are counter-arguments to this. 1. After the death of Ëarnur, there was no one with sufficiently royal heritage to claim the crown, and thus with all other possible candidates exhausted, withholding the crown from Aranarth (had he pressed a claim) would have been impossible, despite earlier rejections. 2. Aranarth could have done as both Arvedui and, later, Aragorn did, and use their status as the Heir of Elendil to surpass all other claims. Note that when Arvedui mentioned this, the Council of Gondor did not respond: they didn't write back, telling him that his claim didn't matter or was insufficient, as they did when they felt they had grounds for legal refusal, they simply ignored it and went on to crown Ëarnil II. This, to me, was a tacit acknowledgment that he had a valid point, but that it should be clear they weren't going to give him the crown. Once a king had been crowned, it would have taken a war to dethrone him, which Arvedui had neither the strength, nor likely the desire, to do. Aranarth, however, could have made his case before the Council after the death of Ëarnur, and though the council might have hemmed and hawed about it, claiming that Ëarnur's fate was technically unknown, they eventually (in my opinion) would have had to crown Aranarth. Unless they could find some legal means of withholding the crown from him, I don't think they would have been willing to become what amounted to usurpers.
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Old 07-16-2015, 11:09 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by denethorthefirst View Post
Concerning Gondor: I actually find it quite unbelievable that a Steward (or another house for that matter) would claim the kingship, it goes against the whole upbringing and cultural/national identity of Gondor and the stewards: Gondor is the land of Anarion, a Gondor that no longer is the land of Anarion is no longer Gondor. In order for that to happen the whole identity and culture of the place would have to change (can anyone imagine a monarchic USA, an anti-Semitic Israel, a Protestant Italy or a republican Japan? Same thing.) You're right in that there probably weren't "A lot" of great houses that were more noble than the House of Hurin and had connections to the House of Anarion, but there were at least a few of them and the house of the stewards was not on top, neither socially nor economically.
Maybe if a Steward achieved some otherworldly success that rivaled Elendil he would have a chance to start a new royal line: defeat Mordor, slay Sauron in single combat, significantly enlarge the realm, renewed contact with the elves plus a marriage, etc. - but that's not very likely is it?
I agree with you here, for the most part. Most alternate timelines, in my experience, require some change in order to occur. Some departure from the original series of events that led to history as we know it. In my above discussion of Boromir, the point of departure I envisioned was a difference in the effects of the Morgul wound he suffered defending Osgiliath against the Witch-King's armies. The wound's effects were less physical in nature, he didn't become withered and shrunken as he did in canon, but rather his mind began to become corrupted. His pride increased, and he began to become more practical, ruthless, and greedy, though he was still a mighty warrior, effective leader, and had a strong will, as in canon. This change occurred slowly, but eventually those close to him noticed the change. By that time, he had already begun to move slowly, but surely, toward his plans for claiming the crown. Thus would involve securing the support of Gondorian nobles (no easy task for the very reasons you've mentioned), accomplishing great feats to bolster his reputation and legacy, such as forging alliances with or conquering old enemies of Gondor, and in general manipulating public opinion so that people become more loyal to the current line of rulers, rather than to the memory of kings who died or lost their kingdoms.
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