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Old 03-24-2017, 01:37 PM   #1
Mithadan
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Thrain in Dol Guldur

Forgive me if this hhas been discussed before. I ran a search and could not easily find anything.

We know that Gandalf met a half-crazed Dwarf in the dungeons of the Necromancer who babbled on about the last Dwarven Ring and gave Gandalf a map and a key. Gandalf later deduced that the Dwarf was Thrain II, father of Thorin.

The Necromancer (Sauron) captured Thrain and took the Ring from him. We know from Merry and Pippin's journey with Grishnakh that Sauron's minions have highly detailed means of searching prisoners. I believe the quote is along the lines of "I'll search you to the bones" as he brandished a knife. Sauron also had considerable powers of persuasion.

How is it that during Thrain's interrogation and incarceration, the map and the key were never discovered and taken from him (even if their value was not apparent)?
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Old 03-24-2017, 02:09 PM   #2
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I can see Sauron himself personally seeing to Thrain's interrogation, not leaving that to minions. Why would he? He could have walked straight up to the newly captured dwarf and said, "give me the ring you bear". The terror of him alone may have sufficed to get Thráin to hand it over. Thráin, if not wearing it on his finger, could have had it around his neck, ala Isildur and Frodo. Not hard to find either way. And once that was found, Sauron could have told his servants to just bash Thráin around and have their fun until they were done, then throw him in a corner to die. Where he lay when Gandalf found him.
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Old 03-24-2017, 04:35 PM   #3
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I never even imagined Thráin being "interrogated" especially. I always assumed that Sauron simply arbitrarily tortured him or had him tortured, took the Ring from him, probably in person, and had him thrown in the dungeons to die.

I think we get the impression that Sauron was looking for Thráin, so once he found him the first thing on his mind would presumably have been the Ring:

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Little is known of what happened to him afterwards. It would now seem that as soon as he was abroad with few companions he was hunted by the emissaries of Sauron. Wolves pursued him, Orcs waylaid him, evil birds shadowed his path, and the more he strove to go north the more misfortunes opposed him. There came a dark night when he and his companions were wandering in the land beyond Anduin, and they were driven by a black rain to take shelter under the eaves of Mirkwood. In the morning he was gone from the camp, and his companions called him in vain. They searched for him many days, until at last giving up hope they departed and came at length back to Thorin. Only long after was it learned that Thráin had been taken alive and brought to the pits of Dol Guldur. There he was tormented and the Ring taken from him, and them at last he died.
If Thráin was wearing the Ring at the time it would have been a simple matter for Sauron to take it and see no further use for him.

The "torment" may have been the unfortunately arbitrary torture that many tyrants would impose on their victims as a sort of "punishment" for the mere fact of being an enemy. Sauron may not have needed to torture Thráin to force him to give up the Ring, as he could have been searched easily; he may have just tortured him for fun, as seems to have been Sauron's way since the First Age.

I almost think it would be typical of Sauron, having taken want he wanted, to have simply dismissed the prisoner with no further thought, even though searching him properly and interrogating him might have actually revealed useful information.
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Old 03-24-2017, 05:52 PM   #4
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I never even imagined Thráin being "interrogated" especially. I always assumed that Sauron simply arbitrarily tortured him or had him tortured, took the Ring from him, probably in person, and had him thrown in the dungeons to die.
Well, Sauron may been interested to know how the Ring had come to Thráin, just to help him keep track of where one of his Seven had been, and maybe piece together any sort of mischief it had accomplished. Probably not much beyond that though.
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Old 03-24-2017, 06:14 PM   #5
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I almost think it would be typical of Sauron, having taken want he wanted, to have simply dismissed the prisoner with no further thought, even though searching him properly and interrogating him might have actually revealed useful information.
Exactly this. It is a classic trait of Sauron (and indeed of most of the arrogant evil guys in Middle-Earth, or Arda, or Eä for that matter) to overlook the subtler things (and it of course always backfires). During the War of the Ring, Sauron was thinking about Isildur's heir but not about some random hobbits. Orcs in Cirith Ungol weren't much better, even those who had noticed there was more than one halfling lurking around. "Look, this one has a mithril-coat! Yeah, he had an accomplice, but that was some servant who didn't even have a mithril-coat, what a loser."

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Well, Sauron may been interested to know how the Ring had come to Thráin, just to help him keep track of where one of his Seven had been, and maybe piece together any sort of mischief it had accomplished. Probably not much beyond that though.
Also depending on Thráin's state at that point. Once again, in Sauron's arrogance, he would probably see a former king of exiled Dwarves, basically a beggar if not for the Ring, so he would just laugh at him and mock him for being a poor ex-king who had just lost his last valuable possession, the Dwarven Ring (and, if Sauron had paid attention to it, he would probably just laugh how all this Dwarven king now has is a dirty old jacket and a rusty key).

For that matter, Sauron already had all the other Dwarven Rings (those which had not been consumed by dragons; I assume he might have known, given his connection to the Rings and his general knowledge and interest in the matter and all), it is said the Ring he took from Thráin was the last of the Seven (I think Thráin tells that to Gandalf). So it would be an extra reason for him to be distracted after he got the Ring: "Yes! Now I have the last of the Seven! Ha haaaaa! Take this filth away, I have no more use for him, play with him or whatever, I am just going to dance here for some time because now everything that is left are the Three and the One! Ha haaa!"
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Old 04-02-2017, 06:20 AM   #6
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Pipe Gandalf's explanation

In an earlier version (Typescript B) of 'The Quest of Erebor', of which Typescript C was published in Unfinished Tales, Merry questioned Gandalf further about Thrain's map and key, and how Sauron had not taken them from him. Gandalf began by explaining that it was 9 years after Thrain had left his people when he found him; and he had been in the pits of Dol Guldur for 5 years at least. He then said:

I do not know how he endured so long, nor how he had kept these things [the map and key] hidden through all his torments. I think that the Dark Power had desired nothing from him except the Ring only, and when he had taken that he troubled no further, but just flung the broken prisoner into the pits to rave until he died. A small oversight; but it proved fatal. Small oversights often do.

How silly (and fatal) of Sauron, and how brave of Thrain, to have endured so much for so long!
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Old 04-02-2017, 09:58 AM   #7
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In an earlier version (Typescript B) of 'The Quest of Erebor', of which Typescript C was published in Unfinished Tales, Merry questioned Gandalf further about Thrain's map and key, and how Sauron had not taken them from him. Gandalf began by explaining that it was 9 years after Thrain had left his people when he found him; and he had been in the pits of Dol Guldur for 5 years at least. He then said:

I do not know how he endured so long, nor how he had kept these things [the map and key] hidden through all his torments. I think that the Dark Power had desired nothing from him except the Ring only, and when he had taken that he troubled no further, but just flung the broken prisoner into the pits to rave until he died. A small oversight; but it proved fatal. Small oversights often do.
Of course; I remembered this quote as soon as you put it here, as that "rave until he died" expression has always stuck with me, and now I feel very silly for not looking into Unfinished Tales myself. As with Gandalf arriving at Isengard at night, it shows that the answer is very often already there (and I personally never look quite hard enough to find it).

I wonder then if we arrived at that conclusion anyway by sheer coincidence or if we were subconsciously remembering Typescript B
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Old 04-03-2017, 05:40 AM   #8
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I wonder then if we arrived at that conclusion anyway by sheer coincidence or if we were subconsciously remembering Typescript B
Personally, I believe the latter. I oftentimes find myself thinking "I am pretty sure this and this in M-E lore went that way", even though I can't recall the exact reason why I should think so, for example when a passage in the book where the subject is discussed (and which everyone remembers) doesn't address everything, but some random forgotten footnote elsewhere does.
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Old 04-03-2017, 09:08 AM   #9
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In a linguistic side note, as a consequence of a discussion of a thread on Celebrian, a few years ago and at a time when my kindle was functioning, I did a search on Tolkien's use of torment and torture. in the Lord of the Rings I can't get the figures this minute but I am fairly sure that he used torment many times (about 200 if my memory serves) and torture only about four. The words are closely related reaching (Middle) English from Latin via French and meaning - near synonyms but with torment perhaps more encompassing psychological suffering while torture focuses on the practice of extracting information or behaviour or imposing punishment by inflicting pain. It is a fairly narrow distinction but Tolkien of course would be more aware than most of the nuances of his raw material and stated his preference for some (near) synonyms over others such as smite over strike. Certainly the overwhelming preference for torment over torture suggests that Tolkien was not using it as an euphemism for rape in connection with Celebrian.

However whatever his reasoning between word choice, But torment with the extra stress on psychological suffering does fit with it being more than was necessary for practical purposes. This does make it more remarkable that he retained the map and key since lower rank captors would be likely to take them because they could rather than because they had need of them or thought they had intrinsic value. Of themselves the key and map might have seemed unremarkable - merely the key to a treasure chest somewhere that no one of orcish mentality would bother to open by any other method than violence. And without the moon letters the map is just a map isn't it? Showing places that were known and I doubt many of the servants of Sauron valued documents highly. After all a staff is usually just a prop for age.
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Old 04-03-2017, 09:28 AM   #10
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Boots Presumably, Sauron dealt with Thrain himself

I'm presuming that, because of Thrain's rank, Sauron dealt with him himself; so he took the Ring off him, and didn't bother with anything else, this being the specific item he wanted. He then left Thrain to die.

With that in mind, I think that Sauron's lesser servants would have then left Thrain alone, that being what the Big Boss had done. After all, there are far less repressive organisations in which people take a lead from the top person's behaviour.

I'm also presuming that Thrain held on in the very remote possibility that someone from outside might come in, to whom he could give the map and key. That happened in the case of Gandalf; so when Thrain gave him the map and key, he was able to die having, in this small way, done his duty as the head of the House of Durin. As The Hobbit later showed, this devotion to duty paid off.
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Old 04-03-2017, 10:40 AM   #11
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Yes, given that it seems as if Sauron was actively looking for Thráin, hence him being pursued "as soon as he was abroad", one might imagine that his immediate captors knew that he was a person of special interest and took him straight to their master without delay. While a lesser prisoner might have been robbed first, Sauron may even have given special orders for Thráin not to have been. Note that Grishnákh had orders for the captured hobbits, whom Sauron expected to have the One, that "The prisoners are NOT to be searched or plundered." While the recovery of the Seven was not as important as the recovery of the One, it's possible that similar orders were given about any high-priority targets. Sauron may have had it declared to the forces pursuing Thráin that any important-looking Dwarf they captured was to be brought to him immediately without being searched.

It might also be possible that, given his mistrust of his servants and his need to keep his intelligence close, that Sauron also forbade his servants from communicating with Thráin even after he was finished with him; he was to be imprisoned and ignored.
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