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Victariongreyjoy 10-17-2020 01:29 PM

Why was Sauron so powerful during his war against Celebrimbor and the elves?
In the books, there was not mention of any forces except orcs that he used against Eregion. We would think Celebrimbor and the Noldor would have no problem crushing the orcs. Or were the numbers of Sauron's orcs just too massive for them to overcome?

Inziladun 10-17-2020 01:44 PM

The latter. Quantity often beats quality, exampled by Isildur's war-hardened party being overcome by a superior force of inferior fighters.

Huinesoron 10-17-2020 03:27 PM

Also, Sauron knew the city, and - given how much we know Celebrimbor worked with "Annatar" - it's possible he actually had a hand in building its defences. Which certainly gives him an advantage when it comes to pulling them back down.


Gardener of Gamwich 10-29-2020 05:25 AM

From Appendix B: "The Tale of Years", Second Age:

c. 1500 The Elven-smiths instructed by Sauron reach the height of their skill. They begin the forging of the Rings of Power.

c. 1590 The Three Rings are completed in Eregion.

c. 1600 Sauron forges the One Ring in Orodruin. He completes the Barad-dr. Celebrimbor perceives the designs of Sauron.

1693 War of Elves and Sauron begins. The Three Rings are hidden.

1695 Sauron's forces invade Eriador. Gil-galad sends Elrond to Eregion.

1697 Eregion laid waste. Death of Celebrimbor. The gates of Moria are shut. Elrond retreats with remnant of the Noldor and founds the refuge of Imladris.

Is it worth considering that this is the first time Sauron has gone to war wielding the power of the One Ring?

With its power he will only be defeated by the might of Numenor (twice), by the Last Alliance and finally through the Ring's destruction.

Near the beginning of the same section of Appendix B we are told, "Later, some of the Noldor went to Eregion..."

Once Eregion was founded and began its prosperous partnership with Durin's Folk in Moria there may have been more migration there from Lindon. But are we ever given any information regarding its population at the beginning of Sauron's attack?

In Unfinished Tales, History of Galadriel and Celeborn we learn that,"When Sauron learned of the repentance and revolt of Celebrimbor his guise fell and his wrath was revealed; and gathering a great force he moved over Calenardhon (Rohan) to the invasion of Eriador in the year 1695. When news of this reached Gil-galad he sent out a force under Elrond Half-elven; but Elrond had far to go and Sauron turned north and made at once for Eregion."

Certainly Gil-galad did not deem there to be enough elves to defend Eregion without help. As it turned out even Elrond's assistance wasn't enough.

It could be argued that Sauron, with an over-whelming force of orcs and trolls, simply rolled over the region. But should we not also consider the impact of the One Ring. Surely it played a role. But what?

We know from LoTR that Sauron could whip his troops up into a fighting frenzy without the Ring, so what would have been the added impact of his bearing it into battle that first time. I would love to hear other people's thoughts as to how the power of the One Ring would have manifested itself when it was on Sauron's finger.

Mithadan 10-30-2020 08:26 AM

Gardener, you pose some good questions.

Clearly, Sauron's forces in the Second Age were overwhelming, at least until the Numenoreans came into the picture. Then Numenor's overwhelming force outweighed Sauron's overwhelming force regardless of the Ring. Even after Numenor fell, the West was able to scrape together sufficient force to defeat Sauron, again with the Ring.

To repeat comments from an earlier thread, found here, JRRT says in Letter 131 that the One "contained the powers of all the others, and controlled them, so 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." But the Elves simply took off their Rings, so, other than perhaps control over the Ringwraiths (it seems that the One did not effectively control the Dwarves that wore the Seven), the effect of the Ring was really minimal during the wars of the Second Age.

In contrast, during the Third Age, Rivendell and Lorien may have relied heavily upon the power of the Elven Rings to establish and maintain those realms and if Sauron recovered the One, his force would have been enough to defeat Men with the Elves diminished due to the loss of the powers or Sauron's control of their Rings.

Galin 10-30-2020 09:36 AM

Numenor plus Glorfindel, as the latter was "(though not yet said) pre-eminent in the war in Eriador."


William Cloud Hicklin 10-30-2020 09:37 AM

I agree, but would add that the Nine were not yet Ringwraiths at the time of the First War of the Rings; they hadn't yet been en-wraithened by long possession. But they were "kings, warriors and sorcerors," now wielding Rings of Power.....

In fact, it's not entirely clear when Sauron handed out the Nine and the Seven; he didn't even have them until after he sacked Eregion.

Mithadan 10-30-2020 09:44 AM

True, we do not know when the Nine and the Seven were handed out. But if they were not distributed during the Second Age and the Elves put aside the Three, then what power did the One exert?

William Cloud Hicklin 10-30-2020 12:12 PM

We have at least one clue:the Nazgul were first sighted around SA 2250, or roughly 550 years after the First War. Now, I have no idea how long it took a Great King of Men to become a wraith, but it couldn't have been less than a couple of centuries, could it? On ther other hand, I doubt he would resist as long as Gollum (some 500 years). In other words, passing out rings was something Sauron decided to do after his attempt at conquest by brute force had been thwarted.

Obviously, Sauron would only have given Rings of Power out so long as he held the One and could control them, so deff. in the Second Age.

Gardener of Gamwich 11-01-2020 05:51 AM

Further thoughts
Mithadan thank you so much for your reply. You know I'd never thought about it like that before the purpose of the Ring being solely to control the other Great Rings.

But of course, control of the other Great Rings is what the rhyme says and what the rhyme claims the One Ring gives power over the Nine, Seven and Three. But that's the "One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them..." part.

I mustn't forget the second part of the rhyme and, indeed, the inscription on the One Ring itself: "One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them".

Now looking at the excerpt from Letter 131 (again thanks Mithadan) I note the One "contained the powers of all the others..." I find that a bit confusing, but is "containing the powers of all the others" what is meant in the "bind them" part of the poem?

In "Shadow of the Past" Gandalf gives further information about the nature of the One Ring:
"He only needs the One; for he made that Ring himself, it is his, and he let a great part of his own former power pass into it, so that he could rule all the others. If he recovers it, then he will command them all again, wherever they be, even the Three, and all that has been wrought with them will be laid bare, and he will be stronger than ever."

If the One Ring's purpose is indeed limited to controlling the other Great Rings, as per Gandalf's statement, it makes Sauron's whole strategy regarding rings of power very intriguing. That strategy, (as I understand it), is to deceive the Elves in Eregion into creating the rings of power, particularly the Great Rings. By forging the One Ring, Sauron could use it to ensnare the leaders of the other races and to use the combined powers of all the other Great Rings to forward his designs.

In invoking this strategy, Sauron, as one of the Maiar of Aul, before his ensnarement by Melkor, would bring considerable skill to the forging of the rings of power and those skills, offered to the Elves by Sauron wearing the fair guise of Annatar, would be welcomed in Eregion (blinded by their thirst for knowledge, these Noldor did not have the clarity of vision of Gil-galad and Galadriel in how they perceived and dealt with "Annatar"). And Sauron's strategy starts off very well indeed doesn't it. The Nine and the Seven, and then the Three are created.

But when Sauron springs his trap by creating the One Ring, Celebrimbor senses it and hides the Three (which were made by him alone after Annatar's departure is that correct?) , thus undermining Sauron's grand strategy. And Sauron is furious understandably so.

Gandalf reiterates how much power Sauron poured into the One Ring in "The Last Debate",
"If [the Ring] is destroyed, then [Sauron] will fall; and his fall will be so low that none can foresee his arising ever again. For he will lose the best part of the strength that was native to him in his beginning, and all that was made or begun with that power will crumble, and he will be maimed for ever, becoming a mere spirit of malice that gnaws itself in the shadows, but cannot again grow or take shape. And so a great evil of this world will be removed."

Sauron must have had great faith in his Eregion rings of power strategy if he was willing to commit so much of his innate power to create a device solely devoted to controlling the other Great Rings. Doing so made him very vulnerable and was indeed his downfall.

And the length of time involved in the whole thing strongly reflects the huge potential victory that Sauron saw in the creation and then domination of the Great Rings one worth the investment of that innate power in the One Ring's creation. He began to stir in c SA 500 and c SA 1000 took Mordor and began building the Barad-dr [And an aside from that, doesn't Elrond say in "The Council of Elrond" that the foundations of the Barad-dr were built using the power of the One Ring. Hmm.]. In c SA 1200, he begins his seduction of the Elves. It won't be until SA 1600 that the Great Rings are complete and Sauron springs the trap. So we're seeing a strategy formed somewhere over a 150-year period that then took fully 400 years to go from initiation to maturity. (A fleeting time for a Maiar or the Eldar I concede.)

We know that if another great leader in the Middle-earth Eldar, Istari, Dnedain wore the One Ring and learned to control it, that they would wield immense power and could potentially dethrone Sauron. Following the theory, derived by strict interpretation of Gandalf's statement in Shadow of the Past, of the One Ring's power being solely over the other Great Rings, does this mean that had Aragorn claimed the One Ring, as Sauron suspects he has after the defeat at Pelennor, Aragorn's new power would be to control the Nazgul, any Dwarves wearing the remaining Seven (had any survived), and Elrond, Galadriel and Gandalf? Would the power he would wield against Sauron be the combined power of the other surviving Great Rings (even if Sauron physically held the Nine and the remaining Seven in the Barad-dr)? If the keepers of the Three took their Rings off would he be denied their power?

Maybe it might clarify the matter if, instead of asking what power Sauron would have wielded wearing the One Ring during the attack on Eregion as I first did, we were to consider how the power of the One Ring would have manifested itself if it was on Aragorn's finger (after he had learned to wield the power) during the assault on the Black Gate? What could he do with the combined power of the surviving Great Rings e.g.
Mental powers over his foes and his allies diminishing the morale of the former and heartening the latter?
Construction/Infrastructure If Sauron used the One Ring to build the Barad-dr, could Aragorn have used it to repair the gates of Minas Tirith and re-build the bridge at Osgiliath?

I realise there are no real answers to this, just conjecture. But I would be interested in any informed conjecture.

And I think I had better stop there.

As a newcomer to this forum, I would welcome any guidance about whether I'm straying off subject and should be posting this elsewhere. In a way though I think this is just building on the earlier discussion and will actually feed back to the answer to the original question regarding "Why was Sauron so powerful during his war against the Celebrimbor and the elves?"

William Cloud Hicklin 11-08-2020 04:11 PM

Well, Tolkien also says (in Letters IIRC) that one of the One Ring's powers was that of Command: an Aragorn wielding the One could not only have forced Rohan and Gondor to do his bidding, but possibly could have turned the Dunlendings, Haradrim and Easterlings as well. Depending on the level of his fall, he could perhaps even have suborned orcs to his service!

All of Sauron's victories, aside from the corruption of Numenor, were accomplished by brute force- whether commanded by him directly, or through proxies like Angmar and the Wainriders. As much as anything, Sauron's desire was to be a lord of slaves. The Ring would have reflected the will that made it- see what happened at the Black Gate when the Ring was destroyed? (note that even in the War of the Last Alliance, Sauron didn't come out to play until all was lost, expending his servants' lives instead)

Gardener of Gamwich 11-11-2020 10:17 AM

Thank you William That's very helpful. Your response is addressed, at least partially, below.

First thing, and most importantly, to go back to the original question: Why was Sauron so powerful during his war against the Celebrimbor and the elves? I originally suggested that Sauron's possession of the One Ring should be considered as a possible factor. The discussion that has followed suggests it was not a factor and I can see why. Mithadan pointed out that without the Elves wearing the Three, the One Ring would have had less power in the Second Age than in the Third Age when the Three were being worn/had been used during Sauron's absence to protect and enhance Imladris, Lorien and Lindon.

I suppose we can take Mithadan's argument even further. In "On The Rings Of Power And The Third Age" in the Silmarilion we see that after Eregion was laid waste, "...Sauron gathered into his hands all the remaining Rings of Power; and he dealt them out to the other peoples of the Middle-earth, hoping thus to bring under his sway all those that desired secret power beyond the measure of their kind." So when Sauron's forces invade Eregion, the Seven and the Nine are still sitting in Celebrimbor's fortress and the Three are secreted away in various Elven kingdoms.

William points out the Professor Tolkien stated that one of the One Ring's powers was that of "Command". So regardless of how much power the One Ring may have given Sauron by combining the powers of the undistributed/unworn Rings of Power (and let's for the moment follow Mithadan's argument that this would have been considerably less power than when they were being worn/had successfully corrupted their bearers) then what the One Ring would have allowed Sauron to do during the invasion of Eregion is command his already overwhelming forces to even greater fury on the attack.

I think that helps answer my original discussion point. I suppose the One Ring might have helped Sauron further embolden his troops, but that there is little doubt he would have succeeded in laying waste to Eregion without it. The answer to the original question just seems to be, in William's words, "brute force".

A couple of further thoughts resulting from William's post:

Considering William's response regarding what the One Ring's power of "Command" would have allowed Aragorn to do had he claimed and mastered it. As well as potentially suborning the Orcs, could he not have suborned the Nazgul as well? In "The Hunt For the Ring" in Unfinished Tales when the Nazgul arrive at Isengard, Saruman says to the Lord of the Nazgul: "I know what you seek though you do not name it. I have it not, as surely its servants perceive without telling; for if I had it then you would bow down before me and call me Lord."

And then William's reference to "what happened at the Black Gate when the Ring was destroyed". I think what William is referring to is the fact that when the One Ring is destroyed, the orcs of Sauron's army fighting at the Black Gate are suddenly left bereft of direction and will to fight and run away in confusion or even slay themselves. "The Power that drove them on and filled them with hate and fury was wavering, its will was removed from them; and now looking in the eyes of their enemies they saw a deadly light and were afraid."

But the effect of the destruction of the One Ring is described still further:

In the next paragraph:"Then all the Captains of the West cried aloud, for their hearts were filled with a new hope in the midst of darkness."

And in the next chapter. "And the shadow departed, and the Sun was unveiled, and light leaped forth; and the waters of the Anduin shone like silver, and in all the houses of the City men sang for the joy that welled up in their hearts from what source they could not tell."

And in the unpublished Epilogue (and forgive the length of the quote but I love every word please indulge me):
"March the twenty-fifth!" [Sam] said. "This day seventeen years ago, Rose wife, I didn't think I should ever see thee again. But I kept on hoping."
"I never hoped at all, Sam," [Rose] said, "not until that very day; and then suddenly I did. About noon it was, and I felt so glad that I began singing. And mother said: "Quiet, lass! There's ruffians about." And I said: "Let them come! Their time will soon be over. Sam's coming back." And you came."
"I did." said Sam. "To the most belovedest place in all the world. To my Rose and my garden."

It was when I read that Epilogue quote for the first time a couple of years ago and thought about it that I made a connection between Rose suddenly feeling so glad that she began singing and the people of Gondor singing "...for the joy that welled up in their hearts from what source they could not tell."

Seems to me it shows the power/influence of the One Ring/Shadow, extending from Mordor across Gondor and Rohan all the way to the Shire (and maybe on across Lindon); and I suppose, north across Rhovanion, south across Far Harad and east to the Sea of Rhn and beyond.

I wonder if Nob, Bob and Barliman (despite the situation in Bree) and Tom and Goldberry all started singing too? (Not that Tom needed much encouragement.)

William Cloud Hicklin 11-12-2020 08:31 AM


Considering William's response regarding what the One Ring's power of "Command" would have allowed Aragorn to do had he claimed and mastered it. As well as potentially suborning the Orcs, could he not have suborned the Nazgul as well? In "The Hunt For the Ring" in Unfinished Tales when the Nazgul arrive at Isengard, Saruman says to the Lord of the Nazgul: "I know what you seek though you do not name it. I have it not, as surely its servants perceive without telling; for if I had it then you would bow down before me and call me Lord."
That opens a whole 'nuther can o' worms, because while the One Ruled the Nine, the Nine were by this time in Sauron's personal possession, and so he had direct and primary control over the wills of the Nazgul, even without the One. How that would have played out if an Aragorn or Galadriel (or Gandalf!) had claimed the One and thus in some way 'rule' over the Nine Rings, even while Sauron physically held them, is interesting. But here is what Tolkien had to say about the case of a person of lesser stature (Frodo) claiming the One:


When Sauron was aware of the seizure of the Ring his one hope was in its power: that the claimant would be unable to relinquish it until Sauron had time to deal with him. Frodo too would then probably, if not attacked, have had to take the same way: cast himself with the Ring into the abyss. If not he would of course have completely failed. It is an interesting problem: how Sauron would have acted or the claimant have resisted. Sauron sent at once the Ringwraiths. They were naturally fully instructed, and in no way deceived as to the real lordship of the Ring. The wearer would not be invisible to them, but the reverse; and the more vulnerable to their weapons. But the situation was now different to that under Weathertop, where Frodo acted merely in fear and wished only to use (in vain) the Ring's subsidiary power of conferring invisibility. He had grown since then. Would they have been immune from its power if he claimed it as an instrument of command and domination?

Not wholly. I do not think they could have attacked him with violence, nor laid hold upon him or taken him captive; they would have obeyed or feigned to obey any minor commands of his that did not interfere with their errand – laid upon them by Sauron, who still through their nine rings (which he held) had primary control of their wills. That errand was to remove Frodo from the Crack. Once he lost the power or opportunity to destroy the Ring, the end could not be in doubt – saving help from outside, which was hardly even remotely possible.
--Letter No. 246

Gardener of Gamwich 11-12-2020 10:34 AM

Thank you for this William.

I am beginning to think I'd better ask for a book of Tolkien's Letters for Christmas. Is there a particular edition of the collection you would recommend? Many thanks.

William Cloud Hicklin 11-12-2020 04:28 PM

There really are only two "editions:" the original, and more recent printings with a much better index. The actual letters are the same.

Although a new, expanded edition was proposed, including numerous letters which have come to light since 1981, the Estate decided against it so for now the Carpenter volume is it.

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