Mirror, mirror on the wall. On Sauron’s appearance.

Sauron should be thought of as very terrible. The form that he took was

that of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

In his earlier incarnation he was able to veil his power

(as Gandalf did) and could appear as a commanding

figure of great strength of body and supremely

royal demeanour and countenance.

(Letters, № 246)

Readers of The Lord of the Rings are well aware of Sauron’s being the chief menace of the Second and Third Ages after the capture of Morgoth and the War of Wrath. What is rather obscure, though, is what the great Middle-earth adversary looked like. In his writings and letters Tolkien gave a few clues concerning the looks of Sauron, leaving all the rest to his readers’ imagination.

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On Sauron’s motives.

Being the chief villain of the Second and Third Ages, Sauron sparks numerous questions concerning his motives. How did he become the evil figure we know him to be? Why did he run the risk of transferring a great amount of his inherent power into the One Ring knowing that it could lead to his destruction? Let us look at his downfall and motives through Tolkien’s own stories and letters.

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The tower of adamant.

…Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower, which suffered no rival,

and laughed at flattery, biding its time,

secure in its pride and its immeasurable strength.

(Two Towers, p. 192)

Just like Angband in the First Age became the citadel of Morgoth — the embodiment of evil and the Dark Lord’s tyranny in Middle-earth, so did Barad-dûr rise to fill its place in the Second and Third Ages as the fortress of Sauron. In many ways the Dark Tower of Mordor, built by once Morgoth’s most trusted lieutenant, became the descendant of Angband, sharing traits with it, but also being the reflection of Sauron’s own power, character, ambitions and evil. Read more

Feline fall from favour: cats turn villains in Tolkien’s stories.

In the letter sent to Allen & Unwin in reply to a cat-breeder, who wished to use names from The Lord of the Rings to name her cats, Tolkien famously said: “I fear that to me Siamese cats belong to the fauna of Mordor….” (Letter 219).  It is hard to tell whether the Professor’s comment referred only to the cats of this particular breed, or expressed his general attitude towards felines, but cats in Tolkien’s literary works are presented mostly in a negative light.  Read more

Under the cover of darkness.

Our Enemy’s devices oft serve us in his despite.

(Return of the King, p.120)

Dark Lords of Middle-earth had a full arsenal of means to wield wars against enemies. Their weapons were not limited to physical objects, like swords, spears or hammers, but also included other, less tangible, means of instilling dread and despair into the hearts of their opponents. One of such means was darkness. Read more

Sea the majestic (Part I). 

Seas have always instilled fascination and deep respect in those encountering them.  Immense and ever dynamic, the sea is both – dangerous and comforting, magnetic and frightening. The role of the sea in different cultures is hard to overestimate. Seas are held in awe by many: they are ever present in myths, legends and traditions of different nations; they have been essential for trade and cultural exchange; mariners are admired and revered while maritime nations are among the best-off.  Read more