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This article is about Sauron. For the commonly-used symbol, see Eye of Sauron.

Much of this article relates to the final versions of Middle-earth's history, and as such may contain discrepancies with The Silmarillion. See LOTR:Canon for a discussion. This subject's portrayal in earlier or alternative versions is discussed in the Earlier versions of the legendarium section.

"Now Sauron's lust and pride increased, until he knew no bounds, and he determined to make himself master of all things in Middle-earth, and to destroy the Elves, and to compass if he might, the downfall of Númenor. He brooked no freedom nor any rivalry, and he named himself Lord of the Earth. A mask he still could wear so that if he wished he might deceive the eyes of Men, seeming to them wise and fair. But he ruled rather by force and fear, if they might avail; and those who perceived his shadow spreading over the world called him the Dark Lord and named him the Enemy; and he gathered under his government all the evil things of the days of Morgoth that remained on earth or beneath it; and the Orcs were at his command and multiplied like flies."
The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"

Sauron (Quenya; [ˈsaʊron] or [ˈθaʊron]), the eponymous Lord of the Rings, was the greatest subversive Maia, maker of the One Ring, renowned disciple of Aulë, and chief agent of Morgoth in the Elder Days. After Morgoth's ousting by the Valar, Sauron became the second Dark Lord and sought to conquer most of Arda through guileful trickery, with the Rings of Power or with overwhelming armies.

At the end of the Second Age, Sauron caused the Downfall of Númenor, and was then defeated in Mordor in the War of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men united under Gil-galad and Elendil. In the final battle, Isildur managed to cut the One Ring from his hand, dismantling his corporeal form and robbing him of much of his power. After centuries lying dormant, rebuilding strength and stirring awake evil things, Sauron returned to power late in the Third Age and strove to dominate Middle-earth. In the end he was vanquished at the destruction of his Ring in Mount Doom.

To the Sindar of Beleriand, Sauron was known as Gorthaur in the First Age.

Quick Answers

Who is Sauron? toggle section
Sauron was originally Mairon, a Maia of Aulë the Smith, created before history. In the Second Age, he invented the One Ring to help him attain dominance of Middle-earth. In the Third Age, after he lost the Ring, he never appeared openly, but was known for his Great Eye, the Eye of Sauron, which few could endure and which sought the world for his One Ring. He is the greatest worker of evil in Tolkien's writings after the demise of Morgoth at the end of the First Age.
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Who did Sauron disguise himself as? toggle section
In the Second Age, Sauron frequently disguised in "a fair form", and took the false identity of Annatar, "Lord of gifts", among the Elves and in the kingdom of Númenor, which he intended & succeeded to destroy from within. In the Third Age, after his physical form was hampered by the loss of the One Ring, he concealed his identity again, as the "Necromancer", temporarily, until declaring his presence openly by the time of The Lord of the Rings.
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Why is Sauron evil? toggle section
Sauron's evil grew from his original servitude to Morgoth, the world's first Dark Lord, into his own obsession for "mastering" all things in Middle-earth through wicked means. After Morgoth's fall, Sauron was fully autonomous and committed, for two Ages, to gaining tyrannical control over Middle-earth. He is twisted, sadistic, and cruel. No redeeming potential or good affections are mentioned by Tolkien, following the First Age.
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Is Sauron the same race as Gandalf? toggle section
Sauron and Gandalf were both Maiar: a supernatural race that serve the Valar, and many Maiar assumed different forms. Gandalf is one of five Wizards, a group of Maiar originally sent to Middle-earth by the Valar to aid the resistance against Sauron, and were given the appearance of old men.
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Sauron was neither a human nor an Elf, but he could have resembled either in his fair disguise in the Second Age, particularly as Annatar.
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"In all the deeds of Melkor the Morgoth upon Arda, in his vast works and in the deceits of his cunning, Sauron had a part, and was only less evil than his master in that for long he served another and not himself."
The Silmarillion, Valaquenta, "Of the Enemies"


Sauron's original name was Mairon. He was the mightiest Maia of the Vala Aulë the Smith, and learned much from Aulë of smithing and handiwork, becoming a great craftsman and "mighty in the lore of" Aulë's people.[2] He was among the most powerful Maiar.

In the Days before days, Mairon was as Eru had created him: good and trustworthy. His greatest virtue was his love of order and perfection, and dislike of anything wasteful. However, this would also prove to be the cause of his downfall, as Mairon saw in Melkor the will and power that would help him achieve his personal ends quicker than if he pursued them alone. However, while Melkor wanted to either control or destroy Middle-earth itself, Mairon's desire was to dominate the minds and wills of its creatures for what he perceived to be their own benefit. To see his marvelous designs through, Mairon sought to increase his innate power and this power in time became the end in itself; so he joined with Melkor, soon becoming his chief agent.

After allying with Melkor, Mairon maintained apparent fidelity to the Valar, but secretly informed his master of his dealings with them. When Melkor established his strongholds in Middle-earth, Mairon left Valinor and openly declared his allegiance, becoming a recognized foe of the Valar.

First Age

As Melkor's lieutenant, Sauron commanded the fortress of Angband.[3] It was with Sauron's aid that Melkor was able to breed Orcs, in mockery of the Children of Ilúvatar.[4] At the beginning of the Battle of the Powers, Sauron feigned a resistance against the Valar at Angband, allowing Melkor to muster forces at Utumno unnoticed.[5] After both Angband and Utumno were sacked and Melkor captured, Sauron was not found; in their haste to both capture the Dark Lord and remove him from Middle-earth, the Valar overlooked Sauron's escape.[3]

Sauron "controlled things" in Melkor's absence:[6] Angband's reconstruction began, and the Orcs there multiplied under his command.[4] Possibly aware of the Great March, Sauron may have harried the Elves on their journey, directing Melkor's servants abroad or affecting the weather.[7] The Sindar Elves in Beleriand called him Gorthaur, meaning "dread abomination",[8] while others of the Eldar had named him Sauron, meaning "the abhorred" or "the abominable" (a mockery of his original name). Under Sauron's regency, Angband was almost ready by YT 1495,[6] with Orc armies already prepared by him when Morgoth (Melkor) returned.[4]

Eric Faure-Brac - Morgoth and Sauron

Sauron as Morgoth's lieutenant in the First Age, by Eric Faure-Brac

Towards the end of the First Age, the Ñoldor Elves left the Blessed Realm of Valinor in the Utter West (against the counsel of the Valar) in order to wage war on Morgoth following his theft of the Silmarils of Fëanor, enchanted gems that glowed with light from the now-destroyed Trees of Valinor. In that war, Sauron was counted as the "greatest of [Morgoth's] servants that have names" and was soon feared as a lord of phantoms and dreadful beasts, a shape-shifter and sorcerer.

When Morgoth left Angband much later to corrupt the newly awakened Atani (Men), Sauron directed the war against the Elves.[9] Commanding "a host of Balrogs" by one account,[10] he seized the Elvish isle of Tol Sirion from its warden, Orodreth, and turned it into Tol-in-Gaurhoth, the Isle of werewolves.[11] There he established himself as the Lord of werewolves, with both Draugluin, sire of the werewolves, and Thuringwethil, a Vampire herald, at his side.

After the Dagor Bragollach in FA 456, Sauron was bidden by Morgoth to destroy Barahir, ally of Finrod, King of Nargothrond; Sauron ensnared Gorlim, who was captured by his hunters, and interrogated him about the outlaw-lord's location. Gorlim refused to tell them anything, even under torture, until Sauron himself came forth and bartered with the man. Gorlim asked for his wife Eilinel, whom he thought captured. Thus, Sauron agreed and Gorlim yielded the information. However, Morgoth's agent then revealed that Eilinel was dead, and he put Gorlim to death afterward. Sauron then sent Gorgol the Butcher's horde to slay Barahir and his company. Barahir's son, Beren, evaded this fate and after news of his deeds reached Morgoth, Sauron at the helm of an army of Orcs, werewolves and other fell beasts started hunting him.

In the Quest for the Silmaril, Beren and Finrod were captured by Sauron when they tried to sneak past Tol-in-Gaurgoth in Orc disguises. Sauron then defeated Finrod in a duel with songs of power, as told in The Lay of Leithian. Striping them of their stolen garb, he cast them into the dungeons where Werewolves devoured their companions; Morgoth's vassal hoped to terrify them into revealing their quest. When one of Sauron's Werewolves came to attack Beren, Finrod wrestled with and killed it, but died soon after of his injuries.

Sauron's defeat to Huan.

Sauron, as a werewolf, defeated by Huan - by Ted Nasmith

Soon afterward, Lúthien and Huan the wolfhound arrived at the bridge of Tol-in-Gaurhoth. Sauron sent his servants to capture Lúthien, but all were slain by Huan, including Draugluin, but he fled and told his master that Huan was there. Therefore, Sauron took the form of a werewolf and leaped to attack Lúthien, only to be intercepted and subdued by Huan. He yielded the tower to Lúthien and escaped in the form of a "vampire".[12]

After his defeat by Lúthien, Sauron played little part in the events of the First Age (possibly hiding from Morgoth's scorn or wrath). After his former master was defeated and taken to Valinor in chains, Sauron seemed to repent and plead Eönwë and the victorious Host of the West for mercy, although he may have only been daunted by their triumph. At the same time, Sauron was unwilling to return to the Utter West for judgment out of pride, and instead fled and hid somewhere in Middle-earth.[13]

Second Age

Forging of the One Ring

"A new shadow arises in the East. It is no tyranny of evil Men, as your son believes; but a servant of Morgoth is stirring, and evil things wake again. Each year it gains in strength, for most Men are ripe to its purpose."
Gil-galad, Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife

After remaining hidden and dormant for five centuries, Sauron began revealing himself once more, and by SA 1000 had gathered power and established himself in the land of Mordor, in eastern Middle-earth, and began building the dreaded Barad-dûr near Mount Doom. Soon he gathered under his government of Orcs, Trolls, and other creatures from the days of Morgoth; and Sauron corrupted certain peoples of Men such as the Easterlings and Haradrim with delusions of power and wealth. His passion for order had led him to desire to be a god-king, wielding "absolute temporal power over the whole world".

Annatar, Maureval

Annatar as imagined by Maureval

Although Sauron knew that Men were easier to sway, he sought to bring the Elves into his service, as they were far more powerful. By about SA 1500, Sauron put on a fair visage and called himself Annatar, the "Lord of Gifts". The Unfinished Tales tells that Annatar assumed the guise of an emissary of the Valar "anticipating the Istari".[14]

He befriended the Elf smiths of Eregion, including Celebrimbor (greatest of craftsmen, as he was descended from Fëanor), and counselled them in arts and magic. Not all the Elves trusted him, particularly Lady Galadriel, Elrond, and Gil-galad, High King of the Ñoldor. Some accounts say that he befriended the Elven smiths of Gwaith-i-Mírdain without the knowledge of Galadriel and Celeborn.[14] In one version of the story, Sauron developed a strong hold over Gwaith-i-Mírdain that he persuaded them to rebel against Galadriel and Celeborn which drove them to leave Eregion so he could work unopposed.[14]

This is the Master-ring, the One Ring to rule them all. This is the One Ring that he lost many ages ago, to the great weakening of his power. He greatly desires it – but he must not get it.
Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings, "The Shadow of the Past"

Eventually, Sauron gave the Elven smiths he worked with knowledge and encouragement to forge magic Rings, which he infused with potent spells without their knowledge. These included the great Rings of Power while he forged the One Ring in secret, to rule the Elvish rings. Upon that ring Sauron wrote in Tengwar the Black Speech inscription,

Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.

This translates as:

One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.

One Ring To Rule Them All

The One Ring worn by Sauron

However, as soon as he put on his Ring the Elves sensed his treachery, and removed their Rings and hid them. Having raised the fortress of Barad-dûr in Mordor in SA 1600, Sauron then prepared ninety years for open war; his gathering of armies was opposed by the two "powerful enemies behind his back" in the East and South.[15] The Elves managed to hide the three greatest of the Rings from him, but the other sixteen Rings of Power were either captured by Sauron, destroyed, or lost. To the Dwarves he had given Seven, but to Men he had given Nine, knowing that they would be the easiest to corrupt. The Dwarf-lords who received the Rings proved to be very resistant to their power, and neither "faded" nor became enslaved to Sauron's will. The Rings, however, created in them an insatiable lust for gold, which ultimately caused a great deal of grief for the Dwarves.

As Sauron predicted, the nine Men were all corrupted by their Rings and became the Nazgûl, Sauron's deadliest servants. Had the Elves not recognised Sauron's treachery and forsaken the power of their rings, the results would have been catastrophic. It seems that most of the native Men of Middle-earth succumbed to the power of the Ring once the Nazgûl were created, and if the Elves had been captured in this fashion, they would have become the slaves of Sauron. Thus Celebrimbor's resistance was of immense importance in the history of Middle-earth.

Annatar, Soni A-Hender

Annatar, by Soni Alcorn-Hender

Having grown "'greater', effectively" than Morgoth at the end,[16] Sauron conquered nearly all of Middle-earth, with only Gil-galad's realm of Lindon being safe from his grasp. At his height during the Accursed Years, became known as the Dark Lord to the Free Peoples. However, he had not expected the intervention of the Númenóreans, scions of the Edain (and partial descendants through Elros, of Beren and Lúthien). The armies of the King of Númenor, Tar-Minastir, defeated Sauron's forces in the Battle of the Gwathló in SA 1700. Beaten but not wholly vanquished, Sauron fled back to Mordor with only his bodyguard and began rebuilding his strength over the next centuries.

Towards the end of the Second Age, he was once again powerful enough to raise large armies to attempt to conquer Middle-earth. By this time, he assumed the titles of "Lord of the Earth" and "King of Men", angering the proud Kings of Númenor; the last ruler, Ar-Pharazôn, sought to compete with Sauron for the kingship of Arda.

Annatar, RD

Sauron's fair disguise, by Ralph Damiani

Life in Númenor

On the island of Númenor in the sea between Middle-earth and Valinor, Ar-Pharazôn mustered an astounding Númenórean army that rivalled Sauron's own. In SA 3261, the King landed in Umbar in Middle-earth with his troops and demanded that the Dark Lord bend the knee. Sauron could see clearly that even his most potent servants could not withstand the Númenóreans, and so came from Barad-dûr without any offer of battle. He assumed a fair form and flattered the King, but Ar-Pharazôn demanded that Sauron come back to Númenor as a hostage.

Sauron feigned unhappiness at this development but was secretly delighted, for this presented him with an opportunity to destroy the Númenóreans from within. After only a few short years in Númenor he grew from captive to the King's most trusted adviser, and nearly all the King's court fawned upon him. Drawing on their fear of Death, he converted many Númenóreans to the worship of Morgoth, saying that Morgoth had the power to save them from mortality. As his power and influence reached its peak, he raised a great Temple for Morgoth in which he performed human sacrifices to the Dark Lord. Finally, he convinced Ar-Pharazôn to rebel against the Valar and attack Valinor itself and claim it for himself.

But here, Sauron's cunning overreached itself, for Eru then directly intervened—Númenor was drowned under the sea, and the great navy of Númenor was destroyed and the army that reached Aman was buried under mountains of falling rock and said to be imprisoned in the Caves of the Forgotten. The world was bent, so that thereafter, only Elven-Ships could sail into the Utter West. Sauron's body was destroyed, but his spirit was not diminished, and he fled back to Mordor bearing the Ring, where he slowly rebuilt a new body and strength. Hereafter, he lost the ability to assume a fair shape, and ruled now through terror and force. A few Faithful Númenóreans led by Elendil were saved from the flood, and they founded two Realms in Exile, Arnor and Gondor, in Middle-earth.

SauronElendilGilGalad KipRsm

Sauron battling Elendil and Gil-galad on Mount Doom's slopes, by Kip Rasmussen

Loss of the Ring

After learning that Elendil, whom he especially hated, had survived and was ordering a realm on his borders, Sauron made war on Arnor and Gondor. He struck too soon, however, and had not restored most of his strength, whereas the Elven-king, Gil-galad, had increased his power in his absence. Therefore, Gil-galad allied with Elendil to create the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, and together they marched across Middle-earth to attack Sauron. They defeated his armies in the Battle of Dagorlad, and then invaded Mordor and laid siege to Barad-dûr for seven years. Finally, Sauron himself came forth and dueled with both Elendil and Gil-galad, slaying them both single-handedly; however, he himself was overthrown in the process. Then Isildur, son of Elendil, took up his father's broken sword, Narsil, and used it to cut the One Ring from Sauron's finger. While Sauron's physical body was destroyed, his spirit endured and fled. But his campaign to defeat the free peoples had seemingly failed, with his greatest weapon having been taken from him.

Sauron's destruction

Sauron defeated, after the One Ring was cut from his hand

But while Isildur had taken the Ring, he could not bring himself to destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom where it was forged, but kept it for himself. He was eventually betrayed by it a few years later, and slain by Orcs at the Gladden Fields. The Ring fell into the Gladden Fields, and was lost for over two millennia.

Third Age

Despite this defeat, Sauron still was not vanquished totally. Though greatly weakened, and in non-corporeal form, he still existed due to having poured most of his native power, strength, and will into the One Ring. Thus, as long as the Ring remained, so would Sauron, and in the first millennium of the Third Age he lay in hiding, slowly recovering strength until he securely regained some extent of a physical form.

The Necromancer of Dol Guldur

The Necromancer in Dol Guldur

Sauron's appearance as "the Necromancer"

"Before you could get round in the South, you would get into the land of the Necromancer, and even you, Bilbo, won't need me to tell you tales of that black sorcerer. I don't advise you to go anywhere near the places overlooked by his dark tower!"
Gandalf, The Hobbit', "Queer Lodgings"

In TA 1000, Sauron began to act in the world again, occupying the stronghold of Dol Guldur, the Hill of Sorcery, in southern Mirkwood in TA 1050, and working in secret. There, he used the guise of a dreaded sorcerer, called "the Necromancer", and the Elves did not yet discern that he was the Dark Lord. Around the same time, the Valar sent five Maiar as the Order of Wizards, to rally the Free Peoples of the World in countering his potential re-emergence. Though Sauron dismissed their presence "as a mere effort of defeated imperialists" (seemingly justified in the case of their chief, Saruman), Gandalf arose among them as his chief enemy.

While the Dark Lord continued to scheme and gather strength, the Nine reappeared in TA 1300, and began steadily assaulting the Númenórean kingdoms in exile on his behalf, ultimately destroying the North-kingdom of Arnor and gravely weakening the South-kingdom of Gondor. In the same period, foul things that still walked the earth or beneath it were stirred: the Northern Orcs of the Misty Mountains grew bolder in their incursions, while secretly raising strongholds and barring the passes between Eriador and the Vales of Anduin "according to the plan of their master in Dol Guldur"; the Dragons laid waste to the Dwarven mansions, consuming three of the Seven Dwarf-rings and claiming the treasure hoards. Guided by the emissaries of the Dark Lord, the Easterlings also renewed their bitter feud with the Gondorians and Northmen, launching fresh attacks on the western lands.

Suspecting that Sauron had indeed returned and that his hand coordinated the steady resurgence of evil, such as the actions of the Nazgûl, Gandalf infiltrated Dol Guldur in TA 2063 to confirm his suspicion, but the Dark Lord fled eastwards to conceal his identity. This marked the beginning of the Watchful Peace, which ended with Sauron's return to Dol Guldur in TA 2460 with renewed strength. In the same year, the One Ring was finally discovered by the Stoor Sméagol and his friend, Déagol. Sméagol murdered Déagol and took the Ring for himself. Sméagol was eventually so changed by the Ring's corruption he was given the name Gollum, ostracized from his people, and dwelt secluded, deep within the Misty Mountains. With Durin's Folk driven out from Khazad-dûm by Durin's Bane, Sauron began "to people Moria with his creatures" around TA 2480.

Following the sack of Erebor, Gandalf felt that Sauron would take advantage of Middle-earth's weakened state and attack Rivendell and Lothlórien or try regain Angmar; he also feared that Sauron "might use" Smaug "with terrible effect".[17] In TA 2850, Gandalf entered Dol Guldur again and finally discovered that the Necromancer was indeed the Dark Lord. Eventually, the White Council put forth their might and, with Saruman's approval, attacked Dol Guldur in TA 2941,[18][19] while Sauron and Smaug could not "help one another".[20] Without the One Ring in his possession and facing the combined power of the Three Elven Rings and skill of the White Wizard, the Dark Lord could draw on only the smallest fraction of his strength, such that his adversaries were able to drive him from the fortress with relative ease. However, having had ample time to prepare, Sauron abandoned Dol Guldur willingly, and returned secretly to Mordor, where he would openly declare himself in TA 2951, and began preparations for his final war to dominate Middle-earth.[19]


The Ringwraiths in The Fellowship of the Ring film

War of the Ring

Sauron bred immense armies of Orcs and enslaved Men from the east and south. He gathered his most terrifying servants, the Nazgûl, or Ringwraiths, each wearing one of the nine rings designed for mortal men. He adopted the symbol of a lidless eye, and as he exerted his will over Middle-earth, the Eye of Sauron became a symbol of power and fear.

Using the Palantír of Minas Ithil, Sauron communed with Saruman, who held the Orthanc-stone. The Dark Lord soon lured the White Wizard into his service with promises of power, intending to use him as an instrument to subjugate Rohan and form a second pincer to crush Gondor.

After Gollum was captured, Sauron had him tortured and learned that he once had a magic ring, and, from him, he heard the words Shire and Baggins. He deduced that Gollum's ring was the One Ring, and in TA 3017 he sent the dreaded Nazgûl, to find Shire and search for Baggins, so that the One Ring might be found and returned to him.

Meanwhile, Saruman, having "cheated his master" by trying to seize the Ring first, intensified his attacks against Théoden in hopes of delivering Rohan to Sauron and regaining favor. The White Wizard was defeated by the Rohirrim and Ents however, costing the Dark Lord one of his most powerful vassals, as well the large Uruk-hai army.


Aragorn reveals himself to Sauron through the palantír

Shortly after Saruman's defeat, Peregrin Took looked into the Orthanc-stone and accidentally communicated with Sauron, who believed that his treacherous servant had captured either the Halflings bearing the Ring, or some who might know of it. But shortly thereafter Aragorn took the palantír and revealed himself to Sauron, and seeing Aragorn, the Dark Lord concluded that his puppet had fallen and that the heir of Isildur possessed the One Ring. Fearing that his enemies would use the Ring against him, Sauron sped up his plans and attacked the city of Minas Tirith in Gondor sooner than he had planned, seeking to raze the city and crush the last human resistance to his rule before his enemies could fortify it, and to prevent the Men of the West uniting under one king.

Due to the combined efforts of Gondor, Rohan, and the Dúnedain of Arnor, Sauron's army was defeated. Despite still possessing more than enough military strength to destroy Minas Tirith and easily conquer Middle-earth once Gondor fell, doubt began to grow in Sauron. As such, he watched and waited, hoping for a period of strife between Aragorn and other potential Ringlords in which he could move out and take the Ring for himself.

"If it [the Ring] is destroyed, then he 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."
The Return of the King, "The Last Debate"

Despite their successful repulse of Sauron's armies at Minas Tirith, Gandalf and Aragorn knew that the bulk of Sauron's forces remained in Mordor, readying themselves for another, deadlier strike against the city. Filled as Mordor was with Sauron's troops, Frodo Baggins stood almost no chance of reaching Mount Doom undetected. In light of the situation, Aragorn called for a council consisting of the major commanders of all the forces present in Minas Tirith, and appointed Gandalf to be their commander until the crisis had passed. Gandalf made it clear to all those present that, despite their great victory, they ultimately could not hope to defeat Sauron's armies by force. Therefore, they had two options available. They could station their remaining force, considerably greater than it had been before the battle due to the reinforcements from Rohan and southern Gondor, at Minas Tirith and hope to endure Sauron's next attack. Or, they could take a force to the Black Gate and attempt to challenge Sauron directly.

This force, as Gandalf suggested, would only need to be great enough to offer battle, and the rest of their forces could remain behind to garrison Minas Tirith. This option, though suicidal for those involved, would serve to distract Sauron from gazing into his own land, through which the Ring Bearer would be traveling. Furthermore, Gandalf theorised that, once Sauron learned that a force too small to pose any real threat to him was on its way to the Black Gate to directly assault Mordor, he would likely believe that the leader of the attacking force would have the One Ring in their possession. Sauron would assume that the Ring itself would influence its wielder, who, in his pride and overconfidence in his newfound power, might be foolish enough to challenge Sauron's might with a force too small to assault Mordor in earnest.[21]

Their plot worked, as Sauron marshaled most of his remaining forces and marched them towards Udûn to crush the Men of the West and regain his prize. This action left the Plains of Gorgoroth largely unguarded, allowing Frodo and Sam to reach Mount Doom with far less difficulty than otherwise. However, once Frodo reached the Cracks of Doom, he finally succumbed to the power of the Ring, and put it on. Immediately, Sauron became aware of the halfling, and turned his gaze towards the mountain. He frantically sent the Ringwraiths to retrieve the Ring, but was too late, as Gollum, after taking the Ring from Frodo, slipped and fell to his death into the Cracks of Doom. The Ring was unmade. The earth shook as a great shock wave rippled across Mordor, and the foundations of Barad-dûr were finally destroyed, causing the great fortress to fall into ruin once and for all. The cone of Mount Doom burst apart in a cataclysmic eruption that consumed the eight remaining Nazgûl.[22]

Sauron's Destruction

Sauron's shadow looming over the Army of the West before being blown away

With his source of power gone, Sauron was utterly defeated and his armies were destroyed or scattered, bereft of the driving will behind their conquest. With the One Ring destroyed, Sauron was permanently robbed of his physical form, reducing him to a malevolent spirit that hovered above Mordor as a "huge shape of shadow, impenetrable, lightning-crowned, ...terrible but impotent," only to be blown away by a great wind;[23] he had ended on the same path as his old master, Morgoth, and was condemned to a sleepless impotent malice that feeds on itself.

With the destruction of the Ring, the vast majority of Sauron's being and his power was forever lost. With that, Sauron's spirit no longer had the power to create a new body and take shape again. Though his indestructible mind and being were bound forever to , Sauron had lost all power to effect his will upon the world and could never again grow in strength.


The name Sauron is Quenya, meaning "the Abhorred".[8] In Sindarin, it is translated as Gorthaur from gor ("horror, dread") and thaur ("abominable, abhorrent").[24]

His original name was Mairon ("the Admirable", from maira meaning "admirable, excellent"), a name he used while in Númenor, adding the title "Tar" for "Tar-Mairon" ("Excellent king").[25] The Númenóreans themselves gave him the name Zigúr, meaning "Sorcerer" in Adûnaic. When disguising himself in the Second Age, he called himself Annatar ("Lord of Gifts"; anna = gift and tar = king, lord), Artano ("High-smith"), and Aulendil ("Friend of Aulë").[14]

His name is sometimes seen written as Thauron (Þauron), an earlier pronunciation of Sauron.

Titles & epithets

  • The Dark Lord[26](also Dark Lord of Mordor or Second Dark Lord)
  • The Dark Power[8] (also Power of the Black Land)
  • The Black One
  • The Black Hand
  • The Black Master
  • The Base Master of Treachery[27]
  • The Deceiver[28]
  • The Enemy[26] (also One Enemy[29])
  • The Sorcerer[30]
  • The Necromancer
  • The Nameless (also Nameless One or Nameless Enemy)
  • The Unnamed
  • The Shadow[26] (also Shadow in the South, Shadow in the East, Shadow in the Forest)
  • The Ring-maker[31]
  • The Lord of the Rings (also Lord of the Ring or Ring-lord)
  • The Lord of Gifts
  • The Lord of Barad-dûr ( also Lord of the Dark Tower)
  • The Lord of Mordor (also Lord of the Black Land)
  • The Lord of the Earth[26] (also Lord of the World[32])
  • The Ruler[30] (also Ruler of Middle-earth[33])
  • God-King[34]
  • The King of Men[28]
  • The King[35] (also King of Kings[32])

In a letter to a reader, Tolkien once likened Sauron's role to that of the traditional Devil.[36]


Despite being the title character of The Lord of the Rings, Sauron never directly appears in the events of the trilogy. Nowhere is description given, in detail, of what he looks like.

In the time of The Silmarillion, however, Sauron was a shape-shifter, taking in one instance the forms of a serpent, a vampire, and a great wolf. After Morgoth's fall, Sauron appeared in fair form as "Annatar", the Lord of Gifts, and maintained this appearance until the fall of Númenor, in which he was unable to ever take a fair form ever again. The History of Middle-earth includes a passage vaguely describing how the Númenóreans saw him: "Upon that ship which was cast highest and stood dry upon a hill there was a man, but greater than any even of the race of Númenor in stature...And it seemed to men that Sauron was great; though they feared the light of his eyes.

Annatar S Morello

Annatar as seen by Sara Maria Morello

"To many he appeared fair, to others terrible; but to some evil."[37] A few clues are given as to Sauron's appearance as the Dark Lord, after he lost his ability to take a fair form: Tolkien described him in one of his letters as having the form of "a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic, and as an image of malice and hatred made visible". He apparently gave off great heat, such that Gil-galad was burned to death by his touch, and Isildur would describe Sauron's hand as "black, yet burning like fire".

Gollum, having apparently once seen Sauron directly, described him as having only four fingers on his black hand, suggesting that Sauron was unable to regenerate the finger from which Isildur took the One Ring, similarly to how the wounds Morgoth took from Fingolfin never healed.

In addition to his physical appearance, Sauron also apparently had an aura of incredible malevolence. A passage in The Silmarillion describes him as having a "dreadful presence" and daunting eyes.[12]

In one of his letters, Tolkien made a brief comparison between Sauron and the Devil.[38] Parallels can be drawn between the two based on their common triple status: fallen angel, deceiver and tyrant. Sauron's role as a personification of evil (similar to the Devil) is also supported by another letter regarding Sauron's personality:

In my story Sauron represents as near an approach to the wholly evil will as is possible. He had gone the way of all tyrants: beginning well, at least on the level that while desiring to order all things according to his own wisdom he still at first considered the (economic) well-being of other inhabitants of the Earth. But he went further than human tyrants in pride and the lust for domination, being in origin an immortal (angelic) spirit. Sauron desired to be a God-King, and was held to be this by his servants, by a triple treachery: 1. Because of his admiration of Strength he had become a follower of Morgoth and fell with him down into the depths of evil, becoming his chief agent in Middle-earth. 2. When Morgoth was defeated by the Valar finally he forsook his allegiance; but out of fear only; he did not present himself to the Valar or sue for pardon, and remained in Middle-earth. 3. When he found how greatly his knowledge was admired by all other rational creatures and how easy it was to influence them, his pride became boundless.
—J.R.R. Tolkien[39]

Philosopher Peter J. Kreeft proposes that Sauron is in fact the main character of The Lord of the Rings, inasmuch as he has the largest significance to the work of good and evil in the story, given his shared essence with the Ring; and given the title's referral to him.

Rui G, Sauron and Gil-galad

Sauron dueling Gil-galad, by Rui Gonçalves

Weapons & powers

Sauron was among the mightiest of the Maiar. Originally of Aulë's people, he acquired great "scientific" knowledge of the world's substances and how to use them. He would retain this knowledge throughout his reign as the Dark Lord in Middle-earth, using it to forge the One Ring and construct his fortress of Barad-dûr. Sauron also seemed primarily linked to the use of fire, and as Morgoth's chief lieutenant, his ability to tap into the fires in the Earth was of great value.

2014-10-10 00015

Sauron's fair disguise as "Annatar"

Among Sauron's chief powers were deception and disguise: In the First Age Sauron took on many forms. During his battle against Lúthien and Huan in The Silmarillion, he took on no less than four separate shapes: his "normal" shape, (some kind of terrible dark sorcerer), a great wolf, a serpent, and finally a vampire "dripping blood from his throat upon the trees" ("Of Beren and Lúthien," The Silmarillion). At the end of the First Age, Sauron took on a fair form to appeal to the Captain of the Host of the Valar and ask for pardon. In the Second Age, Sauron took up that fair form again and used it under the alias "Annatar" to deceive the Elves into creating the Rings of Power.

The level of deception required to fool the Elves of Eregion must have gone beyond simply taking on a fair form, since Sauron was literally instructing the Elves to make artifacts that, while capable of great good, were ultimately purposed for his own domination and were imbued with power to arrest the natural order of the world, yet the Elves were unaware of who they were dealing with until the eleventh hour, and only narrowly escaped his trap.

Centuries later, Sauron was able to deceive the Númenóreans and steer them directly to their own destruction under promises of eternal life. Such destruction is a testament to Sauron's manipulative nature and ability to twist the perceptions of his enemies. This power was more than just cunning manipulation, however, as Sauron was (like most Maia) a shapeshifter. He presumably took the form of an Elf when living among the Elves for centuries and there is a passage in The Lost Road which says that he first appeared among the Númenóreans in a "manlike" shape but far taller than normal and with a terrible light in his eyes.[37] However, this was an early version and later versions simply speak of his "fair form".

He was a great teacher in the ways of magic, able to offer training in necromancy and other arts of sorcery.

Coat of Arms of Sauron by Alexander Liptak

Depiction of Mordor's coat-of-arms, with the Eye of Sauron

An interesting dichotomy is set up between his deceptive nature and his symbol. While rarely appearing personally and deceiving all but the most wary, he represented himself as an all-seeing eye that could pierce all disguises.

The extent, nature, and specifics of Sauron's power are largely left to the imagination. Like Morgoth, he was capable of altering the physical substance of the world around him by mere effort of will.

Though he rarely stooped to engaging in combat himself, Sauron could be a fearsome opponent on the battlefield. He was able to slay Elendil and Gil-Galad single-handedly, though the duel left him weakened. The mere touch of his hands could inflict fatal burns.

After Sauron infused the greatest portion of his power, will and essense into the One Ring he simultaiously became both weaker and stronger. Stronger when he had the ring as the ring was made to augment the user's strength and confer additional abilities (such as bending the wills of those around him regardless of whether or not they were wearing a ring of power) and weaker when he was without it. Sauron's coporeal form was destroyed at least 3 times yet it was after the 3rd time when the ring was taken from him did it take the longest amount of time to regain his physical form and enough strength to marshal his forces while enacting his plans. While Sauron could not be permanently discorporated while the ring existed he was much weaker without it. However, due to the ring's existence, Sauron's power, unlike Morgoth's, was undiminished as Morgoth's great power was diluted when spread across Arda, but Sauron's was concentrated when placed within a single, small container.


The symbol of Sauron was the Eye of Sauron, which he began using after the Downfall of Númenor.[28] It was also called the Great Eye, the Eye of Barad-dûr, the Red Eye, the Lidless Eye, the Evil Eye and the Eye. It is clearly an exemplification of the Dark Lord's apparent all-seeing and all-knowing nature, stemmed by his vain belief in his God-King omnipotence.[34]

In other versions

Since the earliest versions of the Silmarillion legendarium (as detailed in The History of Middle-earth), Sauron underwent many changes. Prior to their publication, his origins and true identity were unclear to those without full access to J.R.R. Tolkien's notes, so that early editions of the The Complete Guide to Middle-earth described Sauron as "probably of the Eldar Elves".

The forerunner of his character was Tevildo, "Prince of Cats", who played the role taken by Sauron in the earliest version of the story of Beren and Lúthien told in The Book of Lost Tales Part Two. Tevildo was soon replaced by Thû, the Necromancer, whose name evolved to Gorthû, Sûr, and finally to Sauron. Gorthû in the form Gorthaur remained in The Silmarillion. In the last publication of Beren and Lúthien, Thû is given as an alias of Sauron. Another prototype could be Fankil, who occupied the position of Morgoth's agent and seduced Men to do evil deeds, roles undertaken by Sauron in the published works.

According to The Notion Club Papers (and associated writings), Sauron was known in Númenor as Zigûr. Notes published in Parma Eldalamberon revealed that his original name had been Mairon, and that he styled himself as Tar-Mairon throughout his reign of terror. In Tal-Elmar's tale, published in The Peoples of Middle-earth, he is mentioned as "the King".[35]

In adaptations

The Lord of the Rings film trilogy

"You know of what I speak, Gandalf. A great eye, lidless, wreathed in flame."
Saruman to Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring.
Gil-galad's Death

Sauron killing Gil-galad; as seen in a deleted scene of The Fellowship of the Ring film

As in the source material, Sauron is the primary antagonist throughout the films. He is depicted as an almost god-like entity whose mere presence, even when mediated by a medium like the palantír, causes great duress and terror. Most of his bidding is achieved through his greatest servants, the Nazgûl (chiefly the Witch-king of Angmar) and Saruman. In a display of flattery, the White Wizard once addresses him as "Lord of the Earth"; most characters refer to Sauron as "the Great Eye" (or simply "the Eye"), "the Enemy" or "the Dark Lord".

Sauron by Jerry Vanderstelt

Sauron is portrayed as an armored figure in the flashbacks

Sauron's original appearance is that of a nine-foot-tall armored figure. This iteration alludes to Tolkien's descriptions of "a man of more than human stature", with the horned helmet derived from the mention of his "lightning-crowned" shadow. But Jackson's Sauron also borrows elements from Morgoth's description in The Silmarillion, namely the dark armor he wears and the giant mace he wields (based on Grond). This physical appearance is seen only in the flashbacks of the Prologue, and very briefly in the centre of the Eye in an extended scene with Aragorn and the palantír in The Return of the King. Sauron's helmet was conceived by illustrator Alan Lee, and the rest of his armor was together imagined by Lee, John Howe, and Christian Rivers. Sauron's mace seen in the film had been first drawn by Warren Mahy.[40] Sauron's primary, present-day appearance in the rest of Jackson's trilogy is as the Eye of Sauron, a titanic, flaming eye atop Barad-dûr. The feline appearance of this "astral" form is perhaps a reference to the forerunner of his character in the first drafts, namely "Tevildo", a fay who took the form of a great cat. When Sauron speaks, it is telepathically through the One Ring or a palantír; when he is voiced by Alan Howard. Sala Baker portrays his physical form.

Sauron was originally intended to appear as Annatar and in his physical form at the climax of The Return of the King, appearing at the Battle of the Morannon to fight Aragorn. However, this was ultimately scrapped from the film due to the fact it was not in the book and the developers believed it would take the main focus away from the Hobbit protagonists. Furthermore, Jackson believed it would take away from Aragorn's act of sacrifice.

Some of his background from The Silmarillion (including his former position as Morgoth's chief agent, his defeat in the Battle of the Gwathló and role in the Downfall of Númenor) is mentioned in the film tie-in The Lord of the Rings: Weapons and Warfare. Concept art and a deleted scene showed that the flashbacks would have seen Sauron killing Gil-galad in the War of the Last Alliance.

In the Prologue of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the Dark Lord is shown forging the One Ring, seeking to dominate all life. From Mordor, Sauron's armies begins spreading across Middle-earth, enslaving the Free Peoples. In answer to his tyranny, Elendil and Gil-galad form the Last Alliance of Elves and Men and march against Sauron. As the Siege of Barad-dûr nears it end and defeat for the Orcs seems imminent, the Dark Lord himself appears and breaks through the Ñoldor and Númenórean ranks with his mace. After slaying Elendil with a swing of his weapon, Sauron breaks his sword, Narsil. He would have killed Elendil's son, Isildur, with his hot touch, but Isildur uses the shards of Narsil to cut the One Ring off from Sauron's hand, causing Sauron's form to disintegrate.

Eye of Sauron - TTT

Sauron's primary appearance throughout the film trilogy is as a flaming eye

Though his body was undone, the spirit of the Dark Lord endured. As he slowly recovered his spent strength, he began stirring his servants: the Lord of the Nazgûl established himself as the Witch-king of Angmar, from where he destroyed Arnor before being driven out by the Elvish realms of Rivendell and the Grey Havens; the Easterlings, Haradrim and Corsairs were incited into several wars against Gondor; the Orcs of the Misty Mountains multiplied, occupied Moria and began blocking the ways between Eriador and the Anduin Vales. When he felt ready, Sauron reclaimed Mordor and began rebuilding Barad-dûr. Through the palantír, Sauron compelled Saruman into his service with promises of power;[41] the Dark Lord was aware of his puppet's intention to usurp his place,[42] but kept the White Wizard as "an instrument to be wielded and ultimately discarded".[43] With the Elves leaving Middle-earth for the Undying Lands, the main obstacles in his way are the realms of Men. Sauron's strategy is to attack from both sides: on the eastern front he sends the Nazgûl led by the Witch-king against Gondor, and on the western front Saruman to crush Rohan. According to the Dark Lord's strategy, the attacks by his chief agents will keep the two kingdoms from helping one another. To further weaken the resistance, Sauron used his palantír to drive Denethor, Steward of Gondor, into madness and despair.[44]

You cannot hide. I see you. There is no life in the Void, only death.
—Sauron, The Fellowship of the Ring

At the start of the film, Sauron had captured Gollum, from whom he learned through torture that the One Ring was now in the hands of a Baggins. At his command, the Nazgûl left Minas Morgul for the Shire, intent on slaying the Ring-bearer and recovering their master's prize. Owing to the planning of Gandalf, Aragorn the heir of Isildur kept the Hobbit and his companions safe and allowed them to reach Rivendell. Facing the threat of Sauron's imminent assault, whose urgency was increased by Saruman's defection to the service of the Dark Lord, Elrond and his allies decided that a Fellowship will help Frodo take the Ring to Mount Doom and destroy it. Sauron had also released Gollum, hoping perhaps to try follow him to the Ring-bearer.


Sauron and his servant, Saruman; wallpaper for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy

In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the Dark Lord makes the final preparations for the War of the Ring. In Mordor, his main army of Morannon Orcs is being readied, with legions of Haradrim and Easterlings passing the Black Gates to reinforce them, in spite of ambushes by the Rangers of Ithilien. In Isengard, his puppet, Saruman, has built him a second army of Uruk-hai to destroy Rohan, and then "form a second pincer with which to crush Gondor".[44] Aware of his treacherous servant's gamble to claim the Ring first, Sauron sends his own Mordor-orcs led by Grishnákh to intercept Saruman's Uruk-hai with the captive Hobbits. Both Orc warbands are slain on the eaves of Fangorn Forest by Éomer's riders and the prisoners escape. Fearing his master's response to attempted betrayal, Saruman sends raiding forces of Orcs of Isengard and Dunlendings to ravage the Westfold and spread terror among Sauron's enemies. The Dark Lord's puppet launches a decisive attack on Théoden King at Helm's Deep; following the destruction of Saruman's army in the battle, Sauron's wrath is terrible and he prepares to exact full retribution.

In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Sauron's loss of his servant, Saruman, prompts him to reveal another minion, the Witch-king. With Gondor as the chief symbol of resistance against him, he aims to destroy Minas Tirith, both to avenge the defeat at Helm's Deep and to capture the Ring-bearer (who he erroneously concludes is heading for the White City). The Witch-king has gathered a sizable army of Mordor-orcs and Easterlings, which are to be reinforced during the assault by the forces of the Haradrim and the Corsairs of Umbar. Sauron sees Pippin through the palantír captured from the his defeated puppet, Saruman, thinking he is the Hobbit who has the Ring. Pippin, however, has a glimpse into Sauron's mind, alerting the others of the Dark Lord's plan to destroy the White City. The Witch-king's army besieges the city, but is held back by its Gondorian defenders, temporarily routed by the arrival of the Rohirrim and finally defeated by Aragorn who summons the Dead Men of Dunharrow. He is then confronted by Aragorn through Denethor's palantír and shown the reforged Narsil, Anduril. His evil adversely affects Elrond's daughter Arwen, whom he shows to Aragorn, her lover, as if she were dead.

Meanwhile, Frodo the Ringbearer is captured on the borders of Mordor in Cirith Ungol by an Orc patrol. While he is rescued by his friend Samwise, his Uruk captor, Shagrat, escapes with Frodo's Mithril Coat which he brings to Barad-dûr. As the Captains of the West ride to the Black Gates, the Dark Lord gives the vest to his chief emissary. The Mouth of Sauron claims that Frodo has been captured and slain, hoping to dismay Gandalf and his allies with false information. The Eye nearly spots Frodo as he and Sam pass towards Mount Doom, but when Aragorn slays the Mouth, Sauron's attention is drawn to the Morannon instead. He contacts the heir of Isildur psychically, but is unable to sway his mind and a battle ensues at the Black Gate.


Barad-dûr's downfall in The Return of the King film

Only when Frodo claims the Ring in the Cracks of Doom does Sauron sense the Ring's presence and perceives Gandalf's trap: the battle had been but a distraction to buy time for the Ring to be destroyed. He sends the Nazgûl to retrieve it, but it is unmade when it falls into the lava with Gollum. With the Ring no more and much of his power spent, the Dark Lord can only look as his tower crumbles beneath him, until his very being is reduced to nothing. With Sauron overthrown, all of Mordor falls into the abyss, taking his Orc, and troll minions along with it and the eight remaining Nazgûls are destroyed in a firestorm along with their fell-beasts.

Sauron's maimed spirit is taken by the Void, "from which there could be no return".[44]

The Hobbit film trilogy

"It has begun. The East will fall. So shall the Kingdom of Angmar rise. The time of the Elves is over. The Age of the Orc has come."
Spoken in the Black Speech, as Sauron reveals himself to Galadriel

Sauron's role from The Hobbit is greatly expanded in Jackson's The Hobbit film trilogy, deriving from external source material such as Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth and The Lord of the Rings' Appendices. Voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, he is portrayed as one of the main antagonists. Though rarely seen, his plans are acted out by his servant, Azog, and he is shown to be in league with Smaug (at least in the extended edition). Some of his minions and even Thráin (affected by his imprisonment) refer to Sauron as "the One"; this show of reverence is also a symbol of blasphemous pride, for "the One" is rightfully an epithet of the creator, Eru Ilúvatar.

His first appearance is in the form of a black, humanoid ghost, alluding to Tolkien's description of Sauron as a man with blackened skin. When he later emerges from the shadowy mist, Sauron reveals himself in the shape of the Great Eye (similar to the one in Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy). The slit of the Eye is show as the Dark Lord's armored form, which upon being zoomed in repeats itself in an endless cycle of darkness, suggestive of Tolkien's description of the pupil as a "window into nothing".

After his defeat, the Dark Lord secretly re-emerged. Sauron secretly allied himself with Smaug and was paid homage to by Azog and his son Bolg, both chieftains of the Orcs of the Misty Mountains. The Dark Lord also summoned the Ringwraiths from their entombment in the High Fells of Rhudaur. Sauron wanted to re-establish the realm of Angmar, from where he could attack the Elven realms of Greenwood, Lothlórien, Rivendell and Lindon, and hold the Dwarves of the Iron Hills at bay. This, he reasoned, would leave the Mannish realms of Gondor and Rohan isolated when he himself returned to Mordor. He intended to begin this master plan by taking Erebor, expanding Angmar's domain further east and cornering the people of Rhovanion. This would also give him access to the riches of Erebor and allow him to unleash Smaug on the nearby realms. To do so, he settled in the ruined, abandoned fortress of Dol Guldur, casting his Shadow over Greenwood and becoming known to the nearby Woodmen as "the Necromancer". As a first step in his plan, Sauron sent his servant, Azog, to conquer the deseted Moria; through defeated at the Battle of Azanulbizar, Azog delivered his master both Thráin , as a prisoner, and the Ring of Thrór, the last of the Seven Dwarf-rings. The Dark Lord chose the Defiler to be his general;[45] for his part, Azog was more concerned with exacting vengeance on Thorin Oakenshield rather than his master's plans. Sauron's growing power stirs awake most fell things: giant Spiders of Ungoliant's bloodline (through Shelob) breed under his dominion in Dol Guldur and start spreading throughout southern Mirkwood; Trolls descend from the Ettenmoors upon the settlements of Men; Moria Orcs, Wargs and other war beasts gather in the cess pits of Dol Guldur. With Sauron's blessing, Azog begins hunting Thorin and his Company, in order to stop them from reaching Erebor and slaying their secret ally, Smaug. All these ill omens trouble Gandalf, who begins to fear that the ancient Enemy has returned.

In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the effects of Sauron's presence in Mirkwood, from the sickness of the forest to the giant Spiders that now lurk there, rouse the suspicions of Radagast. Following two of Ungoliant's spawn to their nest, the Brown Wizard begins to investigate the ruins of Dol Guldur before he is ambushed by the resurrected Witch-king of Angmar. Radagast averted the attack and seized the spectre's dagger, a Morgul blade. As he picked up the blade, the Brown Wizard sees the Necromancer emerging from the shadows and immediately leaves, barely escaping with his life from the Bats which reside in the fort, and setting out to find Gandalf.

Gandalf himself sees the obvious signs of Sauron's return: three Trolls have left the Ettenmoors to raid a farm on the outskirts of Staddle; Gundabad Orcs led by Yazneg (in Azog's name) are pursuing Thorin and Company. At the meeting of the White Council in Rivendell, the Grey Pilgrim tries to point out to his peers that the last of the Seven Dwarf-rings has mysteriously "vanished" and that if Smaug should side with Sauron, he "could be used to terrible effect". Though Gandalf's proposition to investigate Dol Guldur and aid the Quest of Erebor was overruled by Saruman, Galadriel believed Gandalf that "something moves in the shadows unseen" and that "every day it grows in strength" and so urged him to press on and confirm the identity of the Necromancer.

Sauron's power drew the One Ring out of its hiding with Gollum under the Misty Mountains. It intentionally fell out of Gollum's pocket in order to be acquired by a Goblin imp who fell into his cavern, but Gollum killed the Goblin. Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit and a member of Thorin's Company, was captured by the Goblins and fell with the imp, ending up taking the Ring, which he managed to keep a secret of all but Gollum (whom he evades) and Gandalf.

In the The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Gandalf's meddling in the Quest of Erebor forces Sauron to show his hand early. Now preparing to make his war, Sauron sends Bolg to summon Azog to Dol Guldur. Dismissing his servant's insolence and petty vendetta with Oakenshield, the Dark Lord grants him command of his armies; Azog nonetheless sends his son, Bolg, to hunt Thorin in his stead. The gathering of Moria Orcs at Dol Guldur has not gone unnoticed by Beorn, who warns Gandalf that foul things in the Necromancer's service have infested the Anduin Vales. As Thorin's Company enters Mirkwood, Gandalf sees the Red Eye (being Sauron's banner) on an Elven statue, a sign of defilement and of the Enemy's return. Compelled to go investigate the Ringwraiths' tombs in the High Fells of Rhudaur, the Grey Pilgrim finds them open. Conferring with Radagast, Gandalf confirms that the Necromancer cannot be mere human, and that given the Nine answer only to one master, the presence in Dol Guldur is none other than Sauron himself.


Sauron and his minions, the Nazgûl; in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Gandalf sets for Dol Guldur, and asks Radagast to summon Galadriel. He discovers Thráin as a prisoner in Dol Guldur, who also reveals the alliance between Sauron and Smaug. Fleeing from Azog, Gandalf and Thráin are confronted by Sauron himself. The Grey Pilgrim is unable to save the old Dwarf's life, but fends the Dark Lord off before he is fully revealed in his true form and identity. Sauron effortlessly reduces Gandalf's staff to ashes and defeats him. He has also perhaps informed Smaug of the Thorin and Company's approach, but when Bolg tracks the Dwarves to Lake-town he sends messengers to inform Sauron that Thorin had already left for Erebor. In turn, Sauron unleashes Azog's army, to march upon the Lonely Mountain.

In The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Sauron kept Gandalf imprisoned, hoping to draw out the keepers of the other two Rings of Power kept by the Elves. He retrieves the Morgul blade from him and sends the Keeper of the Dungeons to harvest the Ring Narya from the captive Wizard. His Orc minion is easily crushed when Galadriel arrives to rescue Gandalf. However, as she and an her unconscious ally leave, they are surrounded by the Nine. Seemingly cornered by the Nazgûl, Elrond and Saruman prove to be not far behind, and aid her in battle as Radagast enters and helps to get Gandalf out. After the Nine are defeated, the Dark Lord himself appears, and summons anew all the Nine, proclaiming a new Age under his dominion. But Galadriel reveals herself in wrath, banishing the Nazgûl and confronting the "servant of Morgoth". After a contest of wills, the Dark Lord chooses to flee into the East. Elrond suggests that Sauron will likely return to Mordor, and tells Saruman to warn Gondor to reset their watch on the black land. The White Wizard reassures him that without the One Ring, the Dark Lord will not be able to hold dominion over the land. Saruman then tells Elrond to take Galadriel back to Lothlórien and "leave Sauron to [him]", paving the final steps of Saruman's downfall.

Meanwhile, Azog's army sent by Sauron (and reinforced by Bolg's army from Gundabad) arrives at the Lonely Mountain but is held back by armies of Lake-men and the Woodland Realm (which have gathered there to besiege Thorin in Erebor for the sake of earning remunerations from his hoard) and of the Iron Hills (sent to Thorin's aid). Azog risks the course of the battle to draw Thorin out, and is defeated by the Dwarf. Legolas slays Bolg, while the reinforcing Orcs from Gundabad are defeated by the Great Eagles and Beorn, summoned by Radagast.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

"What will they do when you tell them that you were my ally? When you tell them that Sauron lives because of you?"

In The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Sauron is the main antagonist of the series. He appears briefly in the series' prologue as a tall, armored figure, and is responsible for the death of Galadriel's elder brother Finrod, who had attempted to seek him out following the Dagor Bragollach. Galadriel refuses to believe Sauron is truly gone, and takes on her brother's mission, both to avenge him and to find the Dark Lord, her only lead a sigil Sauron cut into Finrod's body. Galadriel laters discovers the sigil to be in fact a stylized map of the Southlands, perceiving Sauron plans to make it his stronghold.

Here, Sauron takes on the identity of "Halbrand" some time after being struck down by Adar, who had become disillusioned with Sauron's cruelty towards the race of Orcs. He carried an insignia bearing the mark of the King of the Southlands that he claimed to have taken from a dead man, perhaps the last king himself.

Galadriel and Halbrand at sea - TRoP

"Halbrand" and Galadriel adrift following an encounter with the worm

Posing as a simple man fleeing from Orc attacks, he eventually comes to be on a raft in the Sundering Seas, with Abigail, Eamon, and others. It is here that he encounters the Elf Galadriel, who was swimming eastward to Middle-earth, shortly before "the Worm" that had destroyed their ship returns and assails them. Sauron stays afloat by separating a section of raft from the others, who perish, and brings Galadriel on board, though he withholds his own story. In a storm that rolls in soon afterwards, Galadriel is dragged under by a weighted line, but Sauron dives in and rescues her. Exhausted by the strain, the two drift until found by a Númenórean ship commanded by Elendil.

Elendil brings them back to Númenor's capital of Armenelos and presents them to Queen-regent Míriel. Galadriel demands passage back to Middle-earth and nearly causes hostilities before Sauron intervenes and brokers an agreement for time to be taken before a decision. Sauron afterwards cautions Galadriel against causing any more disturbances. He soon causes his own disturbance, however, by provoking the guildsman Tamar and several of his friends by attempting to steal Tamar's guild badge, which Sauron desires to be able to gain working access to a blacksmith's shop. Tamar begins to physically attack Sauron, but is taken aback when Sauron retaliates, violently taking out Tamar and his fellows and leaving them seriously injured. Sauron allows himself to be arrested and thrown into prison for his actions.

Halbrand in prison - TRoP

"Halbrand" imprisoned in Armenelos

Galadriel soon visits him in prison and chastises him for his deeds, though she also reveals a document recovered from Númenor's Hall of Lore, which identifies the insignia he wears as the symbol of the rightful ruler of the Southlands. Sauron states he found the insignia on a dead man, though Galadriel still believes him to be the rightful ruler. Eventually, after Galadriel succeeds in persuading Míriel to send an army to the Southlands to oppose Adar, Sauron is released from captivity and starts working as a blacksmith. Galadriel finally convinces Sauron to join the Númenórean expedition to Middle-earth after retelling her battles and losses.

Upon reaching Middle-earth and sailing up the Anduin to the margins of the Southlands, the Númenórean cavalry ride across the Ephel Dúath to Tirharad, where its inhabitants are heavily beleaguered by Adar's troops. Though the Númenóreans make quick work of the Orcs, Adar flees on horseback carrying what is believed to be the Orc Sigil Hilt forged by Morgoth, that Adar had been seeking. Galadriel and Sauron pursue Adar through the nearby forest, until Sauron dismounts him and would have killed him, seeking revenge, before being stopped by Galadriel. After Galadriel questions Adar after putting him in shackles, "Halbrand" is introduced by Míriel to the villagers of Tirharad as the rightful king of the Southlands. The people gladly accept him, but shortly after are shocked when Orodruin suddenly erupts. In the ensuing chaos, Sauron receives a serious wound to his abdomen, and is brought to the Númenóreans' camp with the other Southlander refugees. Upon Galadriel's return, she determines his wound requires Elvish healing, and though he declares his intent to stay and fight for the Southlands, he accompanies Galadriel on horseback to Eregion.

Halbrand & Celebrimbor - TRoP

Sauron teaches Celebrimbor of ring-craft in the guise of Halbrand

In Ost-in-Edhil, he soon recovers from his injury and while looking for Galadriel he discovers Celebrimbor's forge, wherein he meets the Master-smith himself and learns of the mithril fragment. He suggests the idea of an alloy to amplify the effects of the precious metal, and soon gains Celebrimbor's trust. Galadriel, however, is suspicious, after hearing Celebrimbor repeat phrases associated with the Dark Lord. After uncovering a document showing the line of Southland kings had been broken a thousand years before, Galadriel confronted Sauron, who effortlessly blocked her dagger attacks then entered her mind and so attempted to sway her to his side through a vision by claiming he desired to heal Middle-earth. She rejected his offer, and Sauron fled Eregion before the other Elves learnt of his identity. Galadriel did not tell Celebrimbor so that he would continue in forging the Three Rings, though Elrond discovered the truth on his own, from the document she had discovered. Sauron, meanwhile, through unknown means, had returned to the newly-named land of Mordor.

Parts of Sauron's portrayal in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power are considerable deviations from the works of Tolkien. First of all, there is no mention of Galadriel having travelled to Númenor in the company of a stranger in any of Tolkien's works, and she was probably in Eregion with her husband the entire time the first season is set. Also, in Tolkien's work Sauron appeared in Eregion in the guise of Annatar, Lord of Gifts, claiming to be an emissary of the Valar and a student of Aulë.

He stayed in Ost-in-Edhil for around two hundred years, presumably taking the form of an Elf (since two hundred years was beyond the lifespan of most humans). In contrast to the series, he aided in the creation of many Rings of Power, which he later seized and gave to Dwarves and Men as the Seven and the Nine. In the series, the Three are made without the Elves knowing the true identity of Halbrand. In the books, Celebrimbor saved the Three after he discovered the identity of Annatar. These were made, as Tolkien says, "largely by the imagination" of the Elves, and were "unsullied", not with the direct involvement of Sauron, whose idea in the television series it was to use Mithril and was present for most of the process.[46]

Galadriel was also not present when the Rings were forged in the books, as the Elves of Ost-in-Idhil worked on them without (and possibly in direct disobedience to) her permission and advice. According to the books, she advised Celebrimbor to hide the Three elven Rings when the Elves learned of Annatar's true identity, but it was not her idea to make them, nor did she know who Annatar was all along.

Shadow of Mordor - Sauron as Annatar

Sauron, disguised as Annatar, with the newly-forged One Ring

Video games

  • In The Lord of the Rings Online, Annatar is depicted in a mural in the ruins of Tham Mírdain. He was called Antheron ("Gift Lord"), because Turbine does not have the rights to the name Annatar. In the session play quest 'Daughter of Strife' from Volume I: Book XV, where the player takes on the character of Narmaleth, Sauron is also encountered in his disguise of Annatar (Antheron), at the time he taught the Elves of Eregion the secrets of the Rings. Visiting Sauron's personal chambers in Dol Guldur leads to a vision of the Dark Lord, still weak and recovering from his defeat at the hand of Isildur. During an extended flashback sequence to the War of the Last Alliance, Sauron himself is met within Barad-dûr by the player, who controls a historic character.
  • In the strategy game The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II, Sauron is one of the Ring Heroes, the other being Galadriel, which can be summoned when a player successfully finds Gollum and takes the One Ring by killing him. He can only be summoned by the evil factions Mordor, Isengard, and Goblins. Sauron is likely the strongest unit in the game, as he has immense health and can instantly kill most infantry and cavalry units with his mace. More powerful units, such as Trolls and Ents, are still no match for him in small amounts, being easily neutralized in a few blows. Sauron is also able to summon fiery rocks from the skies and demoralise enemy units, causing them to run around in panic. When Sauron is killed, he explodes violently, heavily damaging any enemy units in the vicinity. Upon his death, he drops the One Ring, which may then be picked up again.
  • In the 2014 Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor video game, Sauron appears before Celebrimbor as Annatar, the Lord of Gifts, and deceives him into creating the Rings of Power. After the secret forging of the One Ring, Annatar takes Celebrimbor to Mordor to perfect the One Ring. Celebrimbor later escapes Mordor with the Ring and uses its power to challenge Sauron in battle. At the last moment, the Ring slips from Celebrimbor's finger. As vengeance, Sauron transforms back into Annatar and proceeds to kill Celebrimbor.
  • In the 2017 sequel to the above, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, he ends up fighting Celebrimbor despite still being weakened by the loss of the One Ring. Despite putting up a good fight, he is overwhelmed by Celebrimbor and his new host Eltariel planning on dominating him with the power of their own New Ring. Before succumbing, he cuts off Eltariel's ring finger like Isildur had done to him years earlier, and consumes Celebrimbor's wraith. While he survives, this forces him into a new form; a Flaming Eye at the top of Barad-dûr, locked in a battle of wills with the Elf until the One Ring is destroyed decades later.
  • Sauron appears in both LEGO The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game and LEGO The Hobbit: The Video Game; in the first he is a boss and playable character while he is featured as a playable character in the latter. His boss form appears as a massive CCBS figure-similar to something from LEGO's Knights Kingdom line, while as a playable character he appears as a mini-figure. In The Hobbit game he appears in both Necromancer and fiery armored forms. The first game also features an Annatar mini-figure as a downloadable character.
  • Sauron's mini-figure form, voiced by Steven Blum, also appears in LEGO Dimensions, where he invades the DC Comics' dimension, taking over Metropolis with the aid of the Rift Keystone. Soon thereafter, Sauron uses the Rift Keystone to bring Barad-dûr across dimensions to stand atop Lexcorp tower. When Batman, Gandalf, and Wildstyle arrive in the city to retake the Keystone, Sauron engages the three in a battle atop a Doctor Who Dalek saucer. Eventually, he is defeated, being pulled through a rift by Lord Vortech, the primary antagonist. Sauron is turned into a cube and does not appear again.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: Conquest, Sauron is a playable character.
  • Sauron appears in the introduction sequences of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I and its sequel, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. II: The Two Towers.
  • A parody of Sauron, "Serum", appears in the adventure game Bored of the Rings.

Other media

Sauron also appears or is referenced in a number of works that are not direct adaptations of The Lord of the Rings or its associated mythos:


  • He is one of only three characters to appear in all six films of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies, the other two being Gandalf and Galadriel.
    • As Halbrand, Sauron's pupils once briefly take on the same shape as his "Great Eye" form in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.


Sauron the Dark Lord concept art
437px-Sauron hi res-1-
Sauron in his Dark Lord appearance
Sauron the Necromancer.
Sauron copy
Guardians of Middle-Earth wallpaper
Sauron in Guardians of Middle-Earth
4466233230 833fdfcbed
A statue of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings Online
040710 Antheron
Sauron as Annatar in Eregion during the Second Age
The Lord of the Rings Online - Sauron
The Eye of Sauron as it appears in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Sauron in DOS
The Necromancer is revealed to be the Dark Lord Sauron.
Lord-of-the-rings -conquest--ss-99
Sauron in The Lord of the Rings: Conquest
Sauron as he appears in The Hobbit- The Battle of the Five Armies
Sauron as he appears in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Sauron in a community-made expansion to The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
Sauron portrayed in the introduction of "J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I".
Sauron portrayed in the PC-98 version of "J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I".
Sauron LOTR ROP Ep 1
Sauron's dark form in The Rings of Power




TV shows

Video games


Foreign Language Translated name
Arabic سورون
Armenian Սաւրոն
Belarusian Cyrillic Саўран
Bengali সৌরণ
Bulgarian Cyrillic Саурон
Catalan Sàuron
Chinese (Hong Kong) 索倫
Esperanto Saŭrono
Georgian საურონი
Greek Σάουρον
Gujarati સેરોન
Hebrew סאורון
Hindi सौरोन
Hungarian Szauron
Japanese サウロン
Kannada ಸೌರಾನ್
Kazakh Саурон (Cyrillic) Sawron (Latin)
Korean 사우론
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Саурон
Laotian ສະຸrໂນ
Lithuanian Sauronas
Macedonian Cyrillic Саурон
Malayalam സോറോൺ
Marathi सायरोन
Mongolian Cyrillic Саурон
Nepalese षौरोन्
Pashto صاورون
Persian سائورون
Punjabi ਸਾਨੌਨ
Russian Саурон
Sanskrit षौरोन्
Serbian Саурон (Cyrillic) Sauron (Latin)
Sinhalese සව්රොන්
Tajik Cyrillic Саурон
Tamil ஷௌரொந்
Telugu సారన్
Thai เซารอน
Ukrainian Cyrillic Саурон
Urdu ہاتھوں
Uzbek Саурон (Cyrillic) Sauron (Latin)
Yiddish סאַוראָן


  1. The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
  2. The Silmarillion, Valaquenta, "Of the Enemies"
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter III: "Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Morgoth's Ring, Part Five: Myths Transformed, X, pg. 415-422
  5. The Nature of Middle-earth, Part One: Time and Ageing, VI: "The Awaking of the Quendi", II Note on Angband and Utumno, pg. 36
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Nature of Middle-earth, Part One: Time and Ageing, VI: "The Awaking of the Quendi", II Note on Angband and Utumno, pg. 37-38
  7. The Nature of Middle-earth, Part One: Time and Ageing, VII: "The March of the Quendi", pg. 50-51
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 The Silmarillion, Index of Names
  9. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XVII: "Of the Coming of Men into the West"
  10. The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Quenta Silmarillion"
  11. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XVIII: "Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin"
  12. 12.0 12.1 The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XIX: "Of Beren and Lúthien"
  13. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XXIV: "Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, Part Two: The Second Age, chapter IV: "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", page 227-8
  15. The Nature of Middle-earth, Part Three: The World, its lands and its inhabitants, XVIII: "Note on the Delay of Gil-galad and the Númenóreans", pg. 370
  16. The Fall of Númenor, The Tale Of Years (Chronology of the Westlands, c.500 - Sauron begins to stir again in Middle-earth, pg 48.
  17. The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk"
  18. The Hobbit, Chapter XIX: "The Last Stage"
  19. 19.0 19.1 The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B: The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands), "The Third Age"
  20. Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, Part Three: The Third Age: "The Quest of Erebor",
  21. The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Five, Chapter IX: "The Last Debate"
  22. The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter III: "Mount Doom"
  23. The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter IV: "The Field of Cormallen"
  24. The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin names
  25. Parma Eldalamberon, Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  27. The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Five, Ch. X: "The Black Gate Opens"
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth" (The Downfall of Númenor)
  29. The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four, Chapter IV: "Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit"
  30. 30.0 30.1 The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, ch. II: "The Council of Elrond"
  31. The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book One, Ch. II: "The Shadow of the Past"
  32. 32.0 32.1 The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, "Letter 131"
  33. The Lord of the Rings, "Foreword"
  34. 34.0 34.1 The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, "Letter 184"
  35. 35.0 35.1 The History of Middle-earth, Vol. XII: The Peoples of Middle-earth, Part Four: "Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth" chapter XVII: "Tal-Elmar"
  36. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 175, "...things hostile to men and hobbits who prey on them without being in league with the Devil"
  37. 37.0 37.1 The History of Middle-earth, Vol. V: The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part One: "The Fall of Númenor and the Lost Road: Chapter III: The Númenorian Chapters" p66.
  38. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named devil3
  39. The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, 183 Notes on W. H. Auden's review of The Return of the King
  40. Gary Russell, The Art of The Fellowship of the Ring, "Armory", pg. 135
  41. The Lord of the Rings: Weapons and Warfare
  44. 44.0 44.1 44.2 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named auj
  46. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 131 (to Milton Waldman, undated; probably 1951)
  47. X-Men #60 (September, 1969)
  48. GuyWithNoNickName (2012-12-04). Meghan McCarthy Talks About King Sombra On "Stay Brony My Friends". YouTube. Retrieved on 2012-12-06.