Why did Sauron never invade the Shire?

Discussion in '"The Lord of the Rings"' started by BalrogRingDestroyer, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. BalrogRingDestroyer

    BalrogRingDestroyer Member

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    Even Saruman thought to do this to spite Frodo and goad him into a fight. Why didn't Sauron invade the Shire and start killing Hobbits and perhaps sending Hobbit heads via messengers to various places in the West to try and cause Frodo and his Hobbit friends agony and perhaps goad them into heading back to the Shire to rescue their people? I mean, the mere vision of some bad stuff in the Shire nearly got Sam to turn back, what if they got actual news of Hobbits being massacred?

    If the Nazgul could get in, why couldn't other things get as far as Bree and into the area of the Shire and just batter the gate down? As far as I know, Sauron's forces held Moria, so it wasn't like the West held all passes through the Misty Mountains. Also, while Galadriel's Ring would keep the forces of Dol Guldor OUT of Lorien, I'm not sure how well it would go if the fight ended up in the open with the forces of Dul Goldor moving toward Moria with the intent to attack the Shire.

    Also, I would have thought that Mordor would have other interests in the region anyway. With Arnor fallen, Bree and the Shire were all that was in the way, at least more north and west of the Misty Mountains, of the Grey Havens. Take over those and that would mean the fall of a major Elf seaport (it seems that they keep sailing out of there to go to Valinor (could they not sail from other ports?).), not to mention meaning that Mordor controlled or could control all lands west of the Misty Mountains which would leave Rohan and Gondor pretty much doomed.
     
  2. gentleDrift

    gentleDrift New Member

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    There are several reasons I can think of:

    1) For the longest time, Sauron was not even aware of the Shire's existence - it was only through Gollum that he even heard of it, and even then he did not know it's precise location. In "The Hunt for the Ring" in Unfinished Tales it is described how the Ring-wraiths at first looked for the Shire in the vales of Anduin between Mirkwood and the Misty Mountains. It is presumably quite difficult to invade a place whose location you don't know. Saruman on the other hand knew of the Shire a lot longer due to Gandalf and then later his own interest in pipe-weed.

    2) Sauron did not want to send any other servants except for the Ring-wraiths after the Ring. They were the only ones he could trust to actually bring it back to them if they were to find it - one of the many instances of Evil being it's own undoing in Tolkien: Of course you can't trust your servants if they all fear and hate you because you are an evil overlord ;).

    3) Sending an entire army was not really a possibility either: even if Sauron had known the precise location of the Shire and could have trusted his Orc-underlings with this task, they still would have to had to march from Mordor to the Shire - not an easy path in either direction. The main obstacle was the Anduin river, and the only way for an army to pass it south of its most northern parts was the bridge in Osgiliath. That was in fact also the way the Ring-wraiths took when they made the journey. Invading the Shire meant invading Gondor first - it was not without reason that Boromir praised his people for keeping the Enemy at bay in the Council of Elrond.

    4) Sauron also did not know that a Hobbit would still be in possession of the ring after the Wise had discovered it's true nature. He always assumed that some among the more powerful of the Wise would assume control of the Ring to rival Sauron, like Saruman, Gandalf, Galadriel or even the likes of Aragorn or Denethor. And none of them (except for Gandalf) really had such a close connection to the Shire.

    As for the Orcs of Moria and the Misty Mountains: I always got the impression that they were of course well under the influence of Sauron, especially when he was their neighbor in Dol Guldur, but not actually directly under his command.

    And there were other Elven Havens, or at least one: In Belfalas in Gondor there at least used to be such a Haven, from which (if I recall correctly) the Elves of Lothlorien used to sail. It is from this place also that the "Elven strain" in the Lords of Dol Amroth comes:

    Elsewhere it is said that according to the tradition of their house the first Lord of Dol Amroth was Galador (c. Third Age 2004-2129), the son of Imrazór the Númenórean, who dwelt in Belfalas, and the Elven-lady Mithrellas, one of the companions of Nimrodel.
    (From Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl")
     

  3. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Treacherous and Vile

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    And keep in mind that Sauron was not ready even for his assault on Gondor; it was Aragorn's action in revealing himself that provoked his premature invasion. The previous assault on Osgiliath was in the nature of a probe, and was mostly intended to provide cover for the Nazguls' crossing of the River, in their "undercover operation" to the Shire.

    As in many epics, LOTR begins in media res, and moves backward, in "The Shadow of the Past", then forward, then backward again, in "The Council of Elrond". Each backward move provides more of the story up to the point where the narrative began, which, another feature it shares with epics like The Illiad, is carefully chosen: it is at a nadir of action, a sort of stasis in which things hang in the balance. As Gandalf tells Frodo:

    'His plans are far from ripe, I think, but they are ripening.'

    Those are structural reasons why the action unfolds as it does; I'll add that, from a practical standpoint, if I were Sauron, I certainly wouldn't put my trust in Northern Orcs!
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
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  4. BalrogRingDestroyer

    BalrogRingDestroyer Member

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    1.) I trust it that Saruman never learned from Gandalf that the Ring was in the Shire (or else he would have taken it)?

    2.) I thought Sauron already did hold Osgiliath but not Minas Tirith. I do, though, agree that they had a problem in that they had Lorien in the way of Moria (plus, while the Balrog did let a small group of orcs run around Moria, it also stated that the Balrog actually scared the Mordor army, and I cannot see the Balrog letting a whole army of Mordor march through without having a say in it. They could try the Karadros pass, but that one was high up and not really practical for sending an army across. Also, the pass that Bilbo's company took, while it may have had orcs in it (though I thought they all died in the Battle of Five Armies but maybe some came back or didn't go to the battle), but it was also narrow and had Rivendale in the way at the end of it. I suppose that they could go all the way up toward the north of Misty Mountains toward the troll regions and near Angmar but that's way out of the way and they'd be spotted long before they got to the Shire and the Shire would have been evacuated.