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Incomplete Victory of the Last Alliance: Weaknesss or Inevitability ?

Ron Simpson

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Was Sauron’s resurgence in the 3rd Age pre-ordained and any anticipated victory in the Last Alliance destined to be incomplete? I truly wonder about this…. In order to utterly defeat Sauron himself, his ring had to be taken from him and destroyed: plain and simple. (n.b. I said utterly defeat HIM, not his armies which were in fact defeated)

So therefore, someone had to physically remove the ring from him, most likely handling it in the process, and thereby becoming (immediately?) susceptible to it’s influence (enter Isildur, stage left ). But who could have accomplished this unscathed? Let’s say Gilgalad and/or Elendil had managed to strike him down and survived the combat: would either of them have had the mental strength to pick the thing up, walk it over to the Sammath Naur, and drop it into the fire? How about Elrond and Cirdan? Elrond makes clear in his recounting of the episode that Isildur insisted on keeping the ring over protestations from both he and Cirdan; but just because they KNEW the right thing to do doesn’t mean that either of them COULD or WOULD have actually done it. Is this a racial-type thing (i.e. men are weak) or is it a wisdom-type thing? I mean, did Isildur fail because he was not sufficiently strong, or because he was insufficiently wise? Not sure that it is a wisdom thing, because thousands of years later, Gandalf-Olorin (wisest of the Maiar) didn’t even want to touch the thing ! And yes, yes, yes, I know that the ring straightaway began to extend its influence on poor Isildur, but it clearly affected individuals and races in different ways and gave powers according to the measure of the bearer's character and ambitions …. so who among that Host could have withstood it's power?

Given the potency of the ring, I can’t see any way in which it could have been utterly destroyed other than in an unintended 'Gollum-type' event. So, maybe the victory that Elendil and Gilgalad sought could only ever have been a partial one. (Of course, I admit that destroying thousands of orcs, trolls, and other vermin AND striking down Sauron AND taking the ring AND ensuring years of relative peace was no small feat, and definitely something to write home about.)

But anyway, what think you all?
 
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Merroe

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Very good point Ron Simpson. We're pretty much in line, for also about this question of yours I've been wondering&pondering! :) I feel tempted to try some reflections as a result of that, but don't expect an answer with final truth from me...

Elrond expressed some of your reflections at the council in Rivendell:

Fruitless did I call the victory of the Last Alliance? Not wholly so, yet it did not achieve its end. Sauron was diminished, but not destroyed. His Ring was lost but not unmade. The Dark Tower was broken, but its foundations were not removed; for they were made with the power of the Ring, and while it remains they will endure.

Who could have thrown the Ring into the fire in Sammath Naur? The most probable answer I can think of is: nobody. With the fall of Gilgalad only men had the highest authority yet were most vulnerable to the Ring's influence.

But I must admit a weakness in the reasoning: so far, I nowhere read about the Elves' degree of weakness (or strength) concerning the evil influence of the Ring. Were they more resilient than men? I have my doubts about that: an elf as high in birth and stature like Galadriel felt tested to the extreme, to accept Frodo's offer and take that Ring. So what about Elrond and Cirdan, I wonder.

My best (not brilliant) answer is that I think that the last alliance between men and elves had as objective to break the dark forces and free all lands occupied by them; the problem of the Ring did not come up in their consideration until at the very end. No solution came, because none had been really considered for real before.

So far, my own impression... not sure if it sounds good enough?
 

Ron Simpson

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Merroe: you are always spot on with your referencing - kudos & thanks - just what I was looking for but didn’t find !

In that quote, Elrond says “yet it did not achieve its end. Sauron was diminished but not destroyed” implying (to me, at least) that Gil-galald & Elendil’s plan (their 'end') was to bring about Sauron’s destruction. So it begs the question, didn’t they know that he couldn’t be destroyed without destroying his ring? Or maybe they (or no-one else) knew anything about the power of the one ring, because at that point, it had never left Sauron’s finger. Either way, I agree with you that it seems there were no specific provisions made for dealing with the ring had they won - not that it would’ve mattered….
 

gentleDrift

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Another interesting question that I had never really considered. I also get the impression from Elrond's quote above that the members of the Last Alliance did intend to destroy Sauron for good, and not only weaken him for some time.

Or maybe they (or no-one else) knew anything about the power of the one ring, because at that point, it had never left Sauron’s finger.
This seems to me the likeliest answer, and the one I first thought of as well. Ring-making must have been a pretty complicated business, and I don't think any of the Elves in the Last Alliance quite understood the precise nature of Sauron's Ring. At most I imagine Celebrimbor might have understood something of how it 'worked', and he was dead already of course.

Now we don't see enough of the other Great Rings, especially the Elven Rings, to be sure about this, but my feeling is that they did not have the same 'personality' and overpowering nature of the One. (For instance, I assume that Gandalf would have been able to destroy his Ring, if he had wanted to.) This personality I would guess was a product of so much of Sauron's personal power being transferred to the Ring, and thus not familiar to the Elves of the Last Alliance. And as the Ring had never left Sauron's hand I don't see then how even the Wise could have anticipated the problems arising with destroying the One.

Some further thoughts:
  • Note also that at least some of the Wise thought Sauron destroyed after his battle with Gil-Galad and Elendil. That strongly hints that they were not even entirely sure that it was necessary to destroy the Ring in order to destroy Sauron.
  • Even Saruman, presumably the greatest expert at Ring-Lore at the end of the Second Age did clearly not have complete knowledge of all the secrets of Ring-Making, otherwise he might have made one himself. Since Saruman would have learned as much as he could from for instance the knowledge preserved in Rivendell, we can assume that at least Elrond at the time of the Last Alliance knew even less about the Rings and their making than Saruman.
  • Take into consideration that we have the benefit of hindsight here, as does Elrond when he speaks of this at the Council. We know that the Ring could immediately overpower especially Men, and that to destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom would take 'chance, if chance you call it'.
  • Judging by the development in the War of the Ring, neither Elrond nor Cirdan could have destroyed the Ring - in fact they might have been the least able to (remember the whole 'power according to your stature' thing). It was precisely the un-importance and smaller stature (ha!) of the Hobbits that allowed them to even take the Ring as far as they did.
  • And finally: If the 'failure' of the Last Alliance was inevitable, the so would be the failure of the Fellowship to destroy the Ring: What hope had they in the Third Age that they did not have in the Second? Ultimately, 'chance' was always the only hope there was in this endeavor.
 

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Gandalf-Olorin (wisest of the Maiar) didn’t even want to touch the thing !
This is a somewhat minor point, perhaps, but I would note that Gandalf did touch the Ring; in fact, he held it in his hand, and even threw it into Frodo's fire.

This presents an odd contrast with his reaction when Bilbo asks him, after the party, to take it to pass along to Frodo:

"You had better take it and deliver it for me. That will be safest.'

'No, don't give the ring to me,' said Gandalf. 'Put it on the mantelpiece. It will be safe enough there, till Frodo comes.'

I'd suggest the reason for the apparent contradiction lies in the increase in Gandalf's knowledge about the Ring: at the time of the party, Gandalf, as he later tells Frodo, is aware that Bilbo's ring is a Great Ring, but not that it is the One. Therefore, not knowing of what sort it is, or what its powers may be, he is understandably reluctant to touch or handle it.

By the time of his later conversation with Frodo, in "The Shadow of the Past", he has learned enough to be almost totally convinced that it is the One, and his somewhat casual handling of it leads me to think that he has also learned, or had previous knowledge of, its powers; in particular, that the true danger resides in possession: the taking of the Ring for one's own.

That would also, I think, explain the contrast between Gandalf's "give me the ring for a moment", and his almost violent reaction when Frodo begs him to take it; it depends on the different meanings of "give": in one case, it is simply a temporary borrowing, in the other, a permanent transfer of possession, which, as all of myth and folktale tells us, can also include transfer of curse.

And of course, between the two, the "last test" has been made, it has been confirmed as the One, and notably, the "ring" now becomes the "Ring" a title it retains from here on.

This doesn't address the subject at hand, which I intended to do, but as I seem to have run on a bit, it's probably preferable to break off here. I'll try to come back later.
 
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Gilgaearel

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Interesting views and I think that the Elves not matter what they advised Isildur to do wouldn't be able to destroy the ring either. I think that the power of the ring could affect all individuals of any kind of race, always according to their power, ambition and character, but it could affect all no matter what.

There was though only one person that was not affected by the power ring and that would be the perfect candidate to destroy it if it was interested on doing so or he was assigned - by all the rest- to do so. I'm talking about Tom Bombadil that was probably powerful enough to take the ring inside Mordor without that many troubles and destroy it without hesitation.
 

Ron Simpson

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Gilgaearel: I agree with you that Tom Bombadil was the only individual in the entire narrative that demonstrated zero vulnerability to the Ring's seduction - but of course he didn’t march with the host and was not present in the battle. I am sure he would have been perfectly disinterested in any participation. But, you know what - this gives me an idea for a new discussion topic….
 

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The "real" answer is of course "yes, it was inevitable"; otherwise, Sauron would have been destroyed, the result being that we would have no LOTR. In other words, it is a piece of design by the author. But this, I hasten to admit, is an unsatisfactory answer, in the context of the legendarium.

In that context, "within the story", I see no reason not to take Elrond at his word: he and Cirdan knew the Ring must be destroyed. The Silmarillion says:

As soon as Sauron set the One Ring upon his finger they were aware of him; and they knew him, and perceived that he would be master of them, and of all that they wrought. Then in anger and fear they took off their rings.

Since that event, they had had thousands of years to ponder the nature of the Ring. I can't believe they had never, in all that time, considered what must be done with it, should Sauron be defeated, or whether they had the strength of will to cast it in the Fire. I must conclude that they did.

I'm going to don my Wet Blanket a bit here, and say that, although these are interesting questions to discuss, and bear thinking about, really, from the standpoint of story, they are pretty much by the way. Perhaps it might be helpful to discuss them in terms of genre.

Viewed generically, Isildur's story is obviously a tragedy, and in tragedy, the hero is isolated from his society, just as in comedy, he is incorporated into it. This usually comes about through a fall, normally (though not always) set off by some action on his part, which transgresses upon natural law, what the Greeks called dike.

The transgressesing action is due to the hero's hamartia, which, I was taught in high school, always means "tragic flaw". Again, things are not so cut and dried, as Aristotle speaks of "some kind of hamartia" implying there are various kinds, but in Isildur's case, I think it can be found.

"This I will have as weregild for my father, and my brother" he says. Tolkien the philologist was very careful in his use of words, and it's important to bear this in mind, when discussing his work. Let's look at that sentence.

First, weregild, an archaic Old English word, meaning "man-payment". It comes from old Germanic law, in which precise prices were set out for everything, including human beings. Stealing or destroying another's property, be it sword, cow, or slave, required weregild to be paid, the amount depending on the value of the lost item. The killing of one's father would demand a high payment; all the more when the father was the King! That would certainly require the giving up of the culprit's greatest, let us call it his his most "precious" possession.

And here, we come up against the concept of natural law. The Germanic law was instituted as an alternative to the old method of righting wrongs: blood revenge, which often turned into blood feud. It held long enough, in the Northern world, to seem "natural", and in story terms, Isildur certainly considers it a matter of course, the customary way of "righting the balance".

But there is a difference: though both may be called "natural", one has its basis in the concept of Nature as an order; the other in nature as a fallen world. The Elves are aware that the Ring lies far outside the world of legal niceties among mortals. To ignore this is an act of hubris, and Isildur reveals this flaw in the rest of his words, as given more fully in the Silmarillion:

'This I will have as weregild for my father's death, and my brother's. Was it not I that dealt the Enemy his death-blow?'

Which leads to the second point to consider: "This I will have". I believe Tolkien is being deliberate in his choice of words here. I argued above the idea that the danger of the Ring lies in possession, not in mere proximity, or even contact. Otherwise, how are we to explain Gandalf's handling of it, or the members of the Fellowship (Boromir excepted), who are in close association with it for months, without being "infected"? It is clearly not something like a black hole, sucking in all who get near it; it needs, like so many cursed artifacts of myth and folktale, acceptance, possessiveness, the laying of claim to it, as Boromir does on Amon Hen: "It might have been mine. It should be mine. Give it to me!".

In any case, Isildur, by taking the Ring for himself, disturbs a balance in nature, that is, nature as an order, which must right itself; this rebalancing is what the Greeks called nemesis, and can be accomplished by any device, otherworldly (the Ring's treachery), or ordinary (orc arrows). This completes the binary, action-and-reaction movement in the tragic structure.

Leaving us with the question of the Elves. What is their role in this story? I would say they fill the part of the chorus in Greek tragedy, who represent the society from which the hero is isolated. They do not necessarily stand for his conscience, but they do often articulate the natural order which he is violating. And they can, at least potentially, play a part in the action, a potential that is cut off if (and inevitably, when) the hero refuses to make the right choice:

For Isildur would not surrender it to Elrond and Cirdan who stood by. They counselled him to cast it into the fire of Orodruin nigh at hand, in which it had been forged, so that it should perish. . .

But Isildur refused this council. . .

I fear I must apologize for the length of this post. I hope something of use may be found in it.
 
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Gilgaearel

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Gilgaearel: I agree with you that Tom Bombadil was the only individual in the entire narrative that demonstrated zero vulnerability to the Ring's seduction - but of course he didn’t march with the host and was not present in the battle. I am sure he would have been perfectly disinterested in any participation. But, you know what - this gives me an idea for a new discussion topic….
Why wasn't he interested though? That is something that always concerned me. He was living in Middle Earth along with the others and if Sauron conquered it, then he would have been in trouble too.
Sauron and the fate of his One Ring wasn't "their" problem. It was a problem that all of them had. I find Tom Bombadil's behaviour quite egoistic.

Now may ask a stupid question?
Why the Last Alliance was called as such. I mean "Last"? ha ha ha
If anything it wasn't the last one, Men and Elves and all free people of Middle Earth allied repeatedly against Sauron after that battle. So why was that Alliance a last one?

Leaving us with the question of the Elves. What is their role in this story? [...]
To mess up everything and then leave that place to go to Valinor! :p

The Elves were responsible for the creation of the rings. They had the know how and one of them cooperated with Sauron in order to make the rings.
They knew that the One Ring could affect its bearers, they knew that could affect those who owned the lesser rings ( that is the reason why they protected their own rings and didn't use them as long as Sauron had the One Ring) but they didn't act when they should have acted in order to prevent those who knew that they would be vulnerable to the power of the One Ring get it in their possession.

What was the point to offer council and advices after the "damage" had been done- after Isildur got the ring from Sauron?
Why did they allowed - knowing in advance what the power of the Ring was- such a thing to happen in the first place?

From my point of view, the story goes as follow:
Hey... here comes Sauron with his Ring of Power. Let's send the Men in the front line!! instead of doing the opposite.

It sounds completely surreal to me that Elrond and Cirdan expected from Isildur to listen to them. What were they thinking??!! ha ha ha
 
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Gilgaearel

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About the Last Alliance that wasn't the last one? I have read what you suggest but then again I'm not sure why this Alliance was called as the last one.
 

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I was referring to the last part of your post.

Of the Last Alliance, Elrond says, in LOTR:

'Never again shall there be any such league of Elves and Men; for Men multiply and the Firstborn decrease; and the two kindred are estranged'.

And so it proved.
 
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Merroe

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Be advised first! Some long reflections, boring to most!!

I wish to add some thoughts following the suggestion of Gilgaearel and Ron Simpson that Tom Bombadil might have been a first choice as ringbearer on the way to the Mount Doom (see above #6 and #7).

Who is Tom Bombadil? Much ink flew over that simple question; after all, JRRT himself said (I quote from his letter 144):

Tom Bombadil is not an important person – to the narrative.

Actually, I think TB was "incorporated" somehow into the general legendarium, not unlike TH: JRRT’s person TB existed already in 1934.

The option of TB as guardian was given due consideration at the council of Elrond (much unlike the option of sending eagles to Mount Doom, which annoys me rather much more!). Here are some of the things that were considered there:

[Elrond:] 'He is a strange creature, but maybe I should have summoned him to our Council.’
‘He would not have come,’ said Gandalf. [...] 'And now he is withdrawn into a little land, within bounds that he has set, though none can see them, waiting perhaps for a change of days, and he will not step beyond them. [...] Such things {meaning the Ring etc} have no hold on his mind.’

JRRT explained in the same letter 144 that his LotR is fundamentally about a good and a bad side with both sides trying to take some control, then continues:

But if you have, as it were taken 'a vow of poverty', renounced control, and take your delight in things for themselves without reference to yourself, watching, observing, and to some extent knowing, then the question of the rights and wrongs of power and control might become utterly meaningless to you, and the means of power quite valueless. It is a natural pacifist view, which always arises in the mind when there is a war. But the view of Rivendell seems to be that it is an excellent thing to have represented, but that there are in fact things with which it cannot cope; and upon which its existence nonetheless depends. Ultimately only the victory of the West will allow Bombadil to continue, or even to survive. Nothing would be left for him in the world of Sauron.

That echoes some of the excellent reflections from Gilgaearel above. Yet, it is also why (let me quote this a second time):

‘Such things have no hold on his mind.’

JRRT, having seen the horrors of war, clearly held on to a figure like Tom Bombadil for that personal view in his books. He must have wanted this pacifist idea in LotR (I think), yet could not give him central stage; so he apologetically stated in the same letter:

As a story, I think it is good that there should be a lot of things unexplained (especially if an explanation actually exists); and I have perhaps from this point of view erred in trying to explain too much, and give too much past history. Many readers have, for instance, rather stuck at the Council of Elrond. And even in a mythical Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally).

He therewith also came a bit lightly over the question who is the oldest now: TB or Treebeard? Let’s hold our horses and not open that box of Pandora yet another time!! TB was more like a point of view, I think, which the author did not want any reader to forget. In my own personal opinion (with invited discussion most pleased) TB was:
  1. his personification of pacifist views from people impressed by the horrors of war and notions of right and wrong fading after dreadful cruelty/losses on both sides of a war and progressively ununderstood by intellectuals like JRRT in the horrific battlefields of those times.
  2. a statement of mind, rather than an actor in his story.
Any further opinions, greatly welcome!
 
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Squint-eyed Southerner

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Good points, Meroe -- and not boring! I'll add a line:

The power of the Ring over all concerned, even the Wizards or Emissaries, is not a delusion -- but it is not the whole picture, even of the then state and content of that part of the Universe.

This from a paragraph in Letter 153, at the top of which he had written

I don't think Tom needs philosophizing about, and is not improved by it.

Of course, we won't let that stop us, will we? :)
 

Ron Simpson

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  • Even Saruman, presumably the greatest expert at Ring-Lore at the end of the Second Age did clearly not have complete knowledge of all the secrets of Ring-Making, otherwise he might have made one himself.
Gandalf's recounting of his imprisonment suggests that he did actually make one. And while it is not explicitly described as 'a ring of power', one gets the feeling that Gandalf is hinting strongly at this...

‘But I rode to the foot of Orthanc, and came to the stair of Saruman and there he met me and led me up to his high chamber. He wore a ring on his finger.'
The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond
 
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Squint-eyed Southerner

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Also this, from the same episode:

"For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!"

However, all his speeches in this episode serve to reveal him as an alazon character: basically, an imposter. His particular type is the philosophus gloriosus, the pedant or crank who spouts abstract nonsense, usually based on a single intellectual pattern which ignores reality. Gandalf's words, introducing a part of his talk:

'He drew himself up then and began to declaim, as if he were making a speech long rehearsed."

signal that whatever follows is not to be taken seriously. Indeed, Gandalf responds to his farrago of fallacious claptrap:

'"Saruman," I said, "I have heard speeches of this kind before, but only in the mouths of emissaries sent from Mordor to deceive the ignorant. I cannot think you brought me so far only to weary my ears."

Whenever we hear someone say "I am a good and wise man", we immediately know something is very wrong. Saruman, in giving himself this title, and the others he takes to himself -- note the deliberate use of capitals -- shows himself as a deceiver; and what is more, a self-deceiver.

The PG is a favorite target of Menippean satire, a form Tolkien was clearly fond of, as it pops up from time to time in his works.

This is not to say he can't be dangerous, if he is allowed to impose his vision on reality: his modern counterpart is the mad scientist of sci-fi movies. And Saruman is dangerous, as he demonstrates in his attack on Rohan; but the results of his attempts at "generalship" show him to be merely another type of stock character: the miles gloriosus, "military braggart". As Gandalf says:

'And all the time there is another danger, close at hand, which he does not see, busy with his fiery thoughts. He has forgotten Treebeard.'

"Wise fool",
Gandalf calls him, which succinctly sums up his character.

Therefore, my conclusion would be that, although he did make, or at least claim to make, a ring, its "powers" would, if put to the test, have proved illusory.

Edit: It has been pointed out to me that Gandalf applied the term "wise fool" to Sauron, rather than Saruman. My mistake, and thanks for the correction.

I'd still argue that that it applies well to him, though: he proved himself to be a deluded imposter.
 
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Ron Simpson

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Therefore, my conclusion would be that, although he did make, or at least claim to make, a ring, its "powers" would, if put to the test, have proved illusory.
Saruman transformed Nan Curunir into a powerful fortress of war, genetically engineered a new species of half-Orc with which he built a formidable army, while simultaneously stalling the White Council, paralyzing Rohan from within, and frustrating Sauron’s search for the ring. And for the most part, he accomplished this in great secrecy largely unbeknownst to the Wise and to Sauron (both of whom only figured out his double-dealing late in the 4th quarter). That’s a lot of plates to keep spinning. In light of this, couldn’t a strong case be made that he pulled this off with the assistance of his new ring which focused his abilities and better directed his efforts? From this perspective, the power was certainly very real and he accomplished much by it. It isn’t really clear that any of the ‘regular players’ (save Sauron) could have defeated him, and indeed it required those ‘other-worldly forces’ to close him down.

‘Aha,’ you might say: ‘so his ultimate defeat proves the illusion of the power’. But I'm not sure his power was any more or less illusory than Sauron’s power, or even Morgoth’s power inasmuch as in the legendarium, all power wielded by those who fell from grace was always ultimately doomed to failure. But in the interim, they made a great deal of very real trouble for good and decent folk.

In short, shouldn’t Saruman (deluded as he was) be viewed as much more than a little ‘dangerous’.

‘Even reckoned as a lord and captain Saruman has grown very strong’
The White Rider / TTT

'No,' said Aragorn. 'Once he was as great as his fame made him. His knowledge was deep, his thought was subtle, and his hands marvellously skilled; and he had a power over the minds of others.
Flotsam & Jetsam / TTT

I think that I now understand what Saruman is up to. He is plotting to become a Power.
Treebeard / TTT


(On another note: As for forgetting the Ents, good generalship need not mean perfect generalship: I think Saruman got quite far along with his plans. At least as far as Tolkien allowed him to get… )
 
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Ummm...Bree, where else?
I sent this to Squint off-line when he pointed me to this thread some while back.

On Saruman making a ring, since Sauron imbued much of his own power in the One Ring, I don't think Saruman could have made one. He could only have made a poor imitation, pot metal vs silver, or in this case, fools gold.
I don't even recall him doing anything that would indicate he had made a ring of any kind of power.

Edit: It has been pointed out to me that Gandalf applied the term "wise fool" to Sauron, rather than Saruman. My mistake, and thanks for the correction.

I'd still argue that that it applies well to him, though: he proved himself to be a deluded imposter.
You weren't far off.
"I did not give you leave to go," said Gandalf sternly. "I have not finished. You have become a fool, Saruman, and yet pitialble."
 

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Well Gandalf took the time to point out that he was wearing a ring, strongly implying that he made it himself: and we can be sure he wasn’t commenting on Saruman’s preferences in jewelry. It was a significant point methinks. Also, Saruman himself declares that he made one. (see my & SeS's quotes above)

Also, why are Saruman’s abilities held in such low esteem? Let’s all have a bit more respect for his raven hair, darkling eyes, and noble mien - LoL ! But while (like Cirdan) I’m no Saruman-groupie, lets give Jack his jacket: he was a Maia of Aule, and most likely naturally skilled at forging things. Further, if Celebrimbor could produce a premium product, why couldn’t Saruman make a fully functional Walmart version? And what would’ve stopped him from imbuing it with part of his native essence? Was there a restriction placed on incarnated Maia concerning this?

Further, are we sure that foolish intent is a barrier to invention? Well, he created the Uruk-hai and they were fairly effective warriors. Following on from that, I would reason that being a deluded, foolish imposter and being crafty at ring-forging need not be mutually exclusive conditions.

Anyway, perhaps this whole thing turns on (my) projected cynicism, as I try not to underestimate the very real damage that fools can inflict. I concede Saruman's foolishness, but lots of fools are very good at effectively manufacturing and wielding counterfeit or suspect power: just look at the entire arc of human history, and the political state of our planet today. Forget about the planet, just look around the room in your next department meeting at work…. (clearly, I need to use up my vacation time ! )

But in conclusion, fool or no, Saruman's end was heart-wrenching and ignominious. Like Gandalf, I pity him because its easy to stray from the path. However, he should have submitted to Gandalf when he had the chance. As my grandma used to say, 'sometimes it's not what you do, but it's what you do next'.

Just found a revived thread on Saruman's Ring: sorry to have split the discussion:
http://www.thetolkienforum.com/index.php?threads/sarumans-ring.3318/#post-517433
 
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Barliman

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Also, why are Saruman’s abilities held in such low esteem? Let’s all have a bit more respect for his raven hair, darkling eyes, and noble mien - LoL ! But while (like Cirdan) I’m no Saruman-groupie, lets give Jack his jacket: he was a Maia of Aule, and most likely naturally skilled at forging things. Further, if Celebrimbor could produce a premium product, why couldn’t Saruman make a fully functional Walmart version? And what would’ve stopped him from imbuing it with part of his native essence? Was there a restriction placed on incarnated Maia concerning this?
I agree he had made a ring, I trust Gandalf. :)
But I never saw any evidence he had any particular power because of it, so I have no idea what it's capability might have been.

But, don't forget that, except for the three made by Celebrimbor, Sauron guided the elven smiths in making the rings. Since Celebrimbor didn't trust Sauron he never let him handle the three. Yet, my assumption is that Celebrimbor made them with knowledge provided by Sauron, whether Sauron knew he was making them or not, unwittingly using some art that permitted them to still be subject to The One Ring.
Would Sauron have taught Saruman to make such a ring?

Further, are we sure that foolish intent is a barrier to invention? Well, he created the Uruk-hai and they were fairly effective warriors.
Foolish intent is certainly no barrier to invention. Nazi Germany had quite a few inventive ideas.

As for Saruman, by "created" I didn't picture it as Jackson did, of them rising out of the mud. I took it to mean he performed some sort of genetic engineering via selective breeding, the same way Sauron "created" orcs.

Just found a revived thread on Saruman's Ring: sorry to have split the discussion:
http://www.thetolkienforum.com/index.php?threads/sarumans-ring.3318/#post-517433
Thanks for the link, I will read it.
 

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