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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
What if Sauron had never made the One Ring?

alienorchid
Lorien


Nov 22 2012, 10:15am

Post #1 of 11 (2054 views)
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What if Sauron had never made the One Ring? Can't Post

I was just discussing this with a friend and would like to hear your thoughts.

Obviously, there is no way to know! But here is a hypothetical situation, just to get the discussion started.

So, Sauron was in his 'Annatar' guise, working with and teaching the Elves to make magic rings and all sorts of cool stuff, meanwhile reinforcing Mordor and Barad Dur. The elves only became aware that Annatar was a bad dude when he forged the One Ring and they became aware of his intent and took their rings off. So, if he hadn't made it, they would not have caught on for a lot longer.

However, he would still have had to contend with the forces of Numenor when everyone eventually realised who he was (Elrond and Gil-Galad already had their doubts), which was a pretty big deal at this stage, and perhaps they would still have been able to capture him, and so he would still have been able to use his influence to corrupt them and set them against the Valar, thus ensuring the doom of Numenor and the flight of the Faithful back to Middle Earth to create the Kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor. Would Sauron have survived the Downfall of Numenor? Would his dark spirit have endured and flown back to Mordor to take a new form? Let's assume yes?

At this point, they would know for sure, beyond any doubt or trickery, that Sauron is a bad guy you should never listen to, so they would have gone to war with him, right? Would they have been able to defeat him? Could they have cast him down forever, or would his spirit have been able to gain another form? I have no idea! Let's discuss :)


ElendilTheShort
Gondor


Nov 23 2012, 11:00am

Post #2 of 11 (923 views)
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His power was in rapport with the ring [In reply to] Can't Post

he was not less powerful than his natural state without it but he was more powerful than his natural state with it. The main weakness with it was of course if it was destroyed then he would be so diminshed in power that he could never reform within the circles of the world. No problem says he though, for the nature of the ring was such that no one could willingly destroy it, let alone the fact that he never thought it could be forcibly removed from his person.

If he didn't make the one ring it is clear he would have created either iPODS (with free Themes of Illuvatar included) or Angry Birds to distract his enemies and with such an advantage his victory would have been assured, and Middle Earth would have plunged into innumerable ages of darkness.


Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Nov 23 2012, 10:09pm

Post #3 of 11 (956 views)
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Many variables here [In reply to] Can't Post

For example, without the One Ring we wouldn't have Nazgûls, nor their influence in their respective kingdoms.

Let's assume the beginning and the middle would have gone as you described. No matter prepared Sauron would have had time to become, he still would have been bested by the Númenorians etc.

I believe Sauron would have been able to flee the Sinking even without the Ring. It's the opposite: Tolkien questioned himself how Sauron could save the Ring from the Sinking. And answered that he must have carried it with himself as he flee in his bodyless spirit form. After all, he was a Maia and therefore capable of controlling physical matter with his mere Fëa.

The War of the Last Alliance... Sauron would have been defeated, again. But would he have had enough power left to rebuild himself, no matter how slowly, without the Ring existing somewhere? I'm afraid my Ringlore is quite rusty, and someone else will have to answer this one.

What I know is that IF Sauron would have survived these destroyings of his body (yes, would he have surived its destroyment in the Fall of Númenor without the Ring?) and made it so far as to began the War of the Ring... which obvioysly wouldn't have been called that... he would have won.

And now someone who remembers their LotR-fu better than me can come and correct this mess.

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


Morthoron
Gondor


Nov 24 2012, 3:30am

Post #4 of 11 (966 views)
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Well, he would have had an extra finger... [In reply to] Can't Post

And Frodo would have kept his finger as well.

Smeagol and Deagol would have had a nice birthday fishing trip.

And Legolas would have never body-surfed a Mumakil.

Laugh

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



elevorn
Lorien


Nov 26 2012, 5:11pm

Post #5 of 11 (838 views)
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He wanted [In reply to] Can't Post

A way to control the others around him. Since the Elves were making rings, he thus chose to use a ring to control them all. His desire was control and dominion. He would have used something else in order to find such control and or power over them.



"clever hobbits to climb so high!"
Check out my writing www.jdstudios.wordpress.com


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Nov 27 2012, 3:06pm

Post #6 of 11 (1292 views)
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Not necessarily so... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
For example, without the One Ring we wouldn't have Nazgûls, nor their influence in their respective kingdoms.

Let's assume the beginning and the middle would have gone as you described. No matter prepared Sauron would have had time to become, he still would have been bested by the Númenorians etc.

I believe Sauron would have been able to flee the Sinking even without the Ring. It's the opposite: Tolkien questioned himself how Sauron could save the Ring from the Sinking. And answered that he must have carried it with himself as he flee in his bodyless spirit form. After all, he was a Maia and therefore capable of controlling physical matter with his mere Fëa.

The War of the Last Alliance... Sauron would have been defeated, again. But would he have had enough power left to rebuild himself, no matter how slowly, without the Ring existing somewhere? I'm afraid my Ringlore is quite rusty, and someone else will have to answer this one.

What I know is that IF Sauron would have survived these destroyings of his body (yes, would he have surived its destroyment in the Fall of Númenor without the Ring?) and made it so far as to began the War of the Ring... which obvioysly wouldn't have been called that... he would have won.

And now someone who remembers their LotR-fu better than me can come and correct this mess.



Without the One Ring, the Nine would have still been powerful artifacts and their use might have still resulted in their owners being transformed into Nazgûl, but Nazgûl not subject to Sauron's will. The Seven Rings of the Dwarves would have still been just as troublesome, unable to subjugate the Dwarf-lords, but still having an effect upon them. Of course, the Elven Rings could have been used with impunity with Sauron unable to affect them. Actually, without the Master Ring, Sauron might have been undefeatable--except perhaps by the power of the Three Rings.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


Felagund
Lorien


Dec 4 2012, 8:43pm

Post #7 of 11 (923 views)
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An even more cautious & vulnerable Sauron [In reply to] Can't Post

A great (and tricky) question! Some thoughts:
  • The main issue for me is whether Sauron would have been able to assume a new hröa if he was slain whilst incarnate in Middle-earth, if he hadn't forged the One Ring. The fact that he did rebuild a physical form after his 'death' during the Downfall of Númenor, and again after he was overwhelmed by Gil-galad, Elendil and Isildur isn't conclusive in this regard. On both occasions he had the Ring (even when he was incorporeal after 'dying' in Númenor). However, if we look back at Sauron in the First Age (ie. pre-Ring) there is the suggestion that 'death' would have been permanent - at least as far as his hröa was concerned. When Huan defeats Sauron in their fight on Tol-in-Gaurhoth, Lúthien states that if Sauron allowed himself to be killed, he would spend eternity "stripped of his raiment of flesh" and "everlastingly thy [Sauron's] naked self shall endure the torment of his [Morgoth's] scorn" (The Silmarillion, 'Of Beren & Lúthien'). Now whether this passage was meant to be conclusive on the durability of Maiar hröar is open to debate, but it at least flags the possibility that a Sauron who hadn't forged the One Ring was vulnerable to permanent, physical destruction.
  • It's also worth checking out the 'Myths Transformed' chapter in Morgoth's Ring. There's an interesting passage on what happens when evil spirits (Sauron included) who have become 'earthbound' suffer physical death - "they would, of course, like Sauron, be 'damned': ie. reduced to impotence, infinitely recessive...". This aligns reasonably well with Lúthien's claim that Sauron would be "stripped of his raiment of flesh" forever, should Huan kill his hröa.
  • Taking this theory to its logical conclusion, the irony of the One Ring was that whilst Sauron was uniquely exposed to permanent destruction (ie. if someone happened to drop the Ring into Mount Doom), it was also the one artefact that enabled him to keep rebuilding his physical form - so much of his native power was vested in the Ring that killing Sauron's hröa wasn't enough to put him out of business.
  • If this theory holds, then it's possible to imagine that Sauron would have been even more cautious in the Second and Third Ages (assuming that he survived the former). I can't see him being quite so brave during the War of the Elves and Sauron, when he personally led his armies into Eriador. As it was, he only narrowly avoided being overtaken by the Númenóreans under Ciryatur, at the Battle of the Gwathló.
  • Without the One Ring to concentrate his ability to dominate the will of others, Sauron's empire building may have been slower. That said, even without the One Ring, Sauron was able to gather up vestiges of Morgoth's servants (Orcs, trolls, corrupted Men), and to corrupt and dominate new peoples - most notably races of Men from the East and South. Much of this takes place before the forging of the Rings of Power (The Silmarillion, 'Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age'). Not that having the One Ring enabled him to command his armies to take on the Númenóreans in battle once Ar-Pharazôn turned up!
  • Which brings me to my final point on the topic of Sauron: it was probably inevitable that he would create the One Ring or an artefact with similar purpose. This was the only way that he'd have a decent shot at achieving his megalomaniacal goals in Middle-earth - by binding all the rulers of the Elves, Dwarves and Men to his own will, enslaved through their own Rings of Power. Obviously that didn't work out quite as planned, but as I said, it was his best shot.
  • And I agree with Otaku-sempai - the kings of Men etc who took the Nine Rings would have become wraiths, regardless of Sauron having forged the One Ring. The latter was only relevant for enslaving those undead beings, not for creating them in the first place. Mortals just weren't built for handling that kind of power.


Welcome to the Mordorfone network, where we put the 'hai' back into Uruk


Plurmo
Rohan

Dec 5 2012, 5:53pm

Post #8 of 11 (717 views)
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A reply [In reply to] Can't Post

The creation of the Elven Rings was a Fall (Tolkien's chief theme.) What elevorn suggest is that ringmaking was the characteristic form of Fall for the great of that Age. If, as ElendilTheShort suggests, creating "iPODS with free Themes of Illuvatar" were the characteristic fall of that age, then Sauron would have created the One iPod to play them all and then Frodo would have better kept his fingers because Sauron's Victory Song and iPod Touch would be both at hand. And that, I think, is why Otaku-sempai's scenario of Sauron being defeated by the Elven Rings is improbable. The Noldor always fall a little shorter than the Evil Powers, their victory songs never making to the top of the popularity charts on the orcwaves and orcraves.

The situation is summarized in Felagund's sixt (penultimate) item "it was probably inevitable that he would create the One Ring or an artefact with similar purpose."


Plurmo
Rohan

Dec 5 2012, 6:02pm

Post #9 of 11 (833 views)
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An especulative reply [In reply to] Can't Post

[Caveat: I consider the mighty spirit of Melkor to have far more power over the World than what the Wise might concede (but they are biased!) Therefore what follows is pure speculation over some of the themes proposed by Felagund.]

The One Ring draws power from the Ring of Morgoth without his consent. It is an artifice Sauron is able to create because Morgoth is without will on the Matter, literally speaking. Perhaps the very presence of Morgoth in Arda would have made the "magic" behind the making of the One Ring impossible to perform, being it similar to trying to transfer the mastery of the One Ring out from Sauron while he still existed. In that sense, ringmaking under Aulë's Lore over Morgoth's tainted substance is the inevitable path for a Fall (by the Noldor and the Maiar of Aulë) after the extrusion of Morgoth.

In that light consider two attributes of the One Ring. First its ability to create a bonding between substance and will which brought about the inexpugnability of the Barad-dur, the mastery over the Ring itself, the freedom of movement for the Nazgul, the rebuilding of Sauron's body... Second, its ability to create a bonding between will and will resulting in forms of domination, being the Nazgul thraldom the most extreme form.

Of these mere two attributes among others, I speculate that the first draws exclusively from the power of Morgoth over substance and the second draws exclusively from the power of Sauron over mind.

If the One Ring was never made, then Sauron could have exerted his own powers of domination in other ways, but the power drawn from Morgoth would be absent. To give an example (following on Otaku-sempai's analysis,) without the making of the One Ring, as soon as the Nazgul would become open to Sauron's complete domination they would also become useless wraiths unable to perform in the open world, forced to hide in haunted places and carrion flesh like barrow whights. By contrast, Sauron would be unable to settle down. No place would be secure enough for him to stay and the Elven Rings would eventually overcome him and then this particular Fall of the elves in Middle-earth would become a terrible Fall of numenorean proportions.

So, what would have happened if Sauron never made the Ring and the Elves were left to the free Fall? Arguably Middle-earth would follow Beleriand and Númenor into unbeing. But Eru being the Lord of the Music chose Middle-earth to stay, therefore the One Ring is also another of his beautiful snowflakes (and that requires the power of Morgoth as an ingredient,) floating around as long as necessary for the High-elves to finally forsake Middle-earth (and the long defeat inherent to their staying) and then ceasing to be at the opening of the Age of Men.

PS: I don't think there is a way circumventing Ringlore that would give clear answers to most questions regarding the Rings of Power. If we cannot answer seemingly trivial questions like what would have happened to the Ring in case Sauron was himself bounded and dropped into Mount Doom, being forced to undo the bonding between spirit and matter under the threat of the same natural force that is at the heart of his ringmaking spell (and therefore his bonding to the One Ring,) then we cannot gauge with precision what comes as a result of the existence of the Rings and what doesn't. I chose to believe that it is in the power of Morgoth to recast a horrible hröa over an earthbound spirit, meaning that he could have given a new body to a Sauron defeated by Huan if he wished so, as a consequence I understand that as long as the Ring existed Sauron could usurp this power of Morgoth to rebuild himself. But that is a choice, the only way I found to make sense of Tolkien's open cosmogony.

I do apologise for the many error in my writing. I have no idea where they are, but I know they are everywhere making a fuss of things like little goblin imps.Evil


CuriousG
Valinor


Dec 5 2012, 9:03pm

Post #10 of 11 (749 views)
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The Three were never meant for war [In reply to] Can't Post

Elrond says that explicitly when Boromir says they should use them to defeat Sauron.


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Dec 5 2012, 9:28pm

Post #11 of 11 (1684 views)
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True, however... [In reply to] Can't Post

Even if the Elven Rings were used only defensively, they might have still given the Eldar the edge over a Ringless Sauron.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring

 
 

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