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Analysing the role of The Necromancer in The Hobbit

News from Bree

Sep 10 2013, 9:36am

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Analysing the role of The Necromancer in The Hobbit Can't Post

Gandalf and Radagast at Dol Guldur We know that The Necromancer has a big role to play in The Desolation of Smaug. But just how big will it be? Will Dol Guldur be a relatively minor affair involving only Gandalf and his fellow wizards? Or will other key actors of The Hobbit be somehow drawn into the struggle in the south of Mirkwood?

In this feature, Ringer Captain Salt assembles what we know already form various actor blog posts, video logs and magazine articles and tries to tie it all together.

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Analysing the role of The Necromancer in The Hobbit

By Ringer Captain Salt

The Dol Guldur storyline was only a minor portion of the first Hobbit film. Yet it set in motion things which will expand into a major story thread in The Desolation of Smaug after Gandalf leaves the company early on to deal with "some pressing business away south".

Just how will the Necromancer story play out in the second film? It appears this depends on how many of the other story lines are tied into that which most serves as a direct prequel to The Lord of the Rings.

The widespread rise of evil

As Gandalf establishes in An Unexpected Journey, the rise of evil preceding The War of the Ring is not localized to Dol Guldur or Mirkwood; trolls and orcs on the move seem to spark concern that the watchful peace may be coming a close. Certainly, it seems that Azog is connected to the Necromancer, at the very least through his son/wretched offspring, Bolg. According to leaked Bridge Direct descriptions from last year:

It was said that Azog the Desecrator fell many years ago in the great battle between the Orcs and the Dwarves. But now he appears again at the top of a deadly horde of killer orcs. For Gandalf begins a race against time because he has to figure out the connection between the most dangerous orc commander and the growing evil, which takes shape in the ruins of the fortress of Dol Guldur. One thing is totally clear: no one will deter Azog from his intention to destroy Thorin Oakenshield's companions to the last dwarf.

Bolg is the offspring of Azog the Desecrator -- like his father, he is huge pale orc. He is the overseer in the dungeons of Dol Guldur -- torturing is his hobby. He garnishes his armor with the bones and the blood of his victims. This husky Orc fears nothing and nobody -- until he suddenly meets an unexpected opponent.

Azog -- Sauron's newest undead minion?

[caption id="attachment_70917" align="alignright" width="300"]Azog the Defiler Azog the Defiler[/caption] There have also been hints that Azog is in service to the Necromancer -- and may even have truly succumbed to his wounds at Azanulbizar and has been, well... necromanced... by Sauron. Might the re-use of the Nazgul motif during the Thorin/Azog confrontation at AUJ's end, which Howard Shore collaborator and documentarian Doug Adams maintains was thematically appropriate, hint that Azog, like the Nazgul, is one of Sauron's undead minions?

Also as some have noted, during the final confrontation with the Gundabad Orcs Sting gleams brightly until Bilbo lands across the head of Azog's warg, at which point the blade dims. Why? Because Sting recognizes that Azog is not a "living" Orc? And why is Bolg, himself a formidable Orc chieftain of the north in Tolkien's writings, serving as Sauron's interrogator? Does he owe the Dark Lord a debt for raising a slain Azog from the abyss?

Despite many fans' probable preference that Azog and Smaug remain independent agents rather than thralls of Sauron, the Bridge Direct description would not mention a connection between Azog and Sauron if there were not one. Additionally, in An Unexpected Journey Gandalf makes mention that he fears "the enemy" -- meaning Sauron -- could use Smaug "to terrible effect".

(As an aside, this actually ties closely with Gandalf's thoughts on the importance of Thorin's mission and the northern theater in Tolkien's The Quest for Erebor as published in Unfinished Tales).

And keep in mind that even before he had signed on to the project, but apparently after he had read the then-in-progress scripts, Ian McKellen mentioned that Peter Jackson and Co. had been quite clever about tying the various elements in The Hobbit together. The implication is that we would get a more cohesive narrative than the seemingly largely unrelated linear plot-lines that played out separately in An Unexpected Journey.

Things that have been revealed

[caption id="attachment_78694" align="alignright" width="300"]Thrain attacks Gandalf at Dol Guldur Thrain attacks Gandalf at Dol Guldur[/caption] Of course, we've been given the pieces which will extend naturally from An Unexpected Journey into the second film:

Thrain will be involved in some way -- he and Gandalf will meet in Dol Guldur, and his presence will help tie together the dwarf and Necromancer stories

The Nazgul will be present (a stuntman involved in the film stated that he'd been performing "ringwraiths", which would suggest that there will be more than the single Witch-king cameo we saw in An Unexpected Journey. And as we know from the released scene in the High Fells, all nine of the Nazgul tombs are empty.

Galadriel's promise to Gandalf, that if he needs her she will assist him, will probably be upheld -- potentially with the results for Dol Guldur being Galadriel "throwing down its walls and laying bare its pits" as in the Legendarium in Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings. Though, from the general appearance of the fortress, one wonders if she may not have done so already.

We've also heard that Gandalf will be captured (or even incapacitated), and at one point will be rescued by Radagast and/or Galadriel.

All of these seem as though they could play into the Battle of Dol Guldur, or events immediately pre-preceding it.

However, there may be much more the Dol Guldur story than what has been established -- elements will be revealed as the narrative expands in The Desolation of Smaug.

Could Sauron be the "big bad" of the Desolation of Smaug?

0-lotr-sauron In my opinion, from what little we know -- Peter Jackson may ultimately cast the Necromancer/Sauron as the "big bad" again in The Hobbit, with Smaug and Azog as a potential ally and a captain, respectively. Orcs and dragons owe their existence and their allegiance to the Dark Lords of Middle-earth -- both Sauron and Sauron's master, Morgoth.

Could The Desolation of Smaug reveal that Sauron is moving to assail the Free Peoples from Dol Guldur, with the aid of Azog and the potential assistance of Smaug? The recent movie tie-in book Desolation of Smaug Annual revealed that Azog had destroyed the Beornings, and that he is attempting to prevent Thorin from reaching the Lonely Mountain.

Is Sauron beginning to destabilize the North-east around his domain, and trying to ensure that Smaug remain exactly where he is so that the Dark Lord can obtain the allegiance of the worm? And then, there are the rumors that Sauron may return and even raise Smaug for The Battle of the Five Armies in There and Back Again.

Benedict Cumberbatch has mentioned that he has a part to play in "The Five Legions War". But these are remain simply rumors and speculation for now.

Just how close or far away from the mark these theories are depend on:

A. How closely Azog is associated with the Necromaner is The Desolation of Smaug

B. How the new players in The Desolation of Smaug (Beorn, the Wood-elves, the Lake-men) fit into the Necromancer story -- if at all.

Slavery, trademark of the Dark Lords

[caption id="attachment_78695" align="alignright" width="300"]Stephen Fry is the Master of Lake-town. Stephen Fry is the Master of Lake-town.[/caption] We know from the early advertising and interviews that Azog's band will pursue the dwarves through the Woodland Realm and into Lake-town. Will Azog personify the presence of the Necromancer, bringing these new locales and the supporting cast into the storyline?

In particular, something which has not been revealed currently is whether or not the Lake-men, and in particular Bard or the Master of Lake-town, figure in the Necromancer story.

Stephen Fry stated in a 2012 interview that Bard is "heroic" and "rides and hunts" in the vicinity of Esgaorth. But what is Bard "hunting"? Food? Or something else? We already know that Legolas and Tauriel will fight the Necromancer's spiders, at the very least.

Are other fell creatures lurking in the vicinity of the Riving Running, and being kept away from the people of Lake-town by Bard? What is he doing, bow and arrow in hand, when he finds Bilbo and the Dwarves drawing close to Esgaroth?

Then there's the recent reveal from the 2014 annual that Alfrid, a "very creepy" man of Lake-town, is in fact ostensibly a "slave" to the Master? Slavery is a trademark state of the Dark Lords, Morgoth and Sauron.

Indeed, look for any trace of slavery or thralldom in The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, and Sauron or Saruman are responsible (save the Army of the Dead, who are arguably not acting of their own free will, though they are forced into service by Aragorn with promise of eventual freedom rather than through the oppression of his enemies).

Already it seems that Stephen Fry's Master of Lake-town might be a human analogue for Smaug -- but might he be an even darker character, possibly purposely ignoring the rise of the Necromancer (or even being a slave to Sauron himself)?

Or is his simply the corrupt politician that he was in the novel?

Bard, Beorn and Azog -- a spiders' web of events

[caption id="attachment_78004" align="alignright" width="239"]Bard the Bowman. Bard the Bowman.[/caption] We also know Azog's orcs will attack both a group of Wood-elves, and invade Lake-town in The Desolation of Smaug. Evidently Bard's daughter, Tilda, will be injured by an Orc, but healed by Tauriel. Bard initially does not have a position of authority in Lake-town; will this give him the freedom to hunt the creatures of Dol Guldur, or the orcs whose attack endangers Tilda?

Beorn will have an animosity of Azog. According to the 2014 annual, he hates Azog wiping out the other shape-shifters in Middle-earth -- in fact, Beorn only gives Thorin's company shelter when he learns they are being pursued by Azog.

Legolas and Tauriel will fight both the Necromancer's spiders as revealed in interviews and a LEGO playset (the same spiders Radagast discovered came from the Hill of Sorcery in An Unexpected Journey), and of course, Azog's hunters; and Bard will encounter the Gundabad Orcs at least once.

If Azog is under the command of, or at least allied with, Sauron, all of these characters will play a part in combating the Necromancer's fell creatures. It has become apparent that Bard and the elves have more to do than in the book -- as does Beorn, according to Peter Jackson.

Is there some Maia pulling all the strings?

Does this "something more" include a part in the Necromancer story proper, or will it simply involve the aforementioned battle scenes?

According to Peter Jackson's recent interview with Empire, The Desolation of Smaug will contain multiple story-threads -- the dwarves, the Lake-men, the Wood-elves, the orcs; will Sauron be the common presence who binds these stories together, a-la The Lord of the Rings? And who in the extensive ensemble will be present at the Battle of Dol Guldur (other than the wizards and presumably Galadriel)?

Time will tell.

And what of Saruman the Wise?

[caption id="attachment_65781" align="alignright" width="300"]Peter Jackson's Saruman in The Hobbit will supposedly be 'unfallen'. Peter Jackson's Saruman in The Hobbit will supposedly be 'unfallen'.[/caption] Finally there's a wildcard -- Saruman. Known as an antagonist in The Lord of the Rings, in An Unexpected Journey he appears to be still one of The Wise of the Free Peoples, if haughty and generally dismissive of others' opinions. However, returning once again to the old Bridge Direct descriptions:

The venerable and mighty Saruman, with four other magicians to the Guardians of Middle Earth (sic) that will help the world of order and balance. Above all, Saruman the fate of the free nations arranged according to his discretion. As head of the White Council, he fears with growing unease that Gandalf the Grey and Thorin Oakenshield could mess up his careful calculations. Saruman is indeed very old and wise out there, but according to its underlying weakness, and lusts for power - a greed that ultimately produce the most deadly of all Covenants.

Are these passing references to Saruman's treachery in the original film trilogy? Or, as in Tolkien's writings, has Saruman already fallen into evil and plotting against our heroes?

Whatever the case, it is entirely possible that the Necromancer story will involve more than Gandalf and Radagast simply poking around the High Fells and Dol Guldur. As Peter Jackson once explained -- the films will frame the story amidst the greater "geopolitical" happenings of the period.

"Geopolitical" meaning that greater attention will be paid to the involved cultures/realms, and the characters therein.

Potentially, this expansion will include the most important geopolitical events that occur in The Hobbit: those concerning Sauron's strongholds and presence in the north-east which later informed the entire tale told in The Lord of the Rings itself.

Captain Salt has been a Tolkien fan since childhood when he played Gloin in a stage production of The Hobbit though as there were only about eight dwarves, he was given other dwarves’ dialogue as well, resulting in a rather strange Gloin who at times talked to himself in a Gollum-ish manner. He’s also volunteered through the years at other film sites and has written for (minor) entertainment publications.

The views presented in this article are his own and don’t necessarily represent TheOneRing.net or other staff.

Subject User Time
Analysing the role of The Necromancer in The Hobbit News from Bree Send a private message to News from Bree Sep 10 2013, 9:36am
    Nice!! morro91 Send a private message to morro91 Sep 10 2013, 2:53pm
        The book Salmacis81 Send a private message to Salmacis81 Sep 10 2013, 3:15pm
    Nice article Remus Send a private message to Remus Sep 10 2013, 4:36pm
        I'm interested to see... Long Hammer Send a private message to Long Hammer Sep 10 2013, 5:11pm
            Necromencer was boring in the books nhui06 Send a private message to nhui06 Sep 10 2013, 5:48pm
                Thrain disappeared way before Long Hammer Send a private message to Long Hammer Sep 10 2013, 6:24pm
                    Balin doesn't know... nhui06 Send a private message to nhui06 Sep 10 2013, 6:31pm
                    lol Loresilme Send a private message to Loresilme Sep 10 2013, 7:54pm
                Not exactly "lazy writing"... Salmacis81 Send a private message to Salmacis81 Sep 10 2013, 7:50pm
                    Thanks for the clarification nhui06 Send a private message to nhui06 Sep 10 2013, 7:56pm
    If Necro wouldhave been able to resurrect dead orcs(Azog)that would had reinforced the urgency ofdestroying the ring and would have made evident that an army of goshts wasntenoughagainst Mordor Mr. Arkenstone (isaac) Send a private message to Mr. Arkenstone (isaac) Sep 10 2013, 4:57pm
    The Palantir Not_the_beard Send a private message to Not_the_beard Sep 10 2013, 5:57pm
        Ooooo! vexx801 Send a private message to vexx801 Sep 11 2013, 6:23pm
    Important role, but not the main one Old Pilgrim Send a private message to Old Pilgrim Sep 11 2013, 6:04am
        Couldn't agree more... Eleniel Send a private message to Eleniel Sep 11 2013, 6:26am
    Azog may never have been independent of Sauron even in the text. Recall that after The Balrog empties AinurOlorin Send a private message to AinurOlorin Sep 11 2013, 6:43am
    Saruman Otaku-sempai Send a private message to Otaku-sempai Sep 11 2013, 3:31pm
    I hope they keep the Necromancer's role subtle (and no zombies please!) Lio Send a private message to Lio Sep 12 2013, 12:49am
        Completely agree Salmacis81 Send a private message to Salmacis81 Sep 12 2013, 9:44pm
            Oh yes, totally!!! Rembrethil Send a private message to Rembrethil Sep 13 2013, 2:24am
            I think they are dead Elskidor Send a private message to Elskidor Sep 22 2013, 11:12pm
                We will see... Rembrethil Send a private message to Rembrethil Sep 24 2013, 1:20am
    ... kbdiggity Send a private message to kbdiggity Sep 12 2013, 1:47am


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