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I just noticed that...


Sep 29 2013, 3:20pm

Post #1 of 6 (347 views)
I just noticed that... Can't Post

 The orcs of Cirith Ungol had been ordered that:

"Any trespasser found by the guard is to be held at the tower. Prisoner is to be stripped. Full description of every article, garment, weapon, letter,
RING, or trinket is to be sent to Lugb˙rz at once, and to Lugb˙rz only."

I find this order very interesting, and would love to hear your take on it. Another thing to keep in mind, is that Sauron never had any clue as to
what our friends' real intentions. It might even represent an oversight on the part of Tolkien, but let's hear some other thoughts!

In the movies Elrond, Denethor, Haldir, Galadriel, and Celeborn stink.


Sep 29 2013, 3:44pm

Post #2 of 6 (247 views)
'What, teeth, nails, hair, and all?' [In reply to] Can't Post

It is interesting that the orders seem to require a written description. At least some of the orcs are apparently expected to be literate. But with literacy comes a very large degree of self-knowledge and self-will. We know from the top-level orcs' conversation that they're both fairly intelligent and aware that they're not trusted by their superiors; is there a secretarial class of orcs, like the tracker we meet later, but even more somewhat like the monks of medieval Europe who read and wrote for their more illiterate but more noble warrior lords?

At the same time and somewhat contradictorily, it's clear that the Dark Lord doesn't staff his guard tower with anyone who is competent to conduct a preliminary interrogation. What is to be sent is only the description of the items, not a report on what the prisoner's name, country, story, allegiance, interest, etc. is. Nor are the items themselves to be sent, although as we see that's exactly what does happen after the debacle - is that going against orders, or is it an example of a subordinate's willingness of improvise on the spot?

We might conclude that these orders reinforce Sauron's world-view that everything in the world is an object, not a personality. But as a way to rule a kingdom it's remarkably inefficient. Indeed, this reminds me that I've read criticism of Sauron along these lines before. One of Mordor's weaknesses is the lack of free will in its inhabitants and soldiers. Sauron must do or at least think of EVERYTHING of importance himself. The analysis concludes that that is why, with all his great power, he has not yet overwhelmed the West even before the Ring enters the story.

As for the explicit inclusion of a ring among the items to be inventoried, I agree that it's a delicious touch of irony on Tolkien's part. Clearly the Dark Lord doesn't expect the One Ring to appear on the finger of a captured spy at Cirith Ungol. But we have seen that rings are fairly common in Middle-earth as signets of rank and nobility. I guess that the Dark Lord fears that, as jewelry attached closely to a finger rather than being easily removable like bracelets or necklaces, a ring might perhaps be left on the prisoner's body during the stripping process if the instructions did not point this out to the (now once again somewhat dull) border guard force.

Since the orcs, we see in the next sentence (and my header), are quite eager to strip a prisoner far beyond items of equipment and apparel, this level of detail would seem unnecessary but once again the whole passage reinforces our impression of Sauron's monomanical style of command and control.

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(This post was edited by squire on Sep 29 2013, 3:47pm)


Sep 29 2013, 7:09pm

Post #3 of 6 (214 views)
My reasoning [In reply to] Can't Post

This is a very interesting idea and I also found it quite intriguing.

I always thought that the order of the items to be delivered had placed the "ring" almost last in order for Sauron not to give too much away to his orcs - thus detracting attention from the Ring.

It's as if the order was just laying out a description of the most common items that may be found on a trespasser and amongst which one may come across a ring (which although not that important - or so he wants the orcs to believe - should still be reported back).

This reminds me of Gloin's account during the Council of Elrond when he tells the tale of the Ringwraith that visits Erebor and demands information about the Ring ring stating: "It is but a trifle that Sauron fancies, and an earnest of your good will."

Yet again, the idea of the Ring is being downplayed and the true power of the object is trying to be concealed amongst both the enemies and Sauron's own minions of lower status.

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Sep 30 2013, 2:39pm

Post #4 of 6 (167 views)
I think squire and Arandir are correct... [In reply to] Can't Post

But I would also add that just because he may list the Ring (even if this is a reference to the One) it certainly does not mean that Sauron knew of the plan, but I am guessing that those were general instructions given to many of the orcs from Sauron. Sauron was indeed "casting a wide net" because he really has no idea where the Ring is. In other words, he is simply trying to cover all his bases.

Not all those who wander are lost

(This post was edited by rangerfromthenorth on Sep 30 2013, 2:41pm)


Oct 4 2013, 3:55pm

Post #5 of 6 (120 views)
Y U No Search Hobbits? [In reply to] Can't Post

We first look to Saruman's orders, which were the 'prisoners are not to be spoiled' - now Saruman is more aware of what the Fellowship are doing although hedoesn't know which Hobbit has the ring. Not as much detail as Sauron, presumably because even his orcs might be swayed by the Ring to go to Mordor's side.

Sauron on the other hand doesn't have a clue about the mission, but he does know his three greatest enemies are also ring-bearers. He knows the heir of Isildur wears the ring of Barahir (at least in theory) and other people wear rings as a sign of authority/ego (Saruman). He might not know that four dwarven rings were melted by dragons. His orders are basically to strip the trespassers down to their natural look so that they don't smuggle anything in.

These seem standard orders for a wartime border outpost-

anyone not in our colours is a spy and must be stripped immediately. They would have to be awesome in order to get past Minas Morgul, so we want their stuff so we can taunt Gondor and/or the Elves with it later. Leave nothing, not even the biscuits or fying pans.

The Mouth of Sauron later produces the things gained from these orders- the Westernesse sword, the mail coat and the elf-cloak. He proclaims that they've caught a spy, which is what the orders are designed to catch.


Oct 4 2013, 5:27pm

Post #6 of 6 (133 views)
Mordor, the bureaucracy [In reply to] Can't Post

I think we're supposed to be seeing Mordor, the bureaucracy - rules and rules and rules. Thinking about it, the only reason it would be better to send descriptions rather than actual prisoner plus artifacts would be if you were making a system which could cope with scale - prisoner moulders where first caught until someone at HQ decided whether he's interesting, or merely to be eaten by the garrison of the border-post. But that seems a bit unlikely - are they catching swarms of illegal immigrants into Mordor? Can't really imagine that. They might, of course, have a system largely designed for recapturing deserters.

I suspect the specific mention of a ring is for the reader to recognize how handy it was that Sam took the Ring, rather than particular prescience on Sauron's part.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimŰ I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


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