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Tolkien’s Legendarium is one of the biggest, most popular and most interesting fictional universes we have. It is – in a way – the epitome of a fantasy-based universe and served as a prototype for all later similar universes that are part of the fantasy genre. Tolkien’s universe has a lot of mysteries and while some of them are unclear, there are some that are solved but need further clarification. When Sauron is concerned, every story is quite interesting as the Dark Lord, despite being an antagonist, is one of the most interesting characters in the whole franchise. In today’s article, we are going to reveal to you where Sauron was during the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, so keep reading to find out!
During The Hobbit, Sauron – posing as the Necromancer – was hidden in the fortress of Dol Guldur for most of the time, until he was banished by the White Council. In The Lord of the Rings, Sauron is in Mordor, physically present in the fortress of Barad-dûr, but does not intervene in the fight.
Today’s article is going to be all about Sauron’s whereabouts in the two books written by J.R.R. Tolkien. You’re going to find out just where he was and what he was doing both during The Hobbit and during The Lord of the Rings; both of these are interesting stories so stick with us to the end!
Who is Sauron?
Sauron, “the Abohorred”, is a fictional character and the principal villain of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings franchise. He has been a threat to Middle-earth ever since the First Age and has played a role in the events during all three Ages of Sun.
Sauron was originally a Maia named Mairon, who was in the service of Aule. He is seduced by Melkor (Morgoth), whom he admires and at the same time fears, and becomes one of his most powerful servants, without however possessing the power and temperament of his great idol. During Melkor’s banishment to the Outer Void at the end of the First Age, Sauron escapes and begins to forge his own schemes in Middle-earth. Sauron’s goal is sole rule over Middle-earth. He built the mighty fortress Barad-dûr in the land of Mordor.
He learns from the Elves and in turn teaches them to make Rings of Power. The Elf Celebrimbor then creates 19 Rings of Power. However, Sauron secretly forges the One Ring, the Master Ring, to which he transfers much of his power. Vigilant elven lords like Círdan, Gil-galad and Galadriel see through him and therefore keep the three rings of the elves hidden from him. Sauron begins a war against the Elves of Eriador, but finally submits apparently to the powerful people of Númenor. With a trick he succeeds in inciting the king of Númenor, Ar-Pharazôn, against the Valar. In the year 3319 of the second age, Ar-Pharazôn attacks Valinor, the island of the gods, with his entire fleet, whereupon Ilúvatar changes the world. With the associated fall of Númenor, Sauron is able to escape, but forever loses his appealing form in which he succeeded in seducing elves and humans.
As a ghost, he travels back to Middle-earth, where he can only give himself a new shape much later. Sauron returns to Mordor and builds a new army towards the end of the Second Age. He is defeated by the Last Alliance of the Free Peoples of Middle-earth, led by Ereinion Gil-galad, High King of the Elves of Middle-earth, and Elendil, King of the Western Men, in 3441. Elendil’s son Isildur cuts off the finger on which the one ring is stuck. With that, Sauron’s power is broken and the second age ends.
Although Sauron’s life force is bound in the ring, Sauron can, as a weakened and disembodied being, begin to rebuild his power over many years. First he built the fortress Dol Guldur in the Eryn Lasgalen “Green Forest”, which was soon called Taur-nu-fuin “Forest of Fear” or “Dark Forest”. Here he learns of the imminent invasion of the members of the White Council and fled again to Mordor without his whereabouts known to them and had his fortress Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower, rebuilt. Soon afterward he begins to look for the One Ring, because this one has reappeared on the surface of the earth through Bilbo and “calls” for him.
With the destruction of the One Ring in the fire-embers of Mount Doom (Orodruin, Amon Amarth), in which it was forged, Sauron’s fate is finally sealed, Barad-dûr collapses, Sauron’s influence on the “evil” creatures is extinguished, and they too Power of the three elven rings is disappearing.
Where was Sauron during The Hobbit?
In a separate article detailing Sauron’s connection to the Necromancer, we have already told you a part of his story. We know that after his defeat, Sauron went on to forge the Rings of Power, including the One Ring. The terror he unleashed upon Middle-earth was horrible, which resulted in the formation of the Last Alliance, which fought against Sauron. When Isildur cut off Sauron’s finger with the One Ring on it, he was finally able to defeat the Dark Lord, destroying his physical body, but not him. Not entirely. Isildur made the mistake of not destroying the One Ring, which enabled Sauron to return.
Due to the fact that he transferred most of his life energy into the One Ring, Sauron was able to survive as long as the One Ring was not destroyed. Seeing how that did not happen, Sauron, in a non-corporeal form, continued to exist for thousands of years, gathering his strengths for yet another return. This was foreshadowed in The Hobbit, with the appearance of the Necromancer of Dol Guldur. Thû, as the Necromancer was called, was a mysterious figure that inhabited the fortress of Dol Guldur; initially, neither the White Council nor anyone else knew who the Necromancer was, but the White Council, at the time, had their suspicions that Sauron was coming back, although they did not know how and where.
Gandalf the Grey deduced that the Necromancer could be heavily connected to Sauron so he ventured to Dol Guldur so he could confirm his suspicions, only to find the fortress empty. Anticipating his arrival, the Necromancer had temporarily fled Dol Guldur in order to hide his true identity from Gandalf and the Council. When Gandalf left, he returned. The Necromancer became stronger with each passing day, so, after a while, Gandalf decided to infiltrate the fortress once again and the second time, he managed to confirm his suspicions that the Necromancer was, indeed, Sauron, who was slowly regaining his power.
We all know what happened next. Gandalf informed the White Council who, despite Saruman’s opposition, decided to attack Dol Guldur in order to eliminate Sauron. The Council was successful in their pursuit, but they were not able to destroy Sauron – who finally appeared before them in his full, non-corporeal form – only to banish him from Dol Guldur. From then on, Sauron found a new seat in Mordor.
Where was Sauron during The Lord of the Rings?
As for The Lord of the Rings, we know that Sauron is the dreaded main antagonist of the series, but we also know that – despite being overly present in the story – he never directly appears in the series. Where was he, then, and why did he not appear directly before the heroes of the story? We have the answers!
After fleeing Dol Guldur, Sauron took refuge in Mordor, finally revealing himself to the free peoples of Middle-earth in TA 2951. This event marked the beginning of the War of the Ring, as both Sauron and the free peoples started assembling their armies for the war. Sauron, who was not yet fully reborn, secluded himself in his stronghold, Barad-dûr, in Mordor, on top of which was his dreaded Eye, which could sense whenever someone put the One Ring on. Through Saruman, Sauron controlled a lot of the events and knew that was going on, as the two communicated via a Palantír.
Sauron’s presence was finally confirmed when Pippin, foolish as he was, took the Palantír after Saruman’s downfall, while the Fellowship was stationed there. Pippin had a terrible fit and several visions and after he was saved by Aragorn, with Gandalf’s help, he confessed to seeing the burning city of Minas Tirith, as well as Him, hearing His voice in a dreadful vision. Gandalf immediately knew that He was Sauron, which confirmed the suspicions that he had completely returned. Sauron, on his part, thought that Pippin had been captured by Saruman, but when Aragorn used the Palantír, he knew that it was Saruman who had, in fact, been defeated, which is why he sped up his plans and attacked Minas Tirith.
For the rest of the movie, Sauron does not appear physically but we know that he is in his stronghold. He never intervened in the battle because he thought it unnecessary – he knew he could not die while the One Ring existed, so he just waited for it to appear (as it did, when Frodo put it on inside Mount Doom) – and that was nothing strange as Barad-dûr was under siege for seven years before Sauron intervened during the War of the Last Alliance.
Despite sending the Ringwariths towards Mount Doom, Sauron was too late, as Gollum fell into the fires and was killed while carrying the One Ring. This lead to the destruction of Mount Doom and Barad-dûr and, with it, Sauron, who perished along with his most treasured possession.
Does Sauron have a physical form in The Lord of the Rings?
We’ve established that Sauron never directly appears in The Lord of the Rings, despite being a practically omnipresent threat. Knowing how Sauron survived in a non-corporeal form, we have to wonder – did he even have a physical form in The Lord of the Rings to begin with? He did.
Although we never see him, there are two pieces of evidence that explicitly confirm that he was there physically. First is Pippin’s episode with the Palantír (see above), after which he confirmed that he had seen Sauron in his physical form, meaning that the Dark Lord had one. The second piece of evidence is Aragorn’s episode with the Palantír, whose importance in the plot we already explained above.
If you look closely at the clip from the movie, you can see that Sauron’s Eye appears in the Palantír for most of the time, but the Dark Lord himself shows himself to Aragorn for a brief moment. These two episodes confirm that Sauron did, indeed, have a physical form in The Lord of the Rings. Why did we not see him, then? The reasons for his absence have been explained in the previous section so we won’t be repeating them here.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!