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The History of Middle-earth (chibi version) - Part 203 - Batsignal

9th April 2015 (12:16)

Some more characters we've not seen for a long time!

For Sauron's song, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsIfeALyEnA (I hope after they made that video they fished those bottles out of the river again...)

Part 203: Batsignal

Next time: Part 204: Rescue mission

Chibis by tektek.org
Original story by and copyright to J R R Tolkien, ed. C Tolkien: Primarily based on the Silmarillion, but incorporating ideas from the 12-volume History of Middle Earth series.
Questions and comments welcome!


Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 10th April 2015 09:15 (UTC)

Again with the Sauron bashing…

At least you called him Sauron. Still believe he doesn't get enough credit.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th April 2015 12:19 (UTC)

To be specific, neither Gothmog nor Melkor feel much respect for Sauron, and that's reflected in the way they talk to him. At best, they tolerate him and think he has some useful skills.

I feel no guilt for 'bashing' the future self-proclaimed Dark Lord of Middle-earth. :)

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 10th April 2015 14:52 (UTC)

Is that notion... that Sauron was basically the Andrew Wells of Melkor's gang... based on anything in the books, or did you make it up for comic effect?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th April 2015 16:32 (UTC)

I admit that my characterisation of Sauron is exaggerated for comic effect, but it's based on my interpretation of canon.

"[Sauron] loved order and coordination, and disliked all confusion and wasteful friction. It was the apparent will and power of Melkor to effect his designs quickly and masterfully that had first attracted Sauron to him."

(Sounds very much like Andrew's relationship to Warren.)

"While Morgoth still stood, Sauron did not seek his own supremacy, but worked and schemed for another, desiring the triumph of Melkor, whom in the beginning he had adored."

(Ditto. Note the constant use of words like 'attracted' and 'adored'.)

"We may assume, then, that the idea of breeding the Orcs came from Melkor, not at first maybe so much for the provision of servants or the infantry of his wars of destruction, as for the defilement of the Children and the blasphemous mockery of the design of Eru. The details of the accomplishment of this wickedness were, however, left mainly to the subtleties of Sauron."

(Sauron gets given the jobs that Melkor can't be bothered to do. He's the one who actually designs and makes orcs.)

"Manwë knew of Sauron, of course. He had commanded Sauron to come before him for judgement, but had left room for repentance and ultimate rehabilitation. Sauron had refused and had fled into hiding."

(Sauron's a coward.)

"Lúthien came to him and said that he should be stripped of his raiment of flesh, and his ghost be sent quaking back to Morgoth; and she said, "There everlastingly thy naked self shall endure the torment of his scorn, pierced by his eyes, unless thou yield to me the mastery of thy tower." Then Sauron yielded himself, and Lúthien took the mastery of the isle and all that was there."

(Sauron's still a coward, who gets bitch-slapped by a mere elf-maiden and her dog. Also, she thinks Morgoth will feel 'scorn' for him.)

Posted by: (bumbleball)
Posted at: 11th April 2015 12:44 (UTC)

Much as I hate to defend Sauron, I'm gonna agree with Anonymous and Erimthar here. Maybe it's because I'm not familiar with Andrew and Warren, whoever they are, but my reading of those first two passages is exactly the opposite of yours. (And if the reason I've never heard of them is because they're something to do with modern pop-culture, then chances are Tolkien hadn't heard of them either, so my interpretation is closer to his than yours is!)

In those passages, it's Morgoth who comes across as the annoying, nerdy, bratty, emo dreamer who thinks he's smart but has no awareness of how the world really works or how other people regard him. ("It's not fair!!! I'm bored singing this song! I want to sing something different! I'm gonna sing my own song! So there! Nyaah!"). And Sauron is the savvy, practical, ruthlessly pragmatic type, who sorts out the mess Morgoth has made, and turns it into something that actually works.

(In other words, Morgoth is me, while Sauron is my younger brother!)

As for the last two passages, claiming he's a coward... After the War of Wrath, Maedhros, Maglor and Galadriel also refused to return to be judged by Manwë. Does that make them cowards? Will you be picking on them too? (Especially Galadreil, who hadn't actually done anything wrong herself but was just in the wrong place at the wrong time while hanging out with the wrong crowd, and then spent until the end of the Third Age feeling sorry for herself because of it rather than risk going back and facing judgement!)

Anyway, back to Sauron...

You've already admitted the Lúthien is a Mary Sue. One of the defining characteristics of 'Sues is their ability to warp the fictional universe and make other characters act OOC. (The most important characteristic that separates a true 'Sue from a merely bad avatar character, according to the PPC.) So, you can't really judge Sauron from how he acts under her Suefluence. After all, Morgoth wasn't normally a lecherous ballet fan, was he? And Namo didn't usually suspend all of Eru's rules on a whim whenever someone told him a sob story!

OTOH if you still feel you have to judge Sauron by how he reacted to Lúthien, he was the only one Genre Savvy enough to recognise her as a Mary Sue and pragmatic enough to know that meant he couldn't beat her if he tried! That's gotta count in his favour, right?

More to follow in part 2.

Posted by: (bumbleball)
Posted at: 11th April 2015 15:12 (UTC)

Part 2.

So, Sauron's pratical, smart, genre savvy and a ruthless pragmatist. Put those together and you've got the ingredients for a master of the Xanatos Gambit.

Just look at how he tricked Gorlim into giving away the location of Barahir's camp. If he'd been as clueless as you portray him, he'd never have come close. He must've been a brilliant judge of character to know exactly how that would pan out!

(BTW in the earliest versions of the Lay of Lethian, it was Morgoth who was responsible for the Gorlim gamibit, but Tolkien then changed it to the story we have today, confirming that Morgoth is the clueless cloudcuckoolander and Sauron is the practical, savvy one!)

In fact, it also throws a possible new light on the Lúthien incident. Once Sauron knows exactly what's happening, he must be able to quickly see that the best possible long term strategy is to let Beren take a Silmaril to Thingol, which would piss-off the Fëanorians and lead to more kinslaying and the fall of Doriath (though not necessarily in that order.) Far from being "bitch slapped" by a "mere Elf maiden", he's actually outwitting a Mary Sue in an improvised game of Xanatos Speed Chess! Not bad going.

(Yes, Morgoth probably would feel "scorn," but that just shows how clueless Morgoth really is. If he'd had any sense, he would've given Thingol a Silmaril before the Fëanorians showed up in Middle-Earth, just to encourage this in the first place. Also bear in mind that the "pet dog" was officially one of the toughest, most badass and hardest-to-beat creatures of all time, ever, and Sauron had been willing to go claw-to-claw in single combat against it anyway as long as no 'Sues got involved. Morgoth had been afraid and reluctant to duel a typical Elf lord. Remind me, which one is the coward?)

Now, I know what you're thinking. The theft of the Silmaril eventually led to Earendil's voyage and the War of Wrath. Good point. The whole of the second half of the Quenta Silmarillion is a massive Gambit Pileup in slow motion. (Glaurung manipulating Túrin, Morgoth manipulating Húrin, Ulmo manipulating everyone, etc..) And although the winner seems to be Ulmo, Sauron doesn't do too badly. He's left as the only Dark Lord in Middle-Earth, with no incompetent boss to hold him back. Again, not bad going.

(BTW it makes me wonder what would have happened if Ulmo's Earendil gambit had failed. Would Sauron eventually have moved against Morgoth anyway? After all, it's easy for affection to turn to hate. Perhaps Annatar would've shown up offering Rings to help in the fight against Morgoth. I wouldn't put it past him.)

Anyway, Sauron continued to be the best at manipulating people throughout the Second Age. Just look at the way he twisted Celebrimbor and Ar-Pharazôn around his finger. The only thing that stopped his plans was the direct intervention of God (who, being omniscient, is immune to Xanatos Gambits.)

While doing that God also rewrote the rule book, making the world less vengeance-based and more about redemption (foreshadowing the later switch to being totally redemption-based that would come when He begins the New Testament.) When he returned in the Third Age, Sauron was left playing by the old rules, making him Wrong Genre Savvy. Despite that he still came close to winning the War of Ring, and might've done so if God hadn't got involved again and sent Gandalf back after Khazad-Dûm.

Far from being a fool or a coward, Sauron is such a major league badass that the only way he's ever been truly defeated is by direct divine intervention from God Himself. How many other people in Middle-Earth can make that claim? None. Not even Morgoth.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th April 2015 16:48 (UTC)

If he'd been as clueless as you portray him

I don't portray Sauron as clueless, though. I portray him as naive, over-enthusiastic and with a bad case of hero-worship, but also intelligent and competent at what he does, when Morgoth gives him a chance. (Which is rarely, because Morgoth is contemptuous of him. But Morgoth is contemptuous of everybody; increasingly so as time goes by.)

In effect, I'm depicting Sauron as immature. If these cartoons ever reach the Second Age, then you'd see a Sauron who has grown up, and asserted himself as someone independent of Morgoth.

the "pet dog" was officially one of the toughest, most badass and hardest-to-beat creatures of all time, ever, and Sauron had been willing to go claw-to-claw in single combat against it anyway

Yes, because he thought he had the cheat code. He knew how Huan could be beaten.

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 13th April 2015 01:56 (UTC)

I don't take issue with your portrayal of Sauron, BTW. I think it's kind of hilarious, and I know this project is part faithful adaptation and part comic strip. I just wondered where this portrayal came from because I didn't really get far into the HoME books. (I only made it up to the Books of Lost Tales.)

And honestly, my eyes kind of glazed over during the Silmarillion, too... full disclosure.

Edited at 2015-04-13 01:57 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 13th April 2015 09:06 (UTC)

I try to always comment in the introduction if I'm using a story from HoMe or my own extrapolation; but I do definitely consider this a "retelling" rather than a straightforward adaptation of the Silmarillion into cartoon format.

For one thing, Tolkien himself often wrote multiple contradictory accounts of the same events and characters, so it's not like there's a single 'official' canon interpretation of many things.

I didn't really get far into the HoME books

I actually did similar to you: started with the Book of Lost Tales and got bogged down and gave it up. But later on I found that 'Morgoth's Ring' and the 'War of the Jewels' were more interesting to read; and after that, it gave me the motivation to go back to the earlier works.

I've not read the whole of HoMe straight through cover-to-cover, though. It's more something to dip into.

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