The synopsis of Sauron from the world of Middle-earth.

In J.R.R. Tolkien's books

The Silmarillion

Beginning and Corruption

Sauron during the First Age.

Sauron was once originally a powerful Maia (equivalent to a normal angel), an angelic being made by the Universe's creator, Eru (equivlent to God), to serve the Valar (equivalent to archangels), a higher order of Ainur (equivalent to angels).

Sauron's original name was Mairon (meaning "the admirable"), and he was a Maia of the Vala known as Aüle the Smith. He had learned so much from Aüle, such as crafting and forging, that he became a great craftsman. He was created as one of the most powerful Maiar, even more than Olorin (Gandalf) and Curumo (Saruman). At the time he took part in the Music of the Ainur, he was incorrupt and good. However, he was also obsessed with perfection and order, which would cause his corruption into evil. Mairon became enamoured of Arda when it was formed, and he was corrupted by the evil Vala Melkor (later Morgoth, equivalent to Satan), who promised to share dominion over the world with him. After this, he corrupted many other Maiar, who became Balrogs. Mairon then worshiped Morgoth and followed him into Arda.

Despite this, Mairon managed to pretend to stay faithful to the Valar, when in reality, he was feeding information to Morgoth about their dealings. Mairon didn't reveal his true nature nor leave the Blessed Realms until Melkor established his fortresses. For this treachery, Mairon was permanently established a foe of both the Valar and the Free Peoples of Middle-earth. He was called Gothaur (meaning "dread abomination") by the Sindar in Beleriand, and named Sauron (meaning "the abhorred" or "the abominable") by the Ñoldor. The name "Sauron" was a mockery to his original name.

Under Morgoth's Service

During the First Age of Middle-earth, Sauron served as Morgoth's chief lieutenant, working to corrupt Men and Elves (the Children of Ilúvatar) to his master's service. Sauron became the High General of Angband along with the Balrog lord Gothmog. Many other Maiar joined Morgoth, and they possessed the bodies of Wolves and became Werewolves. Sauron was possibly given the task of corrupting Elves into Orcs. Eventually the Valar came into Middle-earth and defeated Morgoth, "but Sauron they could not find", and Sauron came back to Angband when Morgoth was returned from Valinor.

Sauron played a large part in the War of the Jewels because he could cast illusions and make his enemies think things were going differently. He cast a spell which made Gorlim think that his wife Eilinel was still alive, and when he was captured and brought before him, Sauron promised him that if he told the location of Barahir's camp, he would be reunited with his wife. After Gorlim betrayed the location of his comrades, Sauron revealed that Eilinel was dead and had Gorlim cruelly put to death. His most famous conquest was when he captured the island of Tol Sirion and renamed it Tol in Gorhauth, the Isle of Werewolves, and bought many Werewolves there. He would feed prisoners to Werewolves and he was left to his own devices there. Morgoth saw it as a big victory because Tol Sirion was an Elvish fortress and this made Elves unable to pass through that place.

Eventually a human named Beren appeared, with the Elf Prince Fingon and ten other Elves, disguised as Orcs. However, Sauron saw them, and was suspicious as all Orcs had to report to him. He had them brought before him and defeated Fingon in a contest of magic, stripping the disguises. Sauron threw all 12 into his deepest dungeon till they would tell him their purpose. Ten were consumed by werewolves, with Sauron wanting Fingon left alive. But when a werewolf came for Beren, Fingon broke free, and he and the werewolf ended up killing each other. Sauron saw that the Elf Princess Luthien had come to rescue Beren, so he sent werewolves to capture her. However, each of them were slain by Huan, the Hound of Valinor. Finally, Sauron sent Draugluin, sire and lord of werewolves, but they were killed by Huan, though they survived long enough to tell Sauron Huan was there.

A painting by Ted Nasmith of Sauron (bottom) being subdued by Huan (top).

Sauron knew the prophecy that Huan would not die till he encountered the biggest wolf to ever walk the world. So Sauron took the form of the biggest werewolf yet and fought Huan. Luthien drew her magic veil over Sauron's eyes and as he stumbled Huan fought him. Sauron turned into a snake, and from monster to his own form. But Huan held him by the throat, and Luthien told him to hand the Isle to her or go back in shame to Morgoth. Sauron gave her control of the Isle, and when released, he turned into a Vampire and flew, dripping blood over the trees.

Later on, when Morgoth was defeated for good, Sauron actually repented and went to the Valar asking forgiveness, but was told he would have to face Manwe. Sauron was far too proud to humble himself, however, so he returned to Mordor.

Forging the One Ring

One Ring to rule them all, One ring to find them; One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
~ The One Ring's legendary inscription.

In the Second Age, Sauron established himself in Mordor, and took up the mantle and title of Dark Lord, while manipulating the Elves into creating the Rings of Power as part of a plan to make them his servants; he went to the Elves of Eregion in the guise of Annatar and taught them how to create the Rings of Power. The twenty Rings of power were so created around the 16th century: the Elves made the Seven Rings and the Nine Rings with his influence, but also created the Three without his knowledge or influence.

Sauron himself created the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom in Mordor to control all the other rings; into this Ring he put part of his own malignant life force and power to rule the other Rings and enslave the free peoples of Middle-earth.

Sauron revealed himself and went to war against the Elves, capturing the Seven and the Nine, which he gave to 7 Dwarven and 9 human leaders respectively. While the Dwarves could not be controlled, he gained power over the human ring-bearers. He was able to corrupt the nine kings of Men because they took the rings without question. One by one, they fell to darkness. Sauron turned them into the undead Nazgûl, his most fearsome servants.

Sauron and the Numenoreans

At some point, the last King of Numenor, Ar-Pharazôn, challenged Sauron for Lordship of Middle-Earth. Mordor's armies fled in fear of Numenor's great armies and Sauron came down from Barad-dur, made himself into an attractive form, (one that Numenor would admire) and was brought to Numenor. There he quickly grew from prisoner to adviser, using the Numenorians contempt for the Elves and Valar to convince them to worship Morgoth, hoping to restore his master.

As Ar-Pharazôn began to grow old, Sauron tricked him to attack the Undying Lands, saying that whoever ruled the Undying Lands would live forever. Most Numenorians were in favor of it, as they feared death, despite warnings from the Elves and Valar, Numenor sent a massive armada and army to seize the undying lands. In response, Eru sunk Ar-Pharazôn's fleet and imprisoned the king and hios troops inside a cave, and destroyed Numenor. Sauron survived and returned to Mordor. As punishment for his role in the destruction of Numenor, Sauron could no longer assume an attractive form, for that is what he had used to seduce the Numenoreans.

Battle with the Last Alliance

Towards the end of the Second Age, a Last Alliance of Elves and Men marched upon Sauron's base in Mordor to defeat him and his armies.

After a years-long siege of his fortress Barad-dur, Sauron himself went out. He killed the Alliance's leaders, King Elendil of Gondor and the High Elf King Gil-galad, but his physical body was in turn destroyed. Elendil's son Isildur cut off the Ring from Sauron's hand with the remains of his father's sword, Narsil. Isildur kept the Ring, against the counsel of the Elves Elrond and Círdan, who begged him to destroy it. Because the Ring survived, Sauron's malignant spirit lived on, albeit unable to take physical form. Isildur, meanwhile, was attacked and killed by Orcs a few years later; as he fell, he dropped the Ring into the river Anduin, where it remained for the next 2,500 years.

The Hobbit

Going into Hiding

By the middle of the Third Age, Sauron began to take shape again. His spirit went into hiding for an age first in Dol Guldur (where he was eventually banished). By this time, the Ring had been found by a Hobbit named Sméagol, whom it corrupted and turned into the vile creature Gollum. Gollum took the Ring into a cave in the Misty Mountains, where for the next 500 years it waited for its master to re-emerge.

Sauron took control of the abandoned fortress Dol Guldur disguised as a Necromancer in order to regain his former strength. He was vanquished by the White Council, however, and he fled to Mordor in the East. The Ring, meanwhile, was found in Gollum's cave by the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins, who took it with him to his home in the Shire.

The Lord of the Rings

The Search for the Ring

Over the next 60 years, Sauron reclaimed his power over Mordor. He began building an army to conquer all of Middle-Earth. By this point, Saruman betrayed the White Council and became Sauron's servant, hoping to claim the Ring for himself and overthrow the Dark Lord. Sauron also began waging war on his former allies, Men and Elves.

He still needed the Ring to regain his former power, however, so he sent spies all over Middle-earth to find it. Eventually, he found and captured Gollum, who had spent years looking for the Ring after losing it to Bilbo, and tortured the creature until he revealed that "Baggins" had it. After Sauron discovered this, he sent the Nazgûl to the Shire to find Bilbo's nephew and heir Frodo Baggins, who now had the Ring, kill him, and take the Ring back. However, Frodo had already left for Mordor to destroy the Ring, sent by the wizard Gandalf. Sauron also commanded Saruman to build him an army for Mordor.

However, the first time Sauron actually appeared is when he was in the form of his own symbol, the Eye of Sauron, in the Mirror of Galadriel. Frodo looked into the Mirror of Galadiral, which showed things in the past, present, and future. He eventually saw Sauron in the form of the Eye, with Galadriel herself warning him not to touch the water in the Mirror.

Meanwhile, Saruman cross-bred Orcs with men to make an army of Uruk-hai, but most of them were killed in the Battle of the Hornburg that took place in the land of Rohan.

After his defeat at the Hornburg, Sauron declared open war on Middle-earth, conquering several kingdoms of Elves and Men. He decided to attack Gondor, and sent an army of Orcs, Southrons and Easterlings over to Minas Tirith to destroy it. The soldiers of Gondor fought against the army, which also had several trolls and Oliphaunts in it; they were later helped to gain victory by the Riders of Rohan, led by King Théoden, and by an army of soldiers brought by Isildur's descendant Aragorn, heir to the throne of Gondor.

The Ring Destroyed

Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam (with Frodo carrying the One Ring) entered Mordor through the secret passage of Cirith Ungol; Sauron appeared once again in the form of the Eye and searched for the two Hobbits. He nearly discovered them, but his attention was diverted away from them when the Army of the West (led by Aragorn, Gandalf, Eomer and Prince Imrahil) came to draw out his forces to give Frodo and Sam a chance to get to Mount Doom. Eventually they reached Mount Doom, but Frodo decided to take the ring for himself at the last second.

Just as it seemed Sauron was about to conquer Middle-earth, however, Gollum attacked and bit Frodo's finger off, taking the One Ring back. He danced with joy at his conquest, but lost his balance and fell in the lava pit of Mount Doom along with his "precious", destroying the Ring and himself.

With the Ring's destruction, Sauron was defeated once and for all, and he was stripped of his power and reduced to a "huge shape of shadow, impenetrable, lightning-crowned, …terrible but impotent"; a crippled, harmless shadow of his former self, unable to take shape again. He was then blown away by a great wind into the Void, like his master, Morgoth (where, unlike Morgoth, Sauron would eventually die as he cannot survive without the Ring). The very foundations of Barad-dûr and the Black Gate were destroyed along with him. Mordor's armies were all exorcised from Sauron's control, and were easily defeated.

In Sir Peter Jackson's films

Before the film trilogies

As foretold in the opening prologue, Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor, forged the One Ring of Power to Rule Them All in the fires of Mount Doom within the land of Mordor. He conquered many lands in Middle Earth, until the Last Alliance of Men and Elves fought against him on the slopes of Mount Doom. They defeated his army of orcs easily, but Sauron proved to be a bigger challenge. He slaughtered many of the men and Elves and killed the Gondor King, Elendil, with a huge mace.

Elendil's son Isildur grabbed his father's sword, but Sauron stepped on it, breaking it, but Isildur cut off Sauron's fingers, including the one with the One Ring on it with what was left of the blade, destroying Sauron's body, but he survived as a spirit, unable to die unless the One Ring was destroyed, which could only be done if it was thrown into the fires of Mount Doom where it was forged.

Eventually, Sauron would disguise himself as a sorcerer, known as the Necromancer. The prologue does not include this information, and it is only revealed in The Hobbit trilogy.

The Hobbit trilogy

Sauron as The Necromancer.

While he was only mentioned in the novel, Sauron appears in the prequel trilogy of The Hobbit as the Necromancer. Although Sauron appears little throughout the story, his presence, like in Lord of the Rings before it, is constantly felt, and he is an active threat in the story through his servant Azog. He is portrayed and voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch who also voices and portrays Smaug.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Thousands of years later, Gandalf accompanied the dwarf Thorin Oakenshield and his band of kinsmen (as well as reluctannt "burgler" Bilbo Baggins) on a quest to reclaim the kingdom of Erebor from the dragon Smaug. Unbeknownst to Thorin and company, Gandalf had an ulterior motive; he had come to suspect that Sauron had returned, and wanted to destroy Smaug to prevent Sauron from using him as a weapon. 

Meanwhile, Radagast the Brown discovered Dol Guldur, and the Witch-King of Angmar, Lord of the Nazgul and Sauron's chief servant, attacked him and vanished. Radagast then saw Sauron in shadow, and fled. He told Gandalf about the encounter, and Gandalf eventually told the White Council; the other members reacted with skepticism, except for Lady Galadriel, who sent Gandalf on a quest to confirm that this Necromancer was indeed Sauron returned.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Sauron reveals himself within a flaming eye.

After Gandalf, Bilbo and the Dwarf company escaped a pack of Orcs led by Azog the Defiler, Gandalf parted ways with them and travelled with Radagast to Dol Guldur to discover the truth. Gandalf sent Radagast back to send a message to Galadriel, while he went in alone. After unsuccessfully trying to convince the evil inside to reveal itself, he was ambushed by Azog and several Orcs. After defeating and escaping them, Gandalf fleed deeper into the ruined fortress, where he encountered the Necromancer and confirmed his worst fear: that this mysterious sorceror was indeed the Dark Lord returned.

Sauron revealed to Gandalf that he was gathering all his forces and regaining his strength, enough to prepare for war. He planned to first take over Erebor, and then reclaim the kingdom of Angmar, and on and on until he once again controled all of Middle-earth.

Gandalf tried to fight off the Dark Lord, and although he accomplished repelling him a few times, he eventually proved to be no match for Sauron. After defeating Gandalf, destroying his staff and imprisoning him, Sauron sent his minions to Erebor to find Thorin and his company inside the mountain, where they were currently facing a conflict with Smaug the Dragon, who was on his way to destroy the nearby town of Esgaroth.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Sauron attacks the White Council.

Galadriel, Saruman and Elrond entered Dol-Guldur to save Gandalf. Elrond and Saruman battled the spirits of the Nazgul, while Gandalf escaped with the help of Radagast the Brown.

Sauron once again took the form of the Eye and appeared before the group and foretold the fall of the East and the rise of the ancient Kingdom of Angmar. He declared that "the time of the Elves is over, the Age of the Orc has begun." He attempted to corrupt Galadriel, who nonetheless resisted and used all of her power to banish Sauron's spirit out of Dol Guldur. Moments later, Saruman said that he would deal with Sauron personally, foreshadowing their alliance.

Sauron's armies eventually met with defeat at the hands of the armies of elves, men, dwarves and the Eagles during the Battle of the Five Armies, which ended with the deaths of Azog and Bolg.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy

Sauron also appears in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films 2001-2003, although various changes were made.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Sauron in his Eye form as he later appeared as an eye in Jackson's films.

After the One Ring was found by Gollum, and later taken by Bilbo Baggins, Sauron himself became obsessed with finding the ring. Over the 15 years after Bilbo gave the ring to Frodo, Sauron regained much of his former strength, though unable to take physical form, he existed as an eye, called the Eye of Sauron, shown as a real manifestation on top of Barad-dûr. Saruman also went over to his side and he sent the Ringwraiths after Frodo to kill him and take the One Ring back. They failed.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Sauron's servant, Saruman, sent an army of 10,000 Uruk-hai to invade Rohan, but eventually they were defeated when Gandalf, the Rohirrim and the Ents of Fangorn Forest arrived. Saruman himself was killed by Gríma Wormtongue at Isengard and Wormtongue was killed by Legolas. Sauron's defeat at Helm's Deep showed him that the men were still able to resist him.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

After the defeat at Helm's Deep, he decided to attack Gondor with another powerful army of orcs, led by the hideous orc Gothmog and the Witch-king of Angmar. The men of Gondor and Rohan fought against them, but it wasn't until Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli showed up with the Army of the Dead that Sauron's army was defeated. In the battle, the Witch-King was killed by Éowyn, and Gothmog was killed by Aragorn and Gimli.

In the meantime, Frodo and Sam were making their way into Mordor with the One Ring to destroy it. Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Éomer, Merry, Pippin, and what remained of the men of Gondor and Rohan went to the Black Gates to draw Sauron's army out and his attention away from the two hobbits after a meeting with the Mouth of Sauron. Gollum attacked Frodo and Sam as they made their way up Mount Doom. In the end, Frodo decided to keep the ring for himself, and put it on, thus attracting the attention of Sauron and the eight remaining Nazgûl.

Before anything else could happen, however, Gollum bit Frodo's finger off and took the ring back. Frodo fought Gollum, resulting in them both falling over the cliff. Frodo held onto the edge and survived and he and Sam escaped, but Gollum fell into the lava with the One Ring. With the ring destroyed, Sauron could no longer survive. Barad-dûr collapsed, and Sauron was destroyed in a shock wave of energy that collapsed the foundations of Mordor and in the process, the majority of the Orcs were all destroyed whereas the surviving Orcs run away, never able to form such great armies again, while the eight remaining Nazgul were all destroyed by the fires of Mt. Doom therefore, freeing Middle-Earth from slavery and destroying the ancient threat to Elves and Men.

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