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  1. #1
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    Gandalf vs. Saruman: no contest?

    So I'm reading through the trilogy again and I get to where Gandalf is recounting his capture by Saruman at Isengard during the Council of Elrond:

    'He was cold now and perilous. "Yes," he said. " I did not expect you to show wisdom, even in your own behalf; but I gave you the choice of aiding me willingly and saving yourself much trouble and pain. The third choice is to stay here until the end."
    "Until what end?"
    "Until you reveal to me where the One may be found. I may find means to persuade you. Or until it is found in your despite, and the Ruler has time to turn to lighter matters: to devise, say, a fitting reward for the hindrance and insolance of Gandalf the Grey."
    "That may not prove to be one of the lighter matters," said I. He laughed at me, for my words were empty, and he knew it.
    They took me and they sat me alone on the pnnacle of Orthanc, in the place where Saruman was accustomed to watch the stars.
    So was it just that easy? I know the wizard smackdown in the movie was well, the movie. But it seems Gandalf has been in some tight spots before, and managed to get out of them. I didn't expect him to go toe to toe with Saruman, but it seems that he could have tried to get away. Just seems like the situation with Frodo would at least encourage Gandalf to give it a shot.

    So what do y'all think? Maybe Gandalf has good reason not to attempt escape?
    Today is a good day for Pie.

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  2. #2
    I think the last line of the text you quoted holds the key, "They took me..."
    Gandalf was on Saruman's turf, and clearly outnumbered.
    They were probably about as powerful as each other (prior to Gandalf's resurrection, he was a clear winner afterwards). Both were mortal, in the sense that they could be killed by ordinary weapons, so if Gandalf was surrounded by servants of Saruman he would have no choice other than surrender.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfhelm View Post
    I think the last line of the text you quoted holds the key, "They took me..."
    Gandalf was on Saruman's turf, and clearly outnumbered.
    They were probably about as powerful as each other (prior to Gandalf's resurrection, he was a clear winner afterwards). Both were mortal, in the sense that they could be killed by ordinary weapons, so if Gandalf was surrounded by servants of Saruman he would have no choice other than surrender.
    Yeah that could be it. It just seems so...anti-climatic after all the other stuff he's done. Gandalf was outnumbered in Goblin Town when he went to rescue the dwarves, and like as not in Dol Goldur as well. I guess I just was a little disappointed that he did not mention putting up a fight.
    Today is a good day for Pie.

    Do not meddle in the affairs of Burglars, for they are subtle and quick to shank you.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfhelm View Post
    I think the last line of the text you quoted holds the key, "They took me..."
    Gandalf was on Saruman's turf, and clearly outnumbered.
    They were probably about as powerful as each other (prior to Gandalf's resurrection, he was a clear winner afterwards). Both were mortal, in the sense that they could be killed by ordinary weapons, so if Gandalf was surrounded by servants of Saruman he would have no choice other than surrender.
    Exactly, it is left to our, and to Jackson's imagination. hence the movie, but Gandalf had always been able to show a decent fight even outnumbered eg. goblin town with the fire killing the goblin king etc. I'm not sure a few orcs in the tower would be right but a multitude with exits barred might suffice, and especially if saruman could take his staff.

    It essentially happens however you wish it too, I thought the scene with the doors shutting on Gandalf was okay but only got silly when they started flinging one another around.

    Personally I've always blamed Acca.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfhelm View Post
    I think the last line of the text you quoted holds the key, "They took me..."
    Gandalf was on Saruman's turf, and clearly outnumbered.
    This is probably it, but it's not really made clear.

    Both were mortal, in the sense that they could be killed by ordinary weapons, so if Gandalf was surrounded by servants of Saruman he would have no choice other than surrender.
    No, they were not at all.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by WBS View Post
    No, they were not at all.
    Reckon what Wolfhelm was referring to is that while the Wizards' spirits were immortal, their physical bodies could be destroyed.
    Today is a good day for Pie.

    Do not meddle in the affairs of Burglars, for they are subtle and quick to shank you.

  7. #7
    Something that always struck me is that the Istari are told not to directly contest Sauron, power for power. So it's possible that the Istari specifically (and possibly the Maiar in general) were told not to engage in in-fighting/combat - probably because it lead to tainted and corrupted Maiar who eventually became adherents of Morgoth. So Gandalf may very well have been simply following the orders he received by greater powers by not contesting Saruman's power directly. Remember, at this point in time Saruman is already aligned with Sauron, so it could be interpreted that fighting Saruman was the same as fighting Sauron directly. Something that seems to support this idea is the fact that Gandalf at Isengard says something about having "broken Saruman's power" while not attempting to actually fight Saruman himself.

    Also, note that Gandalf only contests with Saruman after returning to Middle-earth from the Undying Lands. So he may well have gotten an exemption from the non-combat rule while there.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by WBS View Post
    .No, they were not at all.

    Perhaps you misunderstood me, I was talking of their "earthly" bodies, Gandalf was killed by Durin's Bane, while Saruman was killed by a dagger in the back.
    Both were Maiar of course, so their true essence was immortal, even though Saruman was seemingly rejected from entering the Undying Lands.
    My point was that Gandalf most likely surrendered to Saruman and his minions rather than be "killed", taking his chances that he may be able to contrive a more peaceful escape later on, something he ultimately managed to do.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfhelm View Post
    Perhaps you misunderstood me, I was talking of their "earthly" bodies, Gandalf was killed by Durin's Bane, while Saruman was killed by a dagger in the back.
    Both were Maiar of course, so their true essence was immortal, even though Saruman was seemingly rejected from entering the Undying Lands.
    My point was that Gandalf most likely surrendered to Saruman and his minions rather than be "killed", taking his chances that he may be able to contrive a more peaceful escape later on, something he ultimately managed to do.
    Gandalf's 'mortality' is discussed extensively by Tolkien in letter 156 where he makes it clear that Istari could be 'killed' and Gandalf did in fact 'die' and was sent back, not by the Valar, but by Illuvatar himself. The mission of the Istari as emissaries of the Valar is called by Tolkien a 'prudent plan' which 'failed'. Gandalf the White, however, was an intervention made possible by Illuvatar alone.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Ceredig View Post
    Gandalf's 'mortality' is discussed extensively by Tolkien in letter 156 where he makes it clear that Istari could be 'killed' and Gandalf did in fact 'die' and was sent back, not by the Valar, but by Illuvatar himself. The mission of the Istari as emissaries of the Valar is called by Tolkien a 'prudent plan' which 'failed'. Gandalf the White, however, was an intervention made possible by Illuvatar alone.
    Thanks for that Ceredig, I knew that Tolkien had explained the nature of the mortality of the Istari somewhere, either in the appendices or in one of his letters. The following is a direct quote from letter 156, and the part I particularly remembered reading.

    "By 'incarnate' I mean they were embodied in physical bodies capable of pain, and weariness, and of afflicting the spirit with physical fear, and of being 'killed', though supported by the angelic spirit they might endure long, and only show slowly the wearing of care and labour."

  11. #11
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    Something I forgot about till just now...

    When Gandalf arrives at Orthanc he notices Saruman has a ring on his finger. This seems like an interesting detail to mention. Does this imply that Saruman might have recovered one of the lost rings of power? Or had he studied the ring lore enough that he managed to craft his own? Either way, I reckon this might have played a part.
    Today is a good day for Pie.

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bambubambubambu View Post
    Something I forgot about till just now...

    When Gandalf arrives at Orthanc he notices Saruman has a ring on his finger. This seems like an interesting detail to mention. Does this imply that Saruman might have recovered one of the lost rings of power? Or had he studied the ring lore enough that he managed to craft his own? Either way, I reckon this might have played a part.
    It's a cheap knock-off he made himself - he calls himself Saruman Ring-maker, proudly. He's keen to show it off, just like his fancy new outfit (plain white's no longer good enough for him, it seems). Gandalf was unimpressed, and it's never mentioned again so it seems intended to be more emblematic of how Saruman had gone off the rails than anything else.

  13. #13
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    Someone said something to me once years ago. I think it's an old Korean or Japanese saying.

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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    It's a cheap knock-off he made himself - he calls himself Saruman Ring-maker, proudly. He's keen to show it off, just like his fancy new outfit (plain white's no longer good enough for him, it seems). Gandalf was unimpressed, and it's never mentioned again so it seems intended to be more emblematic of how Saruman had gone off the rails than anything else.
    As the hobbits began taking away Grima's arrow-riddled corpse, one of them noticed a ring near where Saruman fell. Peering closer he noticed a short inscription.

    '"Made in Harad"? Wha-?'
    Last edited by bambubambubambu; Jun 24 2014 at 11:03 AM.
    Today is a good day for Pie.

    Do not meddle in the affairs of Burglars, for they are subtle and quick to shank you.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by bambubambubambu View Post
    Something I forgot about till just now...

    When Gandalf arrives at Orthanc he notices Saruman has a ring on his finger. This seems like an interesting detail to mention. Does this imply that Saruman might have recovered one of the lost rings of power? Or had he studied the ring lore enough that he managed to craft his own? Either way, I reckon this might have played a part.
    Sorry, forgot to respond to this previously.

    I checked and of the 20 Greater Rings of Power (3+7+9+1=20), I believe all but the Dwarven rings still exist and function as designed. Of the Dwarven rings, most are destroyed (by dragon fire) with 2-3 in Sauron's possession. Sauron was obsessed with the Rings of Power and made a point of trying to gather them all (including the innumerable, flawed, so-called "Lesser Rings of Power" [whose real power level and abilities are totally unknown]) into his possession during his attack on Eregion/Ost-in-Edhil. Thereafter Sauron only offered a Ring to another as a means of tempting/undermining/thwarting another - particularly capable opponents (ie, Men subjugated to his will becoming Nazgul, Dwarves becoming greedy).

    Knowledge of Ring-crafting would have been shunned and abandoned by the Elves after the forging of the One Ruling Ring because Sauron's intent to subjugate ring-bearers was revealed. Ring-making itself relied on Sauron's knowledge and skill with magic and crafting; this taint was so interwoven with ring-making that it could not be separated out (thus the Elven rings, not directly affected by Sauron during their crafting, still fell under his intent with the One Ruling Ring). Anyone seeking to craft a ring would, like Sauron, have to instill some portion of their own power, implying there is a finite limit to crafting magical items in Middle-earth (perhaps dependent on how much Grace of the Valar the crafter embodies and the item's ability to affect nature and the physics of the world). So crafters diminish, but what of the ring-bearers? Well, anyone who uses a ring was setting themselves up to be dominated by Sauron through the Ruling Ring if Sauron regained the One. Lacking the One, ring-bearer's could utilize the instilled powers of their ring without too much concern. The thoughts of ring-bearers were somewhat connected and one's intent could be more easily discerned by another (Galadriel's comment of knowing something of Sauron's mind).

    Saruman's Ring, and his claim to be a Ring-Maker, is a bit awkward. The ring appears without warning, it's powers never revealed, and then disappears just as quickly. This places an onerous amount of supposition on it's existence, history and abilities. Saruman might have gathered sufficient knowledge to craft a Lesser Ring of Power, but not a Greater Ring. If he had managed to craft a Greater Ring, Saruman would have been better able to contest Sauron's will and might remain a "free agent of evil" rather than becoming a minion. This is supported by the following (emphasis added):

    The real war does not resemble the legendary war in its process or its conclusion. If it had inspired or directed the development of the legend, then certainly the Ring would have been seized and used against Sauron; he would not have been annihilated but enslaved, and Barad-dûr destroyed but occupied. Saruman, failing to get possession of the Ring, would in the confusion and treacheries of the time have found in Mordor the missing links in his own researches into Ring-lore, and before long he would have made a Great Ring of his own with which to challenge the self-styled Ruler of Middle-earth. In that conflict both sides would have held hobbits in hatred and contempt: they would not long have survived even as slaves. --- J.R.R. Tolkien, Foreword to the Second Edition
    So this begs the question of the exact nature of Saruman's Ring. It could be a prop meant to startle Gandalf into talking, a minor item of little worth (a ring with a bit of magical sparkle but no real ability), or a fairly significant item of power (say, the Ring of Emminent Speach). There are two things that seem clear to me with this ring's appearance: the ring's existence is news to Gandalf, and Saruman was not aware that Gandalf was himself a ring-bearer. Because in revealing the ring, Saruman is flaunting his abilities - but with a Lesser Ring - to someone wearing a Greater Ring! Even if being a ring-maker is a greater accomplishment than being a ring-bearer I doubt Saruman would have flaunted an obviously inferior and flawed ring to someone who would recognize it's shortcomings.

    Another lingering question regarding Saruman's Ring is when was it crafted? Saruman's search through Eregion and the ruins of Hollin, as well as Gondor's archives, implies Saruman's Ring is a relatively new development, no more than about a century old - at best.

    Another possibility is that Sauron "gifted" Saruman with one of the Lesser Rings in the Enemy's possession. Sauron might have required this display of affiliation as a means of gaining further access to Saruman's intent and as a means of subverting him. This might also explain why Saruman's Ring disappears - it wasn't his after all and, at some point after Saruman's treachery but before Sauron's fall, Saruman's Ring was taken back. Most likely after Saruman left Isengard. This appeals to me since it implies that Sauron was petty and vindictive; possession of the ring empowered the former Istari and the loss of this Lesser Ring would be humiliating and akin to "kicking Saruman when he's down". Of course, providing a Lesser Ring of Power to Saruman might have allowed Saruman a better opportunity to learn how to properly craft a Greater Ring, making this unlikely.

    Still, interesting conjecture.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by AccessDenied View Post
    Still, interesting conjecture.
    Not especially, since it's so clearly implied he'd made the thing himself and we know that Celebrimbor's own early essays in the art of Ring-making hadn't been up to much, either. By implication it's a lesser ring, a ring of not-much-power. There's nothing in the least troublesome in supposing it didn't do anything much and was of no real importance, since the book accords it none. There's no real issue with the idea that he was just showing off his own cleverness, either, since it's not like that robe of many colours he'd got on would have had any practical value yet he seemed absurdly proud of it.

  17. #17
    I'm sorry you didn't find the comments interesting. I did. Perhaps others did as well.

    Feel free to pass by any other comments I make anywhere in these forums without responding - I think we'll both appreciate it.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by AccessDenied View Post
    I'm sorry you didn't find the comments interesting. I did. Perhaps others did as well.

    Feel free to pass by any other comments I make anywhere in these forums without responding - I think we'll both appreciate it.
    You were trying too hard, that's all.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by AccessDenied View Post
    Saruman was not aware that Gandalf was himself a ring-bearer. Because in revealing the ring, Saruman is flaunting his abilities - but with a Lesser Ring - to someone wearing a Greater Ring! Even if being a ring-maker is a greater accomplishment than being a ring-bearer I doubt Saruman would have flaunted an obviously inferior and flawed ring to someone who would recognize it's shortcomings.

    ...

    Another possibility is that Sauron "gifted" Saruman with one of the Lesser Rings in the Enemy's possession.
    Although not part of the published canon, I was just reading the essay on The Istari in Unfinished Tales last night, and it mentions that Saruman was aware of Cirdan’s gift to Gandalf, and that Saruman had a smoldering resentment of Gandalf, in part because of this. So if you want to accept that as how JRRT intended it, Saruman would have been fully aware that any ring he flashed around Gandalf would be seen as obviously inferior to Narya.

    I tend to think that Saruman has simply ‘gone off the deep end’, calling himself “Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-Maker, Saruman of Many Colours!” He seems deluded and misguided by his thirst for power, such that he would attempt any ring-making at all. I do not think this was a token gift from Sauron, as otherwise he would have kept it hidden from Gandalf as he tried to convice Gandalf to join him, and also he would not have proclaimed himself as a ring-maker if he was merely a ring-receiver.
    "I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend," Faramir in TTT by JRRT.

 

 

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