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Sunday, February 03, 2013

Saruman: the misunderstood hero

Adrian Simmons presents an interesting and unusual take on The Lord of the Rings:
The more you know about Sarumon, the more sympathetic to his situation you become. He is the first picked to go, and the first to arrive in Middle-earth. He journeys to the east with Aratar and Pollombo, and those two don’t return (not much is said about the blue wizards, but honestly I get the feeling they kind of flake out altogether — a very real danger with volunteers who get to bring their friends along).

But Sarumon’s always second fiddle. Right from the start Varda makes it clear that he’s not in charge, and later when the White Council is formed, Galadriel doesn’t want him in control of that august body either. And he learns that that weenie Gandalf (who comes to Middle-earth one hundred years later) gets one of the three rings of power the day he freaking lands. Ugh! The humiliation! You’d retreat to the fastness of your ancient tower, too.

Sarumon’s activities are not well defined, but there are hints that he tangles with ring wraiths, and he is in the thick of it when the White Council goes to Dol Guldur to deal with the Necromancer. After Dol Guldur, he withdraws a bit, but even then he is still working on the Sauron problem, and his solution is as awful as it is cunning. You have to keep in mind, he’s come to Middle-earth, he fights the good fight (for over a thousand years), stress causes his hair to turn from black to white, he gets the keys to Orthanc, and he discovers the palantir. And after Dol Guldur is where the Big Plan starts.

And here is the tragedy of it all, as Sauron and Sarumon were co-workers back in the day, they have a remarkably similar ‘corporate culture’, and a pretty similar worldview — and this is why the wise don’t really want Sarumon in charge — because his answer to Sauron will be to become Sauron, Ring or no.

Sauron, of course, knows all this, and that’s why it is so easy for him, via the palantir, to pluck at Sarumon’s pride and ensure that, like the gung-ho fireman, he overestimates his own abilities and underestimates the situation, and his teammates have to burn valuable time and resources bailing him out.

And since Sarumon can’t force Men or Elves to fight his Big War, he comes up with the idea of the half-orcs/Urik-hai. The injunction by the gods? Doesn’t say shit about orcs, does it? Hell no it doesn’t! So, really, it was only a matter of time before Saruman realized that he could raise an army of his own orcs to take on Sauron’s. Give him another hundred years and he won’t need the damn Men or the Elves. It really has a whole Stalin vs. Hitler vibe, doesn’t it?
I guess it just goes to show that no one likes a "letter of the law" guy.  Wizard or no.  Read the rest at The Black Gate.

Labels:

57 Comments:

Anonymous Licorne Negro February 03, 2013 6:34 AM  

"The more you know about Sarumon" -> SarumOn?
Now he is a Digimon, I tell you!

Anonymous Licorne Negro February 03, 2013 6:41 AM  

"Aratar and Pollombo..."
Aratar I dunno from where in Middle-Earth he (the author) get the name... A japanese version of Alatar?
But Pollombo? Did he meant Collombo (sic)? But didn't Collombo (sic) went to the west and not to the east? Weren't the wizard Pallando or something? xD

Anonymous Jeigh Di February 03, 2013 6:50 AM  

Bah! This reminds me of the way so many people bend over backwards trying to justify Judas Iscariot. Poor Judas, the only disciple not from Galilee, nobody liked him, he was only trying to get Jesus to fulfill his destiny as messiah, yada yada yada.

He was a traitor, pure and simple.

Saruman had already been lusting for the ring long before Dol Guldur. The only reason he finally relented and approved the assault on Dol Guldur was he was still trying to find the ring in the area, and didn't want the competition. Interestingly, Saruman actually found Isildur's jewelry, and would have gotten the ring too, except that it had already been found long before by a creature called Smeagol...

Anonymous outlaw x February 03, 2013 7:16 AM  

OT

A true American hero was shot to death (Chris Kyle) SW of Ft worth at a shooting range. Betcha know why it was done, we will see. West Texas born military sniper (one of the best), just found out.

Blogger Rantor February 03, 2013 7:28 AM  

Read the whole article, still feeling no sympathy. Great article though.

Blogger Rantor February 03, 2013 7:30 AM  

@Outlaw, our prayers are with the Kyle family. Reporting indicates there's was a PTSD Marine That Kyle was trying to help out.

Blogger Didact February 03, 2013 7:52 AM  

Misunderstood or not, couldn't this guy at least learn how to SPELL the names from Tolkien's work correctly? Sarumon? Urik-hai? My knowledge of Tolkien's legendarium isn't the deepest, but I'm still pretty sure that I remember how to spell Saruman's name.

Anonymous VryeDenker February 03, 2013 8:14 AM  

I saw nothing new there. I thought it was made sufficiently clear in the books that Saruman is as he is because his good intentions were corrupted by the lust for power. As I recall, it was when he started studying the dark knowledge (can't remember what it was called) that he was seduced. It's not an interesting take for me so much as it is an adlib of what's written in the Silmarillion.

Anonymous Disposable Guitar Hero February 03, 2013 8:18 AM  

/Can somebody post a link to the shooting article? I need to read it.

Anonymous Nah February 03, 2013 8:18 AM  

Saruman is the Republican Party of Middle Earth -- "maybe if I join with the evil and facilitate it, I can have some power too! Hey, let's invite a swarm of orcs into the land as cheap labor. I'll have my newspaper outlets decry anyone who opposes this vibrant diversity as a racist enemy of freedom."

Anonymous Outlaw X February 03, 2013 8:26 AM  

Hope this is Okay Vox.
/Can somebody post a link to the shooting article? I need to read it.

http://www.wfaa.com/news/rough-creek-189536271.html

Anonymous Disposable Guitar Hero February 03, 2013 8:28 AM  

ooops. Hope I didn't ask someone to break the rules by posting a link. It's no problem, I think I can google search it.

Anonymous Outlaw X February 03, 2013 8:31 AM  

DGH

The story is changing.

Anonymous Disposable Guitar Hero February 03, 2013 8:32 AM  

Outlaw X,
Systematic eradication of highly skilled operators capable of resisting a tyrannical state?

Anonymous Disposable Guitar Hero February 03, 2013 8:33 AM  

Stuff like this makes my conspiracy theory generator peg out.

Anonymous Krul February 03, 2013 8:35 AM  

Yeah, he followed "the letter of the law"...

Except when he deliberately misled the White Council about the rings so put them off the trail so he could find them himself.

And when he dominated the Wild Men and used them to attack the Rohirrim.

And when he imprisoned Gandalf. Then again the "injunction of the gods" didn't mention Maiar either, so I guess that's okay...

What a pointless article.

Anonymous Krul February 03, 2013 8:42 AM  

I will add that just because Saruman didn't see himself as suboordinate to Sauron, that doesn't make him any less evil. He was evil because he betrayed and rebelled against the Valar (and ultimately Eru).

Feanor and his sons were enemies of Morgoth and Sauron throughout the Silmarillion, but they still wrought evil.

Blogger Hermit February 03, 2013 8:44 AM  

"He was a traitor, pure and simple."

Agreed. I never got the impression that he came to Middle-Earth intending to become evil. But he allowed it to happen and he must answer for his deeds.

Blogger David Webb February 03, 2013 8:56 AM  

It makes sense. The Special Forces and the SEALs will not go along with a government that orders them to massacre American citizens. They did a survey of that years ago, and the results (for the government) were extremely disappointing.

Yeah, it was murder, and probably of the government kind.

Anonymous Tad2 February 03, 2013 9:11 AM  

Sam and Frodo were gay, obviously.

Like Ed Koch... so was Gandalf and Saruman. All gay.

Anonymous Disposable Guitar Hero February 03, 2013 9:18 AM  

So.....if the State follows historical protocol, we can expect the perpetrator of these murders dead in a week?

Anonymous Godfrey February 03, 2013 9:57 AM  

@outlaw x February 03, 2013 7:16 AM OT

A true American hero was shot to death (Chris Kyle) SW of Ft worth at a shooting range. Betcha know why it was done, we will see. West Texas born military sniper (one of the best), just found out.


Ok, I'll bite, Why was it done?

Blogger mmaier2112 February 03, 2013 9:57 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous Unending Improvement February 03, 2013 9:57 AM  

Chris Kyle was certainly a SEAL, but I'd say he was also full of shit.

Blogger Nate February 03, 2013 9:59 AM  

Sarumon was a douchebag from the beginning. Gandalf's whole story is just a parallel of the hobbits.

Blogger Positive Dennis February 03, 2013 10:34 AM  

The Russian sequel yo Lord of the Rings with Saruman as the good guy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Ringbearer

Blogger Nate February 03, 2013 12:26 PM  

"Bah! This reminds me of the way so many people bend over backwards trying to justify Judas Iscariot. Poor Judas, the only disciple not from Galilee, nobody liked him, he was only trying to get Jesus to fulfill his destiny as messiah, yada yada yada."

and where would we be if Judas had NOT done what he did?

Anonymous Yod February 03, 2013 12:44 PM  

Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky agree.... Saruman WAS the good guy....


http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/unused-audio-commentary-by-howard-zinn-and-noam-chomsky-recorded-summer-2002-for-the-fellowship-of-the-ring-platinum-series-extended-edition-dvd-part-one

Blogger ray February 03, 2013 1:05 PM  

the guy was top dog, but used his power to imprison and torture someone better than his wonderful self, mostly because gah! he just couldnt stand that somebody was better than his celebrated self

caging and torturing one's betters . . . hm $1.75 per day in any old orthanc, making office furniture for the Full Female Employment Economy . . . black sorcerer in high office, with white clothes in a big white house that's invulnerable

no . . . saruman was an asshole, still is, always will be

his "staff" was always a bit limp, he just didnt know it, nobody had the ornaments to tell him, happens when you surround yourself with yes-orcs

Anonymous Benedict Arnold February 03, 2013 1:06 PM  

Preach it!

Blogger Doom February 03, 2013 1:12 PM  

Perhaps. Sure, I'll read more. My main problem is that I don't believe Saruman was seduced, I think he was possessed... to the point that it is possible with an ancient. He lost his free will but not willingly, or even grudgingly, if pure control wasn't quite possible, either, it was... good enough for government work.

Still, I'll take the bait and look a little more at the thesis.

Anonymous The other skeptic February 03, 2013 1:14 PM  

Is A Strong America just a misunderstood idea among Democrats

I find the ideas expressed a little fascistic, errr, fascinating.

Blogger Markku February 03, 2013 1:22 PM  

his "staff" was always a bit limp

Damn, it's so obvious now. How could I fail to see it; Saruman abandoning the white and starting to prance around in the colors of the rainbow.

Anonymous realmatt February 03, 2013 1:58 PM  

Never read the books, but he struck me as a jealous punk bitch desperate for power, willing to follow Sauron if it could get him a taste, even if he would have turned on him as well.

Just like Count Dooku, also played by Lee.

Anonymous Loki of Asgard February 03, 2013 2:11 PM  

If you think I shall rise to this, you are mistaken. I need not the approval nor understanding of you mortals. I only require you to kneel.

Anonymous Thor, Odinson February 03, 2013 2:28 PM  

Shut up, Loki, or I will give wedgies to thee.

Anonymous Loki of Asgard February 03, 2013 2:34 PM  

Shut up, Loki, or I will give wedgies to thee.

Ah, it is to laugh. You see, you need that hammer of yours in order to be mighty. I? I need nothing to make my brain work.

But then again, there is nothing that makes your brain work, so it is hardly fair of me to taunt you.

Anonymous Thor, Odinson February 03, 2013 3:02 PM  

*Thor uses Norse Strength Attack on Loki, severing his spinal cord.


You were saying?

Anonymous Loki of Asgard February 03, 2013 3:12 PM  

/reappears some distance away/

Are you ever not going to fall for that?

Blogger Old Rebel February 03, 2013 3:13 PM  

Every villain is the hero of his own story.

Anonymous Signe February 03, 2013 3:29 PM  

Thor, hon, please stop trying to break His Lordship. It never works, and afterwards he always feels cranky. I don't mind cranky, but he takes potshots at my meat loaf recipe.

Is it my fault meat loaf is such a fickle dish? No. But he goes after it anyway.

Do you really want to be responsible for an innocent woman's tears, Thor?

Anonymous Loki of Asgard February 03, 2013 3:37 PM  

..."Cranky"?

And your meat loaf is a crime against civilisation, wench. Why you insist upon serving it to me after a day's glorious battle is beyond comprehension.

Anonymous Thor, Odinson February 03, 2013 4:02 PM  

Vox is going to ban us.

Anonymous Loki of Asgard February 03, 2013 4:08 PM  

I am not entirely certain Vox cares. But, just in case...

He started it. /points at Thor/

Blogger Nate February 03, 2013 4:58 PM  

"He started it. /points at Thor/"

It appears to actually be true in this case... never the less... your idiom appears to work against you here.

Anonymous Loki of Asgard February 03, 2013 5:39 PM  

It appears to actually be true in this case... never the less... your idiom appears to work against you here.

But am I not the victim here?

Indeed, pity poor me, the misunderstood "villain".

Anonymous Noah B. February 03, 2013 6:00 PM  

@Loki, Thor

This bickering is pointless!

Anonymous Signe February 03, 2013 6:05 PM  

This bickering is pointless!

And leads to the insulting of dinner! *waves oven mitts*

Anonymous Luke February 03, 2013 6:27 PM  

Related, and funny as all-get-out:

http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=612

Imagine if a group of Dungeons and Dragons players had never heard of "The Lord of the Rings", and their DM ran a campaign based upon LOTR. This graphic novel is the likely result.

Anonymous Signe February 03, 2013 6:31 PM  

(Ooh, I like that one. But a better one is Darths & Droids, in my opinion. Feels better structured.)

Anonymous kh123 February 03, 2013 7:04 PM  

"(not much is said about the blue wizards, but honestly I get the feeling they kind of flake out altogether — a very real danger with volunteers who get to bring their friends along)."

If correct, is pretty true to form for ancient tales. Several of the gods in the Japanese Nihongi sent down to clear the earth of demons end up not doing their job for whatever reason, and sort of blow off sending reports to the one who commissioned them.

Anonymous kh123 February 03, 2013 7:07 PM  

"[Saruman's] answer to Sauron will be to become Sauron, Ring or no."

Seems to be the whole moral of the story - defeating evil by not becoming it, since it can't anticipate what it doesn't nor could ever know.

Anonymous bob k. mando February 03, 2013 10:19 PM  

seriously?

David Brin did a BETTER and more thorough deconstruction of LotR 10 years ago. and Brin was moralizing Sauron.

http://www.salon.com/2002/12/17/tolkien_brin/

"Ask yourself: “How would Sauron have described the situation?”

And then: “What might ‘really’ have happened?”

Now ponder something that comes through even the party-line demonization of a crushed enemy — this clear-cut and undeniable fact: Sauron’s army was the one that included every species and race on Middle Earth, including all the despised colors of humanity, and all the lower classes.

Hmm. Did they all leave their homes and march to war thinking, “Oh, goody, let’s go serve an evil Dark Lord”?

Anonymous Koanic February 04, 2013 12:00 AM  

"and where would we be if Judas had NOT done what he did?"

These things must come, but woe to those by whom they come.

Anonymous Daniel February 04, 2013 9:53 AM  

Saruman is shown mercy by those most in a position to issue judgment: Gandalf the White, with the power to vaporize him, merely breaks his staff, Fangorn sees him as small and quite literally not worth his ample time to bother to leave in the prison of his own making, the hobbits of the overthrown shire stay their hand.

Then he vanishes. I believe neither he nor Sauron went to everlasting fire and torment. They failed as men, indeed, but they were not men.

And as to Brin: his thesis fails on the basis of hobbits, elves, dwarves and Wild Men. The "diversity" he sees in Mordor is the same one he expressed in The Postman. The diversity of State worship.

Oh, if only we could restore the federal government as an umbrella to bind strangers together to a higher good! [Don't get me wrong - I like Brin's stuff a lot, but his driving theme is often state control as guiding principle for liberty. For pity's sake, I'm not sure how serious to take a man's geopolitical literary criticism when his core villain of a global collapse is the U.S. militia movement!]

Anonymous bob k. mando February 04, 2013 6:02 PM  

oh, i'm not saying that Brin's take is morally better.

i'm pointing out that Brin was far more thorough in incorporating SWPL idiocy into his thesis.

i used to read quite a bit of Brin. gave up on him after that female supremacist book he wrote though.

Blogger Markku February 04, 2013 6:41 PM  

I am of the opinion that the Trolling Saruman video is the most accurate representation of how it went. Tolkien just tried to sanitize the grim truth.

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