Sauron’s fortress in the east

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Skauril 21/Nov/2006 at 05:24 AM
Scavenger of Mordor Points: 467 Posts: 163 Joined: 13/Dec/2004

It was said somewhere in the books that Sauron fled to the east after his defeat earlier in the third age (or was it late in the second age?), for a period of time that lasted 400+ years, known as the watchful peace. This was, of course, the period of time leading up to the War of the Ring.

The exact location of his fortress in the east was not given, if I recall correctly. However, it was briefly described as "a fortress wreathed in flame".

Anyone have any further details on this mysterious eastern fortress that was wreathed in flame? Sounds like a different, diabolic take on Barad Dur to me. Any guesses as to where it might have been? Somewhere in Rhun, or perhaps beyond?

These are tough questions, I know, but this one detail has always captivated my interest and curiosity, so I have to ask...  

Eorl Boarhelm 21/Nov/2006 at 07:08 AM
Horse-lord of the Mark Points: 1920 Posts: 2348 Joined: 27/Jul/2004
Where was this mentioned? I believe during the Watchful Peace (III. 2063-2460), Sauron abandoned his fortress of Dol Guldur in Mirkwood temporarily, while his Nazgul remained quiet in Minas Morgul in western Mordor.  He fled to the East, but I don’t see a particular fortress mentioned. But during the Council of Elrond, Gandalf mentoned that during this time he governed Mordor through the Nazgul in Minas Morgul.
Skauril 21/Nov/2006 at 07:45 AM
Scavenger of Mordor Points: 467 Posts: 163 Joined: 13/Dec/2004

It was in the closing notes (or whatever you call those tidbits of information Tolkien had compiled at the end of the book) of The Return of the King, if I recall correctly. It may have been one of those afterthoughts that Tolkien often had; facts that he (or possibly Christopher Tolkien) added to the lore of Middle-earth after the completion of the main framework of his writings.

If my memory is playing tricks with me and it wasn’t said in RotK, then it must have been in the Unfinished Tales. But I’m pretty certain it was stated in RotK.

I remember being surprised when I read about it, since it was a detail that had escaped my attention in the past. I wish I could remember the exact page number...

Eorl Boarhelm 21/Nov/2006 at 08:09 AM
Horse-lord of the Mark Points: 1920 Posts: 2348 Joined: 27/Jul/2004

It was in the closing notes
Oh, you mean the Appendices. Yes, I found it there too, in App. B which has all the chronologies. I’m pretty sure it couldn’t have been another fortress, since none such holds are mentioned. In 2460 he came back and re-established himslef in Dol Guldur. But in 2951 he returned to Barad-dur and openly delared himself, and the entry for 2954 in App. B, says that here Mount Doom burst into flame again. So I think you must be confusing the details of a description of this situaton somewhere. 

Skauril 21/Nov/2006 at 09:17 AM
Scavenger of Mordor Points: 467 Posts: 163 Joined: 13/Dec/2004

Hmm.. I’m pretty sure it was a seperate mention, not related to Mordor or Mount Doom in any way. It’s still crystal clear in my memory (apart from which specific book it was mentioned in). If it wasn’t a fortress, it was some other kind of hold or hideout. 

I better rummage around and see if I can find both RotK and the Unfinished Tales for further reference...

Durin of Moria 22/Nov/2006 at 01:11 AM
Scribe of Erebor Points: 467 Posts: 260 Joined: 24/Mar/2006
We have few knowledge about Ruhn as Tolkien did not talk much about them, and so what fortress Sauron fled to or where it is probably not known. 
allendeonour 22/Nov/2006 at 02:06 AM
Gardener of Lothlorien Points: 204 Posts: 26 Joined: 19/Nov/2006

are you talking about after the white council destroyed dol guldor if you are then sauron at this time was still takeing shape and if this is not what you are talking about then my apologies to all and it could be one of melkors old holds?

Harlondir Helcarax 22/Nov/2006 at 05:59 PM
Fletcher of Lothlorien Points: 1439 Posts: 742 Joined: 26/Oct/2006

and it could be one of melkors old holds

One of Melkor’s old holds ? If my memory holds true, then I don’t think Melkor even went into the East ever, let alone making a fortress there. And even if he did have, wouldn’t the Valar have made sure it was destroyed ? Moreover, there’s no mention of such a fortress.

Oin 23/Nov/2006 at 08:00 PM
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The only reference made to Sauron’s abode in the east is that it was a place surrounded by fire (I think it is in the Sil, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age), whatever that means. I am inclined to think that if Sauron was so far in the East that the White Council could not monitor his whereabouts and did not know what he was up to, that he was off the LotR map to the east - a safe distance from the West and the Wise where he could allow his plans and manipulations to come to fruition while still avoiding detection.
Skauril 23/Nov/2006 at 11:48 PM
Scavenger of Mordor Points: 467 Posts: 163 Joined: 13/Dec/2004

Yes, thank you Oin - that is exactly what I was referring to! :)

My memory wasn’t playing tricks on me after all.

These little tidbits of information have always fascinated me the most. Just being given a vague description of some sort of abode, fortress or other kind of dwelling of Sauron, far to the east, surrounded by fire.. really makes your imagination work overtime.

When people say that nothing was ever said about the unknown regions of Middle Earth.. it’s not entirely correct. Tolkien did make small but important revelations in his notes and letters regarding these mysterious far away places.

Weldvar 25/Nov/2006 at 04:09 AM
Messenger of Imladris Points: 90 Posts: 10 Joined: 10/Sep/2006

It was said somewhere in the books that Sauron fled to the east after his defeat earlier in the third age (or was it late in the second age?), for a period of time that lasted 400+ years, known as the watchful peace. This was, of course, the period of time leading up to the War of the Ring.

The exact location of his fortress in the east was not given, if I recall correctly. However, it was briefly described as "a fortress wreathed in flame".

Anyone have any further details on this mysterious eastern fortress that was wreathed in flame? Sounds like a different, diabolic take on Barad Dur to me. Any guesses as to where it might have been? Somewhere in Rhun, or perhaps beyond?

These are tough questions, I know, but this one detail has always captivated my interest and curiosity, so I have to ask...  


Vugar 26/Nov/2006 at 02:17 AM
Chieftain of Mordor Points: 8170 Posts: 5398 Joined: 01/Jun/2004

Weldvar, if you are going to quote the words of another, you have to provide at least 200 characters of your own material.  Otherwise, your post shall simply qualify as spam.

And I see that since the actual quote has not yet been provided, I thought I would:

"To them Sauron was both king and god; and they feared him exceedingly, for he surrounded his abode with fire." (Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, The Silmarillion)

Kaos the Gold 28/Nov/2006 at 07:22 AM
Blacksmith of Erebor Points: 1279 Posts: 833 Joined: 21/Jun/2006
Who’s ’them’ Achaius?  haradrim?  Easterlings? Variags, wainriders, balchoth, men of rhun, far harad, near harad, khand, umbar, black numenoreans?  Who?  Elves, dwarves, men, hobbits or orcs?  Hmm?
Magradhaid 28/Nov/2006 at 12:03 PM
Imp of Umbar Points: 7957 Posts: 8204 Joined: 13/Sep/2008
The context of "them/they" can be given by the sentence before it, which is "In the east and south well nigh all Men were under his [Sauron’s] dominion, and they grew strong in those days and built many towns and walls of stone, and they were numerous and fierce in war and armed with iron." So it was the Easterlings and Southrons (or the ancestors of those in LotR) who feared Sauron. The comment about "both king and god" can be combined with Tolkien’s comments about having Orcs worship him as "Morgoth returned" to show insight into Sauron’s personal character, with his pride and lust for control. However that’s off topic of the "abode of fire" thing. To me that can only mean Mordor, since the timeframe of that quote is after the War of the Elves and Sauron. Appendix B in LotR says that the war preceding that quote happened in SA 1693; Sauron chose Mordor as his stronghold c. SA 1000, with the Barad-dr being constructed for the next 600 years. More specifically, the quote about "king and god [...] abode with fire" happened in between the appearance of the Nazgl and Sauron allowing himself to be taken prisoner by Ar-Pharazn, which by Appendix B of LotR can expressly be said to be some time in between SA 2251 and SA 3262.

More specifically, another quote from the Silm. (Akallabth) says
"Already in the days of Tar-Minastir, the eleventh King of Nmenor, he [Sauron] had fortified the land of Mordor and had built there the Tower of Barad-dr, and thereafter he strove ever for the dominion of Middle-earth, to become a king over all kings and as a god unto Men." UT gives SA 1731-1869 as when Tar-Minastir ruled, so you could say Sauron desired to become a "god unto Men" then. Later quotes give Sauron having "the strength of his terror and mastery over Men had grown exceedingly great" after the Ringwraiths and before Ar-Adnakhr, so the "abode with fire" quote can be said to have happened in between SA 2251 - 2899.

However, the question remains of whether that
"abode with fire" quote was the one you were thinking of. If it was, then it was definitely Mordor; if not, it could have been elsewhere. I’ll finish my post later when I get home.
Skauril 30/Nov/2006 at 01:21 PM
Scavenger of Mordor Points: 467 Posts: 163 Joined: 13/Dec/2004

Tyrahel, I’m still inclined to think that this "abode surrounded with fire" was somewhere in the East. Here’s a quote from Achaius right here at Lotr Plaza (apparently, this topic has been discussed before);

(QUOTE) Wayne Rooney, I think it likely Sauron had another fortress in the East.  During the Second Age, to the Men of the South and East "Sauron was both king and god; and they feared him exceedingly, for he surrounded his abode with fire." (Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, The Silmarillion)  This does not seem to be a description of Barad-dr, and Mordor was not Sauron’s original refuge (as has been stated).  A statement that agrees with this can be found in Unfinished Tales.  As Elenhir wrote, after the first millenium of the Second Age Mordor was "occupied by Sauron, though outside his original realms ’in the East’, as a deliberate threat against the West and the Nmenreans." (The Istari, Unfinished Tales) (UNQUOTE)

I underlined the passage that confirmed my suspicions; the source I was referring to all along was a different one - the one from The Unfinished Tales. I might have gotten the timelines mixed up a bit as well, since I’m a bit rusty on my mid second age - mid third age knowledge (as far as exact details are concerned). I thought for a while that the quote mentioned here was the right one, but now I’m pretty certain it wasn’t. It’s been a while since I read the books, so things are a bit hazy for me.

I shall endeavor to find The Unfinished Tales (I have it lying around somewhere) and hopefully my original source within it as well.