Hail and Well Met Everyone!!
Last week when we left off Gandalf had just escaped Sarumans keep by the help of Gwaihir the Windlord. This week we pick up with more of the treacheries Saruman has been planning.
Two days after Gandalf’s escape the Nazgul came but Saruman persuaded the Lord of the Nazgul that he did not know the Ring’s location but Gandalf did and should seek him out. In search for Gandalf the Nazgul found Grima Wormtongue instead…Grima being the one who went to Saruman and told him Gandalf had been to Edoras, and where Gandalf learned Saruman had been hiding his knowledge of the Shire from them. The Nazgul later learned that Saruman knew far more than he had revealed. On their way to the Shire, the Nazgul met one of Saruman’s Shire spies, from whom they got detailed maps of the Shire made by Saruman. They sent the spy back to the Shire after warning him that he was now in the service of Mordor.
Believing that he would find no pity from either quarter (a false assumption, since he was later offered pardon by Gandalf); Saruman now put all efforts into obtaining the One Ring for himself. Not all of these efforts ever became known, but they included sending spies to detain Frodo Baggins on his journey from the Shire, attacking Rohan with Uruk-hai, and dispatching raiding parties of Uruk-hai accompanied by Moria Orcs on likely routes the Fellowship might take through Rohan to go towards Gondor. One of those parties captured Peregrin Took and Meriadoc Brandybuck and shot Boromir “with many black-feathered arrows” when he tried to defend the Hobbits. This led Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli on a search which eventually led to the Battle of Helms Deep as well as the Destruction of Isengard by the Ents, leading to the end of Saruman’s reign of power in the north.
“ You have become a fool, Saruman, and yet pitiable. You might still have turned away from folly and evil, and have been of service. But you choose to stay and gnaw the ends of your old plots. Stay then! But I warn you, you will not easily come out again. Not unless the dark hands of the east stretch out to take you! ”
–Gandalf the White
Saruman’s plans have failed, and he suffered a series of massive setbacks. His network of spies in the Shire didn’t capture Frodo Baggins, and Eomer destroyed his only partially successful raiding party. His invasion of Rohan ended in disaster with the utter defeat of his army at the Battle of the Hornburg. Leaving Isengard undefended resulted in its destruction at the hands of the Ents.
Confined to Orthanc and with his servants scattered or killed, Saruman made one final unsuccessful attempt to turn Theoden and Gandalf over to evil. Gandal then offered Saruman a chance for redemption, which involved surrendering his staff and the Keys of Orthanc as a pledge. Saruman had a moment of doubt but in the end pride, anger, and hate won over and he refused the chance of redemption.
Gandalf, who had returned from death to replace Saruman, as the White and the head of the Istari, expelled Saruman from the order and broke his staff. Saruman also lost the Palantír of Orthanc when Grima Wormtongue threw it off a balcony of Orthanc, undecided about which he hated more, Saruman or Gandalf, and hitting neither.
A Wizards Great Fall
Left out of the final stages of the War of the Ring, Saruman eventually managed to persuade the Ents who kept him captive into letting him leave Isengard after he met the conditions of handing over the Keys of Orthanc. He then went to the Shire, which his agent Lotho Sackville-Baggins had brought under control. He spent his final days as a small-time criminal master in Hobbiton known as Sharkey, until he was beaten in the Battle of Bywater. In the aftermath of that battle, Frodo confronted Saruman and exiled him from the Shire, but before he could leave Gríma Wormtongue slit Saruman’s throat on the very doorstep of Bag End.
Though his physical body was dead, Saruman was a Maia and did not truly die. His spirit separated from his body much like Sauron’s after the Downfall of Numenor. As an incorporeal spirit, he should have been called to the Halls of Mandos, but the story implies that he was barred from returning. Tolkien indicated that his spirit was left naked, powerless and wandering, never to return to Middle-earth.
Well friends, this wraps up our series on Saruman but we still have more dark villains of Middle-Earth to cover….so stay tuned.
Until next week I’m your host Iogro Merrybelly and I bid you a fine farewell.