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"LotR : Barad Dur" Topic

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A sea that raged no more Inactive Member26 Sep 2017 2:48 a.m. PST

Barad Dur is 3,000 feet tall. How do non-Wizards reach the top floor?

(by Danbury Mint)



YogiBearMinis Supporting Member of TMP26 Sep 2017 3:50 a.m. PST

Sauron has no feet, being in a non-corporeal state, so stairs are not necessary. Non-wizards are not allowed. Sauron did not "move on up" to the east-side (of Middle earth) just to continue to hang out with the little guys.

Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Sep 2017 4:33 a.m. PST

I never realized it was so big. That is a great model.

A sea that raged no more Inactive Member26 Sep 2017 5:10 a.m. PST

Yes, it is a great model.


Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP26 Sep 2017 6:02 a.m. PST

Hmm. Maybe if one were to imagine it as a stack of villages, towns and small cities, where many of the people hardly ever venture very far from the "floor" where they were born?


Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Sep 2017 6:34 a.m. PST

I don't know how they did. I would take the stairs. Because of my medications, I occasionally get vertigo in elevators.

Skrapwelder26 Sep 2017 6:41 a.m. PST

You must fling them.

USAFpilot26 Sep 2017 6:44 a.m. PST

That is the movie version of the tower; Peter Jackson's interpretation which is much too literal. Whatever form Sauron took is not fully explained by Tolkien to the reader. I think it is suppose to be a mystery and left up to the reader's imagination. Nevertheless Sauron seems to be cloaked in darkness and shadow and is beyond the understanding of most people's of Middle-Earth. Suffice it is to say that very few of his servants would have direct contact with him. The Nazgul of course could communicate with him and perhaps the only living creature who could have access to him would be his emissary, simply named as the Mouth of Sauron.

Other than the floating eye the tower is what I imagined in my minds eye. I would also imagine there would be a number of internal stair cases which lead to the top if anyone even dared.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP26 Sep 2017 8:09 a.m. PST

If the Game of Thrones Ice Wall has one of these, surely Sauron could make his minions labor over a similar project?





Oberlindes Sol LIC26 Sep 2017 9:17 a.m. PST

I expect that Sauron's own evil energy would make the upper floors of Barad-dur essentially radioactive, so that no mortal could, ordinarily, survive there. He probably had hundreds of floors of penthouses with fantastic views.

A wizard could make radiation protective clothing, which I think is a level 17 spell. Query, also, whether wizards are actually mortals in Tolkien's universe.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP26 Sep 2017 9:47 a.m. PST

"A brief vision he had of swirling cloud, and in the midst of it towers and battlements, tall as hills, founded upon a mighty mountain-throne above immeasurable pits; great courts and dungeons, eyeless prisons sheer as cliffs, and gaping gates of steel and adamant: and then all passed. Towers fell and mountains slid; walls crumbled and melted, crashing down; vast spires of smoke and spouting steams went billowing up, up, until they toppled like an overwhelming wave, and its wild crest curled and came foaming down upon the land. And then at last over the miles between there came a rumble, rising to a deafening crash and roar; the earth shook, the plain heaved and cracked, and Orodruin reeled."

Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member26 Sep 2017 10:12 a.m. PST

On the question about mortality, no,the wizards are not mortals. They are Maiar, spiritual beings of a lower order than the Valar,the "gods",we would call them, of Arda.

"Wizards",a term Tolkien somewhat regretted, is a translation into English of Istari, a word meaning the same thing as Angeloi,Angels--that is, "messengers". They were messengers sent from the Valar to Middle Earth, to assist and encourage the Free Peoples.

Sauron is stated to be corporeal.

USAFpilot26 Sep 2017 10:33 a.m. PST

"Sauron is stated to be corporeal" Thank you Hafen; I didn't exactly remember that. I don't like Jackson's interpretation of the floating eye atop his tower. To me (IMHO) Sauron was hidden in his tower, a mystery in appearance. He used others to carry out his schemes.

corporeal |kôrˈpôrēəl|
of or relating to a person's body, esp. as opposed to their spirit: he was frank about his corporeal appetites.
• having a body: a corporeal God

Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member26 Sep 2017 11:12 a.m. PST

More here:

"Ater the destruction of his fair form in the fall of Numenor, Sauron was unable to take on a pleasing appearance or veil his power again".

In LOTR, Tolkien says only that Sauron "passes away" after his defeat (and, I presume, "death") at end of the Second Age. I take this to mean he "disincorporated". He reincorporated some time later in the Third Age. His power was "greatly lessened" as Gandalf said,by the loss of the Ring,but it doesn't seem to have prevented him from doing so.

But I've often wondered if it prevented him from disincorporating. OTOH,his ego,and anger,may have caused him to cling to his corporeal form in Middle Earth. Anyone know of a direct statement by Tolkien about this?

I didn't care for the "radar installation" either,BTW. Further, Tolkien described Barad-dur during as "swathed in shadow". It would probably not even be visible,except in special circumstances, as with Frodo's vision on Amon Hen. Even there, Tolkien makes it ambiguous, as one one hand,it takes place on the "Hill of the Eye",and on the other, "the Ring was upon him."

Or at its fall,as Patrick quoted above.

EDIT: on rereading the passage, it seems most likely that was the seat on Amon Hen that allowed him to see Barad-dur clearly.

Tacitus26 Sep 2017 11:58 a.m. PST

Forget about that. Can you imagine having a meeting with the Steward of Gondor and forgetting the gift you had for him? Imagine that walk.

Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member26 Sep 2017 1:30 p.m. PST

Is that from the movie, or a "what if"? Same thing,IMO.

BTW, I doubt Tolkien envisioned Barad-dur as 3,000 feet high.

But he never said. He did say Orthanc was 500 feet.

evilgong26 Sep 2017 3:50 p.m. PST

Tolkien did a sketch of Barad-Dur. Well half a sketch uncompleted.

IIRC it was pretty blocky and unadorned.

David F Brown

Pirate190026 Sep 2017 7:35 p.m. PST

Skrapwelder; yes to fling just don't tell the elf ;)

jdginaz26 Sep 2017 11:49 p.m. PST

Wizards were indeed mortal, both Gandalf & Saruman were killed. Their spirits were Maiar but they took mortal form when sent to Middle Earth and could be killed.

USAFpilot27 Sep 2017 1:05 p.m. PST

Wizards were indeed mortal, both Gandalf & Saruman were killed. Their spirits were Maiar but they took mortal form when sent to Middle Earth and could be killed.

Yes, and they were exceptional mortals in their longevity. I think Gandalf showed up in Middle-Earth around 1000 Third Age, which put him around 2,000 years old at the time of the events in LOTR. You could say he had a very high constitution.

Oberlindes Sol LIC28 Sep 2017 1:04 p.m. PST

Tolkien's Letter No. 246 (1963) indicates that he envisaged Sauron as having a body:

"Sauron should be thought of as very terrible. The form that he took was that of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic."

Quoted in:

Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member28 Sep 2017 7:48 p.m. PST

OK,this is getting technical. The hroa (body) of a wizard was indeed "mortal" in the sense that it could be injured or yes,killed,as it was made of the stuff of Arda,as were the bodies of all beings in Middle Earth,including,say, the Elves,whose bodies could also be killed.

But the Elves were not "mortals",doomed to die,like Men,Hobbits, and Druadain,for example. The lives of the Elves were coterminous with the existence of Arda--when it ended,so would the Elves. At least this was their belief. Within that limitation, they were "immortal".

That is the sense in which I use the words. Wizards were not "mortals",in that sense. They "assumed" or took on human forms,as could, apparently, all Maiar,and of course Valar. They could normally do this at will,but the Istari were a special case: once they they volunteered,or were chosen,to be emissaries to Middle Earth,"they were forbidden to reveal themselves in forms of majesty. . .but coming in shapes weak and humble. . .", they were ". . .clad in bodies as of Men,real and not feigned,but subject to the fears and pains and weariness of earth,able to hunger and thirst and be slain; though because of their noble spirits they did not die. . .". (The quotes are from Unfinished Tales).

Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member29 Sep 2017 8:43 a.m. PST

Here,BTW,is a (probably unfinished) watercolor Tolkien did of Sauron:


And here's the pic of the Dark Tower evilgong mentioned:


It was used for the cover of the early 70's Ballantine paperback editions of ROTK.

Tolkien was very self-deprecating about his artistic talents,but they're valuable for giving us an idea of the way he pictured things in his mind. I also think he used them to refine his own conceptions.

Interesting that the foundations,at least, appear to be of cyclopean masonry,which isn't made very clear in Frodo's vision on Amon Hen:

"Then at last his gaze was held: wall upon wall,battlement upon battlement,black, immeasurably strong,mountain of iron, gate of steel,tower of adamant, he saw it: Barad-dur,Fortress of Sauron".

From the positioning of the windows, it looks as if he pictured a stairway of some kind, going back and forth up from the doors.

USAFpilot29 Sep 2017 12:26 p.m. PST

IMHO,I think one of the reasons Tolkien's books are so great is that his writing style is such that he paints enough of a description of things to get your imagination started, and you the reader fill in the missing details in your mind. As example, he describes the symbol of Rohan as a white horse on a green field. But offers no further description thus allowing the readers imagination to take over. Is the horse just standing or is it rearing up on its hind legs? Does the horse carry a rider or is it riderless? What shade of green is the background, forest green, kelly green,etc. Tolkien writes just enough to lay the foundation which sparks your imagination to fill in the rest of the picture.

Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member30 Sep 2017 9:30 a.m. PST

Very good point,although,in seeming paradox, the impression it leaves is of great detail. Tolkien described the effect in "On Fairy Stories":

"Literature works from mind to mind. . .It is at once more universal and more poignantly particular. If it speaks of 'bread' or 'wine' or 'stone' or 'tree', it appeals to the whole of these things, to their ideas; yet each hearer will give to them a peculiar personal embodiment in his imagination. Should the story say 'he ate bread'. . .the hearer will think of bread in general and picture it in some form of his own. If a story says 'he climbed a hill and saw a river in the valley below'. . .every hearer of the words will have his own picture, and it will be made out of all the hills and rivers and dales he has ever seen, but specially out of The Hill,The River,The Valley which were for him the first embodiment of the word" (From Note E).

Another thing he does very frequently is shown in a favorite passage of mine (which may seem an odd choice, as nothing much is happening): the description of the approach to Weathertop. Strider's words to the Hobbits about it, as they walk along, are brief and elliptical,offhand,in a way; but they convey a sense,not just of history,but of deep 'layers' of history,reaching far back in time. (That short passage of about two pages also demonstrates several other examples of his method,but I won't go into them here).

As for the White Horse of Rohan, there is another white horse on a green field,less than a day's walk from Oxford: the Uffington White Horse,which may well have inspired Tolkien's conception:


Although it was probably more "filled-out" in his mind!

Marc at work10 Oct 2017 7:58 a.m. PST

On Sauron, didn't Gollum describe being tortured by Sauron and him only having nine fingers? Would suggest a hideous physical form, by definitely a body and not a light house giant eye

Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member18 Oct 2017 2:43 p.m. PST

You are correct, it's found in the chapter "The Black Gate Is Closed". Here's Frodo:

"It was Isildur who cut off the finger of the Enemy".

"Yes,he has only four on the Black Hand,but they are enough," said Gollum shudderingly.

In rereading some of the Letters, I found No. 200 has material on the incarnation of the Valar and Maiar. I'll quote a passage concerning this,and Sauron specifically:

". . .it took some time to build up. It was then destructible like other physical organisms. But that of course did not destroy the spirit, nor dismiss it from the world to which it was bound until the end. After the battle with Gilgalad and Elendil,Sauron took a long while to re-build,longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy of the spirit,which might be called the 'will' or the effective link between the indestructible mind and being and the realization of its imagination). The impossibility of re-building after the destruction of the Ring, is sufficiently clear 'mythologically' in the present book".

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