Shortly before the season one finale of The Rings Of Power, we were revealed the identity of Adar, who had been rumored to be Sauron himself (could be the truth, but it was obvious).
Galadriel, therefore while interrogating Adar reveal to us that he is one of the Moriandor (sons of the dark), the first Orc, without futher explaining how the Orcs were created, except that they were created by Melkor/Morgoth. She probably doesn’t explain how the Orcs ended up being so different from the Moriandor, who are more like Elves. She considers the Moriondor to be abominations, caricatures of existence in general, with Adar retorting that we are all children of the same God. Let’s keep this one, and we also keep two more elements of the interspersed verse: First, that Sauron was experimenting in search of a power that “shall not be flesh, but something beyond/above flesh, a power of the Unseen World.” Second, that he himself killed Sauron due to the fact that he was mindlessly sacrificing Orcs for his experiments.
Who/what are the Moriondor
It is true that from the original material we do not have a clear answer as to how the Orcs were created. We do know, however, that they are descended from elves, whom Melkor/Morgoth, after tricking and torturing them, placed under his command. Their hideous appearance is perhaps due to the torture they suffered and possibly magic used against them during Melkor/Morgoth‘s experiments to create life himself.
But of those unhappy ones who were ensnared by Melkor little is known of a certainty. For who of the living has descended into the pits of Utumno, or has explored the darkness of the counsels of Melkor? Yet this is held true by the wise of Eressëa, that all those of the Quendi who came into the hands of Melkor, ere Utumno was broken, were put there in prison, and by slow arts of cruelty were corrupted and enslaved; and thus did Melkor breed the hideous race of the Orcs in envy and mockery of the Elves, of whom they were afterwards the bitterest foes. For the Orcs had life and multiplied after the manner of the Children of Ilúvatar; and naught that had life of its own, nor the semblance of life, could ever Melkor make since his rebellion in the Ainulindalë before the Beginning: so say the wise. And deep in their dark hearts the Orcs loathed the Master whom they served in fear, the maker only of their misery. This it may be was the vilest deed of Melkor, and the most hateful to Ilúvatar.J.R.R. Tolkien “The Silmarillion”, Chapter 3 – Of the coming of the Elves and the captivity of Melkor
The Trilogy reproduces almost verbatim the above passage in Saruman’s words to his own creation, the Uruk-hai.
But how is the elf-like presentation of Moriandor justified? In the series Adar, which means Father in the language of the elves, is considered to be one of the first Orcs having, however, an elf-like form, while he also speaks the language of the elves, shows the same attraction to the light and embraces some of the their habits, such as planting seeds before an upcoming battle. Why, though, do the first Orcs remain elfin, while the rest are as they are? Also, why does he object that he, even the Orcs (???), are creations of the One, i.e. Iluvatar and not Melkor/Morgoth? Is he an elf after all, as he says towards the end of his fable with Galadriel, or Uruk, when he asks her to call him that instead of Orc? The only logical explanation that could somehow stand is that the Moriandor are some of the Avari, who either chose to follow Melkor/Morgoth, or were tricked, but without being tortured or using magic against them, so and are elfin in contrast to the Orcs.
And ere long the evil creatures came even to Beleriand, over passes in the mountains, or up from the south through the dark forests. Wolves there were, or creatures that walked in wolf-shapes, and other fell beings of shadow; and among them were the Orcs, who afterwards wrought ruin in Beleriand: but they were yet few and wary, and did but smell out the ways of the land, awaiting the return of their lord. Whence they came, or what they were, the Elves knew not then, thinking them perhaps to be Avari who had become evil and savage in the wild; in which they guessed all too near, it is said.
Σημ.: Avari, the Unwilling are the elves who refused the call to Aman and preferred to remain in Middle-earth. The Umanyar (elves who started for the West, but did not cross over to it) and the Avari together are called by the Eldar Moriquendi, Elves of Darkness, because they never saw the Light that existed before the Sun and the Moon.J.R.R. Tolkien “The Silmarillion”, Chapter 10 – Of the Sindar
What is the real relationship between Moriandor and Orcs? Trouble. From Galadriel‘s point of view the Orcs are slaves to the Moriandor, while from the Moriandor‘s point of view the Orcs are their children, in a symbolic – and hopefully not ancestral – relationship, in which the Moriandor protect and guide them, because they, too, like all the children of the world, they are unique, they have a heart and a right to hope for a homeland. Adar goes so far as to claim that he protected his children even from Sauron himself, when he deviated from his vision of healing Middle-earth and sacrificed Orcs in order to become powerful himself. And it ends with the Orcs’ declaration of freedom in the plain and simple ORCS HAVE NO MASTER.
None of this makes sense unless we accept that Adar is one of the greatest troll characters to ever run through the series and he’s selling pure madness to Galadriel, knowing that at any moment everything will be ash and lava and Sauron’s plan to occupy the Southlands, which has already been revealed to us, will have been fulfilled. The fact that he claims to have “killed” Sauron himself suggests that he is trolling, otherwise he must have actually done it, or the show’s creators really are writing the dialogue drunk.
If indeed the creators of the series want to attempt a different approach to the Orcs compared to what we have seen so far and specifically if they want to highlight a dimension of the Orcs as victims of a war and a condition – permanently hunted – that they did not choose – why this seems to be what they’re trying to do – they should do it with more care and better structured scripted interventions. For now, they’re stuck in a rut and end up with antics that, whether or not they’re faithful to the source material, don’t make much scriptural sense in the first place because of the very poor depth they’ve been given.
Orcs has no master (sic)
It seems and remains to be seen that the creators, either to serve some kind of agenda, or to make the plot a little more intriguing, or both, are attempting a – in their opinion – more complex approach to the Orcs in relation to with what we have seen so far, which goes as far as declaring their freedom through the mouth of the loving Adar.
It is true that aspects of their approach to this could find support in Tolkien’s work sometimes persuasively and sometimes following a deliberately fragmentary and targeted, in order to serve various purposes, reading of the original material. Indicatively and because it is interesting, for -in my own paraphrase- we are all children of the same God by Adar I have found a quite interesting analysis of Ainulidali, that is Tolkien’s Cosmogony, in which the following argument is put forward, on which the above view could be based: “However, all is not well in the choir: the rebellious Melkor seeks to make his own music outside of that composed by Eru, thus introducing discord and conflict into the melody. It’s this rather poor decision that precipitates Melkor’s eventual fall (more on that later), but its significance for Tolkien’s cosmology is far greater than that: Eru weaves the rebellious theme into the overarching music, making it part of the grand design, but the problem with incorporating angelic rebellion into your creation is that—well, you’ve incorporated angelic rebellion into creation.”. (Beyond Good and Evil: The Complex Moral System of Tolkien’s Middle-earth, Elise Ringo). Continuing the above line of reasoning, one could argue that the Orcs are not creations of Melkor/Morgoth, but – apologies in advance for that – creations of Creation itself, since Eru/Iluvatar wove into the melody of Creation and the melody of Melkor/Morgoth, which, according to the original material, was initiated by his desire to give Existence to his own things.
The original material, however, rejects the above approach which seems to present itself as a creative failure, but emphasizes that even Orcs are part of Creation:
Then Ilúvatar spoke, and he said: ‘Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Ilúvatar, those things that ye have sung, I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done. And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.’J.R.R. Tolkien “The Silmarillion”, Ainulindale
However, it should be noted that the rational beings (the Children of Iluvatar) were solely the creation of Iluvatar and none of the Ainur, including Melkor/Morgoth, participated in their creation. (For Iluvatar’s children were entirely his own invention; and they came with the third theme and did not exist in the theme that Iluvatar had originally proposed to them, and none of the Ainur participated in their creation; Ainulindale). And these did not include the Orcs even as a dissonance (Now the Children of Iluvatar are the Elves and the Men, the Firstborn and the Followers; Ainulindali, p 33). Even the Dwarves, who came out of the plan, from Aule, only truly gained the gift of life after Illuvatar gave his blessing:
“Why hast thou done this? Why dost thou attempt a thing which thou knowest is beyond thy power and thy authority? For thou hast from me as a gift thy own being only, and no more; and therefore the creatures of thy hand and mind can live only by that being, moving when thou thinkest to move them, and if thy thought be elsewhere, standing idle. Is that thy desire”J.R.R. Tolkien “The Silmarillion”, Chapter 2 – Of Aule and Yavanna
Therefore, unable to give Existence to his own “children” Melkor/Morgoth tricked, tortured and corrupted the children of Iluvatar, specifically the elves. And it’s not just that he brought them with him, but condemned them to misery, against what Iluvatar planned for them.
“Behold I love the Earth, which shall be a mansion for the Quendi and the Atani! But the Quendi shall be the fairest of all earthly creatures, and they shall have and shall conceive and bring forth more beauty than all my Children; and they shall have the greater bliss in this world.”J.R.R. Tolkien “The Silmarillion”, Chapter 1 – Of the beginning of days
The exact opposite of the fate that Melkor/Morgoth condemned the Orcs: Monstrous, with an appeal to destruction, capable of making terrible things but unable to make anything beautiful, doomed to misery. Yes, from that point of view and considering what fate Iluvatar had in store for the Elves who ended up being Orcs, we could feel pity for their existence. We could not, however, see a different approach to the Orcs who are struggling to find their place among the peoples of Middle-earth, free, without masters, to rule their own destiny.
Melkor/Morgoth “created” them by infusing them with all his envy and anger and defined their lives with fear, which is also the “flame” of their existence. The flame of Udûn (aka Uthumno) one might say (Gandalf said so in the battle with the Balrog at the bridge of Khazad Dûm), the ancient stronghold of Melkor/Morgoth, where the Orcs were created. And as long as this flame “burns”, the Orcs are doomed to serve it – Sauron, the vice-leader of Melkor/Morgoth, did not let this flame go out and fueled it further, as we will see in the events of the series culminating in the construction of the Ring -. The Orcs’ relationship with their master, described in the passage quoted above, can be even better paralleled by Gollum‘s relationship with the Ring:
You ought to begin to understand, Frodo, after all you have heard,’ said Gandalf. ‘He hated it and loved it, as he hated and loved himself. He could not get rid of it. He had no will left in the matterJ.R.R. Tolkien “The Fellowship of the Ring”, Chapter 2 – The Shadow of the Past
A power of the Unseen World
For the end I leave the revelation of Sauron‘s rather real plan, from Adar himself: Sauron was experimenting in search of a power that “shall not be flesh, but something beyond/above flesh, a power of the Unseen World. But why does Adar so generously give such important information to Galadriel? Sauron wouldn’t have wanted the elves to know that he was in search of such a power, because that would have motivated them to pursue him with far greater intensity than simply letting an angry Galadriel wander the world in search of him.
Did Adar actually kill Sauron, so this revelation no longer makes any sense? Difficult, to impossible. Sauron is ultimately a Maiar, who even if he “dies”, his spirit still exists and as evidenced by the events following the Fall of Númenor, can return. If, I insist, Adar is not simply peddling madness, then all that could stand is that the latter “killed” a form, a body of Sauron, thus partially confirming his claim. If this is the case, we can only anxiously await the revelation of what really happened.
But what is the Unseen World around which Sauron was experimenting?
Gandalf: But it was a terribly narrow shave, so to speak. You were in gravest peril while you wore the Ring, for then you were half in the wraith-world yourself, and they might have seized you. You could see them, and they could see you. […] Because they are real horses; just as the black robes are real robes that they wear to give shape to their nothingness when they have dealings with the living. […]And here in Rivendell there live still some of his chief foes: the Elven-wise, lords of the Eldar from beyond the furthest seas. They do not fear the Ringwraiths, for those who have dwelt in the Blessed Realm live at once in both worlds, and against both the Seen and the Unseen they have great power. […] Frodo: I thought that I saw a white figure that shone and did not grow dim like the others. Was that Glorfindel then? Gandalf: Yes, you saw him for a moment as he is upon the other side: one of the mighty of the Firstborn.J.R.R. Tolkien “The Fellowship of the Ring”, Chapter 1 (B) – Many meetings
At this point brothers and sister… we messed up! If we really want to understand what the Unseen World consists of we should start with the influences of the Roman Catholic Faith on Tolkien’s work, continue with the theocratic system he devises for his world, and dive into the recesses of Valinor. What is Valinor in the end? Perhaps in some future article, which will be exclusively about this.
For now, we’ll highlight elements we already know from the Trilogy and, most importantly, what we know about the Nazgul, the Ringwraiths, who carried the nine Rings given to humans and were trapped by Sauron and the One Ring in “living” between the living and the dead. Also, we know that whoever wore the One Ring could perceive and move in this void. Could it be that with this reference the creators of the series reserve for us an attempt at a deeper approach to the nature of the power of the One Ring when we get to the construction of it? We’ll see.