Amazon Studios The Rings of Power is a couple weeks away. We want all Spoilerites to have the best viewing experience possible and have the widest knowledge base about the Second Age of Middle-Earth. This is a weekly Let’s Get Nerdy article series highlighting a different piece of Tolkien I think you need to know about!
TL;DR Annatar is an alias of the Dark Lord Sauron.
Much written about in this series and much hay has been made throughout the entire process of adapting The Lord of the Rings about Annatar. The quick and dirty explanation I give is: Annatar is Sauron’s beautiful form before he becomes “The Dark Lord”. The simple comparison is Lucifer before he fell from grace. Particularly given Middle-Earth architect J.R.R. Tolkien’s relationship to faith the Lucifer comparison strikes me as incredibly apt.
As with all Tolkien names “Annatar“ means “The Lord of Gifts”. If you consider his close working relationship – and feigned friendship – with Celebrimbor whilst crafting The Rings of Power (an ultimately The One Ring), he would have been thought of as a bringer of great gifts and a bestower of great power. Leaving out the part where he turns into the greatest villain Arda has ever seen, the name Annatar is incredibly apt.
Annatar was a face and persona Sauron adopted during The Second Age of Middle-Earth. The Silmarillion suggests this identity surfaces in the year 1,500 of The Second Age. This puts him in prime position to be at the height of his craft spinning and manipulations during the events of The Rings of Power based on all the trailers we’ve seen.
Sauron had been mustering his strength in Middle-Earth (having fled further judgment in the West during the Second Age), around the year 1,000. This was when he first established his base of operations as Mordor. It was then he built Barad-dûr close to Mount Doom. From here he was able to muster the same types of creatures (orcs, trolls, et cetera), which had served his previous master – more about that relationship below!
Annatar is older than most of the characters we’ll be spending time with in The Rings of Power having served under Morgoth (a previous Dark Lord). He is described in The Silmarillion as “greatest of [Morgoth’s] servants that have names” and noted for his affinity for beasts and mastery of shadows. Seem familiar to the Sauron we know? In service of Morgoth Sauron waged battle against the elves, conquered several of their lands, and ruled the Isle of Werewolves. Yes, you read that correctly: werewolves. He even had a vampire who served under him throughout the First Age of Middle-Earth.
If you thought Tolkien was all love and light high fantasy look to the First Age for monsters, dea Spoilerite!
Sauron is eventually defeated by the elf-maiden Lúthien. Yes, that Lúthien or Beren-and-Lúthien fame. The very relationship The Rings of Power’s original characters Bronwyn and Arondir appear to be inspired by. This defeat sent Sauron into hiding until the Second Age when he reemerged under the guise of Annatar.
It may feel as though I am harping on his relationship with Celebrimbor and I probably am. Celebrimbor is a character I’m so thrilled to see coming to the screen and have held dear from the first time I read The Silmarillion at the age of twelve. In fairness to Celebrimbor, however, Annatar is warmly welcomed by all the smiths of Eregion. He instructed them in arts and magics as was common for most elves of the era. Traveling and learning. Staying and teaching.
The group of elves who formed The Last Alliance of Men and Elves, however, were not as susceptible to Annatar’s charms. Arguably because they possessed the “three rings for the elven kings” whose properties may have granted them power and insight beyond that of the average elf, dwarf, harfoot, or human being. These founders being: Elrond, Galadriel, and Gil-galad. Their names may be familiar to you from this series and their prominence as lead characters in The Rings of Power.
Then it’s nothing but upheaval until his unmasking as Sauron and defeat at the hands of Isildur … another character in The Rings of Power!
The wildest thing is, Spoilerite, at the time of my writing this feature we don’t even have confirmation Annatar or Sauron is going to appear in The Rings of Power. All we have is the name “Sauron” spoken in the trailer from San Diego Comic-Con and fan speculating actress Bridie Sisson (above), is taking on the role I’ve been writing this feature about.
What do you think?
In past articles I have answered the question:
- What Are the Rings of Power?
- What is Númenor?
- What is the Second Age?
- Who are the Harfoots?
- Who is Prince Durin IV?
- What is Khazad-dûm?
- Who is Celebrimbor?
- What is the Last Alliance of Men and Elves?
- Who is Elendil?
- New Pics! Who are Bronwyn and Theo?
- What is Rivendell?
- The Rings of Power First Reactions Are In!
- What is Lindon?
- What are the Nine Human Rings?
- Empire Magazine’s The Rings of Power Covers
- New Character Pictures
- Will Wizards Appear in The Rings of Power?
- New Promo for The Rings of Power
- What is Eregion?
- Leaked! Rings of Power Trailer Breakdown
- The Rings of Power Teaser Breakdown
- New EW Rings of Power Pictures
- SDCC Rings of Power Trailer Breakdown