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Saruman (Éo."Man of Cunning"), known also as Saruman the White, Cúrumo or Saruman of Many Colours, was one of the mightiest fire-spirits of Aule, the head of the White Council and later Sauron's double-faced vassal.

Many knew that Saruman had long been envious of Gandalf the Grey, but few knew that he was awed and fascinated by Sauron, fearing and idolizing him. He eventually looked into the Palantír and lost the constest of wills against the Enemy, becoming subservient to him and swearing his allegiance to Sauron. Enticed by the will of the Dark Lord and thirsting for power, Saruman sought, by terrible means to either gain the One Ring for his own or become Sauron's servant alone. No longer opposing him, Saruman thought of his master's victory as the future of the World. In truth, he became not much different from Sauron in mind: he wanted to impose order on Middle-Earth by any ways necessary, even if it meant establishing his or his master's dominion.

Taught by his master and being provided with ancient lore, Saruman began delving deeper into Sauron's dark arts and learned to forge his own Ring, although infinitely lesser to the One and the others. Still, his mind fell even more under the domination of Sauron and the thought of acquiring the Ring became soon a fool's hope, though not abandoned completely. During one meeting of the White Council, Gandalf hinted that he suspected Saruman being in Sauron's employ or at the very least searching for the Ruling Ring. The White Wizard kept his calm composure, making the Grey Pilgrim doubt his own thoughts for a while.

Saruman the White, the Chief of the Order of Wizards, had, for most of the Third Age, few dealings with Hobbits. He traveled extensively his first centuries in Middle-Earth, studying the enemies of the Free Peoples and researching their tools and methods, becoming known to the Elves as Curunír (S. "Man of Skill"). Saruman cooperated frequently with Gandalf the Grey in efforts to preserve the northern Dúnadan kingdoms and overthrow the Witch-king, whom he perceived as the greatest rival in eventually rising ever higher in Sauron's favour. During all this time, he visited the Shire seldom and aided its people only incidentally. In T.A. 2759 Saruman took up residence in the Tower of Orthanc, lying in the Gap of Rohan at the juncture of Eriador and Gondor.

He strove to form alliances and secret societies in Dunland, Saerlann, and the settlements along the Gwathló and the Brandywine both to please his master and counter the influence of the rulers of Moria, Goblin-Gate, Angmar and Dol Guldur. Since his methods were more devious and generally "dirtier" than those of Gandalf and the Elves, he kept most of his network of spies hidden from all eyes, except those of his master. Saruman contracted the outlaw Doeth to gather a company of rogues to act as his personal informants. These conscripts were joined by ill-favoured Men from the South, mainly Dunland, Isengard and some even as far as Harad.

Twisted in spirit by Sauron's influence and by his own desire for power, Saruman finally renounced his guardianship over Orthanc in T.A. 2953, claiming the fortress and the surrounding valley as his own. He then began gathering an army of Orcs, wolves, wargs , and evil Men in the caverns under the southern Misty Mountains, transforming the once-placid Wizard's Vale (S. "Nan Curunír") into a fortified realm of mines and factories. His minions in Orthanc called him Sharkú (Or."Old Man"); this name was passed on to his mannish agents in Eriador as "Sharkey". His servants and allies in Eriador now began to gather information and resources for Saruman's own ends; the wizard betrayed some of the most noble of them in the process. When Sauron began to take an interest in Eriador, Saruman arranged to eliminate his master's trusted agents and thus keep him dependent on Doeth's sources. He was able to maintain his treachery and service to the Dark Lord until almost the last throw of the dice, even managing to imprison Gandalf in 3018.

Saruman eventually betrayed the White Council and the Free Peoples of Middle-Earth and revealed his allegiance to Sauron. He made Isengard a breeding pit of Orcs, Wargs, and evil Men. Saruman imprisoned Gandalf atop of Orthanc, who could only be rescued by Gwaihir. As the White Wizard grew accustomed to the epithet "Sharkey", he began to take an active interest in the Shire. He realized in 2953 that Gandalf had asked the Rangers of the North to devote more of their limited manpower to guarding this peaceful realm. The Shire-folk seldom dealt with outsiders, but Sharkey was able to use the greed and ambitions of merchant-traders like Oldenad and Lotho Sackville-Baggins to his advantage. Not only did he develop sources and spies within the Shire, he was also able to purchase quantities of leather goods, cloth, and bulk foods in the Shire and ship them south for the use of his master's growing army. In spite of Sharkey's efforts, the most important bit of knowledge he might have secured—the location of the One Ring—eluded him until Frodo Baggins had already left for Rivendell.

After the failure to retrieve the Ring, Saruman abandoned the plan of making himself lord of all and instead resolved to carry out Sauron's wishes, assure him that his misguided attempts were all done to please him and be his right-hand man. At his master's instructions, the former White Wizard committed his armies to an assault on Rohan, only to see all his might and machinery destroyed by the Rohirrim and the Ents. As he met Gandalf the White, he ended up being cast out of the White Council by the new white wizard's hand. Saruman remained in Orthanc until his voice could bewitch Treebeard to let him go. Weakened, suddenly and horribly aged, his staff broken by Gandalf, Saruman fled northward following the defeat of Sauron. Nonetheless, he did not abandon neither his hopes that he would come up on top again nor his faith in the eventual return of his master at the End.

After leaving Isengard, Saruman rouse a band of ruffians made up of Half-Orcs, Dunlendings, and renegade Breelanders to go scour the Shire. Lotho had already seized power in the Shire; the Wizard came to Bag End in fall of T.A.3019 determined to revenge himself and Sauron on the Hobbits by destroying as much of the country as possible, for their role in their defeats. His Staff having been broken by Gandalf and much of his power taken away, His magic items, for the most part, were drained and useless. One of his purposes in coming to the Shire was to locate new sources of power; he expected to find artifacts here left untouched since Arnorian times and manuscripts hidden in ancient times by devout Sauronites. Fortunately, the Ringbearers returned home only two months after the initiation of Sharkey's plan. That return brought about the Wizard's removal and death. He finally met his end at the hands of his ally Grima Wormtongue who in turn was shot by the Halflings of the Shire.


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References:

  • Lords of Middle-earth Vol I: The Immortals
  • MERP:Middle-Earth Adventure Guidebook II
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