The 10th Nazgûl?

Let’s talk about something pretty crazy within the Middle-earth legendarium, but intriguing nonetheless …

I’d just like to state that this is mere conjecture. It’s simply an idea … (and most likely, a preposterous one).

It may appeal to others though …

So I’m just going to throw this out there and hope others have thought about this, even for just a slight moment …

What if the Mouth of Sauron, was on his way to becoming one of the Ringwraiths?Moonlight Ringwraith

Gasp! Instant shock!

Allow me to explain …

It always occurred to me how distinct a character the Lieutenant of Barad-dûr is; and the power, authority and status  he  seems to have had in Mordor, considering he was just a man.(If interested, see the two-part article on the Military Structure of Mordor here )

For we know with absolute certainty he was a mortal man.

There rode a tall and evil shape, mounted upon a black horse, if horse it was; for it was huge and hideous, and its face was a frightful mask, more like a skull than a living head, and in the sockets of its eyes and in its nostrils there burned a flame. The rider was robed all in black, and black was his lofty helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a living man. The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dûr he was, and his name is remembered in no tale; for he himself had forgotten it, and he said: ‘I am the Mouth of Sauron.’

The Return of the King, ‘The Black Gate Opens’, Book V, Chapter 10

Mouth of Sauron 1

Here’s a character who has been completely taken over by the guile of Sauron – so much so that we are told he doesn’t remember his own name anymore.

The Mouth of Sauron strikes me as a living embodiment where (the so-called) “wraithing process” is clearly visible: and has possibly already begun.

His appearance to a Nazgûl is strikingly similar and his corrupt being contains some interesting ideas.

We know almost nothing of the Mouth of Sauron, except that he was most likely one of the Black Númenóreans who fell under the dominion of the Dark Lord. Other than that, it’s all speculation.

It’s intriguing though to think that, at that point in the story, the Witch-king had been slain.Mouth of Sauron 3

What would have happened if the Ring hadn’t been destroyed a few days after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields?

Could the Mouth of Sauron have taken over command the rest of the Ringwraiths, to resume their search for the One Ring?

I know, quite ridiculous.

And yet for once, just once, imagine the possibility …

Plausible? Absolutely horrendous? Is it a possibility or more of a probability? Could Sauron have begun to corrupt and twist another prominent and powerful figure into becoming a Ringwraith?

Discuss 😛

(See also: Identity and Origins of the Nazgul)


26 thoughts on “The 10th Nazgûl?

    1. As far as I’m aware, no he didn’t. Then again, is it ever specified that the Men who had the Nine Rings of Power ever wore them again once they became Ringwraiths? Would they have needed them afterwards?

      The whole thing is quite difficult to answer, but fascinating nonetheless 🙂

      1. I’ve always wondered whether those rings of power were like a sort of contract that bound the Ringwraiths under Sauron’s rule—a double-edged sword that began by giving its wielders power while corrupting them at the same time, until they lost traces of their original selves and became soulless shells reliant on the rings for existence (though this is all conjecture on my part). Reading through the other comments, I see that rings aren’t the only method to turn wraith, so to speak (i.e. Frodo and the blade example), but I wonder if it’s key to becoming one of the more powerful ones. Certainly they seem to offer some sort of conduit/connection between its wearers and Sauron himself.

        So if the MOS were truly to become Ringwraith material, I’d assume he’d need a similar kind of close connection to get the proper “power up”. Perhaps Sauron recovered the Witch-King’s ring somehow and gave it to him. Or maybe he found another way to strengthen his followers without the use of rings. Or maybe the environment in Middle Earth at that time was so perilous that it was easier for his minions to gather enough power to rival their enemies. I do recall things looking bleak for our heroes even moments before the One Ring was incinerated.

  1. This is an interesting idea. I guess we first has to look at the actual nazgul, how long did they bear their 9 rings before they became wraiths? Did they all become wraiths one at a time, or all at once. If indeed the MoS is on his way to becoming a wraith, by what device or process he he doing so? How long has he been under the guile of Sauron? and how much longer would it have taken? if at all! Great idea though.

    1. Yes, you are absolutely right. If these questions could be answered, we would probably be able to start piecing the mystery of the Mouth of Sauron … but alas! (Though I may have another look at those appendices to check dates 😉 )

  2. Yes, this is a great idea. Not sure about him assuming command – I rather think that would go in order of seniority or be based on raw power. But I buy the “wraithing” theory if we can figure out a plausible way for it to work.

    Were all the Dwarven rings accounted for? Is it possible, or stated outright, that Sauron recovered some if them? Can’t believe Sauron would allow a ring of power to sit in a hoard if he had a servant capable of bearing it.

    1. As far as I’m aware, all Dwarven rings were either destroyed by dragons or taken by Sauron (three in all, one of them belonging to Thrain II).

      Then again, if we decide to sustain this Mouth of Sauron theory, could he have been wearing one of the Nine Rings of Power given to the Men? After becoming Ringwraiths, did they need to wear the Rings or could Sauron have used them for other purposes such as this?

      Crazy … crazy, I know 😀

      A Twitter follower, Graham Hart, made reference to the Morgul blade that struck Frodo and how he would have become another wraith like the others (only weaker); suggesting that there were certainly other ways to become one of them …

      1. The Morgul blade is a good point, and no idea if they’d need to be wearing the rings, but I assumed they would be wearing them, because they’d be weaker without them.

        The reason I asked about the Dwarven rings, is that as far as I’ve ever been able to tell, there wasn’t any difference between the nine and the seven except that some were given to men, and some to dwarves. So I was wondering if perhaps the mouth had been given one of those rings Sauron recovered.

        I like the Morgul blade idea even better, though.

  3. Interesting indeed, but as you mentioned, it is a little far fetched IMHO (which isn’t always a bad thing at all, they’re great for discussion and thinking outside the box). One of the things I like most about the Mouth of Sauron though is that he is not a Ringwraith. It shows yet another way Sauron and evil can corrupt people, separate from the power of The Ring. The Ring isn’t the only source or form of evil in Middle-earth, contrary to Galadriel’s line in the prolog of the FotR film (when she talks about destroying evil forever).

    1. Hey Andrew, you’re right. To me the Mouth of Sauron is a fascinating individual, not only because he’s so alike to Ringwraiths; but as you point out, he is also so different.

      (A curious reference, as mentioned in the comment above, one Twitter follower pointed out that the Morgul blade stabbing Frodo was another way to become a wraith, suggesting that the Rings of Power were not the only “way”)

      1. Unless I’m mistaken, the Nazgul were the only beings to use Morgul weapons in the books so one could argue that they are connected to the power of The Rings in some way. Regardless, whenever Sauron corrupts someone they don’t always turn into a Wraith. In regard to the Lieutenant of Barad-dur I think Tolkien makes it pretty clear in the text that this character is not a Wraith, but something different. Sauron used other devices of evil besides the Rings of Power (especially in earlier ages). I find it quite interesting reading about how he could take different forms (Beren & Luthien), how he commanded and organized his forces (in the Elder days and later ages) how he appeared fair to Celebrimbor and the Elves of Eregion (as Annatar in the Second Age), how he slowly poisoned the great kingdom of Numenor and how he orchestrated alliances between foreign powers. He’s a very intelligent and crafty villain, something I really like seeing in the antagonists of a story. But it is a very interesting idea nonetheless.

      2. Indeed, Sauron is a very interesting character and more so in The Silmarillion! Even there, he seems to do much of the “dirty work” for Morgoth and is usually in the thick of things. In LOTR, although he’s equally “active” he seems to revert more to his former master’s way of remaining in the background …

      3. For some reason it won’t allow me to reply directly to this comment:

        Indeed, Sauron is a very interesting character and more so in The Silmarillion! Even there, he seems to do much of the “dirty work” for Morgoth and is usually in the thick of things. In LOTR, although he’s equally “active” he seems to revert more to his former master’s way of remaining in the background …

        So here goes:

        Indeed, Denethor’s quote from “The Siege of Gondor” comes to mind: “He [Sauron] will not come save only to triumph over me when all is won. He uses others as his weapons. So do all great lords, if they are wise, Master Halfling [Pippin]. Or why should I sit here in my tower and think, and watch, and wait, spending even my sons? For I can still wield a brand.”

  4. I know the movies are not always “canon,” but in the scene in Fellowship where the Witch King stabs Frodo, he is clearly NOT wearing a ring when they show him in the “Secondary World.” But, if the wraiths don’t need the rings to maintain their temporal / tangible forms, it begs the question: why didn’t Sauron just use rings to “make” more Ringwraiths? One would assume it’s because it takes hundreds of years, but he could have started 1000 years before the events of the Hobbit even. It’s an interesting curiosity.

    1. Hi Casey, following your reference, I went to check the books and re-read the Weathertop scene – the only example (as far as I’m aware) where we get to see the Ringwraiths in the wraith world. It would appear that, despite several mentions of the Nazgul’s hands, feet and overall appearance, no mention is made to Frodo witnessing any rings on their fingers.

      Though yes, I agree with you that it would have taken hundreds of years to become such a wraith …

  5. Hi James. I think this blog, and this post in specific, is very interesting. One thing that I would like to point out is the role of the MoS vs the role of the Nazgul. The only time any of the Nazgul speak is when the Witchking and Eöwyn are fighting during the siege of Gondor. Otherwise, they are described as communicating through animal-like howls and shrieks, which highlight how “unhuman” they have become. While the Nazgul hunt Sauron’s enemies and lead his armies, the role of the MoS seems to be merely to speak in Sauron’s place. Sort of like in an exorcism, when a demon might use the body of a person to speak for its self. Might it be possible that the MoS was simply a man whom Sauron had possessed for this purpose? (As a side note, I really like how in the movie his eyes are completely covered by his helmet, and you can only see his mouth. Sort of like he is blind to any other purpose besides the one Sauron gave him.)

    1. Hey cajradonich! Thanks for your input and comments 🙂

      Just a slight correction: The Nazgul, as you rightly pointed out, rarely speak in LOTR – however, they also speak when questioning the whereabouts of Frodo in the Shire.

      We see Frodo overhearing one of the Ringwraiths talking to the Gaffer; Farmer Maggot recounting how he was asked about a “Baggins” and even at Crickhollow with Fatty Bolger, one of them utters “Open, in the name of Mordor!”. But yes, they were mostly restricted from “talking” in the general sense of the word.

      As to MoS, we know that he was a Black Numenorean and therefore corrupted by Sauron himself. Yet, considering his elevated position, he may have been subjected to direct control from the Dark Lord.

      (re: film interpretation; oh yes, it really emphasizes the role of the messenger and makes him that much creepier!)

  6. Really interesting idea! I’ve always found the Mouth of Sauron very interesting; he seems so different from all of Sauron’s other lackeys, not just the Ringwraiths.

    I don’t know where I got this, but I was under the impression that the Nazgûl were always wearing their rings. Although the One Ring obviously is much more powerful than the nine or the seven, the books seem to demonstrate that ring-bearers become addicted to the use of a Ring of Power. It would make sense that the Ringwraiths would be physically dependent on their rings.

    That being said, there are certainly other ways to corrupt a human into a wraith. I actually just thought of a line from the books. After they leave Bree, Frodo complains of the lack of food and jokes that he’ll become a wraith. Were wraiths fairly common in Middle-earth? It seems unusual for Frodo to make a joke like that if his only understand of wraiths came from the utterly terrifying Nazgûl. There’s also the Barrow-wights, which could be classified in the wraith category. There’s a lot to explore here!

    1. Hey Emily, thanks for your feedback!

      Thanks for pointing out the “wraith” reference made by Frodo. It certainly seems to be something “common” among the Free People and as you rightly pointed out, Barrow-wights can also be categorized as “wraiths”.

      It seems they may have been more common than as made reference to in the book. The Nazgul were a specific type of “wraith” tied to the One Ring, but there may certainly have been others.

      (Btw, just had a look at your blog. Some very interesting posts! 🙂 )

      1. There’s never any reference to the MoS after the initial encounter, right? It would be really interesting to find out what happened to him. Of course, he was probably killed in the battle.

        (Thanks! Glad you found it interesting. 🙂 )

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