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'Why did Saruman turn to evil?
Envy of Gandalf 969 
Fear of Sauron
Lust for power
Contempt for mortals
Thanks for Voting!

Saruman of Many Colors was a Maia, one of the angelic Ainur who served the godlike Valar in Aman. For many ages, Saruman served on the side of the Valar, who in turn served Eru, who the Elves say created all things. In the course of the events of the Third Age, Saruman's choices led to Darkness as his end, sharing the fate of Morgoth.

      It came to pass, after ages of tumult and war, that Angband was destroyed and the evil Vala Morgoth was at last sentenced to the void. His lieutenant, Sauron, who had begged of the Valar that he be spared, abused their mercy and returned to Darkness. The wicked influence of Sauron resulted in the destruction of Numeanor, the Bending of the Seas, and the bondage of many great Dwarves and Men to the Seven and to the Nine Rings of Power. The Three Rings of the Elves were unsullied by Sauron, who did not have a hand in their making. Even so, they were bound to the fate of the One Ring, made by Sauron to rule them all.

      After the fall of Sauron, in the great war of the Last Alliance between the kings of Men and of Elves, the Ruling Ring was lost and its master was a vanquished spirit. But because the Ring was not destroyed, Sauron regained his power, taking hideous form once more and inhabiting the fortress of Dol Goldur while slowly rebuilding Mordor. The Last Alliance had exhausted the strength of the free peoples of Middle-earth and their vigilance waned as the Third Age waxed.

      The Valar, seeing that without intervention Sauron would enslave the lands in Darkness, sent the Istari, a powerful order of the Maiar who served them, to Middle-earth. Their purpose was to raise resistance against Sauron so that the Free Peoples, Elves, Men and Dwarves, might themselves defeat the Dark Lord. The Istari were thus sent in the guise of old men, who by their counsel and wisdom, rather than their great power, would move the peoples to resist.

      They were known in Middle-earth as the Five Wizards. They aged very slowly through the centuries with the burden of their cares and labours. With the passage of an age they came to meet very different fates. Saruman, as he was called in the Common Tongue, was chief of the order of Wizards, and in token of his greater power, intellect, knowledge, and authority, was garbed in White, and this was his title. Saruman the White came to preside over the White Council, an assembly of the Wizards and of the great Elves who tarried in Middle-earth and still used the Three Rings for good.

      Saruman's great lore and brilliant insights into the mind of the enemy were said to have often been the means of forestalling the plans of the Dark Lord. The counsels of the Wise were long concerned with the fate of the One Ring, which Saruman assured them was long ago lost, never to be found. Saruman the White studied the arts of the enemy and in time came to desire the power that the Ruling Ring could bring him.

      So it was that he began to impede the White Council with advice to delay action against the power in Dol Goldur, known then only as the Necromancer, for it was in this region that the Ring was thought to be lost. This continued until at last, {178}Gandalf^ prevailed and the Council moved finally against the dark fortress in the south of Mirkwood. It was too late, for Sauron had by then rebuilt the Barad Dur in Mordor and only disguised his move there by his seeming retreat.

      There were a number of occasions when the primacy of Saruman was disputed, beginning among the Valar themselves. It was felt that Olorin, later called {178}Gandalf^ the Grey in the Common Tongue of Middle-earth and Mithrandir by the Elves, should be the leader of the Istari, rather than Curunir, later known as Saruman. Also, Galadriel desired that Gandalf be named chief of the White Council. And Cirdan the Shipwright gave to Gandalf, Narya, the Ring of Fire, one of the Three Rings of Power made by the Elves. Even so, Saruman the White made a great impression among men, and not only maintained his leadership of the White Council and the Istari, but also acquired from Gondor the keys and keeping of Orthanc, the great tower and fortress of Isengard.

      It was there in Isengard that Saruman found means to still greater knowledge and power, or so he thought, for there he discovered one of the lost Seeing Stones, the Palantir of Orthanc, not lost, but merely forgotten by the decaying civilization of Gondor. With this elvish sphere of dark crystal, Saruman came to know much of Sauron's designs. In time, Saruman came under the domination of Sauron, who had acquired another of the Seeing Stones, through which he exerted his enormous power over the wizard.

      Even so, Saruman rationalized that he would serve the Dark Lord only in so far as it brought the wizard an opportunity to gain the One Ring for himself. He attempted to use his power of commanding persuasion to convince {178}Gandalf^ to reveal to him the location of the Ruling Ring. It was at this time that Saruman revealed himself, having changed his color from white, prismatically breaking it into Many Colors and taking that for his new title. He had even made for himself a Ring of some kind that he wore, perhaps in token of his desire. In Orthanc, as the Nine Ringwraiths rode to the Shire to find "Baggins" and the Ring, Saruman argued with Gandalf that the noble ends of establishing civilized order justified whatever deplorable means they might employ along the way. Failing to convince Gandalf to join him in his treachery, Saruman imprisoned the true-hearted Grey Wizard atop the tower of Orthanc.

      Gandalf was rescued by a passing eagle, sent innocently by Radagast the Brown, a wizard who had largely abandoned his cares but who had been convinced by Saruman to urge Gandalf to come to Isengard. The treachery of Saruman nearly cost the life of Frodo Baggins, who had inherited the One Ring from his uncle Bilbo, and was taking it to Rivendell without the guidance and protection of the imprisoned Grey Wizard.

      It was also Saruman, whose command of Isengard prevented the passage of the Fellowship of the Ring from Rivendell to Rohan, who forced the Fellowship to take the Mines of Moria, thus passing under the Misty Mountains, rather than through the Gap of Rohan or over the blizzard-bound mountain passes of Caradhras. It was in Moria that Gandalf fell in battle defeating a Balrog, an unspeakably powerful and ancient demon of flame and shadow known as Durin's Bane, the slayer of the great Dwarvish population of the Dwarrowdelf.

      Gandalf the Grey was sent back by the Valar as Gandalf the White, and resumed his labours against both Sauron the Dark Lord and Saruman of Many Colours. Saruman sent teeming forces of great Orcs, ghastly twisted perversions of the Elvish race, now bred with Men and made able to withstand the light of day. This great army was set against the Riders of Rohan to exterminate and enslave the people of that nation, being promised among the usual spoils of war, the flesh of men for their consumption. Had Saruman accomplished these wicked and depraved aims, Gondor and then the rest of Middle-earth would surely have fallen to Sauron in the days that followed.

      This scheme was thwarted at the Battle of Helm's Deep by the stout defenses of that ancient fortress, the courage of the Rohirrim, and by the leadership of Aragorn, the future King of Gondor, and of Theoden, King of Rohan. Even so, the Orcs and wild men of Dunland would have defeated their foes had Gandalf not summoned help that was utterly unexpected.

      Saruman had learned much from the ages-old treeherding Ent, Fangorn, or Treebeard, as he was known in the Common Tongue. The slow wrath of the mighty Ents was unleashed upon Isengard after its armies had embarked for the destruction of Helm's Deep.

      Hobbits of the Shire, Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took, cousins of Frodo Baggins, had been captured by Saruman's orcs, the Uruk Hai, who were ordered to bring them alive to their master, who hoped thereby to gain the Ring. During a skirmish with the Riders of Rohan, the hobbits escaped and providentially found Treebeard, alarming the old Ent with news of Saruman's activities.

      The Ents were a powerful race, whose individuals were of such great strength that they were able to level the great ringed wall of Isengard and to change the course of the River Isen to drown and ruin the vast underground works of the wizard. Gandalf arrived as this was taking place and had Treebeard send a great army of wild Huorns, the restless wrathful trees of Fangorn Forest, to the rescue of Helm's Deep while he, himself, gathered reinforcements from regiments of Riders forced to retreat from an earlier battle.

      Even so, Saruman himself, with his servant Grima Wormtongue, whose treachery in Rohan had been laid bare by Gandalf, was untouched in the impregnable tower of Orthanc. It was on the steps of the mighty tower that Saruman made one last desperate attempt to bring King Theoden and even Gandalf under his sway, and to snatch victory from his defeat. He failed in this: with so many others listening, the power of his voice was insufficient to break the will of the old king. Gandalf bade Saruman forsake his wicked schemes and rejoin the fight against the Dark Lord. For a moment, the former leader of that fight considered Gandalf's offer of clemency.

      But the hold of Sauron was strong upon prideful Saruman, and he was convinced that nothing could defeat the Dark Lord, and that his own survival depended upon his continued service. Gandalf then broke the staff of Saruman, and commanded that he be imprisoned for the duration of the War of the Ring in Orthanc. Treebeard set a guard upon his foe so that there would be no escape.

      The voice of Saruman still had great power. From his prison, he was eventually able to convince the great Ent to release him. Gandalf and the Company came upon him on the Old South Road as they returned to Rivendell after the War. With the power of the Rings destroyed, Saruman accurately prophesied that the great Elves he had betrayed would soon take ship and leave Middle-earth, ere they faded into immaterial spirits. The broken wizard, followed by his abused servant Wormtongue, refused again the mercy of Gandalf and a return to the Valar, choosing to take a separate way.

      When the hobbits finally returned to the Shire after a long detour by way of Rivendell, they found their idylic pastoral homeland utterly changed. Lotho "Pimple" Sackville-Baggins, had grown wealthy through trade with Isengard, first of pipeweed, and then much else. He swiftly gained great power in the Shire, commanding the Sheriffs and calling himself the "Chief." Dissenting hobbits were relocated from their holes, threatened, bullied, and incarcerated; trees were wantonly hacked down; ugly slipshod buildings had replaced beautiful hobbit holes that once harmonized so well with their lush green surroundings; the air and waters were being polluted; and innumberable rules, regulations and curfews stifled the freedom of the halflings. Even worse, the brutish Men, working now for a mysterious Sharkey, had taken all the produce and business of the Shire, doling it back out as they saw fit to the very hobbits from whom they had taken it.

      The returning hobbits made use of their experience in the War to rouse the hobbitry in the Scouring of the Shire. In a few brief skirmishes, the hobbits routed the thugs and freed their land. Up in Bag End, the famous home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, the infamous Sharkey (derived from the Orcish "sharku" or "old man") was discovered to be none other than Saruman, who had taken great pleasure in the destruction of the homes of the people to whom he most attributed the defeat of his schemes. Perhaps there was even some intention on the part of the erstwhile wizard to use the wealth of the enslaved hobbitry of the {447}Shire^ in a new bid for power in Eregion. Perhaps it was merely spite and vengeance that motivated the once high and mighty Saruman.

      Frodo insisted that he not be harmed, but that he instead be exiled. Saruman attempted to murder Frodo at that very moment, but the wizard's blade was turned aside by the mithril coat the noble hobbit wore under his shirt. Even so, Frodo would still not have the wizard killed by the hobbits, and the mercy of the Ringbearer galled the old man. But Saruman met his fate just seconds later when the much abused Wormtongue slew him for revealing his possible cannibalization of Lotho Sackville-Baggins. Grima Wormtongue was himself slain by the arrows of the hobbits in the next instant.

      The spirit of Saruman was witnessed to have lingered in a cloud for a moment before it was blown away from the West, which would not take him back after so much treachery and so many rejections of mercy. The lane that terminated at Bag End was thereafter called "Sharkey's End" as a local joke, and that was the last that was ever seen of the once mighty wizard, Saruman of Many Colors.
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