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Old 05-10-2014, 09:00 AM   #1
tom the eldest
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who are the nazgul?

The nazgul was said to be great kings of men,but who are this great kings?numenor had only one kings,which is probably tar-minastir at the time of the forging of the rings.khamul is an exception,we know who he is.so,any idea who are the rest of the nazgul?
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Old 05-10-2014, 09:20 AM   #2
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The Nazgûl were not all "kings," just powerful leaders of Men.
In "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age": "Those who used the Nine Rings became mighty in their day, kings, sorcerers, and warriors of old." (emphasis mine) Evidently some of them only became kings after they received their Rings, and some may never have specifically been kings at all. If the Númenórean Ringbearers became kings, it might have been, for instance, in Númenórean colonies in Harad, given that they obviously weren't kings in Númenor.

Three were Númenóreans, as is stated in "Akallabêth": "Yet Sauron was ever guileful, and it is said that among those whom he ensnared with the Nine Rings three were great lords of Númenórean race." The Lord of the Nazgûl was probably one of these Númenórean lords, but we don't know for sure.

One, as you say, was an Easterling - Khamûl.

The rest we don't know, but if there were only three Númenóreans the rest must surely have been Easterlings or Haradrim. Given how long Sauron spent in the East and how long it was under the shadow it seems extremely likely to me that several of the Nazgûl were probably Easterlings. I suppose some of them might have come from the Men who dwelled in western Middle-earth in the Dark Years but in my opinion they always come across as too primitive and disorganised for there to have been much point in Sauron giving any of their leaders Rings.
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Old 05-10-2014, 08:38 PM   #3
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The nazgul was said to be great kings of men,but who are this great kings?numenor had only one kings,which is probably tar-minastir at the time of the forging of the rings.khamul is an exception,we know who he is.so,any idea who are the rest of the nazgul?
Hey there Tom

There's some additional materials about them in UT, Hunt for the Ring, where you get some insights into their thinking, ways of sensing, and about the hierarchical relationships amongst them. Looks like they 'lived' together in Minas Ithil (Morgal) during periods.

There is some dispute about the number and kind who were numenorean. Someone posted somewhere that Sauron nabbed some of them during his time on Numenor--but the dates don't reconcile for that. The crisis period for the Gwaith-i-Mirdain is 1695 SA, with some 700 years until their first appearance, around SA 2251. In was around 1800 SA that Numenoreans began settling on the coast of Middle Earty (and even somewhat earlier, after 1700, in fact, when Tar Minastir sent aid to Gil Galad, just as Sauron was about to topple Lindon). They settled, not only in Umbar, but at other strongholds, some near Edhellond.

It was not until SA 3255, Numenor's 25th king Ar-Pharazôn sailed to Middle-earth. That's well and truly after the Nine's first appearance. Not sure where they dwelt during Sauron's stay on Numenor.

This history hints at some of the possibilities for the origins of the Nine, in a sweep of options broader than Umbar and the East. I wonder if the Blue Wizards had any role in the process, who were Istari who fell into the 'evil of sorcery' in the East. We never find out if they were competitors, or non-events for Sauron--or allies.

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Old 05-10-2014, 10:10 PM   #4
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There is some dispute about the number and kind who were numenorean. Someone posted somewhere that Sauron nabbed some of them during his time on Numenor--but the dates don't reconcile for that.
The quote I gave from "Akallabêth" states definitively that there were three. They certainly did not receive their rings from Sauron while he was in Númenor because he didn't go there until much later, but as you've stated there were many Númenóreans in Middle-earth before that, hence my suggestion about "colonial lords."

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I wonder if the Blue Wizards had any role in the process, who were Istari who fell into the 'evil of sorcery' in the East. We never find out if they were competitors, or non-events for Sauron--or allies.
For them to have been involved they would have to have come to Middle-earth in the Second Age, which was suggested but never settled upon by Professor Tolkien, and they would also have to have fallen to the shadow - another thing he never settled upon - and abandoned their mission extremely quickly. That being said, I can't see why they would need to be involved. Sauron already had plenty of influence in the East without the need for intermediaries.
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Old 05-11-2014, 05:17 AM   #5
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The quote I gave from "Akallabêth" states definitively that there were three. They certainly did not receive their rings from Sauron while he was in Númenor because he didn't go there until much later, but as you've stated there were many Númenóreans in Middle-earth before that, hence my suggestion about "colonial lords."
It's in the Akallbeth, that we're told

Quote:
"...ensnared with the Nine Rings three were great lords of Númenorean race".
(emphasis mine)

This is a reference in materials about the Shadow that falls upon Numenor, and though Sauron may not have brought The Nine Rings directly to Numenor--we do know that he developed a grudge about Tar Minastir's involvement, 1700 SA, in the Battle of the Gwathló, when Sauron was defeated by the Númenorean force from Vinyalondë, at which time,

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Sauron was routed utterly and he himself only narrowly escaped. … Humiliated he returned to Mordor, and vowed vengeance upon Númenor.
Quote's from UT, tale of Galadriel and Celeborn, which is one of the few materials around that extends Silmarillion materials in relation to stuff about events during and after the sack of the House of the Mirdain.

Interestingly, we know that the Shadow falls on Numenor, around 1800. Now--requoting--

Quote:
"...ensnared with the Nine Rings three were great lords of Númenorean race".
The Witchking was someone, it seems, with a particular grudge against Numenor. I wonder--a Prince of Numenor--possibly even a blood relative of the Line of Elros--at the least, a Prince of noble ranking, around the time Tar Minastir starts sacking ME and laying harbours down.

I wouldn't be surprised if he was a rival to the King, and jealous of that power. Perhaps someone humiliated by a High Council in Numenor. Sauron, I suspect, chose the person by reputation, or by appeals to conceit, after the 'humiliating' defeat. Sounds like a basis for the grudge match to me. Sauron got personal.

Whoever it was Sauron chose, they had about 700 years before getting scary. Given the Numenorean lifespan, I wonder then also--probably not one of the Numenoreans who lived 400 years (Elros's line in the Kingship). Perhaps this Prince was just your average Numenorean then. In any case, Tar Atanamir was born in 1800, and around this time, dissent first appears in Numenor, and soon after, the choice not to return Life to Eru, voluntarily, but for the Kings to cling on until death. This all makes me wonder--if these three chosen Numenoreans, for a while, were present making trouble in Numenor.....

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Old 05-11-2014, 06:38 AM   #6
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According to the Tale of Years, the Shadow fell on Numenor about SA1800, with the Ringwraiths first appearing about SA2251.

If we cross-reference this with the Line of Elros in UT (and ignore the error which CT draws attention to in note 10 - it doesn't seem relevant to this particular discussion anyway) we see the following happening inside this time-window:

Quote:
the Númenóreans in his service exacted heavy tribute from the men of the coasts of Middle-earth
This provides one obvious source for the "three great lords": they were Númenóreans in service of the King (possibly quite high-ranking officials) involved in extracting this tribute, and Sauron lured them with the Rings and promises of more temporal power.

This is, of course, purely conjectural, but it seems to fit.

There is as far as I know absolutely nothing in Tolkien suggesting that the Witch-king himself was a Númenórean (aside from a note cited by Hammond and Scull that he was "probably" one). He could just as easily have been Haradrim or Easterling. There also seems no reason for him to have any particular grudge against Númenór aside from just carrying out his masters will.
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Old 05-11-2014, 06:50 AM   #7
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I think it likely the Chief of the Nazgul was Numenorean. I don't have the citation, I'm lifting off the web, but Hammond & Scull, Reader's Companion, p. 20, a manuscript of notes, Tolkien [apparently] stated that the Witchking's name and background were not recorded, but that he was probably of Númenórean descent.
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Old 05-11-2014, 07:29 AM   #8
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I think it likely the Chief of the Nazgul was Numenorean. I don't have the citation, I'm lifting off the web, but Hammond & Scull, Reader's Companion, p. 20, a manuscript of notes, Tolkien [apparently] stated that the Witchking's name and background were not recorded, but that he was probably of Númenórean descent.
In the Akallabêth it says that three of the Nazgûl were Númenórean "lords"
Also, in Letters #156 there is a footnote stating that "the wicked Kings who had become Nazgûl " were Númenóreans, Since the Witch-king was the chief of the Ringwraiths, his status as one of those Númenórean "lords" seems all but assured.
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Old 05-11-2014, 07:33 AM   #9
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(aside from a note cited by Hammond and Scull that he was "probably" one).
The "probably" is important, isn't it? The point is that we don't know. In my opinion, thematically speaking, it's important that we know as little about the Nazgûl as possible. I think their anonymity is meant to enhance their horror.
I don't think it's unreasonable for the Lord of the Nazgûl to have been a Númenórean, but yes it's important to remember that he wasn't necessarily one.
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There also seems no reason for him to have any particular grudge against Númenór aside from just carrying out his masters will.
I agree. In fact taking a Ring actually seems to be quite compatible with the fallen Númenórean mindset.
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According to the Tale of Years, the Shadow fell on Numenor about SA1800, with the Ringwraiths first appearing about SA2251.
I suppose it depends how long it took for them to become wraiths, because 2251 is only 30 years after the reign of Tar-Atanamir when the tribute was exacted and 222 years after his reign began. If they received their rings during the tribute period, ie during the reign of Tar-Atanamir at some point, that's not that much time for a Númenórean to exceed his natural lifespan. But I suppose it could be enough depending on how old they were and how quickly the Rings worked.
The Númenóreans had been settling Middle-earth during the reign of Tar-Minastir, Tar-Ciryatan's grandfather, however, which was still about a century after the War of the Elves and Sauron, so there were plenty of opportunities when Sauron might have been dispensing Rings.
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Old 05-11-2014, 07:45 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Ivriniel View Post
I think it likely the Chief of the Nazgul was Numenorean. I don't have the citation, I'm lifting off the web, but Hammond & Scull, Reader's Companion, p. 20, a manuscript of notes, Tolkien [apparently] stated that the Witchking's name and background were not recorded, but that he was probably of Númenórean descent.
That's the note I've referred to above, and is so far as I'm aware the sole indication. In full:

Quote:
In the manuscript of Nomenclature Tolkien notes that 'the name and origin of the Witch-king is not recorded, but he was probably (like the Lieutenant of Barad-dur [the Mouth of Sauron]) of Númenórean descent).'
Here "Nomenclature" is the work sometimes known as Guide to Names in the Lord of the Rings (and originally published as such in A Tolkien Compass), subsequently published as Nomenclature of the Lord of the Rings in Hammond & Scull.

Even with the best of intentions this is shaky evidence. The work existed in 3 versions: an original manuscript, a subsequent typescript and a final professional typescript (which was subsequently corrected by Tolkien), and the reference to the Witch-king's origin is only noted to have been in the manuscript. It certainly doesn't appear in Hammond & Scull's edition (aside from the early reference to the manuscript, but it's not in the work itself) (I don't have A Tolkien Compass for cross-checking).

The reason for it's omission from subsequent versions could be rejection (maybe Tolkien felt it preferable to leave this matter vague), or it could be because it's not really relevant content here: it's a sign that the work was drifting away from it's original intention (to be a guide for translators) and towards introducing new story elements, after all.

Even aside from that, use of the word "probably" certainly should not be read as a definite indication.

So taken together the "evidence" amounts to:
  • Use of the word "probably",
  • In an earlier version,
  • Which was subsequently removed,
  • In a work that was intended for use by translators, not for public consumption.
None of this should be read as any kind of argument that the Witch-king was not Númenórean, of course. He could still be. It's just that the evidence for him being so is not actually very strong at all, so it's necessary to be careful about making statements or claims that depend on it.
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Old 05-11-2014, 08:01 AM   #11
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I suppose it depends how long it took for them to become wraiths, because 2251 is only 30 years after the reign of Tar-Atanamir when the tribute was exacted and 222 years after his reign began. If they received their rings during the tribute period, ie during the reign of Tar-Atanamir at some point, that's not that much time for a Númenórean to exceed his natural lifespan. But I suppose it could be enough depending on how old they were and how quickly the Rings worked.
The Númenóreans had been settling Middle-earth during the reign of Tar-Minastir, Tar-Ciryatan's grandfather, however, which was still about a century after the War of the Elves and Sauron, so there were plenty of opportunities when Sauron might have been dispensing Rings.
This is an interesting question, but I don't think you can set a fixed time from receipt of a Ring to becoming a Ringwraith.

Gandalf's words to Frodo in Shadow of the Past are the best indication I can find:

Quote:
A mortal, Frodo, who keeps one of the Great Rings, does not die, but he does not grow or obtain more life, he merely continues, until at last every minute is a weariness. And if he often uses the Ring to make himself invisible, he fades: he becomes in the end invisible permanently, and
walks in the twilight under the eye of the dark power that rules the Rings. Yes, sooner or later – later, if he is strong or well-meaning to begin with, but neither strength nor good purpose will last – sooner or later the dark power will devour him.
From this it seems to be the case that it's not exceeding your lifespan that makes you a wraith, it's using the Ring often. Also, if you're well-meaning or if you're particularly strong, the process takes longer.

Smeagol/Gollum had the Ring for about 600 years, but "it was long since he had worn it much: in the black darkness it was seldom needed" so he didn't become a wraith. As Hobbit-kind he was more resilient too, of course. Bilbo had it for 60, and was already starting to feel "all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread". Also a Hobbit, also more resilient.

I think taking a median-point in Atanamir's reign and assuming that they used the Rings a lot, 100 years would be plenty of time for an already corrupted Man to become a Ringwraith. A total guess of course but it seems reasonable.
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Old 05-11-2014, 08:49 AM   #12
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In the Akallabêth it says that three of the Nazgûl were Númenórean "lords"
Also, in Letters #156 there is a footnote stating that "the wicked Kings who had become Nazgûl " were Númenóreans, Since the Witch-king was the chief of the Ringwraiths, his status as one of those Númenórean "lords" seems all but assured.
I don't think the Letters citation is so conclusive either. It seems possible for a Númenórean "king" (perhaps of a petty-realm in Middle-earth) to become a Nazgûl but yet be submissive to a more powerful Haradrim king (as a fellow Nazgûl). It also seems probable that Sauron would grant leadership of the Nazgûl to one who had been under his dominion longer.

The second-in-command of the Nazgûl is confirmed to have been an Easterling, so therefore we know that at least two of the other Númenórean "kings" or lords who became Nazgûl were submissive to an Easterling. If two, why not three?

But on balance this can really go nowhere. The only thing is that there is no real evidence after all, and it's important to establish that the common assumption that the Witch-king must have been Númenórean has very little basis in Tolkien's writings.
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Old 05-11-2014, 11:07 AM   #13
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I don't think the Letters citation is so conclusive either. It seems possible for a Númenórean "king" (perhaps of a petty-realm in Middle-earth) to become a Nazgûl but yet be submissive to a more powerful Haradrim king (as a fellow Nazgûl). It also seems probable that Sauron would grant leadership of the Nazgûl to one who had been under his dominion longer.

The second-in-command of the Nazgûl is confirmed to have been an Easterling, so therefore we know that at least two of the other Númenórean "kings" or lords who became Nazgûl were submissive to an Easterling. If two, why not three?

But on balance this can really go nowhere. The only thing is that there is no real evidence after all, and it's important to establish that the common assumption that the Witch-king must have been Númenórean has very little basis in Tolkien's writings.
Knowing the spiteful nature of Sauron, who better than a Númenórean (ie., the WitchKing of Angmar) to seek retribution against the realms of Arnor? I would assume the three Númenórean Nazgul were rebels and lords of Umbar. I don't give much stock in the WitchKing being a Haradrim, considering most of the northern area of the Haradwaith was controlled by Black Númenóreans (first referred to as the King's Men) during the time Sauron conceivably handed out the Rings.

The split between the Elendili and the King's Men occurred during Tar-Ancalimon's reign, which, coincidentally, was about the time the Nazgul emerged. There is a longstanding association among the Númenóreans with sorcery (including such later Black Númenóreans as Beruthiel and the Mouth of Sauron), so it is basically assumed that the most sorcerous of all the Nazgul is a Númenórean, because we hear very little, if any, mention of sorcery among the Haradrim or Easterlings.

But you are right, Mhagain, it is and will always be conjecture.
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Old 05-11-2014, 12:26 PM   #14
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Knowing the spiteful nature of Sauron, who better than a Númenórean (ie., the WitchKing of Angmar) to seek retribution against the realms of Arnor? I would assume the three Númenórean Nazgul were rebels and lords of Umbar. I don't give much stock in the WitchKing being a Haradrim, considering most of the northern area of the Haradwaith was controlled by Black Númenóreans (first referred to as the King's Men) during the time Sauron conceivably handed out the Rings.
Well my confession is that I always imagined the Witch-king as a Númenórean too, but sometimes it pays to analyze and challenge one's assumptions.

I think circumstantiallly it makes sense for him to be one. Perhaps related to the royal family, a younger son or cousin, with strong ideas about how he could do better but little experience, on his first trip to Middle-earth as part of a tribute expedition. All conjectural fan-fiction.

On the other hand picture a Haradrim warlord, long under the sway of Sauron, steeped in sacrifice and dark sorceries, who's mighty ****ed at these upstart Númenóreans coming over and trying to extract tribute, when along comes opportunity in the shape of a Ring of Power into his possession.

See what I mean? Both are equally valid given what Tolkien wrote.

However:

Umbar wasn't founded until after the Nazgul first appeared, so that timeline is all wrong. Also, Angmar was Third Age but the Nazgul appeared in the Second, so I can't see that being a motive. I'd be more inclined to expect the WK to be a corrupted Faithful than a BN in origin too.
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Old 05-11-2014, 05:12 PM   #15
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Well my confession is that I always imagined the Witch-king as a Númenórean too, but sometimes it pays to analyze and challenge one's assumptions.
In Pricilla, Queen of the Desert, I think it's Terrance Stamp who says "assumption is the mother of all **** up". But for a discussion about conjecture--we only have the text and its story and only have events chained by circumstance to go on.

You are, of course, right. For this one, we'll never know. We can't know categorically. Though, I'd be very surprised if the good ole Haradrim (and the Numenorean influence) wasn't something right on up there in any 'Witchking' thinking in a lot of the posters. It's clearly an alternative, and of course, an oldie but a goodie. Harad's anti Numenorean antagonism is very well developed in the reader whose gone beyond LotR.

If you want to enjoy some fan fiction about conjecture and the Haradrim, it's a great read and a lot of fun to speculate about. I've often imagined that there were cousins and disaffected relies who could have been a candidate for Mr Witchking--who had a giant chip on his shoulder--I mean--man, how many thousands of years can you hold onto a grudge! That witchking just couldn't let it go

But, as to alternatie speculation--the Shadow in Numenor was about sorcery hitting their shores, not vice-versa--not Harad's (the evil variation of magic--sorcery). Significant or not? It's a correlation, which is not causation, of course. But, in the timeline analysis, places the first darkening just past 1700 SA. Just around the time Sauron gets rather personal with Numenor, and right when he had his Nine new shiny rings in his hands. It makes sense, strategically, as a tyrannical warlord, that you'd want head honcho Witcher-oo to be someone who could tarnish the homeland--rather than Harad.....speculation, though -

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Old 05-11-2014, 06:15 PM   #16
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Well my confession is that I always imagined the Witch-king as a Númenórean too, but sometimes it pays to analyze and challenge one's assumptions.

I think circumstantiallly it makes sense for him to be one. Perhaps related to the royal family, a younger son or cousin, with strong ideas about how he could do better but little experience, on his first trip to Middle-earth as part of a tribute expedition. All conjectural fan-fiction.

On the other hand picture a Haradrim warlord, long under the sway of Sauron, steeped in sacrifice and dark sorceries, who's mighty ****ed at these upstart Númenóreans coming over and trying to extract tribute, when along comes opportunity in the shape of a Ring of Power into his possession.


See what I mean? Both are equally valid given what Tolkien wrote.
I do not think they are equal at all. The conjectural evidence still points heavily to a Númenórean rather than a Haradrim in the case of the sorcerous, necromantic WitchKing. As I inferred, there are plenty of textual references regarding Númenórean black magic, black arts and necromancy, or at least implied sorcery; whereas, I cannot find a single instance of black magic or sorcery mentioned among the Haradrim. The Númenóreans were also far longer-lived and physically stronger than other races at that period of the 2nd Age.

If you have any evidence regarding magic use among the Haradrim (or Easterlings, for that matter), please share.

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Originally Posted by mhagain View Post
However:

Umbar wasn't founded until after the Nazgul first appeared, so that timeline is all wrong. Also, Angmar was Third Age but the Nazgul appeared in the Second, so I can't see that being a motive. I'd be more inclined to expect the WK to be a corrupted Faithful than a BN in origin too.
Umbar was founded far before the Nazgul appeared, during the colonization period beginning 1800 S.A. (natural harbor and all), but it was not heavily fortified until 2280 S.A.: ("...the strength of his [Sauron's] terror and mastery over men had grown exceedingly great, he began to assail the strong places of the Númenóreans upon the shores of the sea." -- Silmarillion).

As far as I can recollect, Númenórean colonies existed far further south down the coast than Umbar.

As far as the Nazgul Witchking, I suppose I wasn't clear enough. I suspect he was one of the "King's Men", a provincial lord and sorcerer of one of the southern Númenórean territories (perhaps a ruling relative of Tar-Atanamir and Ancalimon); King's Men being the progenitors of the Black Númenórean race.

Yes, this was in the Second Age, and Angmar was Third Age, but I would expect a supernatural King's Man from the 2nd Age to still harbor hatred for the descendants of the Elendili still living in Arnor far more than a man of Harad.

Memories are long in Middle-earth.

EDIT: Another thing regarding Númenórean magical ability comes to mind:

"So passed the sword of the Barrow-downs, work of Westernesse. But glad would he have been to know its fate who wrought it slowly long ago in the North-kingdom when the Dúnedain were young, and chief among their foes was the dread realm of Angmar and its sorcerer king. No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will." -- ROtK

Obviously the Númenóreans and their descendants, both the Arnorions (this smith of Westernesse) and Black Númenóreans (like Beruthiel and MoS), had such capabilities.
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Old 05-11-2014, 06:51 PM   #17
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Yes, sounds clear here. We have sorcery's black touch in Numenor, and in Khamul of the Easterlings. There's reference to it, even in The Blue Wizards, who went into the East and, in some text references, succumbed to evil in Sorcery.

I haven't read any references to sorcery in the peoples of Harad.

We also know that Umbar was founded in 2280, and I seem to recall that Elros's bloodline made a showing there, at least as a cousin or relative, at some point (my memory is fuzzy about Umbar. It has been over 20 years since I reviewed this stuff).

From 1695 SA (Sauron's attack on the Mirdain) to 1700 SA (Tar Minastir's 'humiliating' defeat of Sauron), we're at 1800. 700 years until Nazgul appear, places us 2500, SA. I don't know how long a Ring took to exert its influence, but 2280 and 2500 is 220 years. I would say, then that this may suggest the 'guy with the grudge against Elros from Numenor'--Witchking--probably came from Numenorean stock before Umbar. There were plenty of Numenorean settlements and Lords of Andunie flexing their muscles in Middle Earth extracting bounty, all along the coast of ME, from South of Lindon, all the way to south of Harad......

Do you think the Ring bearer ever made a presence in Numenor?
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Old 05-11-2014, 07:24 PM   #18
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The Tale of Years entry for SA2280 has:

Quote:
Umbar is made into a great fortress of Númenor.
Of course the Numenoreans could have had strong places by the sea before then.

Quote:
The conjectural evidence still points heavily to a Númenórean rather than a Haradrim in the case of the sorcerous, necromantic WitchKing
I don't disagree with the conjectural evidence, but consider: the text states that the Witch-king became a sorceror after he recieved the Ring, not that he was one before:

Quote:
Those who used the Nine Rings became mighty in their day, kings, sorcerers, and warriors of old.
It hardly seems relevant whether or not he was from a culture steeped in sorcery before.

Likewise, he hardly needs to be long-lived. Bilbo was almost corrupted in just 60 years and he was a more resilient Hobbit, of good will, and who didn't use the Ring much, and these are the key deciding factors according to Gandalf (see above for the quote). The amount of time you have the Ring for isn't really what's important: Khamul as an Easterling wasn't long-lived either.

Speaking of Khamul, he was likely also a sorceror as a Ringwraith so if true that just serves to underline that prior culture is really unimportant.

As I said before, this is really just arguing the toss. I personally consider it most likely that the Witch-king actually was a Numenorean but it is interesting and informative to deconstruct something taken for granted.
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Old 05-11-2014, 09:01 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhagain View Post
<snip>...I don't disagree with the conjectural evidence, but consider: the text states that the Witch-king became a sorceror after he recieved the Ring, not that he was one before:<snip>

<snip>It hardly seems relevant whether or not he was from a culture steeped in sorcery before.<snip>
We don't really ever find out why the witchy-poo King was a 'witch' and not an ungoliantified, greed vomit--I mean--an Eol Cliff Elf. No, what I'm trying to say is that Turgon's Aredhel ate horse meat in unlight in Valinor. *shakes head*, that's not it either. What I mean is that if the Warlock Queen of Numenor was born, before it was Numenor, then she wouldn't be a she at all. That's really what happened, for a man to be called a Witchking.

We really don't know what 'witch' powers of 'sorcery' the Witchking held. Or whether or not she? studied sorcery, or dabbled, before changing genders. Perhaps Sauron was just having a cosmic joke, and really liked Numenor.

Quote:
Likewise, he hardly needs to be long-lived. Bilbo was almost corrupted in just 60 years and he was a more resilient Hobbit, of good will, and who didn't use the Ring much, and these are the key deciding factors according to Gandalf (see above for the quote). The amount of time you have the Ring for isn't really what's important: Khamul as an Easterling wasn't long-lived either.

Speaking of Khamul, he was likely also a sorceror as a Ringwraith so if true that just serves to underline that prior culture is really unimportant.
Gollum held The Ring for a very long time. Bilbo, I suspect, would have been several Hobbit lifetimes before succumbing. We don't really know how long a transition took into Wraith form, but more than 60 years seems quite likely. We're told the Rings granted great life extension. Educated guess. Follows on from the fact that it was about 700 years before they appeared in ME after Mr Annatar destroyed Eregion.

Quote:
As I said before, this is really just arguing the toss. I personally consider it most likely that the Witch-king actually was a Numenorean but it is interesting and informative to deconstruct something taken for granted.
Yup.
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Old 05-12-2014, 03:53 AM   #20
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There's more info I was previously unaware of (or had previously passed over - same result) in a plot outline given in the Siege of Gondor chapter in HoME 8:

Quote:
Gandalf says things are still not so bad - because the W[izard] King has not yet appeared. He reveals that he is a renegade of his own order ... [?from] Numenor.
This is obviously an abandoned concept but otherwise I'm not sure what to make of it. I haven't cross-checked with when the idea of Istari as Maiar first arose, so maybe Tolkien is playing around with different ideas for their origin here? Was the Witch-king viewed as possibly a renegade Istar at the time (yes)? Were the Istari viewed as Numenorean in origin at the time (don't know)? Was the Witch-king at this point viewed as being a separate entity from the Ringwraiths (don't know)?

Either way it seems that the idea of the Witch-king as a Numenorean was something that had always been in Tolkien's mind, even though he never expressed it in published work.

What's interesting is that the original concept for the Mouth of Sauron was that he would be the Witch-king, so the idea of a renegade Numenorean in a high-ranking position in Sauron's service never really went away.

Quote:
We don't really know how long a transition took into Wraith form, but more than 60 years seems quite likely
I've dealt with this previously but in summary:
  • Only 3 of the Ringwraiths were noted to have been Numenorean,
  • The other 6 were therefore Haradrim, Easterlings or Edain,
  • Khamul, the second in command, is definitely confirmed to have been an Easterling,
  • But Haradrim, Easterlings or Edain don't have long life,
  • But that doesn't matter because Gandalf's words in Shadow of the Past confirm: it's not how long you have a Ring for that matters, it's how much you use it.
It should be obvious that the "long life" argument is bogus. If the other 6 Ringwraiths don't need to have long life, why should the 3 Numenoreans be a special exception?
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Old 05-12-2014, 04:24 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhagain View Post
It should be obvious that the "long life" argument is bogus. If the other 6 Ringwraiths don't need to have long life, why should the 3 Numenoreans be a special exception?
I don't think people are saying 'long life implies head of the Nazgul'. Perhaps I haven't made my point clear. I am saying--they [the chosen nine in their mortal origin] can't have too long-a-life, given 700 years from 1695 to first appearance of Nazgul. If it was a line of Elros, (as in undiluted), you're looking at 400 years of normal life, before, 'stretching'. That's only 300 years--not enough, IMO. It was an argument about the 'who' of the bloodline of the Numenorean who would have been the Witchking.

I believe that the longer the life of the individual, the longer to turn Wraith like [unless] they were naturally more evil to start with. As the Gandalf quote implies about native strength and Laurelin Shelobs, an Ungoliant takes more to syphon from the exit end of the spider, to fill the Two Trees.

Make sense?
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Old 05-12-2014, 05:15 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Ivriniel View Post
We really don't know what 'witch' powers of 'sorcery' the Witchking held. Or whether or not she? studied sorcery, or dabbled, before changing genders. Perhaps Sauron was just having a cosmic joke, and really liked Numenor.
About the only we one we know of is that the WK does know necromancy, since If I recall, it is the WK who orignally summoned the spirits who became the Barrow Wights.
I also want to make note that it is written that Sauron granted special powers but NOT rings to two chiefs of the Haradrim (presumably, these powers might be similar to those provided to the Mouth of Sauron) which seems to indicate Sauron may have been low to out of rings before coming among the Haradrim, and so there may NOT be Haradrim amoung the Nazgul's numbers. Though there still may, it sort of depends on how unfied the Haradrim are (if the men of the Harads are made up mostly of small fractios tribes, the concept of bestowing rings on lords so great they basically ruled (or with the ring, could rule) the whole area may not have been feasible.) The problem here is, not only do we not know the patrimony of most of the Nazgul, we also are not aware of the criterion Sauron used in selecting worthy candidates. As indicated above, I, tend to work from the assumption of "Distribute the rings in such a manner as to bring the maxium number of men/amount of territory under thier, and therfore my, control". but that is just how I'd do it.
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Old 06-27-2014, 04:15 PM   #23
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Didnt Gandalf say that the WK was a great sorcerer in life. I always figured the WK at least was a Dunadain that became a king in the colonies and that was the reason for Sauron to give him the ring in the 1st place. Then there was the easterling. The other 7 you all have as good a guess in this thread as any i have ever heard.
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