The Silmarillion Recap: Tar-Pharazôn vs. Sauron (Or How the West Was Lost Part I)

Want to catch up on The Silmarillion so far? Check out the Silmarillion Recaps page here.

Last week, Tar-Pharazôn forced his first cousin, Míriel, to marry him and took the throne of Númenor from her, ruining what progress his uncle had made in returning the people to their original ways. This week, Tar-Pharazôn has war in mind, and not even the Dark Lord can stop him.

Akallabêth part 10

Long before Tar-Pharazôn stole the throne, he was back in Middle-earth, fighting against Sauron’s forces. In the years since the War of Wrath, Sauron slowly began re-establishing control over Middle-earth. Considering that most of the Men who remained behind were weak and seemed more like the people lost in the early Dark Ages, it wasn’t hard to do. However, the Dúnedain have been a constant thorn in his side, first befriending the Men then challenging his control over them as they tried to take over themselves.

Now, Tar-Pharazôn has it in his mind that he wants to fight his old foe one more time. But this time, he won’t come back until Sauron is his servant. How precisely a Man — even an especially powerful, originally Half-Elven one — like Tar-Pharazôn expects this to happen is unclear, but what is obvious is that his pride has the better of him.

So, even though it’s not a good idea and he doesn’t consult any of his advisors about it, he begins mounting weapons, ships, and other supplies for an attack on Sauron, and then sets sail to do it.

As his armies reach Middle-earth’s shores, the Men there are terrified and flee. After all, they likely have never seen such large armies come across the sea ever. This means that, when Tar-Pharazôn finally does set foot on Middle-earth, there’s no one to meet him. Everything in Umbar, where he lands, is quite deserted.

For seven days, Tar-Pharazôn and his armies trek through the land of Umbar, searching for anyone, but the place is completely abandoned. Finally, he decides to set up a camp, with a throne and all, and send out his servants with messages for Sauron to surrender now.

When Sauron does receive the message, he isn’t quite sure what to make of it. The Dúnedain are tricky, just like Sauron is, and he worries that they’re much stronger than he anticipates. If he launches a full scale assault on them, he’s afraid of being utterly beaten. And understandably, after some of the things that happened to his master, Morgoth.

So Sauron decides to play the situation at a different angle. He comes to Tar-Pharazôn, telling the king that he surrenders. After all, better to play into the king’s hand now and launch his own offensive later, once he has a better feel for what’s going on. Sauron musters all of his faux humility — much like Morgoth did when begging the forgiveness of the Valar — and tries to convince Tar-Pharazôn that he is but a humble servant now.

Though Sauron is cunning, he’s not quite cunning enough for Tar-Pharazôn. The king manages to see that there is something more to the story, so he decides to make a move of his own. Sauron isn’t allowed to stay in Middle-earth. Instead, he has to be a hostage and come to Númenor with the king. Though Sauron plays off that he has no choice, he’s actually giddy about this decision. After all, what a better place to hatch his plan to bring the Dúnedain down once and for all?

Next week, Sauron’s hate fuels the fires…

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