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I haven't read the entire Silmarillion yet (I know that I should!), but I've read bits of it, and one thing that strikes me is how Luthien, a half-Maia, defeats a full Maia of great power like Sauron? I know she cast a shadow or cloak over his eyes, but did Sauron have any effect on Luthien at all?

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  • How do you read bits of a book?
    – Daft
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 15:11
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    Well he beat celebrimbor in a one and one and defeated elendil and gil galad in a 2 v 1 just saying hehe
    – user31546
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 15:18
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    @CarlSixsmith No - he beat Finrod Felagund in a battle of sorcery. Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 15:28
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    He beat finrod, celebrimbor, defeated the king of the high elves and a near 8 foot numenorean in a 2 v 1
    – user31546
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 15:46
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    @user31546: Sauron died killing Elendil and Gil-Galad. Finrod lost in a battle of magic and was killed by wolves, not Sauron himself. I don't think we have details on how he killed Celebrimbor.
    – Shamshiel
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 17:14

3 Answers 3

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She didn't. Huan did. All Luthien did was make Sauron stumble. And then Huan, a Maia, took up the battle.

So great was the horror of his approach that Huan leaped aside. Then Sauron sprang upon Luthien; and she swooned before the menace of the fell spirit in his eyes and the foul vapour of his breath. But even as he came, falling she cast a fold of her dark cloak before his eyes; and he stumbled, for a fleeting drowsiness came upon him. Then Huan sprang. There befell the battle of Huan and Wolf-Sauron, and howls and baying echoed in the hills, and the watchers on the walls of Ered Wethrin across the valley heard it afar and were dismayed. But no wizardry nor spell, neither fang nor venom, nor devil's art nor beast-strength, could overthrow Huan of Valinor; and he took his foe by the throat and pinned him down. Then Sauron shifted shape, from wolf to serpent, and from monster to his own accustomed form; but he could not elude the grip of Huan without forsaking his body utterly. Ere his foul spirit left its dark house, Lúthien came to him, and said that he should be stripped of his raiment of flesh, and his ghost be sent quaking back to Morgoth; and she said: ‘There everlastingly thy naked self shall endure the torment of his scorn, pierced by his eyes, unless thou yield to me the mastery of thy tower.’

(Silmarillion)

As you can see, Sauron's direct attack did seem to afflict Luthien; only her cloak and Huan seem to have saved her.

At the end, Luthien is simply threatening Sauron with disembodiment (effected by Huan) unless he yields up the tower. Since he concedes, Huan and Luthien let him go and he escapes (relatively) unscathed, with just a throat-wound that drips blood on the trees.

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Sauron is one of those LOTR characters whose power isn't supposed to be determined by a>b>c.

"Power" is something very ambiguos in Tolkien's universe. (Example: Tulkas (a valar) could beat the virtually-invincible Morgoth in a battle of pure physical strength. But since when is that the only way to fight? He beat Morgoth because A)he fought on his own terms and B) Morgoth was already exhausted. If it had been an all out battle Tulkas would've been obliterated). Sauron has great physical strength for a Maia, but that's not where his power lies. His strength is in deception, magic, and sorcery. So when he fought a great hound of the Valar (technically a tier above him, so Sauron was actually punching above his own weight), he couldn't really have won in the end. Not because he was inferior, but because he didn't get to fight his way.

Also in answer to the question Luthien is a sorceress. She just cast a spell of drowsiness on Sauron, and it took all her strength for that. Sauron's mere presence rendered her unconscious

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    The first two paragraphs of this don't appear to be an attempt to answer the question, but rather a tangentially-related commentary on it, which is not answers are meant to be used for. We have a dedicated comments section for that, but the ability to comment everywhere is a privilege reserved for those who've earned sufficient reputation. The final paragraph does qualify as an answer to the question, however, it contradicts Shamshiel's answer, which provided evidence to support its position, whereas this answer lacks any supporting evidence. Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 17:03
  • I'm not sure "cast a spell of drowsiness" really captures the intent of the text, though. It was more that she desperately flung her cloak with sleep-inducing properties at him, which cloak she'd made much earlier and already used on others. Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 22:32
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"Lúthien stood upon the bridge, and declared her power: and the spell was loosed that bound stone to stone, and the gates were thrown down, and the walls opened, and the pits laid bare; and many thralls and captives came forth. But Beren came not."

She then goes on, without Huan, and fells Carcharoth into a deep sleep so she and Beren can pass the gates of Angband.

Then, in the deepest pits of hell, using a cloak made of her own hair and the power of her music, she knocks Morgoth Bauglir off his throne, into quite a long state of total unconsciousness along with all of his servants and attending monsters and foul creatures. If you read Tolkien's works with no prejudice you would see that Women often proved to be much more magically powerful than men. Without Melian, Galadriel and Lúthien the wars against Morgoth and Sauron would have ended in defeat.

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  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. The question is specifically about the fight between Sauron and Lúthien, so that should be the scope of your answer. This is really just a comment on the question, so it shouldn't be posted as an answer. When you earn some reputation you'll be able to leave comments; you might want to take the tour.
    – DavidW
    Commented Mar 16 at 23:32

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