[I]t had been [Sauron's] virtue (and therefore also the cause of his fall, and of his relapse) that he loved order and coordination, and disliked all confusion and wasteful friction. (src: History of Middle-earth X Morgoth's Ring Part 5: "Myths Transformed" Chapter VII "Notes on motives in the Silmarillion" - h/t this answer)

Is there compelling evidence for this characterization in other works (LOTR primarily, but not necessarily) for Sauron liking order/coordination and disliking confusion and waste?

  • 4
    I would have guessed he was more of a fan of NCIS.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Oct 19, 2015 at 15:33
  • I've been thinking quite a lot about that, being a student of political science and having worked in the government for many years. I have no canon information, that's why I write it as a comment. There seems to be a bit a mix between chaos and structure/lawfullness/following rules. As long as the infighting doesn't ruin the overall plan, the chaotic nature of the Orcs isn't stopped, but at the wrong time, heads will roll. I imagine it's the same higher up, in the Black Tower. I simply cannot see an structured chain of succession. If you want to be boss, you kill your boss. Fail and you die.
    – Johan
    Jun 27, 2019 at 12:14
  • 1
    @Johan - the best illustration of that I can think of is modern Russia Jun 27, 2019 at 13:46
  • @DVK-on-Ahch-To, well, that could be a good modern example. The best literary equviliant I can think of is the old Advanced Dungeons and Dragons aligment chart. I'd say that Sauron - and Morgoth before him - were firmly placed in the Lawful Evil corner of the chart. It would be absolutely impossible for them to build armies and equip them, have slaves that grew food and international relations with the Haradrim etc etc if they were Chaotic Evil in general. That beings said, the Orcs on an indvidual level seems to be drawn towards Chaos if not firmly controlled by someone stronger.
    – Johan
    Jun 28, 2019 at 7:52

1 Answer 1


This is hard to answer definitively, since we have so little insight into the inner mechanisms of Sauron's Empire, but I'll do my best.

  • From one perspective, simply supporting (or setting himself up as) a sole ruler of the world is evidence in itself; whatever else you might say about dictatorships, they're the most efficient system of government (assuming your definition of "efficiency" is "getting your own way, all the time")

  • There's some evidence that Sauron had ordered Mordor rather effectively, providing for his armies in a rather inhospitable land:

    Neither [Sam] nor Frodo knew anything of the great slave-worked fields away south in this wide realm, beyond the fumes of the Mountain by the dark sad waters of Lake Núrnen; nor of the great roads that ran away east and south to tributary lands, from which the soldiers of the Tower brought long waggon-trains of goods and booty and fresh slaves. Here in the northward regions were the mines and forges, and the musterings of long-planned war

    Return of the King Book VI Chapter 2: "The Land of Shadow"

  • There's also abundant evidence of strict military organization among the Orcs of Mordor; the last few chapters of Book IV, and the first few of Book VI, are replete with orcs talking about signals, orders, regular patrols, and a rigid chain of command.

  • While not exactly evidence, it's telling that Sauron's initial attempt at taking over Middle-earth is realized through mind control; from the published Silmarillion:

    [W]hile [Sauron] wore the One Ring he could perceive all the things that were done by means of the lesser rings, and he could see and govern the very thoughts of those that wore them.

    But the Elves were not so lightly to be caught. As soon as Sauron set the One Ring upon his finger they were aware of him; and they knew him, and perceived that he would be master of them, and of an that they wrought. Then in anger and fear they took off their rings.

    The Silmarillion V *Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"

    It's thematically interesting that Sauron's goal isn't just to conquer the free races, but to impose his will upon them. Had he succeeded, Sauron's will would have been the only will in effect among the Elves. This is also, essentially, the plan of Star Trek's Borg, and Doctor Who's Cybermen: not merely conquering, but assimilation.

    This motivation is something Tolkien touches on again in "Notes on Motives", the essay referenced in the question (emphasis mine):

    Sauron, however, inherited the corruption of Arda, and only spent his (much more limited) power on the Rings; for it was the creatures of earth, in their minds and wills, that he desired to dominate.

    History of Middle-earth X Morgoth's Ring Part 5: "Myths Transformed" Chapter VII "Notes on motives in the Silmarillion"

  • "whatever else you might say about dictatorships, they can be very efficient" - can seems to be a key word here :). France under Louis wasn't quite what I'd call "efficient". or for that matter England under Charles at the same time. Russia under Ivan the Terrible was... not efficient. Oct 19, 2015 at 15:31
  • @DVK Efficiency is in the eye of the beholder, I guess; it's easier to get your own way when you're not concerned with the whinging of the lesser scrubs Oct 19, 2015 at 15:38
  • @DVK Neither Charles the I nor the II where dictators. Manga Carta had limited the Kings power some 500 years before Charles I rule.
    – user46509
    Oct 19, 2015 at 15:42
  • @CarlSixsmith - Thoretically yes. practically, didn't he basically not allow the Parlament to convene? Oct 19, 2015 at 15:43
  • @DVK and lost his head over it because he didn't have the power to back up his claims. The Parliament of England consistently reigned in the powers of the kings from 1215 onwards. Some may have tried to exert more power but they never really succeeded
    – user46509
    Oct 19, 2015 at 15:45

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