Not for Saruman, apparently, ever to endure the hardships of the road or always be a guest in someone else's house. And he also needs to run a few experiments. So he sets up a home.

However, how can he hope to run all his affairs from there, relying on orcs as his henchmen? He is aware that the ring is on the move (in the movie, he even invokes the snowstorm over Caradhras); but he waits for the ring to be brought to him by his warriors, rather than go looking for it (literally go picking it up wherever it ends up after the Fellowship is overthrown, as he hopes). Similarly, during the battle of Helm's Deep, Saruman apparently stays behind, instructing his army and leaving it at that. (And actually, was Saruman known to visit the Shire before Frodo's departure? At least, he could have followed in Gandalf footsteps there, gaining first-hand information.)

What is Saruman's motive in staying put during the key events of LoTR, when so many others are on the move?

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    Because it's impenetrable
    – Voronwé
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 22:09
  • 3
    Because Saruman is a textbook (wannabe) evil mastermind -- he has other people do the dirty work. Actually, in TT Saruman is said to wander about doing Eru knows what - Gandalf insisted that the first old man that Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli encountered in the eaves of Fangorn wasn't him, and it was their conclusion they had seen Saruman.
    – Spencer
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 22:24
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    Saruman acts as (aspiring) mini-Sauron. The latter always sits in his tower, too.
    – void_ptr
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 22:37
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    @anemone Why not? Nothing stops Sauron from leaving his fortress, except perhaps bad memories of what happened the previous few times he had done so.
    – void_ptr
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 22:43
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    @anemone He has a road from Barad-dûr to Orodruin that he walks on
    – Neithan
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 23:04

1 Answer 1


He was already publicly branded a traitor during the Council of Elrond. It wouldn't have done him much good if he had tried to personally take the Ring from the Nine Walkers. "What if I got captured? What will they do to me?"

Saruman had no need to leave Orthanc at all; he had servants, slaves, lackeys to do his bidding.

Denethor (and Sauron) share this viewpoint:

Denethor laughed bitterly. 'Nay, not yet, Master Peregrin! He will not come save only to triumph over me when all is won. He uses others as his weapons. So do all great lords, if they are wise, Master Halfling. Or why should I sit here in my tower and think, and watch, and wait, spending even my sons? For I can still wield a brand.'

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Siege of Gondor

He was playing the "better safe than sorry" tactic. Instead of going with his Orcs to battle, he stayed at home. After all, Orthanc is impenetrable. Even the Ents couldn't damage it.

To the centre all the roads ran between their chains. There stood a tower of marvellous shape. It was fashioned by the builders of old, who smoothed the Ring of Isengard, and yet it seemed a thing not made by the craft of Men, but riven from the bones of the earth in the ancient torment of the hills.

A peak and isle of rock it was, black and gleaming hard: four mighty piers of many-sided stone were welded into one, but near the summit they opened into gaping horns. their pinnacles sharp as the points of spears, keen-edged as knives.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Road to Isengard

The Uruk-Hai of Saruman were unquestionably loyal to him

'That can't be helped,' said another. 'But why not kill them quick, kill them now? They're a cursed nuisance, and we're in a hurry. Evening's coming on, and we ought to get a move on.'

'Orders,' said a third voice in a deep growl. 'Kill all but not the Halfings; they are to be brought back alive as quickly as possible. That's my orders.'


'Is that all you know? Why don't we search them and find out? We might find something that we could use ourselves.'

'That is a very interesting remark,' sneered a voice, softer than the others but more evil. 'I may have to report that. The prisoners are not to be searched or plundered: those are my orders.'

'And mine too,' said the deep voice. 'Alive and as captured; no spoiling. That's my orders.'

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Uruk-Hai

Even when presented the choice to search Merry and Pippin, the Uruk-Hai of Isengard didn't give in to temptation.

'Aye, we must stick together,' growled Ugluk. 'I don't trust you little swine. You've no guts outside your own sties. But for us you'd all have run away. We are the fighting Uruk-hai! We slew the great warrior. We took the prisoners. We are the servants of Saruman the Wise, the White Hand: the Hand that gives us man's-flesh to eat. We came out of Isengard, and led you here, and we shall lead you back by the way we choose. I am Ugluk. I have spoken.'

Indeed, Saruman didn't trust his Orcs to the hilt, but he knew that they were perfectly capable of following orders (which they did), as long as they didn't know anything about the Ring.

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    i also think the uruk-hai are faster than saruman, they dont need to rest and can just run for days, saruman on horse back would still need to rest every now and then or change horses. Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 9:28
  • Guess I should've taken less than 12 hours to write my answer! Well met!
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 9:37

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