In The Lord of the Rings Sauron is essentially a spirit which has taken the form of the great eye. If the fellowship had failed, how would the forces of Mordor actually give the ring to him? In the books things are a little different, but in the films Saruman claims "He cannot yet take physical form". How would the forces of evil have given him the ring?

  • 4
    That's not his actual form: See this question and its accepted answer.
    – DavidW
    Jun 28, 2019 at 14:14
  • 1
    Why do people always reduce me to that eye...
    – Annatar
    Jun 28, 2019 at 14:15
  • Thank you, I believe in the film he cannot take physical form without the ring though?
    – E_McAndrew
    Jun 28, 2019 at 14:25
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    @E_McAndrew I don't think that's ever explicitly stated; the film just exaggerates in taking the Eye quite literally.
    – chepner
    Jun 28, 2019 at 14:40
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    "The spirit of Sauron endured" Gandalf says at the start of the Fellowship of the Ring. ... As Saruman suggested " He cannot yet take physical form"
    – E_McAndrew
    Jun 28, 2019 at 14:47

1 Answer 1


In the books he isn't a giant eye but has a spirit form and a physical form, even in the Third Age.

But Sauron also was thrown down, and with the hilt-shard of Narsil Isildur cut the Ruling Ring from the hand of Sauron and took it for his own. Then Sauron was for that time vanquished, and he forsook his body, and his spirit fled far away and hid in waste places; and he took no visible shape again for many long years.

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

'Yes, He has only four on the Black Hand, but they are enough,' said Gollum shuddering.

The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers - Book 4 - Chapter 3 - The Black Gate is Closed

...the year 1000 of the Third Age, when the shadow of Sauron began first to grow again to new shape.

J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 246

However, even if he couldn't take a physical form again, which he could, the below quote indicates that he could use and carry the One Ring whilst in his spirit form anyway.

But Sauron was not of mortal flesh, and though he was robbed now of that shape in which he had wrought so great an evil, so that he could never again appear fair to the eyes of Men, yet his spirit arose out of the deep and passed as a shadow and a black wind over the sea, and came back to Middle-earth and to Mordor that was his home. There he took up again his great Ring in Barad-dûr, and dwelt there, dark and silent, until he wrought himself a new guise, an image of malice and hatred made visible; and the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure.

The Silmarillion Akallabeth - The Downfall of Númenor

  • This doesn't mention the films?
    – E_McAndrew
    Jun 28, 2019 at 15:27
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    @E_McAndrew Your original post had "I am happy to take answers with regards to both films and books (ideally I'd like both)." in it. I didn't realise you had edited it out. Either way at present the question doesn't explicitly state you only want film answers and so this answer is fine.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jun 28, 2019 at 15:29
  • I appreciate that you answered before I edited, but the question does state "but in the films Saruman claims "He cannot yet take physical form". How would the forces of evil have given him the ring?"
    – E_McAndrew
    Jun 28, 2019 at 15:36
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    @E_McAndrew Assuming the film is faithful to the book in this regard the spirit form would have been able to control the One Ring without a physical form. In fact Sauron isn't really a physical being anyway so that makes sense to be the case.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jun 28, 2019 at 15:38
  • 3
    The Nazgul are also spirits, clearly capable of interacting with the physical world and with the mission of finding and bringing back the Ring. Jun 29, 2019 at 5:51

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