In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), when the company arrive to Rivendell, Gandalf is asked to attend a surprise reunion with Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman the White. Saruman then opposes himself to Gandalf's involvement with the Dwarves and his plan to get rid of Smaug. Gandalf then reveals his concerns about the Necromancer, but Saruman is skeptical, not believing the Necromancer to be a true threat and minimizes the danger.

But we learn in The Fellowship of the Ring that Saruman desires the One Ring and forged a secret alliance with Sauron.

Was Saruman's secret plan settled when he meet Gandalf in Rivendell?

  • 5
    Regarding your spoiler: I think this hasn't happened yet, at this point of The Hobbit. First, "it" isn't a confirmed threat yet. Second, I think Saruman was corrupted out of genuine interest in "ringology" :) The movie is probably trying to show Saruman's arrogance, which later proved his downfall. But Saruman was at first really wise and a genuine leader of this order. This is just my opinion, though.
    – Andres F.
    Jan 7, 2013 at 17:32
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    No one knew that the Necromancer==Sauron until after Sauron returned to Mordor AFAICR, so he likely had no plans to ally himself with Sauron. He likely however was plotting to retrieve the ring/make his own ring at this time, as he had already lied about the rings whereabouts and devalued its significance.
    – NominSim
    Jan 7, 2013 at 18:24
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    @NominSim --- I think the Tale of Years says that when Gandalf entered Dol Guldur, he found out that Sauron was the Necromancer. Jan 7, 2013 at 19:20
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    Ian is correct, the movie deliberately breaks from the books here for cinematic reasons. Recall, in the book Gandalf tells the party that he received the map and key from Thrain in Dol Guldur while scouting there. That happened in 2850, 91 years earlier. The White Council meets the year after and postpones an attack on DG even though Gandalf knows Sauron is there, seeking information on the One Ring.
    – ohmi
    Jan 7, 2013 at 21:28
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    @Ian Thompson yes you're right, I mispoke, meant to say that before they investigated further no one knew.
    – NominSim
    Jan 8, 2013 at 2:40

1 Answer 1


When Saruman met with Gandalf in Rivendell, he had for some time been seeking the One Ring, but he had not made any plans to ally with Sauron.

The events of The Hobbit take place in the year 2941 of the Third Age. From Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings we have this:

[T.A.] 2851:
The White Council meets. Gandalf urges an attack on Dol Goldur. Saruman overrules him.1 Saruman begins to search near the Gladden Fields.


1 It afterwards became clear that Saruman had then begun to desire to possess the One Ring himself, and he hoped that it might reveal itself, seeking its master, if Sauron were let be for a time.

So from this we know that for some 90 years before The Hobbit (and the meeting with Gandalf), Saruman was actively seeking the One Ring for himself. As to whether he was planning on allying himself with Sauron at the time of his meeting with Gandalf, we have the following also from Appendix B:

[T.A] 2939:
Saruman discovers that Sauron's servants are searching the Anduin near Gladden Fields, and that Sauron therefore has learned of Isildur's end. He is alarmed, but says nothing to the Council.

[T.A.] 2941:
Thorin Oakenshield and Gandalf visit Bilbo in the Shire. Bilbo meets Smeagol-Gollum and finds the Ring. The White Council meets; Saruman agrees to an attack on Dol Goldur, since he now wishes to prevent Sauron from searching the River. Sauron having made his plans abandons Dol Goldur.

When Saruman met with Gandalf during the events of The Hobbit, he in fact was still planning on getting the Ring before Sauron and becoming a single independent power. It would not have been until some time later (probably shortly after 2951 when Sauron declares himself openly in Mordor) that Saruman decided to side with Sauron instead of trying to get the Ring first (it was in 2953 that Saruman withdrew to Isengard).

  • All true, with the additional note perhaps spelling this out as the reason Saruman didn't want Gandalf investigating at all during the first meeting. Jan 8, 2013 at 21:57

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