8

Sauron sends a messenger to Erebor. My friend says that the messenger couldn't possibly be a Nazgûl as we know where they were located when the messenger arrives at Erebor.

"Then about a year ago a messenger came to Dáin, but not from Moria - from Mordor: a horseman in the night, who called Dáin to his gate. The Lord Sauron the Great, so he said, wished for our friendship. Rings he would give for it, such as he gave of old. And he asked urgently concerning hobbits , of what kind they were, and where they dwelt. "For Sauron knows," said he, "that one of these was known to you on a time."...

...'At that his breath came like the hiss of snakes, and all who stood by shuddered, but Dáin said: "I say neither yea nor nay. I must consider this message and what it means under its fair cloak." LOTR : The Fellowship of the Ring

She also mentions that there was likely more than one person and that even though "hissing" is mainly a nazgul trait she says hissing is used by many evil creatures. So is an Easterling a possibility?

Do we know who (or what) was the messenger?

4

It could be a Nazgûl, but probably not

The quote in the question is part of Glóin's report to the Council of Elrond on 25 October 3018 (Third Age). Glóin states that the messenger came to Erebor about a year ago, so that would be late 2017.

In Unfinished Tales, Tolkien describes the movements of the Nazgûl as they search for the Ring, but that account doesn't start until June 3018, several months after the messenger arrives at Erebor.

At length he resolved that no others would serve him in this case but his mightiest servants, the Ringwraiths, who had no will but his own, being each utterly subservient to the ring that had enslaved him, which Sauron held.

Now few could withstand even one of these fell creatures, and (as Sauron deemed) none could withstand them when gathered together under their terrible captain, the Lord of Morgul. Yet this weakness they had for Sauron's present purpose: so great was the terror that went with them (even invisible and unclad) that their coming forth might soon be perceived and their mission be guessed by the Wise.

So it was that Sauron prepared two strokes - in which many saw the beginnings of the War of the Ring. They were made together. The Orcs assailed the realm of Thranduil, with orders to recapture Gollum; and the Lord of Morgul was sent forth openly to battle against Gondor. These things were done towards the end of June 3018.

Unfinished Tales Part Three, Chapter IV, (i) Of the Journey of the Black Riders
Page 338 (Houghton Mifflin 1980 hardback edition)

There is no account of the whereabouts of the Nazgûl in the months before June 3018, so one of them could theoretically have been the messenger sent to Erebor.

However, the passage I quoted makes clear that Sauron was aware that the Nazgûl would be spotted when they traveled and carefully planned their appearance in June 3018. It seems unlikely that would have been necessary if one of them had already traveled to Erebor the previous year.

The passage also suggests that Sauron intended to use the Nazgûl only for tasks that they alone could accomplish. It seems unlikely that sending a message to Erebor was such a task.

So who was the messenger?

The bottom line, as far as I can see, is that the messenger was probably not a Nazgûl, but we can't completely rule it out. He could certainly have been an Easterling, but there is no particular evidence pointing in that direction (Sauron had many people under his control).

3

If it wasn't one of the Nazgûl, then it may have been the Mouth of Sauron:

RotK, Book V, Ch. 10 The Black Gate Opens:

At its head there rode a tall and evil shape, mounted upon a black horse, if horse it was; for it was huge and hideous, and its face was a frightful mask, more like a skull than a living head, and in the sockets of its eyes and in its nostrils there burned a flame. The rider was robed all in black, and black was his lofty helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a living man. The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dûr he was, and his name is remembered in no tale; for he himself had forgotten it, and he said: ‘I am the Mouth of Sauron.’ But it is told that he was a renegade, who came of the race of those that are named the Black Númenóreans; for they established their dwellings in Middle-earth during the years of Sauron’s domination, and they worshipped him, being enamoured of evil knowledge. And he entered the service of the Dark Tower when it first rose again, and because of his cunning he grew ever higher in the Lord’s favour; and he learned great sorcery, and knew much of the mind of Sauron; and he was more cruel than any orc.

Later in the same chapter:

Then the Messenger of Mordor laughed no more. His face was twisted with amazement and anger to the likeness of some wild beast that, as it crouches on its prey, is smitten on the muzzle with a stinging rod. Rage filled him and his mouth slavered, and shapeless sounds of fury came strangling from his throat. But he looked at the fell faces of the Captains and their deadly eyes, and fear overcame his wrath. He gave a great cry, and turned, leaped upon his steed, and with his company galloped madly back to Cirith Gorgor. But as they went his soldiers blew their horns in signal long arranged; and even before they came to the gate Sauron sprang his trap.

The message and offers that Sauron was making to Dain was probably important enough to Sauron to warrant sending his top (living) lieutenant. But as far as I know, the messenger that came to Erebor is never specifically identified.

  • I have absolutely nothing to back this up, but that's always been my interpretation of that moment as well. – James Sheridan Nov 16 '14 at 0:39
  • Mordor is very far from erebor I personally can't see it being the mouth of sauron, good points tho! :) – user31546 Nov 16 '14 at 19:27
  • 2
    I don't think it was the Mouth of Sauron. Unlike the individual who turned up at Erebor, he is a Messenger with a capital 'M'. – Ian Thompson Dec 18 '14 at 20:59

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