The White Council arrives in Dol Guldur and drives Sauron out, causing him to flee back into Mordor. In The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Sauron attacks Gandalf and overthrows him (in his big scary fog like form) yet he doesn't appear to battle at all against the White Council in The Battle of the Five Armies, the Ringwraiths do all the fighting.

How does the overthrow of Dol Guldur in the movie compare to the books? Did an actual battle with Sauron take place in the books or did he simply flee upon the arrival of the White Council? Any explanation of why Sauron didn't seem to battle with the White Council in the film version like he did against Gandalf?

1 Answer 1


The books don't go into any great detail about this episode at all. All that we know is that an attack on Dol Guldur was made, "It was by the devices of Saruman that we drove him from Dol Guldur" (Council of Elrond), but that this was a feint on the part of Sauron and that he was more-or-less ready to leave Dol Guldur and return to Mordor anyway; as the Tale of Years entry for TA2941 states:

The White Council meets; Saruman agrees to an attack on Dol Guldur, since he now wishes to prevent Sauron from searching the River. Sauron having made his plans abandons Dol Guldur.

That's about as much detail as there is about the attack anywhere in the books.

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    +1. That being said, the word "attack" does imply that there was some sort of battle/conflict. If they had simply marched up to Dol Guldur and Sauron had fled at the sight of them (as OP asks about), it would likely have been phrased differently. "An expedition to Dol Guldur" or "Sauron's flight from Dol Guldur," etc. "The devices of Saruman" which "drove him from Dol Guldur" during an "attack" implies a battle, and at least one demonstration of force or power by Saruman which was the decisive action that led to Sauron's flight. It seems certain that Sauron didn't leave entirely willingly.
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 17:07
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    @Nerrolken - it's true that there are conflicting accounts; see also the "we drove him from Dol Guldur" quote.
    – user8719
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 17:15
  • @Nerrolken on the other hand a "demonstration of force or power" doesn't mean that this wasn't entirely within Sauron's plan; witness for example the attack on the Captains of the West, about which Aragorn says "It is but a feint, ... and its chief purpose, I deem, was rather to draw us on by a false guess of our Enemy's weakness than to do us much hurt, yet." Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 18:11
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    @MattGutting Oh yeah, I completely believe it was Sauron's plan, I'm just saying that the answer to the question seems to be a fairly definitive "yes." Even if Sauron left "willingly" in the sense of it being his plan, he at least pretended not to. He put up a fight, and that's what the question is all about.
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 18:15
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    @MattGutting Poor phrasing on my part. OP asked about whether there was a battle at Dol Guldur, or "did he simply flee upon the arrival of the White Council?" I'm saying that, based on the quotes in this answer, it was Sauron's plan to leave, but he didn't just scamper away at the first sign of an Elf. They had to force him out, there was a battle, probably quite fierce, but when he finally conceded the field it was what he had planned on doing from the beginning. A better phrase for me to use would have been "Sauron didn't leave easily."
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 18:24

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