Denethor himself was in possession of a palantír and would have been able to see a great many things; we know he went face to face with Sauron a lot via the palantír.

So it is possible he may have seen Saruman and Sauron communicating?

  • i would assume he would be able to, though it appears that things can be hidden from others, so if saruman and saurons communications were being hidden by 1 or both of the parties, denethor probably wouldn't have been able to see it, unless his will or ability with the palantir surpassed theirs.
    – Himarm
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 17:49
  • I do remember reading something to this effect, but I can't remember exactly where... Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 17:52
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    Middle Earth party line! Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 18:01
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    It should be canon (it's probably in the Silmarillion) that the palantíri operate on quantum entanglement. Therefore Denethour could not spy on the latest chitchat between Saruman and the Abhorred. Even worse, they would also notice the very fact of him eavesdropping on them!
    – Ghanima
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 23:20

2 Answers 2


No. The essay "The Palantíri" in Unfinished Tales considers possibilities of this sort, and states

Whether [Denethor] ever thus made contact with the Orthanc-stone and Saruman is not told; probably he did, and did so with profit to himself. Sauron could not break in on these conferences; only the surveyor using the Master Stone of Osgiliath could 'eavesdrop'. While two of the other Stones were in response, the third would find them both blank.

In other words, if Denethor had tried to look at either Saruman's or Sauron's stone while they were in use, he would have got a "busy signal" of sorts, and would only have been able to know that they were using (not necessarily that they were communicating by) the stones.

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    @asteri "All circuits busy. Please try your telepathy again later." Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 20:11
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    @asteri - Or ten hours of looped "The Girl from Ipanema".
    – RobertF
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 3:04
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    I feel like it's important to point out here that the Master Stone was lost ~1500 years before the War Of The Ring. So at that point, no one could eavesdrop on anyone else.
    – Plutor
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 16:06
  • @Plutor Exactly. This is just an "in-principle" or "by design" issue. Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 16:51

Denethor would only be able to see Saruman and Sauron communicating if he had the Osgiliath-stone. This was the only Stone that could look in on two other Stones in conversation [The Palantiri]. Since Denethor did not have this Stone as it was lost in the Kin-strife he would not be able to eavesdrop. He might have assumed that they were both communicating but if he had tried to look in on them, not knowing who was talking to who, it'd just be cloudy to him.

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    -1 this adds nothing that the other answers have already given.
    – user46509
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 19:11
  • You're welcome.
    – Belegorn
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 19:25

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