Annatar - Lord of Gifts (Sauron)

One ring to rule them all, and in the darkness... bind them.

One ring to rule them all, and in the darkness... bind them.

Images are large so expand and zoom in to explore!

Months before Rings of Power was set to debut, as a Tolkien Fan I wanted do some exploration around a few concepts. Of course, central to the stories we know more of is Sauron, and pivotal in that related to the second age is the "fair" form he takes, patiently cajoling his rings plan into fruition. He appears to the Gwaith-i-Mírdain (an order of master elven craftsmen) as Annatar, the lord of gifts - and for centuries dwells with them, building then using influence to ultimately teach deep secret knowledge which ends in the creation of the various rings of power. This is a gambit by Sauron, a patient play to execute deeper and ultimately darker desires, though from his vantage point they may seem just and good. Domination and control in the service of order is what Sauron feels is the right path, that we all know to be the path of all that is ultimately evil.

Here I wanted to explore a more dark fantasy-esque interpretation. No description is given, and so I went crazy with that blank canvas and thought it would be neat to see something quite apart from normal visuals related to Tolkien's works. For those interested, I have some descriptions below of a few notions I tried to place a bit within this image.

I'm not suggesting that this is what his face in fair form would have looked like fully, and am being a bit suggestive almost of perhaps more what someone might "feel" in the edge of their mind, despite what they see with their eyes. I like the idea that he couldn't fully hide what he had become, and that his own very notion of what "fair" is would be something abnormal and unnatural. While its a bit strange, I liked the notion that its not entirely clear if he is wearing a mask or if it is his very flesh - being that this guise is itself a mask.

Following that, he shrouds himself in dizzying opulence to try to distract attention from himself directly. His aim in many ways is to seduce and amaze some of the worlds finest artisans, and in so doing takes his own garb to 11.

Of the things behind him, while he may call them gifts - we can understand them as material for experiments to further his ultimate aim with and through these elves. Precious metals, rare and unique stones, and mysterious contents in arcane boxes. Being thousands of years before his time as "the eye" - these boxes themselves have imagery that yet foreshadows a singular eye, as well as ring shapes.

Lastly, in his attempt at being fair - outwardly there is a lot of white and bright, but as it gets to his core, emphasized by the shadow spreading under him seeming almost like it is a fog seeping out from under... it is dark and murky.

This image took me quite a lot of time and was an interesting process! It is composed of approximately 300 layers in Photoshop.