The Rings of Power: Is Adar Sauron? If Not, Who Is?

If this were the Wizarding World, he'd be a stone-cold Slytherin for sure.

by J.R. Waugh

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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power loves to tease its viewers with mystery, playing around just enough with the lore of the Second Age to keep them guessing thanks to gaps in the timeline. One particular mystery is how Sauron, under the guise of Annatar, will come to seduce the free peoples of Middle-earth to do his bidding, before seeking to dominate them via the Rings of Power. It’s in the middle of this intrigue that we’re introduced to Adar, a mysterious, Elf-like figure revered by the orcs of the Southlands, that we are presented with the question, Is Adar Sauron in The Rings of Power? If Not, Who is He?

The Rings of Power: Is Adar Sauron? If Not, Who is He?

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As usual, it’s too early to tell whether Adar is Sauron in The Rings of Power, but he certainly makes the most compelling case to be one of the sorcerer’s many disguises. Adar is seen as an unquestioned leader among the orcs, normally a cruel and relentlessly violent race of former Men and Elves. His appearance is that of a scarred Elf, his face burned severely, although maintaining the graceful Elven features befitting of a particularly noble member of their race, were it not for his particularly pale complexion.

His ability to calmly communicate even with his prisoner, Arondir, talking him down from being struck by the Silvan Elf’s concealed improvised weapon, certainly seem fitting of his identity as “Sauron the Deceiver” but it is still too early to tell.

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Adar speaks with Arondir, finding common ground with him while talking about Beleriand (at this point destroyed after the First Age,) Arondir’s place of birth, where Adar once walked, and attempts to persuade him that he’s not an enemy. This seems disarmingly innocent, until his stated intent of achieving godhood, with however he plans to do so remaining a mystery.

They carry their conversation in Quenya Elvish, a language which was succeeded by Sindarin, later on, to be known as modern Elvish, further indicating Adar’s advanced age even for an Elf. Arondir’s questioning, starting from “Who are you?” to “What are you?” certainly suggests Adar is not strictly an Elf at all, but possibly something else, such as a disguised Maia, possibly Sauron himself.

Greater clues about Sauron written by Tolkien himself point to Adar being a strong candidate for the disguised deceiver, rising in power around the right time, his ego inflated by how easily he could influence others within Middle-earth. His appearance, although rough and unlike the fair look embodied by Annatar, his primary disguise, still lines up with how he was depicted in The History of Middle-earth, being fair in appearance to some such as the Men of Númenor, but terrible or even evil to others, thanks to his shapeshifting abilities. His ego, and desire to become recognized as a God-King in Middle-earth, certainly align with Adar’s ambitions, but it could all be a red herring, as it is still early on in the series.

If Adar is Not Sauron, Who is?

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While Adar seems to be an even stronger candidate to be the disguised Dark Lord than Halbrand or the Meteor Man, there are several reasons which suggest he might still not be the series antagonist.

  • He has yet to demonstrate the powers of a Maia to differentiate himself definitively from simply another Elf.
  • There is no canonical reference to him taking on the name Adar, although this could be a case of artistic liberties.
  • He seemed to wish to communicate with the Men over the Elves, suggesting a greater focus on dominating the Southlands and unifying what would become Mordor.

These examples point to him possibly being Sauron in deep cover, or another, sinister component of Tolkien’s mythology: remnants of the cult of Melkor, who wish to convert the Southlanders to worshiping the banished Vala. This could serve as an explanation for why he is called “Father” in Sindarin Elvish. There’s nothing to definitively make this claim any more likely than Adar being Sauron himself in The Rings of Power, but his appearance could be concocted entirely to mislead and mystify viewers.

While Arondir’s question, “What are you?” seems far too tantalizing to ignore, Adar also does not directly address this question. His tearful look as he puts a wounded orc out of its misery is chilling yet captivating, the first time there’s ever been a sense of compassion for the creatures rendered on the screen. But it certainly poses a new, incredibly fascinating mystery, and Adar hardly seems a trustworthy character regardless of his true identity. Whoever he ends up being, the actor who portrayed him, Joseph Mawle, absolutely chewed up the scenery of his debut appearance and made for a memorable introduction to the character.

This concludes our coverage of the question, Is Adar Sauron in The Rings of Power? If Not, Who is He? For more stories like this, check out our entertainment column!

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premiered exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on September 1, 2022, with a 2-episode premiere. The first season will have 8 episodes total, so check every Friday for new content!

- This article was updated on September 16th, 2022

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