The Apprentice was my first major multi-chaptered salvo publicly tossed into the fray of Tolkien-flavored fan fiction. When I began writing this alternative history (more accurate than "alternate universe," not only grammatically speaking but also because I'd like to think that the Pande!cerse is recognizable as set solidly in Tolkien's mythopoeia), the major canon character of The Apprentice emerged with a central role. This particular character informed me in his stentorian voice that he thought he deserved his own novella. Who am I to say no to the Dark Lord?
The remainder of the foreword is an edited version of the 2008 original publication from the Silmarillion Writers' Guild.
~ Pandemonium, December 2011
I offer many thanks to JunoMagic and Dawn Felagund for beta-reading this. Juno and Dawn are the reasons I became involved with this whole crazy fan fic world in the first place. I was sucked into the vortex of no return by reading their wonderful stories. Beginning with my comments last winter on Another Man's Cage, many Songs of Power have flown back and forth across the ether between Felagund and me. Felagund is winning the contest which just goes to show that one cannot trust canon.
Thanks goes to Greywing for her constructive and characteristically humorous comments, and to Gandalf's Apprentice for her encouragement and her astute observation that my interpretation of Sauron might be somewhat similar to Milton's Lucifer in Paradise Lost. All the more reason that "pandemonium" is an appropriate handle, even if I didn't think of the Miltonian connection when I chose it. I extend many thanks to master smith Moreth for her technical sweetness and like-minded enthusiasm. Finally, thanks to my longtime friend, Nordic Berzerker, and to my son, Rampaging Frodo, for their pre-beta reads, suggestions and for their abstention from kicking me.
My re-reading of The Silmarillion in late 2006 after a long hiatus strongly affected my contemporary take on Tolkien. During that period of about twenty years, my favorite Oxford don changed from J.R.R. Tolkien (JRRT) to Richard Dawkins. Thus my post-modern readings of The Silmarillion and other works (Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth, etc.) are colored by my experiences as longtime career scientist and skeptic. Despite my criticism, I still regard JRRT as a masterful storyteller and a sub-creator of the highest order. If he were not, I would not be writing this.
Tolkien offered few details of his infamous villain, Sauron. Such a tactic effectively created a remote but very threatening presence in The Lord of the Rings. A more complete and perhaps "humanized" portrait of Sauron would have introduced ambiguity into the character and rendered him less potent. However, a more nuanced portrait of Sauron can be discerned in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age," The Silmarillion; "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in Unfinished Tales; "Myths Transformed" in The History of Middle-earth (HoMe), volume X, Morgoth's Ring, as well as other notations throughout The HoMe, e.g., "The Lost Road," (vol. V), "Return of the Shadow,"(vol. VI), and "The Notion Club Papers" (vol. IX, Sauron Defeated). All of these serve as my "canonical" sources. I use quotation marks because it must be noted that most of these writings represent viewpoints of Tolkien's imaginary historians. As for my heretical extrapolations from canon, I'll simply quote David Brin:
Don't just receive your adventures. Toy with them. Re-mold them in your mind! Keep asking "What if...?"
My more humanized portrayal of Sauron, variously known by his self-bequeathed aliases of Annatar, Artano, and Aulendil, is that of a brilliant scientist/technocrat who leveraged his considerable knowledge to gain power. Consistent with Tolkien's writings, he begins with good intentions. However, he descends into infamy due to his lust for power and the rationalization that his talents and organizational skills bring order to the world when, in fact, he is a ruthless control freak. This is an archetype I recognize all too well from my years of working in corporate America. Yet Sauron, or at least in his early to mid-Second Age manifestation, strikes me as far more morally complex and even understandable than when I read JRRT's works many years ago as a young sprout.
My inspiration for Annatar/Aulendil in the form of a Noldorin man is based on my premise that he has an excellent understanding of human behavior. In the context of evolutionary biology, a "fair form" as a classically dark-haired, grey-eyed Noldo would be an effective means to win over the smiths of Eregion and insinuate himself deeply into their social structure because, to put it simply, he looks like them. This, to me, seems consistent with Sauron's penchant for working behind the scenes rather than appearing at the borders of Lindon or the gates of Ost-in-Edhil as a thinly veiled Maia with a retinue of sycophants.
I have drawn on my past experiences of my education in the sciences to create Aulendil as a thesis advisor to Sámaril, his apprentice, who is a Noldorin equivalent of an ambitious grad student. Aulendil is loosely based on one of the guys on my doctoral thesis committee. In his heyday, this professor was a larger-than-life character who held a named chair and was a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He was a formidable fellow, yet he occasionally displayed a warm side and even had a life outside of tormenting us grad students and post-docs, hard as it was for us to believe. A couple of the tales from the young men in his lab are incorporated into The Apprentice.
On the egregiously non-canonical use of Amanized Quenya in Eregion and Ost-in-Edhil: this is my personal bias, pure and simple. I have studied Latin, Spanish and Italian, and the language of Tirion has a feel that is closer to those than Sindarin does. I tend to pronounce Quenya in my head as if it is Italian (yes, my mistake). I make the self-indulgent presumption here that the Gwaith-i-Mirdain, i.e., the Otornassë Mírëtanoron, latch on to it as a language of solidarity against the more prevalent Sindar, and well, Thingol's long gone. That said, for simplicity I have stuck to Sindarin in a few cases.
As my disclaimer for the clumsy attempts at Quenya constructions, I will paraphrase a pop cultural icon: "Damn it, Jim! I'm a biochemist, not a linguist!" I welcome any corrections. I gratefully acknowledge Helge Kåre Fauskanger's Ardalambion, which was an excellent and fascinating resource for language questions when I was too lazy to flip through the pertinent sections of The History of Middle-earth.
Aulendil, one of Aulë's best grad students/post-docs gone bad, is prone to using modern scientific jargon, which might be read as obscure Valarin terms. Google will help translate, but I am happy to interpret on his behalf if required. As to how he knows these modernisms, in addition to non-scientific ones, I tend to think that the Maiar and the Valar's flow of time, their sense of dimensions and even their universe(s) are far more complex than simply Arda. There's more than a hint of science fiction in this story, so for that reason and others, I classify it as an alternative history. That's what comes of my reading way too much of the genre in my misspent youth. I figure if JRRT can write stories about "scientifiction" as he called it ("The Lost Road," "The Notion Club Papers"), I'm allowed the indulgence.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.