Explaining the Dead Marshes

To explain the Dead Marshes, we need to examine Sauron’s role as a necromancer more in-depth. “Necromancer” is one of his more noteworthy titles, but the full implications are very rarely explored.

Laws and Customs Among the Eldar (in the History of Middle Earth, vol. 10) has some insight on this:

“Some were enslaved by the Dark Lord and do his work still, though he himself is gone. They will not speak truth or wisdom. To call on them is folly. To attempt to master them and to make them servants of one own’s will is wickedness. Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant.

It’s apparently quite possible for Sauron to enslave spirits. Death is not necessarily a release from suffering so long as one is within his realm of influence. Moreover, there’s mention of a counter-summons which competes with Mandos’ summons:

“It was less frequent, however, in ancient days, while Morgoth was in Arda, or his servant Sauron after him; for then the fea unbodied would flee in terror of the Shadow to any refuge - unless it were already committed to the Darkness and passed then into its dominion. In like manner even of the Eldar some who had become corrupted refused the summons, and then had little power to resist the counter-summons of Morgoth.

Already weakened spirits presumably have a harder time resisting it.

My theory is that Sauron has some way of desecrating a location so that it traps spirits there, bound to the earth as their bodies decay around them, so that he can pluck them out at his leisure whenever he has a use for them. Sauron has demonstrated similar abilities with the Rings. This is just another form of that. Why would he, though?

“Some say that the Houseless desire bodies, though they are not willing to seek them lawfully by submission to the judgement of Mandos. The wicked among them will take bodies, if they can, unlawfully. The peril of communing with them is, therefore, not only the peril of being deluded by fantasies or lies: there is peril also of destruction. For one of the hungry Houseless, if it is admitted to the friendship of the Living, may seek to eject the fea from its body; and in the contest for mastery the body may be gravely injured, even if it he not wrested from its rightful habitant. Or the Houseless may plead for shelter, and if it is admitted, then it will seek to enslave its host and use both his will and his body for its own purposes. It is said that Sauron did these things, and taught his followers how to achieve them.

If Sauron can enslave a spirit to an object or a place, could he enslave one to a body that doesn’t fit it? Oftentimes vampires and werewolves are explained away as other fallen Maiar, but they’re only referred to as “evil spirits”. The idea that elves (or humans, or both, depending on the version) can be twisted into other forms is already present in the canon, with orcs.

The benefits are pretty clear. Sauron gets a nearly inexhaustible supply of troops, recycling his old ones and gaining new ones so long as his enemies are dying in the right places. It also demoralizes his enemies and discourages direct attacks.

Thus: The Dead Marshes. Most of those who ever died on a battlefield within Morgoth’s or Sauron’s territory (and weren’t carried away by an Eagle) are probably still there. (I’m so sorry, Fingon!)



Based on: imagine 1, imagine 2, imagine 3 (vaguely) from @gondorimagines. Here is the dress I visualized (source), but you can imagine what you prefer! The book you talk about is Rerum vulgarium fragmenta by Francesco Petrarca; the poem you’re reading is vaguely based on Petrarca’s Chiare, fresche et dolci acque.

Of course, you can change it with your favourite book (and flowers)!

Originally posted by witchofthekorcari

The sun was shining, flooding your bedroom with light; sat at your dressing table, you were patiently brushing your hair. Your handmaid had offered to do that for you but you’d gently dismissed her, saying you could do it alone: you didn’t want your hair pinned in some sophisticated style, as the other ladies in Minas Tirith did, even if, you had to admit, the fashion was rapidly changing now that Lady Arwen was the Queen and you, well, you were the wife of the Steward, Faramir.

Keep reading