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  1. Phipp's Avatar
    New Soul
    Join Date
    Nov 2014

    Nurn and Frodo's journey to Mordor...

    Pretty much two questions on this thread:

    1. So, according to Tolkien's lore, Nurn was a fairly fertile region in the South of Mordor, that supplied food for Sauron's armies. What, in your opinion, would life have been like in the region? Was it mainly Orcs who lived/tilled the land in this area? Would there have been towns/ cities? Would the sun have shined (unlike the Gorgoroth area)?

    2. Why didn't the Fellowship even talk of travelling through this region for Frodo to reach Mount Doom? I understand time considerations/ food and whatnot, but it seems to me, to be a much more logical entrance into Mordor. Think about it: it is the only side of Mordor unenclosed by impregnable Mountains, it isn't Guarded by a Massive Iron Fortification (The Black Gate), undead evil city (Minas Morgul), or a massive, psychopathic man/ Orc/ hobbit eating Spider (Shelob). It would've probably been a lot easier to slip through unseen (It's unlikely Sauron would've had to worry about security on that side of Mordor). There might've been some Easterling armies marching to Mordor on the way there, but Frodo and Sam could've avoided them easily enough with their cloaks surely??!!

    No trolling please :)
    Last edited by Phipp; 09/Oct/2015 at 03:46 PM.

  2. Puddleglum19's Avatar
    Librarian of Imladris
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Don't discount the distance & time.

    • The shortest way is to first travel from the Black Gate region east a good 350 miles (as far east as the EASTERN edge of the Sea of Rhun), along the line of the Ash Mountains of Mordor, through enemy owned territory, through possibly desolate lands (i.e. food problem), along a path used by Easterling armies traveling to Gorgoroth and Sauron's army camps (i.e. like trying to sneak past Isengard - which Gandalf rejected);
    • Then traveling back another 300 or so miles, through northern Nurn, avoiding being spoted by the slaves (and guards) dwelling there, crossing at least two major rivers;
    • Then turning north another 100 miles to Orodruin, across the desolate, waterless waste of Gorgoroth, without benefit of trails or roads (at least none are shown running to Mt Doom from that direction).
    • All told adding about the distance already travelled from Bree to Rivendell to the Black Gate (of course walking the whole way), largely with the food carried on their backs.
    • Given the speed they walked on the quest before, they might spend 5-6 extra MONTHS on this journey - arriving at Mt Doom (if their food held out) around the middle of August - long after the Captains of the West were defeated at the Black Gate (as would have happened if the Ring wasn't destroyed in late March), Minas Tirith was sacked (as would have followed), Edoras was burned (the northern army takes care of that next), Dol Amroth is beseiged (if not sacked itself by Sauron's victorious southern army), etc.
    • And, of course, when Sauron discovers Aragorn didn't have the Ring after all (following the battle at the Black Gate), nor Gandalf, nor Eomer, nor Imrahil, nor the sons of Elrond - he may begin wondering and pondering and might guess his danger - and guard against it.
    • Plus, with the West mainly defeated, there would be no need for his land to be emptied, making travel to Mt Doom far more problematic and open to discovery.

  3. Hanasian's Avatar
    Wanderer of the Lone Lands
    Join Date
    Dec 2009

    The Land of Nurn

    In response to #1...

    I would hazard to guess that with any agriculture that was done in the fertile lands of the Nurn was done by subservient men and slaves, possibly rogue Easterling tribes or others from the east. I suppose if there were any peace loving Easterlings, Khandese, Haradrim types, the likely could have been sentenced to work the fields, and may have found that a better choice than being in the army.

    As far as conditions in Nurn, it likely received a far amount of ash (hence the name Lithlad) from Mt Doom which likely enriched the soils. I suspect rainfall was pretty good being tht there are four rivers that fed the Sea of Nurnen. As far as sunlight, it may have gained some protection from the consistent ash clouds by the Ash Mountain spur that hooked southeast, then southwest that, along with a short eastern spur from Ephel Duaith, mostly enclosed the Plateau of Gorgoroth. Were the conditions great for growing crops and raising cattle? Probably not, but it is likely that it became quite good sometime after the war. There are no named towns in the area, but there would likely be small villages, camps etc. Just speculation on my part.
    Annalist, Physician, & Historian
    of The Black Company of the Dúnedain,
    The Free Company of Arnor

  4. Lantaelen's Avatar
    Apprentice of Dol Amroth
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    My thoughts on Nurn...

    1. It's quite possible that the Entwives might have been forced to till this region near the end of the Second Age, as Tolkien mentions in a letter that they might have fled east or south, even enslaved by tyrants and warlords who need an economical background to their armies, when war swept over the Brownlands. We don't know if in the aftermath of the victory of the Last Alliance that Entwives were seen or found, but it might be one of the factors why Nurn remains fertile despite being so close to the ruin of Gorgoroth. If this possibility is true, it would explain why conditions in Nurn might be favourable, having been touched or worked at some point by the Entwives, masters of agriculture and gardening. But this is only a thought of mine.

    Mordor remained desolate for the better part of the Third Age and even with the occupation of Minas Ithil by the Nazgul, there would be little reason for Nurn not to be fertile. Sauron announced himself in the last century or two, I can't recall the exact date, and I think Mt. Doom erupts or awakens based on his proximity even. I do not think a century or two of inconsistent eruptions, ash clouds, and ash fall could sterile the region so rapidly. In fact it can be quite the reverse. Sauron after all was all about law and order, not chaos and destruction like Melkor. He would have appreciated the value of an agricultural basin in his backyard and maybe even worked to keep it that way too. There might even be canals, irrigation, farmlands and so forth, all worked by slaves. He was a Maiar of Aule too so such advancements might not be unknown to him. And there is Gondor just across the way. Slaves taken there could be pressed into engineering labours or even Black Numenoreans from the south could have overseen such infrastructure. I know from my own studies in Economical History, especially of the Roman era, that slave-gang labour was not as productive as free labour. It could possibly have been tilled by slaves, captured from the west or pressed into service from the east and south. It could also have been worked by lesser orcs, the snaga breed, who had some measure of freedom, even if their very existence was miserable.

    If there were towns, they would not be known to the west and probably have names known locally. The map we all know of Middle-Earth is centric to what the lords of the west would know. Those in the east might know otherwise. To Sauron and Barad-Dur, such nomenclature would be useless to them, as I think they would only care about quotas and productivity levels, not culture. And these would not be flourishing towns either. Probably just large barrack camps and so forth, dull and uniform in appearance, to house the workers, while they spend like 14-16 hours a day tilling fields possibly.

    In terms of produce, I think it would be pretty limited to a few staple items. Sauron has mass armies to feed and they would probably receive a basic fare, bread or poor quality vegetables. Meat and other items would be reserved for the officers and higher ranks no doubt, as Sauron probably could not provide such a diet to a quarter million cannibalistic orcs, give or take. Do you recall the conversation between the Uruks of Isengard and the orcs from Mordor and goblins of Moria?
    Uruks: "Saruman, the hand that gives us man-flesh to eat! What do y'all get?"
    Orcs: "Well...maggoty bread grown in ash soil..."
    The Uruks bragged about getting man-flesh, as if it was something that ranked them above the common muck who got stale bread and such.

    Another possible cultural thing for Nurn, given how Sauron portrayed himself to his servants as a returned deity and how volcanic ash can be beneficial for the soil, might have the local peoples there even celebrating whenever Mt. Doom erupts, as it means a better harvest in the days to come. Could you imagine orcs and evil men sitting down in a ceremony similar to Thanksgiving, praising Sauron for his boon in providing such a generous harvest in the year to come?

    As for number 2, I agree with the reasons above. To the west, there were only two ways into Mordor, through the Black Gate or the Morgul vale. The mountains themselves were large and barren and Frodo and Sam already had a few bad experiences trying to cross the Misty Mountains or through the Emyn Muil. Why attempt it again in such a dangerous and infertile mountain range, even if across them is an agricultural basin? Not like they can steal food forever, even if they are experts at stealth. And going around the mountain ranges to the east is just unfeasible in the end. It would have been wonderful though to have been given such an intricate view of so little explored and discussed a place in Middle-Earth however. Unfortunately we got to make due with our own imaginations.

    Sorry if this post is a little jumbled too.
    “For if joyful is the fountain that rises in the sun, its springs are in the wells of sorrow unfathomable at the foundations of the Earth.”


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