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  • Updated 6 June 2017
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Great Signal

The war beacon of Mordor

Over the days leading up to the Battle of the Pelennor, the Fire-mountain of Orodruin in Mordor belched forth a red glow and emitted the dark vapours that would create the Dawnless Day for the people of Gondor. During this time, Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee worked their way through Ithilien and up towards the mountains of the Ephel Dúath. As they entered Imlad Morgul on 10 March III 3019, the shaking of the ground suddenly increased to a powerful quaking, and a burst of brilliant red fire - presumably unleashed from Mount Doom1 - shone out from Mordor to illuminate the clouds, as the air was filled with the sound of a thunderclap.

This was the Great Signal, the sign to Sauron's soldiers to begin their march to war. From Minas Morgul, close by the hiding place of Frodo and Sam at the time, an answering signal went up: a storm of blue lightning flashing up into the sky from the Tower and its surrounding hills, while a hideous screech echoed off the rocks of the valley. At that, the armies of the Witch-king began their progress out from their city and on the road that would lead them to the Battle of the Pelennor. Though dreadful to experience for the Hobbits at the time, the Great Signal provided the distraction they needed to slip past Minas Morgul and begin the ascent of the Stairs of Cirith Ungol that would lead them into Mordor.


Notes

1

The source of the Great Signal is not definitively identified (we only see these events from Frodo's point of view, and from that perspective the origin of the Signal was hidden by the Mountains of Shadow). Nonetheless it does seem almost unavoidable that it must have come from Mount Doom, since not only was that the obvious source of a glaring red flame, but it was clearly linked to the ominous rumblings of the earth that preceded the Signal. This shows just how much control Sauron must have held over the Fire of Orodruin, if he could call it up precisely enough to coordinate the sending of his troops to war.

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About this entry:

  • Updated 6 June 2017
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