The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien


About this entry:

  • Updated 13 January 2012
  • Updates planned: 2

Shadow of Fear

A power of the Enemy

A force or power used by Sauron and his servants to overwhelm the will and bind their enemies to their service. We're not told exactly how the Shadow of Fear worked, but from other references1 it seems to have left the victim with a memory or faint awareness of dread in the mind. Sauron could use this Shadow of Fear himself, and the Lord of the Nazgûl is also recorded as making use of it, but it's unclear whether this power was available to others of the Dark Lord's servants. It seems that Morgoth had a similar ability, given that many of his captured thralls would turn to his side, though the means he used to achieve this is never explicitly explained.



Tolkien uses the phrase 'shadow of fear' quite commonly, and though in its capitalised form it only ever relates to Sauron's power of compulsion, it is also used more liberally elsewhere. Sometimes it describes a faint memory of terror (so, for example, Nienor having lost her memories was still plagued by a shadow of fear). In other cases the shadow is much more tangible, so Isildur wearing the Ring appeared to his pursuing Orcs as a monstrous figure described as a 'shadow of fear' (Unfinished Tales Part Three I, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields).

For acknowledgements and references, see the Disclaimer & Bibliography page.

Website services kindly sponsored by Axiom Software Ltd.

Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 2012. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.