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What Sauron's Secret Name 'Annatar' Really Means For Rings Of Power Season 2

Empire magazine has revealed that Sauron will go by the name Annatar for the first time in Season 2 of "The Rings of Power." In J.R.R. Tolkien's source material, Sauron uses his Annatar persona to trick the Elves into making the Rings. In Season 1 of the adaptation, however, he showed up as the mortal Halbrand, leaving many fans wondering what happened to Annatar. But Empire's story — which touches on Galadriel's (Morfydd Clark) Ring of Power, Nenya, along with the relationship between the elven-smith Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards) and the Lord of the Rings himself, Sauron (Charlie Vickers) — invokes the name Annatar to describe the Dark Lord.

This seems to confirm that Season 2 is going to tack back toward Tolkien's original story — which also means things are about to get really dark, really fast. The Empire story explains (via TheOneRing.net) that Sauron still has 16 more rings to forge along with the One Ring to rule them, adding, "He needs to get cracking. And that's certainly what he does in Season 2, adopting a new identity as blond-locked elf Annatar and becoming besties with the worryingly pliant Celebrimbor."

Sauron has already looked different in the Season 2 promotional footage. The long-haired, angelic appearance is much closer to the source material. Even then, it wasn't certain that his official title would be used due to rights issues, since it doesn't appear in "The Lord of the Rings" source material that the show is allowed to work from. If Amazon Studios really does have the rights to use the name, they must have gotten separate permission to use it.

What is Sauron's Annatar form?

The appendix for "The Silmarillion" defines the Annatar name as "'Lord of Gifts." It adds that this is the name Sauron gives himself in the Second Age, long before "The Lord of the Rings," when he wished to appear in a form that was fair and attractive to the Elves he wanted to woo. Annatar enters the story roughly when "The Rings of Power" is set (things are tricky to track in detail, since the show has deviated from Tolkien by condensing the timeline to keep its mortal characters alive). 

In the written material, it says that Sauron hates the Elves and Men of Númenor, but keeps his thoughts secret for centuries. During this time, he takes on the fair form of Annatar to befriend (and seduce) the Elves to his will. He focuses on the immortal folk because they are more powerful. 

According to the book, "He went far and wide among them, and his hue was still that of one both fair and wise." "The Silmarillion" also uses the Annatar title, saying, "Sauron took to himself the name of Annatar, the Lord of Gifts, and [the Elves] had at first much profit from his friendship." This is the fair form that Sauron uses to teach the Elves about ring-making, setting the stage for him to sneak off and forge the One Ring to rule them all in the fires of Mount Doom (which is also a freshly fired-up Middle-earth landmark in the show).

Sauron's relationship with Celebrimbor, explained

While Tolkien writes that Annatar goes far and wide befriending Elves, there are some connections that he makes which are stronger than others. On the one hand, the biggest non-starter for Sauron's sneaky gift-prone plan is the realm of Lindon, where Gil-galad and Elrond don't trust him. On the other hand, other Elves welcome him gladly. Chief among these fair folk is Celebrimbor, the chief craftsman and leader of the Elvish region of Eregion. That area is filled with Elves who love smith-craft, and they gladly accept Annatar's aid in their labors.

"The Silmarillion" explains that these Elves have rejected the Undying Lands and the Blessed Realm in the West, but they still hunger for its bliss, and it makes them restless. They listen to Annatar, who has real things to teach them, and it advances their artisanal magic skills to the point where they can create — drum roll, please — Rings of Power!

Chief among Annatar/Sauron's unsuspecting victims is Celebrimbor. The book "Unfinished Tales" explains, "Sauron used all his arts upon Celebrimbor and his fellow-smiths," adding that while Celebrimbor is sucked into Sauron's attractive lies, he isn't corrupted. Rather, he accepts the Dark Lord's aid, trusting that he is indeed the ally — Annatar, Lord of Gifts — that he claims to be.

Why Sauron's Annatar name is huge for fans

The Annatar storyline in Tolkien's writings is relatively brief and straightforward. Sauron puts on a fair form, lures in the Elven smiths of Eregion, helps them make legit Rings of Power, and then makes the One Ring to attempt to control and dominate them. Introducing Annatar to "The Rings of Power" in Season 2 is exciting. But it won't be quite as straightforward as it is in the source material due to one major creative aberration — Halbrand.

The creative team made up Sauron's human Halbrand persona for Season 1 before Galadriel pulled off the mask in the season finale. Elrond also started to catch onto the deception, although what he knows isn't quite clear. The odd and unexpected Halbrand detour means Galadriel, at least, knows Halbrand is Sauron. Everyone else also knows Halbrand's face, but they think he's a man, not an immortal.

The introduction of the angelic Annatar indicates that showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay intend to steer away from the unexpected Halbrand deviation, back to a narrative more in line with the source material. But it won't be easy with Halbrand's impact still hanging in the air. Fortunately, "Unfinished Tales" also contains the line, "[Sauron/Annatar] worked in secret, unknown to Galadriel and Celeborn." If he shows up again, under the radar this time, that will help avoid any run-ins with Galadriel. Of course, the full explanation will need to wait until Season 2 premieres on August 29.