Land of Shadow
'The Black Land', also called the Land of Shadow; Sauron's realm east of the Ephel DÃºath.
Sauron's Black Land.
After the destruction of the strongholds of evil in the north of Middle-earth at the end of the First Age, Sauron fled southwards seeking new lands. At the end of the first millennium of the Second Age, he chose a land walled by mountains, and there built his great fortress of Barad-dÃ»r. After Sauron settled there, the land became known as Mordor (the Black Land) - no record of an earlier name for this region exists.
After the defeat of Sauron in the War of the Last Alliance, Mordor was taken under the control of Gondor, and the Gondorians built fortifications around it to prevent the return of evil things; the greatest of these was Minas Ithil (later Minas Morgul). As Gondor's power faded, however, Mordor once again fell into the hands of the Enemy, and after two thousand years of relative peace, the NazgÃ»l returned and claimed the land once again in the name of Sauron. Sauron himself, however, dwelt at Dol Guldur in Mirkwood, and did not himself return openly to Barad-dÃ»r until some seventy years before the War of the Ring.
In that War, Sauron's power was finally defeated when the One Ring was cast into the Cracks of Doom, and the land of Mordor once again came under the control of the South-kingdom.
The Geography of Mordor: Mordor was a land of approximately rectangular shape, measuring some 600 miles east to west and 400 north to south. On all but its eastern borders, where it marched with RhÃ»n and Khand, it was surrounded by the mountains of the Ered Lithui and the Ephel DÃºath.
Offshoots of its mountain fences divided the land into two distinct regions, the barren uplands of Gorgoroth in the northwest, and the more fertile southern plain of Nurn, where the inland sea of NÃºrnen lay.
In the far northwest of Mordor, where the mountains of the Ered Lithui and Ephel DÃºath came together, lay a valley named UdÃ»n (after the ancient fortress of Melkor in the north of the World). This was the only break in Mordor's western mountain-defences, and Sauron built a great gate, the Morannon, at its mouth to protect his realm.
The History of Mordor:
c.II 1000 to II 3262: Mordor is not mentioned in the histories of Middle-earth before the end of the first millennium of the Second Age, when Sauron chose it as his dwelling place. While its natural defences must have influenced his decision, we are told that the main reason for his choice was Orodruin, the great volcano that lay in the central regions of the Plateau of Gorgoroth, and which Sauron used in his sorcery, including the forging of the One Ring.
Through the rest of the Second Age, Mordor became a base for Sauron's struggle for power in Middle-earth. Though he had many successes in this struggle, at one time controlling all of Eriador, he also suffered many setbacks at the hands of the Elves and, especially, the NÃºmenÃ³reans.
His worst reverse came in II 3262 when Ar-PharazÃ´n, the last King of NÃºmenor, landed in Middle-earth with an unstoppable army. Sauron's forces fled, and he offered himself as hostage to Ar-PharazÃ´n, leaving Mordor and travelling with the victorious NÃºmenÃ³reans back to their island home.
We are told little of Mordor after Sauron left it - his armies having fled, it must have been an empty, barren place for a time. Eventually, though, some part of his followers seem to have returned. After the destruction of NÃºmenor and the founding of Gondor by Elendil and his sons, one of their first works was the building of Minas Ithil at the feet of the Ephel DÃºath 'as a threat to Mordor', which suggests that even with Sauron absent, the remaining inhabitants of the Black Land posed a threat of their own.
(Continued in Mordor 2 - next entry).