Fan Fic: Saruman Of Many Devices
aka: Saruman Of The Many Devices
Saruman of Many Devices
I optimize the world-line of civilization, Saruman. Not the world-line of any particular being.
can be read here, by author Saphroneth
Summary by the author: Alone of every power in Middle-Earth, Saruman innovates, notably gunpowder. But he lost. What if he had a little help? Actually a cross-over between The Lord of the Rings
and The General
series by David Drake. Uses both book and movie elements.
A chipped Palantir stone has Saruman the White dial in to a master much different from Sauron. Central - an AI made to bootstrap fragments of human civilization up to the level at which it once was, one step at a time. Well, not only human.
Armed with advanced scientific knowledge and the ability to see projected futures, he sets on the uneasy task of imposing peace and progress upon the rather stagnant and traditionalist nations of Middle Earth. With an army of Uruk-hai, of course.
Tropes contained in Saruman of Many Devices
- Alternate Universe: Seems to be a fusion of the Peter Jackson movie (Lurtz is present), and the original books (female orcs are present; Uruk-Hai are bred from orcs and humans instead of orcs and goblins, Eowyn takes the pseudonym Dernhelm when riding with the Rohirrim), and the Games Workshop Tabletop Wargame (a squad of rifle uruks is persued by the Ringwraith Khamul the Easterling, Black Numenorian magicians are part of a probing attack on a fortified town, the Nazguls called The Shadowlord and The Undying are slain during the Battle of the Pelenor Fields), on top of it's being a crossover with The General.
- Artificial Intelligence: Central is one.
- Boring, but Practical: Central's way most of the time - there's little use to Wunderwaffen if you can't equip your army with them effectively.
- Very much justified, in this case. The Free People of Middle-Earth face a vastly-numerically superior foe that has a mix of magical wonder weapons (or wonder fortifications, in the case of The Black Gate and Barad-dur) and semi-rare superweapons (Olog-Hai/Battle Trolls, mumakil, the Nazgul and their Fell Beasts, skilled Black Numenorian mages, etc). The Alliance needs to hold off Sauron's forces/allies on every front, not just the one where Saruman could deploy his potential wonder weapon.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The Battle of Minas Tirith goes a mite differently; 12th-century-equivalent armies, meet 19th-century-equivalent guns and artillery.
- Also the result of Sauron clearly not taking the threat of firearms seriously, not having bothered to inform his commanders of the possibility or change his battle plan much.
- An expeditionary force Saruman sends to help Dale hold off Rhun's invasion also wins a number of victories like this. However, the Rhun forces actually adapt (to an extent) rather quickly, ensuring that any second battle with a Rhun army is, at most, a Curb Stomp Cushion.
- Seriously averted in the Battle of Cair Andros. With a modest Gondorian garrison and only a hundred or so Isengard troops (plus its warg mounts and werewolf scouts), it struggles to hold out against an onslaught of Easterlings, Black Numenorians (including a few mages), and orcs, with the siege being broken in the nick-of-time by a surprise charge by the remaining muster of Rohirrim. Against a force with good morale, discipline, and an adaptive commander, even a fortress and 19th century firearms won't help you for very long.
- Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Mithil-tipped bullets, made from melting down a dwarven ring of power in Saruman's possession (making the mithril also enchanted). Given how ridiculously few of these he has, he saves them for one task and one task only: a last resort for killing Nazgul.
- Fantastic Racism: The uruk-hai meet with suspicion or outright discrimination from most, at least until they prove themselves. Rather interestingly, the uruk-hai take it in stride—which helps them overcome this considerably.
- For Want of a Nail: All this comes from Saruman's Palantir being damaged.
- Future Loser: Central shows a projection of the original LOTR timeline to Saruman (where he is very much the loser), in order to persuade him to go along with the plan. He also convinces Saruman to give up any notion of acquiring the One Ring for himself with a concise, excellently logical argument: the One Ring is an agent of entropy, ultimately leading all who wield it and seek it for their own gain to ruin—even Sauron himself. Saruman pretty much takes the point in stride, being unable to find any holes in the argument.
- Giving Radio to the Romans: If the Romans were taller, greener and meaner. And radio was a gun, plus the assortment of industrial technology required for their manufacture and deployment.
- A rare example of this actually being a good thing, even when the bad guys start to replicate it on their own (albeit more crudely). For the first time in Middle Earth's history, the forces of good actually have something to take pride in other than the glory of their pasts, and a future that is greater than anything that came before. Central's prediction of Middle Earth descending into an utter dark age of minimal population and the collapse of civilization (which is what happened in canon) highlights how the good guys' lack of hope for a better future than any time in the past was really just them intuiting the clear pattern of decay and depletion throughout history.
- Heel-Face Turn: Saruman, who, instead of trying to claim the Ring for his own, is now aiding the West and the Fellowship of the Ring. Also Lurtz, who, in this alternate universe, is now the commander of an elite company of reconnaissance dragoons and lends invaluable help to Frodo and Co. from Rivendell on south.
- Henchmen Race: While the uruk-hai are bred and trained primarily for battle, they are first and foremost Saruman's valued officers and soldiers. However, he also hires craftsmen and refugees from other races.
- Saruman's argument to Gandalf in the first chapter clearly indicates that he takes pride in the uruk-hai as a people, rather than as his henchmen (like in canon). He trains them to think creatively, take initiative, and be multifaceted. Lurtz, for example, is a linguist by hobby; Raza is a logistical expert, medic, and inventor.
- Magic from Technology: At one point, hidden orcs snipe at an enemy force holding a town. Due to the extended range and poor visibility, all they perceive from the Uruk-hai units (asides from their commander) are gunshots, which leads them to believe the Uruk-hai have potent magic on their side.
- The Magic Versus Technology War: Falls on both sides of the fence - magic is not completely invalidated, but a rifle volley beats a fireball nine times out of ten. It helps that most Tolkienian magic is subtle, on the level of enchanting weapons or amplifying voices.
- Saruman utilizes his own magic in very subtle ways to have a significant effect on a large scale; breeding special crows that are intelligent and can (in effect) facilitate telepathic communication between himself and whomever the crow is physically touching, for example, or making a detailed, 3D map projection of a fortress to help his commanders come up with a battle plan. Sauron, on the other hand, tends to use more overt magic for a more immediate, obvious effect—darkening the sky, cloaking a strike force from sight for a short time, creating wonder weapons like Grond, etc.
- Unobtanium: Mithril. Its hardness and other properties come in handy for Saruman. Its magical properties (or magical potential) make them effective (though phenomenally expensive/rare) weapons against Nazgul, too.
- X Meets Y: The Lord of the Rings meets Sharpe.