Orcs on The Rings of Power have a new home in the Southlands. But it was a man, acting on the orders of an elf, who opened the door to one of the most notorious locales in all of Middle-earth: Mount Doom. However, none of them will claim it as their own. All of Mordor will soon belong to Sauron, who will forge the One Ring in the fires of the infamous volcano. Mordor was not even a location on Middle-earth’s map when The Rings of Power began, but soon it will be a bane to all the forces of good. Why was that land of darkness lying in wait underground, though? And why was Theo’s sword hilt the key to creating Mount Doom and unlocking Mordor’s power in The Rings of Power? Those answers date back to the First Age of Middle-earth and the original Dark Lord, who made a secret plan to ensure his fight would never end.
Morgoth and His Volcanic Kingdom of Evil, Angband
Morgoth was Sauron’s master and Middle-earth’s first Dark Lord. But he did not begin his reign of terror from the now familiar Mordor and Mount Doom. Instead, one of the places he ruled from was his kingdom of Angband. The kingdom sat beneath the Iron Mountains of Middle-earth, which protected Angband, in the far north. After Morgoth’s first defeat and imprisonment by the Valar, the ruins of Angband became home to orcs— whom Morgoth created. There they multiplied in great numbers.
When Morgoth eventually returned to reclaim and restore Angband, he raised three giant active volcanoes over the land. Known as Thangorodrim, these The Lord of the Rings volcanoes were taller than any other peak in Middle-earth. They served as a testament and warning of Morgoth’s growing power.
All of Angband and Thangordrim fell after Morgoth’s ultimate defeat during the War of Wrath. But they were not the only places the Dark Lord prepared as a base for evil, enter Mordor and Mount Doom.
The Origins of Mordor and Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings Lore
Mordor sits in Middle-earth’s southeast, far from where Angband stood. Yet Mordor and Angband both owe their creation to Morgoth. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Peoples of Middle-earth (curated by his son Christopher), the author wrote the Dark Lord created Mount Doom. (Also known as Orodruin—“fire mountain”—in Sindarin elvish.)
Tolkien also wrote the lands surrounding the volcano were already known as Mordor before Sauron claimed the realm as his own. (It has not been named as such on the show, yet. Nor has Sauron even identified himself.) In Sindarin, Mordor means “Black Land.” The Rings of Power made clear why it earned that name. Mount Doom’s creation blotted out the sun.
Like Angband before it, mountain ranges protect and insulate Mordor from enemies. But The Rings of Power has shown why Morgoth and Sauron designed Mordor and Mount Doom to be more than just a home for evil.
Morgoth’s Secret Plan of Succession
In The Rings of Power‘s third episode, inside Númenor’s Hall of Law, Galadriel discovered Morgoth had a backup plan in the event of his defeat. Sauron would succeed Morgoth and continue their cause in Middle-earth. That old dark parchment also said Morgoth also made sure his loyal servant would have a new place to rule from, a land we, of course, know as Mordor.
This land would be a realm “where evil would not only endure but thrive.” But since Sauron would need time to gather strength and forces, Morgoth kept this land secret. He put the power of Sauron’s future kingdom underneath a mountain, just as he had hid Angband. Only instead of the north, where elves knew Morgoth to be located, in The Rings of Power Mount Doom was lying in wait in the Southlands where Sauron could find willing allies.
The Southlands are the lands of men who fought for Morgoth. And many of their descendants wish to continue serving evil. Locating the yet unnamed Mordor in the land of his followers was a smart move on Morgoth’s part. On The Rings of Power, that, along with Mount Doom’s strength, may give Sauron the advantage he needs.
Sauron’s Sword Hilt as the Key to Mount Doom’s Creation on The Rings of Power
To give his children a new home, Adar gave Waldreg the key to unleashing Mount Doom from the depths of the earth. Theo’s sword hilt did everything Adar wanted. It brought darkness to the surrounding lands so orcs can live safe from the sun’s light. But, whether Adar knew it or not, he unlocked a door Sauron helped lock and wanted to open.
Sauron made the key— Theo’s sword hilt—that freed Mount Doom and created Mordor, a land first revealed in Sauron’s symbol-map. It’s where orcs and other devotees of evil will serve the new Dark Lord, not Adar. It will be home to the Second Age’s evil lord, who has waited patiently for many years to claim his kingdom he helped hide. Perhaps, now that Mount Doom has been created on The Rings of Power, Sauron might finally show his face to claim Mordor.
What Does the Orcs Udûn Chant Mean?
The orcs know Mount Doom is not only a new home but a symbol of a return. As it took form and spread darkness over the Southlands they chanted “udûn.” In Sandarin that translates to “Hell.” But the word has far greater meaning to orcs.
Before he ruled from Angband, Morgoth’s first fortress in Middle-earth was Utumno. Morgoth carved his base deep into the ground, far from where the light of the Two Trees of Valinor could reach. It’s also where he took kidnapped elves like Adar and twisted them to create orcs.
And Utumno was known by another name: Udûn. But this new Hell on Earth will create something far worse than orcs.
The Fires of Mount Doom and the Forging of the One Ring
Mount Doom will be more than Utumno or Angband ever were. It will do exactly as Morgoth wished; it will be a place where evil not only survives, but thrives. For Mount Doom is where Sauron will forge the One Ring to rule them all.
And that darkness will spread throughout all of Middle-earth, just as it did long ago.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.