If Frodo had failed (say, by snuffing Gollum back at the outskirts of Mordor or something) and Sauron got the One Ring, what would have/could have happened?
Yeah, he takes control of the Elven rings and corrupts their pristine areas (and makes Elven-Ring Wraiths…Galadrial, Gandalf and Elrond as Ring Wraiths is a creepy thought), he institutes a reign of terror that makes what happened to The Shire look like a picnic.
And then what?
Surely the Creator (whatsHisname…the one who created the Maia and Valar and everything else) won’t allow it to continue forever. Or will he? Does the reign of Sauron go on forever and whatsHisname’s plan is forever derailed? Even with the ring, Sauron was beaten once.
Also, as dumb as this sounds, what’s Sauron’s motive? I mean, he’s essentially an Arch-Angel–next to God, one of the most powerful beings in creation, right? So why does he care about ruling a tiny little speck of a dirtball like Middle-Earth when he has the whole cosmos to play around in? Hanging around Middle Earth and getting into swordfights with humans seems like a Navy Seal who’s a blackbelt, IN A TANK yet, hanging around a kindergarten bullying the toddlers and taking their milk money away.
Doesn’t he have better things to do with his time and energy?
And what’s Sauron getting out of it? Is taking over Middle Earth the first step to something bigger? Or is he just doing it because he’s EEEEEE-vil (which seems lame, somehow)?
And why is God allowing it anyway (as opposed to some mighty smiting of Sauron)?
Free will and stuff. Remember, Sauron (aka Gorthaur the cruel) was only a Maiar originally attached to Aulë. He got corrupted by Melkor early on in Ainulindalë, so thus was instrumental in creating the theme of Arda Marred. Then he served the big bad guy, Melkor/Morgoth himself for 30,000 years, all with the goal of molding the world to the damaged version of the music.
Thus to Sauron, corrupted the world without was just fulfilling his destiny and the Music of the Ainür. Since part of the prophecy was that at the ending of all things, there would be great battle between Melkor and his allies vs. the rest of the Valar, with uncertain outcome, Sauron could fully believe that he would win in the end.
And the music (world) is fated to end. Sauron and the rest of the Ainür saw this before the creation. They just didn’t see the outcome clearly.
As for the creator, in His timeless halls, and the rest of the Ainür hanging out there with him, watching events unfold: Think of it as the Super bowl.
Also, fanaticism. When he was imprisoned at Numenor and undertook the corruption of the Dunedain, he erected a temple to Morgoth. His loyalties remained with Morgoth throughout his existence on Arda.
And Fenris, whether or not there even is a cosmos outside of Arda (the world on which Middle-Earth rests) is uncertain. In the original Music, Arda was a flat disk. When the Valar destroyed Numenor, they removed Aman and Valinor from the Circles of the World, changing the shape of the world to a sphere. It’s not mentioned if they also expanded the cosmos of Arda to include other planets. Tolkien’s vision of Arda appears to have been a lot like the Babylonian…a world within a sphere of existence.
Qadgop, didn’t the Music end before the end of the Third Age? Or was that just the themes that the Valar had participated in?
It’s assumed that he does, Doghouse. Morgoth is prophesied to return for Dagor Dagorath, the Last Battle (literally, the Battle of Battles), in which the forces of Morgoth and the chief of the Valar, Manwe, will fight amidst the unmaking of the world. Sauron most likely has a major part to play in his return, as his most powerful agent.
Yes, the vision was taken away before the end, so the Valar don’t know exactly how things will turn out. I don’t believe it was ever specified exactly when the music ended, but it seemed that it did so after the fading of the elves. IMHO.
The Music covers all of history, past, present, and future, and except for that one final mighty chord, the Ainur participated in the making of all of it. It was only the visualization of the music which was concealed from the Ainur before the end, and we’re not told how far before the end. Personally, I picture that as being very close to the beginning, at latest at the awakening of the Children.
As for the wizards, they voluntarily set aside most of their power and knowledge. I’m not sure if they even could take up their full power again, without permission from the Powers, and I don’t think that that’s what Saruman was doing. Heck, most of what Saruman was doing to increase his power wasn’t even supernatural.