I love your Sauron (Mairon). I sympathize for him while remembering that he is the villain Tolkien wrote. I especially like your take on his relationship with Melkor.
Author's Response: Thanks very much! That's the balance I was striving for, to make him a sympathetic character, without losing sight of the fact he's evil. (No one thinks they're evil, so when the story is told from an evil person's point of view, the evil doesn't show much.) Uvatha
Sauron considered himself merciful because he beat Khamul instead of demoting him. However, he never offered Khamul a choice, he just assumed Khamul would make the same choice he himself made.
Another fascinating look inside the private lives of the world's most celebrated craftsmaia, and his undead crew. Khamul's relationship with his Master is very different from that of Angmar, but perhaps even more intriguing. And Sauron's punishment of him is very reminiscent of his own punishments at the hands of Aulė, isn't it?
Author's Response: I love the word craftsmaia. Not only is Khamul's relationship with their Master different from Angmar's, but Khamul has no knowledge of Angmar's UST issues, and Angmar doesn't know the extent to which Khamul sees his Master's thoughts. Sauron isn't aware of either of those things.
Yikes! A new story in draft: I'm excited!!!
Author's Response: Thanks! Saruman's hard to write about, because I have trouble getting inside his head. But he's consistant with my theme, "How does a respectable person fall into evil?" Saruman's path into evil is different than Sauron's. It's harder to understand his motivations. Sauron's infatuation with Melkor almost completely explains why he went to the Dark Side. (I see him as Mrs. Soffel, the respectable woman who ran off with a handsome sociopath, Pitsburgh ~1900.) Saruman's path into evil seemed to be due to being jealous of Sauron and imitating him. But he never had the hero-worship, infatuation, loyalty, etc. that Sauron had for Melkor. I don't know if 'I like you' imitating is different from 'I'm competing with you' imitating. Perhaps they give the same result. Or maybe I'm wrong and both Sauron and Saruman followed the same path, "I am imitating someone more evil than myself."
No question but that Mairon is both highly intelligent, and good at rationalizing!
And, of course, I'd love to see more....
Author's Response: The second area where he rationalizes is to justify his crimes ("Celebrimbor chose to oppose me, so what happened to him is his fault.") and to minimize the effect they have on others ("They would have died anyway, it just happened early.") If he didn't have an exagerated ability to rationalize, he couldn't be a warlord, because he does have a conscience and does feel remorse. In this sense, he's more like an ordinary anti-social criminal than like a psychopath.
Sauron drifted in and out of consciousness. He dreamed Melkor grabbed him and pushed him facedown against a heavy table, twisting his arm behind his back. Melkor was much bigger and stronger than he was, so even though he fought as hard as he could, and begged him not to do it, ..
Yes, I think you show that, subconsciously, Mairon is very aware that he was being "used" by Melkor! (And it probably makes it much more difficult for him to deal with his feelings, in that Maiar are "supposed" to serve the Valar, as he has said many times throughout your stories....)
Author's Response: I'm pretty sure he knew this wasn't supposed to be one of the standard Maiar duties. Not like carrying a standard or washing dishes. But he had a choice: Put up with it and construct some elaborate rationalizations to explain it away, or end the relationship and go back to his old life like Osse did, and give up adult-like independence forever. (Plus serve jail time.) Highly intelligent people can be good at rationalizing.
I continue to be fascinated by this world you're building: it's certainly not the Dol Guldur we think we know. The most intriguing part was Mairon's delirium: he was calling for Aulė, not Melkor, despite his waking assertion that he would want to be buried with Melkor's standard. I think there's hope for Mairon yet, especially as it is obvious from his memories that he is still a "child of Ilśvatar" in his mind.
Author's Response: Thanks! Calling for Aule was done on purpose. Aule is a parent-figure and more nurturing towards Mairon. Melkor is a user, which Mairon must know at some level, in spite of the strength of his infatuation with him.