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Saruman is a fictional character and a major antagonist in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. He is leader of the Istari, wizards sent to Middle-earth in human form by the godlike Valar to challenge Sauron, the main antagonist of the tale, but later on aims at gaining power for himself and advocates an alliance with the enemy. His schemes feature prominently in the second volume, The Two Towers, and at the end of the third volume, The Return of the King.
Saruman is one of several characters in the book illustrating the corruption of power; his desire for knowledge and order leads to his fall, and he rejects the chance of redemption when it is offered. The name Saruman means "man of skill"; he serves as an example of technology and modernity being overthrown by forces more in tune with nature. The character appears in almost all adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, having a particularly large part in the first two films of Peter Jackson's film trilogy (2001–2003) in which he was played by Christopher Lee.
Saruman first appears in 1954's The Fellowship of the Ring, which is the first volume of The Lord of the Rings. The Lord of the Rings describes a quest to destroy the One Ring, which is a powerful and evil talisman created by the Dark Lord Sauron to control Middle-earth (the fictional world in which Tolkien's story takes place).
Early in The Fellowship of the Ring, the wizard Gandalf notes Saruman's great knowledge of the magic rings created by Sauron and by the Elven-smiths and describes him as "the chief of my order". Shortly afterwards, Gandalf breaks an arrangement to meet the hobbit Frodo Baggins, who bears the Ring lost by Sauron thousands of years earlier. After Frodo and Gandalf are reunited at Rivendell midway through The Fellowship of the Ring, the wizard explains why he failed to join Frodo: he had been summoned to consult with Saruman, who proposed that they ally themselves with Sauron, whose victory Saruman believed inevitable. When Gandalf refused, Saruman imprisoned him in the tower of Orthanc at Isengard, hoping to learn from him the location of the Ring. Gandalf observed that Saruman was creating his own army of orcs and wolves, "in rivalry of Sauron, and not in his service yet".
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