J.R.R. Tolkien > Akallabêth >
The Road to Kingship
Pharazôn was the son of Gimilkhâd, the younger brother of Inziladûn, who, better known by his Quenya title Tar-Palantir, became the king of Númenor who attempted to repent of the apostasy of his fathers. During the time of his uncle's reign Pharazôn spent most of his days abroad in Middle-Earth, conquering the peoples of the coastlands, and became famous as a great captain over both land and sea. He returned to Númenor on hearing news of his father's death, and brought with him great wealth from his campaigns on Middle-Earth, and he befriended many as he was liberal with his riches.
Soon after, in the year 3255 of the Second Age, Tar-Palantir died, leaving no sons, but only a daughter Míriel, who should have by right become the Queen Regnant. But Pharazôn took her to wife, against her will and against Númenorean law, mainly to squelch dissent against his taking the throne. He proclaimed himself with the Adûnaic title Ar-Pharazôn the Golden (Tar-Calion in the Elven Tongue), the twenty-fourth king of Númenor, and as it would turn out, the last.
The Guile of Sauron
He became mightiest and proudest of all the kings of Númenor, at the zenith of its power, and contemplated war. He learned of the strength of Sauron and his hatred of the Númenoreans, and messengers came from their colonies there that Sauron was attempting to assert his might again and declared his purpose to eliminate them, and perhaps even destroy Númenor itself if that were possible. He assembled a great armada of ships to land at Umbar and in the year 3261 when he arrived he called out a challenge to Sauron, and Sauron came, but he was afraid. The might of the armies of Númenor was greater than even the wildest rumors said, and he felt that he could not count on even all of his power to overcome them, so he humbled himself before Ar-Pharazôn, and allowed himself to be taken as a hostage back to Númenor, where he would more subtly bring doom upon the Dúnedain.
Sauron was so crafty and cunning that within three years of being sent as a hostage to Númenor he became Ar-Pharazôn's most trusted adviser. Only Amandil Lord of Andunië resisted Sauron's influence, and tried in vain to counter him. Sauron gradually turned the King to even greater apostasy against the Valar, and led him to the worship of Morgoth, at first in secret but before long openly in the face of his people, and such was the evil of those days that they for the most part followed his example.
The King and the White Tree
Sauron then urged Ar-Pharazôn to destroy the White Tree Nimloth, the image of Telperion that was a memorial of their ancient alliance with the Eldar and the light of Valinor. The King at first refused to do this, remembering Tar-Palantir's prophecy that the fortunes of the Royal House were bound with the fate of the Tree. Amandil, however, on hearing of Sauron's intentions was frightened, knowing that Sauron would eventually convince Ar-Pharazôn to do his bidding. He then spoke to his son Elendil and his grandsons Isildur and Anárion, recalling the legend of the Two Trees of Valinor. Isildur said nothing, but went that night to the King's Court in Armenelos and brought a fruit of the tree back with him. He was gravely wounded in this act of bravery, but after a sapling of the Tree began to grow, he was miraculously healed. After this was done, the King yielded to Sauron and felled the White Tree, turning him totally away from the ancient allegiance of his forefathers. Sauron had a great temple to Morgoth built in the heart of Armenelos, and the first sacrifice that was burned was the wood of the White Tree. In due time many of the remnant of the Númenoreans who still adhered to the old ways and the ancient allegiance with the Valar and Eldar were themselves brought up to the flames of the Altar of the Temple, for they refused to worship Morgoth, but on the charge that they were traitors and rebels to the King.
Countdown to Armageddon
By the year 3310 of the Second Age, Sauron had convinced Ar-Pharazôn that the time was ripe for an invasion of Valinor. The King began to feel the grip of age come over him, and was more than ready to attempt to assail Valinor and wrest from the Valar the Undying Lands, foolishly believing that this would grant him the eternal life that the Eldar and Valar dwelling there possessed. He began building the Great Armament, that by the year 3319 was greater than any force on land and sea that has ever been seen within the confines of Arda. Amandil was terrified at this alarming development, and he could no longer restrain Ar-Pharazôn in his folly and temper Sauron's malice. In desperation, he told his son and his grandchildren to avoid mingling in the planned invasion and stay apart, while he would attempt to travel to Valinor and intercede for aid from the Valar against Sauron as their forefather Eärendil once did.
Throughout the time the Great Armament was being built many warnings came in a futile attempt to dissuade the proud king from his folly. A great cloud shaped like an eagle, the sign of Manwë, the great Lord of the Valar, would appear from the West, its wings stretched out from the uttermost north to the south, blotting out the sunset. Lightings and thunder would come from the great cloud, at times killing people, and finally a bolt struck the great Temple, and Sauron stood at its pinnacle, wreathed in the flames, and taunting the lighting. But in spite of these warnings Ar-Pharazôn and his Great Armament pressed on, and in the year 3319 of the Second Age they sailed westwards to Aman, breaking the Ban of the Valar.
Eventually they arrived in Valinor, and the land was empty and silent. Ar-Pharazôn beheld the terrible majesty of the mountain of Taniquetil, and his heart almost misgave him, and he almost turned back. But pride dominated him, and he with a group of mortal warriors set foot upon the Undying Lands and claimed it for his own, if no one would do battle for it. At that moment Manwë called upon Ilúvatar, and the Valar withdrew their government of Arda. Ilúvatar showed forth his power, and a great chasm opened in the sea between Númenor and Valinor, swallowing up the Great Armament and even Númenor itself. Ar-Pharazôn and the mortal warriors who landed on Valinor with him were buried under falling hills, and they lie imprisoned in the Caves of the Forgotten, until the Last Battle and the Day of Doom.
Sauron was still at the Temple on the day of downfall. The destruction that Ilúvatar brought was far in excess of what he hoped for, and the fair form with which he wrought so great an evil was destroyed, and never again could he appear fair to the eyes of Men. He was not destroyed in this cataclysm, not being of mortal flesh, but his spirit escaped and fled back to Mordor, where he waited in silence, and wore again the One Ring.
However, Elendil and his sons managed to survive the catastrophe. Whether Amandil had successfully interceded upon their behalf before the Valar as he planned is unknown, but a great wind blew from the West and brought them away from the ruin of Númenor to the shores of Middle Earth. There, they began as best as they could to rebuild, confronting and defeating Sauron yet again with the aid of the Elves before the Second Age finally came to its end.