How well does Shadow of Mordor fit into Middle-earth canon?
The 2014 video game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor takes place between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. In it, an undead Gondorian Ranger named Talion is bound to Celebrimbor's wraith by the will of the Black Hand of Sauron.
What I want to know is, are there any inconsistencies with the timelines, characters, etc. (Was there really a guard of Men at the Black Gate, and was it attacked? Could Celebrimbor actually have come back as a wraith? Is Gollum's appearance justified? etc.)?
I know that there WAS indeed a guard near the Black Gate at one point, but I'd have to research for the rest. Gondor originally had control of all land right up to the Black Gate, but that "front line" receded further and further back in the years preceding Lord of the Rings.
The black gate was built by Gondor to watch Mordor (from HoMR). It was ironic it became a defensive structure when he returned.
@Clay Not only the Black Gate, but also the Tower of Cirith Ungol that gaurds the pass through the mountains from Minas Morgul, and the ancient castle of Durthang in the north of Mordor were also built by Gondor to keep watch over the Black Land.
Tolkien wryly noted that Sauron, like many dictators, was more concerned with keeping his subjects in.
There appear to be a number of "disconnects" of various types between the text and the game (even between the movies and the game).
To begin with, in the text there was never a garrison of Gondor stationed at the Black Gate. The Rangers of Ithilien patrolled a strip of land a few days' journey south of the Gate, just west of the Mountains of Shadow (the Ephel Dúath); but before Sauron "repossessed" Mordor, Gondor didn't have the manpower for such a guard, and afterwards, the Black Gate was far too dangerous to post a standing guard.
The Wikipedia article on the game describes the game's hero, Talion, as being "ritually sacrificed" by leaders of Mordor "in an attempt to summon the wraith of the Elf Lord Celebrimbor". In the text, Celebrimbor died in 1697 Second Age, some 3700 years before Sauron reoccupied Mordor; presumably (like that of any Elf) his feä or spirit returned to the Halls of Mandos in Valinor. Very few Elves returned from Mandos; and certainly none could be summoned in any way, nor could they appear as a wraith (it's not precisely clear to me what that means). Neither could Talion "return" or be "resurrected" in any sense; the Doom of Men required that when a human died, their feä went to the Halls of Mandos indeed, but then went on to some unknown place and never returned:
The sons of Men die indeed, and leave the world; wherefore they are called the Guests, or the Strangers. Death is their fate, the gift of Ilúvatar ...
(The Silmarillion, Chapter 1, "Of the Beginning of Days")
The one exception to this, Beren, was not truly an exception; Luthien was able to convince Mandos to let him return to Arda, but only for a brief time; Mandos had no power to keep the Gift, or Doom, of Men from him. Thus the situation in which Talion finds himself after death is incompatible with the world of Men as Tolkien described it, as is his encounter with Celebrimbor.
The article describes Celebrimbor, in the game, as having assisted Sauron in forging the One Ring and can wield the One Rings power. This is outright denied in the books, in which Sauron is described as forging the ring "secretly" (The Lord of the Rings, Book II, Chapter 2, "The Council of Elrond"). Celebrimbor is said in Appendix B to have "perceived" the designs of Sauron, an odd phrase if he was that involved with the Ring. It is also stated that the One Ring can only be wielded by Sauron and Sauron alone.
Again, there is said to be "a community of Gondorian outcasts living in Mordor". This seems unlikely: Appendix A states
At this time [about 1856 of the Third Age] it is thought that the Ringwraiths re-entered Mordor.
So the forces of Sauron had occupied the land for nearly 1200 years; and (given the time period, some time between 2941 and 3018), Sauron had recently reoccupied the land. It was not a healthy place for humans to be—Frodo comments, seeing two orcs fighting,
They hate us far more, altogether and all the time. If those two had seen us, they would have dropped all their quarrel until we were dead.
(Lord of the Rings, Book VI, Chapter 2, "The Land of Shadow")
Next, the issue of the "kingdom of Núrn": its queen, and her daughter, play important roles later in the game. There is no reference to such a kingdom anywhere in the text; Tolkien does, however, describe
the great slave-worked fields away south [of the plain of Gorgoroth] in this wide realm, beyond the fumes of the Mountain by the dark sad waters of Lake Nurnen.
(Lord of the Rings, Book VI, Chapter 2, "The Land of Shadow")
This "Lake Nurnen" is described on the map as the "Sea of Nurnen"; but clearly the same place is intended. There's no hint that the place is, or was, an independent kingdom at any point.
With respect to Gollum: Gollum did leave the Misty Mountains about 2944 (according to the timeline of Appendix B), and went off toward Dale; several years later (about 2951) he "turned towards Mordor". It appears to have taken him nearly 30 years (!!) to get there; the Appendix lists his acquaintance with Shelob, for example, as dating to about 2980. Gollum appears to have lurked around the borders of Mordor for another 30 years or so before being caught sometime between about 3010 and 3018. (This is one of the most difficult aspects of Tolkien's timeline for me to swallow; but I'll accept it for the purposes of the question.) So it would be possible, in theory, for Talion to have met Gollum; but as far as "leading Celebrimbor to relics of his past", as the Wikipedia article mentions, that assumes far too much knowledge on the part of Gollum—as well as assuming that these relics somehow made their way from Eregion (where Celebrimbor lived) to Mordor.
Most egregiously (in my opinion): Every time that Tolkien gives a story of a character who becomes enamored of power or revenge (as Talion does), the story is a tragic one and the desire for power or revenge is the tragic flaw (Túrin Turambar is a classic example; or Fëanor). This story, though perhaps it doesn't quite end here (as one would expect it leaves room for a sequel) should, if Tolkien's pattern is followed, end with the downfall of Talion. As it does not, it seems to display a fundamental misunderstanding of Tolkien's view of good, evil, and power.
One final note, unrelated but perhaps interesting: Although I don't know what "Talion" means, or is intended to mean, in Elvish (presumably Sindarin), I do know that it appears related to a Latin word. The lex talionis, or (more or less literally) "Law of the Same Thing", referred to the Old Testament principle of "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth"—disturbingly relevant to a character whose purpose in life, or unlife, has become taking revenge.
Excellent answer. Obviously, the most blunt answer to the original question is, "It doesn't." I'll be directing people to this answer when they ask about the canonicity of Shadow of Mordor.
*"presumably (like that of any Elf) his feä or spirit returned to the Halls of Mandos in Valinor"* - I've never read the books, but in the game, Celebrimbor was cursed by Sauron via blood-sacrifice to "a fate worse than death," eternally stuck between worlds. Talion was cursed the same way, met Celebrimbor, and together they managed to somehow rematerialize in the real world *(I haven't beaten the game yet, so I'm not sure if 'how' is ever explained)*. Also, Talion definitely isn't *"enamored of power,"* he just wants to *(be able to)* die so he can see his wife again.
Sauron is "just" a maia even if a powerful one but not even the valar have the power to change the fate of races Eru Ilúvatar set. So that curse is impossible.
"The article describes Celebrimbor, in the game, as having assisted Sauron in forging the One Ring." The game itself doesn't mention this, it suggests that Celebrimbor forged the other rings, but Sauron forged the One Ring himself. Sauron secretly corrupted the rings that Celebrimbor forged so he could control them with his One Ring.
@Kevin Without spoiling to much, later in the game it becomes more and more implied that Celebrimbor does have a direct contribution to The One Ring
@BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft As far as "enamored of power" - I was going by the description in Wikipedia and by descriptions from people I know who've played the game; they describe Talion in this way. They also describe him as motivated strongly, if not primarily, by revenge; that sort of motivation is treated the same way by Tolkien. I may update my answer to reflect that approach.
@BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft perhaps Talion isn't directly enamored of power, but he does manage to follow the "wraith" into building up power in a bid to challenge Sauron for supremacy in Mordor.
Actually, Elves *could* refuse the summons to Mandos and live on as wraiths in Middle-Earth - although Celebrimbor probably wouldn't have been that kind of Elf. Communication and manipulation of these spirits is exactly the kind of "necromancy" and sorcery that Tolkien says men and Sauron used.
"For the Unbodied...are those who at the least have refused the door of life and remain in regret and self-pity. Some are filled with bitterness, grievance, and envy. Some were enslaved by the Dark Lord and do his work still...To call on them is folly. To attempt to master them and to make them servants of one own's will is wickedness.[..] Or the Houseless may plead for shelter, and if it is admitted, then it will seek to enslave its host and use both his will and his body for its own purposes. It is said that Sauron did these things, and taught his followers how to achieve them." - HoME
@Shamshiel Which volume of HoME is this from? To what extent does it apply to the text of LotR published during Tolkien's lifetime? Tolkien did write a number of things which he did not publish, either because he or his publisher felt there was no audience, or because he did not feel it accorded with the rest of his published work; it's not necessarily the case that what's described in HoME applies to the rest of his work.
@MattGutting: Morgoth's Ring. It was later writing and fits in very well with published writings (indeed was intended to explain them) and the general story; c.f. the fading of the Elves.
I missed this my first read through, but Gondor did indeed once have a garrison at the Black Gate - they also built the Towers of the Teeth and Minas Morgul. The timeline is still wrong, though - Gondor would have long abandoned them by the time of the game. Also, I have not finished the game, but the in-game encyclopedia does say that Sauron forged the One alone - the visions so far only show Sauron present at the forging of the other Rings as the Lord of Gifts. Also, we might cite the Dead Men as another exception (albeit another Eru intervention.)
@chx - Dead men of Dunharrow seem to prove that preventing beings from true death is within the realm of possibility. And it was achieved by a man.
@Deltharis - the curse on the Dead Men is never fully explained in the texts. It needn't have been achieved by a Man in order to have the effect described, however: Isildur may have made the curse, then Eru may have said "OK, I'll run with this"; i.e it may have been Eru who actually decided their fate by letting the curse have effect. That's consistent with all writings and so is a viable theory.
A few inaccuracies with this answer -- 1. Elves could indeed be wraiths, indeed, it was fated that the more powerful Elves would "fade" and become wraiths if they remained in Middle Earth due to the power of their *feä*. Why it would happen to Celebrimbor is unclear, unless Sauron has some power over Elves we don't know about. (he did die in Sauron's care, Sauron was a necromancer, Sauron's minions were capable of summoning human undead, and Sauron himself was in charge of breeding Elves into Orcs). But Celebrimbor was a mighty Noldor and died refusing to give up the Three Rings. (cont)
Although he was an Exile, even Feanor, who hated the Valar, was summoned back to Mandos to be imprisoned until the end of time (although he could technically repent of his actions and be reincarnated, he and his father refused to leave.) 2 -- as noted, Men could remain shades under a curse, and not just by Eru -- this was Sauron's chief power, as a Necromancer. We know that the evil powers had the ability to curse Men from the Silmarillion, although psychic domination required a two-way connection motivated by fear or love (not BS, there's apparently a Tolkien quote from *Osanwe-kenta*)
3 -- there is indeed a kingdom of Núrn, populated by the freed slaves of the area around Lake Núrnen. but it did not exist as an entity until after the slaves were freed by Aragorn (according to the end of RotK).
4 -- There's no reason to assume that the Ring could not be used by some other power of great stature. We often hear this (in the movies too), and it destroys much of the plot of the books (and movie) to assume so in my opinion, turning the Ring into a mere "sticky artifact" that poses no moral hazard, and Sauron's reactions questionable. Celebrimbor knows more Ring-lore than most; but the One Ring was specifically designed to trick and thwart Celebrimbor -- and the other Noldor who were most attuned to Sauron's thought, as fellow disciples of Aulë. That's why he was able to wipe out Eregion.
That being said, I agree with you on the moral aspect, but this is a problem with most combat games in a literary setting :) I just like to remind folks to look at the TVTropes definition of "egregious" as it's often used to describe sins of adaptation that, well, aren't ;-) *The Hobbit was far worse*cough*
Astonishingly, I think you gave the game *too much* credit; the "Lord of the Hunt" DLC establishes that Talion and Torvin the Dwarf first met around T.A. 2940; in-game, this is after both the attack on the Black Gate by the Black Captains, and after Talion first meets Gollum, which pretty starkly contradicts the timeline of the books
There are, as previously stated, many discrepancies between Shadow of Mordor and the works of Professor Tolkien himself. So, in the strictest sense, it is entirely non-canonical.
However, one thing that Tolkien explicitly intended was for other artists or writers (fellow "sub-creators," as Tolkien would call them, just as he called himself) in succeeding generations would continue to expand the mythology for which he had laid the groundwork. He saw Arthurian legend as somewhat derivative of French legend, and felt that England should have its own cultural equivalent to Greek or Celtic mythology, which did indeed change as it was retold, expanded and altered by numerous hands over centuries. However, though Prifessor Tolkien expressed that desire openly, he did bequeath absolutely all authority to his works to his son Christopher to continue or discontinue as he saw fit.
Somewhat oddly, Christopher felt quite strongly that his father's work should not be expanded or altered in form, and has been very much displeased with the licensing of Middle Earth. So, in spirit of Professor Tolkien's wishes, you could call Shadow of Mordor arguably canon insofar as it is a retelling and expansion of the world of Arda. But, in the stricter terms of the Tolkien Estate, it should be regarded as entirely non-canon.
That being said, one can make an argument for many (though not all) basis premises for the game.
Elves, generally speaking, can only be "killed" in combat, as they do not age or die as men do. Upon death, they return to the Halls of Mandos. They also never truly cease to exist, but fade into a sort of non-corporeal "oneness" with Arda over time. However, there is arguably a precedent in Tolkien's own works for the full resurrection of an Elf, in the case of Glorfindel. I say arguably because the idea appears in Tolkien's later notes, but it was still only an idea at the time of his death, not established lore.
The first Glorfindel dies in combat with a Balrog at the time of the Fall of Gondolin. However, he had found favor with the Valar, who restored him to life and granted him powers nearly equal to those of the Maiar. Glorfindel reappears in the Fellowship of the Ring. There's some dispute as to whether or not they should be considered one and the same, due to the fact that Professor Tolkien was undecided on this aspect of the story at the time of his death. Still, it shows that the idea is not totally precluded, as it was at the very least a matter of serious consideration by Tolkien. So, Celebrembor could theoretically exist after his death on Arda. And, or course, wraiths are quite often mentioned in The Lord of the Rings itself, in the form of the Barrow-wights and the Nazgûl. Presumably, since Sauron was known as the Necromancer in The Hobbit, many other dead may have been raised as wraiths. Presumably, a powerful entity such as an Elf Lord, if he desired, could bring a dead man back as a wraith, though this was generally considered a dark practice of those in service to the Dark Lord, or the Dark Lord himself (there have been two - Morgoth and Sauron.)
Celebrembor was absolutely not involved in the creation of the One Ring, nor any of the other Great Rings of Power, save for the Three of the Elves. The Seven, the Nine and the One were created by Sauron alone. The Three were crafted by Celebrembor alone, and were never so much as touched by Sauron; they were uncorrupted, and while the One Ring could control them if they were revealed to Sauron, they were unique in that the One Ring could not "bring them," nor detect their presence. They were kept hidden.
In theory, anyone could wield the powers of the One, in proportion to their own power - Gandalf or Galadrial, both Ringbearers themselves, for instance, could have seized the One and commanded its powers. However, they would invariably become corrupted by it. One might even say that the One Ring IS Sauron, as he poured nearly all of his power and malice into it. So while a powerful individual may have seized it and crushed Sauron, they would, over time, essentially become Sauron.
This might be the best first answer I have ever read. Welcome to the site, and +1.
Forget the +1, you deserve a bounty. 200 points coming your way tomorrow.
The one ring was made by Sauron alone, and the three by Celebrimbor, likewise alone. However, the other rings of power were made by the dark lord and the elven smiths together.
I knew I had read somewhere about Tolkien hoping that others would expand on the mythology after him. Glad I'm not the only one who remembers that important point :-) I wonder why Christopher Tolkien is so adamant that no expansions or amendments be made to his father's works when his father himself allowed it?
I agree that it's a pity CJRT has discouraged alternate visions of the myth, in preference for a sort of consistency that his father despaired of ever reaching, as it tends to remove the mystique. But let's be grateful for the upside that 99% of all adaptation (like fan fiction, or myth) is poorly told, and not being canon, we are free to disregard all but the good examples. tl;dr there's no Brandon Sanderson :P also there's an answer on this site detailing how the seven and nine were made by the elves, for elves, with Sauron's "help" so he could exploit the technology and use it against them.
Other points worth mentioning are that several of the artifacts featured 'historically' inaccurate references. One of them referred to the two trees as though they were alive, and another mentioned the Two Trees of Valinor being a 'sign of friendship between humans and Elves' which was not the case - the White Tree of Gondor was a sign of that friendship, as was the tree of Numenor, but the two trees of Valinor were not - in fact, I don't believe that Man ever saw their light, for they came about in the dark time prior to the rising of the sun as far as my memory serves.
I'm at work so I can't compile a list of these at the moment, but these little references are also worth noting as they really show the depth of the rift between Tolkien's lore and Shadow of Mordor.
Edit: woops... meant to post this as a reply to the other answer not as its own answer, sorry about that!
Earendil the Mariner at least saw the light, as he sailed into the West with the last remaining Silmaril upon his brow.
@maguirenumber6 no the trees where long dead then. Long long dead. Really really dead.
I agree for the most part with the first answer. The game is very inconsistent, and from the look of Mordor itself, it should never be that green in Udun. Udun is quite literally Sindarin for hell. And is described as a dark, ash-choked waste. Nurn is geographically accurate, since Sauron used Nurn to supply his armies with food. But when I found out we were going to Nurn, I was disapointed to find so few farms. I did appreciate the fact that slaves were present throughout Mordor, and also the idea of wraiths. It is a stretch though that an Elf was a wraith, but I presumed that he was denied entry into Mandos. For those that believe Talion could not become a wraith, remember that the Nazgul are all wraiths too, and that it was because of Sauron that they became so. it isn't to weird to see a powerful Elf use a man at his own. Maybe Celebrimbor possessed Talion right before he died, meaning Talion is not "dead" in the technical sense. Another note I would like to make is that the powers are very accurate, since Tolkien hated the "bippity boppity boo" magic. Its not uncommon for creatures of Middle-Earth to bind others to their will, and many of Talion's powers are extensions of Celebrimbor.
IMO the story follows some details of the LOTR canon, but not the overall storyline. If you're an LOTR purist, chances are it'll annoy you a fair bit.
Celebrimbor was a wraith because
he wore the one ring at one point and went to war with sauron apparently in mordor, with an army of mind controlled orcs. He was defeated and apparently beaten to death with his own hammer. In LOTR proper he was captured in the sack of eriador, and tortured to find the location of the three
Celebrimbor was said to have chosen talion as his vessel
"Celebrimbor is your curse. He CHOSE you... And he can release you at any time. Yes, that's all you are, Ranger. A vessel for the Ring-Maker."
You're told this by the tower of sauron when you face him. Also note the ending where the hand slits his own throat to be a vessel of sauron - which is something he could have, but never did in LOTR, being more of a mover of events rather than taking a direct hand.
The previous answers are excellent, summarizing it:
-the timeline issues, the game is supposed to take place right after The Hobbit, (year 2941-2942 T.A.), Sauron returns to Mordor in 2942 in the same time Bilbo is returning to Shire with the One Ring from his quest, but the Black Land was already being prepared in secret for Dark lLord's return and managed by Nazgul (and indirectly by Sauron from afar, from his stronghold at Dol Guldur, Sauron fakes escape from attack by White Council and comes to Mordor, still in secret), Witch-king, after his realm of Angmar was defeated, though not before achieving it's goal of destruction of Arnor, arrives in Mordor gathering other Ringwraiths in...1980 year T.A., Sauron reveals himself openly in 2951 and in 2953 the Mount Doom bursts in flame and last gondorian inhabitants of Ithilien escape over Anduin.
Also the uruks of Mordor ''black orcs of great strength'' appear first OUT of Black Land, (which means they were bred there) to participate in renewed attacks on Gondor in...year 2475 T.A. in their first mission starting a devastating offensive, conquering Ithilien and destroying Osgiliath (later they were driven back). In game Gollum's arrival in Mordor is also way too early.
note: here follows the logical problem, if in the game's in-universe chronology there were no Nazgul to prepare Mordor or take over Minas Ithil then where did the uruks came from, or who killed the last king of Gondor, Earnur thus ending the southern line of kings and allowing Ruling Stewards to emerge? Of course that could be explained in various ways but it's a curious case to show that when you change one thing in intricate storyline then new problems arise that need more explaining.
(Fun fact: during the quest of Erebor and afterwards to year 2953, Gondor is ruled by 24th Ruling Steward, Turgon, father of Ecthelion II and so grandfather of Denethor II from main Lotr narrative)
-the watch on the borders of Mordor (set in Morannon the Black Gate with Towers of the Teeth: Carchost and Narchost at sides, other strongholds and outposts like Durthang, Cirith Ungol and great fortress-city of Minas Ithil, most likely other smaller posts scattered in the interior of Black Land and maybe also fortifications of Isenmouthe/Carach Angren though that's debatable, at least the northern part of Mordor had military garrisons) ceased after Great Plague in year 1640 T.A. then Mordor is left unguarded, Minas Ithil and Cirith Ungol apparently held out longer (or again taken over some time after) than other strongholds that were completely abandoned, since there must have been still a small garrison there when Nazgul took the fortress by assault after two year siege in year 2002 T.A. and tower of Cirith Ungol was taken over when: ''treachery had yielded up the tower to the Lord of the Ringwraiths"
-the ring-lore, while Celebrimbor indeed was ruler of Eregion and leader of elven smiths from brotherhood of Gwaith-i-Mirdain, it's not actually certain that he made ALL the Seven or Nine Rings of Power (with aid of Sauron), Celebrimbor made the Three in secret without Sauron's help using the knowledge he gained from him, it might be as well that the Nine and Seven were made in collaboration of various elven smiths (though that is minor point and it's simplification for the purposes of the game might be understandable), but still Sauron was present and took part in their making, also according to Gandalf, outside of 19 (20 if counting the One Ring made by Sauron alone) Great Rings there were many other 'lesser rings, mere essays in craft before it was full-grown':
"In Eregion long ago many Elven-rings were made, magic rings as you call them, and they were of course, of various kinds: some more potent and some less. The lesser rings were only essays in the craft before it was full-grown, and to the Elven-smiths they were but trifles - yet still to my mind dangerous for mortals. But the Great Rings, the Rings of Power, they were perilous."
Apparently the One Ring also looked a bit like one of those lesser rings:
'"The Nine, the Seven, and the Three", he said, "had each their proper gem. Not so the One. It was round and unadorned, as it were one of the lesser rings; but its maker set marks upon it that the skilled, maybe, could still see and read."'
-Gollum seeing the wraith and his extended knowledge is problematic, Gollum certainly could not see Bilbo (or Frodo) wearing the Ring and as it is known the invisibility effect is caused by drawing a person wearing it half into wraith world, Gollum has not yet 'faded' that is he did not become permanently invisible, he did not become a wraith so it's debatable whether he could see Celebrimbor's spirit, on the other hand the One Ring enhanced perception and allowed to gain certain insight but, Gollum while keeping it for hundreds of years, not always used or kept it on his person and finally lost it to Bilbo, he did not have the Ring in his possession and while it's influence was still strong it was nowhere as great as when he held it.
Now I am simply a lover of Tolkien and his legendarium, so I can merely give my opinion and not facts on the text.
I believe it is possible and while a lot of Warner's ideas are off, they're not all entirely unbelievable. Gollum being there would be chronologically incorrect. But the presence of wraiths (Celebrimbor) is, I believe, possible.
Magic in Tolkien's Legendarium is very obscure, however I believe it is more or less bending and shaping the music of the Ainur to one's will (I believe this due to the imposing of one's will is really what magic is and the fact that the Valar and Maia are the only ones capable of "real" magic, who also shaped the music to create the world).
I believe when Celebrimbor made the rings he bound himself into it, much like Sauron surviving due to the One Ring surviving, and by doing so his soul is trapped within Arda and not able to enter into the Halls of Mandos due to him imposing so much of himself to create such powerful rings that he is eternally bound to them and can only be set free of them when they lose their power with the destruction of the One, much like Morgoth's evil in the world (discord of the music).
Souls surviving or "coming back" happens twice, but only Mandos and Eru have the power to return souls to bodies and the "seen". Also he was of Feanor's house who were forbidden from returning to the undying lands, which included the Halls, by Mandos for Feanor's pride, arrogance & actions.
While bound to the earth and the fate of the rings he was probably drawn to the events surrounding the black hand and more than likely witnessed Talion's death; I believe that while witnessing this he came to see Talion in the "Unseen" while Talion was also partially in the "seen", and bound both the souls to Talion's body which I believe would be powerful enough to bind the body to the seen (as both would have a strong will of revenge and I believe the imposing of one's will to be magic). This would describe the ability for them to be alive, together.
I also believe that Tolkien would indeed have specified that the Black Gate was garrisoned had he not died. Strategically speaking I would not leave an "impenetrable" gate not garrisoned and Gondor did add fortifications to the gate. If you had secured a land that was impeccable for the return of a terrible foe I'm sure you would station some of your Ilithien Rangers, who are near there, on the gate to stop easy fortifications of the strongholds left there by the Ring's survival.
Arnor had been attacked by the witchking, so obviously there was still a threat and had there been a threat I'm sure Denethor, no matter how stupid, would position a guard there. So there you have my opinion on your questions.
I also believe that there would be a large back story to Sauron's return had Tolkien seen how much people were actually interested in his return, and while some things he obviously would have despised, I think the great master of our "hobby" would have been pleased with the lore that this game has added.
Well to my understanding, with respect to Tolkien's wonderful creation, the curse that Talion receives from the Black Hand could well be allowed by Eru Ilúvatar. The way I see it is that Ilúvatar knew Sauron is returning (as Ilúvatar is omniscient) and so allowed Celebrimbor and Talion to come back in such a curse. If Sauron somehow thought he had created a powerful curse such as that, as he did the ring, then it could happen. The only reason I see Ilúvatar letting that happen is only to stall Sauron in his conquest of Middle Earth and give Frodo time enough to destroy the ring.
I know this is all just me and is nowhere written or said but it still works, at least in my head.
Ilúvatar also didn't know that Morgoth was singing his own song in the Ainulindalë, thus creating evil.
I think it is very close to being canon, yet may or may not be fully. It does mention some things that seem historically incorrect however the entire Celebrimbor being a wraith does make sense; Sauron had tortured him and killed his family, his hunger for revenge and retribution coupled with Sauron's want to enslave him after death might have kept him as a wraith and
when Celebrimbor is taken into the Black Hand of Sauron at the end of the game, Talion starts to die so assuming that the wraith Celebrimbor took over his body as he lay there dying is not that hard to believe.
Sure it does miss some points but for the most part it is correct in many of the things that it describes.
To be fair I have not read the books but am an avid fan and wiki reader along with seeing the movies many many times.
The game does only show the ring already forged and being written upon by Calembubble guy (I don't like looking up strange names so they get ***bubble for a name). Calembubble is only shown writing on the ring, so it could be assumed that Sauropod forged the ring alone, but then forced Calembubble to write some fancy words upon it. Maybe Sauropod was too busy becoming a necromancer and never bothered to learn his ABC's.
This answer definitely seems to point out an element that conflicts with canon, but could benefit from being made more specific. I.E. Celebrimbor instead of Calembubble, add a quote to show that Sauron inscribed the ring in LOTR canon, etc.
"I don't like looking up strange names so they get ***bubble for a name" - I don't like laziness, so you get -1 for a vote.