10 Things To Get You Excited For The Rings Of Power Season 2

It’s not official just yet, but I think it’s pretty safe to assume that 2024 will be the year that Amazon’s The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power returns for its second season – filming had already wrapped prior to the SAG-AFTRA strikes that shut down much of Hollywood, post-production is now well underway, and there probably won’t be anywhere near as lengthy a marketing campaign as there was for the first season of the epic fantasy series, which kicked off with a Super Bowl teaser trailer months ahead of its September release to drum up anticipation for Amazon’s expensive venture into Middle-earth. Reception to the first season was mixed, with many critics and viewers praising the grand scale, breathtaking visual effects, and brilliant score, but criticizing the series’ large number of underdeveloped characters and disparate subplots, while hardcore fans of the source material, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Appendices to The Lord Of The Rings, complained of just about any divergence from the text, but in some cases understandably: certain changes came across as both needless and potentially damaging.

Benjamin Walker as Gil-galad and Robert Aramayo as Elrond in The Rings Of Power, standing side-by-side in an autumnal forest glade. Gil-galad has long brown hair worn loose, and wears a shimmering gold mantle and gold fabric bandolier. Elrond has short brown hair, and wears a dusty-green cloak and long-sleeved tunic.
Gil-galad and Elrond | looper.com

With all that said, I remain optimistic about the second season for a few reasons. Firstly, because I’m a huge fan of The Lord Of The Rings, so I will go into nearly any adaptation of the work wanting it to be good, and hoping for the best. Secondly, because the showrunners have had time and opportunity to take all of our feedback into account, and there are indications that the second season is focused on the characters and stories that fans wanted more of, including Celebrimbor, Sauron, and the Rings of Power themselves. Thirdly, and perhaps naively, because I had similar feelings about The Wheel Of Time‘s first season, and then season two came along and was just phenomenal. Thus, I present you with the ten things I’m most hyped to see from The Rings Of Power season two.

10: Celeborn

Look, I have no doubt that Bridgerton‘s Calam Lynch will be a truly endearing Celeborn, or that his romantic chemistry with Morfydd Clark’s Galadriel will be absolutely magical. But he is still playing Celeborn, who I know as the vaguely xenophobic, almost curmudgeonly character he had become by the time the Fellowship of the Ring rolled up to Caras Galadhon and met him and Galadriel at the end of the Third Age. Granted, that’s roughly three-thousand years after the events of The Rings Of Power, which is set during the Second Age, but even then, in Unfinished Tales, Celeborn is recorded as having traveled over the Misty Mountains to and from Lórien while Galadriel took the much shorter route through the underground Dwarven kingdom of Khazad-dûm, because he couldn’t stand Dwarves. Sure, his resentment towards them goes back to the Sack of Menegroth and the murder of his cousin Elu Thingol, but Thingol was denying payment to his Dwarven workers who were being commissioned to turn one of their own ancestral heirlooms, the Nauglamir, into a piece of pretty jewelry for the Elven-king. Anyway, I’m just saying that The Rings Of Power will have to actively work to make Celeborn less of a jerk, because it’s one of the few personality-traits Tolkien ever gave him (he is, essentially, what Peter Jackson’s films made Elrond out to be).

9: Politics In Khazad-Dûm

Speaking of the Dwarves, the last time we checked in on their subplot in the first season, Crown Prince Durin IV and his wife Disa were plotting to transform the isolated kingdom of Khazad-dûm into the flourishing hub of trade and commerce we know it will become, if only briefly. As long as Durin’s stalwart father Durin III is seated on the throne, they can’t do much, but that’s where I think the legendary Dwarven craftsman Narvi (to be played by Shadow And Bone‘s Kevin Eldon) will enter the picture in season two, as an influential ally to the Prince and Princess. Tolkien tells us that Narvi became a close friend of Celebrimbor and with his help designed the password-sealed doors that would protect Khazad-dûm’s secrets for many centuries after their deaths and the kingdom’s destruction from within. I think it’s highly likely that in the show, Narvi will also assist Celebrimbor in the forging of seven Rings of Power for the Dwarves, and in their distribution to the great lords representing each of the seven Dwarven clans. But it will be the ambitious and forward-thinking Durin IV on whose finger he places a Ring, the very Ring that would later be passed down to Thrór, the father of Thorin Oakenshield, and ripped away from him after much torment in the pits of Dol Guldur, to join the bouquet of stolen rings on Sauron’s hand.

8: Mithril

Mithril is a bit of a controversial topic in the Tolkien fandom nowadays, thanks to The Rings Of Power‘s bizarre invention of an admittedly apocryphal, plothole-ridden origin story for the precious metal, involving a Silmaril, a Balrog, an unnamed Elven warrior, and a tree growing in the Misty Mountains. Don’t even ask. It’s a hard sell, but I’m ready to accept that mithril (in the show; this is nowhere implied in the books) contains a reflection of the purifying light of a Silmaril, and could therefore slow or halt the erosion of Elvendom for a time. Obviously not forever, because, well…we know it doesn’t, but maybe the Elves could scrape by for a few extra years by adorning themselves and their abodes in mithril. So that’s what I want to see. I want the paranoid obsession with this metal’s supposed death-defying properties to have fully set in, and for Elven lords like Gil-galad and Celebrimbor to be pleading with the Dwarves to supply them with more, threatening them with war or blockade if they do not. The light of the Silmarils inspired in the Elves an insatiable lust that drove them to defy the Valar and chase Morgoth halfway across Middle-earth – the effects of mithril will have to be almost as ruinous if I’m to believe they’re one and the same. Also, I just don’t want the costume designers to miss the opportunity to dress all the Elves head-to-toe in mithril‘s radiance.

7: Pelargir

Jumping across the map for a moment, the Númenórean outpost of Pelargir is mentioned near the end of the first season as the next destination for Arondir, Bronwyn, Theo, and the displaced citizens of the Southlands, now Mordor. It’s one of the oldest cities of Men in Middle-earth, predating Osgiliath, Minas Anor (later Minas Tirith), and Minas Ithil (later Minas Morgul). The city sits at a literal and figurative crossroads between the lands of Harad and Khand in the southeast, Númenor in the distant southwest, Mordor in the east, and the lands of Elves in the northwest. It’s going to be a very different environment than what Bronwyn and her son Theo are used to, and I strongly suspect that they’ll end up entangled in the burgeoning conflict between the Númenórean colonizers and the oppressed “Low Men” of Middle-earth. And Sauron’s human form, Halbrand, still believed to be the rightful “King of the Southlands”, will almost surely waltz in at some point and drop the match that starts a firestorm.

6: Númenórean Imperialism

On that note, let’s talk more broadly about the subject of Númenórean imperialism in Middle-earth. Now, one major downside to The Rings Of Power compressing the timeline of the entire Second Age into the span of a single human character’s lifetime, as I’m sure I’ve talked about before, is that we lose the profound sense of the massive scale of Númenor’s empire-building efforts; how long it took them to become a superpower and how long they clung to that power through increasingly brutal methods as successive generations of kings and queens, each one more fearful of death and resentful of the immortal Elves than the one before, took out their anger on those they deemed inferior to themselves just to assure themselves they still could. In The Rings Of Power, all of this history and nuance will have to be crammed into the space of a few years at most, and it gives the show an excuse I hope they don’t take to place the blame for Númenor’s degradation squarely on Ar-Pharazôn, rather than on Númenor itself. Ar-Pharazôn is a symptom of the problem. The problem is Númenórean exceptionalism and racism – which is never treated, and reemerges in the kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor that sprang up after Númenor’s eventual downfall. I’m not particularly confident that The Rings Of Power will address these subjects directly, but I would be ecstatic if it did, and did so well.

5: The Faithful vs The King’s Men

Trystan Gravelle as Pharazon striding ahead of Leon Wadham as Kemen through a courtyard with stone pillars. Pharazon is wearing a dark red cape over a dark blue robe with a large gold belt and sash made of gold metal discs. He has long graying hair and a beard. Kemen wears an orange cape over a light-brown robe, and has short brown hair.
Pharazon and Kemen | comingsoon.net

Something I know will be addressed is the divide within Númenor between the followers of Ar-Pharazôn, named the King’s Men, and the so-called Faithful led by Elendil and Tar-Míriel, who wish to reestablish ancient bonds of friendship with the Elves and assist them in their fight against Sauron. I will say something possibly controversial here and point out that while the King’s Men are very much pro-imperialism, the Faithful aren’t exactly anti-imperialism, and ultimately take a very similar approach to dealing with the Men of Middle-earth as the King’s Men, but that’s a whole separate topic and I seriously don’t trust The Rings Of Power to touch on that idea at all. Elendil and Míriel’s joint struggle is not about grappling with the fact that the Faithful are no better, but about accepting the incalculable sacrifices that the way of the Faithful demands – which is also a valid central theme for this subplot, and vaguely more religious.

4: Rhûn

One of the earliest promises made by Rings Of Power showrunners Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne was to more fully explore the lands of Middle-earth that bleed off the sides of the map J.R.R. Tolkien drew and to which he generally constrained the scope of his stories – the lands of Harad, Far Harad, Khand, and Rhûn. Everything that Tolkien wrote about these places and their inhabitants, even combined, is barely enough to fill a single page, as well as being vague and carrying some racist undertones (the question of whether Tolkien was racist has been debated for decades in fandom and academic circles, and is probably impossible to answer definitively – but what is inarguable is that he had the blind-spots typical of even the most well-intentioned Western European white man born in the 19th Century whose primary literary influences growing up would have been mostly other Western European white men). Anyway, I can’t wait to see Rhûn for the first time onscreen alongside Elanor Brandyfoot and the Stranger in season two. The places they visit and the people they meet there will obviously have to be entirely original inventions of the writers, but this is one area of Tolkien’s legendarium that is long overdue for expansion and some revision in the process.

3: Nine Mortal Men Doomed To Die

It’s ironic, given how significant the Rings of Power are to the overarching story of Middle-earth’s Second and Third Ages, that we know so little about most of the Ringbearers. The Three Rings, as we all know, were given out to the wisest and most powerful Elven lords; Gil-galad, Galadriel, and Círdan the Shipwright (who could have been a whole separate entry on this list). The Seven Rings, as mentioned previously, were distributed amongst the mostly unnamed leaders of the seven Dwarven clans. And the Nine Rings were gifted to just about anybody. Okay, so canonically we know they were given to human kings, sorcerers, and warriors, three of whom were Númenórean lords (probably governors of Númenórean colonies in Middle-earth). One was from Rhûn and was named Khamûl (but that name only appears in Unfinished Tales, so Amazon probably doesn’t have permission to use it). The foremost among them was a powerful sorcerer, and probably one of the three Numenoreans, who would go on to become the Witch-king of Angmar (possibly, but not necessarily, indicating a prior connection to that northern region of Middle-earth, which was never a Númenórean colony as far as I’m aware). As these Ringbearers were all personally selected by Sauron with the intention of corrupting them, it is very likely they were chosen for their unique susceptibility to the Shadow. So who among the ensemble cast of The Rings Of Power is a future Ringbearer and Nazgûl? Ar-Pharazôn’s non-canonical, weak-willed son Kemen is a particularly strong candidate, as is Bronwyn’s angsty son Theo – and frankly, Bronwyn herself. Some fans would predictably throw a fit over one of the Nazgûl being a woman, but the Ring-verse refers to Galadriel as an “Elven-king”, and Tolkien used the capitalized word “Men” as an umbrella term for human men and women, so the loophole is there if the writers want to exploit it.

2: Celebrimbor

We didn’t get to see much of him in season one, but I’ve warmed up to Charles Edwards’ characterization of the Elven-smith Celebrimbor. In personality, physical appearance, and demeanor, he’s certainly not at all like the Celebrimbor I picture in my head while reading, but he’s valid, and I actually like him quite a bit now that I think I get what the show is going for with him. That being said, we do need more of him. The story of the Rings of Power is as much his story as it is Galadriel’s or Elrond’s, more so even than either of those characters, and yet the adaptation currently has him relegated to drifting in and out of the peripheries of the tale. I hope that Celebrimbor is spotlighted in season two, because it’s not just that he deserves it, as the literal maker of the Rings of Power, it’s that the show is speed-running through the events of the Second Age so fast that, uh, we may not have much time left with him after this season…if any. There’s a lot to get through, the distribution of the Three Rings, the forging of the Seven and the Nine Rings, the partnership with Narvi and the alliance with Khazad-dûm – and on top of all that, we still don’t actually know Celebrimbor very well in the context of the show, so it would be nice to have some flashbacks or even exposition that gave us more insight into his motives.

1: Annatar

Aerial shot of Sauron and Galadriel's reflections in clear water, silhouetted against the pale sun. Sauron is taller, wearing armor and a crown. Galadriel's hair is unbound, and she wears a white long-sleeved gown. Their faces are shadowy.
Sauron and Galadriel | nerdist.com

You knew he had to be number one, didn’t you? After taking the form of a scruffy human man named Halbrand throughout the first season, the shapeshifter Sauron will reportedly return with at least two different actors jointly playing the part – Charlie Vickers reprising the role of Halbrand, and Gavi Singh Chera, according to Fellowship Of Fans, appearing in both flashbacks and in Eregion alongside Celebrimbor as the “ethereal”, presumably more Elven-looking original form of the character – which I will go out on a short limb and say is very likely The Rings Of Power‘s amalgamation of Sauron’s angelic first form, Mairon, and the similar fair form he took while dealing with  the Elves of Eregion, named Annatar. The latter name only appears in Unfinished Tales and other books to which Amazon does not have the rights, but is apparently being used in some capacity on the series, whether only behind-the-scenes or in dialogue (it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve managed this somehow; they used the name Armenelos in season one, despite it only appearing in The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales). Not only am I excited for the Annatar storyline to play out, even if it is heavily abbreviated, in general I’m just extremely hyped for another actor’s interpretation of Sauron. The character’s shapeshifting was something I was missing in the first season, and while I’m not familiar with his work, Gavi Singh Chera definitely has the looks and the poise.

The Rings Of Power is such a massive series that I could honestly keep going and going (I didn’t even get to talk about Adar! Expanded storylines for the Orcs! The Mystics! Isildur stranded in Mordor! Aldarion!), but I limited this list to just ten entries. Anyway, I want to hear what’s on your lists now. Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

Prepare For “The Rings Of Power” With A Silmarillion Summary


Middle-earth’s recorded history is divided up into four segments, each universally recognized and referred to as an “Age” of the world. The beginnings and endings of any given Age are determined not by a person or even a group of people, but by all peoples…for every Age has its own antagonist, a manifestation of evil so great it requires a coalition of Middle-earth’s inhabitants to defeat or eradicate forever, and when that happens, the reckoning of years resets to zero and history is allowed to flow inexorably onwards towards the last confrontation of god and devil in which Middle-earth itself will be unmade and a new one, a better one, will take its place.

Rings Of Power
The Years of the Trees | slashfilm.com

The events depicted in Amazon’s upcoming series, The Rings Of Power, took place during the latter half of the Second Age, which ran on for three-thousand, four-hundred and forty-one years before ending abruptly with the defeat of Sauron by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, at which point the Third Age began. Another three-thousand years after that, the Third Age ended with the downfall of Sauron in the War of the Ring (as told in The Lord Of The Rings), which immediately preceded the beginning of the Fourth Age. Importantly, the Fourth Age did not officially begin until a few years after Sauron’s downfall, when Galadriel, Elrond, and most of the High Elves in Middle-earth finally departed into the west and permitted the human race to take back the lands they had been occupying for centuries.

But today, we look back to a time before the beginnings of the Fourth, Third, or Second Ages, long before the Rings of Power were forged in Eregion and longer still before they were depowered or destroyed, a time known as the First Age…although in truth the First Age did not officially begin until there was a sun and a moon in the sky to make the reckoning of years easier for Men and Elves, and our story begins even further back, before there was a sun or a moon, before they had even been conceived of by their divine creators. Further back, and further back, through the Years of the Trees to the Years of the Lamps and to a time before time was measured.

The story of the First Age and the eons which preceded it is recounted in The Silmarillion – a collection of stories and legends published after J.R.R. Tolkien’s death by his youngest son, Christopher, who made it his life’s mission to track down all of his father’s scattered notes and stitch them together to form a somewhat cohesive narrative. Fair warning, even in its published form, The Silmarillion isn’t the most accessible entry-point into Tolkien’s legendarium. It’s a small book, but dense. It also includes information pertinent to Amazon’s The Rings Of Power, information that I shall do my best to highlight as I undertake today’s arduous task of summarizing The Silmarillion‘s contents for casual fans, or for anyone who doesn’t have the time or inclination to read the book but still wants to get the most out of The Rings Of Power.

(Quick disclaimer for all the hardcore fans out there, I will be referencing the published, “Flat-World” Silmarillion…and not the “Round-World” Silmarillion which J.R.R. Tolkien sketched out towards the end of his life, for two reasons; one being that the “Round-World” Silmarillion is a rough first draft of a story inconsistent with almost everything else in Tolkien’s legendarium, and lacking the polish it needed to withstand scrutiny; and the other being that the “Round-World” Silmarillion hinges on the rape of Arien, charioteer of the sun, and something about that just doesn’t sit right with me).

The First War

Before sun and moon, before the Trees or the Lamps or the kindling of the stars, the inhabitants of Middle-earth had no methods by which to measure the natural passage of time. However, because the sole inhabitants of Middle-earth were ageless immortal gods (divided into two classes; the Valar, or angelic powers, and the Maiar, or lesser spirits), they got along just fine using their own unique and incomprehensible system of Valian Years. In any case, they had bigger things to worry about. Melkor (later known as Morgoth by the Elves), one of the most powerful Valar in existence, sought to destroy the world while it was still fragile, and with an army of corrupted Maiar at his back he posed a formidable threat to the divine plan of the Valar. Although he could only tear down what others had built before him, the First Enemy kept the Valar engaged in an endless cycle of ruin and renewal that left them exhausted.

With the help of a young god named Tulkas, the Valar finally drove Melkor to the shadowy margins of Middle-earth where he could not trouble them for a time. To commemorate their victory, they erected two great towers – one in the far north, the other in the far south – and placed lamps in these towers to banish all shadows from the world. Where the light of the two lamps touched, there was a blessed land named Almaren, and the Valar dwelt here briefly. But the Years of the Lamps ended when Melkor returned out of the darkness, toppled the great towers, and spilled their fire across the verdant surface of Middle-earth until Almaren was utterly destroyed. Accepting their defeat, the Valar then retreated beyond the mountains of the Pelóri to a land separated from Middle-earth by a vast ocean – a land which they named Valinor.

Here, the Valar once again exerted their energy to bring forth two magnificent trees, Laurelin and Telperion, which emanated gold and silver light from their leaves, respectively. This light purified the land and cleansed it of all evil, but it could not escape through the mountains which encircled Valinor. Several of the Valar were not content with hiding behind walls while Melkor wreaked havoc in Middle-earth, and they stole out secretly to combat him or subverted him in other ways. Varda, the queen of the Valar, collected the dew of the Two Trees and scattered it across the sky, creating stars which pierced the dark clouds surrounding Middle-earth. Melkor hated the stars, and he hated Varda most of all the Valar.

The Awakening Of The Elves

Rings Of Power
Elves in Middle-earth | cnn.com

By the shores of Lake Cuiviénen in the far east of Middle-earth, the Elves were born first of all the Free Peoples. Their arrival had long been anticipated by the Valar…and by Melkor, who saw an opportunity to throw the divine plan into chaos if he slaughtered the Elves or ruined them as he ruined all things which he touched. Therefore, he sent his servants out into the wilderness to find the place of their awakening. The Elves had no weapons of their own with which to defend themselves, but they were unknowingly protected by the light of the stars.

Still, when the Valar finally found them, they insisted that the Elves come to Valinor where their safety could be ensured. Many followed the Valar out of fear of Melkor, though nearly as many stayed, or turned back, or were lost along the way for various reasons. One of these was Elu Thingol, a king of the Elves who was leading his people westward from Cuiviénen when he stumbled across Melian, a sorceress of the Maiar, in the woods of Nan Elmoth. They were instantly so enamored by each other that neither was able to move or speak for years, and many of Thingol’s people continued without him. When he and Melian finally emerged out of Nan Elmoth hand-in-hand, they found a few Elves still waiting for them and these became the subjects of Thingol and Melian’s realm in the hidden woods of Doriath, protected by Melian’s magic.

Those who made it to Valinor at long last were allowed to dwell wherever they wished within its confines or along its coasts, and they basked in the blessed light of the Two Trees…for which they were known as the Calaquendi or Light-elves, while those who never made it to Valinor were named the Moriquendi or Dark-elves, because they chose to remain in the darkness of Middle-earth. The rift between the Calaquendi and the Moriquendi was never small, but it only widened throughout the First Age.

The Years Of The Trees

In Valinor, the Calaquendi became further divided into smaller subgroups – the most significant being the Noldor (Deep-elves), who dwelt in the city of Tirion in Valinor’s only mountain pass, the Vanyar (Fair-elves), who settled on the slopes of Valinor’s highest mountain, Taniquetil, and the Falmari (Wave-folk), who lived by the shores of the Sundering Sea and on various islands just off the coast of Valinor. The Noldor were great craftspeople, smiths, jewelers, sculptors, alchemists, architects, and drivers of technological progress – they learned much from Aulë, blacksmith of the Valar. The Vanyar were primarily poets and singers, and they were loyal disciples of Varda and her husband, Manwë, who lived at the summit of Taniquetil. The Falmari revered Ulmo, lord of the seas, and they were shipwrights and mariners with a gift for music.

The greatest of the Noldor was Fëanor, the circumstances of whose birth were…complicated. His father Finwë was High King of the Noldor, and his mother Míriel was a talented embroiderer – but in giving birth to Fëanor, her first and only child, Míriel spent so much of her energy that her spirit fled from her body shortly afterwards and refused to return, though Finwë and the Valar begged her to return. Hers was the first natural death in Valinor, and it caused the Elves great consternation. Finwë eventually remarried to Indis of the Vanyar and had several more children, but Fëanor resented his stepmother and stepsiblings, and wished them harm for their influence on his father.

His was no Cinderella story, however, for Fëanor’s stepsiblings were by all accounts lovely people, and they and their children were among the great heroes of the First Age. Fingolfin, and his sons Fingon and Turgon, were all mighty warriors and statesmen. Finarfin, his son Finrod, and his daughter Galadriel, were both wise and strong. I’m sure that Írimë and Findis, Finwë’s daughters, had their own virtuous traits, but all we know about Írimë is that she later joined the Rebellion of the Noldor, and we’ll probably never find out what happened to her because Tolkien didn’t make a point of recording women’s deeds in Middle-earth.

I’m getting ahead of myself. In Valinor, during the Years of the Trees, family reunions could occasionally get a little tense but Fëanor and his seven sons usually avoided their stepfamily entirely and spent their time working on various projects – including the creation of the Tengwar alphabet, the far-seeing palantíri, and the Silmarils. The Silmarils were Fëanor’s most prized possession, for within these three radiant gemstones he had captured some of the light of the Two Trees and there it remained forever undimmed while the Years of the Trees themselves drew swiftly to a close.

The Theft Of The Silmarils

Rings Of Power
Shelob, spawn of Ungoliant | cjlockett.com

Remember Melkor? The Valar sure did, and while they were busy organizing the evacuation of the Elven population of Middle-earth, they were simultaneously ripping apart the lands vacated or soon-to-be-vacated by the Elves in their search for Melkor. When they found him, cowering in the underground fortress of Utumno, they threw him in chains and dragged him back to Valinor…only for the lord of the Valar, Manwë, to take mercy on him and decree that he should be allowed to roam freely throughout Valinor in the hopes that the light of the Two Trees would cleanse the evil from him. It did not. It only made Melkor angrier and more hateful and envious of the Valar when he saw all that they had created that he could not ruin with his touch, and he detested the Elves because their very presence in Valinor was a testament to his failure.

And yet, Melkor correctly perceived that there were cracks in the cheery façade of Valinor, ones that could grow to become gaping rifts. Going amongst the Elves, he spread scurrilous rumors that the sons of Finwë were plotting against each other, knowing full well how Fëanor and Fingolfin would react when these rumors reached their ears, as they soon did. Fingolfin became protective of his family, and began forging weapons and armor in case the need should ever arise for him to fight, while Fëanor became equally as protective of the Silmarils he had made, and he personally locked them away in the northern stronghold of Formenos. The two quarreled in the streets of Tirion, and at one point even drew blades on each other. Fëanor hated Melkor, but knew not that he played into the dark lord’s hands by acting irrationally out of fear and anger.

The Valar, on the other hand, realized at once that Melkor was behind all of this, and they went to capture him – only to find that he had seemingly fled from Valinor back to Middle-earth by way of a land-bridge in the far north. In truth, he had crept away into the lands south of Valinor, where he sought out the ancient spider goddess Ungoliant, who fed on light itself. They conspired together to obtain the light of the Two Trees, which Melkor hated and Ungoliant hungered for – and as part of their deal, Melkor even promised her the light of the Silmarils.

They waited until the next reunion of Finwë’s sons to make their move, for Melkor knew that Fëanor was still in a fragile state of mind and would lash out in anger once he heard what had been done. Fëanor was actually in an uncharacteristically good mood when the day started, and even shook Fingolfin’s hand. But while they were partying, Melkor and Ungoliant returned to Valinor and approached the Two Trees. Melkor made deep incisions in their trunks, and Ungoliant drank from them until the Trees withered and died, and their light was sucked from the sky. The Elves and the Valar panicked in the sudden darkness, and by the time they had found their way to the green mound where the Trees had grown, Melkor and Ungoliant had already struck their next target – Formenos.

There, Melkor slew Finwë, High King of the Noldor, and he took the Silmarils for himself. He refused to feed them to Ungoliant as he had promised, and in her frustration she stung him and wrapped him in webs, and attempted to devour him alive – luckily for him, he screamed so loudly that a pack of Balrogs heard him and came to his aid. Ungoliant fled into the far south of Middle-earth, stopping just long enough to spawn a couple hundred-thousand equally repulsive offspring – including Shelob, the spider who guarded Mordor in the late Third Age – before eating herself in desperation. Melkor, however, returned to his old fortresses in Middle-earth and hunkered down, waiting for the Elves to carry out the next part of his plan.

The Rebellion Of The Noldor

When Fëanor learned about the theft of the Silmarils and the death of his father, he was filled with rage. He declared himself High King of the Noldor on the spot (although most of the Noldor rejected him, and claimed Fingolfin as their king), and gave Melkor the name Morgoth (“Black Foe”) which was used ever afterwards. The Noldor weren’t overly fond of Fëanor, but they hated Morgoth more in this moment and they all wanted revenge for the senseless killing of the Trees. And Fëanor offered them an opportunity for vengeance that the Valar would have denied them – to leave Valinor and pursue Morgoth into Middle-earth, and take back the Silmarils by force.

The very idea of going to war – against one of the Valar, no less – was unfamiliar to the Elves who had mostly lived sheltered lives in Valinor under the care of the gods, but none could deny that the Valar had failed to protect them this time, and might again. So they followed Fëanor, and left. It was a spontaneous decision, and one that many would come to regret in later years, but at the time it seemed like the only option available to them. Of Finwë’s children, only Finarfin and Findis remained in Valinor…and all of Finarfin’s children went with Fëanor, Galadriel most eagerly. She didn’t even care about the Silmarils necessarily, she just wanted to see Middle-earth.

The Valar were not too happy about any of this, and repeatedly warned the Elves that they would be following Fëanor into exile – and maybe, if they had promised to take action against Morgoth right then and there, while he was still weak from his fight with Ungoliant and his armies were untested, many tragedies could have been avoided and the Elves would have agreed to stay. But they chose to mourn ineffectively over the withered stumps of the Two Trees while Morgoth gathered his strength. So the Elves kept walking.

Eventually, they got tired of walking and Fëanor suggested that they borrow some ships from the Falmari who lived in Alqualondë on the eastern coast of Valinor. The Falmari told him to get lost, but Fëanor was pretty set on the idea by now and he wanted to teach the Falmari a lesson for getting in between him and his precious Silmarils, so he and his sons crept into the havens of Alqualondë and attempted to steal the ships. The Falmari resisted, swords were drawn, and the blood of Elves was spilled by Elves for the first time. This terrible moment was referred to as the Kinslaying.

At last, the Falmari were defeated and Fëanor took their ships – although many of his followers refused to board them, out of shame. Galadriel and Finrod, whose mother was Falmari, even helped defend Alqualondë during the Kinslaying. But they could not turn back and face the judgement of the Valar, so they continued along the shores of Valinor, marching parallel to Fëanor and his sons in their stolen ships. Fëanor had never liked Galadriel, and he was probably wary she would betray him to his doom, so when they reached the cold northern wastelands of the world he took the ships and set out across the ocean with his sons, leaving most of the Noldor stranded on the beaches. They followed, by way of an aforementioned land-bridge. Many perished, but Galadriel and Finrod were as strong-willed as Fëanor and they refused to turn back.

The War Of The Jewels Begins

Rings Of Power
Galadriel and Halbrand in the Sundering Sea | radiotimes.com

Upon reaching Middle-earth, almost the first thing that Fëanor did was rush headfirst into battle and get himself killed by a Balrog. It is quite possibly one of the most anticlimactic deaths in all of fantasy literature, and that is its tragedy. If Fëanor had been content to make weapons and not to wield them, he would probably have devised machines capable of shredding Morgoth’s armies and obliterating his fortifications within a few years. Mind you, whatever temporary peace such weapons brought about would likely have been outweighed by the far more devastating consequences of their creation…but anyway, I’m getting distracted by “what if?” scenarios.

Though Fëanor was dead, hope was not yet lost. For soon thereafter, the Sun and Moon rose out of Valinor into the sky (which until that point was dark and dotted with stars, as you may remember), and Morgoth’s armies fled before the bright lights in the sky. You see, all that time spent weeping over tree-stumps had finally paid off for the Valar as they were able to resurrect a single fruit of Laurelin and a single flower of Telperion that both contained a faint remnant of their light, and these they placed in vessels crafted by Aulë, and these were then given to the Maiar Arien and Tilion to carry across the sky for all eternity.

With the first sunrise, the Elves in Middle-earth began to measure time in days, and the First Age officially began. They never loved the sun as they did the stars and the memory of the True Light, but they were thankful for it – and none more so than Galadriel and Finrod, and all those whom Fëanor had left to die in the far north, for warmed by the sun’s rays they marched on with renewed vigor and determination, and they came at last into Middle-earth and found that Morgoth’s armies were afraid of the sun and fled before them. Fingolfin, now recognized by all as High King of the Noldor, made it all the way to the gates of Morgoth’s fortress city, Angband, before stopping to rest.

A mere sixty years later, with the help of Fëanor’s eldest son Maedhros, Fingolfin defeated Morgoth’s forces in Dagor Aglareb (“The Glorious Battle”). He slaughtered his enemies so thoroughly that Morgoth could not – and would not – attempt open assault against him for hundreds of years afterwards, instead relying on Elves under his bewitchment to break the Long Peace and the Siege of Angband while he cowered underground and worked on new evils.

The Long Peace

Behind the walls and fortresses built by Fingolfin to watch Angband day and night, the Elves under his protection flourished in the lands of Beleriand…and if that name doesn’t sound familiar, it’s probably because it’s not on the map of Middle-earth in The Lord Of The Rings. Well, pieces of it are, but none of the kingdoms established by the Elves during the Long Peace, none of their cities and high towers, none of their villages and farms…nothing but memories of a time when the Elves thought, naively perhaps, that they could build something lasting in Middle-earth.

It’s around this time that most of the major players in The Silmarillion went their separate ways. Fingolfin and his son Fingon settled in the cold gray hills of Hithlum, where they could most easily guard the northern entrances to Beleriand. Fingon’s brother, Turgon, constructed the city of Gondolin in a hidden valley east of Hithlum, walled by mountains. Galadriel went to Doriath, seeking instruction from Melian of the Maiar, and soon became a capable sorceress in her own right. Finrod carved out the city of Nargothrond in the cliffs overlooking the River Narog, with help from the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains.

Finrod had a gift for communicating with the other Free Peoples of Middle-earth. He was not the first Elf to enlist the help of the Dwarves in building and delving (Thingol had already done so), but he was one of the few who remained on good terms with the Dwarves and never cheated or deceived those who worked for him. Indeed, much like his sister Galadriel he appears to have viewed the Dwarves as powerful allies in the fight against Morgoth. He was also the first Noldor Elf and the first of the Calaquendi in general to encounter Men wandering in Beleriand, and he befriended them at once. A human man named Bëor even lived with him in Nargothrond for many years (and history will say they were roommates).

The meeting of Finrod and Bëor is a crucial moment in the histories of Middle-earth, establishing the close relationship between Elves and Men that endured throughout the First Age and well into the Second. Finrod ensured that Bëor’s people were given lands of their own, and they received the protection of the Elves in exchange for their aid in maintaining the Long Peace. These Men became the first Elf-friends.

Dagor Bragollach

Rings Of Power
Finrod at Dagor Bragollach | inverse.com

Almost four-hundred years after the Dagor Aglareb, Morgoth had his vengeance on the Elves for the humiliation they had caused him. A river of molten fire spewed forth from Angband’s open gates, flowing across northern Beleriand until it crashed against the walls and fortifications that Fingolfin had built. Breaking the Siege of Angband, Morgoth’s forces slaughtered the Elven guards that had long stood watch, and the Elven commanders were separated from their troops in the chaos. Finrod would have been killed, had not one of Bëor’s descendants, a man named Barahir, intervened to save his life.

This was the Dagor Bragollach (“Battle of Sudden Flame”), and it marked the end of the Long Peace that Fingolfin had worked so hard to maintain. As the High King of the Noldor looked out from the hills of Hithlum and watched Morgoth’s forces gaining ground in Beleriand, mowing down armies of Men and Elves as they came, he despaired. Waiting for no counsel, he rode to the gates of Angband and challenged Morgoth to a duel that he did not hope to win. Morgoth came, and flailed at him with the Hammer of the Underworld, Grond, but for a while Fingolfin evaded his heavy blows. He stabbed Morgoth repeatedly, until he stumbled in exhaustion, and then Morgoth crushed him underfoot.

Upon Fingolfin’s death, his son Fingon became High King of the Noldor, but the Noldor had been scattered far and wide across lands overrun by orcs and other fell beasts as they fled before the fires of Angband. Men, too, had been forced out of their lands and now sought refuge in the homes of their Elven friends. One of these was Beren.

Beren And Lúthien

Beren, son of Barahir, came to the hidden woods of Doriath a few years after the Dagor Bragollach and somehow passed through the magical barriers which Melian had put in place to safeguard her kingdom. There, he came upon Melian and Thingol’s daughter, Lúthien Tinúviel, dancing in a glade, and fell in love with her at first sight. After spending a few days with him in the forest, Lúthien led him back to the underground city of Menegroth where she and her family dwelt, and there Beren declared that he intended to marry Lúthien if she would have him. No Elf and human had ever wedded before, but Lúthien would have agreed right then and there had not Thingol interrupted.

Thingol informed Beren that if he really wanted Lúthien’s hand in marriage, he would first have to go to Angband and pry one of the three Silmarils from Morgoth’s iron crown. Thingol knew this was impossible, Beren knew it was impossible, everyone knew it was impossible. But for love of Lúthien, Beren set out from Menegroth at once. He sought the aid of Finrod, who was a master of disguises, and together they traveled disguised as orcs across Beleriand until they were accosted near the Isle of Werewolves, where Morgoth’s lieutenant Sauron dwelt. Sauron was a far greater sorcerer than Finrod, and he quickly stripped their disguises away.

But what neither Sauron nor Finrod realized was that another sorcerer approached, and she was greater than any of them. For Lúthien Tinúviel had run away from Menegroth to follow Beren into peril, and she came to Tol Sirion and used her own magic to defeat Sauron and tear down his fortress brick-by-brick. She was too late to save Finrod, who died in Beren’s arms, but together they carried the Elven king’s body out into the sunlight and laid him to rest in a cairn (Galadriel apparently visits this location in The Rings Of Power, although Amazon probably doesn’t have the rights to tell the full story of Finrod’s death).

Using Lúthien’s magic to disguise themselves as a werewolf and a vampire, respectively, Beren and Lúthien together came to Angband and passed through the gates, becoming the first of the Free Peoples to do so of their own volition. Lúthien then sang before the throne of Morgoth, and with her power alone caused the Dark Lord’s head to bow and his eyes to close, sending him toppling to the ground. Beren pried a single Silmaril from his crown (he tried for all three, but his knife broke), and they just barely escaped before Morgoth awoke from his slumber. But the wolf guarding the gates of Angband lunged at Beren and ripped off his hand which carried the Silmaril, swallowing the precious jewel.

Returning to Menegroth, Beren declared that technically he was still holding the Silmaril in his hand – and Thingol had never said his hand needed to be attached to his body. At this point, Thingol realized that nothing he did or said would ever prevent Beren and Lúthien from being together, so he permitted them to be married. And in the end, he got the Silmaril he had originally asked for – because the wolf came back, searching for Beren, and though he was fatally injured in the ensuing fight, he lived long enough to slice open the wolf’s stomach, reach in, and pull out the bloody Silmaril which he placed in Thingol’s hand.

But when Lúthien felt her husband die, she went alone to the underworld and sang another song – this time a song of love unbreakable which moved Mandos, the god of the dead, to tears. He allowed Beren to live again and be with Lúthien, and they remained together for many years until the time of Beren’s death could no longer be postponed, and then Lúthien chose to become a mortal woman and die alongside him, so that they would never be parted. The Silmaril which Beren had brought back from Angband remained in Menegroth, where Thingol hoarded it.

The End Of The War Of The Jewels

Rings Of Power
A Balrog in the Third Age | ranker.com

Fingon died a mere sixteen years after ascending to the throne, in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad (Battle of Unnumbered Tears), making his brother Turgon High King of the Noldor – although by this time most of the Noldor in Beleriand had fled to havens and refugee-camps on the shores of the Sundering Sea, far beyond Turgon’s jurisdiction as King of Gondolin. He would not leave the hidden city and risk endangering its peace, so while he avoided capture by Morgoth he did very little to help his people. Círdan the Shipwright, who protected the seaside havens, was no warrior, and Galadriel, who could probably have mustered the Noldor under her banner if she so desired, had already departed Beleriand and ventured further east into Middle-earth.

One by one, the kingdoms of the Elves fell – and not all to Morgoth, although he benefited from each loss they suffered. In Doriath, Thingol was murdered by Dwarves in a dispute over the Silmaril, and its location was betrayed to the sons of Fëanor, who ransacked Menegroth in their hunt for the stone which belonged to them by rights. Grieving her husband’s death, Melian departed Middle-earth, offering no further aid to her people or even her own great-granddaughter Elwing, who took the Silmaril and fled to the shores of the sea.

Around the same time, a wingless telepathic dragon named Glaurung entered Nargothrond and killed or enslaved most of its inhabitants. Glaurung was later slain by a man named Túrin, who shortly thereafter took his own life after learning from Glaurung that he had unintentionally fathered a child with his sister, Nienor, who threw herself off a cliff when she found out what had happened. Lovely story. I wish I had the time to tell it in full.

Before long, Gondolin was the last city left standing in Beleriand – but it outlasted Menegroth by only four years. In that time, Turgon’s nephew was captured by Morgoth and tortured until he divulged the location of the city, and then Gondolin’s fate was sealed. The city fell in a single night, and Turgon was buried underneath the wreckage of his palace. His daughter, Idril, escaped by way of a secret tunnel she and her human husband had built, and together with their young son Eärendil they made their way to the havens by the sea with a few other survivors. Some had escaped through the mountains encircling Gondolin, though not without great loss of life. An elf named Glorfindel died after falling into a ravine with a Balrog, but he was later resurrected (what is it about killing Balrogs that earns you a second chance at life in Middle-earth?).

The Voyage Of Eärendil

Arriving at the havens by the sea, Idril and her husband brought word of Turgon’s death. After a bit of digging through genealogical charts, it was decided that a young elf named Gil-galad, son of Galadriel’s younger brother Orodreth, was now High King of the Noldor because there were no better options and the Noldor stubbornly refused to let women take the title. Gil-galad had lived a fairly sheltered life with his guardian Círdan, and did virtually nothing as High King until the beginning of the Second Age, so you can forget about him for now.

More importantly, it was here that Idril’s son Eärendil met Elwing, the granddaughter of Lúthien Tinúviel, and they fell in love and got married. Elwing had two sons with Eärendil, named Elrond and Elros – and if you don’t already know those names, you should definitely file them away in the back of your head because The Rings Of Power is as much about the two of them as it is about Galadriel. But in all this time, the sons of Fëanor had never stopped searching for the Silmaril that had mysteriously disappeared from Menegroth – and when they learned that Elwing had escaped to the sea and started a family, they pretty quickly determined that she must still have it. So they went there and did what Fëanorians do best, which is slaughter their entire extended family.

Except they still didn’t get the Silmaril, because Elwing threw herself into the sea and was rescued by the god Ulmo, who transformed her into a sea-bird with the Silmaril upon her breast (somehow). Eärendil escaped in a ship, which he steered westward towards Valinor. Their sons, Elrond and Elros, were initially taken hostage but later adopted by Maedhros, one of the two sons of Fëanor who survived this Second Kinslaying. He felt pretty bad about the whole thing, and was getting sick and tired of chasing gemstones for his dead father’s sake, but he had sworn an unbreakable oath so he and his brother Maglor stayed there by the sea waiting for Elwing to get tired and come back to land.

Elwing never returned to Middle-earth, however. She found Eärendil’s ship in the middle of the ocean, transformed back into a woman, and used the Silmaril to light a path across the Sundering Sea to Valinor. They each had a part to play in what happened next, for Eärendil trekked up Taniquetil and demanded an audience with Varda and Manwë, while Elwing went to Alqualondë and convened the leaders of the Calaquendi. By sharing the tales of their hardships and their triumphs, their joys and their sorrows, they convinced the Valar and the Valinorean Elves to return to Middle-earth one last time and help rid the world of darkness.

The War Of Wrath

Rings Of Power
Elrond, son of Eärendil | radiotimes.com

A short time later, Eärendil returned over the Sundering Seas wearing the Silmaril on a circlet, but this time his ship was lifted into the sky by the winds of Manwë, so high that the Elves of Middle-earth saw what they thought was a star rising out of the west. Morgoth cursed at the sight of it, but in his arrogance he had forgotten what it felt like to be truly afraid. His forces were in control of all of Beleriand, Angband was still impenetrable, and the Elves had no capable leaders (sorry, Gil-galad). The Noldor didn’t stand a chance against him.

But the Valar did, and it was their army which rose out of the sea at Eärendil’s back and spilled across Beleriand with the force of a thousand tidal waves. The Elves of Tirion were there, led by Finarfin, and they tore through Morgoth’s forces while the Valar went ahead and threw down the gates and walls of Angband. In a last-ditch effort to save his own skin, Morgoth unleashed a colossal dragon named Ancalagon that he had bred for war, but Eärendil and the Eagles of Manwë killed it, and it broke through Angband’s ceilings when it fell, killing almost everyone and everything inside. Morgoth survived, but when the Valar found him they showed no mercy. According to the published Silmarillion, they cut off his feet, tied him in chains, used his crown as a collar for his neck, and tossed him unceremoniously into the Void. In another version of the story, they beheaded him right then and there.

The Aftermath

With the downfall of Morgoth, the First Age ended and the Second Age began. Beleriand had been destroyed, trampled into the sea by the Valar, and all that remained of it were a handful of islands – the highlands of Dorthonion, the hill of Himring where Maedhros had lived, a few sacred spaces and inviolate tombs. There was nothing left there for the Elves, so they followed Galadriel east into the lands of Middle-earth you may recognize from maps. The Blue Mountains that had formed the eastern boundary of Beleriand now faced westward across open ocean, and about their feet in the land of Lindon lived many refugees in the care of King Gil-galad.

The Valar and their armies returned over the sea to Valinor, but not before offering pardons to the Elves for their actions during the Rebellions and in the Kinslayings which followed. Galadriel, Gil-galad, and many other Elves refused these pardons, desiring more than ever to make Middle-earth beautiful. Half-Elves like Elrond and Elros were offered a different choice, to determine for themselves whether they wished to be counted as Elves or Men. Elrond chose to be immortal like the Elves, while Elros chose the mortality of Men. And still others, like Morgoth’s lieutenant Sauron, were offered the choice to return to Valinor and be judged by Manwë for their crimes. Sauron side-stepped this choice entirely and hid until the Valar left.

As for the Silmarils, one remained with Eärendil in the sky, but the other two were stolen by the sons of Fëanor amidst the chaos, and they paid for this last reckless deed with their lives and their sanity. Maedhros’ hand was scorched by the Silmaril he carried, and eventually he threw himself into a pit of fire to end his suffering, taking the jewel with him to the heart of the earth. Maglor tossed the other Silmaril into the sea and remained by the shore forever, unwilling to die and unable to continue living. In the Second Age, only one Fëanorian still walked the earth – a grandson of Fëanor named Celebrimbor, the craftsman who forged the Rings of Power.

And…that’s it, that’s the First Age in a nutshell. I think you’re all caught up now. Obviously, I’ve left out a few details and glossed over stories that sprawl across entire chapters in The Silmarillion, but I’ve touched on all the most important bits – certainly everything and anything I expect to be referenced in The Rings Of Power. Remember that Amazon apparently doesn’t have the rights to The Silmarillion, so the versions of these stories they’ll tell will probably be even more vague and condensed than how I’ve presented them; I’m just giving you more context so you can pick up on any little clues the writers and production designers might have scattered about for hardcore fans.

Rings Of Power
Galadriel | syfy.com

Anyway, that took a while to write and I’m starting to understand how Míriel felt after giving birth to Fëanor (gods above, it’s been three whole days since I wrote that line), so depending on what else happens between now and September 2nd this might be one of the last few Rings Of Power posts before the premiere of the first two episodes. If there’s anything else you want me to write about before then, leave it in the comments below and don’t forget to share all those thoughts, theories, and opinions I’m always hounding you about.

See you in Middle-earth, folks.

“The Rings Of Power” – Introducing Galadriel


So we’ve all seen the first teaser trailer for Amazon’s The Rings Of Power, right? I mean, it was the fourth most-viewed trailer in its first twenty-four hours of release after the first trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home and the first and last trailers for Avengers: Endgame, so I’m just gonna assume we’ve all seen it by this point. I’m also gonna assume that a fair number of the record-breaking 257 million views on that Rings Of Power teaser came from people who aren’t necessarily familiar with the characters, events, and locations being portrayed in this prequel to The Lord Of The Rings.

Rings Of Power
Galadriel | polygon.com

And that’s totally okay, by the way. I won’t be asking for your signatures in Tengwar script to prove that you’re a “true fan”, because frankly, even if I did, I (*pause for dramatic effect*) don’t know how to read or write Tengwar myself! Heck, I might as well tell you now, I only know, like, ten or fifteen Elvish words in total and virtually none of the grammar that’s supposed to go in between.

Okay, so maybe not the wisest thing to admit while simultaneously trying to position myself as a reliable source of information on the deep lore of J.R.R Tolkien’s legendarium, but (a) my point is that this can be an intimidating fandom but it really doesn’t matter to me whether you’ve read The Lord Of The Rings and its appendices twenty times, or whether you’ve never read a word of Tolkien in your entire life but were intrigued by something in the teaser trailer for The Rings Of Power, because I try to make my content accessible to everyone, and also (b) I actually have read the books and appendices more than twenty times, so please trust me! I absorbed the lore better than I did the languages, I swear.

To prove it, today we’re going to be diving into the nebulous and often contradictory lore surrounding one of the most enigmatic characters in all of Tolkien’s works, and the rumored protagonist of The Rings Of Power – the Lady Galadriel. The marketing for Amazon’s series makes it clear that Morfydd Clark’s Galadriel is, if nothing else, the most competitive of several candidates vying for top-billing in a large ensemble cast rounded out by Robert Aramayo’s Elrond, Maxim Baldry’s Isildur, and Markella Kavenagh’s Elanor “Nori” Brandyfoot (each of these characters warrants their own introductory post in good time, but I wanted to start with Galadriel because she just so happens to be my favorite character in Tolkien’s legendarium).

And despite how difficult it is to piece together a clear account of her life from J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings on the subject, Galadriel is the obvious choice to lead. Because if The Rings Of Power, a prequel distanced from the events of The Lord Of The Rings by a span of over three-thousand years, is going to be commercially successful, it needs to provide fans of The Lord Of The Rings (the books and the films) with something they can grab hold of that makes them feel safe and comfortable in this unfamiliar era of Middle-earth’s history.

And amidst all the characters of that era whose names and great deeds had faded into legend by the time of The Lord Of The Rings, characters like Isildur and Elendil and Gil-galad, there is one who stands out from the rest – one whose life-story spans the entirety of Middle-earth’s recorded history, from the literal beginning of time to the very last date etched in the Tale of Years. And that is Galadriel.

Galadriel is approximately 8372 years old by the time of The Lord Of The Rings – technically making her the second-oldest Elf in Middle-earth (at least that we know of) after Círdan the Shipwright, who is somewhere between 10741 to 11364 years old. Characters like Treebeard and Tom Bombadil are significantly older than both of them, though by an indeterminate margin (Treebeard is estimated to be around 30000 years old by fans, while Tom claims to predate the first rivers and trees in Middle-earth, making him roughly 50000 to 60000 years old). But the advantage Galadriel has over all these other characters is that she actually…did stuff.

By that, I mean she’s integral to the story that The Rings Of Power plans to tell over the course of five or more seasons; the story of the Second Age of Middle-earth, beginning with the forging of the Rings of Power and concluding in the tumultuous War of the Last Alliance. I am aware that Círdan also participated in these events, to a slightly lesser extent than Galadriel, but he lacks the name recognition necessary for a protagonist in this case, as well as a clearly defined character arc. Galadriel possesses both.

And yet…there is one itty-bitty problem with Galadriel being the protagonist. You see, even after publishing The Lord Of The Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien couldn’t help but continue altering fundamental aspects of his characters’ backstories, and Galadriel was the victim of some pretty aggressive edits the author made near the end of his life, meaning there is no “canonical” version of her story for Amazon to adapt. Even the stray bits and pieces of Galadriel’s backstory provided in the pages of The Lord Of The Rings subtly contradict details in the book’s own appendices.

Before we go any further, I ought to note that Amazon has the rights to The Lord Of The Rings and its appendices (and The Hobbit), but Rings Of Power showrunners Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne have vehemently denied that their deal with the Tolkien Estate granted them access to the author’s posthumously published writings, including The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, which altogether contain the most complete version of Galadriel’s story. We do not know the truth of the matter just yet.

The Silmarillion is a history textbook covering the First Age and Second Age of Middle-earth in great detail and then kinda glossing over the events of the Third Age (the period of time in which The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings take place). J.R.R. Tolkien began writing it in the early 1910’s, and at one point intended to publish it alongside The Lord Of The Rings so that readers would understand the frequent references to in-universe historical events, legendary battles, and tales of ancient heroes. He never finished, leaving his youngest son Christopher with the daunting task of having to compile his notes into a workable narrative.

The published Silmarillion is still regarded as inherently less “canon” than The Lord Of The Rings because it wasn’t ever approved for publication by J.R.R. Tolkien himself and had to be heavily abridged, but the tale it tells of Galadriel is one that many fans – including myself – have fallen in love with and regard as canon because it’s the version of Galadriel’s story alluded to in The Lord Of The Rings, and the only one that makes any sense.

As for Unfinished Tales, the nature of the work (an anthology of stories Tolkien started, but never had the time or inclination to complete) means that it is inherently less cohesive than The Silmarillion, but it also contains a level of detail that The Silmarillion does not possess, and that makes it a rewarding read for anyone interested in the rich lore of Middle-earth. Some of the most well-known anecdotes about Galadriel’s life come from Unfinished Tales, and are fairly easy to superimpose onto the version of her story in The Silmarillion. Nonetheless, I will point out these instances as we proceed.

Rings Of Power
Galadriel | newsweek.com

Per The Silmarillion, Galadriel was born in the Undying Lands of Valinor at a time when the High Elves were still under the protection of Middle-earth’s gods. For the sake of simplification, we’re just going to pretend that time existed as a concept back when Galadriel was born, even though it…didn’t. Middle-earth didn’t have a sun or a moon back then, so there were no days or months or years, but there were these durations of time called Valian Years, which correspond to either nine or 144 of our solar years depending on which of Tolkien’s writings on the subject you regard as more “canon”, and as if that isn’t confusing enough you also have to factor in that the passage of time literally feels slower in Valinor, so 144 solar years might feel like just one solar year to a Valinorean, and…argh, I said we were just gonna pretend that time existed, and I’ve already failed!

Anyway…when Galadriel was born, there was no sun and moon, so the only natural light emanated from the stars (which were created by the goddess Varda), and from two trees planted by the gods in the middle of Valinor, which glowed brightly and bathed the Undying Lands in a warm, purifying light. All of the Elves touched by this light retained a kind of magical residue on their bodies that formed an aura, but Galadriel is the only Elf we know of whose hair, specifically, was believed to have caught this residue and became “lit with gold” as a result. Keep that in mind; it’ll come up again later.

The Silmarillion doesn’t have a whole lot to say regarding Galadriel’s early life in Valinor. Unfinished Tales, however, tells us that when she was still young, “she grew to be tall beyond the measure even of the women of the Noldor; she was strong of body, mind, and will, a match for both the loremasters and the athletes of the Eldar in the days of their youth”. The famous letter in which Tolkien described Galadriel as having once been “of Amazon disposition” is not included in either book, but I’m mentioning it here because The Rings Of Power appears to be extrapolating on that idea.

As she was the granddaughter of the High King Finwë by way of his second marriage, we can safely assume she lived in the capital city of Tirion-upon-Túna – a location that had never appeared in live-action until last year, when the first official image from The Rings Of Power revealed a Valinorean panorama including Tirion, the Two Trees, and an unidentified figure rumored to be Finrod, Galadriel’s eldest brother. They were beloved by their grandfather Finwë, but treated with contempt by Fëanor, Finwë’s eldest son and the only one born to his first wife, Míriel.

Fëanor didn’t approve of his father’s second marriage, and The Silmarillion assures us that, like, a whole bunch of High Elves felt the same way. Names? You’re asking for names? Uh…well, the narrator talked to at least seven people who were definitely not the sons of Fëanor wearing fedoras and fake mustaches. All joking aside, it’s a weird part of the book where it feels like the devoutly Catholic Tolkien really wants to draw some correlation between Finwë’s remarriage and Fëanor being a jerk, but he doesn’t quite manage it and then backtracks to add that it’s a good thing Finwë did have more children, because someone needed to keep Fëanor in check, and it sure as hell wasn’t gonna be any of his kids.

Needless to say, everyone in Valinor was pretty relieved when Fëanor decided to channel his pent-up frustration with his father into seemingly inoffensive pastimes like art and alchemy, but Finwë’s other children and grandchildren were especially happy because it meant that for the greater part of any given Valian Year Fëanor and his sons would be holed up in their forge, and nobody had to interact with them except at dinner parties, and on those occasions you just had to hope that Fëanor would be too busy showing off his new inventions for him to find time to pick on you. Sometimes he’d even invent something useful, like an alphabet, and then other times it would just be weird, like when he designed a bunch of creepy all-seeing orbs that could stare at you from across a continent.

Most people would choose to rest on their laurels after creating the alphabet, but Fëanor wanted to one-up himself and the gods at the same time, because what could possibly go wrong with a plan that involves potentially incurring the wrath of a pantheon of omnipotent deities on whom you and your people rely for literally everything, including protection from a Dark Lord who wants to turn you all into orcs for his nihilistic amusement?

Fast-forward a few Valian Years, and Fëanor emerges triumphant from his forge with three jewels called Silmarils (hence The Silmarillion). These jewels, these Silmarils, were imbued with some of the precious light of the Two Trees, making them eerily similar to NFTs in that they served no real purpose except to give the possessor (i.e. Fëanor) a false sense of ownership over something he did not create and which was already freely accessible to everyone in Valinor; the only difference being that the Silmarils actually turned out to be worth something in the end. In Unfinished Tales, it’s even suggested that the idea for the Silmarils came to Fëanor after studying Galadriel’s hair, and that he begged her three times for a sample to use in his experiments, but [she] would not give him even one hair”.

The gods decided to let Fëanor keep his NFTs as long as he shut up about the limitless potential of cryptocurrency, but the Dark Lord Morgoth was obsessed with the idea of taking them for himself (which should tell you something about the type of people who want to own NFTs), and he quickly realized that while Fëanor’s covetous attitude toward the Silmarils meant they were kept closely-guarded at all times, it also meant the Elf would walk blindly into any trap if he felt his Silmarils were threatened. Morgoth laid the groundwork for his trap by traveling among the Elves and regaling them with tales about the lands in Middle-earth they could rule if only the gods would allow them to leave Valinor.

Rings Of Power
Galadriel | tvinsider.com

It’s safe to assume that Galadriel was one of the Elves on whom Morgoth’s words made a strong impression. Because when the Dark Lord finally stole the Silmarils and fled to Middle-earth, leaving a trail of dead bodies (including poor old Finwë’s) for Fëanor to follow, Galadriel unexpectedly joined Fëanor in calling for a man-hunt to find the Dark Lord and bring him to justice. She didn’t particularly care about reclaiming the Silmarils, but “she yearned to see the wide unguarded lands and to rule there a realm at her own will”, in stark contrast to her father Finarfin and brother Orodreth, who “spoke softly” in an effort to cool Fëanor’s hot temper, and to her brother Finrod, who hated Fëanor’s guts and made no secret of it.

Something that nobody seems to have considered while arguing over whether or not to leave Valinor was whether or not they could leave Valinor. No one had ever tried before. The Undying Lands were separated from Middle-earth by a wide ocean at the time, and the only land-bridge connecting the two continents lay somewhere in the uttermost north. So for a while, everybody just kinda walked aimlessly along the beach while they waited for somebody at the front of the line to settle on a direction. The House of Finarfin, including Finrod, is said to have been at the rear – “and often they looked behind them to see [Tirion].

It would seem out-of-character for Galadriel to be one of those glancing over her shoulder at the home she was about to leave behind, considering how eager she was to leave, but it would probably make even less sense for her to be amongst Fëanor’s folk at the front of the line; the reason being that Fëanor actually had a destination in mind – Alqualondë, the coastal port-city of the Sea-elves, Galadriel’s family on her mother’s side. He had assumed the Sea-elves would just give him all of their ships for free (reasonable dude, Fëanor), and was stunned speechless when they essentially told him to bugger off. So he killed them and took their ships by force.

The Elves who arrived late to the battle didn’t know what the hell was going on, and just started stabbing people randomly, turning the harbor of Alqualondë into a bloodbath. The Silmarillion simply never tells us whether Galadriel, Finrod, and Finarfin took part in this “Kinslaying”, and avoids implicating any of them in the atrocity at all – an imperfect solution on Christopher Tolkien’s part to a problem that J.R.R. Tolkien appears to have encountered every time he rewrote Galadriel’s story and reached this pivotal moment; how to get Galadriel to Middle-earth with only a medium-sized blemish on her reputation for goodness?

A manuscript published in the Unfinished Tales tells us that Galadriel indeed took part in the Kinslaying, but “fought fiercely against Fëanor in defence of her mother’s kin”, and this is the idea that Tolkien seems to have been the most stubbornly satisfied with…for a little while, at least. In recent months, this passage has been quoted and discussed at length, as it provides textual evidence for The Rings Of Power‘s interpretation of Galadriel as a warrior, and paints a pretty epic picture of her.

It’s unfortunate, then, that this passage doesn’t fit comfortably within the broader narrative and never has, because Tolkien still needed Galadriel to continue following Fëanor after the Kinslaying – and whether or not it makes sense for her to do so after Fëanor killed many of her people, it’s completely unlike Fëanor to allow her to do so after she had presumably killed or injured some of his. Even though he eventually chose to leave Galadriel and most of the House of Finarfin stranded in the far north (taking with him to Middle-earth only those “whom he deemed true to him”), to argue that that was his plan all along and that he was playing the long game requires a leap in logic I’m not willing to make.

Unfinished Tales contains a rapid, fascinating summary of another version of Galadriel’s story that Tolkien had sketched out shortly before his death in 1973. In this rewrite, he did what most writers do at least once when confronted with a case of characters not doing what they’re supposed to do, and started over from scratch. Galadriel abruptly ceased to be a member of Fëanor’s rebellion and became thoroughly independent from him, with her own goal of sailing to Middle-earth as an adventurer. She just happened to choose a really bad day to set out from Alqualondë, and had to fight Fëanor and his people as they tried to board her ship. This version still gives us a warrior Galadriel (and a seafaring warrior Galadriel at that), but it does remove a layer of complexity from the character that I would have missed.

To recap, the published Silmarillion doesn’t mention Galadriel in connection with the Kinslaying at Alqualondë. By the time we catch up with her again, four whole pages have passed since the Kinslaying and a lot has happened. The gods finally got involved by sending a message to Fëanor (“accidentally” blind-CCing all the Elves in the process) to tell him that he could go to Middle-earth and get swallowed by a dragon for all they care, but that anyone who followed him would be banished from Valinor forever, and when Morgoth inevitably killed them all, even their souls would be forbidden from entering the halls of the dead.

Rings Of Power
Galadriel | winteriscoming.net

Finarfin didn’t need to be told twice to get the hint, and chose to return to Tirion and become High King of the twenty or so Elves left in Valinor. Fëanor and the rest of the Elves continued northward, following the coast of Valinor on land in their ships – until at some point, Fëanor decided that it would be easier to just steal the ships and set sail for Middle-earth, leaving the other Elves stranded in the frigid wastelands north of Valinor. Galadriel finally reappears, and along with her brother Finrod heroically takes command of the dire situation and leads the Elves across the icy land-bridge connecting Valinor to Middle-earth.

This is probably as good a time as any to point out that Galadriel and a group of Elves can be seen traversing an icy landscape in the first teaser trailer for The Rings Of Power, although this scene is said to take place in Middle-earth and not in Valinor, as some had hoped. The giveaway is the bright sunlight beaming down on Galadriel in those shots in the trailer – at the time that Galadriel led the Elves across the Grinding Ice in pursuit of Fëanor, the sun and moon had still not been created.

Unfortunately, Tolkien wrote very little about the crossing in The Silmarillion, and even less in Unfinished Tales. Many Elves died, whether by starving to death or drowning under the ice, but enough survived and were hardened by the experience that their army still made for a fearsome and awe-inspiring sight when they came down from the north into the lands of Middle-earth at the very moment that the sun arose. Morgoth cowered in his fortress under the earth, and his orcs fled before the Elves and permitted them to march straight up to Morgoth’s front gate and beat upon the doors, and Galadriel was probably there but Tolkien doesn’t tell us exactly what she was doing.

With the dawn of the sun, the First Age of Middle-earth officially began. Oh, you thought we were in the First Age already? Haha, no, all of that was just the Years of the Trees. The First Age, however, only lasted about six-hundred years (the Second and Third Ages, for comparison, span over three-thousand years each), and for most of this time Galadriel stayed in the forest realm of Doriath. She and Finrod were invited there by King Elu Thingol (who was the brother of their maternal grandfather), and Galadriel fell in love with an Elven prince named Celeborn whom she met there.

If you thought Galadriel’s backstory was complex, don’t even get me started on Celeborn. In The Lord Of The Rings and the published Silmarillion, it’s mentioned that he’s a “kinsman of Thingol”, which sounds about right…until you remember that Galadriel is also a kinswoman of Thingol, and before you know it you’re poring over fictional family trees desperately trying to prove that Galadriel and Celeborn are not first cousins, they can’t possibly be first cousins…right? Well, yes and no. It depends on which version of Galadriel’s story you’re reading. They’re only first cousins in the version where she sets sail from Alqualondë on her own ship. Before that, they were just second cousins.

While Finrod went off and established his own kingdom in Nargothrond, Galadriel remained in Doriath with Celeborn, learning magical arts and lore from Elu Thingol’s wife, Melian, a minor goddess. As far as we know, she took no active part in the wars against Morgoth or in the later efforts by Fëanor’s sons and other heroes to reclaim the Silmarils, nor did she immediately seek power for herself – probably because she understood just by looking around that until Morgoth was defeated and Fëanor’s family were dead, the Elves would have little peace in Middle-earth. Also, Finrod had once prophesied that Nargothrond would fall, which can’t have filled Galadriel with much confidence for her own prospects.

Finrod’s prophecy came to pass (prophecies have a way of doing that), but neither he nor Galadriel was there to witness the Sack of Nargothrond and the slaughter of Finarfin’s folk. Finrod died in the year 465 of the First Age, and sometime between then and 495, Galadriel packed her things and left Doriath, crossing the Blue Mountains into the unoccupied lands of Eriador. She is sometimes said to have done so alone, but Celeborn probably joined her no later than 506, when he is said to have fled the Sack of Doriath.

Less than a hundred years later, the War of Wrath happened (in which Morgoth was finally vanquished by the gods, and the last of Fëanor’s seven sons either died or disappeared), and at this point The Silmarillion completely loses track of Galadriel in all the chaos and Unfinished Tales picks up their plot-thread in a short text which Christopher Tolkien described as “almost the sole narrative source for the events in the West of Middle-earth up to the defeat and expulsion of Sauron from Eriador in the year 1701 of the Second Age”. These are the events that The Rings Of Power hopes to adapt across its first season.

In this story, Galadriel and Celeborn cross the Blue Mountains into Eriador after the War of Wrath and settle at various locations between Lake Nenuial in the north-west and Eregion in the east, under the shadow of the Misty Mountains and close to the Dwarven city of Khazad-dûm. At some point during their travels, Galadriel gave birth to a daughter, Celebrían (and for the first and only time is mentioned as having a son, Amroth, but this detail is never reflected in The Lord Of The Rings, so I don’t regard it as canon).

Celeborn had no affection for Dwarves, but Galadriel is said to have “looked upon the Dwarves also with the eye of a commander, seeing in them the finest warriors to pit against the Orcs”. When she was ousted from Eregion in a coup led by the craftsman Celebrimbor and a mysterious stranger named Annatar, the Dwarves allowed her safe passage through Khazad-dûm to the woodland realm of Lórinand on the eastern side of the Misty Mountains.

Celeborn “remained behind in Eregion, disregarded by Celebrimbor”.

It soon became apparent to all that the stranger named Annatar was none other than Sauron, formerly the lieutenant of Morgoth, and that he had planned to manipulate the Elven craftspeople of Eregion into forging Rings of Power with which to ensnare the free peoples of Middle-earth. Celebrimbor therefore crossed the Misty Mountains and took counsel from Galadriel, who advised him to give her one of the Rings (no ulterior motive there, that’s for sure!) and to hide the others far from Eregion.

Of the nineteen Rings of Power forged by Celebrimbor and Sauron, sixteen came into Sauron’s possession when he attacked Eregion – but three eluded him forever, and these were the three given to the Elves; one to Galadriel in Lórinand, and two to Galadriel’s young cousin Gil-galad in the realm of Lindon. Sauron considered attacking Lórinand, but the doors of Khazad-dûm were shut and he could not cross the Misty Mountains. Instead, he went after Gil-galad, because there were only so many Elves to whom Celebrimbor would have entrusted a Ring of Power and their identities weren’t exactly secret.

Sauron came very close to defeating Gil-galad and capturing his Rings, but was foiled at the last moment by a Númenórean fleet out of the west, who drove him out of Eriador and back to the shadowed realm of Mordor. “For many years the Westlands had peace”, and in this time Galadriel and Celebrían returned over the Misty Mountains and reunited with Celeborn in the haven of Imladris. Gil-galad joined them for a war-council in which it was decided that he should give one of his Rings of Power to the young lord Elrond of Imladris – who by an extraordinary coincidence had just fallen in love with Galadriel’s daughter, Celebrían (nothing suspicious about that, that’s for sure!)

For more context on Elrond and the Númenóreans, I suggest you check out some of my earlier posts, namely this one and this one – although I will be continuing this series soon with a post about the Númenórean prince Isildur. It should be a lot easier to write than this one, which required me to have several books and literally dozens of search-tabs open simultaneously.

Rings Of Power
Elrond and Galadriel | slashfilm.com

As for Galadriel, well, that’s her entire story through The Rings Of Power season one, at least based on what we currently know. I can’t promise that everything you’ve read in this post will make it into the show, but I do believe that having this context will help a lot of people – particularly new fans – better understand the characters who inhabit Middle-earth, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Be sure to share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

It’s Been 4 Years But “The Rings Of Power” 1st Trailer Is Finally Here


Taking advantage of the Super Bowl’s audience of millions, Amazon Prime used last night’s game to launch the first teaser trailer for The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power into the world. It was brief, just about a minute long, and more evocative than it was revealing – purely designed to get audiences, particularly more casual fantasy fans, excited to be back in the world of Middle-earth after almost a decade. But if the trailer seems light on story details and you’re still confused as to what’s going on, I want you to go check out Fellowship Of Fans on YouTube, because you will find many of the answers you are looking for there.

Rings Of Power
Galadriel | polygon.com

In fact, let me just put a pause on the trailer breakdown for a moment and invite you to marvel along with me at Fellowship Of Fans’ impeccable track record, because this teaser trailer officially confirms at least four exclusive story leaks and a character leak released by Fellowship over the past year – and a recent Vanity Fair article with accompanying promotional images confirmed several more of their exclusive character leaks, including Maxim Baldry as Isildur and Charles Edwards as Celebrimbor (sadly, I did not have the time to cover the contents of that article in the depth and level of detail that I wanted before the trailer dropped).

Knowing the context behind a lot of the split-second images in last night’s teaser trailer was immensely helpful to me, even as a long-time reader of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, because The Rings Of Power isn’t a straightforward adaptation of The Lord Of The Rings, where knowing the source material forwards-and-backwards is enough to fully grasp what’s going on. It’s an adaptation of Tolkien’s accounts of the Second Age of Middle-earth, which he left only partially completed at the time of his death, scattered like broken shards of a narrative across heaps of disorganized notes, rough drafts of stories that never went anywhere.

A relatively brief synopsis of the Second Age did find its way into the appendices to The Lord Of The Rings and is included in most editions of The Return Of The King, but it’s written in the style of a historical text and spans over three-thousand years. Amazon has opted to construct their own largely original narrative around the main events of the Second Age, which will be squeezed into a much smaller timeframe coinciding with the lives of the Númenóreans Elendil and Isildur – which is either the safer approach, the riskier approach, the right approach or the wrong approach depending on who you ask.

So anyway, while there are a number of characters in this trailer that come to us directly from Tolkien’s writings on the Second Age (Galadriel and Elrond being the most notable), there are just as many original characters pulled from the corners of Middle-earth that Tolkien left largely unexplored – including a Silvan Elf protagonist and a Dwarven princess. Obviously, most of their scenes and storylines are wholly original as well, but even the canonical characters have been placed in unfamiliar settings and situations, with Galadriel embarking on a mission into the Forodwaith to hunt orcs while Elrond mingles with the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm.

I’m sure a book purist will inform me in the comments below that that’s exactly why The Rings Of Power will suck, because it’s “fan-fiction” and not “canon”. Regardless of the fact that J.R.R. Tolkien would first have to rise from the grave to write any adaptation of his works that wouldn’t inherently be a piece of “fan-fiction”, and that no adaptation – bad or good – will ever have any bearing whatsoever on the original work if you don’t let it, I’m frankly confused as to how purists thought a Second Age show was ever going to work without at least a couple of original characters and storylines. I mean, did you not want any dialogue, either?

What concerns me slightly about all of the original characters and storylines packed into this teaser trailer is not that they exist in the first place, but that general audiences trying to get a handle on what The Rings Of Power is really about won’t be able to find that information easily – because it’s not in the teaser trailer itself, and it’s not in the source material that most journalists will point you towards. It’s in Fellowship Of Fans’ archives, mostly, and if you don’t mind a few minor potential spoilers, I highly suggest you check out all of their videos regarding The Rings Of Power as well as their Second Age breakdown posts and my own.

I know a few people who don’t like to come across anything even remotely spoiler-y before watching a film or series they’re excited for, so I’ll give you this one last chance to leave before we jump into the actual trailer breakdown you’ve all been waiting for, and some minor potential spoilers for season one. See you in seven months! The rest of you, follow me.

Although there’s nothing in this teaser that shocked me while watching, I feel like it still might surprise some folks to learn that the meteor streaking across the night sky at around the 0:35 mark is actually a person, whose true identity will be a running mystery throughout season one. Fellowship Of Fans reports that this character, dubbed “Meteor Man”, will crash into Middle-earth (sustaining severe memory loss in the process), where a group of Harfoot hobbits will discover him and adopt him into their traveling community at the behest of one Elanor Brandyfoot, the inquisitive young hobbit girl who narrates the trailer.

We catch a brief glimpse of Elanor holding the Meteor Man’s bloodied hand (it’s the trailer thumbnail, embedded above), but I doubt that’s immediately clear to anyone who hasn’t been watching Fellowship Of Fans’ videos religiously. This teaser trailer could have used slightly more footage of Meteor Man’s crash-landing and his discovery by the hobbits – just something to get casual fans talking and theorizing the same way they did with Amazon’s The Wheel Of Time, which had everyone wondering who the Dragon Reborn would turn out to be.

The difference is that the identity of the Dragon Reborn was common knowledge to anyone who had read Robert Jordan’s books, and the answer was easily available on Google anyway. Meteor Man’s identity is a genuine mystery, but Amazon is holding their cards so close to their chest that most fans don’t know that there’s a mystery here to be solved…yet. I don’t know when we can expect to see our next trailer, but I hope it shows more of this character and the bizarre circumstances of his arrival. Did I mention he might also be evil?

Amazon has officially nicknamed this character “The Stranger”, which is definitely more ominous and creepy than Meteor Man but somehow doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, either. It’s like how Disney wanted us to call Baby Yoda “The Child” at first. Not gonna happen. Don’t try to make it happen. And please let his actual name be something better than Grogu.

On the subject of names, we have to talk about Elanor “Nori” Brandyfoot, Markella Kavenagh’s hobbit character. Elanor in this case is clearly a reference to Elanor Gamgee, the eldest daughter of Samwise Gamgee – born shortly after the events of The Lord Of The Rings. The name is Sindarin Elvish, and in the case of Sam’s daughter it was derived from the golden flower elanor that once grew in the forests of Lórien. It’s a beautiful name, and creates a powerful link to the hobbit characters of the Fourth Age, but I really do hope there’s an explanation for how Elanor’s parents came across the flower and discovered its Elvish name.

In the one clear shot we see of Elanor, she wears a sprig of yellow flowers in her curly hair – which I would have thought were just wildflowers were it not for her peculiar name. What we can extrapolate from this is that Elanor and her family must live somewhere near Lórien, which more or less lines up with Tolkien’s account of the late Second Age and early Third Age hobbit territories being situated in Wilderland, between the Misty Mountains and Greenwood. The Harfoots specifically “long lived in the foothills of the mountains” and “had much to do with Dwarves”, theoretically placing them somewhere in the vicinity of Khazad-dûm’s eastern gates and Lórien. This works out!

Markella Kavenagh’s Elanor is the only character to speak in the trailer, and she gets just a single line – “Haven’t you ever wondered what else is out there? There’s wonders in this world beyond our wandering. I can feel it.” Presumably, she’s talking to someone else in her hobbit traveling community, although I take it from this dialogue that these hobbits must never stray from their well-worn paths, or else why would Elanor be unsatisfied with her life? Fellowship Of Fans has previously reported that The Rings Of Power will follow the Harfoot hobbits on their westward migrations into Eriador.

Assuming the hobbits reach the Misty Mountains by the end of season one (and if they truly live next-door to Khazad-dûm, it might not even take them that long), it will only be the second perilous mountain journey in The Rings Of Power after Galadriel’s adventure in the Forodwaith. Here, in the bitterly cold wastelands once occupied by the Dark Lord Melkor, we’ll meet up with Galadriel and another Elf played by Kip Chapman as they seek out orcs, trolls, and other monsters left over from the First Age. Galadriel is out for vengeance, and she won’t rest until all of Melkor’s minions are wiped off the face of Middle-earth – including, and perhaps especially, Sauron.

I unironically love this whole concept, so much so that I’m not even disappointed to learn that is the Forodwaith and not the Helcaraxë, as some fans had hoped. I mean, I would have been happy either way, and the crossing of the Helcaraxë in the First Age by the Elven rebels leaving Valinor would have made for an even better parallel to the hobbits crossing the Misty Mountains looking for a new home, but whatever, I’m cool with it if it means we get to see Galadriel scaling an ice-wall using her Valinorean sword. Also, the Forodwaith is one of those wide empty areas on Tolkien’s map of Middle-earth where Amazon can play around as much as they like.

Rings Of Power
Kip Chapman’s Elven character | cbr.com

My early prediction is that something will happen up north that puts the fear of god in Galadriel. She’ll learn that Sauron is rising again (The Hobbit kinda did this storyline already, but badly, so we’ll let it slide), and she’ll quickly return home to Lindon, where King Gil-galad and Elrond will be unreceptive to her warnings and try to ease her fears instead of preparing for the inevitable. Fed up, Galadriel will leave again, this time on a sea-voyage. I don’t know why, but we’ve learned via Vanity Fair that Galadriel somehow ends up shipwrecked by episode two, and has to work together with a mysterious man named Halbrand to survive a storm at sea.

At some point during this sequence, probably after the storm has settled down a bit, Halbrand discovers that Galadriel is an Elf and pulls her hair aside brusquely to reveal her leaf-shaped ears. The audacity! My only takeaway from this is that Halbrand needs to get pushed off the boat or whacked in the head with an oar or something.

All signs point to Galadriel and Halbrand washing up somewhere on the shores of Númenor, where Elendil will find Galadriel. The trailer opens on an establishing shot of a Númenórean port-city, presumably the westward-facing city of Andúnië where Elendil and his family lived during the late Second Age. The camera follows a cargo-laden ship through a sea-gate painted blue and gold, and lifts over the archway to reveal a wide harbor crowded with fishing-boats, over which loom the palatial estates of the lords, and Tolkienesque interpretations of the Lighthouse of Alexandria and the Colossus of Rhodes. Further in the distance stands the great peak of the Meneltarma.

It’s a beautiful sight, but it’s gone almost before you have time to register that you’ve just beheld the shores of Númenor. The rest of this trailer is Elf-centric and focuses primarily on Middle-earth, with no human characters besides Halbrand even appearing. I suspect we’ll see plenty more of Númenor in trailers, TV spots, and promotional images closer to release, but for now Amazon just wants to get the message across to people that this is Middle-earth, and Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits do a better job of conveying that than humans.

And based on the fan reaction to Ismael Cruz Córdova’s Silvan Elf protagonist Arondir in last night’s trailer, I can absolutely understand why the Elven characters will dominate the marketing for The Rings Of Power. They’re just neat. Arondir catching an arrow in mid-air, flipping it around and firing it in one fluid motion (all in the dark, mind you) is cool the same way that Legolas swinging across the front of a moving horse was cool in The Two Towers, before Peter Jackson decided he needed to top that scene every five minutes, using increasingly implausible CGI to do so.

The one shot in this trailer that gives me Hobbit vibes, in a bad way, is right near the end. An Elf wielding a giant battle-axe leaps in slow-motion across the screen, with a chain attached to his ankle unfurling behind him in the sky. It’s clearly supposed to be an awesome action beat, but I don’t know what’s going on here and it doesn’t look like it was achieved using practical effects, which is why it falls flat for me. If we learn that it is practical and that this is actually a really raw and visceral action scene, that’s interesting, but the character looks as weightless and removed from reality as Legolas when he was gliding up a falling staircase in The Battle Of The Five Armies, and I’m not feeling it.

Happily, this awkward moment is counterbalanced just a second later by a quick shot of an Elven character played by Will Fletcher standing in the rain, screaming soundlessly while a swarm of orcs presses against him from all sides – and not only is Fletcher clearly real and present in this scene, but the orcs are as well. I can’t begin to express how relieved I am that both of Amazon’s biggest fantasy series’ are committed to using practical effects wherever possible, and this one shot has me longing for the Wheel Of Time finale we could have had, were it not for COVID-19.

According to Fellowship Of Fans, this Elven character is Galadriel’s brother Finrod – and yes, he has short hair. It’s a tragedy, although perhaps not quite as tragic as what’s about to happen to Finrod in this scene. I know that canonically, he dies wrestling a werewolf in the dungeons of Tol-in-Gaurhoth, which as far as death scenes go is unparalleled in Tolkien’s works, but that happens in The Silmarillion and the rights situation is complicated, so maybe Rings Of Power Finrod will have to die in battle instead. I just hope it’s epic…well, that, and I hope Amazon gives him long hair in post-production. That’s where the CGI budget should be going!

You know who is actually rocking the short hair? Elrond, shockingly. His hair, while several shades lighter than I would have liked, looks a lot better in motion than it did in the Vanity Fair photos, and Robert Aramayo makes the absolute most of his one shot in the trailer by hitting the audience with a smoldering gaze that could melt a Ring of Power. It’s never not gonna be vaguely annoying to me that so many of the male Elves – and only the male Elves – are sporting short hairstyles, but it looks good on Elrond, I won’t lie.

Also, I love that he’s an accidental heartthrob; he’s not just smoldering for the sake of it, he actually seems to be glowering at a group of Dwarves partying in the background, who are breaking his concentration on whatever old artifact he’s studying. Aramayo’s Elrond is an ambassador from Gil-galad to the Dwarves, according to Vanity Fair, and at some point early in the season he will be sent to Khazad-dûm to try and repair the old alliances between Elves and Dwarves that existed sporadically throughout the First Age and almost invariably ended in one side betraying the other.

Fellowship Of Fans has previously reported that the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm will be reeling from the sudden collapse of a mining-shaft in the first few episodes, probably just before Elrond’s arrival in the city. Vanity Fair pointedly describes Elrond as an “architect”, implying that he puts his skills to good use at some point in the three episodes their writers have seen – perhaps literally helping the Dwarves rebuild and thereby strengthening the bonds of friendship between their peoples? I’m down for that.

A few quick shots of Dwarven characters pass by in this trailer – mostly from what is believed to be the funeral ceremony for the Dwarves killed in the mining-shaft collapse. Prince Durin IV and Princess Disa, the latter a new character and the first Dwarven woman with a major role in any adaptation of Tolkien’s works, are both in attendance. Disa leads a song of lament in a scene first described by, you guessed it, Fellowship Of Fans. We don’t get to hear any of it, unfortunately, but Sophia Nomvete’s physical performance tells me that this is gonna be an impactful moment.

A few moments later, Durin IV reappears wielding a hammer, and strikes swiftly at a large block of stone in a dark chamber. He’s being observed silently from the corners of the room by three or four older Dwarves, which almost makes me think this is some kind of time-honored ritual in which he must partake before he can become King Durin IV. Of the Dwarven characters in Tolkien’s works, those with whom we’ve spent the most time were either exiles or travelers long away from home, so to see Dwarven culture on display – and not through an intermediary character like Bilbo – is actually quite rare and exciting.

Rings Of Power
Elanor “Nori” Brandyfoot | arstechnica.com

That’s what I love most about the direction The Rings Of Power is taking: it’s giving us a unique opportunity to explore the regions and peoples of Middle-earth that only ever existed on the peripheries of Tolkien’s most well-known stories. By the end of the Third Age, Khazad-dûm is in ruins, Númenor lies under the waves, Lindon is virtually uninhabited, and paradise has been removed from the world entirely – but in the Second Age they’re all alive, vividly alive, and The Rings Of Power lets us imagine what Middle-earth was before its decline.

And yes, it’s fan-fiction, all of it, but that’s…okay with me? I’ll still be interested to see where and why it deviates from Tolkien’s writings, and when it crosses a line for me I’ll voice my frustration, but it’s just one adaptation of many that have been, and many that have yet to be. It’s never gonna “ruin the books”, because the books will always be there – no matter what.

Trailer Rating: 9/10