What is Numenor in Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power?

After being confined to very familiar Middle-earth locales in its first two episodes, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power finally showed us a place that had never been depicted on screen: Númenor. Indeed, much of the running time of the Prime Video series’ third episode, ‘Adar’, is spent on the island kingdom, which – despite its legendary status – never appears in JRR Tolkien’s original trilogy or the Peter Jackson films it inspired . .

That’s right: The history, culture and geography of Númenor are all covered The Lord of the Ringsappendices, as well as less accessible volumes published after Tolkien’s death, The Silmarillion and Unfinished fairy tales. Because of this, the introduction of Númenor to The Rings of Power It almost certainly left more casual fans scratching their heads about how the island kingdom fits into the wider Middle-earth lore.

If that’s you, this handy collection will have you up to speed on all things Númenórean in no time — including the kingdom’s location, origin, current ruler, and connection to The Lord of the Rings.

[Ed. note: The following covers events not yet depicted in The Rings of Power.]

Where is Númenor?

A map of the island of Númenor from The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.  It is a star-shaped mountainous region with a high peak in the center.

Image: Prime Video

The star-shaped island of Númenor (also known by other names, including Westernesse) is, as Galadriel notes in ‘Adar’, the westernmost point of Middle-earth. Tolkien describes its location in the Sundering Seas as closer to Valinor, the continent inhabited by the godlike Valar, than to Middle-earth.

It’s the logical place for Galadriel to end up since she was so close to Valinor. And it also follows the seafaring culture of Númenor, as their culture was famous for the skills of both its shipbuilders and sailors. The seamanship of the Númenóreans also allowed them to make many voyages to Middle-earth before The Rings of Powerof the setting, despite their relative distance from the continent (more that later).

Who founded Númenor?

The queen regent of Númenor stands before people in the throne room.  there are people standing in rows opposite her, as well as flanking her in the deis

Photo: Matt Grace/Prime Video

As with so many aspects of Tolkien’s lore, the discussion of the early days of Númenor quickly becomes complicated. For starters, there’s the origins of the island itself, which was custom-built by the Valar for the ancient race of men who joined forces with the elves in the war against Morgoth. Then there was the mass migration of men from Middle-earth to the newly-cut Númenor, which lasted half a century and relied heavily on elven help. So when Galadriel gives the elves credit for the realm that even exists within The Rings of Power episode 3, there is a kernel of truth in what he says.

Nor does the elves’ role in Númenor’s origin story end there. As mentioned in ‘Adar’, the founding king of Númenor it was an elf—albeit one with few mortals in his family tree. Like his brother Elrond (of Rivendell fame), Númenor’s inaugural leader Elros was of mixed bloodline. But while Elrond ultimately chose to live among the elves, Elros chose to embrace his humane roots. This meant giving up his immortality, though he still had a ridiculously long lifespan and was as mentally and physically formidable as a non-elf could get.

Elros’ descendants also benefited from their supercharged half-elf DNA, which explains why his descendant, Aragorn, is such an impressive specimen. But even better from an even-handed standpoint, Númenóreans not directly related to Elros also received an overall XP boost, seeing quite a few more birthdays than their mainland counterparts. So all in all, Elros’ decision to stay with Team Men worked out really well for everyone.

Who now rules Númenor?

Miriel, Queen Regent of Numenor, holds a baby and looks at the camera as petals fall around her

Image: Prime Video

Elros’ reign lasted just over 400 years, so he is no longer on stage The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Twenty-four monarchs sat on the throne of Númenor between the death of Elros and the events of the show, though this is one area where the adaptation begins to take great liberties with the canon established by Tolkien.

In “Adar”, the rightful king of Númenor – unnamed in the episode, but possibly Tar-Palantir based on the books – lives today in exile atop a tower, having been deposed by his own people. Meanwhile, his daughter Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) rules in his place as queen regent, aided by her influential advisor Pharazôn (Trystan Gravelle). This is all material invented by The Rings of Power the JD Payne and Patrick McKay shows and their team of writers.

According to Tolkien, Tar-Paladir died of old age and was never forced from the throne by anyone, let alone his own subjects. There is also very little in Tolkien’s writings to suggest that Tar-Míriel (to use her royal name) was in conflict with the treacherous Pharazôn (her cousin in the books), especially considering that he forced her to marry him to usurp the throne. Of course, there’s a chance that Míriel is pretending to be convenient to Pharazôn in the show, but for now, this whole subplot is very misplaced.

This does not mean The Rings of Power he has completely abandoned his source material in regards to the rights of Númenor. If anything, the characterization of Tar-Paladir from episode 3 as someone who is still loyal to the Valar and sympathetic to the elves goes a long way. It’s also clear that Payne and McKay are setting the stage for Pharazôn to make a play for the throne just as he does in the books at some point in the show’s planned five-season run.

And in a broader sense, the way “Adar” portrays Númenórean society (including those in its upper echelons) as increasingly resentful of the elves and the Valar broadly follows Tolkien’s story. Similarly, the depiction of Elendil as a lord who rejects this tendency also rings true for Tolkien.

Where is Númenor in the Lord of the Rings series?

A shot of a busy dock and port in Rings of Power

Image: Prime Video

Well, why don’t we visit Númenor The Lord of the Rings? To put it bluntly: because it sunk. Tolkien saw the island kingdom as Middle Earth’s counterpart to Atlantis, so—as stated in The Silmarillion title section Akalabeth — falls to the bottom of the ocean. Moreover, as in the original Atlantean myth, the cause of Númenor’s fall is ultimately summed up in two words: divine retribution.

After Pharazôn (now going by “Ar-Pharazôn”) defeats Sauron’s army and takes him hostage, the dark lord wastes no time in turning him and most of the kingdom into evil worshipers of Morgoth. Eventually, Sauron manages to convince Ar-Pharazôn and his followers that they too could become immortal if they went to war with the Valar and conquered Valinor. Unsurprisingly, this turns out to be bad advice, and after the Valar’s call to Eru Ilúvatar (the supreme being of Tolkien’s cosmology) things Really escalate. Eru Ilúvatar wipes out the Númenórean fleet along with the entire kingdom, in a cataclysmic event that literally changes the world (we’re talking about moving from a flat earth to a round earth here).

The few Númenóreans who survived the judgment of Eru Ilúvatar were largely those who remained true to the old ways. Led by Elendil and his sons Isildur and Anarion (as opposed to The Rings of Powerhe has no daughter) made their way to the shores of Middle-earth and established the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor—the latter of which plays an important role in The Lord of the Rings.

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