Here's everything you need to know about the island kingdom of Númenor in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Amazon's The Rings of Power will take place largely within the borders of Middle-earth. The elves and dwarves are in their heyday, while men and hobbits are still developing ready for their Third Age blossomings. Unlike The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, however, The Rings of Power will step foot outside Middle-earth, taking a short hop across the ocean to Númenor.
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The Númenóreans and their ancient island realm are referenced in passing during The Lord of the Rings, but don't physically appear (for good reason - more on that later). With The Rings of Power set over during J.R.R. Tolkien's Second Age, over 3000 years before The Lord of the Rings, the inclusion of Númenor as a key locale was all but inevitable. Sure enough, trailer footage and promotional material has confirmed the island plays a sizable role in The Rings of Power season 1.
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The history of Númenor is detailed in The Silmarillion, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings appendices, and other wider writings concerning the landscape of Arda. And even though Númenor itself may not appear during Frodo's quest and the War of the Ring, its influence is keenly felt, with decisions taken by Númenóreans in the Second Age directly influencing matters in the Third. As The Rings of Power's Númenórean expedition approaches, here's our full breakdown on this tragically glorious realm.
How Númenor Was Created, When & Who By?
The First Age had come to a violent end. A host led by the Valar (archangels of J.R.R. Tolkien's mythology) personally entered Middle-earth to defeat Morgoth, the first enemy. Though the Valar were victorious, Morgoth's dark influence and the cataclysmic battle had terraformed the landscape of Middle-earth, causing everlasting damage.
One of several native races who joined the Valar against Morgoth were the Edain - Middle-earth's first recorded men. As reward for their loyalty (not to mention the fact Middle-earth wasn't left in great shape), the Valar raised an island out of the ocean especially for the Edain to live on. Located between Middle-earth and the Valar's own realm of Valinor, men gradually migrated to this star-shaped isle, and the kingdom of Númenor was officially founded there in year 32 of the Second Age under Tar-Minyatur - Elrond's brother, who had forsaken his elven half.
How Númenóreans Are Different From Middle-earth Men
Númenor was nothing like the human settlements seen in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Human societies of Third Age Middle-earth are mostly humble, simple, rural cultures (see Edoras in Rohan), with cities such as Gondor's Minas Tirith rare examples of more grandiose architecture and greater accomplishments. And yet even Gondor's mighty and visually impressive capital doesn't quite match the majesty of Númenor. The Second Age island was a wonder to behold, more advanced in technology, rife in awe-inspiring temples and buildings, and heavily influenced by the knowledge of elves who visited from the coast of Valinor.
The Númenóreans themselves were a cut above the men who'd later populate Middle-earth. As another reward for fighting Morgoth, the Númenóreans were granted longer lives (some living up to 400 years). They became taller and stronger, and their wisdom was naturally greater by virtue of mingling with higher races. Descendants of men who didn't help the Valar against Morgoth don't receive such gifts and are considered less noble. By the time The Lord of the Rings rolls around, the entire race has been diluted compared to man's mighty Númenórean ancestors. The Rings of Power features human characters living in both Númenor and the villages of Middle-earth, and even if the islanders aren't oversized in Amazon's adaptation, their higher status will likely become apparent onscreen.
Which Second Age Events Númenor Was Involved In
For the first 600 years of its existence, Númenor thrived and prospered in watery isolation, but a growing preoccupation with the art of sea-faring eventually brought the men of Númenor back to Middle-earth - the land their ancestors left behind at the dawn of the Second Age. Initially, the Númenóreans' arrival was celebrated by all. The visitors forged an allegiance with the elves of Middle-earth, then made contact with their human cousins, passing on knowledge and wisdom. The Rings of Power will seemingly adapt this friendly relationship between Númenor and Middle-earth's pointy-eared population by having Galadriel visit the island to discuss an encroaching darkness.
The presence of Númenor on the shores of Middle-earth grew exponentially over the centuries, during which time Sauron infiltrated the elves by disguising himself as "Annatar," and tricked them into crafting the Rings of Power. He then attempted to enslave Middle-earth by secretly forging the One Ring, and when his plot failed, the War Between Sauron & The Elves began in year 1693 of the Second Age. Naturally, the elves called upon Númenor for aid, and when the fleet of reinforcements eventually arrived, Sauron was quickly beaten at the Battle of the Gwathló. This conflict stands a good chance of being adapted by Amazon's The Rings of Power sooner or later.
The Downfall Of Númenor Explained
The seeds of Númenor's downfall were, in truth, sown at the very beginning. As soon as the Valar raised the island, they forbade its population from sailing west toward Valinor. And despite possessing longer lives than their kin in Middle-earth, the Númenóreans would be visited by elves who were blessed with immortality.
As Númenor helped push back Sauron, his shadow almost seemed to draw out their underlying greed. Whereas Númenóreans were once friendly toward the people of Middle-earth, they become increasingly domineering from 1700 onward, ruling over the lesser men harshly. By the time Tar-Ancalimon took the throne in year 2221 of the Second Age, a chasm had emerged in Númenórean culture - the Faithful, who still trusted the Valar and wanted to remain friendly with the elves, and the King's Men, who were jealous of the elves and wanted rebellion against the Valar.
When Sauron tried his luck conquering Middle-earth again in the 3200s, the Númenórean forces sailed for Middle-earth to meet him. This time, however, their cause wasn't a righteous one - Sauron's claim as Middle-earth's undisputed ruler had simply insulted Númenor's king. The Dark Lord was dragged back to Númenor as a prisoner, but such was his talent for lies and manipulation, Sauron exploited the cultural split in Númenor and stoked the King's Men's anger. Temples were built in honor of Morgoth, and fleets were readied for an invasion of Valinor. As punishment for their corruption, Eru Ilúvatar - the God of J.R.R. Tolkien's world - cast Númenor into the sea, destroyed the fleet bound for Valinor, and removed Sauron's ability to change form.
How Numenor Is Connected To Gondor
When Eru Ilúvatar gave Númenor its divine spanking, he spared those of the Faithful who hadn't abandoned the Valar by joining Sauron. These lucky few included Elendil and his sons Isildur (he of not-destroying-the-One-Ring-when-he-should've fame) and Anárion. Upon landing in Middle-earth, Elendil and sons built two kingdoms: Arnor and Gondor. Arnor would fall early in the Third Age, but Gondor was destined to endure.
Settlements like the famous Minas Tirith from The Return of the King were constructed by those who survived Númenor's downfall, meaning Gondor's famous White City represents the style, architecture and ambition of the destroyed island. Gondor alone carries on the spirit of Númenor in Third Age Middle-earth, and this thread of continuity is represented by the famous white tree standing at the very top of Minas Tirith. Before Númenor was consigned to a watery doom, the king's court contained a beautiful tree named Nimloth the Fair. Isildur secretly stole a fruit from Nimloth, and this was planted in Minas Tirith to become the White Tree of Gondor.
Related: Is Cate Blanchett's Galadriel In The Rings Of Power?
Which Númenóreans Are In The Rings Of Power?
Amazon's Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power fudges the dates of J.R.R. Tolkien's timeline to bring his most famous Númenórean characters into the mix earlier. As such, Maxim Baldry is portraying Isildur, and Lloyd Owen plays his father, Elendil. The Rings of Power also introduces Isildur's made-for-TV sister, Ema Horvath's Eärien. Cynthia Addai-Robinson is Tar-Miriel, heir to the throne of Númenor, and Trystan Gravelle will assume the villainous role of Ar-Pharazôn, who steals the crown for himself before ultimately succumbing to Sauron's manipulations.
These characters wouldn't typically appear until near the end of Tolkien's Second Age, shortly before Númenor's destruction. Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power seems to deal with Sauron's comeback and the forging of the Rings of Power, suggesting Númenor's long history is being truncated for the purposes of television.
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