WARNING: This article contains spoilers for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episode 5.Sauron’s sword could be the reason Númenor falls in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Amazon’s latest fantasy TV series is set long before the events of The Lord of the Rings, during what J.R.R. Tolkien referred to as the Second Age of Middle-earth. It’s a very different world, and the most striking difference lies in the island kingdom of Númenor.
The Númenóreans and their nation are only referenced in The Lord of the Rings, by which time their glory has long faded from Middle-earth. But The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is set at a time when Númenor was at its height, one of the greatest powers of the Second Age. The godlike beings known as the Valar rewarded the humans who had fought against the evil being Morgoth with a new land of their own, raising an island out of the ocean for these people (called “Edain“) to call their own. Númenor was actually founded by Elrond’s brother, who had forsaken his Elven half and chosen to embrace life as a human.
Númenor is joining the battle against Morgoth’s successor, but The Rings of Power episode 4 ending confirmed how high the stakes really are for the Númenóreans. There are mysterious visions of a cataclysm destined to sweep across the island nation, an event that will mark the horrific end of the Second Age. What’s more, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episode 5 may have hinted at how this comes to pass by the revelations regarding Sauron’s sword.
Númenor is a thriving nation in the Second Age, but sadly it is doomed. In Tolkien’s original lore, the Valar placed a restriction on the Númenoreans to prevent them sailing westward into the Undying Lands. This was known as the Ban of the Valar, and in obedience to this the Númenoreans looked eastwards and established colonies on Middle-earth, gradually transforming into an empire. Lord of the Rings’ Valar were angered when the Númenoreans began to chafe against their ban, and ultimately launched a vast fleet towards the Undying Lands to wrest immortality from the Valar. The result was the Cataclysm that ended the Second Age. The Númenorean fleet was swallowed up into the sea, and a great wave swept across the island of Númenor, drowning it. The Valar subsequently changed the very shape of Middle-earth, transforming it from a flat land into a sphere so nobody could ever truly sail westwards and discover the Undying Lands again.
Tolkien’s notes suggest he began to change his mind about how some of this played out. He came to regret the idea of a “Flat World,” considering it to affect the believability of his stories. Unfortunately, Tolkien had barely begun to conduct his rewrites by the time he sadly passed away in 1973, and his son Christopher Tolkien published earlier (more complete) drafts of some of his tales. It’s already clear The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is continuing J.R.R. Tolkien’s rewrite, basing their ideas on some of his other ideas and adapting them for a modern audience. This raises the distinct possibility that, although the Cataclysm is destined to happen as the story goes on, the event will have a very different cause.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has revealed the forces of evil are gathering in Middle-earth, in the area known as the Southlands – destined to become Sauron’s kingdom of Mordor. A fallen elf named Adar appears to be enacting an ancient plan, leading Orcs across the Southlands. It’s gradually become clear they’re looking for a very familiar weapon – Sauron’s sword, discovered by a villager named Theo in a barn. “It is no sword,” an elderly acolyte of Sauron’s named Waldreg told Theo in episode 4. “It is a power, fashioned for our ancestors by his master’s own hand.” There are many powerful swords in Tolkien’s lore, but this one doesn’t match well with any of them. It seems to be an original concept, albeit a terrible and dangerous one.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episode 5 saw Theo wisely reveal the sword to his mother Bronwyn and her Elven lover Arondir. He was shaken at the discovery, and his warning gave a sense of the potential power of Sauron’s sword. “There’s far more at stake here than just our lives,” he cautioned Bronwyn. “When Morgoth was at war, whole continents sank. Who is to say what horrors this might unleash, should our enemy obtain it?” This gives a new sense of scale to the war fought against Morgoth in the First Age, and Arondir clearly believes the power to sink entire continents lies in this enchanted blade. It’s possible this sword will eventually be used against Númenor, given the island kingdom has set itself against Morgoth’s successor. The Númenoreans may have waited too long, giving Adar – or perhaps even Sauron himself – an opportunity to obtain the blade.
All this naturally raises the question of what will happen to Sauron’s sword by The Lord of the Rings. It certainly wasn’t sought after by the Third Age, suggesting its power will be reduced in some way. The most likely explanation is that, after the destruction of Númenor, its power is bound into the Rings of Power themselves – perhaps even into the One Ring crafted to grant Sauron dominance over all races on Middle-earth. That would draw Sauron’s sword into the overarching narrative of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, and it would explain why the villains are so desperate to acquire it. Adar appears to be working independently from Sauron, but it’s quite possible he is being manipulated by the Dark Lord to recover the sword on his behalf – allowing Sauron to move to the next stage of his plan.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power releases new episodes at 9 PM Pacific Time on Thursdays and at 12 AM Eastern Time on Fridays on Prime Video.
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