Talking The Rings of Power: Numenor

Talking The Rings of Power: Numenor

Sticking with my assessment that it’s better than The Shannara Chronicles, but not as good as Wheel of Time, it’s back to The Rings of Power.

Previously, I visited the sad story of Miriel (Tar-Miriel). Tolkien speculated on a couple back-stories to her marriage to Ar-Pharazon, but dropped all of them. Click on over and check that one out. He had some neat ideas.

I will say that I think that Numenor is one of the two strongest points in the show. It helps offset the fan-fiction level plotting and all the harfoot clutter.


Numenor is one of my favorite things in The Silmarillion. Not surprisingly, The Rings of Power has been a bit free with adapting it. But overall, I think Numenor is one of the highlights of the show, and they could have done a lot worse.

Visually, Numenor is stunning. It was a great island empire in The Silmarillion, and they did a terrific job of conveying the splendor of Armenolos, the capital city. As Halbrand and Galadriel arrive on Elendil’s ship, the city is unveiled in majestic fashion. The big CGI budget absolutely pays off.

The Argonath – two giant statues of Isildur and Anarion, on the River Anduin – were a highlight of Peter Jackson’s movies. They stand, with their hands out in a gesture of defiance from the folk of Gondor.

Here, there is a similarly giant statue in the bay of Armenelos. It is of Earendil (father of Elrond and Elros). In counterpoint to the gestures of The Argonath, Earendil’s hand is out in a welcoming, or blessing, gesture. That’s pretty cool. I also liked that statue of Ulmo. He’s the Poseidon-like being in Tolkien.

The show used the acrimony with Elves a bit heavy-handedly. but it could be pointing us towards Numenor’s unhappiness with The Valar, so I’m okay with that so far.

And Pharazon’s dialogue about tombs as everlasting monuments was a brilliant moment. It was a very small reference to the HUGE aspect of Numenor’s resentment at mortal lifetimes. This was a terrific Easter egg for fans of The Silmarillion and one of my favorite moments in the show.

Miriel’s visions of the failing of the White Tree (Nimloth), leading to the watery destruction of Numenor, is an adequate portrayal of the foretelling of her father, Tar Palantir. For when the White Tree perishes, so will end the line of kings of Numenor. The approach they are taking works for me.

Overall, I’d grade season one somwhere around a C; maybe a C-.. But Numenor has been handled very well, and is enough reason to come back for season two.


There isn’t too much bad about Numenor. It has definitely been a solid foundation stone for the series.

They compressed 1,300 years into one point in time. That is a major factor in how they present Numenor. It hasn’t seemed to be a big problem for this part of the story-line.

The ‘Elves are taking our jobs” scene felt too much like modern political commentary, but it fit within the scene, I guess.

The fact they had to beg for volunteers to assemble a five-ship fleet to go to war, was too silly to even focus on. Numenor was a great naval empire – one that humbled Sauron. It’s clearly a mighty power at this point in the time compression. Whatever.

Honestly – while too much of the series has felt like fan fiction writing, Numenor has been a strong point, and there’s no need to nitpick.


The Silmarillion can properly be divided into five parts, plus Tables (similar to Appendices). In the five novels, Tolkien wrote the least about The Second Age. The Akallabeth told of that part, and it is the story of Numenor. This tale of the greatest of the race of men, has long been a favorite of mine.

Tolkien didn’t just tell the story in The Silmarillion. The Peoples of Middle Earth includes “Lives of the Numenoreans, “Of the Land and Beasts of Numenor,” and “The Numenorean Catastrophe & End of ‘Physical’ Aman.” Christoper used much of this for Unfinished Tales. Tolkien even discusses Numenorean linear measurements. There is much ‘extraneous’ material about the island kingdom. He even laid out the entire royal line of Elros (Unfinished Tales).

He wrote part of a Numenorian short story, “Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner’s Wife.” It was not completed, but is included in Unfinished Tales. Tolkien thought, and wrote, about Numenor in many ways.

Another aborted short story, “The Lost Road,” was an attempt to “make a new version of the Atlantis legend.” The first quarter of volume Five of The Histories of Middle EarthThe Lost Road and Other Writings – deals with Numenor and “The Lost Road.”

Point being, Tolkien delved deeply into Numenor as part of The Legendarium.

Miriel was the daughter of Tar-Palantir, king of Numenor. But she never ruled in his stead. And the entire trip to the Southlands (and subsequent blinding) is made-up for the show. Pharazon is in fact her cousin. Miriel and Pharazon have notable fates in The Silmarillion. We shall see what direction The Rings of Power chooses to take regarding them.

But I think that Numenor is a highlight of the show. The depiction of the people being unhappy with Elves, is a decent depiction of Numenor’s growing discontent with the Ban of the Valar, and their lack of immortality. It’s a practical way to incorporate that theme without slowing things down. Pharazon’s speech about Palantir’s tomb providing him a type of immortality was a key part of that coming story line. And of Numenor’s ‘tomb culture.’

Numenor is definitely one thing they did pretty well.

Last month, The Fall of Numenor came out. It’s a collection of most of Tolkien’s Numenor writings, put together in narrative form. It’s got a ton of terrific sketches from Alan Lee that really add to the book. It doesn’t read like a novel -more like a flowing history of Numenor. I think it’s a pretty nice addition to your Tolkien shelf.

I’ll be talking about Numenor in next Spring’s Talking Tolkien series.

Talking the Rings of Power:

Talking The Rings of Power: The Istari
Talking the Rings of Power: Tolkien Trivia
Talking the Rings of Power: Miriel
Talking the Rings of Power: Harfoots

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Bob_TieSmile150.jpgBob Byrne’s ‘A (Black) Gat in the Hand’ made its Black Gate debut in 2018 and has returned every summer since.

His ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ column ran every Monday morning at Black Gate from March, 2014 through March, 2017. And he irregularly posts on Rex Stout’s gargantuan detective in ‘Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone.’ He is a member of the Praed Street Irregulars, founded (the only website dedicated to the ‘Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street’) and blogs about Holmes and other mystery matters at Almost Holmes.

He organized Black Gate’s award-nominated ‘Discovering Robert E. Howard’ series, as well as the award-winning ‘Hither Came Conan’ series.

He has contributed stories to The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories – Parts III, IV, V, VI and XXI.

He has written introductions for Steeger Books, and appeared in several magazines, including Black Mask, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, The Strand Magazine, and Sherlock Magazine.


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I’m enjoying your recaps with context. Thanks for doing this.

Thomas Parker

In reading what people all across the internet are saying about this show, I keep encountering one phrase (or variations thereof): “It’s not as bad as it could have been.”

Hardly a ringing endorsement…

Thomas Parker

Don’t be a hog – you can have fidelity to Tolkien or free next-day shipping, but not both!

Sarah Avery

Sometimes the fanfic writers start shipping characters before a show even drops! The day the trailer for Wednesday went up, they were already writing fic shipping Wednesday Addams with her not-even-named-yet roommate.

Jeff Stehman

My wife and I were a little late to the party, watching the RIngs of Power a few weeks ago. It was a mixed bag for us. I went into it knowing about the licensing limitations and expecting mostly fan fiction, which helped. A lot of the lore I remember has gotten fuzzy, and I’m not sure what of it is from the Lord of the Rings appendices and what is from The Silmarillion. This distracted me into pondering a few times when I should have been watching.

Disa was an absolute joy, with a delicious flash of doom in her closing dialogue. The Harfoots and the Stranger was my favorite plotline. I also liked the addition of Adar, and I’m curious where that goes in the next season.

Some of the worldbuilding was so stupid, it wouldn’t have passed muster for the silliest RPG campaigns I’ve run.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x