We’re just a few hours away from the season one finale of The Rings of Power on Amazon Prime. Much of the conversation over the last couple of months has been about which character is Sauron in disguise. Not really at the top of my list of things to learn, but it’s always good to end a season with a big reveal.
Episode Seven’s big reveal came in an almost-throwaway line of dialogue between Galadriel and Theo, when Galadriel mentioned that her husband had been lost in battle and had never returned. This, of course, is Celeborn. Certain slices of Tolkien fandom went wild with the revelation, since this was the first mention of the character (and because he’s quite significant to the overall picture of the Lord of the Rings). Celeborn is around, of course, in The Fellowship of Ring. Here’s the evidence:
It’s an interesting conundrum, one that I hope the show-runners handle well. There’s always room for creative license. But you also have to careful of what names you drop and how you drop them. You can find some reflections on the series, Galadriel, and Celeborn here.
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Which brings me to my reading of Unfinished Tales. It’s been a slow read for me, mostly because I’m not in a hurry. Just yesterday I finished the tale of Aldarion and Erendis. A beautiful tale, even if it was left “unfinished.” It’s a tale of the Second Age set in Numenor, so there are some ties to the broader Tolkien story. As with every other piece in the collection, there are footnotes and endnotes and a weaving together of various scraps and scripts that show us how Tolkien often rearranged and rewrote his stories.
Aldarion’s story is followed by a list of the line of kings of Numenor, which reads like a version of the Old Testament book of Kings (at least the last paragraph that sums up each king’s reign). Now I’m in the long section on “The History of Galadriel and Celeborn.” And it’s pretty interesting. Tolkien had her story going in various directions as he was putting his Tale together. Celeborn is in the writing some, but not much. So even though Amazon doesn’t have the rights to Unfinished Tales, I am curious to see if this section of the book could shed some light on things for me.
It’s easy to see The Hobbit primarily as the story of Bilbo Baggins, especially since Gandalf disappears for a large chunk of the narrative. But The Lord of the Rings is a story with so many primary characters, especially when seen in light of the broader Tolkien narrative. It’s about Frodo, but it’s also so much about Sam. And it’s about Gandalf and his long burden and about Strider and his coming to kingship. And it’s also, in some way, about Galadriel, who is given the test and who passes it. I do hope that whatever else The Rings of Power may be (and whatever stories the show does and doesn’t tell), it ends with a real sense of this particular time in the long life of Galadriel. That would be a real gift.
(image from nerdiest.com)