The Rise and Fall of Númenor - Is The Rings of Power Canon?
Regarding the rise and fall of Númenor, Is The Rings of Power canon? It’s been the question on everyone’s lips since the series was announced to be taking place within the second age.
Set before the War of the Ring, Tolkien’s world of Arda focuses on the resurgence of Morgoth’s next-in-line, Sauron, and the rise and fall of Númenor. Before getting into the meat and po-tay-toes of the second age, let’s break down the order of things in Tolkien’s fantasy world.
The Silmarilion Creation Story
In the beginning, there was one being, Eru Ilúvatar, otherwise known as the God of Arda and the universe that is Eä. Much like the Christian story of creation, Ilúvatar created Arda, the world where the lands known as Númenor, Middle Earth, and more can be found.
However, unlike the Christian God, Ilúvitar then created the Valar, gods who would oversee the creation of continents, and oceans and ultimately become the custodians for the Children of Ilúvatar. Who are they? They would be the races of Humans and Elves created by Ilúvitars ‘Music of the Ainur’.
Not all the Valar wanted to see the Children of Ilúvatar flourish, more so Arda. Morgoth began his rebellion against his kin by striking discord into the music of creation and began to amass his own forces in Middle Earth. This culminated in the ‘War of Wrath’ which its end marked the beginning of the second age.
This is a heavily abridged version of events, but it’s light enough telling for viewers of The Rings of Power to get a general understanding of the events leading up to the series.
The Creation of Númenor
Home to humans known as the Dúnedain in the third age, Númenor is actually the name of an area of the island, which many have taken its namesake when naming the star-shaped island. Known as Westerneese in common speech and Anadûnê in Anadûnaic, Númenor was raised from the great sea by the Valar thanks to the Dúnedain who fought alongside them during the War of Wraith.
Númenorians prospered as their initial close relationship with the Tol Eressëan Elves brought them new skills, lore, and an overall better quality of life. However, the Valar set one rule for the realm of men to follow. They must not sail to the Undying Lands, or more specifically westward to the point where they could no longer see Númenor.
So they ventured east to Middle-Earth instead, where multiple alliances were made. The alliance between Gil-galad, the Elven king of Lindon and Númenor would be the most important one, however.
The Shadow Over Númenor
The Númenorians had become a maritime empire with no equal, with a battle already won against Sauron previously. When Sauron resurged, he simply surrendered and became a prisoner of Númenor on the Island itself. Before this, Númenor had been subjected to much civil unrest and challenges in leadership, mostly due to them not being allowed near the Undying Lands.
Whilst some moved to Middle Earth in support of the Elves and Valar, other Númenorians stayed. Sauron saw this as his chance to take back the power he had lost and destroy this kingdom of man. He promised the king, Tar-Mairon, eternal life if he and his people would worship Melkor.
The white tree was burned in sacrifice to the Dark Lord, a five-hundred-foot temple was erected in worship and the free men of Middle-Earth were hunted and sacrificed.
This led to an all-out attack on Valinor (The Undying Lands). It was at this moment that the Valar called for Ilúvitar’s help to quell the oncoming threat. Once again reshaping the world, the Númenorians and their Island were consumed by the great sea never to be seen again.
Is The Rings of Power Canon?
The series is set in the middle of the second age, roughly 1500 S.A. to 1701 S.A. This is after Sauron has sacked the tribes of men in Middle Earth but around the time Sauron invaded Eriador, which lead to the Númenorians answering Gil-galads’ call to arms (although they were delayed at sea which led to mass destruction).
The Battle of the Gwathló marked the final battle of the War of the Elves and Sauron. Fought in S.A. 1701, the alliance of men and Elves dealt Sauron a crippling defeat that caused him to flee to Mordor.
This gives showrunners over 200 years to play with, which means creative liberties could affect some of the canons, but should mostly build upon them. Whether or not it will be fitting with Tolkien’s works remains to be seen and is a matter of opinion.
A big issue here is that Amazon has the rights to The Lord of the Rings, not The Unfinished Tales or the Silmarilion. So any mention of this source material in the series wouldn’t be a good look for Amazon. So whilst some creative decisions go against canon, there’s a legal reason why.
It’s annoying that rightsholding goes above what’s right creatively here, but it is what it is. Galadriel should be married to Celeborn by now and have no involvement in the passed War of Wrath. Celeborn is also the reason Galadriel wants to stay in Middle Earth, which is replaced with her brothers’ death and conviction to destroy Sauron.
One could argue that if the story ends at the same point as Tolkien’s works, it’s not the end of the world. Whilst a good portion of the internet would disagree with that statement, this is the state of The Rings of Power. Let’s hope that the canon Amazon does have the rights to isn’t messed with too much.