Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Lord of the Rings: Who is the Stranger in The Rings of Power series?

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Amazon Prime Video has officially launched the first two episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and the series is already receiving a very warm reception from fans. But perhaps the biggest question mark for viewers after the first episodes is the Stranger, a very mysterious man. Who is he?

The Stranger’s Story

The first episode of the series ends with a shooting star crossing Middle-earth, as most of the main characters watch it as it crosses the sky. In the end, the meteorite lands in Rhovanion, a territory that extends east of the Misty Mountains to the territory of Rhûn.

When Nori, the Hobbit arrives on the scene, he finds a naked body , in the middle of a crater of flames which resembles the eye of Sauron. The series refers to this curious character as the Stranger, played by Daniel Weyman. Nori says the fire around the crater isn’t hot, recalling the scene at the opening of Episode 1 where Galadriel says that where they are is so bad that their torches don’t give off any heat.

Everyone thinks the Stranger is none other than Annatar, one of Sauron’s aliases. But this has not yet been confirmed.

The Stranger

What are the powers of the Stranger?

Episode two reveals some of the Stranger’s abilities. He lets out a loud scream and shakes the trees at one point, causing long shadows. Later, he picks up fireflies and places them in the sky like stars after whispering to them. These magic powers definitely confirm the real strength of this character, but no one really knows who he is, and what he is capable of.

The Stranger speaks in the second episode, offering only a few words. ”  Mana ” and ”  úre “, two Elvish words, which apparently translate to ” What is heat?” in the Quenya language.

So who really is the Stranger?

Our best guess right now is that the Stranger is actually a wizard similar to Gandalf the Grey. In Tolkien’s mythology, wizards are not just humans who know and practice magic, but spirits, called Maiar, sent by the Valar (essentially the gods of Middle-earth) to help people in times of need. 

The arrival of the Outlander just as the Rings of Power are about to be forged seems like the perfect time for a Maiar to appear. Tolkien’s lore on The Second Age of Middle-earth (the time the Amazon TV series takes place) is not as dense as the Third Age (when The Lord of the Rings takes place), but we know that at least two Maiar are there at the time, known only as the Blue Magi in Sindarin (Ithryn Luin ). The Stranger could very well be one of them.

The Blue Mages are magicians sent to help the peoples of Middle-earth fight against Sauron. The almost total absence of information about them is explained by their departure for the East of Middle-earth, a Terra incognita in Tolkien’s writings.

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