Amazon Studios The Rings of Power is a couple of weeks away. We want all Spoilerites to have the best viewing experience possible and have the widest knowledge base about the Second Age of Middle-Earth. This is a weekly Let’s Get Nerdy article series highlighting a different piece of Tolkien I think you need to know about!
Another familiar face from the kingdom of Númenor for fans of The Lord of the Rings trilogy of films is Isildur. He’s the eldest son of Elendil. A few weeks ago I did a deep dive feature on High King Elendil the Tall King of Númenor, so read that if you missed it before you go too deep into this piece. Adult Isildur was portrayed in The Lord of the Rings by Harry Sinclair and a younger Isildur will star in The Rings of Power played by Maxim Baldry (Strike Back, Doctor Who).
You may think of Isildur as the First King of Gondor (the co-founder of Gondor along with his brother … more on him in a bit!), but he was born during the Second Age in Númenor where we know a big chunk of The Rings of Power is set. King Elendil and Isildur are directly related to the kings of Númenor, but through an indirect lineage – which is to say through a woman. They are descended via Silmariën (eldest child of the fourth King of Númenor). So, yes, they did have a direct claim to the crown of Númenor, however, as happened in actual English history around The Yorks and Plantagenets culminating in The War of the Roses and the ascension of the Tudor dynasty. Through this line King Elendil and King Isildur are direct descendents of the first king of Númenor – Elros: Half-Elven twin brother of Elrond: Half-Elven who had chosen the life of men. It’s for this reason they lived longer than regular humans in Middle-Earth.
King Isildur was a big proponent of the “One White Tree” image which is associated with Gondorian imagery across Middle-Earth. The mighty white tree in Númenor was magical and culturally relevant and fully had a name. The white tree was called “Nimloth” and it grew in the royal courtyard. When Sauron was captive in Númenor he was hellbent on destroying Nimloth. Isildur set himself against Sauron to save Nimloth by disguising himself and stealing a fruit from the tree. He was attacked by guard and sustained grave injuries, but made it out with the fruit safe and sound.
Sauron’s power and influence increased in Númenor to the point where those who considered themselves
loyal to Númenor boarded ships and sailed for the parts of Middle-Earth we think of when we imagine the famous map drawn by J.R.R. Tolkien, himself. By then Isildur was an adult with three ships, the seedling of Nimloth, the Stone of Erech, and the Palanti (the plural of “Palantir”, the iconic seeing stones we catch a glimpse of The Rings of Power trailed from San Diego Comic-Con). So committed was Isildur to this new future for the Númenorean people he brought his wife and son, Elendur, with him.
Isildur has a younger brother named Anárion who we haven’t seen get much love in the adaptation/live action space, but he’s pretty important to the discussion as well. Post-defeat of Sauron and seizing of the Ring of Power when Isildur was reigning as King of Gondor. What’s interesting – and how we are going to get back to Anárion – is the two brothers ruled Gondor side by side. Even when Elendil was alive he remained in the North while King Isildur and King Anárion served the duties as Kings of Gondor in the South.
Game of Thrones fans (especially those who’ve read Fire and Blood), will recognize this trope of siblings reigning together – even when they weren’t married as the Targaryens tended to be.
The events of the opening sequence in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of Ring come to pass and culminate in King Isildur’s death at the hands of ranging orcs during an event known as “The Disaster of the Gladden Fields” whereafter The One Ring was “lost” for about 2,500 years. For all the preservation of the Númenorean culture King Isildur undertook, the founding of Gondor he undertook, and the act of killing Sauron, King Isildur’s legacy will always be not destroying The One Ring. King Isildur’s legacy will always be holding onto the item which allowed Sauron’s soul to sustain itself until it rose against during The Third Age of Middle-Earth.
In past articles I have answered the question:
- What Are the Rings of Power?
- What is Númenor?
- What is the Second Age?
- Who are the Harfoots?
- Who is Prince Durin IV?
- What is Khazad-dûm?
- Who is Celebrimbor?
- What is the Last Alliance of Men and Elves?
- Who is Elendil?
- New Pics! Who are Bronwyn and Theo?
- What is Rivendell?
- The Rings of Power First Reactions Are In!
- What is Lindon?
- What are the Nine Human Rings?
- Empire Magazine’s The Rings of Power Covers
- New Character Pictures
- Will Wizards Appear in The Rings of Power?
- New Promo for The Rings of Power
- What is Eregion?
- Leaked! Rings of Power Trailer Breakdown
- The Rings of Power Teaser Breakdown
- New EW Rings of Power Pictures
- SDCC Rings of Power Trailer Breakdown
- Who is Annatar?