Amazon Studios The Rings of Power is here! 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!
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 Isildur?
- The Rings of Power is Here! Read the Reactions
- Who is the Stranger?
- Who is Queen Míriel?
In last week’s episode, The Great Wave, we got to see a lot more of Númenor including a further look at Trystan Gravelle (A Discovery of Witches, Mr Selfridge), as the advisor to Queen Míriel named “Pharazôn”. I don’t know about you, Spoilerite, but he gave me huge Verys from Game of Thrones vibe in the continuing ouroboros trend of J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin’s currently competing series taking inspiration from each other even as The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon air simultaneously. You also may recognize the name Pharazôn from last week’s Let’s Get Nerdy! feature:
In a truly George R.R. Martin-esque move, Míriel was usurped by her cousin, Ar-Pharazôn, who took her title, crowned himself King of Númenor and changed her name to “Ar-Zimraphel”.
… in case you needed a reminder!
During the events of The Great Wave we get a glimpse of the paranoia Cynthia Addai-Robinson’s Queen Míriel is suffering surrounding the future safety of Númenor. She’s afraid of danger coming from the water (if you’re familiar with the Fall of Númenor you know her fears are well placed), when she ought to be turning her gaze within her own wall as far as Tolkien book canon is concerned.
In the proud tradition of Middle-Earth residents having a bunch of different names, Ar-Pharazôn is also known as Tar-Calion in the Elvish Quenya and Ar-Pharazôn The Golden during his reign as the last King of Númenor.
He was particularly focused on the quest for eternal life. If you recall now that J.R.R. Tolkien had a particular scholarly affinity for Arthurian Legend and Traditions and the quest for immortality which surrounds the Philosopher’s Stone or the Holy Grail you’ll find parallels between those Ur-Texts and Ar-Pharazôn in The Rings of Power.
Ar-Pharazôn is the nephew of Tar-Palantir (Queen Míriel’s father), and after the King’s death wed his daughter against her will in order to steal the throne for himself. From an early age Ar-Pharazôn was driven to power and one would assume acquiring a crown was enough, but not so with Ar-Pharazôn. When word reached him of Sauron’s grab for power in Middle-Earth Ar-Pharazôn took it upon himself to take down the Dark Lord almost single-handedly. He marched an army to Mordor and the Númenoreans were so powerfully overwhelming Sauron’s forces fled in abject terror.
In the win column for Ar-Pharazôn: he did capture Sauron and bring him back to Númenor.
In the lost column for Ar-Pharazôn: Sauron was smart enough to overwhelm him, convince him to worship Morgoth, and tempt him with lies of turning to darkness in order to ensure immortality.
If you’re reading this and wondering what exactly “worshiping Morgoth” might look like, it does get quite
dark and grim. Ar-Pharazôn and his yes-men burned human sacrifices to Morgoth. They chopped down the White Tree of Númenor, Nimloth, which necessitated Isildur saving the sapling of and bringing it across the sea to be planted in the courtyard of Minas Tirith where we will later see it blossom during the events of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
And it is this very action of removing Sauron from Middle-Earth and bringing him to the island kingdom of Númenor which causes the Fall.
But don’t worry, Spoilerite, Ar-Pharazôn gets his own in the end. He leads an army to Valinor and gets buried in the dirt in what would come to be known as “The Caves of the Forgotten”. Admittedly, I’m not sure The Rings of Power will go quite that far in Ar-Pharazôn meeting his end, but it’s particularly Tolkien to punish a villain by burying him in the mud and I would like to see the show try to do something so ostentatious in their crafting.