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?
- Who is Ar-Pharazôn?
Trigger warning: suicide.
From early days in The Rings of Power we’ve had a glimpse of broken black sword. It immediately gave off “shards of Narsil” vibes to this Gondor-obsessed writer, however the colour black is rarely employed in Tolkien’s mythology and when the dark hue is used it almost exclusively represents Sauron or another dark lord. When trailers first descended upon up leading up to The Rings of Power pilot episode premier I have theorized the broken black sword to be Gurthang.
In fact I’ve written about it in past Did You Hear? features! This is why you can’t miss a week. There’s always accidental Easter Eggs which could rear their heads again at any time!
That’s great, Ashley, but WTF is Gurthang?
Thank-you so much for asking!
It’s a sword (yes, we know!), which, like Narsil, is named Anglachel, then broken, and later reforged and
renamed Gurthang. When the blade was named Gurthang it was wielded by Túrin Turambar. You may recognize him from the cover art of The Children Húrin. He’s often framed as a tragic hero of the First Age of Middle-Earth. Túrin uses Gurthang to slay a whole entire dragon (eat your heart out, Rhaenyra Targaryen!), which is probably its greatest accomplishment of the First Age. Gurthang’s saddest accomplishment of the First Age is helping Túrin take his own life. Túrin discovers his wife is actually his sister and had taken her own life and the weight of his despair drives him to join her in death.
The other reason I think the broken black sword is Gurthang is because Gurthang is magic in a way other magic swords we’ve seen in The Lord of the Rings are not. Movie watchers are used to seeing blades glow blue when orcs are around or burn the hands of unworthy wielders … but Gurthang can fully communicate!
Gurthang tells Túrin before he turns the blade against himself:
Yea, I will drink thy blood gladly, that so I may forget the blood of Beleg my master, and the blood of Brandir slain unjustly. I will slay thee swiftly.
Gurthang breaks in this act and the shards are buried with Túrin and his wife under a monument which will come to be known as “Stone of the Hapless.”
Gurthang comes to break during the First Age of Middle-Earth. Yes, I know I’ve written by this twice now. The reason I believe it to be so important is because The Rings of Power takes place during The Second Age of Middle-Earth, making the fact we’ve only seen a broken hilt canon to the book. Totally appropriate.