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?
- What is the broken black blade?
- What is Mordor?
- What is Mithril?
- What are the Silmarils?
- What is Narsil?
- Who founded Númenor?
- Who is Galadriel’s Brother Finrod?
- Rings of Power Adds 15 New Cast Members for Season 2
- Who is Círdan?
- Will Celeborn Appear in The Rings of Power?
Something we love to do as fans if compare original source material to adaptation. It’s huge sport for us i the world of comic book fans and even huger sport for book readers who are invested in long-term complex canons like The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, and Wheel of Time all of which are currently enjoying on screen streaming adaptations. Since The Rings of Power debuted on Amazon Prime last year I’ve been riddled with requests from Spoilerites about what adheres to canon and what does not. It’s one of the things I love exploring most here in this feature series!
The question I’m asked the most often?
“Is Galadriel and Sauron’s relationship canon at all?”
So, here I am, writing this first Let’s Get Nerdy! installment of the New Year about Galadriel and Sauron and what their relationship is actually like.
In his writing, creator J.R.R. Tolkien describes Galadriel as “last remaining of the Great among the High Elves”. This statement only refers to her time during the Third Age of Middle-Earth when Sauron was regathering his power and the events of The Lord of the Rings take place. It’s an important indicator of the power and status Galadriel carries with her throughout her life as we know her.
He also states in his Appendices writing that:
They took Dol Guldur, and Galadriel threw down its walls and laid bare its pits, the forest was cleansed
— Appendix B
Which certainly reads at first blush like badass, warrior behaviour.
During the Second Age of Middle-Earth when Sauron rose to power under the guise of Annatar (where the events of The Rings Of Power take place), it’s debatable whether or not he had much fear or respect for Galadriel. It was only after Annatar had seduce Celebrimbor and the eponymous rings were already being crafted when the two characters came to loggerheads. Galadriel, along with Elrond and Gil-Galad, were the first to speak out against Annatar and what he was doing. Galadriel saw through the beautiful Lucifer-esque form which Sauron used to trick so many others.
Tolkien wrote in The Unfinished Tales of Annatar and Galadriel’s time together in Eregion:
In Eregion Sauron posed as an emissary of the Valar, sent by them to Middle-earth (‘thus anticipating the Istari’) or ordered by them to remain there to give aid to the Elves. He perceived at once that Galadriel would be his chief adversary and obstacle, and he endeavoured therefore to placate her, bearing her scorn with outward patience and courtesy. [No explanation is offered in this rapid outline of why Galadriel scorned Sauron, unless she saw through his disguise, or of why, if she did perceive his true nature, she permitted him to remain in Eregion.] Sauron used all his arts upon Celebrimbor and his fellow-smiths, who had formed a society or brotherhood, very powerful in Eregion, the Gwaith-i-Mírdain; but he worked in secret, unknown to Galadriel and Celeborn.
Before long Sauron had the Gwaith-i-Mírdain under his influence, for at first they had great profit from his instruction in secret matters of their craft. So great became his hold on the Mírdain that at length he persuaded them to revolt against Galadriel and Celeborn and to seize power in Eregion; and that was at some time between 1350 and 1400 of the Second Age. Galadriel thereupon left Eregion and passed through Khazad-dûm to Lórinand, taking with her Amroth and Celebrían; but Celeborn would not enter the mansions of the Dwarves, and he remained behind in Eregion, disregarded by Celebrimbor. In Lórinand Galadriel took up rule, and defence against Sauron.
So “chief adversary and obstacle” belies at least a passing knowledge and relationship. Probably below the surface to come to this decision.
There is also evidence both characters could have been in Khazad-dûm at any point during the Second Age of Middle-Earth at the same time, albeit not textual confirmation thereof.
It then follows that centuries later when the Dark Lord is trying to regain corporeal existence that Galadriel and Elrond (Gil-Galad no longer being alive during the Third Age of Middle-Earth), that he would fear Galadriel. She penetrated his disguise once and was directly involved in leading events which brought about his demise. She could do it again.
Although she never took part in The Last Alliance of Men and Elves, her intelligence and influence kept her in Sauron’s mind. The actions and betrayal of Annatar were certainly on hers – and that of her husband, Celeborn – to the point where they eventually relocate to Lothlórien from Eregion.
Tea with Tolkien on Twitter recently shared some interesting linguistic comparisons between alternate names for both characters:
Tea with Tolkien on Twitter: “oh?? pic.twitter.com/x36w4x4Smo / Twitter”
There’s not a ton of textual evidence of this being intentional on the part of Tolkien, but the man did not by accident. In my opinion it would make for some pretty fun material to extrapolate from in future episodes and seasons of The Rings of Power.