What Are “Palantiri” Or “Seeing-Stones” In ‘The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings of Power’? How Do They Work?


In the 4th episode of “The Rings of Power,” we are made privy to a crystal orb which Queen Regent Miriel referred to as the Palantir. It was the source from which she and her father, Tar-Palantir, came to know about the doom that awaited Numenor. Galadriel comes to the tower where Tar-Palantir was staying, in the hope that she would be able to talk to him. She didn’t know that he was in a deplorable state and wasn’t capable of processing anything. Galadriel had come with a single agenda: to understand the fears of the Queen and then provide her with the means to overcome them. Queen Regent takes her to the room where the Palantir was kept. Galadriel touches it, and she also sees the fate of Numenor. Galadriel says that she had touched a Palantir before also, and it was not a hard and fast rule that everything that it showed came to be true. She was in denial. She didn’t want to believe that something so devastating could happen. But Queen Regent nullifies her speculations. She tells Galadriel that, according to the vision, the doom of Numenor would be initiated by the arrival of an Elf. Galadriel had arrived in Numenor, out of nowhere. She was destined to go to the Undying Lands, but she decided to change her own fate. She jumped into the Sundering seas and met Halbrand. Later, both of them were rescued by Elendil and brought to Numenor, where elves were prohibited from entering. Now it is not merely a series of coincidences. There was a purpose behind her meeting Halbrand (if he really was that) and Elendil, who everybody knew, still swore allegiance to the Elves. Had it been anyone else, apart from the Faithful, Galadriel would have never reached the shores of Numenor. So basically, with the coming of an Elf, it meant that the visions that were shown by the Palantir were actually going to come true. So, lets understand how these Seeing-Stones came into inception and what role they would play in the future of Middle Earth. 

Feanor, the craftsman whom Celebrimbor looked up to, had created these magical Seeing-Stones known as Palantir. In the second age, Numenor was divided into two parts: the kingsmen and the Faithful. There was a stark difference between the ideologies of the two groups. The King’s men wanted to attain immortality like the elves. They were made to believe by Sauron that they were not compensated duly after the Great Battle. He made them believe that they could go to the Undying Lands and wage a war against the Valors. The second group, called the Faithful, abided by the old ways and believed that they should never tread into the Undying Lands. They didn’t aspire to be immortals and kept the association they had with the elves in the olden times in high reverence. The Palantir reached Numenor when they were given to Amandil by the Elves. Amandil, much like his son Elendil, belonged to the Faithful faction. According to the works of J.R.R Tolkien, the vision that Queen Regent saw, will actually come true, and Numenor would be submerged beneath the sea. It was also said that Elendil and his sons, Isildur (who was introduced in “The Rings of Power”) and Anarion, were able to take seven Palantir and escape to Middle Earth. 

In Peter Jackson’s trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings,” Frodo Baggins and his friends see a group of elves coming back from somewhere. They had actually gone to worship a Palantir, in which they could see Varda, the strongest among all the Valar. Who can forget the last scene where Frodo realizes that he would also have to leave Middle Earth with Gandalf and the others. The Palantir, which Elendil had in his kingdom in Middle Earth, was also taken on that very ship. There were two basic functions of the Palantir, which could be assessed by looking at the events that happened in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The first function was obviously to communicate. It worked like telepathy. A person on one end thought something, and the receiver on the other end heard whatever he thought. Apart from this, a Palantir could also be used to see people and places. Sauron had one such Seeing-Stone in Barad-dur, his fortress. The eye of Sauron was able to see Pippin in one of the scenes before Gandalf took the Palantir from him and covered it with a cloth. Gandalf had given orders to everybody to not come near the Seeing Stone, as he knew that Sauron would come to know of their location and their plans through it. Sauron also used a Palantir to make Saruman act according to his wishes. He almost possessed the white wizard and made him do terrible things, one of which was raising an army of orcs and cutting the trees, until the Ents marched against the evil lord.

The Palantir that Queen Regent had, was telling her about an event that was going to happen in the future. Her father always thought that something might have triggered the Valor, which would have led to the destruction of his beloved kingdom, Numenor. Tar-Palantir was right in thinking so. According to the accounts of J.R.R. Tolkien, it was the acts of Pharazon, who, under the influence of Sauron, tried to enter the Undying Lands and caused the downfall of Numenor.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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