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LoTR: Númenor — The Land of Kings That Sunk Into the Sea

6 Minute Read
May 14 2024

The land of Númenor played a major role in Amazon’s The Rings of Power. Here is everything you need to know about the city.

Númenor is a legendary island king in Tolkien’s world. This advanced island of men is set to play a major role in Amazon’s upcoming series The Rings of Power. Beyond the show, the island’s history and fate cast a long shadow over all of the Lord of the Rings. Here’s everything you need to know about the infamous island and its influence over Middle Earth.

The Founding of Númenor

When the War of Wrath and the fall of Morgoth ended the First Age, Middle Earth was left in ruins. Many lands had sunk beneath the waves and many more were devastated. Throughout the wars between Morgoth and the three houses of men, the Edian remained allied to the light and fought against the Dark Lord. In recognition of their service, the Valar decided to reward them.  They raised the isle of Elenna (later known as Númenor) from the sea and gave it over to the men.

An image of the scenery along the coast of Númenor, three giant statues of warriors stand carved into the landscape against a cloudy sky.

Kingship of the Island was given to Elros, son of Eärendil the Mariner and brother to Elrond Half-Elven. While Elrond chose to embrace his Elf side, Elros chose to live as a mortal man. He took the name Tar-Minyatur and ruled wisely for 400 years while the power and wealth of his people grew.

The Geography of Númenor

An image of a black and white map of the island of Númenor.
Map of Númenor by Christopher Tolkien

Elenna was the original name of the island. The name means “Starwards”, and it represents both the star shape of the island and the fact that Edian followed the Star of Eärendil to get there. Its location west of Middle Earth gave rise to the name Númenor, roughly meaning West-land. While the island had several mountain rangers it contained only two major rivers. Siril ran roughly north to south and Nunduine east to west.

An image of the port in Númenor, where buildings, bridges, and homes appear built into the mountainous landscape. There is also a very large carving of Ulmo, the Númenorian god of the sea.
A look at Númenor in the Amazon series The Rings of Power

Númenor was roughly divided into 6 main regions, one for each arm of the start, and a central region. Mittlamar, the central region, was home to the massive mountain Meneltarma, the Pillars of Heaven. The top of Meneltarma was sacred to  Eru Ilúvatar and the only real temple on the island was there. It was said from the top of Meneltarma on a clear day you could see from Númenor to the blessed shores of Valinor.

An image of Armenelos, the largest city of Númenor, featuring an extravagant domed building at the center.

Armenelos was the largest city and capital of Númenor. The island held several other major cities and towns. Nindamos and  Eldalondë were but two of them. Much of the native flora was gifts from the Valor and Elves and not found elsewhere in mortal lands.

The Fall of Númenor

For more than 1000 years, the Númenóreans grew in flourished in peace. The first stirrings of their doom came in S.A 1600 when the Dark Lord Sauron returned to Middle Earth and waged war there. They were victorious in this war and began to settle portions of that land (contrary to what some might think, Númenor is not in Middle Earth, but west of it). For another 1600 years, Númenor prospered.

An image of the nine kings of men holding their rings of power, given to them by Sauron.

However, during this period some began to chafe against the so-called Ban of the Valar. When the Edian were given Númenor, one rule was placed on them. They were not to sail west out of sight of the island. This was to prevent them from coming to Vailnor and the Undying Lands. Despite living several times longer than normal men, many sought even longer lives. At least three Númenóreans were seduced by rings and became Wraiths in thrall to Sauron.

An image of Sauron, decked out in his very best spikey armor, reaching out with the One Ring on his index finger.

Twisted by their desire for a longer life, the Númenóreans became tyrannical and ruled over a vast empire. A few, known as the Faithful, clung to the old ways, but the far more numerous Kingsman fell into darkness. However, when Sauron once again made trouble in Middle Earth, Númenor went to war against him. In SA 3255 King  Ar-Pharazôn The Golden (after having usurped the throne) led a mighty host to fight Sauron. So great was this host that Sauron’s armies fled and the Dark Lord surrendered without a fight.


Sauron the Prisoner

After his defeat, Sauron was brought back to Númenor as a prisoner. But such was his cunning and guile that he soon earned a place as Ar-Pharazôn’s advisor. Praying on the king’s desire for immortality, Sauron was able to fully corrupt much of Númenor, turning the highborn to the worship of Morgoth. In SA 3319, Ar-Pharazôn once more gathered the hosts of Númenor. Despite warnings, he then broke the Ban of the Valar and sailed to make war on the Undying Lands.

via Amazon

But when he and his men set foot on Valinor, the Valar called down their wrath and broke the world once more. Ar-Pharazôn and all his mighty hosts were trapped in the Caves of the Forgotten. There to remain until the last battle. Fire and water came down upon Númenor and the broken island sank into the Sundering Seas. The Undying Lands were removed from the circle of the world and the globe was made round.

The Legacy of Númenor

An image of actor Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn as the crowned king.
via New Line

Only a handful of the Númenórean Faithful escaped. Led by Elendil and his sons Isildur and Anárion, they reached Middle Earth. Here the last scions of the House of Elros founded the Númenórean realms in exile, Arnor and Gondor, but that is a tale for another time.

As for Númenor, after its sinking, the survivors referred to it as Atalantë (meaning the Downfallen) in a clear reference to Atlantis. Some suggested that the very tip of Meneltarma could still be seen above the waves, but this was never conclusively proven. The Island remained lost to time and its own folly.

An image of the Magic the Gathering Aragorn, the Uniter card featuring Aragorn wielding a flaming sword and a shield.

The Númenóreans in Middle Earth would of course go on to be major players. Sauron had helped cause the downfall of their homeland and they never forgot this. There were no more staunch enemies of the Dark Lord than the line of Elendil.


In The Rings of Power

In Amazon’s The Rings of Power has a slightly different history. The basics of its background appear to be mostly the same. However, there appear to be some changes to the timeline. With these being a bit unclear, we can’t say for sure what changes are made.

But by the time of season 1, Numenor appears to have become an insular society. They have no army,  though they maintain a navy.  They don’t seem to have much, if any, contact with the rest of Middle Earth, though mention of old colonies is made. In season 1 Numenor does begin to build up an army and launches an expedition to what becomes Mordor, but it’s clear that its main plot will come in later seasons.

Let us know what you’re most looking to see of Númenor, down in the comments!

Author: Abe Apfel
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