This week, J. R. R. Tolkien fans may be either excited or confused as The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power introduces another dose of ancient elven lore.

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The Silmarillion, although one of the more appendix-heavy books in Tolkien’s collection, still holds an important place in the hearts of Lord of the Rings fans, which is why its inclusion in Amazon Prime Video’s new series is so key.

As Elrond (Robert Aramayo) and Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur) go to meet High-King Gil Galad (Ben Walker), the secret agenda of the Elves becomes clear. As suspected by the Dwarves, it was no coincidence that Elrond turned up just after they discovered the mysterious ore, Mithril.

In fact, the elves believe Mithril is the key to their survival as it contains the light of the lost Silmarils.

Even though they have already been mentioned in this series, there are probably many out there that aren’t entirely caught up on what the Silmarils actually are. Here’s an essential catch-up.

What are the Silmarils in Lord of the Rings?

Valinor as depicted in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
Valinor as depicted in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Courtesy of Prime Video

The Silmarils, or the Jewels of Fëanor, are gems made by a powerful elf named, unsurprisingly, Fëanor.

In Tolkien's works, Fëanor crafted the jewels long before the first age of Middle Earth when immortal beings such as elves lived in Valinor with the Valar (godlike beings).

The Silmarils were skillfully made out of a crystalline substance called Silima and contained the light of the two trees of Valinor. These trees were the main source of light in the world before the sun and the moon were created. As a result, the three gems became the most desirable objects in existence.

The jewels were deemed so beautiful that Varda, the Queen of the Valar, made it so that nothing evil or unclean could ever hold them.

Yet with the help of a spider-like creature called the Ungoliant, the evil god Morgoth stole the Silmarils and destroyed the two trees. He set the jewels in an iron crown and also killed Fëanor’s father.

In revenge, the elf took his sons to Middle Earth and swore to wage war on anyone who tried to keep the gems from him.

After some time, one jewel was recovered by a human named Beren and was later passed on to Eärendil, a half-elf and the father of Elrond.

Eärendil sailed back to Valinor with the jewel and returned it to the Valar as a sign of respect. The Valar then set the Silmaril in the sky and it became the Star of Eärendil.

The other two gems remained with Morgoth until they were recovered by Fëanor's sons, Maedhros and Maglor. Yet the two sons and Fëanor's bloodline were no longer considered pure by the gems, which burned their hands and caused unendurable pain.

To get rid of the pain the elves committed drastic acts. Maglor threw his gem into the sea where it was never seen again, and Maedhros threw himself into a fiery pit with his Silmaril. It now stays lost in the Earth.

The Rings of Power changes to the Silmarils

Robert Aramayo (Elrond), Owain Arthur (Prince Durin IV) in The Rings of Power
Robert Aramayo as Elrond and Owain Arthur as Prince Durin IV in The Rings of Power Ben Rothstein/Prime Video

The fifth episode of The Rings of Power, Partings, does not reveal which Silmaril is part of Mithril, but it can only be assumed it’s Maedhros’ jewel.

The episode describes the forging of Mithril from a battle over an ancient tree. An elf poured all his light into the tree while clashing with the darkness of a Balrog of Morgoth and then lightning struck the tree, which caused this light and darkness to flow into the earth to create the precious ore.

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This creation story seems to deviate from Tolkien’s books which never confirm where Mithril comes from. Yet what does line up is that almost every race on Middle Earth seems to want the metal.

The ore holds great importance for both the elves and the dwarves and as we know, will hold great importance for Sauron as well.

It’s uncertain that in the episodes to come the lore from The Silmarillion will continue to play out to the pleasure of Tolkien fans.

Amazon Studios is limited as they can only tackle the lore that is also included in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings. If it is only featured in The Silmarillion then we are unlikely to see it as the studio does not have the rights to this work.

We shall have to wait and see how Amazon Studios handles any of the further mythology.

Read more on The Rings of Power:

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power continues on Fridays on Amazon Prime Video – you can sign up now for a free 30-day Prime Video trial.

If you’re looking for something else to watch in the meantime, check out our TV Guide or visit our dedicated Fantasy and Sci-Fi hub.

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