The future’s looking bleak for the inhabitants of Middle-earth. Sauron is returning, Orcs are taking over, and the people of Númenor seem to be facing a slight flooding issue.

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All of this was predicted in the latest episode of Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Amazon Prime Video.

The fourth part ended with Queen Regent Míriel of Númenor (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) deciding to follow Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and lead her people to help the Southlands, all in the hopes of undoing the island’s disastrous fate which she had foreseen in an object called a palantír.

The palantíri are very ominous items that crop up throughout the Tolkien universe and, like everything he wrote, they have a very specific purpose.

What is a palantír in Lord of the Rings?

Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Queen Regent Míriel in The Rings of Power.
Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Queen Regent Míriel in The Rings of Power. Courtesy of Amazon Studios

To start, palantíri is the plural of palantír, as there are seven of these mysterious things. Also known as the Seven Seeing-stones, the palantíri are essentially crystal balls that can be used for so much more than fortune telling.

The spheres can be used to communicate with each other and allow the user to see any part of the world where another stone sits. They can also, as we saw, show visions and key pieces of information.

The palantíri were created by ancient Elves known as the Ñoldor and given to the Númenóreans as a gift for their help in the wars against Morgoth.

Where do the palantíri end up in Middle-earth?

Lloyd Owen as Elendil in The Rings of Power
Lloyd Owen as Elendil in The Rings of Power. Amazon Studios

After the fall of Númenor, which could be what the Queen Regent sees in her visions, the seven stones were rescued and brought to Middle-earth by Elendil (Lloyd Owen).

The spheres were placed in guarded towers throughout the land and used by the realms of men to communicate. In the millennia between the Second Age of Middle-earth and the events of the Lord of the Rings, four of the stones were lost.

However, in the Third Age, the Ithil-stone was taken by Sauron and the Orthanc-stone was used by Saruman. As the heirs of Elendil and the Númenóreans were the only ones meant to use the palantíri, many Tolkien fans believe this is why it was so easy for Sauron to manipulate and overcome Saruman with evil.

After the fall of Isengard in The Two Towers, the Orthanc-stone is taken by Gandalf. But the ever-bumbling hobbit Peregrin 'Pippin' Took sneaks a look at the orb and becomes a target of Sauron.

Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, SEAC, SL
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in Lord of the Rings.

At the same time, Denethor the steward of Gondor uses the Anor-stone, and through it, Sauron manages to convince him that there is no point in fighting him.

Once Aragorn becomes King of Gondor, he uses the Anor-stone to communicate with Sauron. This allows him to distract the great eye long enough for Frodo to destroy the ring.

These orbs, although not inherently evil, certainly play a part in the dark dangers of Middle-earth. Who knows what they’ll show in the episodes to come...

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 hub.

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