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Narvi From The Lord Of The Rings Explained

In late February, the J.R.R. Tolkien fansite Fellowship of Fans posted a scoop claiming, "'NARVI' is a Dwarven character listed in the production for 'THE RINGS OF POWER' Season 2." The exclusive announcement added a handful of additional details, including his code name "Rolm." The actor is currently unknown — that kind of stuff. Tucked away amidst the text was the little line, "Same as the Tolkien Dwarven character."

So wait, Narvi is an original character? Why, yes. He is, indeed. Despite the relative obscurity of the name for many Middle-earth fans — especially those who have only watched Peter Jackson's films — he is well-known among diehard Tolkien fans. This enormously important Dwarf is briefly mentioned twice in the same interaction in "The Fellowship of the Ring" book and has a couple of other quick nods and summaries in other out-of-the-way areas of Tolkien's writings.

And yet, despite the paucity of material, Narvi is an underexplored and underdeveloped character that is clearly critical to Tolkien's larger world. He plays a key role in the Second Age, in particular (when Amazon Studios's "The Rings of Power" is set). During that time, he forges unique friendships, sets high standards, and ultimately leaves an indelible mark on Middle-earth that echoes right into the "Lord of the Rings" saga.

Narvi is a character worth understanding better, particularly with his apparently impending arrival in Season 2 of "The Rings of Power." So, without further ado, here's a rundown of everything that we know about Narvi, why he was important, and what kind of impact he could have on the show moving forward.

Narvi is a really important next-to-nothing character

As we already touched on, Narvi is equal parts essential and forgettable in J.R.R. Tolkien's stories. This isn't because the Dwarf himself is unimportant, but rather because we know next-to-nothing about who he is. Tolkien only mentions him a handful of times, and even then, most of those are either in passing, or they're about his name and its origins (a typical move for the professor of philology).

Really, the meaningful mentions of the Dwarf come in two places. The first is in "The Fellowship of the Ring," where Gandalf reads his name on the inscription of the doors of Moria before the Watcher in the Water attacks the Fellowship of the Ring and forces them to run inside. The second is in Tolkien's posthumously published book "Unfinished Tales," where we read a few more jots and tittles about the Dwarf. When you add it all up, there are only a few dozen words in total. There's no denying that there's not much to work with.

When you step back and look at the bigger picture, though, this is the M.O. for most of Tolkien's Second Age material, and it's a large part of why showrunners Patrick McKay and J. D. Payne have been able to create so many new characters, storylines, and places. They're filling in major gaps in the narrative. Tolkien had little to say about the Second Age, especially in detail, which is why Narvi only made it onto paper a handful of times. In that sense, he's a perfect fit for Payne and McKay's creation — a canon character with minimal information who is wide open to interpretation.

That said, he does have a few details, as we've been hinting at.

So, who is Narvi, then?

In "The Fellowship of the Ring" book, when Gandalf reads the inscription on the doors of Moria, he says, "The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. Speak, friend, and enter. And underneath small and faint is written: I, Narvi, made them. Celebrimbor of Hollin drew these signs." Of course, this is the famous "speak friend and enter" episode, and eventually, the first half of the message gives the Wizard the absurdly simple clue he needs to get through the entrance.

But it's that second bit that most readers skip — even Peter Jackson cuts it out of the story entirely. A few lines later, Gimli clarifies, "Narvi and his craft and all his kindred have vanished from the earth." This cryptic summary refers to the famous Dwarven craftsmen of Khazad-dûm, of whom Gimli himself is a distant descendant. These are the Dwarves who are thriving in the not-yet-balrog-trashed subterranean kingdom in Season 1 of "The Rings of Power." The inscription indicates that Narvi was an important Dwarven artificer at this time who built the not-so-secret doors in a collaborative effort with the Elven Lord Celebrimbor, who wrote the inscription on them. The doors are magical, as is often the case with Dwarven doors, but they're more important than a well-built aperture. 

As the Fellowship huddles in the dark outside, Gandalf explains that "These doors have no key. In the days of Durin they were not secret. They usually stood open and doorwards sat here." A bit later, he adds, "Those were happier times." This clearly hints at a special connection between the Dwarves of Moria and the nearby Elves of Eregion.

Narvi and Celebrimbor form a critical connection

One of the major themes that run throughout J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth is the relationship between Elves and Dwarves. In most cases, this is a negative subject. Dwarves and Elves fight one another at multiple points throughout Middle-earth history. When they're not at each other's throats, they're typically avoiding one another. There are only a few times when members of both races genuinely connect and bond. The connection between Legolas and Gimli is one of these occasions. Narvi and Celebrimbor's friendship is another.

In the book "Unfinished Tales," we get the other primary references to Narvi. In its index, Narvi is explained as a "Dwarf of Khazad-dûm, maker of the West-gate, close friend of Celebrimbor of Eregion." The actual text mentions Narvi as well, saying, "Celebrimbor had 'an almost "dwarvish" obsession with crafts'; and he soon became the chief artificer of Eregion, entering into a close relationship with the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm, among whom his greatest friend was Narvi."

This touching connection between Celebrimbor and Narvi is followed by the telling line, "Both Elves and Dwarves had great profit from this association: so that Eregion became far stronger, and Khazad-dûm far more beautiful, than either would have done alone."

In other words, while we know very little about who Narvi is, there's no doubt that he plays a critical role not just among his people but in the larger geopolitical history of Middle-earth, too. His close friendship with an Elven lord — and the same man who helps create most of the Rings of Power — is a really big deal. Their connection clearly bonds their people closer together and leads to one of the most remarkable and beneficial cultural alliances in all of Tolkien's world.

How could Narvi play into the Rings of Power story?

Okay, so Narvi is clearly a quiet-yet-critical piece of the Middle-earth puzzle. The question is, how will the creative team behind "The Rings of Power" weave him into their narrative? The character will very likely be located in or around the Khazad-dûm storyline (which is an important clarification since the show's narrative threads are scattered all over the map). When Season 1 ended, things weren't great between the Dwarves and the Elves. Elrond (Robert Aramayo) had been kicked out for mining for mithril, and his bestie, Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur), is on the outs with his dad, King Durin III (Peter Mullan). (FYI: the two aren't actually friends in Tolkien's original writings)

Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards) has spent most of the season on the sidelines, clearly feeling left out and griping about his inability to connect with his nearby Dwarven neighbors. Interestingly, in the Fellowship of Fans leak, they also confirmed a previous rumor that Celebrimbor's recasting (from Tom Budge to Edwards) forced the showrunners to scrap a Season 1 storyline where Celebrimbor actually enters Khazad-dûm and has an extended storyline there.

Considering that, it seems most likely that we'll see Narvi used as a way to rope Celebrimbor back into the inside track. The two could meet, bond, make the Doors of Durin together, and generally help restore relations between their two kingdoms. Of course, we won't know anything for sure until Season 2 airs. Still, there's no doubt that the inclusion of Narvi is an exciting and promising development. Up until now, there's been a sad shortage of canon people and events in "Rings of Power," with Season 1 leaning on original characters and storylines to set the stage for its five-season story arc. Narvi could start to change that.