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What Is The Broken Sword In The Rings Of Power Promos?

Amazon's "Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is fighting an uphill battle when it comes to finding relatable ways to connect to other areas of Middle-earth lore. 

For some perspective, "The Hobbit" — which primarily takes place roughly sixty years before LOTR starts — was able to lean on a smorgasbord of connections, like Gandalf, the Black Riders, the Shire, Rivendell, Elrond, and the One Ring. In comparison, "Rings of Power" — which happens thousands of years before both "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" — can only connect on a few obvious points, one of which is a Tolkienian staple: weapons. Tolkien doesn't just include epic weapons in his writings. He names them, too. There are dozens of bows, arrows, maces, and even battering rams that get a moniker all to themselves. Many of these are powerfully and mysteriously forged, as well, giving them a resilience that lets them last for thousands of years.

In mid-April, Amazon released a new pair of promotional images. Both of these centered not on connections to the existing source material, but rather on two characters who were made up for the show. Nazanin Boniadi's Bronwyn we have already met before, but Tyroe Muhafidin's Theo was a fresh reveal. Even more intriguing than Muhafidin's unknown character profile is what Theo is doing in the new photo: holding the handle of a broken sword. Amazon simultaneously updated a previous post with that same sword hilt, connecting the character and the broken heirloom once again.

As a general rule, when you see something front-and-center in promotional material — especially more than once — there's a good chance it's sending us a message. In this case, we're seeing a broken sword held by a young man, sparking the question from many fans — what in Middle-earth is it?

Could the broken sword be Gurthang?

One of the most popular candidates for Theo's broken sword is the ancient Elvish blade Gurthang. Originally called Anglachel, this is an epic weapon from the First Age of Middle-earth history.

It plays a crucial (and sobering) role in the story of Tolkien's tragic hero Túrin Turambar. While that story is too long to unpack in a few sentences, suffice it to say that the sword is forged by the Dark Elf Eöl, who imbues it with his evil will. In "The Silmarillion," it describes the sword, saying that it was "a sword of great worth, and it was so named because it was made of iron that fell from heaven as a blazing star; it would cleave all earth-delved iron."

Túrin accidentally kills his best friend with Anglachel (hence the whole "tragic hero" bit) and ends up renaming it Gurthang (which means "Iron of Death"). Eventually, he uses it to kill a dragon single-handedly. The sword is semi-sentient and even speaks at one point, telling Turin that it will gladly kill him as payment for all of the unjust slaughter that he's used the weapon to commit. In fact, it's the odd weapon-based euthanasia of Túrin is that leads to Gurthang breaking under the weight of the hero's guilt-laden body.

Gurthang is buried with Túrin in one of the few places that aren't drowned at the end of the First Age, which means the sword is still technically above sea level and could be recovered by the time of the Second Age. Tolkien doesn't revisit the weapon, so there isn't canon guidance to help with that kind of storyline. There's an even bigger issue though. If what we know so far is true, the show doesn't have the rights to use Gurthang in the first place...

Other potential two-bladed candidates

The Gurthang hypothesis is a pretty tempting candidate for Theo's sword. The weapon is described as black and dull, although its edges gleam with a pale fire, Sting style. It breaks the last time we see it, and it's technically available when the "Rings of Power" show starts.

The big issue here is the fact that Gurthang doesn't show up in the portions of Tolkien's works that the "Rings of Power" has access to. According to the showrunners (via Vanity Fair), they can only use material from the "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" books. Of course, they may have gotten an exception to that rule, and if that's the case, Gurthang could be in play. In fact, if they can use sources like "The Silmarillion," then there are a few other options out there.

One of those is Gurthang's sibling, Anguirel. Eöl forges two swords from the iron meteor, but soon afterward, Gurthang's twin disappears from the story. It's taken by Eöl's son, Maeglin, and we don't hear much else about it besides a vague reference. Angrist, the legendary knife of the First Age hero Beren, is another long-shot option here. This nifty blade was made in the deeps of time by Telchar, the same Dwarf who forges Aragorn's sword. It also can cut through metal, and the last time we see it, it's broken.

If we dig even deeper, there are many other options. While none of these break (as far as we can tell), Dagmor is Beren's actual sword. Aranruth is an ancient sword inherited by the kings of Númenor. Ringil is the Elven king Fingolfin's sword that stabbed the Dark Lord Morgoth seven times. But again, these all come from "The Silmarillion," which the show apparently can't use.

Is Theo's sword made up for the show?

The other option here is that Theo's sword is important, but doesn't directly connect to existing material. Instead, it could simply be invented for the show in the spirit of Tolkien's veneration for ancient, well-forged weaponry. If that's so, there are several ways this could go, as can be seen from the conjecture taking place on the social posts that originally featured the broken weapon.

For instance, one comment suggested that it could be from Mordor — something that fits with its Morgul blade-esque vibes. Others connected a broken sword to something mentioned by Patrick McKay (also via Vanity Fair) where the showrunner said that "[Galadriel is] full of piss and vinegar and she's got a sword that's broken because she's killed so many orcs."

If "Silmarillion" references are allowed, they could also link the sword to Eöl without it being either of his meteorite-forged blades. How? At another point in "The Silmarillion," it explains that the Dark Elf also "devised a metal as hard as the steel of the Dwarves, but so malleable that he could make it thin and supple; and yet it remained resistant to all blades and darts. He named it galvorn, for it was black and shining like jet..." Perhaps a reference to a generic "galvorn blade" would be light enough to pass the scrupulous filter of the Tolkien Estate.

Regardless of which way they go, if they aren't making up this apparently important sword, it's hard to see how they can use one of the ancient swords from "The Silmarillion," since they don't show up in "The Lord of the Rings" proper. Even so, there's one sword in that trilogy that does show up. Multiple times. And it's broken, and reforged, and super-duper important ...

How all of this still connects to Lord of the Rings

Even if "Rings of Power" is angling to make up their own broken sword narrative, there's still one important way that all of this connects to "The Lord of the Rings." This isn't the first time we've heard about a broken sword. Aragorn's sword is a centerpiece of the epic story.

Originally called Narsil, Aragorn's blade first shows up toward the end of the era that "Rings of Power" is going to cover. The ancient blade comes from the powerful island nation of Númenor. Sauron destroys it before Aragorn's ancestor, Isildur (who will also be in the show) uses its shards to cut the One Ring from the Dark Lord's hand. Thousands of years later, the blade is reforged, named Andúril, "Flame of the West," and used in the War of the Ring. It's a critical symbol of the returning king and the royal line that he claims to come from.

Everyone and their mother is aware of Aragorn's sword, and no matter what Theo's broken blade ends up meaning, there's no doubt that the promotional element here is angling to get those "Lord of the Rings" connections dancing in our heads as we prepare to sit down and take in the new Middle-earth experience this fall.