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Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power's Arondir Explained

Amazon Studios' "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is a bold take on J.R.R. Tolkien that will go where no on-screen adaptation has dared to go before: into the earlier annals of Middle-earth history. Specifically, the show will be dialing back the clock by a few thousand years — well before the events of The Lord of the Rings — to the Second Age, where all of the Ring-based drama started.

This promises to be a fun, exciting, and above all different look at Tolkien's world, if only because there is so little source material available. Rather than having an extensive story to work from, as was the case with Peter Jackson's adaptation of LOTR, Amazon's production team is working with little more than outlines and references to the epic age that preceded the War of the Ring.

One area where the challenge is particularly poignant is with characters. The lack of source material means the production crew will be working overtime to create a cast of believable characters who can fit into the famously complex and well-designed Tolkien mythos.

While the success or failure of that effort will play out over the next few years, there are several characters that have immediately jumped off the screen as the show has kicked off — including the Silvan Elf Arondir. Both fans of the original books and Peter Jackson's acclaimed trilogy have no idea who this newcomer is because, well, he's made up for the show. Even so, small tidbits of information have slowly come to light that give us a clearer picture of who Arondir is, where he comes from, and what he might be up to during the "Rings of Power" story.

Arondir is played by Ismael Cruz Córdova ...and is a Silvan Elf

Let's start out with a quick summary of Arondir based on the soundest facts available: hints and isolated factoids from promotional material. These are the things that concrete cases are built on. In all seriousness, we just don't have much to go on about Arondir yet — and we won't until his role in the larger "Rings of Power" story plays out in detail on the streaming screen. Still, the breadcrumb trail we've been given so far is starting to create at least a vague picture of the immortal Elf.

For starters, Arondir will be played by Ismael Cruz Córdova. This is significant, as Córdova was born and raised in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, and is one of the first actors to, in the words of Harfoot actor Sir Lenny Henry, "shift the needle" for people of color in Middle-earth. Specifically, he's the first person of color to play the role of an Elf in that world.

Within the story itself, we know a few details about Córdova's character. For instance, he is a Silvan Elf. Interestingly, this puts him in the same category as other woodland Elves, like the inhabitants of Mirkwood and Lothlorien. As an interesting aside, Arondir also will be in the southern region of Middle-earth and, according to our research, little is known about any Elves living too far south. (More on Arondir's location in a minute.)

The last item we'll point out here is the fact that Arondir's armor also sports a mysterious leaf-covered face. Could it be an Ent? Or perhaps the Valar and Huntsman, Oromë? This would fit the Silvan Elf setting, but only time will tell.

Arondir is in love, too ...forbidden love

In Vanity Fair's First Look at the series back in February, it revealed that Arondir "is involved in a forbidden relationship with Bronwyn, a human village healer..." One of the pictures in the spread which featured the two lovebirds also came with the caption, "Bronwyn (played by Nazanin Boniadi) with her forbidden love, Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova), in the village of Tirharad."

This is clearly a relationship that seeks to play off of the "forbidden love" element of Aragorn and Arwen. It's also a union between mortals and immortals that, while rare, does appear a handful of other times in Tolkien's earlier stories. For instance, Elrond and his twin brother Elros (whose descendants rule the island of Númenor during the Second Age) come from one of these rare unions.

Peter Jackson already attempted to recreate the mortal/immortal romance dynamic between the Silvan Elf Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), who was also invented for the screen, and the Dwarf Kíli (Aidan Turner). However, in that case, the union felt out of place and was very poorly received by fans. It appears that this time, showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay will attempt to rekindle their own version of forbidden Middle-earth passion between the more traditional pairing of an Elf and a Human.

It's worth noting that Arondir doesn't just have interactions with Bronwyn. He's also been shown standing next to and interacting with her son, Theo. Empire Magazine's coverage of the show even showed a shot of the two characters running through the woods as if they are being chased. Clearly, Arondir's connection with Bronwyn and her son will be a pivotal part of his story.

Arondir's location and activity will be pointed south

Further promotional material has also revealed that Arondir will be operating in the "Southlands" of Middle-earth. Along with the fact that Bronwyn lives there, a picture was released, which the fan site Fellowship of Fans described as "Arondir (Ismael Crúz Cordova) on top of the TirHarad watch tower in #LOTRROP." With Arondir clearly operating in the south of the continent, it leaves it for "Rings of Power" to clarify if the Silvan Elf is a native of the Southlands or if he traveled there from a northern home at some point during his doubtlessly long immortal lifespan.

While Tirharad has been made up for the show, the fact that it's in the Southlands is important, as that is something that J.R.R. Tolkien himself created. The area is located south of Mordor on the map and is part of a vague group of geographic regions that are also called Harad, Haradwaith, the Sundlands, and other names, besides. In "The Silmarillion," the Southlands are referenced in the Second Age (i.e. during the "Rings of Power" story) when it says that the Men of Númenor sailed "from the darkness of the North to the heats of the South, and beyond the South to the Nether Darkness..." The book also talks about how eventually, this sea-borne exploration turns into conquest and colonization. It says that the Númenóreans "made great settlements upon the west shores of the ancient lands..." adding later on that "the King's Men sailed far away to the south; and the lordships and strongholds that they made have left many rumours in the legends of Men." This is the area where Arondir will operate. Sweet.

Arondir appears to be a somber, attentive character

The concept of Harad or "the south" is already a known quantity. In addition, Tirharad appears to be a combination of Tolkien's words for "watch" and "south." Thus, we can assume that Arondir will be in and around a watchful town located somewhere in the Southlands ...which happen to be a hoppin' area during the Second Age.

It's worth noting that this connection with "watchfulness" could also be applied to what we know of the character himself. He's been shown gazing from the top of a massive watchtower, probably using his Elven eyes to spy out the lands below. In addition, in the few moments we've seen so far, he appears to be ready to jump in and help when needed.

The last thing worth pointing out is that in the "Rings of Power" teaser trailer, it appears to be Arondir who is shown leaping up in the air, ready to strike whatever is in front of him with some kind of weapon. In that shot, he seems to have a chain attached to his leg, indicating that he's a captive.

This sobering thought, combined with the character's watchful pose, indicates that Arondir could bring almost a Strider level of gravitas to the proceedings. The question is, will his own destiny measure up to the Dúnedain's or will he be just another character the writers use to help move the massive story forward, one inch at a time, to the end of the age and Sauron's final defeat on the slopes of Mount Doom?