Galadriel’s brother Finrod makes his first TV appearance in Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” A look back at his story, which differs from that described in Tolkien’s writings.
After a very noticed appearance in the first episode of the Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Powerhere is everything you need to know about Finrod Felagund, played in the show by Will Fletchereldest son of Finarfin and Eärwen and brother of Galadriel.
IN THE SERIES
The Rings of Power, set in the Second Age, begins with a flashback to happier times.
The young Galadriel (Amélie Child-Villiers) lives in the blessed realm of Valinor during the Years of the Trees, making small boats and being bullied by other elven children. As a fight breaks out, Galadriel is arrested and taken away by her older brother, Finrod Felagund. The latter then transmits a little fraternal wisdom to his little sister.
But when the war against Vala Morgoth breaks out, Finrod goes in search of the latter’s best lieutenant, Sauron.
As Galadriel recounts, Sauron struck the first blow. Finrod’s body was found after the War of Wrath, bearing Sauron’s personal mark. Galadriel, now embodied by Morfydd Clarkthen takes her brother’s blade and inherits his will, developing a burning desire to defeat Sauron herself.
This brief but important role only scratches the surface of the original character story created by Tolkien. There’s plenty more to say about Finrod as Amazon’s series brings its share of significant changes, including how the powerful figure of the First Age met his end.
THE DEPARTURE OF FINROD FROM VALINOR
The Rings of Power indeed tell a shortened version of how the Elves left Valinor for Middle-earth. Rather than a noble quest to defeat Morgoth and avenge the Two Trees of Valinor, the Clan Ñoldor was actually led by their king, Fëanor, who sought to reclaim the Silmarils – 3 jewels holding the light of the Trees of Valinor – that Morgoth had stolen.
This exodus, dubbed the Flight of the Ñoldor, was not in accordance with the will of the Valar and Fëanor subsequently led his followers to commit horrific acts of violence against their own kind.
Although both Finrod and Galadriel joined Valinor’s journey to Middle-earth, they did so to avoid abandoning their people rather than rallying to Fëanor. Their father, however, will abandon the journey and return to Valinor after hearing of Fëanor’s violent betrayals, leaving Finrod and Galadriel to advance to Middle-earth alone.
Note that The Rings of Power also glosses over how Finrod left his one true love, Amarië, in Valinor.
SOVEREIGN OF HIS OWN CITY
The history lesson given in the first episode of the series gives the impression that Finrod left Valinor for Middle-earth with the sole intention of destroying Sauron. But in the mythology of TolkienFinrod plays a much larger role in the development of Middle-earth, with his actions having consequences that will carry over to both The Rings of Power and The Lord of the Rings.
To begin with, Finrod created the original Minas Tirith. Located much further north than its namesake in Third Age Gondor, this early Minas Tirith served as a watchtower against Morgoth for several centuries until Sauron invaded and turned the fortress into a base of operations. However, by the time Minas Tirith fell, Finrod had already moved on.
Indeed, having never abandoned the Valar as Fëanor did, the Vala Ulmo, deity of the waters who supported Elves and Men in their war against Morgoth, revealed to him a hidden network of subterranean caves.
This is where Finrod will build the great – almost inaccessible – city of Nargothrond, over which he will reign for more than three centuries, far from the gaze of Morgoth who will nevertheless seek to find the city and destroy it. However, like Minas Tirith, Nargothrond will not survive Tolkien’s Second Age.
FRIENDSHIPS AND ALLIANCES
But Finrod’s influence in Middle-earth has mostly been defined by the friendships he made during his travels. During the First Age, Elves and Dwarves argued much less than in The Rings of Power and The Lord of the Rings and even worked together.
Finrod thus built Nargothrond with the help of the Dwarves whom he generously paid for this work. Finrod’s good relations with the Dwarves – who nicknamed him Felagund – are notably mentioned in The Lord of the Rings while Gimli sings of “the mighty kings of Nargothrond” in The Fellowship of the Ring. Remember also Gimli’s reverence for Finrod’s sister, Lady Galadriel, when she visited Lothlórien.
These diplomatic efforts with the Dwarves are eclipsed only by the excellent relations Finrod maintained with the Men of Middle-earth. He shared his knowledge with the mortals, learned their language and customs, and helped bridge a burgeoning rift between them and the local Green Elves.
Finrod was particularly close to the House of Bëor and even invited the latter to spend the rest of his days in Nargothrond. This relationship proves crucial in later stories as the House of Bëor will be one of three that will settle in Númenor in the Second Age. Bëor’s descendants go back to Elendil and Isildur…as do those of a certain Aragorn.
FINROD’S DEATH CHANGED
In The Rings of Power, Galadriel is perfectly clear how her brother died: he fought Sauron and Sauron won. His death is arguably the biggest change Amazon is making to the show. Indeed, his death, as written by JRR Tolkien in The Silmarillion is markedly different.
Tolkien’s First Age is defined by a series of major battles between Morgoth and the Elves, gradually leading to the War of the Great Wrath. The Dagor Bragollach is one of the most infamous of these clashes which resulted in huge Elven casualties. Finrod could thus have been one of these victims if he had not been saved by Barahir, a descendant of the House of Bëor.
Naturally, the honorable Finrod swore an oath to Barahir by offering him his ring as a symbol of friendship and this ring – symbol of the bond between Men and Elves – is none other than the one transmitted to Aragorn, who will offer it to his beloved, Arwen.
Although Barahir himself will not invoke Finrod’s Oath, his son, Beren, will. Beren will indeed need a Silmaril stolen from Morgoth to appease his girlfriend’s father, the elven princess Lúthien. He will then go to Nargothrond to ask Finrod to honor his oath by joining his mission.
Tragically, Beren and Finrod’s company will be captured by Sauron and taken to Minas Tirith. It is here, as a prisoner, that Finrod will lay down his life to protect Beren.
The Rings of Power turns Finrod’s story into a quest for revenge rather than the quest for friendship that it really is, thus giving Galadriel a more personal motivation to hunt down Sauron. The first two episodes of the show indeed explore, in detail, how Galadriel is alone in her determination to eliminate the latter. Avenging the death of his older brother is thus his ultimate motivation.
THE LINK BETWEEN FINROD AND GALADRIEL
JRR Tolkien’s writings of the brotherly relationship between Finrod and Galadriel largely concern their adulthood, but the pair are described as close, with Galadriel regularly visiting her brother in Nargothrond.
Tolkien also writes that Galadriel was closer to Finrod than to her other brothers, Orodreth, Angrod and Aegnor, who were completely erased from the series.
Galadriel thus never sought to avenge her brother in this way, ultimately proud that Finrod had honored her oath to Barahir. And while the incident certainly sharpened her hatred for Sauron, Galadriel never swore to kill the Dark Lord herself.
In The Rings of Power, the portrait of Finrod and the young Galadriel is that of a big brother watching over the little sister. Although not necessarily a contradiction, Tolkien wrote family relationships between elves in a more formal tone, and because of their immortality, the concepts of “big brother” and “little sister” were less pronounced than the prequel implies.
This more “human” portrayal of brotherly love in the series therefore seems to be set up to make Morfydd Clark’s character’s personal journey more understanding, thus vindicating his relentless quest for vengeance against a still-hidden Sauron.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power can be seen weekly on Amazon Prime Video.