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Warning: This article includes spoilers for the first three episodes of The Rings of Power.
You may have read The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion thinking you knew the entire history of Middle-Earth, but Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is a whole new version of Tolkien’s expansive universe. Although much of the show is built on the appendices in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Prime Video series features brand new characters, and a brand new storyline created just for the show. So even if you have all the background knowledge written by Tolkien himself, there’s bound to be something in The Rings of Power you’ve never seen before.
Set in the Second Age of Middle-Earth, The Rings of Power covers the various major events leading up to the tale in the original trilogy, including the forging of the nine rings and the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron. Although set thousands of years before Lord of the Rings, the show stars characters we’ve seen before, such as Galadriel, an Elven warrior who later aids the Fellowship of the Ring in the book series.
We know the ultimate bad guy, Sauron, will one day become a formidable foe requiring a gargantuan effort to defeat. But until that very distant day, The Rings of Power will need a different enemy to rally against. That’s where Adar comes in. But who is this mysterious figure? We’ve got an explanation below, but be warned: this article includes spoilers for the first few episodes of The Rings of Power.
Who Is Adar in Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power?
We first discover the existence of Adar as the Silvan elf Arondir investigates evil growing in the Southlands. It turns out orcs are building tunnels underground and possibly searching for a weapon.
In Episode 3, Arondir, along with a number of humans and elves, is captured by the orcs and forced to dig tunnels. He notices the orcs keep mentioning someone called “Adar” who they report to (more on that interesting name below).
We don’t know much more yet about Adar, but we do see him at the end of Episode 3, when Arondir is dragged in front of him. The character is a completely new creation for the show, so there’s no telling if he’s just some new villain, or an early incarnation of an antagonist we all actually know pretty well…
Is Adar actually a shape-shifting Sauron?
Although he’s not the bad guy just yet, Sauron–according to Tolkien’s history of Middle-Earth–is around in the Second Age at the time of The Rings of Power. According to Polygon, Sauron was building up his forces in Mordor, which is close to the Southlands.
All signs point to Adar not being Sauron, though. During the Second Age, he used his shapeshifting ability to appear as the friendly Annatar so he could learn ringcraft. Also walking around as Adar would keep Sauron pretty busy. Not to mention there’s two other possible Sauron identities: the man from the sky, and Halbrand.
He could also shapeshift to appear as Adar, but such a quick reveal would frankly, be a little anti-climactic. While Arondir and the other elves are discussing Adar, they do blatantly point out Adar is one name for Sauron, so it’s possible. Still, Sauron has thousands of years to build his reign. Even if our heroes discover his identity, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to do too much to affect his overall trajectory.
Who plays Adar in The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power?
Adar is played by someone probably familiar to most fantasy TV fans: actor Joseph Mawle, who played Benjen Stark on Game of Thrones. He’s also been a prolific theater performer, and has appeared in other shows including Sense8, and British shows like Ripper Street and Birdsong.
Milan Polk is an Editorial Assistant for Men’s Health who specializes in entertainment and lifestyle reporting, and has worked for New York Magazine’s Vulture and Chicago Tribune.
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