Images from Amazon Prime Video’s upcoming Lord of the Rings spinoff, The Rings of Power, were unleashed on the world earlier this week, ramping up excitement for the show.
Eagle-eyed fans noticed something amiss in one of the photos, however, within hours of it hitting the web. One of the images shared by Vanity Fair shows a youthful Galadriel walking in full armor with one hand lazily holding her scabbard in place. In the center of her graceful breastplate, a shining emblem stands out. It looks a bit like a star, with eight points and a tiny, glistening diamond at its core.
The symbol looks distinctly Elven, which is precisely what most fans saw when they glimpsed the photo. Others, however — those with an eye on the deep lore behind the Lord of the Rings franchise — saw something else. They saw similarities between the symbol and the sigil of Fëanor, an Elf who’s backstory is key to Tolkien’s lore.
Fans who recognize the name Fëanor will immediately realize the error in this decision. Galadriel and Fëanor share an entrenched animosity, one that reaches far too deep to permit Galadriel to don his sigil on her armor. Shrewd fans quickly latched onto the potential misstep by the team behind Rings of Power, pointing out that Galadriel — who has a well-established distaste for Fëanor — would never wear his sigil. The issue was raised by the @TolkienGuide Twitter account, which shared an image of Galadriel’s armor alongside an array of Elven sigils.
In the tweet, @TolkienGuide notes that, were the symbol to truly belong to Fëanor, it would be “horrifyingly wrong lore-wise.” They feel, however, that the sigil looks more akin to that of Eärendil. If you feel a slight familiarity burning in the back of your brain at Eärendil’s mention, there’s a reason. Unlike Fëanor, whose mention in popular Lord of the Rings releases is absent, even casual viewers are distantly familiar with Eärendil — or his son, at least.
Elrond, son of Eärendil, is a massively impactful character in both the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit releases. His impact on the stories seen so far is well-known, and his familial legacy — even the one many fans have yet to learn — is rich and steeped in honor.
Unfortunately, it still doesn’t make much sense for Galadriel to be wearing his sigil. Eärendil has no relation back to Galadriel, and — while she shares far less distaste for him than she does for Fëanor — she should have no real reason to bear his symbol. Particularly in the days before her family blended with the other ancient Elven house.
Regardless, fans would be far more accepting of Eärendil’s sigil than Fëanor’s. Galadriel and Fëanor’s history makes it clear that the two have pretty much never seen eye-to-eye, and her dislike for him eventually grew so much that she refused each of his three separate requests for a sampling of her hair. Lord of the Rings fans will well remember that a similar request from Gimli in Fellowship of the Ring was not denied, making it all the more clear how little Galadriel cared for her Elven kin.
For Galadriel to wear Fëanor’s sigil would be an absolute butchering of the lore behind Rings of Power. Many fans were devastated to catch onto the mishap, but not everyone agrees that the symbol belongs to Fëanor, or even to Eärendil. The comment section for @TolkienGuide’s tweet is littered with other suggestions, as fans toss out other tidbits of lore to try and make sense of the mystery symbol. The potential of Galadriel donning Finarfin’s sigil was tossed around several times, but the images still don’t quite match up.
The most likely explanation, as proposed by Twitter user @JoelMerriner, is that the sigil isn’t actually taken from lore at all. It does have the general appearance of a star, something that is closely connected to Elven culture, but the symbol is also straightforward and simple enough to be a “catch all.” The team behind Rings of Power may well have decided to create their own symbol, one that can be directly linked back to Galadriel — and all the merchandise they hope to sell based on the series.
The potential for the symbol to be a “pseudo canonical-without-a-full-grasp-of-the-lore Noldorin device” makes the most sense of all the proposed options. To link Galadriel back to Fëanor would be a massive misstep on the show creators’ part and seems too obvious a blunder for them to make. Hopefully.
Instead, we’ll cling to the hope that the series creators are looking to pad the existing lore with some reasonable changes, made to ease the process of costuming and merchandising. We should know for sure when the series arrives on Amazon Prime Video on Sept. 2, 2022.