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Who is Elrond?

By P. Matz
Updated May 17, 2024
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In the classic fantasy series The Lord of the Rings, written by J.R.R. Tolkien, Elrond is a half-elf character who plays a significant role in the history of Middle Earth. An immortal, like all Elves in Tolkien’s world, Elrond is over 6000 years old, and embodies a living link to the past. As described in the Silmarillion, the companion book to The Lord of the Rings, Elrond was born in the First Age to Eärendil and Elwing, his name meaning “Star Dome” in Elvish.

Towards the end of the First Age, Elrond accompanies the High Elven King, Gil-galad, leading the armies of the Elves against the evil lord Sauron in what was called “The War of Elves and Sauron.” This conflict erupted when Sauron, in secrecy, forged the “One Ring” to rule over all of the other rings of power held by Elves, Dwarves and Men. Unable to withstand the massive forces of Sauron, Elrond is forced to retreat to the haven of Rivendell, and with the aid of the Numenoreans, an ancient race of Men possessing greater power than ordinary humans, the Elves are able to defeat Sauron, forcing him to withdraw to his stronghold in Mordor, greatly diminished. Thereafter, Elrond, takes up residence in Rivendell, and becomes lord and protector of the realm.

During the Second Age of Middle Earth, Sauron rises again and this time assails Gondor and Arnor, the kingdoms of men founded by the remnants of the Numenoreans. Accompanied by Elendil, the king of Arnor and Gondor, Elrond as High Lord of the Elves, marshals the forces of his people and sets forth to do battle with Sauron in what is referred to as the “Last Alliance of Elves and Men.” Sauron is vanquished when the One Ring is cut from his hand by Isildur, son of Elendil, who against Elrond’s wise counsel, claims the ring for himself. The One Ring is lost when it falls out of Isildur’s hand into the river Anduin, during an ambush in which he is slain by Orcs.

In the Third Age of Middle Earth, Elrond once again emerges as a major player. As before, the shadow of Sauron menaces the land, and the dark lord raises a mighty army to subjugate all who oppose him. Seeking to restore himself to his previous power, Sauron searches desperately for the One Ring, which he learns has resurfaced in the world.

It is Elrond who summons a council of Elves, Dwarves, and Men, to convene in Rivendell to decide the fate of the One Ring, which Bilbo Baggins recovered during his adventures in The Hobbit. Elrond, whose wisdom and vision far exceeds those around him, councils that the ring be taken to Mordor and destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom where it was originally forged. Only then, he argues, will the power of Sauron be defeated. The Lord of the Rings is the story of how Frodo and his companions accomplish this end.

Throughout The Lord of the Rings, Elrond fulfills the role of a seer, guiding the characters through his prescience to their rightful destinations. In the case of Aragorn, the only living heir of Isildur, Elrond helps him reconcile his past, and, ultimately, to embrace his own destiny as the rightful King of Gondor. In this capacity, Elrond serves more as a father figure, his sage advice steering Aragorn’s own conscience to make the proper choices for the greater good. Elrond’s daughter, Arwen Undomiel, falls in love with Aragorn, and later forsakes her Elven immortality for a human existence in order to take her place as his queen.

With the defeat of Sauron at the end of the Third Age, Elrond and his Elven kin depart Middle Earth forever, setting sail west for Aman, the “The Blessed Realm”.

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