Mithril is a substance imbibed with legendary qualities in The Lord of the Rings universe. Now the metal has been introduced in Prime Video’s The Rings of Power, setting up the stage for the story’s biggest unravelings.
There are a number of storylines and characters that ensnare the screen with their prominence and weight in The Rings of Power so far.
Viewers have been introduced to a slew of characters who are all going to be integral to the story moving forward, while also contributing to platonic shifts in the Prime Video show’s lore.
Amidst all the glitter and gravity of the grand character introductions, a low-key but very crucial development might have eluded many who are not as familiar with the Tolkien book lore as the diehard fans.
The subject of this crucial development is Mithril, the mesmerizing metal that has made its appearance in the previous live-action adaptations of the LOTR books.
Mithril — the metal that illuminates with a divine glow — has appeared in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogy. So what is this precious discovery that Durin IV has made and what future does it entail for the dwarves and the other races?
Mining, Mithril and magic
Mithril is a rare metal found in the deep mines of Moria. It is one of the most exhilarating finds in all of the Dwarven kingdom, something that proves to be the most propitious of discoveries and eventually, the reason for the destruction of Khazad-dûm.
It is a metal lighter than steel yet also stronger than it. It also possesses a unique kind of luminosity — one that makes it shine in particular lightings, such as moonlight or starlight.
Viewers who have watched the LOTR and The Hobbit trilogies may remember the chainmail that both Bilbo and later his nephew Frodo sport. It was given to Bilbo by Thorin Oakenshield and later passed down to Frodo.
That chainmail shirt, made out of Mithril, was the very thing that saved Frodo from an otherwise fatal blow by an orc. It’s a durable material like none other.
It is such a rare find that Durin IV holds its discovery to a very high significance. So much so that he demands Elrond take an oath to not speak of it to anyone else. However, he might surprisingly violate the oath, as Celebrimbor seems to get his hands on Mithril in the trailer for episode 5.
To extract Mithril is to almost court death, as the dwarven miners have to dig deep into the perilous and treacherous terrain of Moria. An example of the perils surrounding mining is shown in episode 4 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
The dangers that mining Mithril invites are also what skyrockets its preciousness.
A luminous future or a doomed fate?
In the books, Mithril is eventually used to forge Nenya, the ring that Galadriel wears. There must have been other rings that were forged with the metal but a specific mention of that is not available in Tolkien’s works.
However, The Rings of Power so far has been clear in its intention to deviate from the source materials. There have been deviations aplenty that give way for a possibility where more, or maybe even all the rings are forged out of Mithril.
Durin IV holds the metal very close to his heart and thinks of it as a discovery that will take Khazad-dûm to unprecedented prosperity. This is true, as the fans know from reading the books.
However, all the dwarven prosperity precedes a doom so dark it leaves all of the Khazad-dûm in ruins.
Mithril is a high-value metal and such is the nature of supply and demand that the dwarves have to mine more and more to extract all that they can. As a result, they dig too deep and perturb a legendary monster called Balrog from his sleep.
The monster wreaks havoc and kills Durin VI, while also scaring all the dwarves away from Khazad-dûm.
A similar fate seems to await Durin IV right now in The Rings of Power. Celebrimbor’s lust for the metal is sure to trigger conflict with Durin, who’s already very cautious of what Celebrimbor and Gil-galad want from him and their partnership.