A "palantír" is a magical artifact from
J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasylegendarium.
Origins and characteristics
A "palantír" (sometimes translated as "Seeing Stone" but actually meaning "Farsighted" or "One that Sees from Afar") is a stone that functions somewhat like a
crystal ball. When one looks in it, one can communicate with other Stones and anyone who might be looking into them; people of great power can manipulate the Stones to see virtually any part of the world. They were made by the Elves of Valinorin the Uttermost West, by the Noldorand maybe even Fëanorhimself. Many "palantíri" were made, but the number is not known. Some had power over other Stones. The stones were of various sizes. The smallest had a diameter of about a foot, while the largest filled a large chamber. The larger stones allowed one to walk around them, thereby changing the viewpoint of its vision. The Master Stone was kept in the tower of Avallónëon Tol Eressëa, but no record is made of successful communication from any "palantír" of Middle-earth to this one. They are believed to have a power over people, as seen from the experience of Peregrin Tookand the Orthanc-stone. However, it is unclear if Pippin's compulsion to use the Orthanc-stone was imparted by the stone itself, or if it was a result of Sauron's influence over it. According to Gandalf, it is beyond the skill of both Sauronand Sarumanto create the "palantíri" and that Sauron cannot make the "palantíri" "lie", or create false images (though he could show selective images to create a false impression on the viewer).
The stones' gaze can pierce anything except darkness and shadow. A technique called "shrouding" was used when something was to be kept secret from the enemies' eyes. Knowledge of this technique was lost long ago, although
Sauronprobably knew of it.
Some of the stones were given to the
Dúnedainof Númenoras a gift, during the Second Age. Of these, Elendiltook seven with him on his flight to Middle-earth, and after the Kingdoms in Exile had been established, they were distributed among seven places: four in Gondorand three in Arnor. Sauron captured the "palantír" of Minas Ithil and used it to corrupt Saruman who had the "palantír" of Orthanc and Denethor who had the "palantír" of Minas Tirith.By the end of the Third Age, three had been lost forever, one was buried amongst the ruins of the Dark Tower of Barad-dûrand a sixth had been rendered virtually unusable (the "palantír" of Minas Tirith showed only the burning hands of Denethor save to those with the strength of will to turn it elsewhere). The seventh stone was retained by the king of the Reunited Kingdom.
tones of Arnor
One Stone was placed in the tower of
Elostirionin the Tower Hills, just west of the Shire. Its location was only known to a few and it remained hidden there until it was taken back to the West with the three Elven Rings. It could be used to look along the Straight Roadto Avallónë.
The "palantír" of
Amon Sûlwas placed in the Watchtower of Amon Sûl, later renamed "Weathertop". When Arnorwas divided into three kingdoms, all of them claimed Amon Sûl. Just before Angmar took control of and destroyed the Watchtower in 1409, the Stone was rescued and taken to Fornost. It remained there until Fornost too was overrun and was lost as Arveduitried to escape by sea near Forocheland his ship foundered in the ice.
The last Stone of the North was placed in
Annúminason the shores of Lake Evendim. When Annúminas was abandoned and the Kings moved to Fornost, they took the "palantír" with them. This stone was also lost when Arvedui, the last king of Arnor, was shipwrecked in the Ice-bay of Forochel in 1975.
tones of Gondor
The Stone of
Osgiliathwas the largest stone among the seven, and chief among them. It alone could "eavesdrop" on the others (only two "palantíri" could communicate with each other at one time, and none other but the Osgiliath stone could intercept that communication). It was placed in a tower on the great bridge in Osgiliath that crossed the Anduin. The domed ceiling was painted to resemble a starry sky, and gave its name ("os-giliath", the Dome of Stars) to the city itself. This Stone was the first to be lost: during the civil war of the Kin-strifearound the middle of the Third Age, it fell into the river Anduin.
One Stone was placed at
Minas Ithilin the mountains that came to be known as the Ephel Dúath. When Minas Ithil fell to the Nazgûlin T.A. 2002, the Ithil-stone was taken to the Barad-dûrand used by Sauron. It was presumably lost at the fall of Sauron. The stones are virtually indestructible, but it would be buried in the wreckage of the Dark Tower.
One Stone was placed at Angrenost (Isengard) in
Orthanc, the great tower built by the Dúnedainin the Second Age at the southern end of the Misty Mountains. In T.A. 2759, Sarumanobtained the keys of Orthanc from Beren, the ruling Steward of Gondor, possibly because Saruman desired to use the "palantír" to garner information on his neighbours and their activities. The stone was also partially responsible for Saruman's fall from grace, as he was using it when he came upon Sauron, and was ensnared by him, though his transformation to one of the fallen Maiar had undoubtedly begun much earlier. Saruman later used the stone to confer with Sauron through the Ithil-stone in Barad-dûr. By showing Saruman selective visions of his new armies, Sauron convinced the Wizard that he was going to win the War of the Ring, regardless of whether he actually found the One Ring.
Gríma Wormtonguecast the stone down from Orthanc, where it was recovered by Peregrin Tookand turned over to Gandalf. Peregrin inadvertently contacted Sauron, after which Gandalf turned the stone over to Aragorn.
Using the stone, Aragorn declared himself as the heir of
Isildurto Sauron, seeking to distract him from Frodo. Sauron was led to believe that the One Ringhad fallen into the hands of Aragorn or some other Western leader, and this was partly responsible for Sauron's hasty assault against Gondor. Sauron's attack, before he was fully ready, deeply influenced the outcome of the war. The Orthanc-stone remained in the custody of the Kings of Gondor in the Fourth Age, the only one to remain fully functional.
One Stone was placed at
Minas Anor, later renamed Minas Tirith and made the capital of Gondor. It was ultimately used by Steward Denethor II, in an attempt to find out the enemy's movements, in order to protect his city. Eventually, Sauronencountered him (it seems that Denethor did not know he had actually been in contact with Sauron himself). Denethor did not become corrupted, but the great effort of will that this required of him led him to age quickly. Furthermore, using the Ithil-stone, Sauron largely controlled what Denethor saw, leading to the latter's despair and insanity. For instance, Denethor sees a black fleet of apparent reinforcements for Sauron's forces coming from supposedly safe territory, unaware that the ships are actually carrying Aragorn's forces coming to relieve the siege. Denethor was holding the stone when he committed suicide on a funeral pyre, and after this, only people of exceeding power could see in it anything other than two flaming withered hands.
Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" films, the "palantíri" of Minas Ithil, Orthanc, and Minas Anor ( Minas Tirith) are included with alterations. As a consequence of eliminating the Battle of Bywater, Sarumanis killed by Wormtongue much earlier (at the beginning of the extended edition of "") and the "palantír" of Orthanc is transferred to Gandalfby means of Pippin retrieving it from Saruman's corpse instead of Wormtongue throwing it from the tower window. Aragornalso reveals himself to Sauronafter the Battle of the Pelennor Fieldsin the extended version of "". It is unclear in the films whether Aragorn uses the "palantír" of Minas Anor or Orthancto do this. In the book the revelation was the primary factor for Sauron's assault on Minas Tirithbefore he had fully readied his forces. This plot element is partially transferred to Pippin's use of the "palantír" in the films. Here, Aragorn is luring Sauron to the Battle of the Morannon, and Sauron responds by showing him a vision of a dying Arwen.
In the film, Denethor's comment to Gandalf, "Do you think the eyes of the White Tower are blind? I have seen more than you know." (paraphrased from the book) may be an allusion to his use of the "palantír". This is more explicit in the book, where it is implied certain visions are technically true but cast in an ambiguous or outright negative light by Sauron's influence.
In the computer game , it is hinted that the Palantír of Osgiliath was not lost, but recovered by Sauron and sent to
Carn Dûmso he could communicate with the Witch-Kingor his Steward, Mordirith. When the player succesfully attacks Mordirith, the Palantir gets stolen by Amarthiel, who takes it to Annuminas. The player then has to steal the Palantir, after which it disappears out of the plot, safely kept away.
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