Warning: The following article contains spoilers for the fourth episode of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has been introducing us little by little in the Second Age of the extensive world of fantasy. Although many of the characters and creations in the series are new, one of the most enjoyable parts of Tolkien’s epic version are the moments when someone or something we recognize shines from the shadows, hinting at the story to come. That happens in a big way this week when Elrond (Robert Aramayo) finally discovers what his good friend Durin IV (Owain Arthur) has been hiding in the old mines of Khazad-dûm. The duo have quickly become a fan favorite alongside Durin’s brilliant wife, Disa (Sophia Nomvete), who turns out to have a vital role in this week’s reveal. Let’s unearth the secrets of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power in its episode 4and what it means for the future.
What has Durin IV discovered in the Mines of Moria?
Durin’s suspicious behavior comes to a head in this episode when Elrond searches for him in the Caves of Moria. The dwarf is not happy as he believes that his so-called friend wants his treasure hidden from him. But Elrond only cares about his best friend and wants to know where she has secretly gone. The pair swear that he will never speak of what Durin has found, and soon tells Elrond everything he knows. The dwarves have found a new substance in the mines. Well, not just any dwarf, but Disa, who “discovered her during a routine gold dig”. What did his beloved wife discover? It would be what the Dwarves call “Grey Luster”, but in elven and Lord of the Rings lore it is known as Mithril. And this metal plays a very important role in the world of the author’s stories.
What is Mythril?
Mithril, a precious, light, beautiful and immensely strong metal, is only found in the Mines of Moria. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf thus describes the properties and value of this rare mineral: “Moria’s wealth was not in gold or jewels, the toys of the dwarves; nor in iron, her servant…. Its value was ten times that of gold, and now it is beyond price; for there is little left on the surface, and not even the orcs dare to dig here for it… Mithril! All the people wanted it. It could be beaten like copper and polished like glass; and the dwarves they could make of it a light metal but harder than tempered steel. Its beauty was like common silver, but the beauty of Mithril did not tarnish or darken.” Although this is the first time we’ve seen Mithril in The Rings of Power, we know it was valuable and highly prized in both elven and dwarven culture. But in the Third Age (when the original Lord of the Rings trilogy was set) it was quite impossible to find due to the dangers of its extraction, which have already been hinted at here.
What role will Mithril play in the future of The Rings of Power?
As depicted in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy and books, Mithril is used to craft a number of items. There is the famous Mithril mail shirt that the two Bagginses wore after Bilbo received the so-called “shirt” from the dwarf Thorin II Oakenshield. Later, the Hobbit would give it to his young cousin Frodo before his epic adventure to Mount Doom. Mithril was also forged into weapons, jewelry, and armor. The second will certainly come into play when the rings are forged, because we know that at least one of the eleven rings of power, Nenya’s, was forged from Mithril. The other important question about Mithril in relation to the events of The Rings of Power is how the mining of the metal will affect the dwarves. We already saw the mine collapse in this episode when Durin’s men were trying to find more Mithril. King Durin III had warned his son not to try to find any more ore, but we know he won’t listen. And that’s where one of the most infamous beasts in The Lord of the Rings lore could come into play.
What relationship do the Balrogs have with the Mithril?
The mythical creatures known as Balrogs are corrupted demons that worked under the will of Melkor, also known as Morgoth. They were active in the First Age, but nothing was heard of them during the Second Age, which is the time in which The Rings of Power is set. Centuries later, the dwarves would mine too deep and awaken a Balrog in the ancient mines of Khazad-dûm who would end up destroying the dwarves’ way of life and killing their current king. While the series probably won’t go that far (and certainly not this season), the fact that Mithril has been discovered means that we’re seeing the early days of not only the forging of the rings, but also the beginning of the fall of Durin IV and of the dwarves of Khazad-dûm. We also know that we will see some Balrog action thanks to one of the trailers for the first season of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.