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Who is Pharazôn in the Rings of Power (Everything we know so far)

Pharazôn is a pivotal figure in the history of the Second Age, and particularly in the story of Númenor. In Season 1 of The Rings of Power he is depicted as a powerful man: the Chancellor of Númenor, a cousin to Queen Regent Míriel, and one to whom the common Númenóreans look for leadership. With the death of the king of Númenor, Tar-Palantir, and the blindness of Míriel, his apparent successor, in Season 1, Pharazôn is likely to become an even more prominent figure in Season 2 of The Rings of Power.



Tolkien’s Description of Pharazôn

Tolkien himself did not describe Pharazôn in very much detail. The most lengthy description of him is in the “Akallabêth”, which is found in The Silmarillion. Pharazôn’s name is Adûnaic, meaning “Golden”. He was of the House of Elros, being the son of Gimilkhâd and the grandson of Ar-Gimilzôr, the king of Númenor. Gimilkhâd had an older brother, Inziladûn. When Inziladûn became king of Númenor, he returned to the practice of taking a Quenya, rather than an Adûnaic, regnal name: “Tar-Palantir”. He had one daughter, Míriel, whose name meant “Jewel-daughter” in Quenya. Thus Pharazôn and Míriel were first cousins on their fathers’ side. Both were also third cousins of Amandil, the Lord of Andúnië, whose son was Elendil. In his youth, Pharazôn was good friends with Amandil, even though the latter was an Elf-friend. Pharazôn, however, was restless, eager for wealth and renown, and often led military expeditions to Middle-earth to extend the dominion of Númenor. He returned to Númenor with great wealth, which he shared generously, winning the hearts of many people.

Pharazôn in The Rings of Power Season 1

In The Rings of Power Pharazôn, portrayed by Trystan Gravelle, is Chancellor of Númenor. Although Tolkien himself seems not to have used the title in his legendarium, England has had a chancellor since the days of King Edward the Confessor (died 1066), and Edward was copying a practice already long extant in the Carolingian court in France. The English chancellor served as a royal chaplain (as those who were literate were usually priests), secretary, and keeper of the royal seal. Over time the office became more involved in judicial matters. In the Holy Roman Empire in Central Europe, on the other hand, the office of chancellor acquired executive functions until it became something like a prime minister. In the Rings of Power the office of Chancellor is likely, as in the Star Wars prequels, following the German model.

In appearance Pharazôn is a middle-aged man with a bushy gray-and-black beard and hair. He is normally shown clad in blue and gold, which seems to be the livery of Númenor in the series. He also sometimes wears red. He wears multiple guild crests, indicating that he represents the interests of all the guilds. Perhaps he has achieved some level of competency in each guild. At any rate, in his speech in the plaza he swears by the calluses on his hands, an oath that seems unlikely to have impressed his audience if they know he has never done a day’s work in his life. Pharazôn also wears a sword, which he is ready to use. It may only be practical, such as for self defense, but it may also be a symbol of military or executive authority.

Pharazôn has a son, Kemen. When a call sheet for Númenor was leaked during production of Season 1, the big surprise among knowledgeable Tolkien fans was not that Isildur had a sister, but that Pharazôn had a son. Kemen’s name is Quenya, meaning “earth”. Given his attitude towards the Elves, it seems odd that Pharazôn would have given his son a Quenya name. Perhaps Kemen was named by his mother, or perhaps Pharazôn’s attitude towards the Elves changed some time after Kemen’s birth. We know nothing about Kemen’s mother so far, as she hasn’t been shown or mentioned in the series yet. Possibly she is dead, like Isildur’s mother, and apparently like Míriel’s mother as well. Pharazôn’s attitude towards Kemen is one of disapproval and disappointment, mirroring Elendil’s attitude towards Isildur, at least during the middle part of the season.

In The Rings of Power, Pharazôn is one of the most influential people in Númenor. His son Kemen credits him for preventing the former king, Tar-Palantir, from going through with his plan to re-establish connections with the Elves. He may be exaggerating, but from the scene in the throne room it is clear that even Míriel defers to him on occasion. When deciding what to do with the castaways Galadriel and Halbrand, Míriel glanced at Pharazôn, who went ahead and not only pronounced his decision to allow three days to decide whether or not to grant them passage to Middle-earth, and to restrict Galadriel to the palace grounds, but ordered the guards to carry out his decision. Presumably Míriel wanted to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, because her father was known to be an Elf-friend. On the other hand, although Pharazôn recommended a delay in the departure of the expedition to Middle-earth following the sabotage of two of the ships, Míriel seems not to have heeded his advice.

One thing missing from Pharazôn’s portrayal so far is his days of leading armies and navies to battle in Middle-earth. Indeed, little is known of the relationship between Númenor and the Men of Middle-earth in the context of the show, except that the Númenóreans use the term “Low Men” to refer to such people, and they have built at least one settlement in Middle-earth, the port city of Pelargir. Pharazôn is neither an isolationist nor keen on allying with the Elves, but he sees Míriel’s expedition as a chance to expand Númenor’s power and influence in Middle-earth, and to secure favorable trading terms with its inhabitants.

Also missing from the show is Pharazôn’s friendship with Amandil. Indeed, it seems likely that Elendil’s father will not be introduced in the show, and therefore there will be no exploration of his friendship with Pharazôn. Given that Míriel did not know who Elendil was, and Pharazôn introduced him as “originally of a noble line”, rather than “the son of my good friend Amandil”, or “the son of the Lord of Andúnië, who sits on the Council of the Sceptre”, any attempt to introduce Amandil would raise questions, unless Amandil himself was also unknown to Míriel and insignificant to Pharazôn.ù



Pharazôn in The Rings of Power Season 2

At this point little is known of Pharazôn’s role in Season 2. It is rumored that he will be wearing red robes similar to his blue robes in Season 1. It also seems that the divide between the Faithful (those friendly to the Elves and the Valar) and the King’s Men (referring to previous kings, not Tar-Palantir) will widen, and hence the divide between Elendil (representing the Faithful) and Pharazôn (representing the King’s Men), with Míriel facing difficult choices ahead as she seeks to hold her kingdom together. In Season 1 most of the Númenor plot surrounded the castaways Galadriel and Halbrand. With both of them back in Middle-earth, it seems the focus of the Númenórean scenes in Season 2 will be more squarely on Númenor’s internal politics.

We have heard that there are one or two new Númenórean characters being introduced in Season 2: the “High Priest of Númenor”, portrayed by William Chubb, and one “Lord Belzagar”. Possibly “Lord Belzagar” is the name of the “High Priest of Númenor”, but perhaps it is the name of a different character. Belzagar is an Adûnaic name, so possibly (though not necessarily) a King’s Man. Perhaps he is an ally of Pharazôn’s, as Tamar apparently was in Season 1.


Pharazôn is a prominent figure in Númenórean politics during the reign of Tar-Palantir and afterwards. He is the nephew of Tar-Palantir, Queen Regent Míriel’s cousin, and Chancellor of Númenor. Many of the common people of Númenor look to him for leadership. With the death of Tar-Palantir, the blindness of Míriel, and in the wake of the disastrous expedition to Middle-earth depicted in Season 1, in Season 2 Pharazôn, as the default spokesman for the King’s Men, is likely to increase in power and influence. Even though he did support Míriel’s expedition, he urged delay, and the responsibility for the disaster ultimately rests with Míriel. Pharazôn has a talent for seeming reasonable in comparison to others, and though there is no doubt some self interest in his actions, he also seems to be doing what he believes is best for Númenor.

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Wesaþ ġé hále! I have long appreciated Tolkien's works, both directly and through the interpretation of other artists. Perhaps my first introduction to Tolkien's works was the calendar artwork of the Brothers Hildebrandt, which fired my youthful imagination even before I had read LOTR. As I grew old enough to read Tolkien on my own, I was impressed by the amount of world-building information available in the Appendices to LOTR, which eventually helped steer me to study linguistics. I enjoy learning more about the interplay between Tolkien's scholarship and his writing, which were not two separate worlds, but continually informed each other, and may help us as fans to be better informed about what Tolkien really thought.

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