Lord of the Rings fans flocked to Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor upon its release, and many have returned for its sequel, Shadow of War. Both games follow a Gondorian ranger named Talion, who was killed at the Dark Gate by Sauron’s forces only to be brought back as a specter by an unknown elven entity.
However, Shadow Mordor and Shadow of War didn’t relate too much to the Lord of the Rings movies or books, and the two have often delved deeper into the canon of Middle-earth. This is the theme of today’s list. Today we’re going to take a look at some of the connections between the Middle-earth games and Tolkien’s Silmarillion.
ten The greatest reach of it all
While the Middle-earth games can’t delve too deep into the Silmarillion for copyright reasons, they do touch a major part of the Lord of the Rings’ expanded universe: Earth’s greater reach. Middle and its conflicts.
Sauron and Saruman aren’t the only evil in Middle-earth, and they’re not the first of their kind to have tried to take over this world. Across the world of Mordor, its artifacts and its stories, the two games of Middle-earth touch the great reach of this fantastic universe.
Much of the storyline of Shadow of War surrounds Talion trying to acquire a Palantir. This may confuse some, as Saruman is the only one to possess a Palantir in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, although it is later acquired by Gandalf.
The point is, the Palantir is not a singular object, and many have been created throughout the history of Middle-earth. A Palantir is a stone of vision, and it’s more of a type of magical artifact than a singular.
8 Minas Ithil and Minas Morgul
One of the main locations in Middle-earth: Shadow of War is Minas Ithil, which is sacked by the Nazgul and the forces of Mordor. Then it becomes Minas Morgul, a mighty fortress used by Sauron’s army in the War of the Ring.
A player can be confused by the transformation of Minas Morgul if he has not read The Silmarillion. They may think it is a retcon created by Shadow of War, but it is actually steeped in the lore of the Silmarillion. Minas Ithil was a fortress city built by an ancient race of men that existed before the kingdoms of Gondor and Rohan. Details of his fall in Mordor were previously unknown, and Shadow of War is attempting to fill this gap.
For those unfamiliar with Mordor beyond Mount Doom and the wasteland that surrounds it, realizing that Mordor has a region like Núrn can be a surprise and even a bit confusing.
We’re bending the rules for this one a bit, but Núrn is referenced in the novel The Return of the King, but that wasn’t shown in the film adaptation. It is developed in The Atlas of Middle-earth, which was originally published in 1981. It was not written by JRR Tolkien or Christopher Tolkien, but rather by Karen Wynn Fonstad.
6 Geography of Mordor
This leads to a broader point that the geography of Mordor is much larger and more diverse than it appears in the Lord of the Rings novel and film trilogy. The more complete portrait of Middle-earth shown in other writings adjacent to Tolkien and Tolkien shows that Mordor is more than Mount Doom.
In games this is clearly visible, as the player will be spending a lot of time in the area and seeing more of Mordor than is shown in other media.
There is a smaller reference in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, but there is a reference to the world that Middle-earth is a part of. In fact, Middle-earth is not the name of the entire planet.
One of the Ithildins that can be found contains the poem “The Light of Hope”. It refers to Arda, which is the entire world that Middle-earth is in. That said, he never refers to Ea, which is the complete universe that surrounds Arda.
4 The Balrog
The appearance of the Balrog may have really confused many players in Shadow of War. The Balrog fought and fell to Gandalf in the Mines of Moria, so what is being done in Mordor to fight Talion?
The answer to this is that there are actually several Balrogs. The Balrog is a species and not a single entity. The Balrogs were originally the Maiar, or ancient spirits, seduced by Melkor / Morgoth and transformed into these demonic creatures.
Sauron himself is shown in a much different light in the Middle-earth games than he was in the Lord of the Rings book and film trilogy. In the movies and books, he’s a towering and intimidating creature dressed in charred black armor. There is an obvious evil of a seemingly endless power.
However, this image begs the question as to why anyone could have taken Sauron’s rings of power in the first place. The Middle-earth games touch on what is shown in the Silmarillion, which is a Sauron who can hold back his evil to give the face of a gift giver. We even get to see part of Sauron’s relationship with Celebrimbor.
Morgoth, also known as Melkor, is an ancient and vast evil that predates even Sauron. He’s never mentioned by name in Middle-earth games, but he’s referenced and referred to a few times, especially through statues. Sauron was initially a follower of Morgoth, although Sauron was never truly loyal to Morgoth.
Morgoth himself was of the Ainur race, an ancient and powerful race created by the deity of Arda, a being known as Eru Iluvatar.
Celebrimbor is the most important and central reference to the Silmarillion in the Middle-earth games. It is lightly referenced in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, but its story was only developed in later work, namely The Silmarillion, The Unfinished Tales, and The History of Middle-earth.
Prior to these entries, one would have been forgiven for assuming that Sauron forged the rings of power, but it was actually the elf, Celebrimbor, who made the rings that Sauron would use to gain power. Naturally, Sauron also betrayed Celebrimbor. The Middle-earth games obviously take liberties with the Celebrimbor story, but he’s a character who appeared in The Silmarillion.
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