When Isildur defeats Sauron, the Dark Lord’s ring of power falls into his hands. In “The Fellowship of the Ring,” Elrond, one of the few witnesses to the event, explains that “he should then have been thrown into [Mount Doom’s] the night of the handy fire where it was made … But Isildur wouldn’t listen to our advice. “
After the war, Isildur becomes the High King of Gondor and Arnor. He stays in Gondor for a while and even writes about his experiences. This is how Gandalf finds Isildur’s scroll where he explains what the Ring looked like after winning it in battle. After some time, the High King heads north where his wife and youngest son are still safe in Rivendell. And it is here, of course, that he is taken by surprise and killed.
However, the event of Isildur’s death is quite different from the film adaptation. In Tolkien’s writings, especially his posthumous book “Unfinished Tales”, he explains how Isildur and his three sons and 200 powerful bodyguards were blown over by a large group of Orcs. The soldiers are slowly crushed under fierce fighting until Isildur attempts to escape wearing the One Ring. The Ring, which guides events at this point, slips off his finger as it crosses the Great River, and Isildur finally meets his destiny via the trading end of an Orc arrow.
Isildur’s surviving son pursues the family tree to Aragorn and the king’s squire, Ohtar, escapes with the shards of his father’s sword. But for Isildur, it’s the end of the line. Interestingly, in “The Fellowship of the Ring,” Elrond finds it necessary to point out that, as he dies, “Yet death may have been better than what could have happened to him.” A nod to the corrupting power of the One Ring? Why yes, yes indeed.