Who Is Adar on THE RINGS OF POWER? A History of LORD OF THE RINGS' Orcs - Nerdist
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Who Is Adar on THE RINGS OF POWER? A History of LORD OF THE RINGS’ Orcs

The Rings of Power‘s orcs want the sword hilt Theo now possesses. That weapon might end up with a new Southlands king, a man who will lead his followers to Sauron. But the orcs have their own leader whom they call Adar. He could be Sauron by one of his many aliases, but it’s doubtful the Dark Lord would risk exposing himself when he has far bigger plans underway on The Rings of Power. Who is he then and why do the otherwise hateful orcs adore him? The history of those twisted creatures, the meaning of the word “adar” in Elvish, and that pointy-eared character’s own past point to one of the most important figures in all of Middle-earth. A figure whose story is carried on by every orc who ever lived, because the story of The Rings of Power‘s Adar begins with the birth of orcs.

What Are Lord of the Rings’ Orcs?

The Lord of the Rings the Rings of Power race of Orcs
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Orcs, called goblins in The Hobbit, have loomed large in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world since the beginning. The Lord of the Ringsorcs served Morgoth during the Years of the Trees before the First Age. And they continued as soldiers of evil until the end of the Third Age of Middle-earth.

Ugly, violent creatures, orcs hate almost everyone and everything. That includes themselves. They also abhor natural beauty and handcrafted works. But that doesn’t prevent them from making things themselves. From weapons and tools, to torture devices and machines of war, Lord of the Rings‘ orcs are crafty.

Arondir looks at at orc in the sun on The Rings of Power
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They also live in darkness, most notably deep inside mountains. Orcs are excellent tunnel builders who shun the sun whenever possible because the light burns them. That’s why on The Rings of Power they had elves and humans digging for that missing sword hilt for them, and why they wear robes if forced to go out during the day.

While it’s unclear exactly how long orcs live, one infamous orc lived to at least 150 years old. And though they lack anything resembling culture, they’re also much smarter than they look and have great stamina and strength.

The History and Origins of Middle-earth’s Orcs and The Rings of Power‘s Adar

An orc holds a knife to an elf's throat on The Rings of Power, the Orcs are lead by Adar
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J.R.R. Tolkien himself changed the origin story of orcs during his lifetime. At one point he said Morgoth created orcs through sorcery from “the heats and slimes of the earth.” But the author later wrote that only the supreme being Eru Ilúvatar could create life. (Well, minus when the Valar Aulë created dwarves.) Morgoth’s inability to make life was one of the things that made him jealous of Ilúvatar in the first place. So if Morgoth didn’t create orcs, where did they come from? From Ilúvatar, just not the way he made them. And it is that very tale The Rings of Power is likely drawing from with the introduction of Adar.

The accepted origin of orcs is the one found in The Silmarillion. It says Morgoth kidnapped some elves when they first awoke in Middle-earth, before the Valar could find the first “children” of Ilúvatar. He then used dark magic to twist and transform them into horrible creatures who served him, just as they would serve the next Dark Lord, Sauron.

An orc snarls
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You can already see what this might mean for The Rings of Power‘s Adar. But first we must ask an obvious question: if orcs are made from elves, do they replicate like elves, too?

Some believe that Morgoth’s creatures (which include orcs, werewolves, trolls, dragons, and more) self-reproduce. However, we’re going to meet some female orcs on The Rings of Power, which would seemingly reveal where new orcs come from. The specifics of their reproduction is unknown. (Which is almost certainly for the best.) But it’s not unreasonable to think it is a slow one since Sauron sometimes hid for thousands of years while gathering and reinforcing his army. The forces of evil always needed more orcs because, unlike elves, they don’t live forever—a point crucial in ultimately understanding Adar’s character.

Adar holds a human boy for sacrifice in front of some orcs on The Rings of Power
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Of course, none of this reveals precisely who “Adar” is. Nor has he revealed his true identity yet. But the origin story of orcs, the meaning of the word “Adar” in elvish, the orcs love for him, and Adar’s own memories, might. And that means The Rings of Power could have just expanded on one of the most important moments in The Lord of the Rings‘ history.

What Does Adar Mean in Elvish?

Adar is a Sindarin Elvish word. The Sindar spoke their own version of Elvish because they never made it to the land of the Valar like other elves. After awakening in Middle-earth, they never left, same as their kidnapped brethren. Of all the languages outside the Common Tongue for the orcs to speak, Sindarin is the most telling. But it’s the meaning of the word “Adar” that makes this The Rings of Power character even more fascinating.

A dying orc smiles at Adar as he holds the orcs head on The rIngs of Power
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In Sindarin Elvish, the word Adar means “father.” And not only do the orcs all call this elf-like lord “father,” the otherwise hateful creatures genuinely care for him as he does for them.

Spoiler Alert

Who Is the Orcs’ Leader Adar on The Rings of Power?

Adar with his scarred face from The Rings of Power
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The orcs call their revered leader by the Sindarin word for father. And since the Valar banished Morgoth outside of the world, and Sauron didn’t actually have anything to do with their creation, there’s only one logical answer for who Adar really is on The Rings of Power—the first orc.

Adar is the first orc Morgoth made from a kidnapped elf. That’s why, unlike all other orcs who live shorter lives, he’s still around thousand of years after his “birth.” That’s also why he has memories of Beleriand, a land that went under the sea thousands of years ago at the end of the First Age. He was there, same as Arondir and the other ageless elves. It’s also why, unlike his children, the sun does not burn Adar. He can feel its warmth. He says he will even miss the feeling of the sun, light that comes from the gods themselves, when it’s gone.

Adar has not lost every piece of his original elf-self. But unlike the elves taken in and protected by the Valar, Adar was raised by evil.

Adar with his scarred face in profile from The Rings of Power
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All other orcs descend from Adar, who says he is no god, on The Rings of Power. They don’t look like him—a mutilated elf—because they get uglier and more evil the further removed they are from their elf ancestors and the Valar. That’s also why the orcs of the show’s Second Age don’t even look as twisted as their ancestors of the Third Age. Every generation removed from Adar gets darker and more hideous.

(Whether there’s an orc “mother” on The Rings of Power to go with the “father” Adar remains to be seen. When it comes to Morgoth and orcs, far more sinister explanations are always possible.)

But no matter how much we learn about Adar, we might never know his full story. As he said, to tell it would “all but require the creation of a new world.” Which is exactly what he’s trying to create right now.

What Is Adar’s Plan on The Rings of Power?

Adar stands in the sun on The Rings of Power
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Adar had his orcs digging for the sword hilt Theo possesses. But he didn’t have his orcs kill every man and woman they found. He’s looking to lure men into his ranks.

Because Adar isn’t leading his children on a hunt for Sauron’s lost sword because they want it for themselves. The Rings of Power‘s Adar’s main task is to expand and rebuild his Dark Lord’s army. He let Arondir go so he could tell the people hiding they can either join Adar or die. Historically, the people of the Southlands stood by Morgoth, so Adar had reason to believe some would join him as they did. (Though they didn’t seem prepared to bond themselves to Adar with a blood sacrifice.)

With Adar’s help, Sauron can unite men under a Dark Lord that will lead them to darkness. Just as Morgoth led Adar the elf, father of all orcs, to darkness long ago.

Originally published on September 12, 2022.

Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.

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