An Unexpected Journey

Rings of Power theory: Halbrand's identity is more obvious than you think

Is Halbrand's fate a heart-wrenching one? This Rings of Power theory sees a sad destiny for the supposed Southlands king.

Ever since Charlie Vickers’ mysterious The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power character Halbrand rescued Galadriel on his decrepit raft, fans have been wondering what the rugged man’s motives really are.

Halbrand may be one of the show’s most important characters. While some fans have speculated that he’s secretly a noteworthy character straight from Tolkien canon — Sauron, perhaps, or the less popular King of the Dead — others are convinced that Halbrand is an original character only in name, one who may someday transform into a well-known figure in Middle-earth.

A new fan theory posits that Halbrand is not only exactly who he claims to be (the lost-and-found King of the Southlands), but also an unnamed character from the Lord of the Rings trilogy destined for tragedy.

Halbrand, the Ring-bearer

Part of The Rings of Power’s purpose is to establish the how and why of the creation of the 19 Rings of Power, as well as who wound up bearing these rings and their powerful burden.

The 19 Rings were forged in Eregion by the elf Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards). They were supposedly locked away, but all were captured by Sauron. Nine were given to the great lords and warriors of Men, while three were given to the Elves, and seven to the Dwarves.

All of the Ring-bearing groups have been represented in the Amazon spinoff, Reddit user TheMediocreCritic suggested on r/FanTheories, except for one: Men. Or have they?

Halbrand has been confusing The Rings of Powers fans since he emerged on their screens.Amazon Prime Video

We’ve already met the Elves, who want to preserve the presence of their race on Middle-earth, and the Dwarves, who want to gain more mithril and gems to build their treasure hoards and underground empire. The theory claims that Halbrand is the representative of Men. He is who he appears to be, a King of Middle-earth destined to be gifted a Ring and, eventually, corrupted by it.

Halbrand, the Nazgûl

Amazon’s take on Tolkien’s world does employ certain creative liberties — primarily to hop over the hurdles of licensing issues — but it still retains connections to the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. As such, The Rings of Power is attempting to establish continuity while expanding Tolkien’s universe, constructing or expanding characters, locations, and artifacts from narrative building blocks that already exist.

The Nazgûl chasing Arwen (Liv Tyler) in The Fellowship of the Ring. New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. Discovery

The prequel series is following Ring-bearing characters from each race that Sauron deceives, several of whom have been named in previous Tolkien works: Elrond (Robert Aramayo), Galadriel (Morfydd Clark), and both Durins (Peter Mullan, Owain Arthur). Halbrand, per the theory, offers the perspective of the Kings of Men.

If this is true, then Rings of Power won’t end well for Halbrand. Sauron manipulates the Nine Kings by giving them rings that they use to accumulate wealth, knowledge, and prestige. As time passes, the rings engulf their bearers with greed and darkness. Thus, the Ring-bearing men became Ringwraiths (more commonly referred to as the Nazgûl), servants who became chained to the will of Sauron.

Only two of the Nine were ever named: the Witch-king of Angmar, and Khamûl the Easterling. Could Halbrand be one of the unnamed Nazgûl?

Halbrand wears a necklace with an insignia that reveals him to be the rightful ruler of the Southlands, or so Galadriel thinks. Amazon Prime Video

The Inverse Analysis— While some previous fan theories about Halbrand have been entertaining, Halbrand is a more likely contender for Ring-bearer than secret Sauron. Halbrand serves as both a stand-in for Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and an anti-Aragorn persona, so subverting the character’s story by turning him into one of the Nazgûl could be a compelling way to show how far the mighty fell when gifted the Rings of Power.

Halbrand’s descent would be a particularly chilling one for viewers, as we now know him as a chivalrous king who befriended Galadriel and earned her trust against all odds. Watching the alleged messianic ruler of the Southlands and one of Galadriel’s only friends become lost would be a heart-wrenching story.

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