Tolkien’s whirlwind world of Middle-earth has seen the mightiest heroes and villains rise and fall all across its vast, and often brutal, terrains. Countless schemers and executors, attempting to force their way to the bloody privilege of authoring history, had to constantly jostle for position at the desk. Our focus narrows on one who would more than likely cause a commotion at your local coffee shop book signing.
Aragorn is most famous for wielding Anduril, the longsword reforged from the shattered shards of Narsil. He also makes use of an unnamed longsword, a dagger, and a hunting bow. Various pieces of protective clothing and armor complete his arsenal.
He was a highly-skilled, and resourceful, warrior who could make use of just about any weapon in the Third Age.
Aragorn II Elessar’s resourcefulness was arguably his best trait as a warrior, a king, and a living being. The kind of guy who could devise one hundred different ways to kill somebody with his bare hands. Now, imagine him armed.
“Flame of the West” is as apt as a name can get for a sword. This is probably because Anduril neatly split the divide between those it burned and those it gave warm fuzzy feelings of safety. Of course, that depended on which side of the blade you found yourself on and, my goodness, many unfortunate souls found themselves on the wrong side, if they were quick enough to realize what had happened at all. Needless to say, the combination of Anduril and Aragorn was a match made in hell for enemies of the Fellowship, the Dunedain, and Gondor and Arnor. Pretty much anyone who annoyed “Strider”, really. But what do we really know about the iconic weapon?
The most significant fact about this sword is that Anduril is actually a reforge of Narsil, originally forged by a Nogrod Dwarf by the name of Telchar sometime during the First Age. The name Narsil is a Quenya combination of the words “nar”, which translates to “fire”, and “thil”, which means “white flame”. It is one of the franchise’s most iconic symbols as it represents the Moon, the Sun, and their roles as enemies of darkness.
Hailed as one of Middle-earth’s greatest First Age smiths, Telchar lit up the age with classic works such as the Dwarf war helmet Dragon-helm of Dor-lomin, the knife Angrist, and, of course, Narsil. Not much else is known about the sword’s First Age adventures.
Narsil, however, plays a decisive role in the Second Age, as Elendil’s sword in the War of the Last Alliance. After Elendil is murdered by Sauron, his son Isildur manages to use a piece of the now shattered sword to strike at Sauron’s hand and relieve the dark lord of his…er…precious ring.
The Third Age sees the shards rescued from the Disaster of the Gladden Fields, a lethal orc ambush which catches King Isildur and his three eldest sons unaware. A brave esquire by the name of Ohtar steps in to save the pieces of Narsil, and a piece of his people’s history, from being lost forever. Ohtar, along with the two other men who survive the orc trap, safely returns the sword’s pieces to Arnor, where they are presented to Isildur’s fourth son, and heir, Valandil.
Eventually, the sword shards pass down a few generations until it is reforged into Anduril by the Elves of Rivendell and presented to Aragorn II Elessar, son of Arathorn and heir to the throne of Gondor and Arnor. Aragorn eventually uses the sword to save Gondor from the Corsair pirate tribes, and to summon the dead army from the Paths of the Dead to help fight off orcs at the Black Gate while Frodo and Sam trekked up the treacherous Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring.
In the books, it is revealed that the name Anduril translates to “Flame of the West”. It is a combination of the Quenya “andune”, which means “sunset” or “west”, and “ril”, which means “brilliance”.
In the film, The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the sword Narsil, then the trusty go-to for Elendil, King of all Dunedain, makes its first appearance in the Battle of Dagorlad.
An all-or-nothing final battle between the Dunedain and the forces of Sauron sees a fiercely motivated Elendil, flanked by Gil-Galad, viciously sucker-punched by the Black Hand himself. The attack proves fatal for both friends, and Elendil’s son, Isildur, is left one on one with the mighty Sauron. Picking up Narsil, Isildur confronts the dark lord and is promptly repelled, dropping the sword in the process.
Sauron arrogantly shatters Narsil into several pieces and proceeds to savor his impending triumph. As he moves to execute a climactic fatality on Isildur, Sauron’s cockiness blinds him to the Dunedain prince’s slyness. Isildur somehow grabs hold of Narsil’s hilt, with a sharp shard still intact, and slices the One Ring from Sauron’s finger to end the war.
The sword reappears 3000 years later at Rivendell, curated by the Elf Lord of Rivendell, Elrond. A flash of the sword’s magical properties is shown when Boromir, in conversation with Aragorn, cuts himself on the same hilt shard, three millennia after its last bit of action.
The next time the sword is shown in the LOTR trilogy is in The Return of the King, where Aragorn and his troops, aided by the local Rohirrim clans, drop anchor at the White Mountains’ remote hideaway, Dunharrow. Elrond’s daughter, Arwen, begs and manages to convince her often resolute father to change his stance on remaking Narsil from the remaining shards. Arwen, a staunch believer in the long-lost magical properties of the ancient blade, is convinced that Narsil presents the best chance for their own survival, and the overall success of the Fellowship. Elrond commissions the reforging, and Rivendell’s widely lauded smiths get to work.
The new sword is finished off with an inscription on the blade. Engraved in old Elvish, the text loosely translates to “Sun. I am Anduril who was once Narsil, the sword of Elendil. The slaves of Mordor shall flee from me. Moon”. From the ashes of Narsil emerges Anduril, and the sword is presented to Aragorn, due to his position as a direct descendant of both Elendil and Isildur. Elrond also reveals that Arwen is slowly dying and that the raid-happy Corsairs of Umbar were on their way to Aragorn’s kingdom of Gondor. This pits Aragorn in a race against time to save the Fellowship’s quest, his kingdom, and his love.
Elrond suggests a legendary, but deadly, shortcut known as the Paths of the Dead. This path cut through the White Mountains, stretching from the Dark Door at Harrowdale to Morthond vale in the southern regions of the White Mountains. Elrond insists on this path because, with the power of Anduril, Aragorn would be able to summon an army of undeparted souls beholden to a curse placed by the Narsil-wielding Isildur back in the Second Age. The souls belong to a tribe of men related to the Dunlendings who had betrayed Isildur during the War of the Last Alliance when they refused to fight after swearing a pledge to do so. Isildur responded by cursing their souls and binding them to the eerie passages, crypts, and pits throughout the underbelly of the White Mountains.
In the film The Return of the King, Aragorn and Legolas find themselves surrounded by the dead man army. As the apparitions move in for the kill, Aragorn announces himself and the reforged Narsil, now known as Anduril. The sword’s presence and Aragorn’s ancestry provokes a fearful response from the stunned souls, who pledge to honor their original oath by supporting Aragorn in the battle with the Corsairs at Gondor, and in the great battle at Minas Tirith against the Orcs serving Sauron.
In the books, the shards of Narsil are reforged by the Rivendell Elves after the Council of Elrond. Aragorn names the sword Anduril, after he notices how the blade shone a reddish hue in the sunlight and a cool tone in the moonlight. He adopts the sword as his primary weapon and commences his journey, and is soon gifted with a sheath to house it. The sheath, featuring intricate embroidery of leaves, flowers, and ancient Elven text, was made by the Galadhrim tree people of the Lorien forest and presented to Aragorn by Galadriel and Celeborn in Lothlorien. The text on the sheath spelled out the name of the sword as well as a brief summary of its history. To top it all off, the scabbard was layered with an enchantment that would protect any blade it had housed from being stained, shattered, or broken in any way.
Aragorn then travels to the kingdom of Rohan to seek aid from the King of Rohan, Theoden. Anduril proves invaluable as it serves as a form of identification, and lifeline, for Aragorn and his friends.
The inscription on Anduril’s blade is slightly different in the books. The elven runes translate to “I am Anduril who was Narsil, the sword of Elendil. Let the thralls of Mordor flee me”.
A scene from the books, that is also available as a deleted scene in the films sees Aragorn using a seeing stone from the tower fortress of Orthanc to contact Sauron and threaten him with the reforged version of “the sword of Elendil”.
Famous replicas of the sword from the LOTR trilogy are available all over the internet, but the particular model of Anduril used in the films is currently owned by American comedian Stephen Colbert.
Sword of Strider
Aragorn’s lineage as Numenorean royalty had not always been public knowledge, as his adoptive guardian, Elrond of Rivendell, revealed his true parentage and eligibility for the unified crown of Gondor and Arnor. Along with that, Elrond also presented several ancient items, including the Ring of Barahir and the shards of Narsil.
However, Aragorn regarded the broken blade’s pieces more as precious symbols rather than actual weapons for regular use. After Elrond’s revelations, Aragorn assumes command of the Dunedain Rangers of the North. During his time in the great outdoors, he gets into all sorts of trouble, especially with Orcs. By this time, he was making use of an unnamed longsword to defend the Shire and its surrounding lands. The blade is distinguished by the ring wrapped around the middle of the handle. According to the books, the sword is 5 feet long, with a 4-foot double-edged blade, and leather-wrapped grip.
Given his rank as Chieftain of the Dunedain, it is doubtless the sword was of very high quality, even if it lacked the additional powers of an unbroken Narsil. Aragorn, without a hint of complaint, accepts the challenges of Ranger’s life and proceeds to tackle Sauron’s lackeys, earning the nickname “Strider” along the way. He later joins the armies of Steward Ecthelion II, of Gondor, and King Thengel of Rohan, before venturing through Moria, Rhun, and Harad.
After proposing to Arwen at Cerin Amroth in Lothlorien, Aragorn takes the unnamed sword on a quest given to him by Gandalf. The objective is to track down and capture the notorious Smeagol a.k.a. Gollum, a task which takes Aragorn across the dark Rhovanion forests before they capture the abomination in the Dead Marshes.
The sword also plays a role in helping the lords of Gondor fight off the Corsair people, with Aragorn killing their commander in the Battle of the Havens at Umbar.
Specific to the LOTR film trilogy, Aragorn’s dagger was gifted to him in The Fellowship of the Ring by Lord Celeborn in Lothlorien. An elegantly curved blade with a hardwood handle made to resemble a growing shoot. The Elven inscription on the blade translates to “Foe of Morgoth’s realm”. The blade first sees action with Aragorn during the Skirmish at Amon Hen against a collective of Uruk-hai Orcs.
In The Two Towers, Aragorn approaches a training Eowyn and manages to use his dagger to parry Eowyn’s Rohirrim sword attacks. The blade later shows up during the Battle of Helm’s Deep, where Aragorn uses the dagger to “take care” of a few orcs and men within the wizard Saruman’s ranks as the Fellowship assists King Theoden and his Rohirrim guard in defending the Hornbug.
The dagger makes its final film appearance in The Return of the King, during the Battle of the Black Gate. Aragorn is locked in a challenging duel with a Troll as he tries to buy Frodo and Sam enough time to climb Mount Doom and throw the One Ring into its fiery belly. The Troll knocks Aragorn over and attempts to crush him by standing on him. Aragorn is two steps ahead, though, and quickly accesses his dagger before planting it straight through the Troll’s foot.
In the books, Aragorn is said to have kept a small bow with him on his adventures. However, this bow was used for hunting much more than it was for battle. It was rather small, at three feet long, and its arrows followed the trend, at just 20 inches long. This gave the bow an effective firing range of 75 feet. One could say it is a scaled-down version of a Gondorian bow, with its dark-stained wood.
One of the first times Aragorn, in the books, is said to be wearing any sort of protective gear is when he dons a chainmail shirt at the battle of Helm’s Deep, which was primarily a close-combat scenario. This encapsulates Aragorn, and the Rangers’, attitude towards the armor. The Rangers of the North favored speed and nimbleness and regarded the additional weight of armor as a hindrance. Aragorn did not even wear a helmet, a risky strategy to say the least, especially when one considers the countless muscle-bound orcs hurling anything they could lift.
Normally though, before becoming King, Aragorn would wear a leather coat, with removable arms, over another lighter sleeveless coat. Under this coat would be a white linen shirt with Elven embroidery. His lower body was only protected by woolen hose and leather boots.
When the Host of Men marched towards the Black Gate and the final battle against Sauron’s followers, Aragorn decided to dress in the full battle kit of the King. The white shirt was replaced with a red one, the soft traveling boots were replaced with heavier, steel-plated ones. The King of Gondor and Arnor also wore a full shirt and skirt of mail.
The shirt had many different decorations and added protections. As if it wasn’t enough Strider wore a red velvet robe, with gold edges and silver buttons engraved with stars. On top of that was another robe, this time a black leather beauty that also featured gold trim as well as the White Tree and seven stars that made up the Gondor coat of arms. The black robe also featured silver clasps. To cap off the outfit was a grand black cloak that could be secured to the outer robe by exquisitely designed clasps.
Aragorn was also provided with a shield that was an ode to the ancient Numenorean shields. It featured an embossed leather panel that displayed the Tree of Gondor, the seven stars, and the Winged Crown of the King of Gondor.