Palantiri: 1. The Palantíri

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1. The Palantíri

This is mostly a paraphrasing of the information found in the Unfinished Tales.

General Info

- The palantíri were no doubt never matters of common use or common knowledge, even in Númenor.

- They were gifts to Elendil and his heirs, and they belonged rightfully to anyone descended from the line of Elendil, or anyone authorized by a descendant of Elendil (i.e. the Stewards). In fact, most of the time, the stones had an appointed warden who would occasionally use them for surveying. And after the office of the Steward became hereditary, the command and use of the stones were then given to the stewards.

Appearance & Properties
Shape: They were perfect spheres, and very smooth.

Colour: crystal deep black, glass-like.

Size: Ranges from a foot in diameter to a size so large that they could not be lifted by one man. The larger stones included the Stones of Osgiliath and Amon Sûl.

Strength: The seeing-stones were very difficult to destroy. According to Tolkien, "they were indeed unbreakable by any violence then controlled by men, though some believed that great heat, such as that of Orodruin, might shatter them."

Orientation: They had poles, and the diameter passing through the poles is pointed to the earth's centre.


Purposes & Uses

The seeing-stones can be used for two purposes. For seeing things far away, or for communication between two people both using the stones.

When used for the purpose of seeing, no sound can be transmitted. If the surveyor does not "govern" the stone, the visions would be random/blurred/distorted. Visions are also often "shrouded" by darkness. They are not blocked by any apparent physical obstacles, but at times, there was simply not enough light to see the objects the surveyor wanted to see. For example, the stones could see through a wall, but if the room was completely dark, then nothing could be seen. The palantíri themselves could not provide light.

The recommended distance for viewing the visions is about three feet from the surface of the stone. In order to see to the place the surveyor wanted to, they would have to align themselves properly. The stones act almost like incredibly powerful telescopes. They received the visions from one side and transmitted them to the viewer on the opposite side. Therefore, to see a place in the west, the viewer would have to align himself in front of the stone on the east side. It requires great concentration to see smaller figures from afar, and this concentration is very exhausting.

The seeing-stones could not read men's minds unwillingly. There must be an accord to transfer thoughts on both sides. In this case of communication, thought is transferred as speech (sound).

This is mostly information I gathered while doing research for my Denethor fanfic. If there is anything that should be added or corrected, feel free to e-mail me at aralanthiriel@hotmail.com! :-)

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Aralanthiriel

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: Other

Genre: Research Article

Rating: General

Last Updated: 11/02/03

Original Post: 12/17/02

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