- "They are not all accounted for, the lost seeing stones. We do not know who else may be watching."
- —Gandalf to Saruman, in The Fellowship of the Ring
- For other uses of Palantíri see also: Palantír (disambiguation)
Palantíri (or singular Palantír) also known as Seeing-stones, the Seven Stones, and the Seven Seeing-stones were spherical stone objects used for the purpose of communication in Middle-earth and beyond.
The Palantíri were made by the Ñoldor in Eldamar, possibly by Fëanor himself in Aman during the Elder Days in the Time of the Trees, and then given by the Elves to the Númenóreans, who kept them as heirlooms until the Fall of Númenor during the Second Age; seven of these stones were rescued and brought to Middle-earth by Elendil and his sons.
The Dúnedain placed the stones across large distances in order to communicate with one another. The stones were housed at these locations: Annúminas, Amon Sûl (Weathertop) and Elostirion (Tower Hills) in the north, and Osgiliath, Orthanc (Isengard), Minas Ithil, and Minas Anor in the south. The Master Stone resides in Tol Eressëa, in the Tower of Avallonë.
Four of the stones are known to have been lost. The chief stone of the north, at Amon Sûl, along with the stone from Annúminas, was lost with Arvedui in the cold northern seas. The chief stone of the south, in Osgiliath, was lost during the Kin-strife. The stone of Minas Ithil was captured by Sauron, and was very likely destroyed during the destruction of Barad-dûr.
The stone of Elostirion was taken back to the Undying Lands (Valinor) on the Ringbearers' ship. Only the stones of Minas Anor and Orthanc remain in Middle-earth, yet the stone of Minas Anor was marred, showing all but the most strong-willed the sorrows and madness of Denethor II.
The stones were most readily available to heirs or kings, as well as those appointed to guard them; the stones appear to be able to sense their user and allow use based on their position, hence Denethor's ability to utilize the stone of the White City easily, whereas Saruman struggled with its use, and was eventually overcome by Sauron.
Appearance and PropertiesEdit
The Palantíri, in appearance, were dark, perfectly smooth spheres of varying sizes; some were small and portable while others (particularly the master-stones) were too large to be lifted by Men. They were completely unmarked or unmarred, and even when unseated they remained inviolable. The stones had permanent poles, which aligned with the center of the Earth, with permanent upper and nether poles. The circumferential faces were the ones that allowed viewing, receiving outside visions and channeling them to the eye of the beholder on the opposite side; if one wished to look east, he would place himself on the western side of the orb, etc. Unlike the master stones, which could rotate and look in any direction, the smaller ones had fixed positions, so that when looked at from an incorrect direction, the face would appear blank to the surveyor. The Palantíri could not transmit sound; they could only show visions or intended thoughts of the users. They, in one direction, could see for leagues, with the farthest places showing the least clarity. Their vision was not based on obstacles, but on darkness; they could see through things, but would only see shadow- nothing within could be discerned. This was actually a method of security, called 'shrouding,' which protected the sight of the surveyor. Magnification was also possible for those with great will; this was a very tiring process, and only the most powerful and determined could accomplish this feat. They could not pierce minds, for the transference of thought depended upon the wills and intentions of those communicating.
According to Gandalf, it is beyond the skill of both Sauron and Saruman to create the palantíri and that Sauron cannot make the palantíri "lie", or create false images (though the latter could show selective images to create a false impression on the viewer).
The Palantíri were meant to be used by the Dúnedain to communicate throughout the Realms in Exile. However, in The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II: The Rise of the Witch-king, the chief Palantír of the north was used to protect fortifications and settlements; it was also used as a weapon, although this is not supported by any materials from the books. During the War of the Ring, the Palantíri were used by many individuals. Sauron used the Ithil-stone to take advantage of the users of the other two stones, the Orthanc-stone and Anor-stone, but was also susceptible to deception himself. While Saruman was trying to use the Orthanc-stone, Sauron convinced Saruman to join with him. Denethor II attempted to use the Anor-stone to gain knowledge, but Sauron convinced Denethor there was no hope for victory against him.(Denethor's palantir was located in the highest chamber of the White tower, above Minas Tirith's throne room.) Denethor thought he had the might to stand against Sauron, and for some time he was able to withstand Sauron's great power. Peregrin Took mistakenly used the Orthanc-stone, unwittingly fooling Sauron into believing that he had the One Ring. Aragorn later deliberately used the Orthanc-stone to draw out Sauron's army, providing Frodo with time and the opportunity to traverse the plains of Gorgoroth where the orc armies had previously been encamped, enabling him to eventually reach Sammath Naur in the heart of Mount Doom, where the One Ring was ultimately destroyed.
Palantíri is a Quenyan word that means 'Far seeing'.
- The Sigil stones in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim could be a reference to the Seeing-stones, having a very similar appearance.
- The Silmarillion: Akallabêth pg. 276
- The Silmarillion: Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age pgs. 291-92
- The Complete Guide to Middle-earth