Who is Galadriel? When you talk about the best Lord of the Rings characters, Galadriel almost always comes into the conversation. In all of Tolkien’s writings of Middle-earth, the elf has been a constant figure. And with Amazon’s latest TV series, putting her front and centre as a main Rings of Power character in the IP’s latest outing, fans may be curious to know why she is such an important figure in fantasy.
Now let’s start by saying that when it comes to Galadriel, things are pretty complicated in the Tolkien timeline, with her backstory and travels changing slightly with every new thing the author wrote. However, for simplicity, we will look primarily at her portrayal in The Silmarillion, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies, and finally at The Rings of Power.
But even with our focused approach, The Digital Fix has made a detailed and comprehensive guide where Galadriel is explained to the fullest. From her backstory, travels and time in Middle-earth, we leave no elven stone unturned.
Galadriel’s early life and during the First Age
Galadriel was born in 1362 during the Years of the Trees in Valinor (also known as the Undying Lands). That’s right; she was around before the First Age of Tolkien’s story! The youngest daughter of Finarfin, Prince of the Ñoldor, and Eärwen, she had four older brothers: Finrod Felagund, Orodreth, Angrod, and Aegnor.
Galadriel was always noticed by her kin as special, thanks to her tall and strong stature and striking gold hair, which was said to have captured the light of the Two Trees in Valinor. Her beautiful hair was even said to have been the inspiration behind the creation of the three Silmarils by her uncle Fëanor, which would be the cause of multiple wars, and lead to the events that defined the First Age itself…so yeah, she has always been kind of a big deal.
But, let’s not get it twisted, Galadriel wasn’t just a passive figure to be admired, but an active Elf who longed to travel to Middle-earth and rule over its lands. Her big chance to leave Valinor comes after the year 1495 YT after Morgoth destroyed the Two Trees and stole the Silmarils.
Fëanor upset that the gods of Middle-earth (the Valar) allowed Morgoth to escape, rallies a group of elves to leave Valinor and follow the evil figure (and his precious jewels- Silmarils) to Middle-earth.
Galadriel was a member of this rebellion; however, unlike others following Fëanor, she is independent. Fëanor and his sons swore an oath to retrieve the Silmarils at all cost, an oath that Galadriel avoids ( and it’s a good thing she did). Galadriel wasn’t so fussed by the Silmarils but instead wanted to rule a realm of her own, seeing Middle-earth as an opportunity.
Unfortunately, to get to Middle-earth across the sea from Valinor, boats were needed, and Galadriel’s mother’s kin was slain by Fëanor for the voyage to happen. Although she didn’t directly participate in the murder of the elves, Galadriel and her brothers still forsook the Valar and continued their way to Middle-earth, leaving Valinor behind her.
Once in Middle-earth and during the First Age, Galadriel didn’t do much in the fight against Morgoth. Instead, she met her future husband Celeborn, learned how to make Lembas, oh and watched as all of her brothers died fighting against Morgoth and his follower Sauron too.
Despite all the heartache, Galadriel chose to stay In Middle-earth after the end of the First Age, and was one of the only remaining leaders of the Ñoldor rebels. Although Morgoth was defeated, she felt as if evil wasn’t totally gone yet and worked to protect and set up defences against the dark forces. She was also banned from returning to Valinor by the Valar.
Galadriel during the Second Age
During the Second Age in Tolkien’s writing, Celeborn and Galadriel (now married) have settled in Lindon, ruling over a group of elves in the name of the new high king of the Ñoldor, Gil-Galad. The couple has a daughter named Celebrían – who, fun fact, will later become the wife of Elrond, and the mother of Arwen from the Lord of the Rings movies.
The two stay in Lindon for a time before eventually travelling to Eregion to set up their own kingdom. However, their stay here doesn’t last either, as elf Celebrimbor would take control. After some more travelling and the War of the Last Alliance taking place, Galadriel and Celeborn would take control of a settlement called Anduin, which would later be called Lothlórien.
Galadriel didn’t just travel or play happy families in the Second Age, though. Maia Annatar (aka Sauron in disguise as an elf) would lead Celebrimbor to create the Rings of Power, with three going to the elves. Galadriel was the only one to distrust Annatar from the beginning. It turns out that her hunch was right as Sauron forges ‘the One Ring’ in the year 1600 SA. Sensing danger after Sauron exposes his identity, Galadriel advises Celebrimbor to hide the three elven rings outside of Eregion before it is attacked by Sauron’s army.
Galadriel was also given one of the three elven rings of power – Nenya, the Ring of Water – for safekeeping. Galadriel used the power of her Ring to strengthen her kingdom. But once again, she takes up travelling, and her family settles in Rivendell for many years.
Galadriel in The Rings of Power
Galadriel in The Rings of Power is very different to her portrayal above. The fantasy series, also set in the Second Age, show her as more of a traditional fighter on the battlefield. She is also separated from Celeborn in this iteration, is without her daughter during her travels.
While sailing to Valinor, she meets a man named Halbrand (actually Sauron in disguise), who manages to charm Galadriel. Eventually, though, she manages to work out he is not the true king of the Southlands but not before he teaches the elves how to forge the Three Rings.
Considering how The Rings of Power is set to have five seasons, we are sure that Galadriel will be following her canon timeline in some form in the future, and we are curious to see what the showrunners have in store for us.
Galadriel during the Third Age and Lord of the Rings movies
Going back to Tolkien’s writing, Galadriel begins the Third Age still in Rivendell, where her daughter marries Elrond. Celeborn and Galadriel then move back to their old realm and become the Lord and Lady of Lothlórien.
Galadriel would go on to help form The White Council in 2463 TA, and became known as one of the greatest living threats to Sauron’s plans and very presence. During the events of the Lord of the Rings movies, she also played a massive help in the fight against evil leading up to the War of the Ring. The most memorable contribution she made was hosting the Fellowship of the Ring on their way to Mount Doom. Here, she lets the hobbit Frodo take a glimpse of his future.
During this exchange with Frodo, Galadriel is offered the One Ring, and although she has been tempted by its power, she ultimately refuses to be the ring bearer. By giving up the temptation of ultimate power, she passed the test of the Valar.
Galadriel would then gift the Fellowship of the Ring with boats, supplies and gifts to aid in their journey. Other notable feats she was responsible for during the adventure movies includes saving Gandalf from death and helping him turn into Gandalf the White. Her gift to Frodo and Sam saved the ring bearer from the giant spider Shelob, and she gave Aragorn information about the Paths of the Dead – which would help massively in the final fight against Sauron.
In short, she did a lot, and thanks to passing the Ring test we mentioned earlier, Galadriel was finally able to return back to Valinor once peace was achieved. That’s right; after thousands of years, her story ended with her going back home, where it all began.
What are Galadriel’s powers?
Galadriel had powerful magic abilities that were said to be feared by Sauron himself. Although we don’t have a complete picture of what these are specifically, we do know that she couldn’t have her mind controlled, could communicate over great distances, could see the future, and could cloak her thoughts against other magic users.
She was also a Ring of Power bearer, which offered protection and tons of benefits to her and those around her. On top of all these cool abilities, Galadriel was renowned for her immense wisdom, and she benefited from the perks that all elves get as well. She is immortal, agile, can travel without leaving tracks even on snow, and is extremely beautiful.
She doesn’t need sleep, is resistant to most environments, and can survive without food for an extended amount of time. Basically, she is OP and should be feared.
For more Lord of the Rings knowledge, here is an article all about Middle-earth’s werewolves. Or, perhaps the finale left you wondering is Isildur really dead well, you’ll have to read out Rings of Power season 2 guide to find out. Finally, if you want to know more about the wonderful actors who brought these characters to life, we have a guide to the Rings of Power cast.