What does the light of the Valar have to do with mithril, though? This is where The Rings of Power plays it a bit fast and loose with Tolkien’s legendarium. Gil-galad tells Elrond a story about an Elven hero of old who fought one of Morgoth’s Balrogs to the death to protect a sacred tree said to hold the last of the Silmarils, jewels that contained the essence of the Two Trees of Valinor, which are what originally held the light of the Valar. (This is why Tolkien’s Elves are so into trees.) During this epic battle in the First Age, the tree was struck down by lightning, and the light was lost deep in the earth until Durin and the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm discovered mithril.
Again, this stuff doesn’t really line up with the histories of Middle-earth and Valinor that Tolkien himself outlined in the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings and in The Silmarillion, but it has sparked a new fan theory that the show might have just foreshadowed the arrival of a classic character who was cut from Jackson’s films.
In his fictional history accounts that make up his posthumous books The Silmarillion and The Book of Lost Tales, Tolkien writes of a mighty Elf warrior who bravely sacrificed himself to slay a Balrog during an event known as the Fall of Gondolin, the destruction of a secret Elven city by Morgoth and his army. For his valor, this Elf was brought back to life by the god-like Valar and allowed to leave in peace in the Undying Lands of Valinor. But according to Tolkien, this Elf was later sent back to Middle-earth by Valar with the powers equivalent to those of the Wizards.
His name was Glorfindel. If you’re a big fan of The Lord of the Rings movies, you have probably heard the name before — but not because he plays a pivotal role in Jackson’s adaptation. Rather, it’s because the director famously cut the character almost completely from the trilogy despite Glorfindel playing a small but important part in Frodo’s journey to Rivendell in The Fellowship of the Ring. It’s remained a controversial omission among fans of the books ever since.
In the original book, Glorfindel is the Elf who Elrond sends to meet Frodo and his companions, and he’s also the the one who helps a wounded Frodo cross the Ford of Bruinen to safety while the Nazgul give chase. But in the film, it’s Liv Tyler’s Arwen who helps Frodo escape the Ringwraiths, and it’s easily one of the best scenes in The Fellowship of the Ring. Some fans maintain that Jackson did Tolkien’s original work a disservice by cutting Glorfindel’s big scene from the trilogy, relegating him to brief cameos in the first and third movies, appearing most prominently during Aragon’s crowning at the end of Return of the King. He’s the blonde dude standing next to Elrond in the pic below:
Now, while Gil-galad’s story could be referencing Glorfindel’s heroic deeds, he didn’t die defending a tree specifically in Tolkien’s writings but rather he was trying to save his people. In fact, he’s only briefly mentioned in The Silmarillion at all. But since The Rings of Power hasn’t shied away from changing other things about Tolkien’s world — the writer never put such an emphasis on mithril in his writing, for example — it’s possible that Amazon has just reimagined the legend of Glorfindel to better fit the narrative of the series. Or Gil-galad is just straight up lying to Elrond to get him to play ball.