Who is Adar in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power?

·5 min read
 Adar in The Rings of Power
Adar in The Rings of Power

Warning: Spoilers ahead for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episode 4! Turn back now if you haven't caught up on Amazon Prime Video! 

Thanks to The Rings of Power’s fourth episode, we now know a little more about who Adar is – and his vague motivations. The scarred elf, who is revered by the Orcs, came face to face with Arondir at Magrot’s camp. Their brief conversation has sparked up fresh discussion around the character who, lest we forget, is an original creation not found in Tolkien’s works.

Below, we’ll dig into one of The Rings of Power’s most mysterious villains, including a compelling new theory, and what he could be up to in Middle-earth.

Who is Adar and what is he up to?

Adar in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power trailer
Adar in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power trailer

We now know that Adar (played by Joseph Mawle) is an elf, though why he leads a legion of Orcs is currently unclear. Originally, in J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, the first Orcs were once Elves who were tortured and mutilated by Morgoth, so his origins could lie there.

Adar's plans are a little more clear cut, if no less ominous.

"You have been told so many lies. Some run so deep, even the rocks and roots now believe them," he tells Arondir at Magrot's camp, suggesting that a "new world" is the only way to make things right. While he says only the gods can do that, it appears he is set on becoming one himself. How he attempts to do so, however, is up in the air.

Adar sends Arondir back to send a message to the Southlands: Men must give up their land and swear fealty to Adar. If not, he will take the watchtower of Ostirith by force. At this current stage, Adar is seemingly intent on ruling over the Southlands, though his reach could stretch further...

Is Adar in The Rings of Power Sauron or Maeglin?

By this point, anyone could be Sauron. Adar’s introduction, though, stakes a larger claim than most.

During the Second Age of Middle-earth, Sauron is thought to be in hiding after the defeat of his commander, Morgoth. We know at some point over the next few seasons (there are currently five planned) Sauron will make an appearance, based on where the series fits in The Lord of the Rings timeline. However, we don't know what he will look like.

There are plenty of hints Adar could be the mysterious dark lord. Firstly, he commands the Orcs, just as Sauron did when he served in Morgoth’s army during the First Age of Middle-earth. As well as this, we’re currently in the Southlands, where the men were once allied with Morgoth – it would make sense this is where his exiled commander would go into hiding.

But, before we make any assumptions, J.D. Payne told us earlier this year that Sauron’s return "might be in a way people aren't expecting." This could be in reference to the fact that Sauron's an Annatar, or a shapeshifter in layman’s terms, which means he could appear as just about anyone.

A prevailing theory that is picking up steam on social media is that Adar is Maeglin, an elf who betrayed his people and gave up the location of the city of Gondolin to Morgoth. There are several factors that line up with this idea, namely that he speaks of the land of Beleriand (where Maeglin was born) and that he speaks the Elvish language of Quenya.

Maeglin was presumed dead after Morgoth's attack on Gondolin, but there's every chance he could have survived and been badly scarred. After all, death isn't always the end in Middle-earth, though the name 'Adar' (literally meaning father) could also mean whoever Adar is predates the Orcs and, by definition, would also predate Maeglin. One to keep on eye on, then, in the coming weeks.

Could Adar be Theo’s father in The Rings of Power?

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Another potential theory about Adar comes from his name. In Tolkien's Sindarin language, the word "adar" literally translates to "father". This could be a coincidence, but we do also know there is a character in the Southlands with an absent father.

In episode two, Theo was questioned about his absent father by another kid in the village. It's a pointed conversation that implies there will be a payoff down the line. There’s also Theo’s link to the mysterious spooky sword which has Sauron’s mark on it. If his father is Adar, it would make sense such a blade would call to him.

Who plays Adar in The Rings of Power?

Joseph Mawle in Game of Thrones
Joseph Mawle in Game of Thrones

Adar is played by Game of Thrones star Joseph Mawle, most recognizable as Benjen Stark in the long-running fantasy series. He has also had roles in films like In The Heart of the Sea and series like MotherFatherSon and Ripper Street.

Mawle has yet to do any interviews for The Rings of Power, so there's not a whole lot we can read into from the man behind the villain. While we await his return in the series, check out our theories on who The Stranger actually is, as well as our explainers on the characters in The Rings of Power and how old Galadriel is.