|Aragorn with the Stone of Orthanc in Peter Jackson's Return of the King|
The palantíri (Q. ‘far-seer’; sing. palantír) were the eight seeing stones of Eldamar, made in the Elder Days by Fëanor. Seven of these stones were given in the Second Age to the Lords of Andúnië in Númenor. After the fall of Númenor, they were brought to Middle-earth in nine ships carrying the Faithful, led by Elendil the Tall, and were distributed throughout Númenorean realms-in-exile. Stones were kept at Annúminas, Amon Sûl, and the Tower Hills in Arnor; and in Osgiliath, Orthanc, Minas Ithil and Minas Arnor in Gondor. The eighth stone, the Master-Stone or Chief Palantír, remained in the Undying Lands, in the Tower of Avallónë in Eressëa.
Also called: the Seeing-stones, the Seven Stones, and the Seven Seeing-stones.
Description and Use
Each of the stones were like a globe of crystal, with a tiny flame flickering at its heart – when activated, the light expanded until the globe became a mass of colour, into which the mind of the user could cast itself. The stones were all in accord with one another, though some were more potent than others. Additionally, each possessed different characteristics, and would act in accordance with the nature of its master, though they responded best if the user was a true descendant of Elendil.
The Fates of the Seeing-stones
The Stone of Osgiliath disappeared during the Kin-Strife with the destruction of the Dome of Stars in TA 1437.
The Stones of Amon Sûl and Annúminas lost in the waters of the Ice Bay in 1974 in the shipwreck that killed King Arvedui of Arthedain.
The Stone of Minas Ithil was captured by Sauron in 2002, when the Tower of the Moon taken by his servants, the Ringwraiths; it was destroyed in the fall of Barad-dûr.
The Stone of Minas Arnor (Minas Tirith) fell under the control of Sauron (who used it to break Denethor II, Ruling Steward of Gondor) and was rendered completely useless, save by one with an iron will.
The Stone of Orthanc fell into the hands of Saruman, who was ensnared by it and later betrayed his Order to follow Sauron; of the Seven Stones in Middle-earth, only the Orthanc-stone remained for use by the new King of Gondor.
Only the stone of the Tower Hills (also called the Stone of Elendil; it was the master-stone of the seven stones in Middle-earth, and was in direct accord with the Chief Palantír) had remained untouched by evil. At the end of the Third Age, it was secretly put on Elrond’s ship by Círdan the Shipwright, and thus it, too, passed over the Sea.