In the War of the Last Alliance, Isildur cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand, but he refused to destroy it. Isildur was later killed by Orcs and the Ring was lost in the Disaster of the Gladden Fields for nearly 2,500 years. His refusal to destroy the Ring allowed Sauron's spirit to endure and ensured that he would remain a threat to Middle-earth for years to come. Isildur's bloodline survived in the Dúnedain of the North and his heir would help end Sauron's power in the War of the Ring.
Life in Númenor
Isildur was born in Númenor in the year SA 3209 of the Second Age. His younger brother Anárion was born in SA 3219. They lived at the haven of Rómenna on the east coast of the island of Númenor. Their father was Elendil and their grandfather was Amandil, the Lord of Andúnië. The Lords of Andúnië were descended from the Kings of Númenor through Silmariën, the daughter and eldest child of the fourth King of Númenor, Tar-Elendil.
Elros, the Half-elven and the first King of Númenor, had chosen the life of Men, while his brother Elrond chose the life of Elves. Over time, the Kings of Númenor grew to resent their ancestor's choice and desired eternal life for themselves. They became estranged from the Elves and from the Valar and they neglected the worship of Eru, the one who had created them.
A small group of Númenóreans remained friendly with the Elves and faithful to Eru and the Valar. They were called the Faithful. Among these men were the Lords of Andúnië.
In SA 3262, Ar-Pharazôn, the King of Númenor, took Sauron captive and brought him to Númenor. Sauron allowed himself to be taken because he wanted to corrupt the Númenóreans in order to bring about their downfall. He used their desire for immortality and power to convince them to renounce Eru and worship Morgoth.
Isildur learned that Sauron wanted Ar-Pharazôn to cut down Nimloth, the White Tree that had come from the Undying Lands. Isildur disguised himself and went secretly to the King's Court and took a fruit from Nimloth. The guards discovered and attacked him and, although receiving grave injuries, he managed to escape with the fruit. For this deed, Isildur received much praise. He stood near death for many months, but when the fruit of the White Tree began to sprout, he awoke and was recovered from his injuries.
As Sauron's influence increased, the Faithful began to prepare to leave Númenor. They filled nine ships with their families and many of their prized possessions, including the palantíri. Isildur had three ships of his own, and he brought aboard the seedling of the White Tree, the Stone of Erech, as well as his wife and his son Elendur, who had been born in SA 3299.
Isildur's grandfather Amandil hoped to plead with the Valar to spare the Faithful. He sailed westward toward the Undying Lands, but what became of him is not known and he was never seen again.
As Ar-Pharazôn felt the approach of old age, Sauron's lies finally convinced him he could achieve life in the Undying Lands. In SA 3319, Ar-Pharazôn set out with a great fleet intending to take the Undying Lands by force, but when he set foot on the shore, Eru Ilúvatar caused the Seas to open up and Valinor was hidden. The fleet sank and Númenor was destroyed by a great wave.
Life in Middle-earth
The nine ships of the Faithful were spared, and a great wind from the west sent them to the shores of Middle-earth. Elendil landed in the north with four ships, while Isildur and Anárion came to the Mouths of the Anduin in the south with three and two ships respectively. Elendil and his sons established the North-kingdom of Arnor and the South-kingdom of Gondor in SA 3320. Elendil was the High King of both realms, but he ruled from Arnor and committed the rule of Gondor to his sons.
Isildur lived in Minas Ithil to the east of the Anduin, while Anárion made his home in Minas Anor to the west of the Anduin. They ruled from their joint capital of Osgiliath, built on both banks of the river. Isildur built Minas Ithil in a valley of the Mountains of Shadow on the border of Mordor, planting the White Tree of Gondor before his house there. Minas Ithil was a beautiful city, but it was also a stronghold to defend against the evil that might still dwell in Mordor. It was not known at first that Sauron had survived the Downfall and had begun to rebuild his strength.
Isildur had one of the palantír called the Ithil-stone, which he used to communicate with his brother and father. Isildur and his wife had two more sons while living in Gondor - Aratan born in SA 3339 and Ciryon born in SA 3379.
In the early days of Gondor, Isildur went to the Hill of Erech at the entrance to the Blackroot Vale in the White Mountains. On the hilltop he placed the Stone of Erech, a great black sphere that he had brought from Númenor. Isildur met with the King of the Mountain Men, who swore allegiance to Isildur upon the Stone, but later when Isildur called upon the Men of the Mountains to join the fight against Sauron, they refused. Isildur cursed them and said that they would never rest until they fulfilled their oath, and they haunted the Paths of the Dead.
Sauron attacked and captured Minas Ithil in SA 3429. Isildur escaped with his wife and sons and a seedling of the White Tree. Isildur and his family boarded a ship at the Mouths of the Anduin and sailed around the coast of Middle-earth, seeking Elendil in Arnor. Elendil consulted with Gil-galad, the last High King of the Ñoldor in Middle-earth who lived in Lindon west of Arnor. Gil-galad and Elendil formed the Last Alliance of Elves and Men to oppose Sauron in SA 3430. That same year, Isildur's youngest son Valandil was born at the home of Elrond in Rivendell.
The Last Alliance
The army of the Last Alliance gathered at Rivendell in SA 3431 and then marched to war. Isildur and his three oldest sons Elendur, Aratan, and Ciryon went with the army, while Isildur's wife and their young son Valandil remained in Rivendell.
The War of the Last Alliance began in SA 3434. Sauron's forces were defeated in the Battle of Dagorlad on the plain outside Mordor, and the army of the Last Alliance entered Sauron's realm and laid siege to Barad-dûr. The siege lasted seven years and many Men and Elves were killed, including Isildur's brother Anárion, who died in SA 3440.
At last in SA 3441, Sauron himself came down from his tower. He fought with Gil-galad and Elendil on the slopes of Mount Doom. Sauron's body was cast down, but Gil-galad and Elendil died in the struggle. Elendil's sword Narsil broke beneath him.
Isildur took up the hilt of the sword and used the broken blade to cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand. Sauron's spirit fled from his body, but as long as the Ring that held much of his power survived so would his spirit. Enamored by the Ring's apparent beauty, Isildur took it for himself. Elrond and Círdan were the only two individuals who marked Isildur's actions, as they alone had been with Gil-galad during the contest with Sauron, and Isildur alone had stood by Elendil. Not long after, with the heat-induced markings on the Ring still visible, Isildur wrote a short account of the Ring and its apparent properties, noting that it had burned his hand so badly that he believed he would be in permanent pain. He noted that the Ring, as it cooled, seemed to shrink, and that the writing upon its outer band seemed to be fading. He theorized that the heat from Sauron's hand might have caused the writing to remain visible, and that heating it again might produce the same effect. However, he was already so enthralled by the Ring that he refused, even in writing, to take any action which might cause harm to it.
Rule and death
Isildur assumed kingship of both Gondor and Arnor, but intended to return to the North and leave Anárion's son Meneldil to rule in the south, after mentoring him in the duties of a King. On the summit of Amon Anwar in the Firien wood, Isildur entombed the body of his father Elendil. Before leaving Minas Anor, Isildur planted the seedling of the White Tree recovered from Minas Ithil in memory of his brother and established the Tradition of Isildur.
On September 5, TA 2, Isildur set out from Minas Anor with his three elder sons and a company of knights. They marched up the Vales of Anduin on the eastern side of the river, heading for the High Pass over the Misty Mountains. He intended to deliver the One Ring to Elrond, as suggested by his eldest son and confidante, Elendur.
Thirty days later, on October 4, Isildur's company was attacked by Orcs near the Gladden Fields. The Orcs were unaware that Isildur had the One Ring, but unwittingly drawn by its power. Isildur's men were outnumbered ten to one, and though they initially managed to repel the attack by forming a shield-wall, the Orcs renewed their assault after nightfall and the men were overwhelmed.
Before the battle had begun, Isildur had sent away his esquire Ohtar, bearing the shards of his father's sword Narsil. Isildur kept the One Ring, but it was useless in defending his men against the Orcs.
Isildur's son Aratan was mortally wounded, and his son Ciryon was killed. His eldest son Elendur begged him to flee to in order to prevent the Orcs from capturing the Ring. Isildur agreed and parted with great sorrow from Elendur, who was slain leading the remaining Dúnedain.
Isildur put on the Ring despite its pain and made for the River Anduin. He removed his armor and waded into the river intending to try to cross it. The current was strong and despite his great strength, it pulled him toward the marshes of the Gladden Fields. Then the Ring left Isildur's finger and was lost in the waters. He rose out of the water, but was spotted by Orcs who killed him with arrows.
The One Ring remained in the Gladden Fields until Déagol found it in TA 2463. Isildur's body also lay in the waters, undiscovered by his kin, but his weapons and armour were later recovered near the place of battle. As he had been wearing the Elendilmir, this was lost with him.
Isildur's youngest son Valandil became the High King of Arnor when he came of age in the year TA 10, but he did not claim the Kingship of Gondor, and the two Kingdoms became separated. Gondor continued to be ruled by the heirs of Anárion, while Arnor was ruled by the heirs of Isildur. It was not until the end of the Third Age that the Kingdoms were reunited by Aragorn II Elessar, Isildur's heir. During his reign, evidence for the full story of his death was finally uncovered, as the Elendilmir and the necklace holding the One Ring were found in a secret chamber in Orthanc. Saruman had likely found Isildur's remains and had them burnt.
Portrayal in adaptations
Isildur appears in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, both in the film's prologue and in later flashbacks. His role is largely unchanged from J.R.R. Tolkien's writings, though he is shown to have been brought to the Cracks of Doom itself by Elrond, who unsuccessfully tries to convince him to destroy the Ring. He was portrayed by Harry Sinclair.
In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (video game), the player plays as Isildur in the first level, "Slopes of Mt. Doom". He is fully playable after completion of the level "The Tower of Orthanc".
In The Lord of the Rings Online, Isildur makes several extended appearances in flashbacks and session plays.
In LEGO The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game, the player controls Isildur in the first level, "Slopes of Mt. Doom".
In Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Isildur is shown to have become a Nazgûl after his death at the Gladden Fields, when Sauron places one of the Nine rings on his finger, which resurrects him. When Talion and his dominated army of Orcs and Olog-hai attack Barad-dûr, Celebrimbor dominates Isildur, but Talion disapproves, and kills Isildur to set him free.
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||埃西鐸|
|Kazakh||Ысілдұр (Cyrillic) Isildur (Latin)|
|Serbian||Исилдур (Cyrillic) Isildur (Latin)|
|Uzbek||Исилдур (Cyrillic) Isildur (Latin)|
|King of Arnor|
|SA 3441 - TA 2|
|King of Gondor|
|SA 3320 - TA 2|
|Bearer of the One Ring|
|SA 3441 - TA 2|
|King of all the Dúnedain|
Aragorn II Elessar (3,017 years later)
|SA 3441 - TA 2|
|High King of Gondor and Arnor|
Aragorn II Elessar
|SA 3441 - TA 2|
|Bearers of the One Ring|
|High Kings of Arnor & Kings of Arthedain|
|Arnor||Elendil • Isildur • Valandil • Eldacar • Arantar • Tarcil • Tarondor • Valandur • Elendur • Eärendur|
|Arthedain||Amlaith • Beleg • Mallor • Celepharn • Celebrindor • Malvegil • Argeleb I • Arveleg I • Araphor • Argeleb II • Arvegil • Arveleg II • Araval • Araphant • Arvedui|
|Reunited Kingdom||Aragorn II Elessar • Eldarion|
|Kings of Gondor|
Elendil | Isildur & Anárion | Meneldil | Cemendur | Eärendil | Anardil | Ostoher | Rómendacil I | Turambar | Atanatar I | Siriondil | Tarannon Falastur | Eärnil I | Ciryandil | Hyarmendacil I | Atanatar II Alcarin | Narmacil I | Calmacil | Rómendacil II | Valacar | Eldacar | Castamir the Usurper | Eldacar (restored) | Aldamir | Hyarmendacil II | Minardil | Telemnar | Tarondor | Telumehtar Umbardacil | Narmacil II | Calimehtar | Ondoher | Eärnil II | Eärnur | Aragorn II Elessar | Eldarion