The Rings of Power: Where Is Rhûn and Why Is It Important?

The Rings of Power season finale sets up an adventure in the land of Rhûn. Here's what you need to know about this eastern region of Middle-earth.

Nori Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh) bids farewell to her Harfoot friend Poppy Proudfellow (Megan Richards)
Photo: Ben Rothstein/Prime Video

This Lord of the Rings article contains spoilers for The Rings of Power.

After saving the Stranger (Daniel Weyman) from the mysterious hooded sisters in The Rings of Power season finale, the young Harfoot Nori (Markella Kavenagh) decides to leave her clan and journey with the Stranger to Rhûn. Even though they only have the Stranger’s constellation of stars and sense of smell to guide them, they set out to the mysterious land to learn more about who he is and his destiny in Middle-earth.

Rhûn, also known as the East or the Eastlands, encompasses all land east of Rhovanion and even Mordor. It is said that factions of Elves, Dwarves, and Men all awoke in Rhûn during the early days of Middle-earth before moving west and forming the cities and kingdoms of the First and Second Age. Some Elves, Dwarves, and Men, however, stayed behind in the east. 

Several Dwarven clans had kingdoms in Rhûn through the Third Age. During the War of the Dwarves and Orcs, the Ironfists, Stiffbeards, Blacklocks, and Stonefoots all left their kingdoms to join forces with the other Dwarven clans of Middle-earth. After the war, the survivors returned to Rhûn until late into the Third Age when Sauron’s rise to power and the violence that came with it forced them to flee west from their ancient homelands.

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The humans that remained in Rhûn became known as Easterlings, and were loyal followers of Morgoth and then Sauron during both of his rises to power. In the Third Age, factions of the Easterlings known as the Wainriders and the Balchoth launched many attacks on Gondor and the humans of the west in the name of Sauron, spreading his terror wherever they went.

After falling at the hands of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men at the end of the Second Age, Sauron fled to Rhûn to recover and regain his strength. Given Rhûn’s proximity to Mordor, and the region’s hatred of the west, it makes sense that Sauron would choose this land to plot his Third Age return. During the Third Age, three wizards traveled to Rhûn in search of Sauron – Saruman, Alatar, and Pallando. Alatar and Pallando, who became known as the Blue Wizards, stayed behind in Rhûn after Saruman went back west in order to convince the people there to resist Sauron’s rule and influence. J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t write much on these Blue Wizards, but looking at what we know about Sauron’s third rise to power in the Lord of the Rings books and movies, it’s safe to assume they weren’t that successful.

Tolkien didn’t provide much backstory on Rhûn or its history, so unfortunately it’s hard to predict exactly what the Stranger and Nori will discover on their journey there. But the lack of explicit source material does give The Rings of Power plenty of room to expand on what we do know about the region. If the Stranger really is good, it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll learn much about his origins there given the regions’ loyalty to darkness, but that doesn’t mean that his mission won’t uncover other mysteries and lore from the early days of Middle-earth.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.