I have seen Galadriel being more powerful than most of the others (in the movies, such as The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies) and I wonder why that is, and also what makes her weak after using her power in Hobbit 3 against the evil eye?

I'm new to Tolkien's universe so a bit of lore would be sweet too.

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    I'm not sure what you mean by "what makes her weak". Dec 21, 2016 at 19:37
  • Can you re-word your question please; fix up the grammar, etc. Perhaps expand to give a fuller explanation of what you're wanting.
    – Tim
    Dec 21, 2016 at 19:39
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    Related if not dupe - scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/29352/…
    – Paulie_D
    Dec 21, 2016 at 19:40
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    There's like three questions I want to close this as a dupe of. Decisions, decisions Dec 21, 2016 at 19:41
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    I haven't seen the Hobbit movies, but your question makes no sense to me based on Tolkien's works. Galadriel never fights anything, especially not "the evil eye" (which I guess is Sauron?). You'd have to ask the filmmakers because there isn't anything canon supporting this.
    – isanae
    Dec 21, 2016 at 20:52

6 Answers 6


Galadriel is one of the last of an ancient people called the Noldor still living in Middle Earth. The history of the Noldor is the subject of the majority of the Silmarillion and, while Galadriel comes into it only briefly, the achievements of the Noldor can give us some insight into Galadriel's influence and power.


I've noticed that in the following, I talk about this nebulous term "power" quite often; let's spend a little time defining that.

In Tolkien's world, there are two 'layers' of reality - the primary world, and the secondary world. The secondary world is what Aragorn (in the films) meant when he said

"He's passing into the shadow world. He'll soon become a wraith, like them".

Elves, wraiths, and other supernatural creatures dwell largely in this secondary world, and this is where most of their power lies. It's the world that Frodo saw when he was dying from the stab wound from the Nazgul blade - that's why Arwen appeared to glow when he looked at her. In the books, it's described thus:

With his last failing senses Frodo heard cries, and it seemed to him that he saw, beyond the Riders that hesitated on the shore, a shining figure of white light; and behind it ran small shadowy forms waving flames, that flared red in the grey mist that was falling over the world.

The shining figure is the elf-lord Glorfindel; the shadowy ones are Aragorn and the hobbits. It seems that fire also exists strongly in the secondary world, which is why the Nazgul fear it.

This Power takes many forms, but in general it can be seen as the ability to shape the world to your will in some way or another. This may mean great skill at making things, or enormous charisma, or great physical strength; or, in some cases, all of them at once.

The Noldor

The Noldor were perhaps the most powerful people ever to walk Middle-earth. The Silmarillion, the great history that underlies the Lord of the Rings, is largely an account of their deeds and their history. To give you an idea of what they could accomplish:

  • The palantiri, the seeing-stones, were crafted by the Noldor; Gandalf speculated that they were made by Fëanor, the greatest craftsman who has ever lived. Fëanor was Galadriel's half-uncle (that is, her father was Fëanor's half-brother).

  • Thorin's sword Orcrist was forged by Noldor smiths.

  • Gandalf's sword Glamdring, which he used to fight the balrog and throughout LotR, was also made by Noldor smiths.

  • Frodo's sword Sting was a trifling example of the craft, but was made by the Noldor.

  • The Rings of Power, including the Nine Rings of the Nazgûl, the Seven rings of the Dwarves, and the Three of the elves, were all made by the Noldor, though with the help of Sauron.

  • Rivendell was among the last realms where Noldor could be found in significant numbers.

The Noldor are, in short, a Big Deal. Galadriel is accounted one of their leaders.

Galadriel's History

Living in Valinor

In brief, the first of the elves who awoke on Middle-earth were persuaded to travel into the West and live with the Valar - effectively the gods of Middle-Earth. Some elves grew tired or afraid on the journey west and remained in Middle Earth, but most made the journey all the way to the land of the Valar. They were divided into three groups or tribes - the Vanyar, the Noldor, and the Teleri.

In Valinor, the elves reached the pinnacle of their abilities. Galadriel was born during this time, the granddaughter of the King of the Noldor.

Leaving Valinor

In time, Melkor - the first Dark Lord, and Sauron's old boss - planted suspicion in the hearts of the Noldor, making them think that they were being imprisoned in Valinor. Galadriel's half-uncle Fëanor eventually led a large portion of the Noldor to leave Valinor in pursuit of Melkor. Galadriel went with them, and we hear that:

Galadriel, the only woman of the Noldor to stand that day tall and valiant among the contending princes, was eager to be gone...the words of Feanor concerning Middle-earth had kindled in her heart, for she yearned to see the wide unguarded lands and to rule there a realm of her own will.

The First Age

At length the Noldor came to Middle-earth, drove back the servants of Melkor (now renamed Morgoth), and established their own realms. The Noldor were noted as being stronger, wiser, more skillful, and more powerful than the elves who had remained in Middle-earth.

This was the time that the power of the elves was at its height, the heroic age when legends were made. Galadriel remains the only woman mentioned as a leader of the elves in this time.

Near the end of the First Age, the Noldor kingdoms were overrun by Morgoth, and many of their leaders were killed.

The Second Age

At the end of the First Age, the western lands where the elves had settled were largely destroyed by the war between the Valar and Morgoth. Most of the leaders of the Noldor were already dead; many of the elves now chose to leave Middle-earth and return to Valinor. Galadriel, however, took a portion of the Noldor east, and with her husband Celeborn founded the elven kingdom of Eregion.

Eregion was the last great kingdom of the Noldor. Here the Rings of Power were forged, though Galadriel distrusted the being who called himself Annatar and taught them to make Rings. Her distrust was well-placed, since Annatar was Sauron.

Eventually, Galadriel left Eregion to take up the rule of Lothlorien; and there she remained, until the time of Lord of the Rings.

That, then, is the short version of Galadriel's history. Her great power and wisdom come from her history, being born in heaven and having lived through the greatest legends of Middle-earth. She's older than any other leader in Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit (except for Cirdan, the shipwright, but he never does much). She is in many ways a relic of a bygone age, a memory of what the elves could do at their peak.

The Ring

Galadriel bears one of the Three, the pure rings that the Elves made without Sauron's personal help. The power of the Three is to preserve and remember, so it is likely that the ring helps her maintain her native power, keeping her at her peak.

As for why she was tired after she banished the Eye in the third Hobbit film, this is, of course, the invention of the filmmakers, but it's not entirely surprising.


Sauron is a Maia, one of the servants of the Valar. He is a being far beyond any elf or human, an angelic spirit that once helped to build Middle-earth in the very beginning. He has by this time lost much of his native power, pouring a lot of it into the ring, squandering more in creating servants, but he is still formidable. The Valar forbade any of their people from fighting Sauron directly, since last time they tried something like that it destroyed a continent.

All things considered, the banishment of Sauron from Dol Guldur was a great achievement for any individual (while it's true, as comments have pointed out, that Sauron planned to flee and return to Mordor, he also most likely could not have withstood Galadriel if he wanted to); Galadriel is one of the few who could possibly have driven him out.

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    Except that the banishment of Sauron from Dol Guldur was not a real victory. In the Council of Elrond Gandalf says that this was just a fake retreat, and in fact Sauron had long planned his return to Mordor. That said, thanks for a good summary. Dec 21, 2016 at 21:56
  • @Werrf - Discussion of Power in Tolkien is interesting as it's particular and peculiar to individuals and situations.Sometimes it seems they do things effortlessly (high elves do a "force push" and it seems the foe flies into non-existence, Gandalf & even Aragorn have moments of just shrugging off many foes) but they don't do it continuously and it doesn't seem the reason is that they need to recharge that power, it's just not for constant use for some reason or according to a different set of rules than we experience. Bombadil, Beorn, etc, exhibit this same notion.
    – Hebekiah
    Dec 17, 2017 at 20:27
  • Good answer. One near-quibble, though: You speak of Galadriel as having been "born in heaven". A better analogy to our own world's mythology would have been if the Garden of Eden still existed far off across the ocean Inhabited with undying people who had never Fallen, and Galadriel had been born there.
    – Mark Olson
    Sep 10, 2023 at 12:44

Native power

All Elves have a certain amount of inherent magical power; this is simply a part of their nature. Although, as has been discussed before, Galadriel's chief talent is in wisdom and knowledge, there's no reason to believe she could not harness some of her natural talent for martial purposes.

The Light of Eärendil

In Battle of the Five Armies specifically, we see that Galadriel is augmenting her power with the Phial she gives to Frodo at the end of Fellowship of the Ring:

Galadriel in "The Battle of Five Armies", using the Phial to banish Sauron from Dol Guldur.

She tells Frodo in Fellowship that the Phial contains the light of the star Eärendil; we learn in The Silmarillion that "the light of Eärendil" is actually the light of a Silmaril, which in turn is the light of the Two Trees of Valinor, which has tremendous power against Evil.

A complete discussion of the lore behind the Silmarils is far too long and tangential for me to repeat here, but I encourage you to search around on the site to learn more.

Nenya does not really augment her power that much

It's true that Galadriel bears one of the Three Rings of the Elves: Nenya, the Ring of Adamant. However, it's not likely that it enhances her in any great degree in these instances; as has been discussed, the Three Rings allowed their bearers to postpone the ravages of time; they were used to preserve the glory of the Elder Days, when the Elves were at the height of their power and influence.

Although it certainly augments her magical powers in some ways, it's unlikely to have helped her much in this instance.

Why does Galadriel tire after confronting Sauron?

Because the use of magical power is tiresome. We see this in other places, most notably with Gandalf, who is visibly wearied in the Fellowship of the Ring film by his confrontation with the balrog, and in the text by his attempts to slow the balrog down:

'Well, well! That's over!' said the wizard struggling to his feet. 'I have done all that I could. But I have met my match, and have nearly been destroyed.


I found myself suddenly faced by something that I have not met before. I could think of nothing to do but to try and put a shutting-spell on the door. I know many; but to do things of that kind rightly requires time, and even then the door can be broken by strength.


I have never felt such a challenge. The counter-spell was terrible. It nearly broke me.

Fellowship of the Ring Book II Chapter 5: "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm"

As well, confrontation with Sauron specifically is quite strenuous; this has been discussed before in relation to Aragorn and the palantíri, but there's no reason it shouldn't apply to any other magical confrontation. Regardless of the medium of communication, Evil is Evil.

  • I guess, that's the point that Nenya didn't helped in THAT case. You usually don't offer to future opponent the tools they can use against you. And, huh, apparently local TV version of movie was cut down. They REMOVED that bit with light of the star, there is just a flash that came later, aah! grumbles
    – Swift
    Dec 21, 2016 at 20:18
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    @Swift It may have been removed in the theatrical edition, and restored in the extended; I confess I don't remember Dec 21, 2016 at 20:19
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    Then it can be added to lists of stupid edits made to movies that made things less of sense. Old "Total recall" is the champion so far, they removed 40 minutes from movie, breaking plot twice.
    – Swift
    Dec 21, 2016 at 20:21

From the perspective of the books... her inherent gifts, the Light of Valinor, and her Ring.

In Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", Galadriel and Feanor are called "the greatest of the Eldar of Valinor". So she was one of the greatest Elves of all time.

In terms of why she had power - beyond her natural gifts she is one of the ancient Elves of Valinor who saw the Light of the Two Trees. This seems to have an elevating effect. The Noldor (the people of Galadriel and Feanor) are referred to in The Silmarillion as "a mighty people, the elder children undying of Eru Iluvatar, but new-come from the Blessed Realm, and not yet weary with the weariness of Earth."

By the time of Lord of the Rings, something like 6000 years later, the 'fading' of the Elves has proceeded somewhat, "the weariness of Earth" has taken hold. But on the other hand Galadriel is one of the bearers of the Three Rings - whose purpose is specifically to hold back time and that 'fading'.

The more spiritually powerful Elves have power in "the wraith-world", "the other side" - while wearing the Ring, Frodo sees Glorfindel opposing the Nazgul as a luminous figure, and Gandalf later explains that "you saw him for a moment as he is upon the other side: one of the mighty of the Firstborn". Galadriel would certainly be in this category.


She had a Ring of Power in possession. Maybe movie authors wanted to show that she actually WIELDED power, but later became wise to the fear of being subjugated, corrupted by will of Rings, provided Suaron came back. She expressed that fear in book, I don't recall that in movie.


In addition to what's mentioned in the present answers: Galadriel supposedly spent most of her time during the whole First Age in Doriath. That's where she met Celeborn and where she came across the Silmaril that she captured the light from.

More importantly in regards to her skills and power - that's where she made friends of Queen Melian, who was one of the most powerful individuals in the history of Middle Earth. She was one of the Maiar and strong enough that her power can hold back both Ungoliant, as well as Morgoth himself and all his servants, away from Doriath. Melian could also foretell the future and created prophecies, seeing Beren's arrival and the fall of Doriath.

Although details are sparse, it seems likely that Galadriel was Melian's sorceress apprentice during the first age. The parallels between Doriath and Lorien are several: not only do the countries seem to share the same manner of forest-based aesthetics, as if Lorien was created as a likeness of lost Doriath, but Galadriel also defends Lorien with a mysterious power similarly to what Melian did to Doriath. The source of the power might be different - in Galadriel's case her ring, but the knowledge of how to perform such magic might originate from Melian.

As a side-note, Melian also taught Galadriel how to bake delicious cookies! (Lembas)



You ask why Galadriel seems more powerful than most, and she's even able to banish Sauron. Most of the characters in Middle-earth besides Sauron and Galadriel, were born in that age. The common idea that with age comes wisdom and strength. Galadriel and Sauron are both from eras before the age of Middle-earth​... Kind of like how BC came before AD. So it would stand to say they've accumulated so much more power than the other characters.

As for why Galadriel becomes tired. If you've read the books and watched the LOTR trilogy, you would know that Galadriel weakens when she's away from the woods of Lothlórien. Her power, while strong, also has limits. Banishing Sauron, as you can tell by the surprise of Saruman, is a feat of unbelievable power. Think of it like a rechargeable battery. The more you use it, the quicker it weakens, and needs to recharge.

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