My kids asked a question I could not find the answer to, so I will ask it here.

Can the user of a palantír hear things on the "other side" or just see things? That is, are palantírs just two-way soundless security cameras (loose analogy) or are they more like FaceTime/Zoom/etc.?

I am not asking about the movie adaptation but from the books (all/any).

1 Answer 1


From Unfinished Tales it is said that the palantír could only see as they did not transmit sound.

Alone the palantír could only ‘see’: they did not transmit sound.

By themselves the Stones could only see: scenes or figures in distant places, or in the past. These were without explanation; and at any rate for men of later days it was difficult to direct what visions should be revealed by the will or desire of a surveyor. But when another mind occupied a Stone in accord, thought could be ‘transferred’ (received as ‘speech’), and visions of the things in the mind of the surveyor of one Stone could be seen by the other surveyor.

Unfinished Tales, Part Four, "The Palantír"

  • 6
    In that case, how did Pippin get the "Do you understand? Say just that!" message through the palantir?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Apr 26, 2021 at 14:59
  • 21
    @Randal'Thor "He did not speak so that I could hear words. He just looked, and I understood" It seems that no sound was transmitted during their "conversation".
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Apr 26, 2021 at 15:07
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    @Randal'Thor Looking at the quote, it seems Tolkien was making a fine distinction between "sound" and "psychic transmission".
    – Spencer
    Apr 26, 2021 at 15:07
  • 18
    @Spencer He was also making it clear that such communication could only occur between two people viewing different Palantiri at the same time. If you were watching someone else, away from a stone, there was no way of hearing anything they said or any noises around them. Apr 26, 2021 at 21:52
  • 1
    @suchiuomizu that’s a clever distinction, and one I’d never thought about before. Apr 27, 2021 at 9:54

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