Can they only see to another palantíri or can they see whatever they want? And if they can see whatever they want, what does it take for someone to be able to redirect or command what you want to see?

1 Answer 1


They could communicate with each other and the bigger ones could also see afar.

From Tolkien Gateway:

The purpose of the stones in general was dual: to communicate with one another, and to see afar. All the stones save for the Elostirion-stone could be used in communication with one another, although the bigger and more powerful stones were favored for this use over long distances. The great Osgiliath-stone could spy on communication by the lesser stones, and a few others apparently also had special abilities. The stones' gaze could penetrate beyond any solid object, such as into deep caverns, but required light to see anything. A technique called shrouding was used when something was to be kept secret from any possible watchers using the stones. Knowledge of this technique was lost in time, although Sauron probably knew of it.

In order to see somewhere afar, you had to orient the stone correctly and then he had to sit facing the way he wanted to look.

Tolkien Gateway:

The major stones, however, could be rotated, and thus did not require moving about.

The same goes when they wanted to communicate with some other stone; you would have to face that way and the stones connected automatically.

  • I'll see if I can find some citations from the books. Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 20:38
  • 2
    Palantiri essay in UT is the place.
    – user8719
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 21:04
  • @JimmyShelter I have that book on Greek, but I'll see what I can do :P Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 21:42
  • If you have no luck I'll put the English passages in for you tomorrow.
    – user8719
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 23:10
  • It occurs to me that I never added these passages; they're now available at this answer: scifi.stackexchange.com/a/86104/8719
    – user8719
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 14:12

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