Is the latest Middle-earth game, Shadow of Mordor, canon? Is it a story that Tolkien wrote, or at least hinted at?
The shortest answer is no. Tolkien never wrote about a Gondorian who was possessed by any Elf, much less Celebrimbor. Indeed, Tolkien never says anything about the fate of Celebrimbor’s spirit.
But could he have written it? Is it in line with the spirit of Tolkien?
Well, no, not really. Tolkien took issue with people who wanted to delve too much into the mind of the baddies (Birzer, 53). It’s highly unlikely that he would have ever even thought of a story like this, much less taken the time to write it.
But does it fit within the world of Middle-earth? Given what Tolkien wrote, would it have been possible?
Maybe. Probably not, but maybe.
The Realm of Maybe
If Tolkien never wrote the story told in Shadow of Mordor and if it’s highly unlikely that he would have even wanted to write such a story, how can it possibly fit within his sub-creation?
The two biggest objections are
- Taking away Talion’s ability to die is beyond what Sauron or any of his servants would be capable of accomplishing.
- Celebrimbor couldn’t have still been in Middle-earth thousands of years after his death.
Without getting into too much detail (this is the short version, after all!), these objections may not be insurmountable.
- There is record of Morgoth, the first dark lord, giving preternatural abilities of sight and hearing to a man (Silmarillion, 197). The Ring gave unnatural long life to Gollum, so it might be possible to prevent permanent death, at least for a period of time.
- Elves continue to exist as long as Middle-earth exists–they don’t go to a purely spiritual afterlife (Silm, 42). Instead, the spirits are summoned to the Halls of Mandos in the Blessed Realm to ponder their past lives until they may eventually be reborn. It is possible for an Elf to refuse the summons (Morgoth’s Ring, 223). While these spirits aren’t supposed to be able to influence history the way Celebrimbor influences Talion’s life (MR, 223), it’s not out of the question for Celebrimbor’s spirit to stay in Middle-earth after his death.
Is Shadow of Mordor Canon?
No. It’s not a story Tolkien wrote, outlined, or ever considered (as far as we know). While certain elements of the story may be somewhat plausible, they go further than what would have been possible in the Middle-earth Tolkien conceived.
Photo Credit: ShadowofMordor.com