For those of you who haven’t heard already, there is a new game based in Middle-earth set to come out this year: Shadow of Mordor. Here’s the first trailer:
In another trailer, it is revealed that Talion, the player character, once had a wife and son. They were killed by a bad guy (it looks like it might be a Nazgûl). Talion is somehow possessed by or linked to a spirit. This keeps him (Talion) from dying and also gives him the ability to control others. It seems that Talion can only control orcs. The plot of Shadow of Mordor seems to be that of a man seeking revenge.
Shadow of Mordor and Tolkien
Shadow of Mordor is a different kind of Middle-earth story–one that Tolkien himself would not have written. Although there are too many unknowns at this point, it seems like very little in this story is in line with what Tolkien wrote about. Or is it?
We know that Sauron had some level of control over his minions’ thoughts and will:
…even at that moment all the hosts of Mordor trembled, doubt clutched their hearts, their laughter failed, their hands shook and their limbs were loosed. The Power that drove them on and filled them with hate and fury was wavering, its will was removed from them; and now looking in the eyes of their enemies they saw a deadly light and were afraid (RotK, 927).
The Captains bowed their heads; and when they looked up again, behold! their enemies were flying and the power of Mordor was scattering like dust in the wind. As when death smites the swollen brooding thing that inhabits their crawling hill and holds them all in sway, ants will wander witless and purposeless and then feebly die, so the creatures of Sauron, orc or troll or beast spell-enslaved, ran hight and thither mindless; and some slew themselves, or cast themselves in pits, or fled wailing back to hide in holes and dark lightless places far from hope (RotK, 928).
Okay, so the mind control thing may not be quite so non-canon. What about the spirit inhabiting Talion? We know too little about this spirit right now (neither its name nor how it came to be connected with Talion) to really be able to know for sure. However, there doesn’t seem to be any historical case of possession in Middle-earth. One might consider Ulmo speaking through Tuor in Gondolin something similar to what Talion seems to be experiencing. However, this seems unlikely.
Ultimately, we really don’t know enough to be able to make a judgement on how far from Tolkien Shadow of Mordor will stray. Nonetheless, I’m personally excited to see a new take on Middle-earth (even if it is wrong) and I’m glad to see a darker strain making it’s way into the mainstream view of Tolkien’s work.
Photo Credit: ShadowofMordor.com