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Malbeth the Seer
SBG - Malbeth.jpg
Malbeth from The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game
Biographical Information
BirthAround Third Age 19th cent.
DeathAround Third Age 20th cent.[1]
Physical Description
GenderUnknown[note 1]
GalleryImages of Malbeth the Seer

Malbeth was a seer and royal counsellor gifted with foresight who is remembered in lore for two prophecies concerning the fate of the descendants of Isildur.


[edit] History

Malbeth was probably a Dúnadan of Arthedain who appears to have been a royal counsellor.[1][note 2]

[edit] Last King of Arthedain

In T.A. 1864 when the son of Araphant (fourteenth King of Arthedain) was born, Malbeth advised Araphant to name his son Arvedui meaning "last king",

"Arvedui you shall call him, for he will be the last in Arthedain. Though a choice will come to the Dúnedain, and if they take the one that seems less hopeful, then your son will change his name and become king of a great realm. If not, then much sorrow and many lives of men shall pass, until the Dúnedain arise and are united again."
Appendix A

In T.A. 1975 Arvedui was forced north by the forces of Angmar to the Ice Bay of Forochel to seek the help of the Lossoth. Círdan, hearing of Arvedui's plight from Arvedui's son Aranarth sent a ship to rescue him in the spring of that year. The Snowmen advised the king not to board the ship as they could smell danger in the air, they suggested that the king should wait until the summer when the Witch-king's power isn't so strong. Arvedui did not heed the advise and he perished when the ship broke upon some ice in a severe storm; thus, Malbeth's prophecy was fulfilled.[2]

[edit] Paths of the Dead

Malbeth's second prophecy was in the days of the Arvedui (ruled T.A. 1964 - 1974), the last king of Arthedain, in which the seer foretold Aragorn's passage through the Paths of the Dead even though the event was over a thousand years in the future:

"Over the land there lies a long shadow,
westward reaching wings of darkness.
The Tower trembles; to the tombs of kings
doom approaches. The Dead awaken;
for the hour is come for the oathbreakers:
at the Stone of Erech they shall stand again
and hear there a horn in the hills ringing.
Whose shall the horn be? Who shall call them
from the grey twilight, the forgotten people?
The heir of him to whom the oath they swore.
From the North shall he come, need shall drive him:
he shall pass the Door to the Paths of the Dead.
The Return of the King, "The Passing of the Grey Company"[3]

[edit] Legacy

Malbeth's second prophecy was also fulfilled in T.A. 3019 during the War of the Ring when Aragorn (sixteenth Chieftain of the Dúnedain) learned from the palantír that Gondor was being threatened from the south by a fleet of Corsairs from Umbar. He needed a route to get to them in haste, and Elrond's message ("Bid Aragorn remember the words of the seer, and the Paths of the Dead") told him how.

Aragorn (with Legolas, Gimli and the Grey Company) travelled through the Paths of the Dead to the Stone of Erech where Aragorn blew a horm to summon the Oathbreakers. He told them he was Isildur's heir and so they fulfilled their oath and defeated the Corsairs which helped Gondor win the Battle of Pelennor Fields.[3]

[edit] Etymology

Malbeth's name is Sindarin for "Golden Word" from mal meaning "gold", and peth (becoming lenited to beth) meaning "word, voice".[4]


  1. Although many published sources such as Robert Foster's The Complete Guide to Middle-earth refer to Malbeth as male, no source published by Tolkien himself states whether Malbeth was male or female.
  2. Malbeth's Númenorean ancestry is also evidenced in the length of time between the dates of the seer's known prophecies (1864 and 1975); at the time of the second prophecy, Malbeth must had been well over 100 years old.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Robert Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, entry "Malbeth"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Passing of the Grey Company"
  4. "What do all those Names in the Books Mean?", Merin Essi ar Quenteli! (accessed 14 November 2019)