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Malbeth the Seer
"Malbeth the Seer" by Rebecca M. Beit-Aharon
Biographical Information
BirthAround Third Age 19th cent.
DeathAround Third Age 20th cent.[1]
Physical Description
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.


Malbeth was probably a Dúnadan of the North who appears to have been a royal counsellor to the King of Arthedain.[1] He flourished during the reigns of Araphant and Arvedui.[note 1]

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.

Paths of the Dead

Malbeth's second prophecy was made in the days of Arvedui (ruled T.A. 1964 - 1974), 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.


Indeed, when Gondor was left without a King, Arvedui claimed the kingship, both as a Heir of Isildur and as the husband of Gondorian princess Fíriel who would be entitled to succeed her father to the throne. However the Gondorians ruled out his claim ("the one that seems less hopeful") choosing instead someone from the House of Anárion, so Arvedui never became "king of a great realm" and didn't change his name. Instead as Malbeth said, there was "much sorrow"; the Battle of Fornost destroyed the North-kingdom, and Arvedui was drowned in the sea soon after, the last king of Arthedain.[2]

Malbeth's second prophecy was also fulfilled centuries later, 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 horn 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 the Pelennor Fields.[3]

Aragorn fulfilled again the first prophecy, where Arvedui had failed; after "much sorrow and many lives of men", Aragorn finally became High King of the Dúnedain who were "united again".


Malbeth is Sindarin for "Golden Word", from malt ("gold") + lenited peth ("word, voice").[4]


  1. 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 have been well over 100 years old.