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The Dark Lord will have his prize, Ranger of Gondor. That fort is a tiny island surrounded by a sea of darkness. And the tide rises against you!

— Hammerhand to Talion

Helm Hammerhand is an antagonist in Middle-earth: Shadow of War. He was the ninth King of Rohan and last King of the first line. In his day, his rule was plagued by a war with the Dunlendings, who were attempting to usurp his rule of Rohan.

Ambushed by a prince who wanted his throne and had taken his daughter for a lover, Helm was shot at point blank range with arrows. As he lay dying at Edoras, Annatar (Sauron in fair form) and Celebrimbor visited the wounded king, giving him one of the Nine Rings of Power. When he recovered, he attacked his would-be assassin, declaring that war had come upon his enemy's house.

However, when Helm's daughter tried to stop her father's rage, Hammerhand accidentally struck her down, killing her with his war hammer. Horrified, his grief turned to rage, and Helm proceeded to slaughter his rival and even his own captains who tried to stop him. He was thus transformed by the terrible incident and his Ring of Power into a Nazgûl, one of Sauron's most powerful and terrible servants.

History

In Life

In life, Hammerhand was a powerful but very grim man, who resented fools and did not suffer them gladly, which caused him to make enemies both outside his kingdom and court, as well as within. As he himself stated, he was a great hunter, having hunted every beast in Mordor.

Described a grim man of great strength, Hammerhand was a legend on the battlefield, revered for his stamina which caused some to believe he had the capacity to fight for days on end without rest, with nothing but his own hands as his weapons.

Descent into darkness

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At some point in life, a powerful warlord known as Siric desired Helm's daughter, Berwyn, as a wife, and demanded her hand in marriage, which Helm refused. Some time later, Siric ambushed Helm and his daughter whilst they rode through the forest, and had his archers strike him down with a flurry of arrows at point blank, and abduct his daughter.

Dying from his injuries, Helm was visited on his deathbed at Edoras by Sauron (in the guise of Annatar, his fair form), and Celebrimbor; Sauron gifted him a Ring of Power, promising Helm it would ensure his "daughter's safe return" and he very rapidly fell under its dark influence. Renewed, Helm lay siege to his enemy's fortress, intending to get his daughter back from the warlord who had taken her.

Confronting his enemy in his chamber, Helm's daughter Bernwyn, asked Siric not fight her father, before the warlord threatened Hammerhand, claiming that by killing him he would start a war, to which Hammerhand declared war had already came, before swinging at his enemy with his great war hammer.

However, in an attempt to stop her father, his own daughter Bernwyn stepped forward in front of his hammer, causing him to accidentally strike her down and kill her. Infuriated, Helm proceeded to take his hammer and kill both friend and foe alike in the chamber where his daughter died, even going as far as to kill one of his own men with their helmet.

At some point after this event, Hammerhand fell completely into the darkness and became a Ringwraith under the thrall of Sauron, enslaved to the will of his Dark Lord and the One Ring.

As a Nazgûl

In death, Hammerhand was just as powerful, if not more so than he was in life, and he gladly served his Dark Lord. He appeared to become a great beast master, commanding forces of Ghûls, Caragors, Graugs and even mighty Drakes, using them for various activities, such as laying siege to the fortress of Seregost called Khargukôr, and doing battle against Talion and Celebrimbor.

Claiming Minas Ithil

With his fellow Nazgûl as well as the Orc armies of Sauron, Hammerhand (presumably, as he was never seen in the attack and doesn't actually appear until the fight in Shelob's cave alongside Isildur and Suladân) assisted in the siege and eventual claiming of Minas Ithil as well as the Palantir for Sauron.

Attempted Seizure of The New Ring

Shortly after claiming Minas Ithil and the city's transformation into Minas Morgul, Helm was sent with his fellow Nazgûl to seize The New Ring, crafted by Celebrimbor and Talion. To this end, they travelled to Shelob's cave beneath Cirith Ungol and attacked the giant spider in attempt to force her to give up the ring. However this attack was thwarted by the timely arrival of Talion and Eltariel, who fought back against the Nazgûl before they were forced out of Shelob's cave by Eltariel and her use of the Light of Galadriel. Whilst he and his brothers were forced out of the cave by Eltariel's ruthless use of Galadriel's Light, Helm and his fellows weren't diminished so much that they couldn't continue fighting and he survived in physical form to keep up the fight against Talion and Eltariel.

Laying siege to Seregost & battling Talion

At some point after the failed attempt to claim Celebrimbor's Ring, Hammerhand ventured to the icy region of Seregost to attack the fortress Khargukôr, assaulting the city with a great force of Mordor's beasts, including Ghȗls, Graugs and Drakes, soon facing of against the ranger Talion, who was present at the attack and working to defend the fortress.

Despite his best efforts, even coming close to striking down Talion with his great war hammer during the latter's attempt to banish the Nazgûl with Celebrimbor, Hammerhand was ultimately pushed out of the icy fortress after Eltariel intervened, using Galadriel's light to push him back, and he fled to Seregost's icy peaks, awaiting Talion's arrival for their second and final showdown.

When Talion arrived, with Eltariel in tow, the Nazgûl descended, declaring that his master commanded Talion serve him, before threatening Eltariel, claiming he would take her head and hands as trophies. Doing battle with Talion a second time, he fought viciously, calling drakes to assist him in his battle. Despite this, he again lost to the ranger and Wraith, and after they looked inside him and saw his life's story, he fled once more. After this point, he is not seen again until Talion falls to Isildur's Ring of Power's corrupting influence, and Hammerhand's former foe joins him in death, becoming a full fledged Nazgûl like him.

Final Death

Eventually after The One Ring eventually resurfaces in The Shire, Hammerhand with his fellow Nazgûl, with Talion now alongside them, travelled to the Shire in pursuit of the new Ring-Bearer, Frodo Baggins, and the rest of the Fellowship of the Ring.

Despite his and his fellow Ringwraith's efforts however, they ultimately failed to claim the One Ring for their dark Lord. And after its destruction in the fires of Mt. Doom, Hammerhand with his Dark Lord and fellow Nazgûl, all perished in Mt. Dooms final eruption.

Trivia

  • This is the first depiction of Helm Hammerhand becoming one of the Nazgûl.
  • Helm Hammerhand is an ancestor of Theoden, Eomer and Eowyn, three characters who appear in The Lord Of The Rings.
  • Celebrimbor considers Helm Hammerhand's fall to be the most tragic among the Nazgûl.
  • Hammerhand's overall design appears to take inspiration from artistic depictions of vikings. This is notably evident in the heavy armour and horns on his helmet.
  • Its possible that Hammerhand may be the strongest amongst the Nazgûl, as unlike his fellows he was able to successfully resist being banished by Talion and Celebrimbor when they first battled against him in Seregost, being able to stand back up and attempt to strike Talion down in response, although he was quickly repulsed moments later when Eltariel intervened. Even the Witch-King wasn't able to resist being banished by Talion after being broken.
  • Helm possesses a powerful War Hammer known as Helm's Hammer. After being defeated in Seregost's Icy Peaks this Hammer is claimed by Talion and can be used as a Ranged Weapon. This Hammer is also a part of the Ringwraith Gear Set that the player as Talion can unlock as they progress through the game, and is a Legendary Weapon.

Gallery

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