The Silmarillion Primer

Middle-earth’s Event Horizon

In Which the Valar Launch a Pair of Satellites, Morgoth Makes a Stink About It, and Men Finally Get Their Act Together and Start Existing

As in the previous chapter, “Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor” begins with a bit of a jump backwards in time, returning to the point where the Noldor have only recently left in exile. We also come to a controversial part of Tolkien’s legendarium—one the professor himself was uneasy about, but which still exists organically from the myths he made. So let’s talk about what’s going on here with the cosmology of Arda. Note that this is going to be the last chapter for quite a while that involves the Valar—at least all working together on something.

And then in the second shortest chapter of the book, “Of Men,” we finally meet the people who will one day—if we’re to believe that Middle-earth is an alternative version of our mythological past—invent the strip mall.

Dramatis personæ of note:

  • Manwë – Vala, project manager
  • Yavanna – Vala, cultivator
  • Nienna – Vala, mourner
  • Aulë – Vala, glorified potter
  • Tilion – Maia, Man in the Moon
  • Arien – Maia, Little Miss Sunshine
  • Morgoth – Ex-Vala, basement-dwelling asshole of the World

Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor

When last we left the Valar, they were sitting on their thrones in the Ring of Doom in sight of the recently slain Trees of Valinor. And indeed, even to the Elves who didn’t follow Fëanor, it would seem like the majestic Lords of the West are just sitting there in brooding silence. But the narrator right away reminds us that they can speak to one another without voices—as creatures of Ilúvatar’s thought—and have done so during this dark time, deciding what to do next. Holding council in a telepathic tête-à-tête, you might say.

The Valar are the custodians of Arda, after all. And their creator isn’t going to just show up and tell them how to manage things. Theirs is a mixture of divine insight and guesswork and cosmic contemplations far beyond what their Eldar friends can understand. They are recalling everything that’s transpired thus far since the Timeless Halls and all that lay ahead between the present and the very end of Arda itself.

And gosh, I sure do wonder what part Tulkas plays in this! Maybe he’s just sitting in silence while the others are having this discussion without even telling him, and he thinks they’re just sulking? I mean, we were told he’s “of no avail as a counsellor” at the start. Poor Tulkas.

Indeed the Valar mourn the loss of the blessed light of their Trees (and the beloved Lamps before that, and the marring of all of Arda before that), but interestingly, now they’re more depressed by the “marring of Fëanor.” There had been such promise in him as the foremost prodigy among the Firstborn of the Children of Ilúvatar. What else might he have gone on to achieve had he not gone so astray? The Silmarils are great and all, but what if Fëanor had gone on to devise still greater creations—things the palantíri were just the prototypes for? And his potential had been not just as a mastercrafter but as a leader; his people orbit around him and obviously want to follow the “spirit of fire” that he is. What might they have done to heal the marring of Arda with Fëanor on a healthier path?

In this way, he’s a symbol of the Noldor as a whole. His marring has led nearly all of them astray in their own way. They are part of the Children of Ilúvatar, who the Valar had come into Arda to help prepare for in the first place. Lamps and Trees are things; the Elves are people. It makes sense that the Valar are saddened by this turn of events. Manwë especially takes it hard. Perhaps because he knows the mind of Eru Ilúvatar best (as best as anyone can), he also seems to know what potential has been wasted with Fëanor.

After much contemplating, Manwë recalls for everyone what Ilúvatar had told the Ainur long ago—specifically Melkor.

‘Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been.’

But Mandos said: ‘And yet remain evil. To me shall Fëanor come soon.’

I’m starting to wonder if, after his little one-liner quips, Mandos sometimes disappears in a puff of smoke just so no one can say to him, “Dude! What does that even mean?”

Still, Manwë’s choice of words here is particularly philosophical, even as it restates Ilúvatar’s “shall prove but mine instrument” lesson to Melkor long ago. And now Manwë is saying, essentially, evil is never good—but when looking back on it, it may be good to at least have existed at one time. Thus was the beauty of the snowflake yielded the extremes of cold that Melkor had seeded in the Music of the Ainur. Ulmo brought water, Manwë brought air, but because of Melkor’s meddling, the World got snow cones. Good from evil.

All right, so what does all this mean? And what next? Well, the Valar get up off their thrones and start to do something to “redress” the evils of Melkor aka Morgoth. Now in the old days, they’d talk about it for a long time, form a posse, then go beat the crap out of their foe, likely drag him back in chains. But those days are over now. The World has changed. Clearly Tulkas wants to give Morgoth a mouthful of teeth, but he’ll have to wait.

So a new approach is needed. The Children of Ilúvatar are scattered across Middle-earth, sundered and fragile, and the Noldor are on their way over now, too. The Valar can’t just storm Middle-earth and take Morgoth by force again without smooshing everyone. How can they hinder him without busting up the land and causing earthquakes and landslides and floods? Also, and this is no small point: Manwë knows the race of Men are still in the queue, awaiting their hour of awakening—though only Ilúvatar knows when and where—and he knows they’re going to be mortal. Thus even squishier than the Elves.

So the Valar have to be careful about this. And they come up with a plan, something no one expected, and Morgoth could never have accounted for. On Manwë’s mark, they begin Operation: Skylights! Or rather…

they resolved now to illumine Middle-earth and with light to hinder the deeds of Melkor. For they remembered the Avari that remained by the waters of their awakening, and they did not utterly forsake the Noldor in exile;

It’s now time for a good old-fashioned Valar group effort (think classic A-Team montage style). Yavanna and Nienna are paired up with the powers of growth, healing, and sorrow, which they apply to what remains of the Trees. They can’t be revived, but the Valar’s collective power is enough to grow a single silver flower from Telperion and a single golden fruit from Laurelin. Both blossom and produce are then hallowed by Manwë and handed over to Aulë, who with his team of crafters makes vessels to contain and preserve their light; imagine a sort of pottery, but wrought from more divine substances than mere clay or ceramics. Then Varda cracks her knuckles and reshapes them into a different sort of vessel. Presumably making them even more radiant and growing them into the disc-like and circular shapes we’re accustomed to seeing.

…and she gave them power to traverse the lower regions of Ilmen, and set them to voyage upon appointed courses above the girdle of the Earth from the West unto the East and to return.

You have to flip to the index to see that Ilmen is the name given to that region of the ether above the atmosphere of Arda where the stars dwell. Yeah, this is some especially mythic stuff, and it’s the part of The Silmarillion where the exposition becomes even more extraordinary. Varda is going to fling these glowing fruit- and flower-containing vessels into goddamned space! And we’re not talking unmanned drones, either: the Valar choose two of their Maiar friends to actually ride with and guide these strange new celestial objects.

The vessel that contains a silvery flower of Telperion now becomes the Moon, and it’s called Isil (“the Sheen”). Manning this is a Maia named Tilion. He’s a hunter and a vassal of Oromë known for his silver bow, and during his downtime he was often found daydreaming in Lórien under the light of Telperion. He hadn’t known in those blissful days that he’d get to one day champion all that remained of that glorious silver tree.

The vessel that contains a fruit of gold now becomes the Sun, and it’s named Anar (“the Fire-golden”). Commanding it will be the maiden Arien, and we’re expressly told that of these two rocketeers she is the mightier, for only she can withstand the terrible heat imbued in it. Why? Because from the start she was a spirit of fire—one Melkor had not swayed to evil as he had the Balrogs. And considering this forever-errand, she was probably way more powerful than any of those bozos anyway. In fact, we’re told that she couldn’t even hang out among Elves in Valinor, as her eyes were much too bright for them to look at. Eschewing the sorts of bodies that the Valar and Maiar take, Arien is essentially a living, naked flame. No wonder, then, that she’s perfect for this job!

Now if this chapter is new to you, take a moment to appreciate Arien and her heaven-riding vessel. Appreciate that you’re learning now that the Sun in Tolkien’s world—you know, the “Yellow Face” that Gollum shuns, and that Orcs and trolls fly from—is basically a magical UFO piloted by a flying, benevolent she-Balrog in outer space. You’re welcome! Isn’t Tolkien awesome?

“Arien – Spirit of Fire” by KuraiGeijutsu

It’s also worth noting that these two Maiar, Arien and Tilion, really exemplify the service of the Ainur who volunteered to enter Arda way back when it was made. I mean, they’re giving up their lifestyles down in Valinor to guide the Sun and Moon forever, or at least as long as Arda lasts. And it is their joy to do so—Tilion, we’re told, “begged to be given the task”—though we in reading this might consider it tedious. We’re human, they’re ageless spirits and they took part in the Music of the Ainur. Where Morgoth serves only himself and squanders his power into things that orbit and benefit him alone, these spirits serve others and orbit the world itself, and are the greater for it. Such is Ilúvatar’s universe.

The Moon-craft is ready first, so up Tilion goes into “the realm of the stars” per Varda’s direction. And this does not go unnoticed. In a world where things have been rather dark for many thousands of years, a great silvery-glowing disc in the sky that’s brighter than the stars is no joke. Down on terra firma, everyone is astounded. Morgoth’s servants stare dumbfounded and horrified. It’s bright, and they don’t love it, but they can at least abide its light.

Whereas the Elves absolutely love it—this silvery object has got their beloved Varda’s fingerprints all over it. And remember, it’s on this first rise of the Moon when Fingolfin and his host are just reaching Middle-earth at the end of their hike across the frozen Helcaraxë. Up goes his silver trump in salute! (But I’m sure at least one Elf in that group of Noldor was probably thinking, hey, we could have used a little bit of that light during this journey…)

But ahh, the Moon is just the opening act. After it cycles from horizon to horizon a few times, the Sun debuts, big time. It rises from the West initially, as did the Moon, and all of Arda is transformed by this far-reaching, overarching, and life-giving light. The world’s denizens, the good and the bad, are truly agog. But again there’s got to be at least one Noldo fresh off the bitter cold of the Helcaraxë muttering under his breath whether it would have killed the Valar to raise up the Sun just a few weeks earlier. (He’s just saying.)

And so…

the first dawn of the Sun was like a great fire upon the towers of the Pelóri: the clouds of Middle-earth were kindled, and there was heard the sound of many waterfalls.

“The First Dawn of the Sun” by Ted Nasmith

You have to figure mountain glaciers and polar caps northern ice are probably melting a bit for the first time ever. Rivers are swelling and shorelines stretching. Ulmo probably loves all this flowing—and I’m thinking Teleri everywhere are running and pointing at all the activity excitedly. (Because Teleri.) Thus marks the Second Spring of Arda! Green and growing things wake up from Yavanna’s sleep. At last all those plants designed with photosynthesis in mind get to flourish.

But you know who doesn’t care one bit for the Sun? Not one tiny bit?

Morgoth was dismayed, and he descended into the uttermost depths of Angband, and withdrew his servants, sending forth great reek and dark cloud to hide his land from the light of the Daystar.

You know how in The Lord of the Rings Mordor is dark and gloomy even in daytime? The sky is filled with “fumes and smokes” like “the grimed window of a prison.” Recall, then, that this is where Sauron learned his trade of land-spanning gloom. Thus does Morgoth make the region around Thangorodrim cloud and ash-filled, doing all that he can to keep this accursed new light at bay at least in his own domain. And because it’s Morgoth’s work, it stinks, too. Nothing smells good around Thangorodrim.

So what the Valar have done is interpreted and enacted Ilúvatar’s maxim. Morgoth with his jealous sabotage had tried to “alter the music” in Ilúvatar’s despite…but in the attempt he’s only proven to be Ilúvatar’s “instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.”

No, the Sun doesn’t have the same blessed power as the Trees—only the Silmarils have that purity—but it’s a hell of a lot brighter, and now the whole world gets to enjoy that. Good job, Morgoth!

Let’s pause a moment and review the light sources of Arda we’ve encountered thus far:

  • First came the Lamps of the Valar. Think two big halogen lamps in the opposite corners of a room. Powerful, really bright, but also precarious and prone to tipping. So big that knocking them down really trashed the room.
  • Then came the Two Trees of Valinor. Dim by comparison, like two holy little tree-shaped nightlights that brighten only one little corner of the room. But what a corner! Lit with soothing gold and silver radiance that made everything close to it stronger and wiser. But those little nightlights still proved all too easy to break.
  • But now we’ve got the Sun, and to a lesser extent, the Moon. This is like finally flicking on the overhead lights—expansive, filling up the whole room—and set with a timer so it can turn off for some hours during the night. Not as lovely to look upon as those two little nightlights—in fact, the Sun can be glaring and you’ll sometimes seek shade. But hey, at least this time the light switch is too high off the ground for anyone to reach. And by “anyone,” I mean you, Morgoth. Jerk.

Incensed by this totally-uncalled-for act on the part of the Valar, Morgoth tries to take them down. Rather, he tries to bring down the weaker of the two. He doesn’t even bother with Arien and her Sun; he can’t reach her so high up in the atmosphere, and her fire is much too great for him to withstand anyway. She’s a mighty Maia and he’s a power-squandering ex-Vala.

But still, Morgoth does send “spirits of shadow” up against Tilion and his Moon. I imagine they’re shot up into the night sky like screaming wraiths from some sort of doomsday device. This is essentially the last time Morgoth can send anything other than clouds and smoke skyward, which is an important point to keep in mind for later. He has no aerial beasts in his armies at this time, not like Manwë has his Eagles. It’s not like his Balrogs can fly. And there are no winged dragons on the scene yet, either.

Not only do Morgoth’s surface-to-air shadow-missiles fail to bring down the Moon, but the effort further reduces his own power. Now he’s truly bound to the world he claims to be king of. Back in the pre-Lamp days, Morgoth evaded his enemies and just sort of spirited himself up and out to the darkness at the edge of Arda. Pre-Lamp Morgoth could have reached Tilion and Arien directly and taken them out. He can do none of that, now. He’s put all his eggs in one basket at this point, albeit a big basket of deplorable monsters.

None of his servants—Orcs, Balrogs, shadows, werewolves, fell beasts, and what have you—can abide the Sun very well. It hurts their eyes, to say the least. But why? Didn’t Morgoth himself once stand between the Two Trees as they blazed overheard? Yup, he could withstand them up to a point. Remember, the hallowed Silmarils in his crown are still there, giving him a serious migraine. So why can’t his monsters handle it? They were all bred in darker times and Morgoth never had to account for the existence of sunlight. It’s simply not in their genes to withstand such unrelenting radiance.

So how do the Sun and Moon work now? At first they soar along their predetermined paths for a while, going from west to east—there and back again—passing one another and mingling the silver and golden light as the Trees once had. But Tilion deviates in an effort to get closer to Arien’s splendor and is rewarded for this by getting scorched. But even so, Lórien and Estë, the Valar of dreams and restfulness respectively, protest the incessant light made by the Sun and Moon. They convince Varda to change the course of things. I figure she’s fine with this, as only proper nighttime will allow her stars to be seen again, anyway.

Therefore the Sun is made to set in the far west beyond the Outer Sea, where she resides and cools in Ulmo’s waters before passing under the Earth to then finally rise up out of the east again. The Moon, too, is then allowed to rise but only after the Sun has gone down. But Tilion is still restless enough to chase after Arien, so sometimes he casts his shadow upon her, and even eclipse her now and again. (Give it up, bro. She’s just not that into you.)

And now that the Sun and Moon are doing their thing, the Valar also fortify Valinor one last time. It might seem overkill, but after the Lamps and the Trees, they will take no more chances with Morgoth’s subversions. So they raise the mountain-walls of the Pelóri even higher and make them unclimbable. They keep the pass in Eldamar open but beef up the security, allowing the loyal Elves who remain with them access to the open sea so they could still “breathe at times the outer air and the wind that comes over the sea from the lands of their birth.” We’re talking Finarfin and the 1/10th of the Noldor who stayed, Ingwë and the Vanyar, and Olwë and the Teleri.

And one last level of security is put in place: the Valar create the Enchanted Isles, an archipelago of shadow-laced islands that are strewn around the bay and even around Tol Eressëa in a half-circle. Anyone trying to approach Valinor by sea will have to navigate through these perilous and bewildering isles.

“Spoiler” Alert: Tolkien is a big fan of laying down a rule—no one can get through these isles!—and then immediately telling you about the one exception: okay, so this one dude will. Here at the chapter’s end we’re given only a brief teaser of the fellow in question, “the mightiest mariner of song,” and when he comes it’s going to be a really big deal. But not for a long time.

A lot of fans of the legendarium already know that Tolkien wasn’t completely comfortable with his cosmological setup as suggested in this chapter, and that he dabbled with the idea of revisiting it, and so much more, in an effort to make his mythology more compatible with the scientific understanding of the Solar System. He was a scholar, after all, a learned man. And as medievalist Corey Olsen, the Tolkien Professor, repeatedly affirms, even the medieval world wasn’t full of flat-Earthers who believed we were the center of the universe. We’ve known for a very long time that we’re not, most likely thanks to the ancient Greeks.

Now, we’re still many chapters away from the big event that reshapes Arda into a proper globe, but the nature of the Sun and Moon remains what they are in Silmarillion canon. Christopher Tolkien opted to keep the complete tale of Anar and Isil here in this chapter, for which many of us are grateful.

I’m personally of the mind that there are numerous ways to regard Tolkien’s mythology without deeming this version as just some parable. Is the Sun a mass of incandescent gas that’s about 93 million miles away from the Earth? Maybe. Maybe Ilúvatar kept its light veiled until the last fruit of Laurelin was carried into the atmospheric layer of Ilmen by Arien the Maia? Perhaps the Moon was there all along but was kept dark until the vessel ridden by Tilion reached it? Who knows? What do you think?

“The Gates of Morning” by Ted Nasmith</a

Of Men

In this short chapter, according to the words of an English poet:

The mountains and the canyons started to tremble and shake
As the children of the sun began to awake

Okay, so that’s a different Brit, but hey, that is what happens at long last. At the very first rising of the Sun, the first Men (that’s us!) awaken somewhere far, far to the east in a land called Hildórien. And just as the Firstborn Children of Ilúvatar had awakened and seen starlight, now the Secondborn are opening their eyes to sunlight. Almost certainly they’re sleepy-eyed, yawning, stretching, and have a bad case of morning face. These are not fair Elves, but scruffy men and women who probably have as much body hair as Dwarves, but hey, they’re alive and brave and look, what’s the big glowing yellow light up there?! I bet that’s always been up there!

So with the regularity of the Sun now in place, days and years are finally reckoned as we know them, as are day and night. Now the First Age, capital F and A, which began at some point long ago, can be measured in solar years. None of that Valinorean year nonsense for Men! Seasons pass swiftly, and all things mature quicker. Years roll by, life and death and the cycles of nature are underway. Tolkien’s world now begins to resemble our own. Well, before the strip malls.

“First Sunrise In Hildórien” by Šárka Škorpíková

Men find themselves drawn towards the Sun where it rose on that first day, and ever since, westward they look and tend to roam. And that’s all they do: wander where their hearts call them. There’s no great summons, and no Valar show up like Oromë did for the Elves, but neither do agents of Morgoth snatch them up and make Orcs of them. So it’s a wash.

Then again: Two chapters ago back, we were told that “once only did [Morgoth] depart for a while secretly from his domain in the North,” and in a later chapter we’ll learn that the Eldar do suspect that Morgoth himself might have come to influence them in their early days, but that’s about it. It’s just a theory, as far as the published Silmarillion goes, though it is explored elsewhere in the HOME book Morgoth’s Ring. Regardless,  the Elves seem to want to regard Men as a bit Melkor-ish; maybe that’s just Elvish arrogance. But by the time Men actually arrive in Beleriand, Morgoth is already well and truly confined to his Dark Lord form; he can’t go among them with a fair demeanor as he had the Noldor. Though I suppose he could send the same sort of “shadows and evil spirits” in his stead.

The main point is, the Valar don’t come to collect them. In fact, they’re going to be largely hands-off with Men, in part because of what happened with the Eldar. They seem to get that they might have mismanaged the Elves with the whole summoning thing—and now look what’s happened with the Noldor. They don’t intend to repeat their mistake.

Plus, Men are so strange! Ilúvatar made them mortal and kindled their hearts to seek for something beyond the World. A mortal Man will have, as Ilúvatar said, “a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of Ainur”—whatever that means! The Valar don’t necessarily understand the nature of Mankind’s fate, either.

So when Men do hear of the Valar, they are wary of them. Men possess none of the affection that the Elves have for those mighty beings, many of whom got to know Valar personally. For Men, the Valar are just apocryphal beings who are “only as a rumour and a distant name.”

So yeah, the Valar aren’t going to meddle with the affairs of mortals so much. Oh yes, except for Ulmo, because he’s an old softy for the Children of Ilúvatar, whether Firstborn or Secondborn.

Ulmo nonetheless took thought for them, aiding the counsel and will of Manwë; and his messages came often to them by stream and flood. But they have not the skill in such matters, and still less had they in those days before they had mingled with the Elves.

So what this means is that Men might stand by streams, rivers, or even flood waters and be entranced, fascinated by something they can’t put their finger on, not quite realizing that an ancient elemental godlike being is trying to send them messages.

Men do meet Elves in time—and initially it’s just Dark Elves, and specifically the Avari (those who had never traveled out west). But eventually Men will encounter Sindar and Noldor. We’ll come to that. In any case, Elves do what Elves do best and name them, just like they’d done with the Dwarves. So, here we go. Hoo-boy.

So Elves call us…

  • Atani, the Second People – Fair enough. Men weren’t first.
  • Hildor, the Followers – Sure, Men followed Elves in the order of things.
  • Apanónar, the After-born – I mean, all right.
  • Engwar, the Sickly – Okay, so Men can get sick, unlike Elves. But c’mon, that surely doesn’t define us as a people.
  • Fírimar, the Mortals – Sure, we are indeed.
  • the Usurpers – Really now?
  • the Strangers – I mean, isn’t everyone at first?
  • the Inscrutable – Yeah, you’re not hard to fathom at all, Elves.
  • the Self-cursed – Sure, some of us. But c’mon.
  • the Heavy-handed – Now that just seems mean.
  • The Night-fearers – Hey, screw you, pal. Locking your door at night is just sensible.
  • the Children of the Sun – That’s right, and proud of it.

But on the subject of names, let’s be clear that Man or Men is the word Tolkien uses for the entire human race, male or female, as it was used in Old English. He never actually uses the word “human” in his narrative—except once in adjective form in LotR. But the term “woman” can be used for any race to mean female: Galadriel is called a woman, and even Yavanna was first described as being “in the form of a woman.” You just then need to clarify what type. A woman of Men would be one way to describe, say, Éowyn. And we’ll get to know a few of these kickass women of Men in later chapters.

So Men get along pretty well with the Dark Elves and even become as apprentices to them in learning about the world. These were the Salad Days of humanity, when Men started to wander off in different directions and seek out their fortunes. We’ll learn in a few chapters about what’s going on when those going west finally meet the Noldor and get unwittingly pulled into the dramas of Beleriand. The Dark Elves are fascinating enough—they look kind of like Men but are more comely, they don’t get sick, and they don’t age!—but the Calaquendi are going to be a whole different ball game. These Moriquendi are bush league compared to the Major League Elves such as the Noldor.

Men live and die like nothing else in the world so far. No one seems to know what will become of them when they die, only that when their bodies are slain, there’s no coming back. Even Elves know, in theory, that if something does them in, they might get rehoused in a new adult body after a period of waiting. But Men, nope. They get one shot at life, and it’s a short one. Blink and you miss it. The Elves say that the spirits of Men might go to Mandos before passing on to somewhere else, but even there it’s in a different place than the Elves. Like, in a whole different wing in the Halls of Mandos, probably separated by turnstyles and patrolled by Mandos’s Hall Monitors. There’s no mixing with them there.

“Spoiler” Alert: Okay, so there’s going to be one exception to this, because that’s Tolkien for you.

None have ever come back from the mansions of the dead, save only Beren son of Barahir, whose hand had touched a Silmaril…

Oooh! A Silmaril, eh? Will Fëanor or his sons know about this? Did this Beren dude play an ill-advised game of Take it, Hold it, or Keep it? Only time will tell.

Another “Spoiler” Alert: In the final paragraph, Tolkien projects really far into the future to the eventual fading of the Elves. In fact, with the arrival of the Sun, we can now understand another thing Mandos spouted long ago when the Trees of Valinor were still in bloom. On the topic of Elves, he’d said: “Great light shall be for their waning.”

That so-called great light is the Sun, and with the arrival of us Men (yeah, I’m talking about you, Usurpers), Elves now begin their decline. It’s a very, very slow decline, but it’s still happening. Recall that we read about diminishing and departing Elves back in The Lord of the Rings, which takes place at the end of the Third Age—roughly seven thousand years from now. It feels too soon in the book to be talking about the waning of the Elves, though, doesn’t it? I mean, look, we’re only like a third of the way through.

But actually, Elves have been out and about—many here on Middle-earth this whole time, many over in Valinor—for a seriously long time already. If we go by the “Annals of Aman” chapter in the Morgoth’s Ring (vol 10 of The History of Middle-earth series), we can ballpark it at fourteen thousand solar years since Oromë first discovered them at Cuiviénen. And who knows how long before that since they’d first awakened?

So the next seven thousands years is just the Elves’ final stretch—the ninth inning, as it were. But with Men on the playing field alongside them, Dwarves in the dugouts, and Morgoth’s team of bullies already lurking on the bases, it’s going to be an exciting last inning for the Elves. Especially with the Calaquendi subs coming…

Speaking of, in the next installment, we’ll take a look at “Of the Return of the Noldor,” and pick up where things left off with that hero of the people, Fëanor. Will he come to his senses and try to make amends for burning those ships? Will Morgoth hunker down and hope the arriving Noldor don’t notice his presence? Will the Orcs turn to basket-weaving instead of battle?


Top image: “Sunrise Mountains” by Lass Perälä

Jeff LaSala doesn’t care too much for baseball, so he can’t account for the metaphors in this post. Tolkien nerdom aside, he wrote a Scribe Award–nominated D&D novel, produced some cyberpunk stories, and now works for Tor Books.


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