The Silmarillion Recap: The World Has Changed (or, Did This Just Become the Story of Noah?)

Want to catch up on The Silmarillion so far? Check out the Silmarillion Recaps page here.

Last week, gathered his navy and set sail to start a war with the Valar. This week, things don’t go as he planned…

Akallabêth part 17

Tar-Pharazôn has done what no other Numenorean has dared to do before. He has gathered his navy and sailed West to Valinor, breaking the one rule the Valar gave them when they established Numenor in the first place. It’s an unprecedented move, and one that certainly never should have been done. (Note to self: This is why you never allow Sauron to become your closest advisor!)

Now, Tar-Pharazôn and his navy have not only broken the Ban of the Valar but have sailed straight up to Valinor itself. Unlike Eärendil (the only other half-mortal to accomplish this feat), he isn’t on a mission of mercy, come to beg for the Valar’s forgiveness and plead for help. Instead, he’s there for war because he’s been completely and totally deceived by Sauron.

The Elves who live in Valinor are the first to see the ships. Seeming to know what it means, they flee inland and wait to see what will happen. It isn’t long before the answer comes. Manwë has been the head of the Valar since the beginning. He often consults with Ilúvatar, the one responsible for creating everything, but he has been in charge of Arda thus far. In this situation, though, he hands all of the authority over the world to Ilúvatar, who gets right to work.

The only major changes to the geography have been due to the War of Wrath between the Valar and Morgoth and the creation of Numenor. Now, though, everything changes drastically. There are two changes, though, that are worth noting.

The first is what happens to Tar-Pharazôn and his navy. The shoreline of Valinor transforms into a chasm, sinking all of the ships and burying Tar-Pharazôn under the collapsed hills. In doing this, Ilúvatar removes Valinor from its original place on the map and takes it somewhere unreachable by brassy mortals.

The second takes places back on Numenor. Ever since Amandil left, his son Elendil and his family have been hiding out in their ships. It’s been the only way to stay away from Sauron and those who would gladly sacrifice them in Morgoth’s temple. It’s fortunate that they’ve done this because Numenor is overtaken by a giant wave and sinks, taking the rest of the Numenoreans with it.

While this is happening, an intense wind blows Amandil’s ships far from the sinking island, towards Middle-earth. Life is definitely about to change.

Next week, Amandil and his sons set up some familiar kingdoms.

Elvish Is Taking Over (My Classroom)

In my 8th grade classroom, our study of The Hobbit is in full swing. We’ve been to the unexpected party, had Thorin’s map deciphered, acquired a magic ring, met Beorn (which is one of my favorite parts of the book), and are now deep into Mirkwood.

Every year, the mix of students is the same. Some start off with no interest in reading The Hobbit. Several claim they don’t like fantasy (which just blows my mind… especially when they then proceed to tell me that they do like Harry Potter), and others seem to just be afraid of how excited I am about it. Others are ambivalent (but usually it only takes a week or two for them to fall in love with Middle-earth). And then there are those who looked at the syllabus and spent the whole semester anxiously waiting for it to start. (They also are the ones who then demand for me to follow up with The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.)

Sometimes appealing to all three groups is hard, but I think I finally found one activity that unites everyone: writing names in Elvish.

Write Your Name in Elvish(Image source:

At first, only the Tolkien enthusiasts are onboard. The others stare at me like I can’t possibly be serious. Then I proceed to write my first name on the board, and even the most reluctant follow suit. By the time they’ve written down all the letters for their names, they have stopped noticing how nerdy it is (or wondering why I insist on talking so much about linguistics) and are intent on writing their names right. The change is both unbelievable and hilarious.

In the past, the fervor for writing names in Elvish usually lasts for a short while before students seem to forget about it. That definitely wasn’t the case this year, since I was then greeted one day to one of the semi-enthusiastic students writing on my board in Elvish. In my book, that’s mission accomplished.
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The Silmarillion Recap: Pride Goes Before a Fall (or Numenor’s Doom)

Want to catch up on The Silmarillion so far? Check out the Silmarillion Recaps page here.

Last week, Amandil left in hopes of saving the people of Numenor from Sauron (and themselves). This week, the Valar send their reply.

Akallabêth part 16

When Amandil set sail and warned his family to gather everything of importance on their own ships, he seemed to already know that he wouldn’t come back. However, he set off with the same intentions as his forefather, Earendil: he wanted to save his people from themselves and the evil that was influencing them.

What exactly happens to Amandil isn’t clear, but what happens on Numenor in his absence is unmistakable. Things begin to change. The island used to be a perfect sanctuary, with calm winds to keep the ships in motion and comfortable weather. Now, though, things change and the Eagles of Manwë arrive. Now, it’s unclear exactly what these Eagles are, but they certainly aren’t the familiar ones from the rest of the book. They are more like clouds — perhaps spirits — that do Manwë’s bidding. Unfortunately for Numenor, his current bidding is destruction.

Whenever the Eagles come, so do terrible storms, hail, lightning… weather that creates total fear and chaos. At one point, the Temple that Sauron convinced Tar-Pharazôn to erect for Morgoth/Melkor is hit with lightning. However, it only destroys the dome, and Sauron stands in the middle of the rest of the Temple, defying the storms. When people see that he isn’t killed, some think that he’s a god — a thought Sauron probably enjoyed too much.

In the wake of this disaster, some realize just how wrong they’ve been and choose to change their ways. Others, though, become more entrenched in their ways and curse the Valar even more than before. Among them is, of course, Tar-Pharazôn. All along, he has been preparing his fleets for war with the Valar. Even in spite of seeing the power that the Valar have, he decides to keep with his (or, really, Sauron’s) idea to attack them on their own territory: in Valinor.

As Tar-Pharazôn prepares to leave with his armada, the winds stop, leaving everyone around Numenor in perpetual doldrums. Tar-Pharazôn has already accounted for this, though. His ships are equipped with oars so that slaves can row the fleet to Valinor if necessary. And that is precisely what he does.

Tar-Pharazôn sails west, breaking the Ban of the Valar and pronouncing doom on Numenor.

Next time, the Valar respond to Tar-Pharazôn’s attack, and it’s not the response he expected.

The Nerd Word of the Day

Even though my middle schoolers move on every year when they reach high school, sometimes one finds some extra time in the class schedule to help out in my class. This year, I’m lucky enough that one of my sweet former 8th graders spends one of her study hall periods with me once a week.

Since we started reading The Hobbit, she’s been nerding out as badly as I have and has been enjoying reliving the different activities that we did associated with the book. (Anyone up for acting out “Roast Mutton”?) But she isn’t just a fellow geek. She also collects words to introduce to the 8th graders, and a recent one was too great not to share.


Couldn’t have said it better myself. :)

Vive la France


S.B. Roberts 2015

I spent a long time trying to decide what to say or do to honor the French lives lost on November 13th. France, I am heartbroken for you and praying for you. United we will stand.

Star Wars! (Or the New Trailer I’ve Already Watched 6 Times This Morning)

I suppose it’s needless to say that it’s been a busy week. At least I can say that the little scraps of spare time has been used for writing, editing, and dreaming about my writing projects (including that poor novel). That counts for something, right?

But it’s been too long since I’ve posted, and since I’ve found a spare moment, I can’t spend a week without blogging. So, what better thing to talk about than about a favorite hero’s journey: Star Wars.

Unbeknownst to me, a new tv spot came out for it last night. While I’m not one of the people that have tickets for opening weekend (because who knew that they would go so fast and then end up being worth so much money!?), I’m still waiting anxiously for more Star Wars. So, if you haven’t seen the new trailer yet, enjoy! And if you have… well, here’s an excuse to watch it again.

An Intro to the Hero’s Journey

Since I’ve been teaching the same middle school English classes for five years, I like to find ways to mix it up and keep it fresh every once in a while. This year, I decided to do it by introducing the concept of the hero’s journey, also known as the monomyth.

My 8th graders are just starting The Hobbit and writing their short stories. (The timing is very intentional. :) ) Teaching about the hero’s journey seemed a perfect way to compliment both. After all, the hero’s journey is everywhere around us, both in reality and the stories we tell.

To help explain the concept, I found a great TedTalk that explains the different parts of the cycle and how it’s applied to a variety of well-known stories.

When I first started the lesson on the hero’s journey, my students stared at me quite blankly. However, once they saw the video, they lit up and suddenly realized just how many stories are, indeed, telling the same story, regardless of genre or setting.

That’s one of the amazing things about stories, though. It doesn’t matter how many times we tell the same basic stories. Each retelling is unique yet still resonates with us in the same ways.


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