Welcome to post 2 about The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien! To check out the recap of book 1, “Ainulindalë,” click here.
Since the first two “books” within The Silmarillion are only a few pages each, it hasn’t taken long to complete the second book, “Valaquenta.”
Unlike “Ainulindalë,” it isn’t as much of a story as an overview of some important characters readers need to know about before venturing into book 3, “Quenta Silmarillion.” While it might be tempting to skip, please don’t. It’s only 9 pages and worth reading through.
After a brief recap of the creation Arda (which is the general term for the land better known as Middle-earth), readers are given an overview of three major groups: the Valar, the Maiar, and the “Enemies.”
As mentioned last time, the Valar are the Ainur that decided to create Arda. They won’t be part of the Ainur again until Middle-earth comes to an end.
There are fourteen of the Valar in total. There are seven “Lords of the Valar” (who are usually just referred to as “the Valar”) and seven “Queens of the Valar,” better known as the Valier.
- mightiest of the Valar and very attuned to the plans of Ilúvatar
- lord of the winds and clouds, and he loves birds
- spouse: Varda (and they make an amazing team)
- better known by the Elves as Elbereth, and the one Melkor fears most
- rules over the stars
- spouse: Manwë
- used to be close to Manwë, but spends most of his time alone; he also likes Elves and Men, even when the rest of the Valar become upset with them
- rules over the sea
- creative and likes to make new things (but he never betrays Ilúvatar and the others)
- creates land, gems, and the like
- spouse: Yavanna
- sometimes appears in the form of a willowy woman, other times appears as an unbelievably beautiful tree
- ruler of plants
- spouse: Aulë
- one of the Fëanturi; he is also known by the name of the place he lives in, Mandos
- keeps the houses of the dead and pronounces judgement under Manwë’s instruction
- spouse: Vairë
- known as the Weaver
- makes tapestries containing everything that happens in time
- spouse: Námo
- the other Fëanturi; he is also known by the name of the place he lives in, Lórien
- lord of visions and dreams
- spouse: Estë
- nocturnal and very gentle
- rules over rest
- spouse: Irmo
- sister of the Fëanturi; spends most of her time in Mandos
- mourns the harm Melkor has done to Arda and teaches pity, endurance, hope, and wisdom
- aka Astaldo the Valiant; came to Arda specifically to fight against Melkor; his strength is combined with laughter
- loves strength, wrestling, and competition
- spouse: Nessa
- loves deer and dancing
- spouse: Tulkas
- Nessa’s brother; more serious than Tulkas; aka Aldaron or Tauron (Lord of Forests)
- hunts monsters; loves horses, dogs, and trees
- spouse: Vána
- Yavanna’s younger sister; known as Ever-young
- loves flowers and birds, who spring to life whenever she comes around
- spouse: Oromë
While the Valar (which includes the Valier) are the greatest creatures to live in Arda, the Maiar are just behind them. Their primary purpose is to serve and help the Valar. Unlike the more powerful Valar, the Maiar’s numbers and names aren’t all known to the Elves. However, there are a few notable ones.
- Ilmarë: Varda’s handmaiden
- Eönwë: Manwë’s herald
- Ossë: Ulmo’s servant who hangs out along the shore; he allied with Melkor at one time before returning to his senses, which means that no one really trusts him
- Uinen: Ossë’s wife who also loves the sea and can calm the waves
- Melian: Vána and Estë’s servant who helps tend Lórien; the nightingales sing about her
- Olórin: loves the Elves and gives them visions and wisdom, but either remains hidden from them or appears just as another Elf
While he’s of the same order as the rest of the Valar, Melkor is listed last. He is Manwë’s brother, but unlike Manwë, he wanted power and became a rebel. Because he’s cunning and beautiful, he enticed some of the Maiar to join him, but he twists everything to evil, using them for his purposes. He’s also known as Morgoth.
Some of his most notable servants: the Valaraukar. They are a group of the Maiar that he enticed and then completely corrupted. Most readers would be more familiar with their other name: the Balrogs. (And now the term “Balrog of Morgoth” makes much more sense.)
And last but not least is one of Melkor’s greatest servants. He once served Aulë, which explains why he’s not as completely evil as Melkor (aka Morgoth), but he’s definitely well on his way to following in Melkor’s footsteps. Who is this servant? The one and only Sauron himself. He’s so much more than the armored Ring-bearing villain or enormous cat-like eye of The Lord of the Rings. Just wait. : )
More recaps coming soon. Since it’s been a while since I’ve read The Silmarillion, I’m not sure when, especially since “Quenta Silmarillion” isn’t 10-ish page like the other two books, but I’ll keep an eye out for natural breaks and update when I reach them. Until next time!