Want to catch up on The Silmarillion so far? Check out the Silmarillion Recaps page here.
After a little over a year, we’re headed into the final book in The Silmarillion, Akallabêth! Hard to believe this crazy adventure started in April 2014 as just a whim.
Last week, the third and longest book of The Silmarillion, “Quenta Silmarillion,” ended. This means that it’s time to shift our focus from the ongoing quest for the Silmarils (which was a driving force in the “Quenta Silmarillion”) and to instead turn our sights on Elros’ descendants and Men.
Akallabêth part 1
The Secondborn of Iluvatar have had quite a history in Middle-earth so far. While the Elves received most of the focus in “Quenta Silmarillion,” Men have played an important role since their first appearance. And since this book is, basically, all about them, it’s time to recap that history.
Men had only just arrived in Middle-earth when Morgoth found them and began harrying them. However, not all of them stood for it. Some heard rumors of “a light which [Morgoth’s] Shadow could not dim” (Tolkien 309), so they set out to find it. The three main groups who did this are known as the Edain. They became friends with the Elves, learned from them, and fought by their side against Morgoth. Life was hard, but it was better with the Elves. (Just ask Bëor and Finrod.)
When the War of Wrath began, these Edain are the Men who fought along with the Valar and Eldar. And it’s no wonder. They’ve been loyal to each other all along. In fact, when the war ends, Men are given the same sort of summon that the Elves were: to leave for another, better land. The Edain (and presumably Elros and any descendants he has at the time) answer the call, but plenty of others don’t. And it’s a shame for them.
In Middle-earth, Morgoth’s influence is still a corrupting force. The surviving Men who fought in his armies flee back eastwards, from whence they originally came. There, they use fear to dominate their long-lost kin and become kings that can only be described as evil. This isn’t their only problem, though. They also have dragons, orcs, and Morgoth’s other servants to deal with. It’s a mess.
And the Valar know it. They meet together to discuss a solution. The initial decision is aimed at the Men that listened to the Valar’s summon. Using Ossë, Aulë, and Yavanna’s talents and flowers courtesy of the Elves, they bring a new island out of the sea, specially made for Men. Then, with calm seas, Manwë (the leader of the Valar) ensures that Men are able to reach it.
This island is known by several names: Elenna (which means Starwards), Anadûnê (Westernesse), and (most notably) Numenórë. It’s neither in Valinor nor in Middle-earth but is truly a special place.
Next week, more on life as a Numenórian and the beginning of their history.