Want to catch up on The Silmarillion so far? Check out the Silmarillion Recaps page here.
The last two weeks have been set-up for the rest of Akallabêth. This week, an introduction to an important character and a recap of just why he’s so important.
Akallabêth part 3
Before venturing forward, let’s take a moment to look back. If there’s one thing that Tolkien seems to love doing, it’s weaving narratives together into ornate tapestries. Elrond and his brother Elros are just a few strands in a very intricate story.
Remember Eärendil and his wife, Elwing? Two things set them apart from other people in Middle-earth’s history.
- They are both Half-Elven: they are the result of a union between an Elven woman and a mortal man. (In their cases, Eärendil is descended from Tuor and Idril, and Elwing’s grandparents were Luthien and Beren.)
- They are the only ones to ever sail to Valinor from Middle-earth without the Valar’s oversight.
Because of these two factors (but especially the second), this duo was given a gift from the Valar: a choice. Since they’re neither fully Elves nor fully Men, Eärendil and Elwing are given the chance to choose their fate: immortality in Valinor or the gift of mortality that belongs to Men. Eärendil lets Elwing make this decision for them, and she chooses the Elves.
But Eärendil and Elwing aren’t the only ones given this decision. So do their sons, Elrond and Elros. As most Tolkien fans already know, Elrond chooses the Elf life. Elros, though, chooses Men, and for that reason, he is given the position of first king of Númenor. To sweeten the deal, Elros and his descendants also enjoy long life. Elros himself lived to be 500 years old, spending 410 as King of Númenor. And while Elros might not be a familiar name for readers of The Lord of the Rings, he does have a very strong connection to a crucial character.
Life in Númenor is ideal. The residents enjoy the protection of the Valar and the friendship of the Elves who live in Valinor. With this close connection to the Elves, the Númenoreans are fluent in two languages—their own and Sindarin (a form of Elvish)—and have two names, one in each language.
(Geeky Bonus Fact: Quenya used to be the cool form of Elvish, but that all changed when the Quenya-speaking Noldor started their vengeful quest for the Silmarils. Then Middle-earth Sindarin because the preferred language.)
Speaking of the Elves, there is one gift that they bring to Elros that deserves a special mention: a White Tree named Nimloth. It’s a special type straight from Valinor, descended of a tree that reminds everyone of Telperion, one of the two sacred trees that Morgoth (then Melkor) and Ungoliant (the giant spider) destroyed so long ago. During that time, it grew in the king’s court. But more on this special White Tree later.
Next week, the people of Númenor (called the Dúnedain) are given one unbreakable rule… (Isn’t that always how paradise works?) We start taking bets on when they’ll break that rule now.