The Silmarillion Recap: Breeding Discontent in Numenor

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

Last week, the Dúnedain were given several rules to live by. This week, that one (or two) people start pushing the envelope. It’s about to get messy.

Akallabêth part 4

It’s been about 2,000 years since the Dúnedain have made themselves comfortable on Númenor. So far, life has been good. They’ve made friends with the Men back in Middle-earth, bringing knowledge and a sense of security back to a land filled with shadows. They enjoy extremely long lives and friendship with the Elves and the Valar. Can’t complain, right?

Wrong. One of the ground rules of living in Númenor was that the Dúnedain weren’t allowed to sail West out of sight of the island. However, as the years have worn on and they’ve watched the Elves freely sail back and forth between Númenor and the just out of sight Valinor, they’ve started growing discontent with this rule. Why should the Elves be allowed to do this, to enjoy immortality, while they have to experience death and the Ban to keep them out of Valinor? It just isn’t fair.

Things reach a desperate point during the reign of Tar-Atanamir, the 13th King of Númenor. Thanks to the frequent visits by the Elves, the Valar hear about all of the discontent. The Valar are heartbroken that the Dúnedain are upset (just as they were upset when the Elves weren’t content in Valinor with them), so they quickly send messengers to smooth out the situation.

The conversation between Tar-Atanamir and the messengers boils down quite simply: The Dunedain can’t have it both ways. Death isn’t a punishment but a gift. When Men die, they leave, and not even the Valar know where they go. However, Men were never designed to be permanent residents of Aman (the world). They were meant for another home ultimately. Fear brought on by Morgoth has twisted this gift, making death something to fear instead of just another chapter in the adventure. They just have to trust Ilúvatar.

Unfortunately, Tar-Atanamir doesn’t buy it. More unfortunately, his actions split the people of Númenor into two distinct groups.

The first are the King’s Men. Many of the Dúnedain agree with the King and breed that discontent from murmurs to outright disdain for the Valar and the Elves.

The second, though, are the Elendili. While they’re still loyal to Elros’ line, they refuse to write off the Elves and the Valar. Instead, they maintain the friendship from before. However, they do have one serious fault that all of the Dúnedain now share: they are troubled by the idea of death.

Next week, a very familiar character returns… and his only goal is to follow in his evil master’s footsteps.

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