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.

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