Let Me Tell You About The Silmarillion (pt 1/12)
All right, you’ve seen the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies and they’re a lot of fun, but it seems like there’s this whole big world of characters and events beyond them, but it’s just so massive! Where do you start? LET ME TRY TO HELP YOU WITH THAT, FRIEND. LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE SILMARILLION.
INTRO: Over the last year or so I’ve been doing my best to lure friends into Tolkien fandom and to do this I’ve had to explain a lot of stuff the movies wouldn’t or couldn’t put into them, including a whole lot to do with The Silmarillion. As a result, I’ve shored up my own views of those characters/places because I had to, in order to better explain them or just because I went looking for art references!
I mean, I’m still not an expert, some stuff is still fuzzy for me (so please be gentle if you want to chime in, I’m totally up for discussion, but Tolkien fandom scares me sometimes!) and it’s sort of fun to see my progress as I work through a lot of this stuff, especially because honestly the Silm isn’t exactly the easiest to read. You practically have to read it once just to get an outline of things and then go back and start over just to understand what the hell you just read. And that’s kind of a lot to ask of people!
But I find one of the things that most helped me cement things in better is having reference points for the characters. FOR EXAMPLE, when I was starting out and I would say, “Shit, I am having a lot of Maglor feelings today!” I also used to often think, “Maglor is one of the sons of Feanor and also the Elf that helped raise Elrond and his twin brother Elros when they were young.” That connection to Elrond (a character that is already firmly established in my mind) helped me keep straight who Maglor is. From there, I could branch out into the other stuff that Maglor did–like wandering forever and all the Kin-Slaying stuff.
That’s what this series of post is meant to be. A fun way for me to draw connections between characters that the wider fandom knows and the Silm characters and draw some broad strokes. And have some fun doing it–this isn’t terribly serious and I’m going to wind up condensing things down and putting my own spin on things, so don’t take this as hard fact. It’s a humorous retelling! I made myself laugh AND THAT WAS THE POINT.
So. I’ve been thinking about this and I want to start with movie characters, since many already have a reference for them and they have a lot of connections and are deeply entwined with everything that happened, especially Elrond and Sauron and Galadriel. Well, that and Gandalf, perhaps. But then I keep thinking, shit, first you need to have a basic set-up of how Tolkien’s world works! SO: Way back in the beginning, before the planet was made, there was the One True God, Eru Iluvatar. From his thoughts, he created 14 spirits called the Valar (think Archangels) and then a whole shitload of “regular” “angels” called the Maiar. Together they’re collectively called the Ainur.
Basically, they’re disembodied spirits who are making Music-With-A-Capital-M together and they create the planet (eventually). Then the Valar take physical form and go forth to help mold the planet into what they all agreed was the way to go–except for the strongest among them, a dickweed named Melkor. He’ll be important in a minute.
Once the planet has progressed far enough, we have two continents that will be important. Aman and Middle-Earth. Keep in mind that Middle-Earth is about the size of Europe, give or take, and it’s in the East. Aman is the Blessed Realm or Valinor or the Undying Lands (there are a lot of names, I know, don’t worry about it, you’ll acclimate) and is in the West. So, after a bit, Eru wakes up the Firstborn of his Children, the Elves (other stuff happens, but broad strokes here) and the Valar decide to ask the Elves to come live with them in Aman, because it’s more magical there.