ASOIAF vs LOTR
Okay, but you have to understand that I haven’t read any of the ASOIAF books - my only experience with the story is watching Game of Thrones. So it’s really not a fair contest.
Even so, definitely Lord of the Rings. The two stories are so different in style and content that I almost refused to compare them at all, but whether you prefer the gritty, realistic inhabitants of Westeros or the nobler heroes of Middle Earth, the fact is I get a much greater sense of depth and mystery from Lord of the Rings than I do Game of Thrones (again, that might just be because I’m comparing a tv show to a book, but oh well.)
I do, however, kind of prefer how George R.R. Martin handles his characters and political leaders, though - as real people dealing with real, day-to-day problems (an issue I think Martin himself sums up pretty well in this quote):
Ruling is hard. This was maybe my answer to Tolkien, whom, as much as I admire him, I do quibble with. Lord of the Rings had a very medieval philosophy: that if the king was a good man, the land would prosper. We look at real history and it’s not that simple. Tolkien can say that Aragorn became king and reigned for a hundred years, and he was wise and good. But Tolkien doesn’t ask the question: What was Aragorn’s tax policy? Did he maintain a standing army? What did he do in times of flood and famine? And what about all these orcs? By the end of the war, Sauron is gone but all of the orcs aren’t gone – they’re in the mountains. Did Aragorn pursue a policy of systematic genocide and kill them? Even the little baby orcs, in their little orc cradles? In real life, real-life kings had real-life problems to deal with. Just being a good guy was not the answer. You had to make hard, hard decisions. Sometimes what seemed to be a good decision turned around and bit you in the ass; it was the law of unintended consequences. I’ve tried to get at some of these in my books. My people who are trying to rule don’t have an easy time of it. Just having good intentions doesn’t make you a wise king.
-from this Rolling Stones interview
How Old Are The Elves?
Okay, so I figured this was a good opportunity to break down just how old the elvish race is:
- The elves first awoke in 1050 Years of the Trees.
- There are 450 more Valian Years (how time was calculated before the rising of the sun, based on the light of the Two Trees - you can read more about it here, but the exchange from Valian Years to Solar Years is 1V = 9.582S)
- So after the equivalent of 4,311.9 solar years, the sun rises, and we officially start counting time in solar years.
- There are 590 years in the First Age
- There are 3,441 years in the Second Age
- There are 3,021 years in the Third Age
- So, by the time we get to the beginning of the Fourth Age, the elves have been around for 11,363.9 years.
SOURCES: The Silmarillion, The Histories of Middle Earth vol. 10 (“Annals of Aman”), LOTR, LOTR Appendices
Racism Series Update
As you may have noticed, I have not yet posted part three of the racism series - the real world is busier this week than normal, I really don’t want to rush this next part (it’s about the “evil men”, and how about 99.9% of then are POC, and how Tolkien handles all that), so I’m delaying posting it until next week.
But keep sending me input/feedback - a lot of it has been incredibly helpful! And remember that I’m still looking for other essays/posts/etc to include at the end of the series for “further reading”, so if you know of something I should include on the list, let me know!
I do not own The Silmarillion illustrated by Ted Nasmith. I have done a lot of research however and found that there is two versions, one from 1998 and one from 2004. The 2004 one has a lot more illustrations. I have visited Mr. Nasmith's website but all the paintings are out of order and there is many extra paintings. Since I learned from a previous post of yours you own the 2004 version, could you give me the names of the illustrations in order?
I actually don’t own the Ted Nasmith illustrated version (though I definitely want to someday, since I love Ted Nasmith’s art.)
Does anybody own the 2004 illustrated Silmarillion? If so, could you please help us out?
Hello. I'm nearly done reading The Silmarillion (finally!!!), but I don't know what book comes next. Could you please tell me how the others are ordered (chronologically and however else they should be)? Thank you very much! You're amazing. :)
What you want is my “Which Book Should I Read?" series, which you can download as a .pdf or .ibook. Or, if you want the quick and easy version, there’s also the original photoset posts:
- The Big Three (in case you read The Silmarillion before The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings)
- Supplementary Books (if you’re ready to move on to The Children of Hurin, The Unfinished Tales, the Book of Lost Tales, etc.)
Let me know if, after reading the guide, you still have a question about which book to tackle next! :)
Who Originally Owned Narsil?
(Okay, this came up because of a post I wrote yesterday in which I mentioned that Narsil was originally owned by Maglor… and then later realized that we don’t actually know that for sure. As soon as this is posted I’ll edit that first post with a link to this one, which explores who might have owned Maglor (based on actual textual evidence and not just my lazy headcanon, sorry about that.))
In Fellowship of the Ring, Narsil is introduced very simply as the sword of Elendil. And that might have been the most we ever knew of it’s history, except that while in Edoras Aragorn mentions that “Telchar first wrought it in the deeps of time." (And then if you look at Narsil’s entry in the Silmarillion’s index, it’s also mentioned that the sword was made by Telchar.) Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about Telchar, especially in relation to famous artifacts from the First Age. This is the great dwarf smith of Nogrod who made the Dragon-helm of Dor-lomin and Angrist, the knife Beren used to cut the silmaril from Morgoth’s crown. But Tolkien never actually tells us how the sword gets from Telchar to the Numenoreans. But, based on what we know of Telchar and his other works, there are two strong possibilities:
Telchar > Caranthir > Maglor > Elros
Telchar was a dwarf of Nogrog. The dwarves of Nogrod traditionally did a fair bit of trading with the elves in Beleriand. The Noldor especially had a pretty good relationship with the dwarves (due to their shared love of craftsmanship, and Aule), and it’s said in The Silmarillion that Caranthir ruled a good deal of the land that bordered the Blue Mountains, and had a solid working relationship with the dwarves there, so that “great riches came to him.” I already explained in this post that I think the most likely way that Angrist came to Curufin (from whom Beren took it), was via Caranthir, and I think it’s likely that Narsil traveled a similar path. It was first given to Caranthir, who gave it to one of his brothers (probably either Maehdros or Maglor.) Then, later in the First Age when Elrond and Elros were basically raised by Maglor, I think he would have given the sword to Elros - and thus Telchar’s sword came to be an heirloom of Numenor.
Telchar > Thingol > Elwing > Elros
The other possibility is through the second regular recipient of dwarvish goods in Beleriand - Thingol. Before their relationship went tragically sour, Doriath used to do a lot of trade with the dwarves of the Blue Mountains. And in the “Narn i Hin Hurin” it’s said that “Thingol had in Menegroth deep armouries filled with great wealth of weapons: metal wrought like fishes’ mail an shining like water in the moon; swords and axes, shields an helms, wrought by Telchar himself or by his master Gamil Zirak the old." It could be that one of these swords was Narsil, and that later when Dior was king of Doriath the sword came to be owned by his daughter Elwing, who could have brought it with her from Doriath’s destruction and to the Havens of Sirion. She then could have left it with her sons (specifically Elros), again explaining how Telchar’s sword came to be a Numenorean heirloom. Personally I think the Feanorian explanation is more likely (mostly because we already know for sure that the Doriath version is how Thingol’s sword Aranruth came to Numenor, and it somehow seems unlikely to me that two swords would have been passed down like this - especially since both Elwing and Elros were very young (less than 10 years old) when they would have been given these swords.)
SOURCES: The Silmarillion, The Unfinished Tales (“Narn i Hin Hurin”), LotR
Numenorean Research Masterpost
Okay, here we go. This post is divided into two parts - first I’ll list where to read about Numenor in the actual canon/books. Then I’ll list many of the posts I’ve written already relating to Numenor and its people.
- The Silmarillion (I know, duh, but The Akkalabeth is all about Numenor, so it’s definitely an important source, especially if you’re looking for the - summarized - full history of Numenor and its downfall.)
- The Unfinished Tales (This is the best resource for those looking to learn new information not included in The Silmarillion. There are several chapters focused on Numenorean history: “A Description of the Island of Numenor”, “Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner’s Wife”, “The Line of Elros: Kings of Numenor”, as well as a couple other chapters dealing with the early exiles (Isildur, etc.))
- LotR Appendix A (This includes a very brief - only about a page long - description and history of Numenor. I don’t think there’s any “new” information there, but if LotR is the only book you own, there’s at least that.)
- The Histories of Middle Earth vol. 12 (The Histories of Middle Earth aren’t organized thematically, really, so there might be other little tidbits about Numenor scattered throughout the series, but for a concentrated source of Numenorean information, your best bet is “The Tale of Years of the Second Age”, which is basically a timeline of the period, which obviously concerns Numenor quite a bit.)
My Stuff: (my faves have a *)
- History/Culture: *The Numenorean Hierarchy of Men*, Eonwe Teaching the Numenoreans, Holidays in Middle Earth, Numenorean Marriages, Gil-galad’s Letter to Tar-Meneldur: The Response, *Did Numenoreans Know of the Rings of Power?*, Why Would the Numenoreans Trust Sauron?, Melkorism: The Worship of Morgoth
- Biographies/Character-Based: *Elros’s Wife First Queen of Numenor*, Aldarion and Erendis, Erendis: the Mariner’s Wife, *Tar-Ancalime: First Ruling Queen of Numenor*, Erendis Tar-Ancalime and the Company of Women, Silmarien and the Heirlooms of Numenor, *Tar-Miriel’s Marriage to Ar-Pharazon*, How Powerful was Ar-Pharazon?
If anybody out there has written any meta for the Numenoreans, or knows of some great research/meta out there, please reblog this post with a link!
Do you support Kiliel?
I’m assuming you’re talking about Kili and Tauriel’s romance? I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “support” (that word could go so many different ways), but here’s basically my thoughts on their relationship:
I enjoyed watching them interact in the movie, and between the two intended romantic relationship in Desolation of Smaug, I much preferred Kili to Legolas (though that was probably due more to some weird writing.) But as a rule I’m not a huge fan of non-canon mortal/immortal relationships, because they’re inherently so tragic, and I don’t really like signing up for things that I know will make me sad later… oh, and from the “Tolkien scholar” side of things, their relationship is so extremely unlikely that I’m very tempted to call it impossible.
(I wrote a more detailed version of my take on their relationship in this post, if interested.)
esbonline replied to your post: Silmarien and the Heirlooms of Numenor
Can you provide the citation for Narsil being Maglor’s sword and passing to Numenor? I haven’t come across that.
*re-checks notes* …aw, crud.
Okay, expect a post tomorrow about why Narsil might have been Maglor’s (and consider this my monthly PSA to fellow researchers about the importance of constantly re-checking the primary sources!)
does it actually say that thranduil was married? what if they had legolas when they weren't married, or that he's adopted?
- As far as I know, Tolkien doesn’t directly say that Thranduil was married - there’s also no mention of his wife ever, at all.
- There is no record of any elf ever having a child “out of wedlock” (aka without being married to the other parent), and in fact there’s a great deal of evidence to suggest that elves never had sex outside of marriage at all (this post has the most thorough explanation of the sex=marriage idea), so I think it’s highly highly unlikely that Thranduil wasn’t married to Legolas’s mother.
- Middle Earth has a decent record of “foster parents” - those who raised kids without formally/officially adopting them, but Tolkien usually made this relationship pretty clear (more on that subject in this post.) So while it is possible that Legolas wasn’t Thranduil’s biological son, I think the fact that Tolkien never mentions this makes it also pretty unlikely.