Previously on An Adventure in Tolkien: I got very heated about Túrin & Beleg, to the point where I had to split this damn novel up.
Okay, look, I tried. I really intended to keep all of The Unfinished Tales in its own little post, but Tolkien had to go and do me dirty with Beleg’s death ALL OVER AGAIN, and it took a toll. Therefore, we’re embarking on the Second & Third Age (hopefully, fingers crossed), but if everything falls apart again, you’ll find out at the end of the Second Age. I would, however, recommend at least reading the intro to the previous post (if not the whole thing) before proceeding so you know both a) what this book is and b) where I’m at with this book.
The Second Age
A Description of the Island of Númenor
The account of the Island of Númenor that here follows is derived from descriptions and simple maps that were long preserved in the archives of the Kings of Gondor. These represent indeed but a small part of all that was once written, for many natural histories and geographies were composed by learned men in Númenor; but these, like nearly all else of the arts and sciences of Númenor at its high tide, disappeared in the Downfall.
Even such documents as were preserved in Gondor, or in Imladris (where in the care of Elrond were deposited the surviving treasures of the Northern Númenórean kings) suffered from loss and destruction by neglect. For though the survivors in Middle-earth “yearned,” as they said, for Akallabêth, the Downfallen, and never even after long ages ceased to regard themselves as in a measure exiles, when it became clear that the Land of Gift was taken away and that Númenor had disappeared for ever, all but a few regarded study of what was left of its history as vain, breeding only useless regret. The story of Ar-Pharazôn and his impious armada was all that remained generally known in later ages.
I HAVE MADE IT TWO PARAGRAPHS IN AND I ALREADY NEED A MEME
The level this man went to regarding the backstory to his myths kills me. Like, he’s got an entire reason for why there’s only a little bit of the description of Númenor left, and why people stopped studying it post-Morgoth. (Also, points to Morgoth for being such a badass that they not only named his eventual defeat the Downfallen, but gave it an Elven word, Akallabêth, too. That’s how you villain properly.)
ALSO, just in case you thought the surviving description of Númenor was going to be chill:
The land of Númenor resembled in outline a five-pointed star, or pentangle, with a central portion some two hundred and fifty miles across, north and south, and east and west, from which extended five large peninsular promontories. These promontories were regarded as separate regions, and they were named Forostar (Northlands), Andustar (Westlands), Hyarnustar (Southwestlands), Hyarrostar (Southeeastlands), and Orrostar (Eastlands). The central portion was called Mittalmar (Inlans), and it had no coast, except the land about Rómenna and the head of its firth.
AND IT JUST KEEPS GOING
Aldarion and Erendis:
The Mariner’s Wife
Okay, so once Númenor is actually a thing, and all the bits that need to happen in creating a world happen, the men figure out that seafaring is a pretty fun and lucrative business, so they start doing that, and their leader is Aldarion, who formed the Guild of Ventures. But his name is also Anardil sometimes because Tolkien. Oh, oh, oh, wait, okay, so he’s born Anardil, but is “afterwards renowned among the Kings of Númenor as Tar-Aldarion,” so they just say screw it to his birth name and start calling him this other one because he’s great?
WAIT A MINUTE
Morgoth is exiled at the end of the First Age. Oh damn it, I was so excited to read more about him, guess it’s time to fall in love with Sauron.
Okay, this helps, though, I was a little confused about where in time we were. So, at the end of the First Age, basically everyone dies and Morgoth is exiled. He’s so powerful at that point that they can’t kill him. So at the beginning of the Second Age, where we are now, most of the elves are gone, Gondolin & Beleriand have fallen (among others), no one trusts the Men (still), and Arda (all of Middle Earth) has shifted after the War of Wrath (basically like Pangaea shifting into different continents).
Alright, I am 100% behind Erendis in this story. Aldarion is an ass who breaks his promises and literally disappears for 15 years and thinks Erendis is being overdramatic for giving up hope on him. He blames every single one of his disappearances on something happening at sea, and basically says the rest of the world is more important. Well, bro, if it was so important, maybe you should have fucking stayed there. WOW, he really irks me. He doesn’t even have an elf best friend to make his story better. I was a little bummed with Erendis at the beginning, when she was just mooning over Aldarion, but then:
“Perilous!” she said. “I am steel hard to break. So he would find even were he the King of Númenor.”
This is after Aldarion has been cold & distant to her, decided she wasn’t worth his time and left her for six years when he promised he’d be back in two, says it’s not his fault IT IS, and then threatens to take their daughter from her. Fuck this guy.
Meneldur’s making a speech right now, and it’s very Théoden:
“I am in too great doub tot rule. To prepare or to let be? To prepare for war, which is yet only guessed: train craftsmen and tillers in the midst of peace for bloodspilling and battle: put iron in the hands of greedy captains who will love only conquest, and count the slain as their glory? Will they say to Eru: At least your enemies were among them? Or to fold hands, while friends die unjustly: let men live in blind peace, until the ravisher is at the gate? What then will they do: match naked hands against iron and die in vain, or flee leaving the cries of women behind them? Will they say to Eru: At least I spilled on blood?“
Sauron is officially becoming a problem, and the question now comes: squash him early, or wait until it gets worse?
Alright, basically, I hate Aldarion, he’s the worst, and I support Erendis. I think Tolkien may also have supported Erendis? He definitely doesn’t use Aldarion-friendly language when describing him being an ass, and all but outright calls him an ass, so that’s cool.
The Line of Elros: Kings of Númenor
In case anyone was wondering, I have been trying for so long to figure out when Aragorn comes in because the Númenóreans are his ancestors, and we need to have a quick chat.
Yup, take a look at that, and then do what I did and Google “are aragorn and arwen cousins” because I was today-years-old when I found out that they are, in fact, first cousins. I’ve spent the better part of a half hour trying to prove that wrong, but sorry, it’s right, and wow okay WHAT THE FUCK TOLKIEN
The thing that really gets me, though, is this:
This is so convoluted, so I’m going to try to break it down. Elrond and Elros are brothers. They’re also elves, so they’re immortal, unless they choose mortality. So Elrond only has the one child (Arwen), and who knows if we ever find out how immortally old he is when he has Arwen, so no idea how old Arwen actually is. Elros, however, decides he’s definitely going to choose mortality, and he has a whole slew of ancestors. Eventually, Elendil is born, and then Isildur, and then Arathorn, and then, duh, Aragorn. SO. Aragorn is a wildly distant descendant of Elros, but since Elrond is immortal, that still makes Aragorn and Arwen first cousins because Elrond and Elros are brothers.
goddamn it all to hell
OH GOD WHY DID I LOOK
IT GETS WORSE
So they were both born in the Third Age, but Arwen was born in 241 and Aragorn was born in 2931, which puts them at a solid 2690 years apart in age.
I don’t want to @ myself, but I do have a problem with huge age gaps between species, and I’m having a crisis right now. Aragorn is technically half-elven? And Arwen gives up her immortal life to be with him? And he’s going to live a lot longer than the standard person anyway?
Oh hey, cool fact I didn’t know, so I just learned that all the Kings of Númenor basically decide when they’re going to die. They’ll live forever, so they made it a kind of standard practice to “lay down their life” and pass on the reign to their heir. Apparently, Aragorn follows in this practice, and at 210 years old, he passes his reign onto Eldarion (EW WHY DID YOU NAME YOUR CHILD AFTER THAT ASSHAT) and dies. Legolas, in a gay fit of sorrow, takes Gimli and leaves for the Undying Lands.
oh god wait
“It was here where Arwen, after Aragorn’s death, went to die, in the place Aragorn had proposed to her, sometime before the spring of FO 121 and was where her grave was located.”Tolkien Wiki re: Cerin Amroth
SHE WAS SO SAD AFTER HE DIED THAT SHE WENT TO DIE I AM BECOME DEATH THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS
Also, this section was boring, it was literally just a sentence or paragraph dedicated to each ruling king/queen that descended from Elros. You know, Aragorn’s ancestor and Elrond’s brother.
I’m trying not to think about it.
The History of Galadriel and Celeborn
and of Amroth King of Lórien
I started reading the Second Age text literally seven hours ago, but reading Tolkien takes me SO LONG because I have to keep interrupting to shout about things that I’m only arriving at the last 50 pages of the Second Age now, seven hours later. It’s only 100 pages total, but here we are. I guess all of the above speaks to why it takes me so long to read him. I’m really going to try to keep this shorter than the rest because I’d like to keep the Third Age combined with this one, but since I just had a mental breakdown about Aragorn and Arwen, anything is liable to happen right now.
Galadriel was the greatest of the Noldor, except Fëanor maybe, though she was wiser than he, and her wisdom increased with the long years.
Oh, YOU DON’T SAY, someone was wiser than Fëanor? You mean the guy that literally destroyed his entire line via a pledge to steal back the Silmarils from Morgoth? Look, I agree, Galadriel is great, but saying she’s wiser than Fëanor does her absolutely no favors. Everyone is wiser than Fëanor, and there’s an entire book about why that’s true.
OH MY GOD AND TOLKIEN JUST BLAMED FEANOR’S IDIOCY ON GALADRIEL’S HAIR
HE’S JUST ANGRY AND PETTY
We interrupt your regularly scheduled screaming with a lengthy passage about the history of Lothlórien’s name:
In a note to the text it is explained that Lórinand was the Nadorin name of this region (afterwards called Lórien and Lothlórien), and contained the Elvish word meaning “golden light”: “valley of gold.” The Quenya form would be Laurenandë, the Sindarin Glornan or Nan Laur. Both here and elsewhere the meaning of the name is explained by reference to the golden mallorn-trees of Lothlórien; but they were brought here by Galadriel, and in another, later, discussion the name Lórinand is said to have been itself a transformation, after the introduction of the mallorns, of a yet older name Lindórinand, “Vale of the Land of the Singers.” Since the Elves of thi sland were in origin Teleri, there is here no doubt present the name by which the Teleri call themselves, Lindar, “The Singers.” From many variance among themselves, it emerges that all the later names were probably due to Galadriel herself, combining different elements: laurë “gold,” nan(d) “valley,” ndor “land,” lin- “sing”; and in Laurelindórinan “Valley of Singing Gold” (which Treebeard told the Hobbits was the earlier name) deliberately echoing the name of the Golden Tree that grew in Valinor, “for which, as is plain, Galadriel’s longing increased year by year to, at last, an overwhelming regret.”
This is one of Christopher’s notes, not actually Tolkien’s writing, but this honestly almost murdered me. This man was the biggest Nerd of all time. He literally broke down the different versions of Lothlórien’s name, and why it would have had all these variances, which is what we do in standard languages, and how country names change over the centuries, but he decided he was going to do it for some fictional place he made up with his fictional language, which, let’s not forget, he created before he began the lore. Like. If this passage wasn’t so convoluted and ridiculous, this would be the one I’d whip out when people asked me why I loved Tolkien so much.
It’s not just that he created LOTR. Sure, it’s my favorite story of all time, and I’m currently writing these ridiculous reviews because I cannot with how much I love all of Middle Earth. But that’s not why I love Tolkien this much. I love him because of his nerdy genius, because he loved words so much that he wanted to create a language full of his own words, and then loved this made-up words so much that he wanted to create some lore to use those words in, and then was like, YOU KNOW WHAT WOULD BE EVEN A BETTER? A WHOLE BOOK OF WORDS! I relate to that on such a basic, cellular level.
Is it time for a fanart break?
LOOK AT HOW CUTE THEY ARE!
(Galadriel has yet to do anything cute, she’s mostly kicking ass and yelling at Sauron, but Celeborn keeps deciding he’d rather hang out in the woods than doing anything alarming, and I feel that.)
Also, please appreciate my music choice while reading right now:
Tolkien’s screaming at me from the grave.
ahahahahaha I was looking for something else, and a frequently asked question popped up on Google “what exactly is Sauron?” SAME, THOUGH.
um also prepare yourself for waterworks
Why waterworks? Because Olórin was just introduced, “who was known in Middle-earth as Mithrandir,” THAT’S RIGHT WE ABOUT TO CRY OVER GANDALF. Look at him with tiny Frodo, I cannot!
christ FUCK this is so long I’m splitting it up again, but I’ve got some appendices to read first
Okay, just kidding, I skimmed through those. One of them was The Port of Lond Daer, which is just a future name for the harbor Aldarion creates, and I literally read his entire story earlier, so I’m not reading the condensed version that describes how exactly it switched from Vinyalondë to Lond Daer.
I’ve officially reached the Third Age, which is, again, all new stuff for me, so it’ll probably end up being as long as this one, and really, I’m not sure why I’m surprised I had to split these up? Anywho, I’m tired, let’s stick with tradition and end with some fanart. I’ve been jonsing for some Thranduil because a lot of the Second Age was about elves, and this whole last bit was just Galadriel and Celeborn, sooooooo
Previously: The Unfinished Tales: First Age | Next: The Unfinished Tales: Third Age
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