It’s been a fun adventure thus far, but we’ve only scratched the surface on this project. The entire point of the Silmarillion Blues project is to get as full a grasp as possible on the intricacies and history of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are the only logical starting points, especially with the songs and poems scattered throughout, but now it’s time to begin the scholastic work at Tolkien’s own level. The Appendices to LOTR is where this really begins.
It’s important to note that The Appendices are essentially our preview to Tolkien’s life’s work, The Silmarillion. As most are aware, that book was published posthumously by his son Christopher, but it was being outlined pretty much from the beginning as Middle-Earth developed. It’s for this reason that Tolkien can state that given information in these Appendices can be found in The Silmarillion. It’s important to note that when he speaks of that book within The Appendices, he refers to the in-universe version of it, where it’s essentially the Elven Bible, documenting the First and Second Ages of Middle-Earth. Likewise, The Appendices are written as in-universe historical documents that accompany the Red Book of Westmarch that comprise the original stories as recorded by Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, et al, in The Hobbit and LOTR.
With that in mind, as we go through these one section / subsection per week, there may be entries where there’s simply no much to write about. For those playing along, I’ll be keeping an even pace each week, even if it means dropping a post that says there’s not much to write about.
Shall we begin?
Appendix A has five subsections, so we’ll tackle those one per week. In the prelude to the first subsection, we’re told to see the end of the Prologue concerning the sources of Appendices A to D (which I noted above regarding the Red Book). A III Durin’s Folk was probably derived from Gimli’s friendship with Merry and Pippin, who met with them many times later.
We are told that the legends and lore are abridged as presented here, with their primary purpose being to illustrate the War of the Ring and its origins. Bilbo’s chief interest lay in chronicling the First Age, and are briefly referred to concerning the ancestry of the Númenórean kings and chieftains. Dates given are those of the Third Age (T.A.) unless marked S.A. (Second Age) or F.A. (Fourth Age), with the Third Age marked as ended with the passing of the Three Rings in September 3021.
On to subsection (i), Númenór… There’s a lot to cover just in this subsection.
Essentially, this is the Akallabêth, the story of the destruction of the realm of Númenór by the original Dark Lord, Morgoth the Enemy. In other words, it’s Middle-Earth’s Atlantis story featuring Sauron’s master. Harry Potter fans, take note as we move forward: this is what a Dark Lord is supposed to look like. We’ll go into more far more detail when we get to this chapter in The Silmarillion, but we’re getting off light here. Not only do we get the For Dummies version of events, but we’re led backwards along the timeline chronologically without dealing yet with the murk that is the creation story and all that followed that comprises the bulk of The Silmarillion.
Fëanor is listed as the greatest of the Eldar in arts and lore. The Eldar is the name given to Elves by the Vala Oromë (the Valar are the gods of Middle-Earth; Oromë is the Lord of Forests / the Huntsman). Eventually Eldar came to be the name for only the West-Elves who made the Great Journey from Cuiviénen to Valinor following the War of the Valar against Melkor, aka Morgoth the Enemy. If you’re new to this, see what I mean by “Tolkien scholarship?” Back to Fëanor… this is the Elf who wrought the Three Jewels, the Silmarilli of legend for which the book is named. He filled the Jewels with “the radiance of the Two Trees, Telperion and Laurelin, that gave light to the land.” Morgoth destroyed the Trees and stole the Jewels, guarding them in his fortress of Thangorodrim on Middle-Earth. Fëanor forsook the Blessed Realm, going into exile to Middle-Earth, taking a large part of his people with him for the purpose of taking back the Jewels by force. The Eldar and the Edain (three peoples of Men) were ultimately defeated by Morgoth.
There were three unions of Eldar and Edain, two of which we already know about: Lúthien and Beren, Idril and Tuor, and of course, Arwen and Aragorn. Through this last union, the scattered branches of the Half-Elven were reunited.
We discussed Lúthien Tinúviel and Beren in the chapter “A Knife in the Dark,” wherein we first discovered them. For brevity’s sake, I won’t repeat it here.
Idril Celebrindal was daughter of Turgon, king of the hidden city of Gondolin. Tuor was son of Huor of the House of Hador, most renowned in the war against Morgoth. Their son was Eärendil the Mariner, who in turn married Elwing. The power of the silmaril passed and came to the Uttermost West. Eärendil, ambassador of both Men and Elves, obtained the help by which Morgoth was eventually overthrown. Eärendil was no permitted to return to mortal lands, and his ship (with the silmaril) was set sail to heaven as a star of hope. That Silmarilli alone preserved the ancient light of the Two Trees of Valinor until Morgoth poisoned them. The other two Silmarilli were lost at the end of the First Age.
The sons of Eärendil were Elros and Elrond, the Peredhil (Half-Elven). Their lineage represents the only link to the First Age chieftains of Men and to the High-Elven Kings after the fall of Gil-galad. At the end of the First Age, the Valar gave them a choice as to which line they would belong. Elrond chose Elven-kind, becoming a master of wisdom and the same state of grace as those High Elves who still remained. Elrond’s children were given the same choice as he, to pass from this world to the Grey Havens and the Uttermost West beyond in Valinor, grace continuing after the change of the world, or to remain in Middle-Earth and become mortal (known as the Gift of Men or Doom of Men). Elros chose to be of Man-kind, though a lifespan many times greater than lesser men were granted to him. He took the name Tar-Minyatur and became the first king of Númenór, a land granted to his people by the Valar for standing against Morgoth.
Desiring immortality, the later kings of Númenór began their rebellion under the teachings of Sauron, bringing about the Downfall of Númenór and the ruin of the ancient world.
After this point, the names of the kings and queens of Númenór are listed, followed by some detail of the Downfall as perpetrated by Sauron. Ar-Pharazôn the Golden broke the Ban and set foot upon the shores of Aman the Blessed. The Valar laid down their Guardianship, changing the world. Númenór was swallowed by the sea, the Undying Lands removed from the mortal circles of the world. The last of the leaders, Elendil, escaped with this sons with nine ships bearing a seedling of Nimloth and the Seven Seeing-stones (the palantír, gifts to their House from the Eldar). They were cast by a great storm upon the shores of Middle-Earth, where they established the realms in exile: Arnor and Gondor. He ruled in the North while his sons Isildur and Anárion ruled in the South.
Sauron’s bodily form perished with Númenór, and while he was unable to again take a form pleasing to Men, he was nonetheless able to create a new body. His new one was black and hideous, marking his power ever after as that of terror. He hid at Mordor for a time, but soon learned that Elendil had escaped and was building a realm at his borders. War with the Exiles was inevitable. His power not yet completely rebuilt, Sauron forged the One Ring in the fires of Orodruin. In the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, the Ring was cut from his finger and taken from him, ending the Second Age. This Alliance, of course, is related in full during “The Council of Elrond.”