By and large, this subsection covers the history of the Northern Kingdom, through the time of Aragorn II.
It begins with an outline of the geography of Eriador and Arnor. If you have the Middle-Earth map handy, either framed on your wall or folded inside the cover of your leatherbound copy of The Lord of the Rings, now’s the time to break it out. If it’s in your book, now you understand why you need one on your wall too, so you don’t have to try to flip back and forth. And if that doesn’t work for you, multiple copies of the tome also comes in handy. Don’t look at me in that tone of voice. I told you before this is where the rubber meets the road, my fellow geeks. Go big or go home.
Related, a word of note for those using multiple formats of this book. The audio has misnumbered this as subsection (ii), but it does read the footnotes. The ebook version has the footnotes, which are important, but you have to click the superscript number to get to it. Easy enough, if you don’t overlook it completely. To my mind, the big paper version is still the absolute best format when it comes to studying the Appendices. See that, ladies and gents? Tolkien has ensured for us that digital will never replace good old fashioned paper. Given his overarching theme of nostalgia and the passing of the old ways, I truly wish he could have somehow known how he indirectly helped to preserve this in his own way by crafting one of the great bestselling stories of all time.
In the course of this outline, we learn of Cirdan the Shipwright, he who dwells at the Grey Havens, possibly until the Last Ship sets sail into the West, along with most of the High Elves that still remained in Middle-Earth.
From here, we get into the aforementioned history of the Northern Kingdom. We learn first of the High Kings of Arnor following Elendil and Isildur and how the kingdom was divided, eventually sowing strife between them as the line of Isildur perished.
In the beginning of the reign of Malvegil of Arthedain, evil comes to Arnor in a form now familiar to readers. the realm of Angmar rises in the North, and with it gathers evil men, Orcs, and other fell creatures, all bowing to the lord of that realm known as the Witch-king. I discussed much of his history back in Book 4, Chapter 8: “The Stairs of Cirith Ungol”. This account gives us the account of those who opposed him over the years, including a siege at Rivendell that resulted, possibly, in Angmar being subdued by the Elves for a time.
An account of a great plague is told that affected the Hobbits and parts to the West, lessening as it passed North. During this time, the Dúnedain of Cardolan came to an end, and evil spirits from Angmar inhabited the Barrow-downs, aka the mounds of Tyrn Gorthad, where many lords and kings are buried.
In another attack from Angmar, we learn of the Lossoth, the Snowmen of Forochel, an unfriendly remnant of the Forodwaith. The Lossoth gave aid to King Arvedui and his men while they awaited rescue from the South. Arvedui failed to heed the Snowman chieftain’s counsel to wait out the winter, giving the chieftain his ring, that of the House of Isildur, thus preserving it to be later ransomed by the Dúnedain. It would later be passed from Felagund of Nargothrond to Barahir, and later recovered by Beren at great peril. Meanwhile, the rescue ship was crushed by ice. The sea claimed both Arvedui and his palantíri.
The Shire-folk survived, the war sending most of them into hiding. They sent archers to help the king, but they never returned. Others fought in the battle in which Angmar was overthrown (detailed in the Annals of the South). From here on, the Shire-folk were self-ruled and prosperous. A Thain was chosen to take the place of the king.
The few remaining Dúnedain continued the line of the kings through their chieftains, of whom Aranarth son of Arvedui was the first. His son and the sons of the chieftains who followed were fostered in Rivendell along with the heirlooms of their house: the ring of Barahir, the shards of Narsil, the star of Elendil, and the sceptre of Annúminas. The sceptre was the chief mark of royalty in Númenór, said to have perished with Ar-Pharazôn. Its replacement was more than five thousand years old when Elrond surrendered it to Aragorn. The crown of Gondor evolved from the form of a Númenórean war-helm, later replaced by the jeweled helm used to crown Aragorn.
Little of the Dúnedain was remembered after the kingdom ended, passing into shadow since Elrond departed. Aragorn I was slain by wolves, which remained a threat in Eriador. Orcs held a long-standing occupation of strongholds in the Misty Mountains, barring all the passes into Eriador. They suddenly revealed themselves in 2509, waylaying Celebrian, wife of Elrond, in the Redhorn Pass as she journeyed to Lórien. She was seized and carried off, eventually rescued by Elladan and Elrohir, but not before she was tormented and suffered a poison wound. Though healed in body, she lost all delight in Middle-Earth and passed over the Sea from the Grey Havens the next year. The Dúnedain and the sons of Elrond fought the Orcs at the Misty Mountains. A large band of Orcs extended so far West as to enter the Shire, eventually driven off by Bandobras Took.
Aragorn II binds himself by the law that none of the Big People shall pass into the Shire. He rides with many fair people to the Great Bridge and welcomes friends, as Tolkien tells us. Thain Peregrin and Master Samwise the Mayor have stayed in his house. Samwise’s daughter Elanor the Fair is listed as one of the maids of Queen Evenstar.
The power of the Northern line dwindled, partly due to their long lives and fewer numbers. Aragorn himself lived to be 210 years old, longer than any of his line since Arvegil. Through him, Tolkien tells us, the dignity of the kings of old was renewed.