Beleriand was left a mess by Morgoth, but even with the Valar stepping in to capture him, evil remains in the world. In the latest section of The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien, we see Sauron is still present and plotting, and he guides the Númenóreans into their doom. They had a glorious time in the sun but ruined it all and fell into darkness. They even managed to make Ilúvatar angry enough to come in like Wreck-It Ralph and try to fix things.
The Valar recently cleaned house and brought peace (more or less) to Beleriand by taking care of Morgoth. Sadly, even with a fresh start, evil creeps back into the corners in no time and brings the world to the footsteps of a big change. The theme Tolkien seems to regularly explore is that evil can’t be conquered. Not permanently. It makes me wonder what happened to Middle-earth after the Lord of the Rings. I expect evil marches right back in.
Anyway, I’m ahead of myself. Akallabêth reviews the rise and fall of Númenor. The Men who fought against Morgoth with the Valar were given a shiny new place to live and the gift of extended life. They became known as the Dúnedain. They prospered for a time and became talented in the art of ship-building and loved the water. They were banned from sailing too far West though as the Lords of Valinor didn’t want them to seek the Blessed Realm.
When I read this, I thought it was unfair. Why would the Valar give the Dúnedain so little credit? I shouldn’t have questioned them though because they were right. The Dúnedain eventually became greedy for more.
The fact that they couldn’t go too far west led the Númenóreans to the east and Middle-earth. They were benevolent and kind towards the humans who lived there under darkness. Later, as the happiness of the Númenóreans waned, they came to Middle-earth as conquerors instead of helpers. They longed ever for immortality and didn’t understand that Ilúvatar meant mortality as a gift.
Meanwhile, Sauron’s power was rising in Middle-earth and hating the Númenóreans, he started plotting. I picture him twirling a mustache. His plans coincided with the black hearted Ar-Pharazôn taking the throne of Númenor; Ar-Pharazôn was power hungry and resentful of the Valar and Sauron. But upon his defeat, Sauron turned things around and swore fealty to Ar-Pharazôn and became his closest adviser. What.
Isildur and the fruit of Nimloth by Eva Z.
Ar-Pharazôn and the Númenóreans turn their backs on the Valar and Eldar except for a group called the Faithful. One of them, Amandil, goes to the Valar for help like Eärendil did. He seemed to know it was a fool’s errand though and bid his son Elendil to hide the numbers of the Faithful on ships and to prepare for the end of the world. There are some definite Biblical overtones in this part of the story.
Amandil’s counsel was wise because as Ar-Pharazôn sent an army into the West, Manwë called upon Ilúvatar for assistance. The creator decided he was over it and he reshaped the world. The fleets of the Númenóreans were swallowed by the sea, and Númenor was destroyed. The survivors, Elendil and the Faithful, landed in Middle-earth and started new cities there.
Sauron survived the wrath of Ilúvatar, and his spirit took residence in Mordor again. The Eye of Sauron was born. (Read those two sentences again in Galadriel’s voice from the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring).
Relevance to The Hobbit and/or Lord of the Rings
We’re moving closer to the Third Age, and Akallabêth is packed with references to familiar names and places. We watch Númenor rise and fall and learn the name Dúnedain. Aragorn is one of the Dúnedain, and we meet his ancestors one of whom is key to The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings: Isildur. We’ll discuss him more in the next chapter, but I want to point out that he stole a fruit from the White Tree of Númenor, Nimloth, and that later became the first White Tree of Gondor.
We see Sauron make his home in Mordor and build the Tower of Barad-dûr. He influences the King of Númenor much like Grima Wormtongue poisons King Théoden of Rohan in the Third Age. No wonder Sauron sent Wormtongue forth to Rohan since he knew it would work from experience.
“… they were like an archipelago of a thousand isles: their masts were as a forest upon the mountains, and their sails like a brooding cloud; and their banners were golden and black.”
“…and a third time, even as he laughed at his own thought, thinking what he would do now in the world, being rid of the Edain for ever, he was taken in the midst of his mirth, and his seat and his temple fell into the abyss.”
“But when the devouring wave rolled over the land and Númenor toppled to its fall, then he would have been overwhelmed and would have deemed it the lesser grief to perish, for no wrench of death could be more bitter than the loss and agony of that day; but the great wind took him, wilder than any wind that Men had known, roaring from the west, and it swept his ships far away; and it rent their sails and snapped their masts, hunting the unhappy men like straws upon the water.”
– It’s noted that Ilúvatar allowed the Valinor to remain in the visible world because it’s a memorial of that which might have been. Why doesn’t Ilúvatar start over and make a world free of evil by eradicating the likes of Melkor and Sauron? Or does Ilúvatar think there will always be evil?
– Do you think Ilúvatar should have ensured Sauron was destroyed when the lands were remade?
– Why were the Númenóreans unable to give up the pursuit of immortality? Do you see any of their traits in us?
Sauron by Maureval
Ilúvatar has spoken, but evil still has a hold on the world in the form of Sauron. Peace will come again one day, and we’ll see it unfold with Frodo’s quest. It’s been a hard road though. Journey to the comments and share your thoughts about the rise and fall of Númenor. If you discuss the book on social media, use the heck out of the #NerdistBookClub hashtag so we see everything – just like the Eye of Sauron! But in a much less threatening way.
Come back for Part 13 – the final discussion – next Tuesday, September 30th, at 10:30am PST. We’ll be going over Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.
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