The Tolkien Road – Ep80 – The Silmarillion in One

One episode to RULE THEM ALL!!!

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Having completed a chapter-by-chapter walkthrough of The Silmarillion (which spans over 30 hours of content), we decided to do an episode where we cover the whole of The Silmarillion in less than an hour. With this one episode, you get the whole enchilada, from “Ainulindalë” to “Eärendil” to the end of the Third Age. If you’ve always wanted to read The Silmarillion but have never succeeded, then this is the episode for you!

We’ve also provided a collection of Silmarillion resources for you here.

By the way, if you haven’t already, please leave The Tolkien Road a rating and feedback on iTunes. We’d love to know what you think of the podcast. Enjoy the show!

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©2013-2016 rfcunha

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Lectio Tolkiena: A Fruitful Hope

Hope rather that in the end even the least of your desires shall have fruit. The love of Arda was set in your hearts by Ilúvatar, and he does not plant to no purpose. Nonetheless, many ages of Men unborn may pass ere that purpose is made known; and to you it will be revealed and not to the Valar.’

Akallabêth

These words, from Manwë’s messengers to the Dúnedain of Númenor, are both greatly comforting and extremely challenging.

varda-of-the-stars-elegaer
Varda of the Stars © 2004 – 2016 elegaer

First, they are comforting because they are a reassurance from a reliable source that something more than mere death is in store for Men. The logic is simple: Ilúvatar is no trickster. Your love of Arda, of creation, comes from Him, and He is not one given to sowing seed without the intent of harvest.

At the same time, the words are challenging because they require an abiding peace and trust even in the face of good things going bad. Because of Melkor’s malice, the peoples of Arda journey on a stormy sea, and what is right in front of them tends to command their attention more so than what is on the distant horizon.

Furthermore, not even the Valar, those closest to Ilúvatar, can say what it is He has in store for Men. “Yes, it’s nice to know there is something better in store and all, but as to what it is, that is quite vague. Meanwhile, I really hope I’ll see my loved ones again, or even glimpse the beautiful sea.” Death, for the Men of Arda, is the trustfall of all trustfalls, and even as the followers of Amandil and Elendil strive to embrace the ambiguously promised hope, there’s something in each of us that can sense the existential bind the Numenoreans must have felt.

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That beautiful piece of Tolkien-inspired artwork you see above is from elegaer, my Tolkien Artist-of-the-Month for September 2016. Of course you love it, because it’s awesome, so go check out the rest of their work!

The Tolkien Road – Ep77 – Akallabêth Pt2

Continuing with “Akallabêth”, the chronicle of Númenór’s downfall…

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Hey there fellow travelers! Welcome to The Tolkien Road, a long walk through the works and philosophy of J.R.R. Tolkien. On this episode, we conclude our look at “Akallabêth”, or “The Downfallen”, the story of Númenór’s rise and fall in the Second Age. By the way, if you haven’t already, please leave The Tolkien Road a rating and feedback on iTunes. We’d love to know what you think of the podcast. Enjoy the show!

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©2013-2016 rfcunha
  • Note from a Listener: more March 25th connections (2:30)
  • Sauron’s Assault Upon Nimloth the Fair (10:00)
  • The Worship of Melkor (13:00)
  • Ar-Pharazôn’s Unholy Crusade (29:30)
  • Amandil Goes West/Elendil Goes East (33:00)
  • Gathering Clouds (36:30)
  • The Assault Upon Aman (39:00)
  • The Great Chasm (41:00)
  • Elendil’s Escape & Sauron’s Fate (44:30)
  • Haiku (46:00)

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Lectio Tolkiena: The Purpose of Númenór

But the design of Manwë was that the Númenóreans should not be tempted to seek for the Blessed Realm, nor desire to overpass the limits set to their bliss, becoming enamoured of the immortality of the Valar and the Eldar and the lands where all things endure.

– “Akallabêth


What was the purpose of Númenór?
earendil-elegaer
Earendil © elegaer 2006 – 2016

We know that it was a reward to the Edain, the Elf-friends, that minority of Men that aided the Eldar against Morgoth. Yet it was perhaps an error to see it as a “progression” toward Valinor, the Blessed Realm of earthly immortality. Instead, it would seem that the way the Númenóreans should have seen it was as a launching point for peaceful mission, a place from which they could bring the light of the Valar and the Eldar (and ultimately the knowledge of Ilúvatar) to their brethren who remained in the dark. The first generations of Númenór perhaps grasped this, but over time that vision faded.

Our blessings are rarely, if ever, meant merely for our enjoyment or well-being.

The Tolkien Road – Ep76 – Akallabêth Pt1

Concerning Akallabêth, from the reward of the Edain to the captivity of Sauron…

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Hey there fellow travelers! Welcome to The Tolkien Road, a long walk through the works and philosophy of J.R.R. Tolkien. On this episode, we begin our look at “Akallabêth”, or “The Downfallen”, the story of Númenór’s rise and fall in the Second Age. By the way, if you haven’t already, please leave The Tolkien Road a rating and feedback on iTunes. We’d love to know what you think of the podcast. Enjoy the show!

the-tolkien-road
©2013-2016 rfcunha
  • Josh Sosa on Jackson’s Fellowship… (3:00)
  • What “Akallabêth” means… (14:00)
  • The Waldman Letter on the Second Age (15:30)
  • Eärendil & the Edain (20:00)
  • The Downfall of Morgoth & the Raising of Númenór (23:00)
  • The Religion of Númenór (29:00)
  • The Ban (34:00)
  • The Escape from Death/Númenór’s Complaint (37:00)
  • Sauron Returns/The Shadow Awakens (48:00)
  • The Deeds of Ar-Pharazôn the Golden (49:00)
  • Sauron’s Surrender (51:00)
  • The Worship of the Lord of Darkness (55:00)
  • Haiku Time (1:02:45)

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Lectio Tolkiena: Why Should We Not Envy the Valar?

And the Númenóreans answered: ‘Why should we not envy the Valar, or even the least of the Deathless? For of us is required a blind trust, and a hope without assurance, knowing not what lies before us in a little while. And yet we also love the Earth and would not lose it.’

– “Akallabêth”

Though short in comparison with the entirety of The Silmarillion, “Akallabêth” is a marvel for many reasons. One thing I find particularly fascinating about it is the establishment of the Númenórean religion, which is probably the most straightforward example of religion in all of Tolkien’s works.

light-of-silmarils-elegaer
Light of Silmarils © elegaer 2009-2016
Things start off well for the Númenóreans, the “elf-friends”, but as age and well-being increase, so too does their dissatisfaction with their lot in life. After all, they must “trust” that death is not the end of their story, though it rightly seems that it is a “blind” sort of trust, because none really bear witness to what may await them. They are told to keep faith, but it seems that they would respond “What faith have we to keep?”

The parallels of Akallabêth with our own time are manifold and staggering, each instance demonstrating the sort of insight Tolkien had into the human spirit. We sense that we are made for the eternal, though we have lost touch with it, and have trouble glimpsing it. Tolkien, of course, knew the Christian message of eternal life and the renewal of the cosmos, and realized the great advantage that it gives to post-Resurrection mankind. Thus, even as his fictional sea-kings slowly slide into despair, we hear far more pity in his telling than contempt.

Thoughts on a Silmarillion Film Pt 2: A Majestic Whole


“The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama.” – Tolkien


For the first post in this series, I argued that despite his apparent misgivings, Christopher Tolkien must act soon to secure a visual future forThe Silmarillion that is in-line with his father’s overall vision. In this post, I examine the question: Is cinema the best visual medium for adapting The Silmarillion?

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The main problem with a visual adaptation of The Silmarillion is similar to The Silmarillion‘s problem as a novel. To put it simply, The Silmarillion isn’t really one story, the kind of thing we’re used to getting in a novel, but a connected anthology of stories taking place in the same secondary reality.* While one is capable of summarizing the basic thrust of The Silmarillion in a few paragraphs, the beauty of The Silmarillion isn’t in its surprise ending or action-packed plotting, but in its exquisite detail and elegant themes. The best stories, after all, are not piles of text we simply consume and then discard, mere candy bars for the brain. No, the best stories are the ones we revisit time and again because of the subtle notes and layers revealed upon multiple readings, or perhaps even because the savor of them is so delicious. Therefore, when considering a visual adaptation of The Silmarillion, one must ask: HOW? Continue reading “Thoughts on a Silmarillion Film Pt 2: A Majestic Whole”

The Silmarillion – A Beginner’s Guide – Pt 37 (Akallabêth pt 4)


Then Ar-Pharazôn, being besotted, and walking under the shadow of death, for his span was drawing towards its end, hearkened to Sauron; and he began to ponder in his heart how he might make war upon the Valar. (275)


This is my final post on “Akallabêth”, the chronicle of Númenor and the Second Age. The Silmarillion proper comes to an end with the downfall of Morgoth which ends the First Age of Middle-earth. The Second Age immediately follows, the age of that great civilization of men, Númenor. It is also the age in which Sauron assumes the mantle of “chief bad guy” and in which the stage is set for much of the backstory of The Lord of the Rings.

Akallabeth ©2010-2015 Grrrod

Continue reading “The Silmarillion – A Beginner’s Guide – Pt 37 (Akallabêth pt 4)”

The Silmarillion – A Beginner’s Guide – Pt 36 (Akallabêth pt 3)


{Sauron] perceived that the power and majesty of the Kings of the Sea surpassed all rumour of them, so that he could not trust even the greatest of his servants to withstand them; and he saw not his time yet to work his will with the Dúnedain. . .Therefore he humbled himself before Ar-Pharazôn and smoothed his tongue; and men wondered, for all that he said seemed fair and wise. (270-271)


This is my 3rd post on “Akallabêth”, the chronicle of Númenor and the Second Age. The Silmarillion proper comes to an end with the downfall of Morgoth which ends the First Age of Middle-earth. The Second Age immediately follows, the age of that great civilization of men, Númenor. It is also the age in which Sauron assumes the mantle of “chief bad guy” and in which the stage is set for much of the backstory of The Lord of the Rings.

Numenor ©2014-2015 RobleskaZeppelin

Continue reading “The Silmarillion – A Beginner’s Guide – Pt 36 (Akallabêth pt 3)”

The Silmarillion – A Beginner’s Guide – Pt 35 (Akallabêth pt 2)


This was the beginning of that people that in the Grey-elven speech are called the Dúnedain: the Númenóreans, Kings among Men. (261)


The Silmarillion proper comes to an end with the downfall of Morgoth which ends the First Age of Middle-earth. The Second Age immediately follows, the age of that great civilization of men, Númenor. It is also the age in which Sauron assumes the mantle of “chief bad guy” and in which the stage is set for much of the backstory of The Lord of the Rings.

glory and fallen of Numenor ©2014-2015 breathing2004

“Akallabêth” is sub-titled “The Downfall of Númenor.” In my first post on “Akallabêth” I examined Tolkien’s thoughts on this story in the Waldman letter. In this and the following posts, I’ll examine the Rise, Decline, and Fall of Númenor.

Key Events

  • Morgoth’s Minions: Morgoth is gone from Middle-earth for good, but he sowed plenty of evil seed throughout the world, and it will continue coming to fruition for ages to come.
  • Elrond & Elros: The sons of Eärendil, being halfelven, have a choice with respect to their mortality; they may join with the lot of Elves or they may join with the lot of Men. Elrond chooses Elves; Elros chooses Men, and becomes the first king of Númenor.
  • The Establishment of Númenor: To the Edain – the Men who fought against Morgoth – the Valar give a great island kingdom as close to the Blessed Realm as mortal Man may venture. This becomes known as Númenor.

Key Themes

  • The Ban: Manwë imposes a ban upon the Númenoreans, that they may not enter the Blessed Realm and so become enamored of it and lust for immortality, which they may not attain.
  • Death Despised: Though the Númenoreans live much longer than normal Men, they still despise death, and perhaps even more greatly as a result. “For of us is required a blind trust, and a hope with assurance, knowing not what lies before us in a little while. And yet we also love the Earth and would not lose it.” (265)
  • King’s Men vs. Elf-friends: A divide begins to grow in Númenor between the Elf-friends – a sort of faithful remnant – and the prideful King’s Men, who grow ever further from love for the Valar and the worship of Ilúvatar.

Key Quotes

  • The Plight of Men: and Men dwelt in darkness and were troubled by many evil things that Morgoth had devised in the days of his dominion: demons, and dragons, and misshapen beasts, and the unclean Orcs that are mockeries of the Children of Ilúvatar. And the lot of Men was unhappy. (260)
  • The Might of the Dúnedain: For the Dúnedain became mighty in crafts, so that if they had had the mind they could easily have surpassed the evil kings of Middle-earth in the making of war and the forging of weapons; but they were become men of peace. Above all arts they nourished ship-building and sea-craft, and they became mariners whose like shall never be again since the world was diminished; and voyaging upon the wide seas was the chief feat and adventure of their hardy men in the gallant days of their youth. (262)
  • Religion on the Decline: But the fear of death grew ever darker upon them, and they delayed it by all means that they could; and they began to build great houses for their dead, while their wise men laboured unceasingly to discover if they might the secret of recalling life, or at the least the prolonging of Men’s days. . . But those that lived turned the more eagerly to pleasure and revelry, desiring ever more goods and more riches; and after the days of Tar-Ancalimon the offering of the first fruits to Eru was neglected, and men went seldom any more to the Hallow upon the heights of Meneltarma in the midst of the land. (266)

Come back for more on Akallabêth in the next few weeks. Feel free to leave your thoughts and questions on this chapter in the comments below!