March into Middle-Earth: more musings

March into Middle-Earth (text banner over background of Tolkien's map)

So, yesterday’s ranting aside, a number of totally random thoughts on world-building and detail stay with me on this read of The Silmarillion.

  • What did the Elves eat before the Sun came up? Yavanna puts growing things back to sleep after Melkor tears down Ormal and Illuin and plunges the world into darkness. The trees don’t go anywhere, but they’re not fruiting, and there are no flowers until they bloom under Fingolfin’s feet as he makes shore. So, err, mushrooms?
  • …and for that matter, what do Orcs eat and where do they get it from? I accept they presumably go raiding a fair bit, and Angband has thralls (although they mostly seem to be for mining), but it’s not exactly got fruitful land handy… On second thoughts, maybe I really don’t want to know the answer to this one.
  • Are there lady Orcs? (this resulted in @iain_a_wilson suggesting the Orcwomen’s Land Army, keeping Angband fed; bravo, sir)
  • Are Orcs immortal? The Silmarillion suggests Melkor made Orcs out of captured Elves… which would not only suggest they were immortal, but make war inevitable as populations grew. I understand Tolkien later backed away from the idea that the Orcs were a sort of mutant Elf, but I’m not sure what he made of them in the end.
  • It is spectacularly awesome Easter egg that we see Thingol gift what can only be the Arkenstone to a Dwarflord in payment for building his palace. So it came from the Bay of Balar to Doriath, only to be taken by the Dwarves to Nogrod or Belegost; and on to Khazad-dûm after Beleriand fell, which is presumably where Thrór got it.
  • I also find it mildly curious that two of the great Elven capitals – Nargothrond and Menegroth – are underground. I’ve always associated Elves with light and woods (the Sindar) and beautiful architecture (the Noldor), but both Finrod Felagund and Elwë Singollo / Thingol choose to live in (very beautiful, lavishly decorated) caves.
  • Morgoth might have won a battle sooner if he didn’t have a bad habit of announcing he was about to send forth his troops by erupting volcanoes. On the other hand, the descriptions of the eruptions reminded me of Iceland (which is highly appropriate), so I rather loved them, especially the pyroclastic flow at the Dagor Bragollach.
  • All these Elven ladies falling for tall, handsome Men. But no Elflord ever falls for a Woman. I guess only Elfladies have a thing about much younger lovers. How unusual.
  • Also – and in spite of my lingering distaste for insta-love and for the choice she is forced to make at the end – Lúthien Tinúviel is fabulous. Magic hair, magic voice, dresses like a vampire queen, rides on a disguised werewolf, ensorcels two Ainur – even Éowyn can’t compete with all that. Now I just need to work on being delighted that she gets to live out her life with her beloved, rather than slightly bitter that this doesn’t feel like a happy ending.
  • The Valar really don’t like Men much, do they? I’ve heard a defence that they didn’t intervene (as they did for Elves) because they were afraid of breaking the world again, and didn’t think Men would survive it, but this doesn’t hold water. Because a few centuries later, they go whup Morgoth’s ass and break the world again (bye bye Beleriand). Sure, they create Númenor for the Edain, but they abandon the continent (where most Men live) to Sauron. And when the Númenoreans go bad, the Valar cut them off within a generation – but when the next King repents and tries to make amends, they’re all la la la with their fingers in their ears rather than supporting him and perhaps winning back the hearts and minds. Which leaves the door wide open for Sauron to DOOOOOM them. And oh hey, he does. It’s not fickle so much as disinterested. I know they weren’t involved in Ilúvatar’s Third theme, but they could have shown an interest…


I’ve been delighted by March’s meanderings through Middle-Earth, and absolutely intend to fit The Two Towers and The Return of the King into my reading over the next few months. Thanks Rinn!