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Old October 7 2009, 02:40 AM   #1
QCzar
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A Middle Earth Question

In detailing the coming of the Age of Men in the Fourth Age, Tolkien made much mention of the concept of "Fading" or "Fading Away", implying that races such as the Ents, Dwarves and (especially) Elves were becoming extinct during this transitional period.

But I have always wondered what exactly he meant by "fading". How exactly does an entire species of beings just stop existing? It's obvious that the answer will probably contain a fair bit of the magical, but such things were never as overt in ME (esp. in the late 3rd age) as they are in other legendariums (for instance, Narnia or Earthsea). This makes it difficult to form a picture of just what this would have looked like.

Did they just disappear into thin air? Is this something that just happened to them or something they had a hand in?

How do you think the Elves* or Dwarves "faded" from existence? What should we take that to mean? Do you think this includes the Hobbits (it was never explicitly mentioned that they shared this fate)?

* = And, for the aficionados, I am of course referring to the various Sindarin/Silvan/Avari/other elves that (presumably) would not have departed over the sea to Aman.
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Old October 7 2009, 03:40 AM   #2
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Re: A Middle Earth Question

The Dwarves were already seemingly on the edge of demographic decline owing to the small number of dwarven women, so it wouldn't have taken much to push them over.

In the case of the Khazad and the Quendi, I guess I'd call it a loss-of-habitat crisis, both physically and spiritually. The general preserving strength of Elven "magic" would have declined sharply after the One's destruction took away the power of the Three, and Moria remained lost even if Gimli made a new home in Aglarond.

And the fading wasn't limited to the Elves and Dwarves... after the throwback of Elessar's lifespan, the Kings went back to their decline from Numenorean to ordinary human vitality.

Actually, the dwarves could still be there underground, and hobbits hiding in the woods...
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Old October 7 2009, 06:16 AM   #3
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Re: A Middle Earth Question

Zombie Klaus wrote: View Post
In the case of the Khazad and the Quendi, I guess I'd call it a loss-of-habitat crisis, both physically and spiritually. The general preserving strength of Elven "magic" would have declined sharply after the One's destruction took away the power of the Three, and Moria remained lost even if Gimli made a new home in Aglarond.
Actually, IIRC, the dwarves managed to recolonize Moria in the 4th Age.
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Old October 7 2009, 07:39 AM   #4
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Re: A Middle Earth Question

^is that in one of those Chris Tolkien books? I consider his books canon about as much as I consider the new jedi order stuff canon in star wars.
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Old October 7 2009, 12:54 PM   #5
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Re: A Middle Earth Question

sojourner wrote: View Post
^is that in one of those Chris Tolkien books? I consider his books canon about as much as I consider the new jedi order stuff canon in star wars.
It's from the drafts for the appendices to The Lord of the Rings. It's not canon at all, but as usual with Christopher Tolkien, he's only acted as an editor.
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Old October 7 2009, 01:00 PM   #6
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Re: A Middle Earth Question

I'm sure Professor Tolkein would me mightily amused at the idea of LoTR canon.
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Old October 7 2009, 03:14 PM   #7
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Re: A Middle Earth Question

Manticore wrote: View Post
Actually, IIRC, the dwarves managed to recolonize Moria in the 4th Age.
Dennis L. McKiernan's The Silver Call was written originally as a Middle-Earth story about the reconquest of Moria. When his publisher couldn't get the rights from Tolkien's estate, he filed off the serial numbers, and his fantasy world of Mithgar was born. If you read it, and squint just so, the book works as a tale of the Fourth Age.
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Old October 7 2009, 05:39 PM   #8
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Re: A Middle Earth Question

QCzar wrote: View Post
How do you think the Elves* or Dwarves "faded" from existence? What should we take that to mean? Do you think this includes the Hobbits (it was never explicitly mentioned that they shared this fate)?
The hobbits are a sub-species of men so they aren't part of the equation. If they were to disappear then likely it's due to completely natural processes.

For the Ents, it would be due to extinction since there are no more Entwives and the Ents can age, grow senile or die.

But the elves being literally immortal, it would be due to their numbers eventually making their way to Aman as they tire from the constant changing and passing of the years, in Middle Earth.
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Old October 7 2009, 06:01 PM   #9
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Re: A Middle Earth Question

Here's how it is in the Tolkienverse:

Supreme Being: Illuvatar

The A-Team: The Valar (Aule, Yavanna, Mandos,Morgoth)

The B-Team: The Maiar (Gandalf, Sauron, the Balrog, Saruman)

Illuvatar created:
Elves - first born, immortal, smart and magical but...

Humans: second born, mortal, not so smart...but with immortal souls. Elves don't get that. Elves don't even leave Middle Earth when they die - they go to a Valhalla run by a particular Valar in the West. Humans have a big part in Illuvatar's Plan.

Dwarves: created by Aule, chief blacksmith of the Valar, who got tired of waiting for Illuvatar to quit messing around and created his own life form. Got busted and was forced to put the Dwarves to sleep, so the Elves would show up on Middle Earth first.

Ents: Yavanna was Aule's wife, a tree-hugging hippie who was worried about what those damned dwarves would do to her lovely forests. So she created the Ents to make sure the dwarves wouldn't run rampant through her words and clear-cut everything.

Morgoth: the Satan of Middle Earth, he was the most powerful angel and he took the critters that had been created and mutated them. Orcs are mutated Elves; trolls, are mutate Ents. He also took some Maiar and made 'em into Balrogs, and also made dragons, werewolves and other fun things. This guy was Sauron's boss and when the Valar took him down, that war made the War of the Ring look like a minor street fight. Whole continents were rearranged.

To sum up: Elves are getting bored and are moving to the Western Continents to live with the Valar in an earthly paradise. Humans are going to have some sort of important role after the world ends. Dwarves and Ents are dying out because their creators weren't as cool and powerful as Illuvatar. Hobbits...who the hell knows?

(Source: The Silmarillion)
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Old October 7 2009, 06:21 PM   #10
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Re: A Middle Earth Question

The Mirrorball Man wrote: View Post
sojourner wrote: View Post
^is that in one of those Chris Tolkien books? I consider his books canon about as much as I consider the new jedi order stuff canon in star wars.
It's from the drafts for the appendices to The Lord of the Rings. It's not canon at all, but as usual with Christopher Tolkien, he's only acted as an editor.
Yes, I'm sure with the new books they keep putting out, he is only acting as "editor".
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Old October 7 2009, 06:35 PM   #11
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Re: A Middle Earth Question

sojourner wrote: View Post
The Mirrorball Man wrote: View Post
sojourner wrote: View Post
^is that in one of those Chris Tolkien books? I consider his books canon about as much as I consider the new jedi order stuff canon in star wars.
It's from the drafts for the appendices to The Lord of the Rings. It's not canon at all, but as usual with Christopher Tolkien, he's only acted as an editor.
Yes, I'm sure with the new books they keep putting out, he is only acting as "editor".
He is. And he's STILL sitting on a dragon's hoard of unpublished material, like the translation of Beowulf.

As for Hobbits, I'd always assumed that, since they were more or less based upon English country folk, they just sort of mingled in with humanity. Sort of like Picts and Anglo Saxons.

John
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Old October 7 2009, 07:07 PM   #12
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Re: A Middle Earth Question

^^agreed... The History of Middle-Earth series is one of the greatest editorial acheivements in history, and I'm not sure where the CT hostility comes from. We wouldn't have any version of Silmarillion w/o him... he could definitely go further if all he wanted to do was "cash in"
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Old October 7 2009, 07:32 PM   #13
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Re: A Middle Earth Question

Zombie Klaus wrote: View Post
^^agreed... The History of Middle-Earth series is one of the greatest editorial acheivements in history, and I'm not sure where the CT hostility comes from. We wouldn't have any version of Silmarillion w/o him... he could definitely go further if all he wanted to do was "cash in"
Christopher was the one who heard and read all his father's stories as they were being written. He also studied and followed in his father's footsteps and became a professor at Oxford. He is the most capable person on the planet of editing JRRT's work, since he understands not only the mythology, but the immense linguistic basis for the mythology.
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Old October 7 2009, 08:09 PM   #14
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Re: A Middle Earth Question

I don't get all the Christopher Tolkien bashing, either. It's not like he's Brian Herbert, folks.

Awesome summary, Comedian.
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Old October 7 2009, 09:28 PM   #15
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Re: A Middle Earth Question

This question always makes me wonder about the Avari. About what they were and how they lived. Tolkien lavished so much attention on the other elves (esp. Noldor), yet these scarcely warrant a footnote. Just how elf like are they? I presume they probably have more in common with Silvan people than any others we've seen, but how much?

Tolkien says they remained wild, but what exactly does a "wild" elf look like in ME? I wonder if they wore face-paint while out boar hunting or had wicked tattoos like the Maori.

Some fans have speculated that many (if not all) of the Avari may have been corrupted by Melkor/Morgoth and became the basis for the Orcs, but passing mention is made of them during the Noldor's grievances in Beleriand and this is likely thousands of years after the coming of orcs. Thus it seems unlikely that all of them (if any) were twisted into those vile creatures.

I wonder if the Noldor thought lowly of them. Maybe they are where the rumor of them being befouled originated. The Noldor being prejudiced isn't exactly out of character for them. If that were the case, it may have influenced tales of the Avari passed down in Eldar legend, thus casting them as shadowy figures. Kinda like how people treat gypsies.

I wonder what they were doing during the War of the Ring.

I wonder about the Avari a lot, I guess. It's fun to speculate, since we'll likely never know.
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