A Middle Earth Question

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by QCzar, Oct 7, 2009.

  1. QCzar

    QCzar Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  2. Klaus

    Klaus Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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... :D
    [​IMG]
     
  3. Manticore

    Manticore Manticore, A moment ago Premium Member

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    Actually, IIRC, the dwarves managed to recolonize Moria in the 4th Age. ;)
     
  4. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    ^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.
     
  5. The Mirrorball Man

    The Mirrorball Man Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  6. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    I'm sure Professor Tolkein would me mightily amused at the idea of LoTR canon.
     
  7. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  8. Hound of UIster

    Hound of UIster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  9. The Comedian

    The Comedian Captain Captain

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    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)
     
  10. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, I'm sure with the new books they keep putting out, he is only acting as "editor".
     
  11. jadcox@mindspring.com

    jadcox@mindspring.com Commodore Commodore

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    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
     
  12. Klaus

    Klaus Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^^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" :rolleyes:
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Middle Earther

    Middle Earther Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  14. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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

    Awesome summary, Comedian. :lol: :techman:
     
  15. QCzar

    QCzar Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  16. Hound of UIster

    Hound of UIster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Funny enough the origin of the orcs was never set in stone by Tolkien. He went back and tried to revise it (along with the origin of Middle Earth to fit more in line with what was known of astronomy in the 20th century) several times due to his discomfort of the idea of the orcs being all evil and yet having sentience and free will. The orcs being marred elves was one of the theories along with them being marred humans, corrupted maiar of some form or souless creations on the order of simulcrums,
     
  17. paudemge

    paudemge Captain Captain

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    I thought the Silvan (such as Legolas) was part of the Avari, but maybe Legolas and Thanduial was Sindarian. I can't really remember. But I think most of the elves of Mirkwood where silvan
     
  18. QCzar

    QCzar Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Part of, yes. The primary difference being that Silvan elves were under the thrall and influence of the Eldar and so can not be accurate representations of what Tolkien calls "wild elves". Though, in fairness, Tolkien had written that, at least in some occasions, they (Silvan/Avari) cannot be told apart. Which may provide some clue to their guise.

    Which is why I mentioned that the Silvan elves are the ones they must have the most in common with. But I don't think they are one in the same. A real world example would be the stark differences between Celtic peoples that had regular contact with the Roman Empire and those that did not.

    Legolas and Thranduil (and presumably most of the house of Oropher) were Sindarin/grey elves, and it was not uncommon for wood elves to be ruled by other kindreds (as in Lorien with Galadriel and Celeborn). Thus, Legolas being a princely figure from the start, he also makes a poor example from which to extrapolate what the Avari must have been like.

    Still, I'd like to think that they aren't too different from the wood elves. In fact, I'm not even sure the distinction is all that relevant by the time the Fourth Age rolls in (the Eldar having largely faded into irrelevance). Nevertheless, I wonder. Tolkien's world is so complete that any mysteries in it truly inspire a longing for answers, even if those answers can only be derived through speculation.

    And there are few things more mysterious in Middle Earth than "the Unwilling".
     
  19. Derishton

    Derishton Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You have to squint? I thought it was smacking me over and over in the face.

    On another note, it's my impression that the CT bashing comes from his daring to dislike the Jackson films. Nothing gets fans going better than a perceived betrayal.
     
  20. coolghoul

    coolghoul Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Actually there's something to be said for CT's point of view also. While I applaud Jackson's movies as a tour de force, a landmark achievement and a bunch of other superlatives, there is a lot of stuff which is "Not Tolkien" about them also - and I'm not just talking about the reworking of the stories or additions/subtractions - which (I think) is where CT comes from.

    CT's viewpoint from what I've read of his views are to somehow crystallize JRRT's views. His editorial work is done with that in mind. He won't as an example, make Aragorn a reluctant King, just to give him a "cinematic arc" or even a "thematic arc" to make the story "better/coherent" etc. There's much to be said for his approach to editing on JRRT's work.

    When I read PG Wodehouse's unfinished book (in my teens, which was earlier than when I read JRRT), I didn't like it because it was basically unfinished/unpolished and the story wasn't fun. I had imagined it similar to (say) Curtain: Poirot's Last Case but it was nothing like that. It was just an unfinished book, meticulously put together. You can get a feeling (if you're so inclined) as to how PGW 'worked' and 'created' his book. CT's ideas are to present to the world JRRT's ruminations (and re-ruminations) on ME. It is very admirable work. imho. He isn't interested in being an independent author and and write his own stories set in ME. He is basically interested in revealing JRRT's thoughts in as coherent and condensed a manner as possible. Which is the reason for his "beef" with the movies. And I think Jackson was right in taking liberties in order to make the movies as successful as possible. However much I would have preferred somebody to "stick closely" to the book. Which is also the reason why FOTR is the best of the three movies for me. It shows to me that it is "achievable" to think of a "true" LOTR in today's or future times.

    Re the Avari, I think they would have led solitary lives, growing closer to nature - seldom seen by men.

    I also "imagine" that ME is the "precursor" to most of the other (good) fantasy books I've read. And that the Avari (or those Elves who choose to stay behind and do not go to Valinor and the Undying lands) will with the passage of time become the Elves that we see in some of the other books. The Iluvatar and Mandos mythology will get lost/forgotten over the ages and get replaced with whatever mythology I'm reading in the book. In essence, they become the Qar that we see in Tad William's Shadowmarch (I'm all excited about the third part coming out in early 2010) and they are also the Sithi/Norn from his Memory, Sorrow and Thorn tri/quadro-logy
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2009