Blind Read Through: J.R.R. Tolkien; The Silmarillion, of The Rings of Power and the Third Age, Conclusion
“In all the days of the Third Age, after the fall of Gil-Galad, Master Elrond abode in Imladris, and he gathered there many Elves, and other folk of wisdom and power from among all the kindreds of Middle-earth, and he preserved through many lives of Men the memory of all that had been fair; and the house of Elrond was a refuge for the weary and oppressed, and a treasury of good councel and wise lore. In that house were harboured the Heirs of Isildur, in childhood and old age, because of the kinship of their blood with Elrond himself, and because he knew in his wisdom that one should come of their line to whom a great part was appointed in the last deeds of that Age. And until that time came the shards of Elendil’s sword were given into the keeping of Elrond, when the days of the Dúnedain darkened and they became a wandering people (pg 296).”
Welcome back to another Blind read! This week we conclude the Silmarillion as Tolkien brings us up to date with the events of “The Lord of the Rings.”
We left off last week finding out how Minas Morgul came into being, and it was there, in the tower of sorcery, the last King of Gondor was held prisoner. He rode to the gates of Minas Morgul and challenged the Morgul lord to single combat but was betrayed and taken captive and never seen again.
From that time forward, the horse lords of Gondor formed the Rohirrim, and the Stewards took over Gondor. These events led to the quote which opens this essay. Tolkien goes on to tell us that of the three Elven Rings of Power, Elrond took the Ring of Sapphire, Galadriel took the Ring of Adamant, and the Red Ring remained hidden, “and none save Elrond and Galadriel and Círdan knew to whom it had been committed (pg 297).”
What the Elves understood was that if someone found the Ruling Ring (otherwise known as the One Ring), then “the powers of the Three must then fail and all things maintained by them must fade, and so the Elves should pass into the twilight and the Dominion of Men begin (pg 297).“
The Elves passing into the twilight is what happens at the end of The Return of the King. The age of Elves had passed, and the ring’s power was gone. Many things didn’t change in the world, but Elves did leave once the One Ring was destroyed.
The only way that could come to pass is if Sauron found the Ring, or if someone else found it and destroyed it. Once Sauron woke and sought the Ring, a war against the Dark Lord was inevitable. But Elves, dwarves, and Men were not alone in their fight against Sauron: “Even as the first shadows were felt in Mirkwood there appeared in the west of Middle-earth the Istari, whom Men called Wizards (pg 298).“
These Wizards were Maiar, second only to the Valar, who sent them to Middle-earth from Valinor to assist in the fight against Sauron. “Chief among them were those whom the Elves called Mithrandir and Curunír, but Men in the North named Gandalf and Saruman (pg 298).“
Radagast was another Istari whom you might remember from The Hobbit movies, who came to Middle-earth at this time. “Radagast was friend of all beasts and birds, but Curunír went most among Men, and he was subtle in speech and skilled in all the devices of smithcraft. Mithrandir was closest in council with Elrond and the Elves (pg 298).“
The shadow continued to grow in Mirkwood, where Sauron returned to Middle-earth from Númenor. Mithrandir (Gandalf) was suspicious and went to Mirkwood and saw the signs, so he called the first White Council, “and therein were Elrond and Galadriel and Círdan, and other lords of the Eldar, and with them were Mithrandir and Curunír (pg 298).“
It was here that Curunír became chief of the council, and he “began to study the lore of the Rings of Power, their making and their history (pg 299).” It is here where Saruman began his fall from grace. The knowledge of the rings, and the study of them, corrupted him.
Gandalf went to Elrond and told him: “This is not one of the Ûliari, as many have long supposed. It is Sauron himself who has taken shape again and now grows apace (pg 299).”
Gandalf called for action against the Dark Lord. He asked that they move against him and try to capture or destroy him before he found the One Ring, “but Curunír spoke agianst him, and councelled them to wait yet and to watch (pg 299).“
They took his council, but they “were troubled, but none as yet percieved that Curunír had turned to dark thoughts and was already a traitor in heart: hor he desired that he and no other should find the Great Ring, so that he might wield it himself and order all the world to his will (pg 299-300).“
Saruman retreated to Isengard, and Elrond predicted to Gandalf that the Ring would be found again, which it was; “by a chance more strange than even Mithrandir had forseen. For it had been taken from Anduin long ere they sought it, being found by one of the small fisher-folk that dwelt by the River, ere the Kings failed in Gondor; and by its finder it was brought beyond search into dark hiding under the roots of the mountains (pg 301).“
Gollum had found the Ring. Tolkien spends the following few paragraphs describing the events of “The Lord of the Rings.”
The book ends with the revelation that Mithrandir “had long guarded the Red Ring of Fire (pg 302).” The third and final Ring of Power, entrusted to the Elves, was eventually given to Gandalf to assist in both hiding it and defeating Sauron.
It was also “in that time the last of the Noldor set sail from the Havens and left Middle-earth for ever. And the latest of all the Keepers of the Three Rings rode to the Sea, and Master Elrond took there the ship that Círdan had made ready. In the twilight of Autumn it sailed out of Mithlond, until the seas of the Bent World fell away beneath it, and the winds of the round sky troubled it no more, and borne upon the high airs above the mists of the world it passed into the Ancient West, and an end was come for the Eldar of story and of song (pg 303).“
It is a beautiful and lyrical ending to a beautiful and lyrical book. There are no better words than Tolkien’s to close out the book.
Join me next week as we jump into “The Book of Lost Tales Volume 1!”
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