The Silmarillion for People Who Don't Want to Read It, Part 1: The Ainulindalë and Valaquenta

by - 9:27 AM


So a thing I have noticed about the Tolkien fandom is that a lot of people haven't read The Silmarillion - mostly because it's too long, dense, and complicated, and the writing style is quite old and flowery. It's very tough to get through. However, within Sil lies the history of Middle-earth and tons of keys to a greater understanding of The Lord of the Rings (INTERESTING FACTOID: Tolkien considered LotR to be more of a sequel to Sil than a sequel to Hobbit), The Hobbit, and Tolkien's works in general.


I have decided to start a series on this blog entitled "The Silmarillion for People Who Don't Want to Read It", wherein I shall break down The Silmarillion bit by bit and put it into plain language for those of us who want to spare the somewhat tedious trouble of reading through the actual whole book. Today's part will encompass the Creation of the World and a glossary of all the Valar and a few Maia (the divine spirits that watch over Middle-earth). So, sans further ado, let us begin!


In the beginning, before there was anything else, really, there was a great God/Spirit* named Eru (also called Illúvatar, but for ease of spelling he shall henceforth be known as Eru). He created angels called Ainur, who often sang to him with beautiful voices. However, they only sang alone, or in twos and threes - never altogether. And so one day Eru brought them all before him and was like, "You shall sing for me today a mighty and glorious song, and it shall create a mighty and glorious thing." And so the Ainur opened up their mouths and sang a most glorious, mighty, splendid, marvelous song. (Never since have they made any music so wonderful, and it is said they will not do so again until the End.)



For Melkor, one of the Ainur, and the very strongest among them, decided he wanted to weave some of his own imaginings into the song. He was greedy and desired power and mastery of the song, and so instead of the beautiful tune Eru was conducting he started to sing a very evil and dark song. Some of the Ainur faltered in their singing and looked around all confused like "What? What's going on?" Some continued to sing the tune of Eru, regardless of what Melkor was doing. But others adjusted their tune to sing what Melkor was singing instead of what Eru was. (Naughty.)

Suddenly, Eru stood up and began anew a second song, another beautiful, gentle, lovely song. And Melkor rose up too and sang his louder, and the two songs contested. The rest of the Ainur stopped singing and looked around in confusion and fear, until suddenly Eru raised his hand and a great chord, deeper than the Abyss and higher than the Heavens, pierced the battle of songs, and the music ceased.

Then Eru, who had gotten mightily pissed at Melkor, said, "All you Ainur! I will take you to see what your music has produced." And he led them out of the fair regions he had made for them and into the Void, where before them they saw a world just formed from their song. (This world is called Eä, and the earth-part Arda, and a region in Arda is Middle-earth.) Eru explained to them that soon to this world would come creatures of his making (the Children of Illuvátar), the First-born (his faves), the Elves, and the Second-born (the problem children), the humans. Then he showed the Ainur a place in Eä he'd fashioned for their (the Ainur's) residence, and said any who wanted could go down to govern the world, and watch over the Elves and humans when they came (they weren't there yet, and the Ainur weren't sure of when they'd arrive, but they were excited for them, all the same). Melkor and several others went down and began to make residence and tame the newborn World for the Children in preparation for their arrival.

Now, as those of the Ainur that had chosen to go down labored to make a habitation for the Children of Illuvátar, Melkor got fed up with them. He wanted to subdue the Children rather than protect them, and rule the world rather than guard it. So he swept through Arda in the first great conflict between himself and the Ainur on earth, and he sought to undo everything they did: when they raised mountains, he beat them down, when they melted ice, he froze it again, etc. But at last he was defeated, and fled into the far North, and the rest of the Ainur on earth said "Good riddance" and went back to doing what they had been doing.

Now it is convenient to insert a little index of all the earth-bound Ainur:

The Valar are the greater of the Ainur. Those on Arda consist of the following:

1. Manwë - Melkor's brother and Eru's favorite. He's the leader of the Valar and king of the birds and winds of the air. (The Eagles are his assistants.)

2. Varda - Wife of Manwë. Also known as Elbereth. She is indescribably beautiful and arguably one of the smartest of the bunch, as she distrusted Melkor before anyone else had a clue of his evil thoughts. She is the Lady of the Stars, and dwells with Manwë upon Taniquetil, a super-high mountain in Valinor, the land of the Valar. She is the favorite of the Elves.

3. Ulmo - Ulmo is a bachelor and lives neither with anyone nor in Valinor. He is the Valar of the Seas and lives there, roaming around underwater wherever his fancy takes him. He is the second-most powerful (next to Manwë). He will be, when they come, a huge friend to the Children.

4. Aulë - Aulë is the Valar of Stone. He likes forging things, and his hobbies include smithing and pottery. He, Manwë, and Ulmo are BFFs.

5. Yavanna - the wife of Aulë and Giver of Fruits. She loves all things that grow.

6. Námo, more commonly and henceforth known as Mandos - the keeper of the Houses of the Dead and the summoner of the spirits of the dead. He forgets nothing and knows all that will happen, save stuff Eru has elected not to tell him.

7. Vairë - the Weaver, and the spouse of Mandos. She weaves tapestries that tell the fortunes of the world.

8. Irmo, more commonly and henceforth known as Lórien - Mandos's younger brother and the Valar of visions and dreams. His gardens (not the same as where Celeborn and Galadriel later live) are the fairest in all the world.

9. Estë - Lórien's wife and the Valar of Healing.

10. Nienna - the sister of Lórien and Mandos and the Valar of Sorrow. She mourns for all the sadness and misfortune in the world, and can help people turn their sorrow to wisdom.

11. Tulkas - very joyful and delights in wrestling and contests of strength.

12. Nessa - Tulkas's wife. She loves the deer and often runs and dances with them.

13. Oromë - Nessa's brother. He loves hunting and the lands of Middle-earth.

14. Vána - little sister of Yavanna and wife of Oromë. She is the lover of flowers, and wherever she walks flowers bloom beneath her feet.

That concludes the Valar. There are a few notable Maiar, or lesser Ainur:

1. Ilmarë - the handmaiden of Varda.

2. Eönwë - the herald and banner-bearer of Manwë.

3. Ossë - a servant of Ulmo who has a fearsome temper and often rebels against his master.

4. Uinen - Ossë's wife, who loves the creatures in the sea and can often subdue storms caused by Ulmor or Ossë.

5. Olórin - wisest of the Maiar, who learned from Nienna pity and patience.

6. Melian - a gardener of Lórien who often ventured from Valinor into Middle-earth. Nightingales follow her wherever she goes.

7. Sauron - a former servant of Aulë who fell to the Darkness of Melkor.

Well, that's all for today! Next time we'll talk about the Great War between the Valar and Melkor. What do you guys think of the series?


*Very comparable to the Christian God.

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  1. I think that the Silmarillion is definitely a must-read for those who consider themselves major fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Middle Earth definitely is explained more in depth. However, I agree-it can get sorta boring at times, with all the historical things and such, so this is a great post series!

    1. I agree! You learn so much more about both of those books.
      Thank you!!

      - Ellie

    I've tried so hard to read that thing, but hacking my way through the flowers and eccentric shrubbery was exhausting for one with such a short attention span as me. You are my metaphorical machete, clearing a path where I can say: "OOOOOOooh! THAT'S what happened there.

    But yes. I love this series, and need it as well.


      - Ellie

    2. The funny thing is that my LOTR obsessed uncle reads stuff from the Silmarillion out loud to my little cousin Beckett. And he can remember and QUOTE it months later. Beckett is an interesting little dude. Or maybe he just has more room in his head for things like that.

    3. Gosh, he sounds like a smart kid.

      - Ellie

  3. YES MANWË WILL FOREVER BE MY FAVORITE. Vàna and Nienna sound really interesting. So does Uinen. I think they'll be added to my list of favorites.

      I like Uinen and Nienna as well. Nienna is definitely a fave.

      - Ellie

  4. This. Is. Awesome!!! My dad is reading the Silmarillion to me, but I don't always catch everything. And all the Ainor can be so confusing... so this is a great overview. Thank you for spreading Tolkien love throughout the world! :D

    1. Thank you so much! IKR, it can. :D

      - Ellie


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