Monday, July 19 – Some Valar

6:00 AM The Valaquenta: Welcome!


Welcome to The Silmarillion discussion forum! This week we are batting around Part II, the Valaquenta, or “Tale of the Valar.” Last week, in The Ainulindale, we witnessed the creation of the world, and met some of the Ainur  (heavenly spirits) who, having helped create it, then descended onto the newly made Arda (earth). The greatest among them became The Valar (The Powers), and took up its guardianship on behalf of Eru, the One God. Thanks, Celeborn’s Mirror, for your great work on guiding us through it!

In the Valaquenta, Tolkien takes a short narrative break to introduce the reader to the entire pantheon of the Valar and their associated spirits. He then plunges into the Quenta Silmarillion  (“Tale of the Silmarils”), which is the main story of The Silmarillion and which we will discuss starting next week, and all this summer and fall.

The Silmarillion is tricky stuff for some Tolkien readers who are used to the romance and easy elegant flow of The Lord of the Rings. The Valaquenta especially is written in a high, “Biblical” style and being about Gods practically begs to be the basis for some pretty heavy philosophical and literary questions.

I want to welcome you first-time Silmarillion readers! I will try to suggest topics for response and discussion that are of interest to all who just wander into the Reading Room this week, as well as to that bunch (you know who you are) over there in the squishy chairs under the Tolkien portrait, sipping your amber-colored adult beverages and thumbing your first editions. “Thinking hard”, you guys?

Here’s how I will conduct this week’s discussion: I will post one or two Topics every 6 hours or so. Each Topic will usually have five sections. I by no means expect you to address all 7 to 10 questions in one reply. Pick and choose. Respond to someone else’s post to express yourself on the rest.

A. Text. Because of the brevity and unfamiliarity of the text, I will quote the entire thing during the course of the week. In fact, each Topic will generally address a single paragraph or so of the Valaquenta. Every post will have a link to the entire text for reference.

B. Discussion

·         Monday and Tuesday, following the text, we will consider each of the Valar individually.

·         Wednesday, we will pause and talk about the Valar as a group, about pantheons in general, and about the role of the Valar in Tolkien’s works.

·         Thursday we will go back to the text and look at the Maiar, the Valar’s lesser spirit-folk.

·         Friday we conclude with the Enemies! Darkness and Pain! TGIF!

·         Over the weekend will be a low-volume open discussion. This is July, after all (Northern hemisphere bias admitted! How’s the weather down there, Tornantipodeans?)

·         If I manage to compose a decent summary of this week’s discussion it will be a miracle, but I will try.

C. Images. I have collected some interesting pictures and graphics to look at that should compensate a little for the heavy literary and philosophical stuff.

D. Piled Higher and Deeper. I will provide links to additional material that relates to the Valaquenta. These will be from Tolkien’s early writings, posthumously published as The History of Middle-earth (HoME), and from other secondary sources of interest. I would assume you will read the material provided if you want to comment on it; or feel free to skip the thing completely….

E. Extra Credit. Always a welcome treat for grade-grubbing Reading Room wonks, these questions will reach beyond the traditional limits of Tolkien discussion and contain rich but hidden themes for those who aspire to Valinorean heights of discourse. And silliness.

Entreating Eru, the ethos of the entire enterprise will be as ecstatic, eclectic, erudite, educational and enjoyable as I can endeavor with my essays and enquiries. After that, it’s essentially and entirely up to every one of you! Excelsior!

Full Text of the Valaquenta 

Elf_Maven: I think that someone should consider publication.

Erather: squire, you're simply amazing.  What a great presentation! You've raised the bar pretty high, now, for future presenters!

Penthe: *stunned rabbit in the headlights* Or is it that the bar is about to come down and crush my head?

Yes, well done indeed Squire.

Beren IV: What an exhaustive discussion! I have to say that your method appeals to me, Squire - but alas, I do not feel that I shall be able to comment on all of it! :)

NZ Strider: Yields palm.  Bows low.


      Home         Next: Introduction