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 Ainu (heavenly spirits) who, having helped create it, then descended onto the newly-made earth (Arda). They became The Valar (The Powers), and took up its guardianship on behalf of Eru, the One God.
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 back 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:
1. Monday and Tuesday, following the text, we will consider each of the Valar individually.
2. 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.
3. Thursday we will go back to the text and look at the Maiar, the Valar’s lesser spirit-folk.
4. Friday we conclude with the Enemies! TGIF! Darkness and Pain!
5. 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, folks austral?)