The Silmarillion: Ainulindalë Part 3

I shall do my very best to restrain myself. I promise. I was having some difficulty choosing what not to underline while reading the book, and now I shall narrow my comments even further. I'm actually getting fairly decent at that.
I particularly liked the way that Arda was created through music, which of course makes one think of Narnia.
I also found it interesting that Eru enlisted the Ainur. He is omnipotent and obviously doesn't need help to do anything, and yet he sets the Ainur to making his great 'themes'. He chooses to work through his servants, and they have the freedom to do what they will with his instructions, hence Melkor being able to 'put forth his own theme' creating a dissonance born of greed and pride.

"Then Ilúvatar said to them: '...And since I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable, ye shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme, each with his own thoughts and devices, if he will."

Eru works through the Ainur, in my opinion, so that they may gain a better understanding of his purpose. If he had merely snapped his fingers and created Arda, I imagine that the Ainur would have oohed and aahed as one does when one sees fireworks, but would not have had any understanding, or appreciation for what Eru was doing. 
"Yet ever as they listened they came to deeper understanding, and increased in unison and harmony."

Nor would they have particularly cared about Arda, though they would have found it beautiful. Seeing something beautiful is a lovely thing. Clouds, sunsets and sunrises, works of art, music, books, etc. etc. But they become so much more interesting if you understand how they are made and why. Beautiful things become more valuable if you have seen the work, and time, and skill, and patience put into them. And if you have had a part in their creation, they are things that you treasure and love and protect, no matter how ratty they may become. OK, you get the point. Way better than fireworks. And speaking of fireworks...
And back to the Silmarillion. It seems to me that the most condensed version of my love of this story, is to pick a few quotes that I have underlined. Keep in mind I may have shown some of these earlier. But I have yet to discover any reason why one should not read a single Tolkien quote over and over again. It gets better each time. I will try not to get distracted by reading the whole thing. I make no promises.

"Then the voices of the Ainur, like unto harps and lutes, and pipes and trumpets, and viols and organs, and like unto countless choirs singing with words, began to fashion the theme of Ilúvatar to a great music; and a sound arose of endless interchanging melodies woven in harmony that passed beyond hearing into the depths and into the heights, and the places of the dwelling of Ilúvtar were filled to overflowing, and the music and the echo of the music went out into the Void, and it was not void."

"Some of these thoughts [Melkor] now wove into his music, and straight-way discord arose about him, and many that sang nigh him grew despondent, and their thought was disturbed and their music faltered;"

"Then again Ilúvatar arose, and the Ainur perceived that his countenance was stern; and he lifted up his right hand, and behold! a third theme grew amid the confusion, and it was unlike the others. For it seemed at first soft and sweet, a mere rippling of gentle sounds in delicate melodies; but it could not be quenched, and it took to itself power and profundity."

"Then [Ilúvatar] raised up both his hands, and in one chord, deeper than the Abyss, higher than the Firmament, piercing as the light of the eye of Ilúvatar, the Music ceased."

"And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined."

"...listen to the fall of rain upon the Earth! And in these clouds thou are drawn nearer to Manwë, thy friend, whom thou lovest."

"But when they desire to clothe themselves the Valar take upon them forms some as of male and some as of female; for that difference of temper they had even from their beginning, and it is but bodied forth in the choice of each, not made by the choice, even as with us male and female may be shown by the raiment but is not made thereby."

"And [Melkor] descended upon Arda in power and majesty greater than any other of the Valar, as a mountain that wades in the sea and has its head above the clouds and is clad in ice and crowned with smoke and fire; and the light of the eyes of Melkor was like a flame that withers with heat and pierces with a deadly cold."

(click HERE for more information on pronunciation)
Ainur: eye-noor
Aulë: ow-leh
Manwë: man-weh

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(All quotes are from the Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien unless otherwise mentioned. Post header image property of The Red Book.)

Orcs, Goblins, and Uruk-Hai: A guest post by The Lady Awdur

I used to be of the opinion that the Lord of the Rings movies were a spectacular adaption from the book, and that somewhere between 2003 and 2012 Peter Jackson suffered a mental collapse. Upon rereading The Lord of the Rings, I have departed from this previous view. I still think the the movies are great adaptations. I still think that PJ went down. But, I think that he was already thinking in a “how can I make this bigger, better and more dramatic” and “How would I like this scene to go, regardless of how Tolkien did it” kind of way when he made the first three. In many changes from the book, it can be traced to a “crowd appeal” idea.
For instance, having Arwen defend Frodo at the Fords of Isen instead of Glorfindel pleases those in the audience who are in favor of “girl power”. Now, I don’t quarrel with this choice too much because it can also be seen as a director simply streamlining the movie by combining characters and omitting the smaller ones. A movie cannot include all that is in the book. Removing Tom Bombadil I think is also not a bad idea; while I love how he diminishes the power of the Ring (showing that there is no evil that good cannot overcome), he is simply too complex for a movie.

I do object to:
  • Wanton disregard for how Tolkien clearly saw a character in favor of PJ’s interpretation of it. Faramir, anyone?! I love Faramir in the book. He does not relentlessly interrogate the hobbits to try to force the truth about the ring from them. “So fear me not! I do not ask you to tell me more. I do not even ask you to tell me whether I now speak nearer the mark.” He does not try to take the ring. I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her. (a line appropriated by PJ for a later scene, after Faramir falls prey to the same temptation as Boromir). And he definitely does NOT force the hobbits into a corner at swordpoint. He is a gentleman and a man of honor!
  • Rearranging events/ changing the set-up of scenes when the book version makes so. Much. More. Sense. For instance, I was always so confused and angry at Frodo in the movie version of the Forbidden Pool scene. Why, why does Frodo not try to explain to Sméagol what is up? Why doesn’t he even seem to realize how Sméagol will take it? The entirety of the lines of the movie scene are: Smeagol, you must trust master. Follow me. Come on. Come. Come, Smeagol. Nice Smeagol. That's it. Come on. And then, once Gollum has been grabbed by soldiers, Don't hurt him! Smeagol, don't struggle. Smeagol, listen to me. Whereas in the book, he says We are in danger. Men will kill you, if they find you here. Come quickly, if you wish to escape death. (The exact sort of things we all agonize for Frodo to say!) And it goes on to say that certainly what Frodo did would seem a treachery to the poor treacherous creature. It would probably be impossible ever to make him understand or believe that Frodo had saved his life in the only way he could.So there still could have been tension between Frodo and Gollum after this point, while keeping to the original [smarter] words of our beloved hobbit.
  • Changing concepts for no particular reason. This, my friends, is the real purpose of this post. PJ’s concept of orcs, goblins and uruks, which is quite different from the book, has created lots of unnecessary confusion which I would like to dispel for all the indignant fans like myself.

First of all, I'll explain the version that the movie presents. (Now it doesn't really present any version, if by those words you think that PJ gives us any definitions). As near as I can tell, the impression we are supposed to get is that orcs, goblins, and Uruk-hai are three separate creatures.

  • Goblins: Live in caves, don't like light, insect-like in appearance and movement. Origin is unknown.
  • Orcs: Extremely disgusting in appearance; light may bother them but not excessively; a littler larger than goblins and more varied in appearance. Origin: Twisted elves. See this scene:
  • Uruk-Hai: Much taller than orcs; when Aragorn is shown fighting one in FotR it appears to be about his height. More uniform in appearance; dark locks and redish brown skin-tone. Sometimes a white hand stamped on their face. Much “beefier” than orcs. Of their origin, it is said that Saruman has “crossed Orcs with goblin men.” A scene in The Fellowship of the Ring shows them being pulled from a mudpit as if breaking out of a cocoon (??).
But actually, according to Tolkien, goblins, orcs, and Uruk-hai are not separate species.

Orcs As Compared to Goblins:
In Letter 131 (to Milton Waldman), he says “Also the Orcs (goblins) and other monsters bred by the First Enemy are not wholly destroyed.” Later on in the letter he again refers to “Orcs (goblins).”
If that isn’t clear enough, this excerpt from Letter 144 to Naomi Mitchison says:

“Orcs (the word is as far as I am concerned actually derived from Old English orc 'demon', but only because of its phonetic suitability)... They are not based on direct experience of mine; but owe, I suppose, a good deal to the goblin tradition (goblin is used as a translation in The Hobbit, where orc only occurs once, I think), especially as it appears in George MacDonald…”
Also significant is the fact that the sword "Orcrist" is translated "Goblin-cleaver," and as "-rist" refers to cutting, then "orc" is simply the word for Goblin.

Orcs As Compared to Uruk-Hai:
  • In Chapter Seven, “Helm’s Deep,” of The Lord of the Rings, It says “The Orcs yelled and jeered. ‘Come down… We are the fighting Uruk-Hai…’(emphasis added). 
  • From Appendix A: “In the last years of Denethor I the race of uruks, black orcs of great strength, firszt appeared out of Mordor…(emphasis added)
  • From Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings: “Orc is the form of the name that other races had for this foul people… Related, no doubt, was the word uruk of the Black Speech, though this was applied as a rule only the great soldier-orcs…”,
  • Quoting again from Letter 144: “The name has the form orch (pl. yrch) in Sindarin and uruk in the Black Speech.”
As “Hai” means folk in the Black Speech, Uruk-Hai simply means “orc-folk.”
However, there are certainly different varieties of Orcs, and it is likely that Saruman did tamper with them to make a stronger breed.
Chapter Three, “The Uruk-Hai” refers to “two or three quite different tribes.”
In Chapter One, “Departure of Boromir”, Aragorn says: “Here lie many that are not folk of Mordor. Some are from the North, from the Misty Mountains, if I know anything of Orcs and their kinds. And here are others strange to me. Their gear is not after the manner of Orcs at all!
It goes on to describe them, “There were four goblin-soldiers of greater stature, swart, slant-eyed, with thick legs and large hands.
In Chapter Four, “Treebeard,” Treebeard says “[Saruman] has been doing something to them; something dangerous. For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide the Sun, but Saruman’s orcs can endure it, even if they hate it.
Chapter Seven, “Helm’s Deep,” refers to “the creatures of Isengard, these half-orcs and goblin-men.”

So in conclusion, the term uruks is simply the Black Speech for orcs, but appears to refer specially to the larger, stronger breeds. It appears that Saruman tampered with them in some way to enable them to bear sun, and possibly to give them greater size/stamina.

Origin of Orcs:
The origin of the Orcs is not entirely clear, as at various times Tolkien seems to have advanced various theories. Quoting from Letter 144 yet again, he says that orcs “are nowhere clearly stated to be of any particular origin. But since they are servants of the Dark Power, and later of Sauron, neither of whom could, or would, produce living things, they must be 'corruptions'.
The earliest theory is mentioned in The Book of Lost Tales, in The Fall of Gondolin, that orcs were made of stone and slime by Morgoth (perhaps this is where Peter Jackson got his ideas for the mud pit thing in the movies?).
The more frequently mentioned idea is that Orcs were made from Elves by Morgoth. Quoting from The Silmarillion:

But of those unhappy ones who were ensnared by Melkor little is known of a certainty. For who of the living has descended into the pits of Utumno, or has explored the darkness of the counsels of Melkor? Yet this is held true by the wise of Eressëa, that all those of the Quendi who came into the hands of Melkor, ere Utumno was broken, were put there in prison, and by slow arts of cruelty were corrupted and enslaved; and thus did Melkor breed the hideous race of the Orcs in envy and mockery of the Elves, of whom they were afterwards the bitterest foes. For the Orcs had life and multiplied after the manner of the Children of Ilúvatar; and naught that had life of its own, nor the semblance of life, could ever Melkor make since his rebellion in the Ainulindalë before the Beginning: so say the wise.

So there you go: No matter what Peter Jackson says, Uruks and Goblins = orcs, though there are some differences in breeds.

The Lady Awdur still adores The Lord of the Rings movie, however inaccurate, and could forgive Peter Jackson's liberties if he had not made the hobbit in so disappointing a fashion. She reads some Tolkien every night before bed. Find more posts on Tolkien, cooking, and writing at

Many, many thanks to Lady Awdur for this highly informative post.
The conclusion I have drawn (mostly from the Silmarillion [read it]) is that, since (according to Silmarillion) orcs can reproduce, it would also be possible for someone like Morgoth, Sauron, or Saruman to induce some creepy 'master-race' breeding, hence uruks: a stronger, larger kind of orc.
There have been people who told me that they didn't like Tolkien using goblin and orc interchangeably (he doesn't actually do much of it) but we use human and person almost interchangeably.
Personally, I like to think of distinction as being vaguely geographical. The orcs that live in the misty mountains are generally referred to as goblins. The humans that live in Germany are generally referred to as germans. They may tend to have different physique, but that doesn't make them an entirely different creature.
As for origins, Tolkien has realized his dream and created a pretty effective mythology, complete with different stories and interpretations of basically everything that ever happened. I have chosen to go with the origin proposed by the Silmarillion, as it was one of the last things Tolkien ever worked on, and I like to think that it contains his more well-formed ideas on...stuff. And to me, it just makes the most sense, but it is by no means 'the only way'.
In terms of the visual representation of the orcs and uruk-hai, I don't really have any problems with PJs interpretation, though the mud sack thing is all wrong. Don't even get me started on the "goblins" in his hobbit movies.
What do you think? Have you come to different conclusions? If so, what are they?
~ Goldenrod

(Lest there should be any confusion or matter of rights and whatnot, all quotes in this post are from The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, unless otherwise mentioned. There may be slight errors, misspellings, or alternate punctuation in the quotes, and if you notice such, please inform me so that I can speedily remedy them.)

The Silmarillion: Ainulindalë Part 2

Ainulindalë holds surprisingly few noteworthy connections to The Lord of the Rings. The only characters we have been introduced to yet are the Valar, and the only location we have been shown is one not really mentioned in the Lord of the Rings. LOTR's villain we have not yet seen, and the elves haven't even been born yet. I mean there is the obvious, making the world in which LOTR takes place, but beyond that...

The only one that really comes to mind to me as worth pointing out is the connection between the sea and the elves, shown in Legolas. In Ainulindalë we are told:
"And it is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet the echo of the Music of the Ainur more than in any substance else that is in this earth; and many of the Children of Ilúvatar hearken still unsated to the voices of the Sea, and yet know not for what they listen."
If you will recall, Legolas is a perfect example of this 'sea-longing'. First the warning from Galadriel and then the warning coming true, and then his song.

"Legolas Greenleaf long under tree
In joy thou hast lived. Beware of the Sea!
If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore,
Thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more."  
~ The Lord of the Rings

"‘Look!’ [Legolas] cried. 'Gulls! They are flying far inland. A wonder they are to me and a trouble to my heart. Never in all my life had I met them, until we came to Pelargir, and there I heard them crying in the air as we rode to the battle of the ships. Then I stood still, forgetting war in Middle-earth; for their wailing voices spoke to me of the Sea. The Sea! Alas! I have not yet beheld it. But deep in the hearts of all my kindred lies the sea-longing, which it is perilous to stir. Alas! for the gulls. No peace shall I have again under beech or under elm.’" 
~ The Lord of the Rings 
"To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying,

The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying.

West, west away, the round sun is falling.

Grey ship, grey ship, do you hear them calling.

The voices of my people that have gone before me?

I will leave, I will leave the woods that bore me;

For our days are ending and our years failing.

I will pass the wide waters lonely sailing.

Long are the waves on the Last Shore falling,

Sweet are the voices in the Lost Isle calling,

In Eressea, in Elvenhome that no man can discover,

Where the leaves fall not: land of my people for ever!’"

~ The Lord of the Rings
(click HERE for more information on pronunciation)
Ainur: eye-noor

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(All quotes are from the Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien unless otherwise mentioned. Post header image property of The Red Book.)

The Silmarillion: Ainulindalë Part 1

I wasn't entirely sure how to go about my cataloging(?) of the Silmarillion, and it might change a little as I go along, but I shall do my best not to drone on, and not to go off on enormous tangents. I may link to enormous tangents though....

The Ainulindalë is the creation story not of Middle-earth but of Arda. It correlates very closely with the creation story found in Genesis, but Tolkien did not consider it 'an allegory'. In a letter to Milton Waldman Tolkien says:
"I dislike Allegory - the conscious and intentional allegory - yet any attempt to explain the purport of myth or fairytale must use allegorical language. "
After which he goes on to explain himself further but you get the point.

Ainulindalë i.e The Music of the Ainur tells of how Ilúvatar (Eru) calls together the Ainur and speaks to them of the 'Great Music':
"Then Ilúvatar  said to them: 'Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music. And since I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable, ye shall now show forth your powers in adorning this theme, each with his own thoughts and devices, if he will. But I will sit and hearken, and be glad that through you the great beauty has been awakened into song.'"
In short, the Ainur sing Arda into being, though naturally it is quite a bit more complicated than that. But one among them decides to 'interweave matters of his own imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Ilúvatar ' seeking to 'increase the power and the glory of the part assigned to himself.' This was Melkor. Basically, he ended up sowing a seeds of evil into Arda before it even came into being. 
Then seeing in a vision the great beauty of Arda, some of the Ainur decide to abide there upon a condition from Iluvatar:
"But this condition Ilúvatar  made, or it is the necessity of their love, that their power should thenceforward be contained and bounded in the World, to be within it for ever, until it is complete, so that they are its life and it is theirs. And therefore they are name the Valar, the Powers of the World."
 But when they get there, the things they saw in the vision had not yet taken place and it was still dark and empty. So they began to build up the world and in Melkor there is a growing desire to posses Arda and he tries to claim it as his own. He is, of course, sent packing by Manwë:
"'This kingdom thou shalt not take for thine own, wrongfully, for many others have laboured here no less than thou.'"
And Melkor withdraws to other regions of the world. In the vision which the Valar were shown by Ilúvatar they saw the Children of Ilúvatar (Elves and Men) and they take shape after that manner. The Children of Iluvatar are elves and men, otherwise known as the Firstborn and the Followers. Presumably the Valar's shapes were more akin to elves than men, for the elves are considerably more fair. 
And because Tolkien explains this far better than I ever could:
"Moreover their shape comes of their knowledge of the visible World, rather than of the World itself; and they need it not, save only as we use raiment, and yet we may be naked and suffer no loss of our being. Therefore the Valar may walk, if they will, unclad, and then even the Eldar cannot clearly perceive them, though they be present. But when they desire to clothe themselves the Valar take upon them forms some as of male and some as of female; for that difference of temper they had even from heir beginning, and it is but bodied forth in the choice of each, not made by the choice, even as with us male and female may be shown by the raiment but is not made thereby."
And they make the world fair and blissful 'even as a garden for their delight' ever preparing it for the coming of the elves, and even as they build Melkor, filled with hate and envy, throws down and corrupts. 
"And yet their labour was not all in vain; and though nowhere and in no work was their will and purpose wholly fulfilled, and all things were in hue and shape other than the Valar had at first intended, slowly nonetheless the Earth was fashioned and made firm."
"And thus was the habitation of the Children of Ilúvatar established at last in the Deeps of Time and amidst the innumerable stars."

(click HERE for more information on pronunciation)
Ainulindalë: eye-new-lin-dah-leh
Ainur: eye-noor
Aulë: ow-leh
Manwë: man-weh

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(All quotes are from the Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien unless otherwise mentioned. Post header image property of The Red Book.)