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Silmarillion: who's what and why of Middle-earth

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Julia O'Gara

on 14 March 2014

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Transcript of Silmarillion: who's what and why of Middle-earth

Silmarillion: who's what and why of Middle-earth
Eru Ilúvatar
basically god. and don't f*ck with his music, dude.
god-like creatures
slightly less god-like creatures
Manwë (heavens)
Melkor/Morgoth (nasty-ass sh*t)
Ulmo (water)
Aulë (earth and smithing)
Oromë (forest and hunt)
Namo/Mandos (death)
Irmo/Lorien (visions and dreams
Varda/Elbereth (stars)
Yavanna (bounty)
Nienna (mercy)
Estë (healing)
Vaïre (weaving)
Vána (youth)
Nessa (dance)
Sauron (Aulë, Morgoth)
Gandalf/Olórin (Nienna)
Eru creates the Ainur via thought.
Music happens. The Great Theme is ruined by Melkor attempting a solo.
Eru gives up on his music and shows the Ainur his game plan for Arda (earth), which gets them all fired up, with the Children of Ilúvatar (Men and Elves). Arda is created and the Valar and Maiar descend on it.
Melkor YOLOs and wars with the Valar. Through this the earth is shaped.
Ilmarë (Varda)
Uinem (Ulmo)
Melian (Vána and Estë)
Eönwë (Manwë)
Ossë (Ulmo)
Ainulindalë and Valaquenta
Quenta Silmarillion
the beginning of days
Tulkas comes and puts Melkor in his place for a bit.
The Valar cultivate Arda. The two Lamps, Illuin and Ormal, are created to grant endless day (because immortal spirits don't need to sleep, duh). They make a home in Almaren, an island in the one lonely lake in Arda.
The Valar have a party to celebrate their work. Melkor gets wind via Maiar spies. As Tulkas sleeps, he makes his move and starts building a fortress (Utumno) which spews supernatural industrial waste and kills things near it, and breaks the Holy Table Lamps of the Valar.
The flame from the broken Lamps destroys the symmetry of Arda, and no matter how OCD the Valar get after that, they still can't fix it.
The Valar are homeless, so they end up at the edge of the world on a mountain (Taniquetil or Amon Uilos, in the Pelóri range). Which is really original, since god-like beings *never* live on mountains. Their new home is called Valinor.
They grow a pair of trees, Telperion and Laurelin, which are shiny and bright.

Ilúvatar remembers Arda and finds his to-do list and creates the Quendi and Atani, or Elves and Men.
Aulë and Yavanna
Aulë creates the race of Dwarves to teach and love. Ilúvatar gets a little freaked out by this act of imitation, but gets over it and grants them autonomous life.
Aulë tells Yavanna, who gets upset that he hadn't said anything before. She figures out that her domain, living things, is going to be screwed over by the Children of Ilúvatar. So she asks Manwë for help. He assures her that spirits will live in the trees (her favorites) and protect them when the Children awaken.
The coming of Elves and the captivity of Melkor
The Valar have abandoned Arda for the time being, for Valinor. Basically only Yavanna and Oromë are still giving a flying crap. Yavanna makes some things from the Spring of Arda sleep, and Oromë is just doin' his own thing hunting Melkor's evil henchmen/science projects.
Melkor is proving that evil never sleeps and makes nasty things like Balrogs. He also builds Angband in the northwest as an armory, and it's commanded by Sauron.

The Valar finally get their crap together and listen to Yavanna and Oromë's complaints about the state of Arda. Like your parents when guests are coming, they start freaking out because the Children are going to wake up soon and Melkor's crap is all over Arda. But apparently this is just the way it's supposed to be.
Varda goes all out and starts making stars for the coming of the Firstborn of the Children.

The Elves wake up from Cuiviénen and start walking around putting names on stuff. Oromë sees them first and gets pretty excited, but Melkor has put it out that when Elves stray and disappear, the Hunter is the guy responsible. So when he appears among them, some hide and some stay.
Melkor breeds captured Elves into Orcs, who deep down inside hate the crap out of him, but do nothing about it.

Manwë organizes a council of the Valar and organizes a war to free the Quendi from Melkor.
War goes down. Melkor is gonna remember forever and ever that the reason he gets his butt handed to him is the Elves. Utumno is laid siege to and destroyed. Tulkas wrestles with him and ties him up with the chain Angainor (sweet baby jeebus, everything has a name around here) and is put in Mandos' halls and stays for three ages before he can go for an appeal.

The Valar want to meet the Elves, but the Elves fear all of them except Oromë, so he's sent to the Elves and brings back the ambassadors Finwë, Ingwë, and Elwë to the Valar. Those who don't join the hosts that the three ambassadors bring are the Avari, the Unwilling, and those that go are the Eldar. This is the first Sundering.
The first and smallest host is led by Ingwë, who never returns from Valinor. His people are the Vanyar, the Fair Elves.
The second is the Noldor, Finwë's people, the Deep Elves.
The last and largest is the Teleri, who like water, and they're the Sea Elves, led by two lords, Elwë and Olwë. Lenwë, another guy with an umlaut too many, leads some elves south, who become the Nandor.
Those who made the whole journey to Valinor are the Calaquendi (Elves of the Light), and those who didn't get all the way there are the Úmanyar. All those who stayed behind are the Moriquendi.
The hosts travel towards Valinor and the Teleri end up chillin' just past the River Gelion for a bit.
unlucky wandering Elves captured and bred by Melkor
Elwë and Olwë
the Noldor (Wise Elves)
the Vanyar (Fair Elves)
the Teleri (Sea Elves)
the Úmanyar
the Calaquendi
the Nandor
The Moriquendi
like SparkNotes, but sassier
the Avari
Thingol and Melian
Apparently Melian is sexier than sex. She's a Maia and not a shabby singer.
Remember Elwë? Sometimes he goes to visit Finwë the Noldor, until he hears Melian's voice and forgets all about "bros before hos". They see each other and it's so love at first sight that they don't even say anything, just stand there staring... for years. Trees grow and Elwë is replaced as king of the Teleri by Olwë (who leaves). Instead of either of them going where they're supposed to, to Valinor, they stay on Middle-earth with a kingdom and new names.
Elwë becomes Thingol, king of the Sindar, the Grey-elves. They live in caves in Menegroth in Doriath.
According to The Word of God, they're the best love story of all time.
Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië, or names I wish were simpler GOD TOLKIEN WHAT IS IT WITH YOUR UMLAUT FETISH
The Noldor and Vanyar finish their most epic of road trips/odysseys/Oregon Trail reenactment and get to the western shores of the Hither Lands, or "almost there!". Like the first Alaskans staring at the Bering Strait, they realize that the fact is, only a narrow sea separates them from the Promised Land, but it's chock-full of "grinding ice".
Oromë doesn't want to lead his elf-bros through this gross mosh pit of frozen water, so they take the scenic route and end up with an ocean staring them in the face from Beleriand, their new home, and the land of hos and honey on the other side.
Ulmo, the ocean Valar, chats up the Eldar watching the ocean and makes them want to go to sea. Then he pilots a bit of extra island, like that Chick-fil-A halfway on your trip to the beach, to coerce his new friends all the way to Valinor.
The Teleri get kind of bummed about staying behind, looking for Elwë (who, we can assume, is still Getting to Know Melian), and wander over to the ocean hoping either Finwë and their bros will come back or the Ulmo-rapture will come.
Ossë and Uinen go and make friends with them. When the Noldor bug Ulmo into bringing their bros the Teleri to Valinor too, Ossë is so sad that he convinces some elves to stay (the Falathrim), who make ships.
Elwë's homies are still looking for him in inner Beleriand (the Eglath, the Forsaken People). He finally awakens from his love-trance and his friends and family get excited, but listen, dear reader, The Word of God informs us that "a high doom was before him".
Ossë decides to just stay on the Chick-fil-A island rather than making it all the way to Finwë and Valinor. Ulmo is okay with this, because he wasn't 100% with the Quendi going to Valinor anyway.
The Valar are sad. Finwë is sad, especially since he's not going to see Elwë again for a really, really long time.
The Teleri can see Aman but can't really reach it. The Teleri language splits from that of the Noldor and Vanyar.
The Vanyar and Noldor go live on some Túna in Valinor at the behest of the Valar. They get really into botany and like this White Tree. Its seedling is the White Tree of Númenor.
Manwë and Varda like the Vanyar, the Fair Elves; Aulë's favorite are the Noldor, who start learning and naming, and mostly digging stuff up. They shape gems. The Noldor go back to Middle-earth.

Finwë is involved with two marriages. Fëanor is the son of Míriel Serindë, who after giving birth goes into a coma. Fingolfin and Finarfin are the sons of Indis of the Vanyar.
Fëanor is a badass with words and with his hands, and knew more that his brothers. Fingolfin is strong and valiant, a real knight in shining armor. Finarfin is pretty and wise, and marries Eärwen, Olwë's (the Teleri king) daughter.
Fëanor has sons, named on an "M" theme rather than the "F" one that runs in the family (maybe because of his mother?).
Maedhros the tall, Maglor the singer, Celegorm the fair and Caranthir the dark, Curufin the crafty, and Amrod and Amras, twins and hunters; Celegorm also hunts with Oromë.
Fingolfin's brats are Fingon, who grows up to be king of the Noldor, Turgon, lord of Gondolin, and a chica, Aredhel the White, who's probably gay and hunts a lot with Fëanor's sons.
Finarfin has Finrod the faithful, Orodreth, Angrod, and Aegnor, who are friends with Fingolfin's kids. Galadriel is their sister.

The rest of the Teleri shift their lazy butts off of Chick-fil-A island when they figure out that better cuisine awaits them at the end of their journey. Ulmo directs them to Ossë, who's bummed about losing his friends, but teaches them how to build the most rad boats of all time. They also have a ton of bling that they share with their hosts before heading back.

Back to Finwë. Fëanor is Finwë's favorite and basically invents letters and makes magical rocks. He marries the daughter of one of Aulë's elf-smith bros. She's more chill than he is, and is more into understanding people than controlling them. She bears him seven sons.
Finwë remarries but doesn't forget Míriel and certainly not Fëanor. Fëanor is not a fan of Indis or her kids.

Melkor gets let out, finally, and pretends to repent. Manwë forgives and forgets; Ulmo and Tulkas definitely don't. The Eldar, the Vanyar and Noldor, are his targets. The Vanyar don't need anything from him, but the Noldor are pretty pumped about learning secrets, even ones that aren't really kosher.
Later Melkor takes the credit for teaching Fëanor the Eldritch Things he learns how to do that The Word of God is ever so unsubtly hinting he'll do. However, Fëanor actually hates the everliving shit out of Melkor and did it all on his own, with occasional advice from Nerdanel his wife.
We finally get to the titular item: The Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor
Fëanor wants to make the light of the shiny trees last 5ever and using all of his super duper elfy skill makes the Silmarils out of their light.
Varda makes them into a blingier version of the Holy Grail so that the unclean wither up if they try to touch it.
Melkor, of course, wants the Silmarils more than Tallahassee wants Twinkies, and starts to try to break the Noldor from the Valar by making the elves dream of power, and whisper that the Valar brought them to Valarhalla because they wanted to control them rather than bro out with them. They also are told of the coming of Men, which the Valar hadn't told them about, in order to supplant their elf kingdoms.
Fëanor turns into one of those people with a bunker in their basement and cameras covering the house and hides the Silmarils except on special occasions, only letting his sons and dad see them.
Fëanor and Fingolfin start to get all "come at me bro". Melkor starts spreading rumors that Fingolfin and his family were going to kick Fëanor out because the Valar wanted the Silmarils to be controlled by someone more malleable; and that Fëanor was going kick his half-brothers out. Then Melkor teaches them how to make weapons.
Fëanor makes a secret forge and forges some real sick swords, and then starts to talk about going home and ditching the Valar.
Finwë starts to worry. Fintennisin comes in and asks him to check his brother's crazy. Fëanor comes in dressed for a knuckle-dusting and sees this through the crazy-goggles as proof that his family is conspiring against him.
Finbasketballin leaves and Fëanor follows so he can threaten him not to usurp his father's love or his position. Lots of people hear and think, "dayum, that Fëanor is getting way ahead of himself, he was always full of it".
The Valar get upset that the mood has been ruined and deem Fëanor guilty of sowing discontent. Of course, it becomes clear that Melkor was the asshole in question and Tulkas goes to go do his job. Fëanor is banished for twelve years and can come back if Finswimmin forgives him, which he does.
Into the Valinor hills with Fëanor go his seven sons, his father, and his hoard of jewels. The Silmarils are shut up in an iron room (shoulda picked lead amirite). Melkor runs around hiding from Tulkas until he shows up on Fëanor's doorstep.
Even though Melkor pretends to be a bro, Fëanor should know better than to trust him, and he does. He slams the door in the face of the Dark Lord of Dark Lords. Melkor is not pleased.
Finwë starts to worry about his son giving the Bad Guy the finger and mails Manwë. Melkor hauls his butt outta there, and though he's gone everyone worries anyway.
Of the Darkening of Valinor
Melkor's still out there somewhere. No one knows where... except for him and his skank-ass ladyfriend Ungoliant, who even has a gross name. She takes the form of a skank-ass spider and lives in a hole in the ground.
Melkor, being the bright spark he is, promises her whatever she wants if she'll help him out. So she makes them an invisibility cloak out of sheer gross. They go rock-climbing.
Meanwhile, there's a harvest festival going down in the nice neighborhoods of Arda. Everyone parties, and Fëanor is invited to make up with Fingolfin. They do; Fingolfin forgives him totally and swears to follow him. Word of God says: This will have *consequences*.
Ungoliant and Melkor go party-crashing now. In the true tradition of hardcore partyers, they destroy their hosts' house, in this case smashing up their landscaping. Ungoliant is so drunk that even Melkor gets a little disgusted when she starts barfing industrial waste.
In fact, this heavy-duty upchuck is so serious it darkens everything and threatens the remaining light. Manwë alone sees where Melkor has gone, but the pursuit sent out is foiled by the grossness of Ungoliant.

Miriel Serindë
Maedhros Maglor Celegorm Caranthir Curufin Amrod Amras
The pollution clears, and basically everything is dead. No one is happy (except Melkor, that jerk). Yavanna presses Fëanor to give her a Simaril or three to restore the bling trees, but he's not a hundred percent with that because to him, to lose the Silmarils would be to die.
It turns out that Finwë has been killed in Fëanor's house by Melkor while they've been arguing. Melkor has taken the Silmarils, heaping insult on injury.
Morgoth is running and hoping to leave Ungoliant, who has started to demand her compensation. First she asks for Fëanor's jewels, and then asks for what he has in his other hand—the Silmarils. Though they burn him, he won't let go.
She threatens him, since she's stronger from eating the jewels and he's weaker from using his power, and catches him, but he yells loud enough to call his pet Balrogs up to scare her off out of the ruins of Angband, which he proceeds to rebuild. Shit gets real, etc.
Fëanor curses Melkor with the name Morgoth, Black Foe, and runs off in his grief.
Manwë says that actually, he would not be the first of the Eldar to die in Aman. No one gets it.
Fëanor returns to the Noldor, though his banishment still holds. He incites them to disdain the Valar, and claims the throne.
They will follow him down the hard road to kill Morgoththanyou.
Fëanor and his sons swear the most serious of oaths to venge themselves on anyone who might keep a Silmaril from them. THIS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS Y'ALL. Finswimmin and Turgon disagree, disliking the oath, but Galadriel and Fingon are inspired to want their elf-version of forty acres and a mule.
Fëanor and the Noldor start leaving right away, but people want Finlacrossin as their king. The Valar are afraid of making a move, since it could be interpreted as trying to enslave the elves.
Fingolfin has a large host, and comes because of his oath and because he fears the fate that Fëanor's crazy-goggles advice might bring, and Fëanor a smaller one in the van. Finarfin comes too, but the most reluctantly since the Valar have a pretty sweet setup.ight before they roll out Manwë sends a messenger to tell them that traffic is bad and they should wait.

The Flight of the Noldor
Full transcript