According to Pages Unbound, today marks the anniversary of Sauron’s downfall! I am not great at such calculations, so I will take their word for it. To celebrate the occasion, the Tolkien Society is holding a Tolkien Reading Day.
The ways of participating are:
- Grab the event button from Pages Unbound and put it on your blog.
- Read a book by J.R.R. Tolkien this week and post a review! If you do, Pages Unbound, Tolkien Society, and I all want to know so that we can read it! (Find reading suggestions on the Tolkien Society’s Bibliography.)
- Spread the word on social media.
- Link to any past posts you may have made about Tolkien, his writings, or even the movies in the comments on this post.
To fulfill the second option, I am going to yammer about the Akallabêth, that short history of the Númenoreans tacked onto the end of J.R.R. and Christopher Tolkiens’ Silmarillion like an afterthought.
There is a great deal to be found in this story; far more than I am capable of finding as I am poorly read in comparison with J.R.R. I suggest you go digging for yourself. The tale offers a deeper understanding of Aragorn, from The Lord of the Rings, as well as of his people. Echoes from the third age are given context and a deeper poignancy.
“Tall ships and tall kings
Three times three.
What brought they from the foundered land
Over the flowing sea?
Seven stars and seven stones
And one white tree. “
This verse pulled at me before, but now it nigh brings me to tears. I know what Aragorn’s ancestors built, and what they lost, and why that white tree, just a seedling, was on board. The emblem of Aragorn’s family, a white tree crowned with seven stars, has a long history behind it.
Isildur, who used to be, to me, a mythic figure who cut the Ring from Sauron’s hand, but then fell victim to its snare, is now a man who made sacrifices, suffered immense loss, and persevered. I have learned that his was not the original line of the kings of Númenor, but only an offshoot. Knowing more of them, again, increased my appreciation of who Aragorn is, and what he must mean to his people.
There are other revelations, too, most of which I will leave alone. Part of the joy of reading the Akallabêth is the discovery of connections and new information. I will mention one more thing, however. Umbar, later to fight for Sauron in his final confrontation with the Free Peoples, was founded by the Númenóreans, and the Harad were among their conquests during a time of brutal expansionism. This story can be found elsewhere, but the Akallabêth tells us more of why they settled in Middle Earth at all, and adds yet more depth to all of Tolkien’s stories of Arda.
There is more to the Akallabêth than a deepening appreciation for the mythic tapestry of The Lord of the Rings, however. It is its own complex myth, woven together from threads of many other human stories.
Avalon hidden in the mists, echoes of Old Testament kings, the search for eternal youth and life encompassing an obsession with death, and most of all, a retelling of the legend of Atlantis.
After all, the name “Downfallen,” which is “Akallabêth” in Adûnaic, is said to be “Atalantë” in Quenya.
This story is relatively short, and, as one might expect, it is beautifully told. If you have already read it, it deserves revisiting, and if you haven’t, I suggest you wander off and find a copy. If you like audio books, Martin Shaw’s rendition of the Silmarillion contains the Akallabêth.
Hope rather that in the end even the least of your desires shall have fruit. The love of Arda was set in your hearts by Ilúvatar, and he does not plant to no purpose.
-Akallabêth, by J. R. R. Tolkien