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Old 01-21-2011, 06:38 PM   #1
narsil
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Some questions about Elves, the Halls of Mandos, and Valinor

Hello, everyone

I'm a huge fan of Tolkien's works. I had a few questions about aspects of Arda, and I hope someone could answer them for me!

1) When Elves die, their spirits are transported to the Halls of Mandos. How long do they have to wait there until they are provided new bodies? And barring Glorfindel, has any Elf returned from Valinor to Middle Earth after receiving a new body?

2) On a related note, supposing an Elf were leaving Middle Earth during the 3rd or 4th Ages (take Elrond, for example). Would Elrond be able to meet up with Gil-galad at Valinor? Would he have been able to meet with the Elf-lords of old, like the High Kings of the Noldor, Feanor, or the sons of Feanor? Or would their spirits still remain in the Halls of Mandos?

3) Why is Valinor forbidden to mortals? Tolkien made it clear that it wasn't the land that provided immortality, it was the races inhabiting it. So why should it be forbidden to Men, Hobbits, and Dwarves?

4) And finally, what is Valinor like? Is it like Lothlorien, or Elvish cities like Gondolin?

Thanks very much!
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Old 01-21-2011, 09:06 PM   #2
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Welcome, narsil! I'll give it a go.

(1). I know one of the HOME books touches on this, but sadly, I don't have them. Basically, I don't think there is any set time limit an Elf must remain in Mandos before being re-bodied, save that in some cases certain Elves guilty of evil deeds (such as Saeros, who had taunted Túrin and attacked him in Doriath) must wait longer than others.
I know of no Elves other than Glorfindel that are named as being re-bodied in Middle-earth, but that is no indication that others had not done so.

(2). Any Elf arriving in Valinor should be able to physically meet any of their Elder Days kin who weren't confined in Mandos.
As for Fëanor, The Silmarillion indicates that he at least had not be released:

Quote:
....his likeness has never again appeared in Arda, neither has his spirit left the Halls of Mandos.
Of the Return of the Noldor

The verdict on his sons is not clear. At least one of them, Maglor, might have still been alive in Middle-earth at the time of the war of the Ring. I would think the others would have had a long stint in Mandos, especially Celegorm, Curufin, and Caranthir.

(3). Valinor / Aman is a place where nothing dies. That is contrary to the mortal nature of Men and Dwarves, and, as explained by the Eldar to the Númenóreans, being in such an environment is simply too much for a mortal to long endure.

(4). I've pictured Valinor as being more beautiful than anything in mortal lands. As fair as were Lórien and Gondolin, I think they were only pale copies of the landscapes and cities in Aman. The Simarillion said of Tirion, that as Eärendil walked through it:

Quote:
....the dust upon his raiment and his shoes was a dust of diamonds, and he shone and glistened as he climbed the long white stairs.
Of the Voyage of Eärendil

When the very dust has beauty, what compares to that?
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Old 01-21-2011, 10:43 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by narsil
1) When Elves die, their spirits are transported to the Halls of Mandos.
The spirits can refuse Mandos incidentally (just to note it).

Quote:
How long do they have to wait there until they are provided new bodies? And barring Glorfindel, has any Elf returned from Valinor to Middle Earth after receiving a new body?
Inziladun already noted it...

'It was therefore the duty of the Valar, by command of the One, to restore them to incarnate life, if they desired it. But this restoration could be delayed* by Manwe, if the fea while alive had done evil deeds and refused to repent of them, or still harboured any malice against any other person among the living.' JRRT, Last Writings, Glorfindel II

*Or in the gravest cases (such as that of Feanor) witheld and referred to the One.' Author's footnote

Quote:
3) Why is Valinor forbidden to mortals? Tolkien made it clear that it wasn't the land that provided immortality, it was the races inhabiting it. So why should it be forbidden to Men, Hobbits, and Dwarves?
I believe the description from Akallabeth might be a bit misleading (moths and flames and so on): Tolkien goes into this statement deeper in a text in Morgoth's Ring, explaining that a Man -- though he might live out his whole life in Aman (the same amount of time as his whole life in Middle-earth), he would feel himself to be a fleeting thing by comparison to the world around him.

For example: if a 20 year old Man planted a sapling, he would be dead before it grew as it might in only one year upon Middle-earth (in mortal lands). Time was not different in Aman, that is, one 'year' in Aman was really 144 Sun Years long, but as Legolas noted in connection to Lorien: growth and change are not the same in all places.

Aman better accorded with the Elvish speed of growth, but Men will be as short-lived moths, 'withering' soon to our perception.

Last edited by Galin; 01-21-2011 at 11:12 PM.
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Old 01-22-2011, 04:45 PM   #4
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Thanks a lot, Inziladun and Galin!

I had another question, somewhat related to the others. If I recall correctly, Elendil's father Amandil decided to sail to the West to negotiate safe passage for the Faithful. Did Tolkien ever elaborate on his fate? Would he be counted as one of the few mortals who were allowed into Aman, or would he have been destroyed along with Ar-Pharazon's fleet?
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Old 01-22-2011, 05:14 PM   #5
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There isn't much on Amandil's fate in the Akkalabeth - but maybe there is somewhere else. As far as I know, we don't know what happened to him, but we do know that even if he got to Aman, his wish was denied, because "things don't happen twice the same way": you can't save everybody again by sailing there like Earendil.
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