Galadriel describes how the Elves “left Valinor, our home” and traveled to Middle-earth during the First Age in “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” episode 1. However, the Elves do not actually reside in Valinor. Even though Galadriel and the soldiers she led were allowed passage to Valinor as a sort of retirement plan after efforts to bring Sauron to justice in Middle-earth, it’s not the land they actually come from.
Gil-galad praises the “most courageous of warriors” amid a gorgeous autumnal scene and announces that they will be “given an honor unparalleled” in all of the Oldorian Elves’ heritage. “They will be led to the Grey Havens and given permission to travel across the water to the Blessed Realm, the Far West, where they shall live forever. The Valinor Undying Lands!” Gil-comments galad’s allude to a type of return, but despite the Elves’ lengthy ties to the realm, their real history is more nuanced.
After the War of the Ring, Frodo leaves Middle-earth from the Grey Havens and travels to the Undying Lands in search of enduring peace from his trials, as viewers acquainted with The Lord of the Rings trilogy will recall. The general consensus is that Valinor is a form of afterlife for Middle-people earth’s (especially the Elves), a place they can go after a life well-lived. While Elves did travel to Valinor to confront Morgoth, it was never their true home. In reality, other Middle-earth literature suggests that the Elves originated in Cuiviénen, a completely different location.
The Origin and Early History of the Elves
Even the most informed Nmenórean might believe that the Elves are from the land of the Valar, the archangel-like beings who molded all of Arda after it was created by Eru Ilvatar. This is because of the Elves’ unearthly beauty, wisdom, and longevity. The Elves, on the other hand, were Il’vatar’s own creation, and they awoke on the shores of a lake in the far east of the freshly formed Middle-earth. Eru Ilvatar awakens the Elves near the lake (or bay) of Cuiviénen in the section of Christopher Tolkien’s The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 11 titled “Quendi and Eldar.” Imin and Iminy, Tata and Tati, and Enel and Enely are three elf couples who emerge. These three couples are the ancestors of the Oldor, the tribe to whom Galadriel belongs, Tatyar, and Lindar, the three Elvish tribes: Minyar (later known as Vanyar), Tatyar, and Lindar. As the couples travel around Middle-earth, they come across and awaken further elf communities. Different Elves are claimed by each of the spouses as their own.
Unfortunately, the first to discover this freshly awakened creation in Arda is the corrupt Valar Morgoth. The Elves who have been occupied with the creation of words, language, poetry, and music are subjected to his evil spirits. (The name “Quendi,” which refers to all Elves in Arda, properly translates as “the Speakers.”) Eventually, he (or one of his “Riders” or servants) starts abducting Elves and transforming them into orcs.
Soon after, Orom, one of the other Valar, discovers the Elves and offers them a chance to move to Valinor. Some of the Elves are wary because of Morgoth’s deceit, but three of the Elvish lords and their subjects consent to travel. The Elves initially arrive in Valinor in this manner. Later, some of the elven leaders go back to Cuiviénen to persuade the rest of their kind to visit Valinor. In an event known as the Sundering of the Elves, many tribes refuse to leave for the Undying Lands while entire tribes do so. Additionally, a lot of people choose to stop their arduous trek halfway and settle in Middle-earth. When they are woken at the start of the First Age, the Elves who stayed in Cuiviénen gradually learn about the race of Men.
Why the Elves Left Valinor in the Third Age and Came Back
Galadriel’s statement in “The Rings of Power” that Valinor is the home of the Elves makes sense in light of this setting. Before the sun and moon ever rose over Middle-earth, many of them made the decision to live there. In the light of the Two Trees of Valinor, they thrived in their new home.
Morgoth, who was far away from them, gained power and one day dispatched the enormous spider Ungoliant to poison the Two Trees and siphon their sap, bringing darkness upon Valinor. The High Elves of Valinor set sail for Middle-earth to fight The War of Wrath after being suddenly alerted to this huge threat. They eventually defeated Morgoth and put an end to the First Age.
The Second and Third Ages, which are characterized by the conflict with Morgoth’s servitor Sauron, are characterized by the presence of the Elves who fled Valinor in Middle-earth. The War of the Last Alliance and Sauron’s demise at the end of the Second Age are likely to be heavily illustrated in “The Rings of Power.” Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, Frodo, Bilbo, and the Keepers of the Rings journey to the Undying Lands of Valinor after the Third Age, when the Fellowship of the Ring leads the ultimate battle against the Dark Lord.
At the conclusion of the Third Age, the final High Elves—those who originally left Cuiviénen for Valinor, along with their descendants—leave Middle-earth. And as the Age of Men comes to pass, the majority of other Elves gradually depart from Middle-earth for Valinor. In accordance with canon, all Elves—who are the Firstborn of the Children of Ilvatar—go to Valinor when they pass away and may return there at any time. We’ll have to wait and see if “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” features more Valinor-focused action.
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