Need help finding guide to races on Middle Earth

After reading the thread about Elves and the one about that monster thing, I’ve been on a Middle Earth trip. I’ve been looking for comprehensive guides to the different races, but I’ve come up with bsaically nothing. Everything I’ve found is either to small or not descpitive enough. Anyone know a good places to find info on the races?

The Encyclopedia of Arda is a pretty good source.

Some links:

Reasonably accurate summary, some minor errors

Analysis of races from a Christian perspective (Tolkien was a devout Catholic)

Rife with errors.

Maybe we need to do a comprehensive list and description here?

I’m happy with just links, but I’m pretty sure the combined minds of the SDMB can make a pretty impressive guide.

Well, which race do you want to know about? I’m not gonna regurgitate all I can dredge up from memory about all the peoples of Arda.

How about we start with Dwarves?

The largest race in Middle Earth is the Edoras Marathon…

I thought it was the annual run from Nen Hithoel to Fangorn?

The Uruk-Hai usually do well in that one.

The Dwarves, not so much. As runners they are more natural sprinters. Or so I’ve heard.

OK, to talk about the dwarves, first we have to tell a little about the history of elves and humans. First, God (Eru Iluvatar) created the angels (Valar and Maiar), and they all cooperated in creating the World. One aspect of the World which Iluvatar put in all by himself was people: The Children of Iluvatar, elves and men. But the creation wasn’t done all at once: First, the Ainur (Valar and Maiar together; Valar are the more powerful ones) sang the Song of Creation, then Iluvatar showed them a vision of what their song would become, and then He put the Secret Fire into the vision, making it real, and some of the Ainur went down into the brand-new World to help develop it.

They waited for a long time for the Children of Iluvatar to arrive, and started getting a little impatient. One of the Valar, Aule, the smith/craftsman (analagous to the Roman Vulcan) got a little more impatient than the others, and decided that he was going to make himself some people, in anticipation of the Children to come. So, he made the Dwarves. But Aule didn’t have the Secret Fire, that being reserved to Iluvatar alone, and so the dwarves weren’t real people: They were just automata or puppets (admittedly very fancy ones). Iluvatar came to Aule and said “Hey, whaddaya think you’re doing? Creating people is My job!”. Aule said “Sorry about that, I know I shouldn’t have, I just got a little impatient. You want I should squish 'em?”. But Iluvatar said "Naw, can’t you see that they’re cowering in fear? Puppets wouldn’t do that. Because you were so nice and repentant, I decided to adopt 'em, and put the Secret Fire into them. But we still can’t have them messing up the big plan, so they’re gonna sleep for a while yet.

We don’t know exactly when, but sometime later, after Elves and Men had already arrived on the scene, the Dwarves awoke, and sometime after that, once they had established their own society, they met the other Children. The rest is history… Which I’ll let someone else tell.

Must quibble, Chronos. the Dwarves awoke after the elves, but before men. Dwarves were out and about before the rising of the sun.

More later, I hope.


Michael Martinez wrote this elegant summary:

Want more stuff like that? We’ve not even touched on the petty dwarves yet!

Ok, keep going. I have no idea what a petty dwarf is.

Also, it seems that most of the named dwarves we meet in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are of Durin’s folk. Am I mistaken in this understanding?

[Feet on the table]Stonefeet![/feet] :stuck_out_tongue: :wink:

Are those names canonical? I’m always eager for any of JRRT’s writing, and I thought I’d chased it all up, but I’m by no means disappointed to find out that I’m mistaken.

As to the petty dwarves, or Noegyth Nibyn, they were an offshoot - the Silmarillion doesn’t go into details - of the Naugrim, and they died out in the First Age. The last three were Mim and his two sons Khim and Ibun. Khim was accidentally shot and killed when Turin Turambar and his outlaws ran across the three petty dwarves, and Mim subsequently betrayed Turin, although not to his death. Later Hurin, Turin’s father, who had been forced by Morgoth to magically watch every evil thing that happened to his cursed son, found Mim in the ruins of Nargothrond and slew him.

On Mim’s testimony, his own people had excavated Nargothrond long before Finrod Felagund and his associates came from over the Sea, which makes the petty dwarves a people of no small power at their height… but as to Finrod and the Noldor, that is yet another story.

And so moving on to the Elves, or Quendi, we have the Elder Children of Iluvatar: rather taller and more good-looking than Men, ageless once they have reached maturity, extremely hardy and not subject to normal death, though they can be killed, at least in body: slain Elves go to the Halls of Mandos, and may be released from there after a time. There are few explicit examples of this; one that I can think of is Finrod Felagund, who died to save Beren when they were in the dungeons of Sauron and of whom the author then said that he “walks with his father”, who was still very much alive in Valinor.

Concerning which… Valinor was in Aman, an area of Arda that the Valar set aside for themselves (there was still plenty of the world left over for Elves, Dwarves and Men). When the Elves started to wake up, as Morgoth (then called Melkor), the evil Vala, was still on the loose, the Valar decided that it would be a good idea to summon the Elves to Aman where they could be supervised and guarded. They sent Orome to issue the summons, and he brought three of the Kings of the Elves, Ingwe, Finwe and Olwe, to Aman and then returned them to their people to give them a first-hand account of the paradise on Earth.

Some Elves either shunned Orome in the first place or weren’t swayed by the accounts of the Kings, and would not come to Aman. These were subsequently known as “Avari”, the Unwilling. Those Elves who did undertake the Journey were called “Eldar”. Of the Eldar, Ingwe’s people were the least numerous, the swiftest on the Journey, and once settled in Aman, never left again except on one brief occasion. These were the “Vanyar” or Light-Elves. Finwe’s people were next. They were called the “Noldor” or Deep-Elves and became great craftsmen, learning directly from the Valar including Aule. Later a large part of their race, though not all, returned to Middle-Earth in pursuit of Morgoth… but again, that’s another story.

Last and largest of the Eldar hosts were the Teleri, and they were slowest on the Journey. Some turned back before even crossing the Misty Mountains and settled by the rivers, becoming the Nandor or River-Elves. Some of these later entered Beleriand and became the Laiquendi or Green-Elves of Ossiriand. Some got as far as Beleriand in the first place and stopped there (Beleriand was west of the Blue Mountains. A remnant of the Mountains still exists in the time of LotR, but the lands to the west of them are beneath the sea). The rest crossed the Sea and for a while lived on an island near Aman before finally finishing the Journey.

Elwe himself stopped in Beleriand, for he met the beautiful and enchanting Melian the Maia, who took on the form of an Elf in order to marry him. They ruled a Telerin kingdom in Doriath under Melian’s guardianship, while the rest of the Teleri continuing to Aman were ruled by Olwe, Elwe’s brother. (This is slightly confusing; though they are called brothers, they have no known parents and it is usually held that they, along with Finwe and Ingwe, were first-generation Elves.) Elwe was subsequently known as Elu Thingol, more usually just Thingol.

So to recap: There were the Elves who came to Aman before the Sun rose: Calaquendi. These comprised all of the Vanyar, all of the Noldor and some of the Teleri.

There were the Elves who did not come to Aman: Moriquendi. These comprised the Avari and those of the Teleri who turned aside, including the sub-races of the Nandor and the Laiquendi.

And during the 500-odd years of the War of the Silmarils, there were in Middle-Earth all of the Moriquendi plus a large fraction of the Noldor.
(All done from memory. Hope I haven’t fucked up anywhere!)

Malacandra thanks for the petty dwarf info. But you must have missed my question about the prevalence of Durin’s Folk in the named dwarven characters. Can you (or anyone else) take a stab at that?

Thanks again.

Okay: Appendix A of Return of the King:

Bifur, Bofur and Bombur were descended from Dwarves of Moria, but not of Durin’s line. Thorin, all the rest of his companions, plus Gimli son of Gloin and also Dain and Thorin III Stonehelm were all of Durin’s line. Balin and Dwalin, and Oin and Gloin, were two pairs of brothers who were each first cousins to the other pair, and also third cousins of Thorin Oakenshield. So Fili and Kili were fourth cousins to Gimli (i.e. had a common great^3-grandfather).

I didn’t miss it, but I didn’t have the book handy earlier. Glad to oblige!