TOLKIEN TUESDAY: Melkor and the Trees of Valinor

TOLKIEN TUESDAY: Melkor and the Trees of Valinor

Hello Rebels, and welcome back to my life.

It’s Tolkien Tuesday, the day we talk about J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit books and films, and exciting real-life happenings in the sphere of Middle-earth.

Last Tolkien Tuesday, we began the story of Melkor, the most powerful and evil of the Valar, gods on Middle-earth. When last we saw him, he had just found the Elves and tortured a bunch of them into Elves. So what happened next?

Well, it wasn’t too long until the rest of the Valar found out what Melkor had been up to, and when they did, they were a little bit pissed off.

They pressed forward with all their strength—which was quite a lot of strength—and fought a new war against Melkor. Eventually they won, took down his fortress and brought him to their home in chains.

However it’s worth noting that they did NOT delve into his stronghold’s dungeons and pits, so they missed quite a bit of Melkor’s strength, including Sauron, who hid himself away, and many Balrogs, who went into a sort of hibernation until Melkor’s return.

Melkor was put on trial and found guilty (obviously) so he was confined to the Halls of Mandos for three ages. Mandos was another of the Valar, and his halls were where the dead went to wait after they died. (Basically the first stage of the afterlife).

Now this is Melkor’s story so far, but we need to talk about what happened while he was imprisoned. You remember how the world used to be lit by two great lamps that cast light and warmth over everything, but Melkor destroyed them.

With the lamps gone, the world needed a new source of light, so the Valar sang two great trees into existence—a silver tree and a golden tree.

Those trees corresponded to night and day, respectively, and in this time the day was divided into its hours, with each tree having equal time to light the world.

Meanwhile, now that the Valar knew where the Elves were, they brought them to Valinor where they formed into three great peoples. One of these groups, the Ñoldor, soon produced an elf called Fëanor. Now please remember his name because he’s very important.

Fëanor was the greatest craftsman in the history of the world, and he built three precious gems called the Silmarils. They were the most beautiful gems ever built, and part of their power was that they absorbed the light of the two trees.

When Melkor’s prison sentence was up, he pleaded that his evil was done and asked to be released. Manwë, chief among the Valar, couldn’t really understand that his big brother would be lying—remember, the world was still VERY young.

So he released Melkor, who seemed to behave pretty well for a while. But actually, he began whispering in the elves of the Ñoldor, who, while they were powerful warriors and great craftsmen, were also extremely proud.

See, the Valar had made one big mistake when they helped the Elves build their kingdoms—they neglected to TELL the Elves about the forthcoming arrival of Men. So Melkor was the one to tell them instead, and he didn’t exactly make it sound like a good thing.

The Ñoldor began to suspect the Valar of betraying them, thinking they were using the Elves to set the world up, and then kick them out and hand the world over to Men.

Fëanor was chief among the Elves who spoke out against the Valar, and when his brother Fingolfin disagreed, Fëanor threatened him with violence. The Valar summoned him to their court for judgement, and when he told them what had happened they found out what Melkor had been up to.

But when they went to find him and capture him again, he was nowhere to be found. And in secret he approached Fëanor, pretending to be all buddy-buddy to try and steal the Silmarils, the magical gems.

Fëanor, though still not a fan of the Valar, knew what Melkor was up to by now, so he basically told Melkor to piss off.

Enraged, Melkor went and found a giant spider called Ungoliant, who would go on to be the great-great-etc. grandmother of all the giant spiders the world has ever known, like the ones in Mirkwood in The Hobbit and Shelob in The Lord of the Rings.

Together Melkor and Ungoliant crept upon the two trees of light, and when everyone was busy throwing a festival, they struck. Melkor cut the trees open and Ungoliant drank the sap that poured out, until the trees were dead.

Despite everything we’ve already discussed, this is considered the very darkest deed Melkor ever did—but there’s even more to come, in the next Tolkien Tuesday video.

Thank you so much for watching, an extra special shoutout to my supporters on Patreon who make all my YouTube videos possible, and I will see you tomorrow. Byyye.

Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at garrettbrobinson.com.

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