As The Rings of Power sets sail (literally), we’re sure to learn more about those ancient and mysterious beings, the Elves.
From the return of Galadriel, to the introduction of Linden, the series so far has been bursting with Elf lore.
And with the opening episode’s release today (2nd September), die-hard fans would have been happy to see the first proper glimpse of the Elven home, Valinor.
Despite small references here and there in the original trilogy, Valinor has remained an unknown to the average Lord of the Rings viewer. But now, this prequel will surely be able to give more insight into where this magical race comes from.
What is Valinor?
Valinor, or the Undying Lands, is a place far to the West of Middle-earth. It’s mainly the home to the Valar, an ancient race of beings that the men of Middle-earth thought to be gods.
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The enormous continent also includes Eldamar, the land of the Elves. When Elves were originally born, the Valar invited them to live in Valinor, believing them to be worth saving from the evil of Middle-earth.
Yet when Morgoth, a big bad god, stole from the Elves and killed one of their leaders, several of them decided it was time to exile themselves from Valinor and wage war against him. After he was defeated, many Elves went back to the blessed lands, but some, including Galadriel, chose to stay.
Only immortal beings are allowed to live in the Undying Lands, and although Elves can die in battle, the fact that they never age means that every single one of them has the desire to live out their eternal life in Valinor.
In the earlier stages of Middle-earth, Valinor’s coast was protected by a series of magic isles that kept strangers out. But in the Second Age, after the destruction of the human kingdom Númenor, the continent was removed to a different realm entirely. Only Elves can access it through specially designed ships.
Yet, as movie fans may know, the people of Valinor do make rare Hobbit-sized exceptions. At the end of Return of the King, the time of Elves was essentially over and so nearly all of them returned to their home. But they also gained special permission to bring the ring-bearers, Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, as well as Gimli the Dwarf.
One of the few Elves to not return was Liv Tyler’s Arwen, who chose to become mortal and stay with Aragorn.
In the opening scene of The Rings of Power, Tolkien fans finally get to see the mysterious land as a young Galadriel plays (and argues) with other Elf children. Then by the end of the episode, she is almost taken back to her home on a ship that leaves from the Grey Havens.
But her last-minute decision to jump ship and swim back to Middle-earth disrupts her return to paradise. By leaving the Elves to pursue Sauron, Galadriel has made a very big choice, one that will probably bring some serious consequences in the coming episodes.
Who knows if she’ll ever be welcomed back into her homeland, or if she’ll have to stay in exile forever?
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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episodes 1 and 2 are available now on Amazon Prime Video – you can sign up now for a free 30-day Prime Video trial.