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In the First Age, when the Elves first awoke and were terrorized by Morgoth, the Valar came to help as soon as they learned of it, defeated and captured Morgoth.

When the Noldor went against the will of the Valar and followed Morgoth to Middle-Earth, and were eventually defeated by him, the Valar listened to Eärendil's pleas and began the War of Wrath, defeated and captured Morgoth.

So if Gandalf and Frodo had failed, would Sauron really have had complete dominance forever? Or would the Valar have intervened again? If not, why? Is it because in Arda Marred, the Valar are not able and/or willing to directly intervene anymore, and sending the Istari was all they could do?

Are there any statements in Tolkien's writings about this?

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3 Answers 3

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Most likely not.

The Valar didn't really directly intervene since bringing the Elves to Valinor and the first capture of Melkor; they were essentially powerless during the events leading to the capture of the Silmarils and the Flight of the Noldor, they sent a lesser representative (Eonwe) to lead the War of Wrath (the relevant chapter of the Silmarillion is quite careful to always mention "the host of the Valar" rather than "the Valar", and has Eonwe cast in a quite definite decision making/judgemental role), and even the downfall of Numenor was not an intervention by them - it was a case of "for that time the Valar laid down their government of Arda".

There was also the small matter of the Music of the Ainur - in particular the fact that the initial vision was taken away before the end: "and some have said that the vision ceased ere the fulfilment of the Dominion of Men and the fading of the Firstborn; wherefore, though the Music is over all, the Valar have not seen as with sight the Later Ages or the ending of the World". In other words, it's quite clearly inferred that by the time we get to the end of the Third Age and the War of the Ring, the Valar very probably just do not know what Eru's intention actually is - intervention on their part would have been a huge risk; they may be going against the intended destiny of the world, and for all they knew a victory for Sauron may have even been the event that precipitated the Dagor Dagorath. Big mistake to try prevent that!

(All references the published Silmarillion.)

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No. The Valars' response to Sauron was sending the Istari. What is very significant though is the probability that Sauron could NOT have won. Sauron (according to Tolkien himself) believed that Eru had abandoned Arda after the downfall of Numenor. His positioning of himself as ruler of Middle Earth (and possibly all of Arda in his reckoning) was predicated on this. If he knew that Eru Himself had sent Gandalf back after he died, he might have been more than a little worried. There is also the implication throughout the tale that the time for supernatural heroes and villains is fast drawing to a close and it is time for men to assume control of their own destiny within the world.

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Also the very suspicious serendipity of Bilbo "being meant to find the ring, and NOT by its maker" is a significant indication that the Istari were not the only intervention against Sauron. The Valar and Eru were operating on a number of fronts –  WOPR Dec 15 '12 at 22:00

I don't think so. The Valar mostly abandoned the people of Middle Earth to their fate. Yes they sent a few of their least powerful members there as the Istari, but when one of them (Saruman) betrayed them, and the Blue Wizards and (probably) Radagast abandoned what they'd been sent there to do (leaving only Gandalf), they still did next to nothing. Even when Gandalf himself is killed, all they did was send him back more powerful (apparently equivalent to Saruman before it all started). Other than that, they hardly lifted a finger to defeat Sauron, and the free peoples of Middle Earth prevailed only by the skin of their teeth.

Essentially the Valar failed the people of Middle Earth; I doubt they would have intervened if Sauron had won the War of the Ring.

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Hi and welcome. Some quotes from the books or so make the answer substantial... –  ash_k29 Jan 16 at 6:40

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