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I understand that the elves want to Valinor when they died. However, sometimes they took boats to Valinor, such as at the end of Lord of the Rings, and other times they died of injury and had no chance to. Would they end up in the same place either way? Also, if an elf lost the will to live, would they leave in a boat, or just die like a human?

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2 Answers 2

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When elves die they go to Valinor and eventually their spirits are incarnated in new bodies.

Elven Life Cycle - Tolkien Gateway

Elves who die or are killed go to the Halls of Mandos in Valinor. After a certain period of time and rest, their spirits (fëar) are incarnated in bodies (hröar) identical to their old ones. They almost never go back to Middle-earth, however.

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If you're going to quote something from the wikia you should put it in a quote. –  DoctorWho22 Jun 5 '14 at 17:46
Just to note not all of them get reincarnated though. There are some cases where they aren't allowed to incarnate and have to wait for the end of time like Fëanor. lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Elves –  DoctorWho22 Jun 5 '14 at 17:49
So they would still get their bodies back even if they had died from injuries? It was actually their old body, or was it a new one? –  Feldpausch All4 Jun 5 '14 at 20:26
@FeldpauschAll4 : this is all covered in HoME 10. –  user8719 Jun 5 '14 at 23:30

Valinor is the home of the Elves...not the afterlife. It is part of the continent of Aman, just as Middle-earth is a continent, both on our own ancient pre-history earth. At the time of LOTR many of the Elves who had been living in Middle-earth in exile had been given pardon to come home, and so were taking ship to go home. They did not sicken and die, and they aged so slowly that they didn't really age and die either. They could be killed though, or die of grief. Here from the book Letters of JRR Tolkien are brief explanations:

Ideally, Elves do not die; their lives are bound to that of the world. They are 'immortal' but not 'eternal;' their existence is "measured by the duration in time of Earth." (Tolkien, Letters 204) However, with the introduction of evil into the world, death came into the picture and marred Eru's plan for the Elves. "The Elves were not subject to disease, but they could be 'slain': that is their bodies could be destroyed, or mutilated so as to be unfit to sustain life." (Tolkien, Letters 286) They can also die of grief--essentially, give up on life. For the Elves, however, 'death' is not a true death; the fëa never leaves the world. Instead, it flees to the halls of Mandos, where it may rest and find release from the weariness of the world.

The boat trip is just that....a trip. When Galdalf (who, with the other Istari/Wizards, is also from the Undying Lands/Valinor) takes ship with Galadriel and the others, he is also merely going home after his assignment in Middle-earth was done. This assignment was given to all of the Istari, Saruman, Radagast and the 2 Blue Wizards, but Gandalf is the one who held true to the quest. The Mortals given permission to enter Valinor are still mortal, and if they stay there they'll receive healing and forget mental anguish, but they will still die there.

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