I know Tolkien never gave us Third Age details of the Valar aside from sending in the Maiar, AKA "Istari", but we don't seem to know much more about The Valar in the Third Age.

Does Manwe really just sit in his throne and wait for Judgement Day or Dagor Dagorath? Do the rest of the Valar really just wait in their own homes?

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    You should know, shouldn't you?
    – Möoz
    Mar 12, 2015 at 2:31
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    If you're looking for "people's opinions of these questions" then it's going to be closed as "primarily opinion based". You should be prepared to accept "Tolkien never wrote about that" as a possible answer.
    – user8719
    Mar 12, 2015 at 8:45
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    I've removed elements that are clearly looking for opinions in order to try salvage this question, but I'd suggest that you go back and focus it more on the "what do the Valar do" part - I'm reluctant to edit this further myself as I don't want to change your intent too much. This question would be answerable if you did so.
    – user8719
    Mar 13, 2015 at 0:21
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    @Omegacron - If you were helping Mr. Solo with his music, you might ask "How often does Han play?"
    – Valorum
    Mar 13, 2015 at 6:18
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    @tgnat - about a kilo unless it's laying an egg.
    – Valorum
    Mar 13, 2015 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


Although the Valar may seem inactive through the later (i.e post-First Age) history of Middle-earth, they never actually abdicated their roles (although, as we'll see, their capability for direct action does decrease).

"Valar" means "powers", and the Valar are the Powers of the World. Their role was initially to prepare Arda for the coming of the Children of Ilúvatar, then to manage Arda in a more general sense.

This management of Arda is an ongoing job, but one which requires less direct intervention over time (see below), and the Valar only ever laid down their government of Arda once, as is told in the Akallabeth:

Then Manwë upon the Mountain called upon Ilúvatar, and for that time the Valar laid down their government of Arda.

It's notable that the text here specifically states "for that time" - in other words, the Valar took up their government of Arda again after the destruction of Númenor.

Regarding Manwë, yes, he really does just sit and wait for the End; this is confirmed by a note in the Myths Transformed essays in History of Middle-earth 10:

Nonetheless the breaking of Thangorodrim and the extrusion of Melkor was the end of 'Morgoth' as such, and for that age (and many ages after). It was thus, also, in a sense the end of Manwë's prime function and task as Elder King, until the End. He had been the Adversary of the Enemy.

A further note in the same set of essays has this to say in a more general sense about the Valar:

The Valar 'fade' and become more impotent, precisely in proportion as the shape and constitution of things becomes more defined and settled.

So although their primary role is government of the world, their effectiveness and capability for direct action decreases as time passes, until eventually it is quite correct to say that they don't actually do much at all. A description of their behaviour in the Annals of Aman (HoME 10) during the First Spring of Arda is probably best to describe what is the most likely limit of their later activities too:

Now therefore the Valar were gathered upon Almaren and feasted and made merry, fearing no evil...

As for what their government of Arda actually entails, you can think of them as being like the back-room IT people who's job it is to make sure that your email stays working. You may not see what they're doing, you may not even know what they do, but the fact that you can get into your email means that they're doing their job.

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    As I recall in reference to Manwë it was stated that he would only descend from his mountain at the End.
    – IG_42
    Mar 13, 2015 at 20:10
  • @IG_42 - correct; this is mentioned in the Istari material in Unfinished Tales.
    – user8719
    Mar 13, 2015 at 23:22
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    +1 Interesting answer, thank you. Maybe we could say that it's the same for the other Valar as it is with Melkor. Once they have done their work to order things in Arda, they have put forth their power and it's like Morgoth's ring or the rings of the second age using up the inner power of their makers. We can see that in the way Varda and Yavahna are not able to recreate the trees once they are destroyed. They had put much of themselves into it and just don't have the means to do the same again.
    – Joel
    Mar 14, 2015 at 1:50
  • The Silmarillion notes "which still the Ainur are shaping", so they have done things in every age. We can't tell what would be different if they just stopped, but one may suppose if Manwë were idle, for example, we would have no jet stream, and sailing wouldn't work due to lack of wind. It's singing all the way down, though echoes can be as powerful as new notes. Dec 15, 2023 at 15:40

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