To get to the Undying Lands one has to take one of the Elven ships and sail into the west. This journey is meant only for the Elves, Ringbearers and a select few others. But would it be possible for an uninvited guest to enter the Undying Lands by sneaking onto one of these ships and staying hidden for the entire trip to the west?

For the sake of the question, let's assume that A: you somehow manage to sneak on board without being spotted and B: you have a hiding place where the Elves can't find you on their own (either hidden between cargo somewhere, or clinging onto the outside of the boat paired with the endurance and lung capacity of Dr. Henry Walton Jones Jr.) for the duration of the entire trip.

Would you eventually end up in the Undying Lands? Or would you through some kind of magic be found out? Or would it become impossible to reach the Undying Lands?

  • 1
    This has interesting implications for this question, too. I'm intrigued to know the answer since I don't have any of the books handy to check.
    – user44330
    Apr 23, 2015 at 23:35
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    The first question would be: is it possible to sneak into an elven ship ?
    – Joel
    Apr 25, 2015 at 15:42

3 Answers 3


I think given the right circumstances it would be possible to sneak into Aman before it was detached from the world. In fact, Eärendil himself did it.

We get our first glimpse of the difficulty of getting to Aman when Eärendil tries to find the Valar and ask them to come to the aid of both Eldar and Edain in Middle-earth.

Eärendil found not Tuor nor Idril, nor came he ever on that journey to the shores of Valinor, defeated by shadows and enchantment, driven by repelling winds, until in longing for Elwing he turned homeward towards the coast of Beleriand.

  • "Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath," Chapter 24 The Silmarillion

So here we get our first glimpse of the answer. Eärendil could not find Valinor even with Vingilot the ship built with the aid of Círdan the greatest ship builder in Middle-earth, and an elf.

Of course Eärendil was eventually able to find Valinor but only when he possessed one of the Silmaril.

..but sought back once more to Valinor with Elwing at his side. He stood now most often at the prow of Vingilot, and the Silmaril was bound upon his brow; and ever its light grew greater as they drew into the West. And the wise have said that it was by reason of the power of that holy jewel that they came in time to waters that no vessels save those of the Teleri had known;

  • "Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath," Chapter 24 The Silmarillion


The reaction of the Valar and Eönwë the herald of Manwë reveals to us that this was entirely unexpected:

'Hail Eärendil, of mariners most renowned, the looked for that cometh at unawares..

So I think we can see here that the coming of Eärendil was unexpected and he had indeed "snuck" into Aman. This is a very specific case though as the only reason he made it to Aman was his possession of one of the Silmarils.

For a more concrete answer though we look at the tale Ælfwine the Anglo-saxon who found the straight road and sailed to Aman from Wales. A rather interesting story which can be found in chapter 6 of the Book Of Lost Tales: part 2.

Ælfwine stumbled upon the straight road and ended up in Aman, with no magic to prohibit him going though. Of course, these does hit a snag as Ælfwine can be translated to ('elf-friend') and as some other users have pointed out, may be a kind of 'free-pass' and Ælfwine was a distant relation of Eärendil.

(I need sources for this but don't have my book with me, so see tolkiengateway )

Ar-Pharazôn even made it to Aman as told in the Akallabêth:

And at last Ar-Pharazôn came even to Aman, the Blessed Realm, and the coasts of Valinor; and still all was silent, and doom hung by a thread. For Ar-Pharazôn wavered at the end, and almost he turned back. His heart misgave him when he looked upon the soundless shores and saw Taniquetil shining, whiter than snow, colder than death, silent, immutable, terrible as the shadow of the light of Ilúvatar. But pride was now his master, and at last he left his ship and strode upon the shore, claiming the land for his own, if none should do battle for it. And a host of the Númenóreans encamped in might about Túna, whence all the Eldar had fled.

now there is the possibility that this was allowed by Manwë or Ilúvatar for the following reason:

And all the fleets of the Númenóreans were drawn down into the abyss, and they were drowned and swallowed up for ever. But Ar-Pharazôn the King and the mortal warriors that had set foot upon the land of Aman were buried under falling hills: there it is said that they lie imprisoned in the Caves of the Forgotten, until the Last Battle and the Day of Doom.

Now this might be a strain to assume as we have little to go on but if it is the case then even Ar-Pharazôn's coming was known to the Valar and he would not have snuck into Aman. And this was an invasion and not a "stealthy" entrance to Aman.

Now, the thing is would it be possible to sneak to Aman on an elven ship? Given your 2 above constraints it is possible, but to be totally honest I think that it would be very improbable.


Post-world-bending, it depends on what you mean by sneak. (We already know people could sneak into Aman prior to the world bending.)

According to the Akallabêth, some Men did make it to Valinor without exactly being invited:

And tales and rumors arose along the shores of the sea concerning mariners and men forlorn upon the water who, by some fate or grace or favour of the Valar, had entered in upon the Straight Way and seen the face of the world sink below them, and so had come to the lamplit quays of Avallone, or verily to the last beaches on the margin of Aman, and there had looked upon the White Mountain, dreadful, and beautiful before they died.

So yes, if Men could end up on the Straight Way without Elven ships, it certainly seems possible someone could stowaway on an Elven ship, if they had "some fate or grace or favor of the Valar." Realistically, I'm sure they'd be detected by the Elves. I suppose we could speculate that if, for example, a bunch of Saruman's henchmen fled from the Shire to the Havens and stowed away on a boat using secret Saruman sorcery with mischief in mind, the Elves might find the Straight Way didn't open and investigate. But so far as I am aware, we don't have any specific information that would answer a question like that. Generally speaking, the way is not open to Men who are not possessed of some special fate or favor.

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    I think it's worth nothing that the tales of Men happening upon the Straight Way are just that: tales. It's never been confirmed as true (With the exception of Ælfwine, who's of questionable canonicity anyway) Apr 24, 2015 at 15:28
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    @JasonBaker: Sure, but out-of-universe, that's a frequent device Tolkien uses to tell the readers about things; in-universe it was given enough credit to be included in a definitive, curated book of lore and history. :)
    – Shamshiel
    Apr 24, 2015 at 15:33

Very tentatively, as I am woefully uninformed about LotR lore: This wiki says Númenor was destroyed to prevent an invasion of the Undying Lands. Since an invasion is basically a mass-sneak-in, it is (or was, at some point) at least possible to sneak into the Undying Lands uninvited.

The treacherous Sauron deceived Ar-Pharazôn, the last King of Númenor, to believe that the ruler of the Undying Lands would be granted immortality and persuaded him that this was man's right and he had but to claim it. To prevent the king's invasion, Ilúvatar destroyed Númenor beneath the ocean and set the Undying Lands forever beyond the reach of mortal Men.

The Tolkien Gateway agrees that, in the past, it was possible to reach the Undying Lands uninvited. From the "Undying Lands" entry:

Wise as the Valar were, though, they did not foresee the wiles of Sauron. The fallen Maia falsely persuaded the last King of Númenor, Ar-Pharazôn, that the ruler of the Undying Lands would be undying himself. Believing Sauron, Ar-Pharazôn assembled a great navy and sailed westward to make hopeless war on the Valar for the imagined prize of endless life.

From the Akallabêth entry:

Sauron convinced the King to assail Aman in order to gain immortality, desiring to destroy Númenor with the wrath of the Valar. However, as this was done, the Valar appealed to Eru Ilúvatar.

Eru destroyed the army of Ar-Pharazôn that had landed on Aman by crushing it under stones; however, he also caused the whole of Númenor to sink under the Great Sea. Arda was made spherical at this time, and Aman was put beyond it, out of the reach of mortal Men.

How one would avoid detection while stowing away on a ship full of elves is beyond me.

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    As a matter of fact, Wikia is a terrible source. Tolkiengateway.net is much better. Apart from that, +1. Apr 24, 2015 at 0:17
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    After Numenor was destroyed the world was also reshaped, made round and with new 'normal' continents replacing where Valinor had been. Elven ships could only still reach there via the 'Straight Road' which would be best described as a sort of magic. Apr 24, 2015 at 0:18
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    @AlfredoHernández - Tolkien Gateway sources added
    – Wad Cheber
    Apr 24, 2015 at 0:25
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    @WadCheber If you are "far off" from the coast you descry, you are not at that coast! Not sure where the basic logic breaks down for you.
    – Lexible
    Apr 24, 2015 at 8:02
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    @WadCheber And if you read to the end of the quote "as far as it was lawful for them to go. For they did not dare to break the Ban of the Lords of the West". So: (1) they are far off from the coast of Tol Eressëa when, (2) the are as far (west) as it was lawful for them to go, and (3) they did not defy the Ban. Ergo, they never got to the Tol Eressëa (the easternmost geography of the undying lands). If they got to Tol Eressëa, then either they weren't far off, or they defied the Ban, both of which are flatly contradicted by the text I just quoted.
    – Lexible
    Apr 24, 2015 at 8:14

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