104 votes
Accepted

Are Tolkien's orcs immortal?

There's a couple of nice quotes from text 10 of the "History of Middle Earth" (Morgoth's Ring) that directly address the issue of orc immortality and orc lifespans: "They needed food and drink, and ...
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  • 609k
103 votes
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Why does Gandalf show such reverence for Galadriel and Elrond?

Canon One of the opening paragraphs of "The Istari", an essay printed in Unfinished Tales, largely answers this (emphasis mine): [The Wizards] came from over the Sea out of the Uttermost ...
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86 votes
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Tolkien calls Sauron Morgoth's Greatest Servant - But does he ever really earn that with his actions?

Who is more powerful, the President of the United States or the marine guarding him? In personal one-on-one combat I'm certain the marine would defeat the President. However, it is the President ...
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  • 5,450
70 votes
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Did Tolkien ever specify that Orodruin was a volcano?

No, Tolkien never uses the word "volcano" to describe Orodruin. The closest he comes is "Mountain of Fire", an epithet (note the capitalization) that gets frequently applied to it. ...
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65 votes
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How powerful is Eru Ilúvatar?

Eru is far and away the most powerful entity in the legendarium Why? Well (All quotes are from The Silmarillion)... Eru created the Ainur There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar; and ...
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  • 111k
63 votes
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If Melkor was the smartest and most powerful, why couldn't he make his own race?

Creation of living thinking beings is explicitly something that can only be done by Eru. Even when Aulë tried, in creating the Dwarves, he succeeded only in creating puppets, until Eru himself gave ...
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59 votes
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How on (middle) earth did Eärendil kill a dragon as huge as Ancalagon?

There is no canon answer to this. As you point out, literally the only description we have of this is that Before the rising of the sun Eärendil slew Ancalagon the Black, the mightiest of the ...
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  • 19.4k
53 votes
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What happened to Radagast The Brown?

It is not known. We do not know what he did during the whole duration War of the Ring or afterwards. Tolkien doesn't have any mention of him. We do know that by mistake he had Gandalf captured by ...
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52 votes
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Did Sauron and Finrod Felagund really get into a singing fight?

I can find no prose version of this story; it didn't change very much across revisions, so it doesn't get a lot of treatment in History of Middle-earth (aside from the longer version of the Lay in The ...
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50 votes

What was the first sentient race that awoke on Arda?

Ok, so here's what happened, in order: Eru Ilúvatar would create Elves and then Men in the coming of the Children of Ilúvatar. Aulë, not wanting to wait until the coming of the children to have ...
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48 votes

Was Sauron's body destroyed before or after the ring was cut from his hand?

According to The Silmarillion, Sauron was weakened after killing Gil-Galad and Elendil. That allowed Isildur to make the "Coup de Grace" of cutting off the Ring. Peter Jackson's version is actually ...
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  • 27.3k
46 votes

If Melkor was the smartest and most powerful, why couldn't he make his own race?

As Daniel Roseman says, the ability to create what Tolkien calls "rational incarnate" life is solely given to Eru Ilúvatar, the capital-G God of Tolkien's Legendarium. No matter how hard he ...
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46 votes

What magical powers do balrogs have?

Magic in Middle-earth is rather different to "conventional" magic. One must first remember that what one often thinks of as magic as used in other systems (like Harry Potter or D&D) was ...
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  • 75.3k
45 votes

Did Tolkien come up with the Ents as he was writing Lord of the Rings, or before?

Tolkien did indeed create the Ents for The Lord of the Rings, only inserting them into The Silmarillion as he revised it later. From a relatively early point (probably following the hobbits' ...
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  • 85.3k
43 votes
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Distinguish the explanations of Galadriel's test in LotR

I think that the passage that best explains the apparently contradictory versions of Galadriel's status in the Third Age is given in the chapter The History of Galadriel and Celeborn in Unfinished ...
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  • 20.3k
43 votes

Why, in The Silmarillion, does Melkor disappear forever and leave Sauron to reign as some kind of "Melkor copy"?

Melkor and Sauron are both Ainur, beings which existed before the creation of the universe and, indeed, assisted in it. In brief, Iluvatar -- God with a capital G -- created the Ainur and asked them ...
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  • 33.7k
42 votes

Who did the Elves think Annatar (Sauron) was?

There's no reason to assume that the elves, even Celebrimbor and the wisest of Eregion, would assume that any knowledgeable stranger would be suspicious, or even that he would necessarily be a Maia. ...
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42 votes
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How has Galadriel acquired evil mode?

Correcting some Misconceptions There are a couple of misconceptions in the question (and the ensuing discussion in comments) that I want to clear up before moving on: Galadriel can actually do this. ...
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41 votes
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What is the parentage of Gil-galad?

The short version is that Tolkien changed his mind on the subject repeatedly; at various points in the progression, Gil-galad has been descended from: Fëanor Finrod Fingon Orodreth, Finarfin's ...
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40 votes
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What would've happened had Melkor won?

Surprisingly, Tolkien did actually write a bit about this. In an essay titled "Notes on motives", where he compares and contrasts Sauron and Morgoth at the height of their influence, there are hints ...
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39 votes
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What were Fëanor's crimes?

Feanor's crimes were many. First, he spoke rebellious words against the Valar. Thus with lies and evil whisperings and false counsel Melkor kindled the hearts of the Noldor to strife; and of their ...
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  • 21.9k
37 votes
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Why is "the time of elves" considered to be over?

In short, the Elves don't breed fast enough and their woodland is being decimated by the encroachment of human farms and settlements. They've been using advanced magic to arrest the decline of their ...
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  • 609k
37 votes
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Was Ungoliant more powerful than Morgoth?

At the moment of their confrontation, obviously yes. In general, perhaps not; there were some extenuating circumstances at the time: But Ungoliant had grown great, and he less by the power that had ...
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