‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’: Fairy War vs. Morgoth Explained

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power takes place in the Second Age of Middle-earth, when Morgoth, the First Dark Lord, was already defeated. However, there’s still a shadow threatening to engulf the world, as Morgoth’s general, Sauron, is still waiting for the right moment to strike. While Sauron is one of the most iconic pop culture villains, thanks to Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Morgoth is a more obscure villain. And as the first episode of The Rings of Power explains, the evil lord was around for a long time, since his war against the Elves raged for centuries.

But what motivated the war of the Elves against Morgoth? How did it start, and how did it come to an end? Instead of listing every battle that took place over hundreds of years, let’s focus on the most essential and discuss the main points you need to follow The Rings of Power story.

Who Is Morgoth?
In Tolkien’s cosmology, there’s only one God, Ilúvatar, a being responsible for all creation. The first things Ilúvatar ever created were divinities to serve him, some of which were sent into the Void to fill its existence. The divinities who were responsible for building the world of Arda were called Valar, while lesser divinities who followed the Valar were named Maiar. While the Valar were determined to follow Ilúvatar’s will, one of them decided to rebel against creation, allowing his heart to be filled with hate, envy, and pride. That being was Melkor, the most powerful of the Valar, who used all his mighty to disrupt creation however he could.

In order to protect the Children of Ilúvatar, the Valar united and attacked Melkor in his fortress in Middle-earth, defeating the villain. Melkor was bound and imprisoned for a long time, while the Elves were invited by the Valar to go to Valinor, the sacred lands where gods roam. So, while Melkor was held alone in his prison, the Elves thrived, absorbing all the knowledge they could from the Valar. That only angered Melkor even more, who decided to wage war against all creation once he was set free.

Melkor, however, was smart enough to simulate a change of heart. So, when his sentence came to an end, he claimed to be regretful of his actions, and vowed to help the Valar and the Elves to prosper. For a while, Melkor played the part of good guy, teaching many of his secrets to the Elves. However, at the same time, Melkor planted lies so that different Elven groups would grow suspicious of each other and the Valar. Little by little, Melkor poisoned Elven leaders, instilling greed and doubt in their spirits.

The biggest victim of Melkor’s lies was Fëanor, the noble Elf who created the Silmarils. These crystals kept the lights of the Trees of Valinor inside themselves, which led Melkor to covet them above all. Unfortunately, Fëanor was also lured by the precious gems he had created, raising his sword against his own kin for his right over the Silmarils. At that time, Melkor’s façade was uncovered, and he was recognized by all as the enemy he always was. And so people began to refer to Melkor as Morgoth, which in the Sindarin language means “Dark Enemy.”

The War of the Jewels
While Morgoth always saw the Elves as his enemies, the War of the Jewels only began after the Dark Lord attacked Valinor, destroying the Trees of Valinor, killing Fëanor’s father, and stealing the Silmarils for himself. After that, Fëanor, consumed by grief and believing in the lie that the Valar wanted the Silmarils for themselves, swore an oath with his seven sons to lead his people against Morgoth and anyone else that stood in their path to recover the Great Jewels. This oath would spread doom through Middle-earth for centuries to come, as Fëanor and his descendants fought Elves, Men, and Dwarves besides attacking Morgoth, while the Silmarils changed hands multiple times. Also known as the Wars of Beleriand, the great battles that marked the First Age of Middle-earth always involved Morgoth, the Elves, and the Silmarils, dragging other people and the Valar into the conflict multiple times. Each battle was fought for years, or even decades, until all the Silmarils were retrieved and Morgoth finally captured again.

When he felt he could no longer stand to the combined forces of Middle-earth and the Valar, Morgoth pledged for his life, trying to break peace after all the pain he caused. The Valar, unwilling to be fooled once more, took Morgoth back to Valinor and pushed him through the Door of Night. This special door marked the border between Arda, the known world, and the Void where nothing exists. According to legend, Morgoth remains locked behind the Door of Night, and will only break free at the end of times, when he’ll finally be slain in the last war, before the world is remade perfect by Ilúvatar.

When Morgoth was defeated, his armies were scattered on Middle-earth, with every orc, Balrogs, dragon, trolls, giant spider, and all sorts of evil creatures trying to save their own skin. Morgoth’s general, a former Maia known as Sauron, also vanished in Middle-earth, after being refused pardon for his war crimes. The story of The Rings of Power starts many centuries after Sauron vanished, and before he would rise as a new Dark Lord.

It’s worth noting that Tolkien’s universe has been devastated by wars since the beginning of time, and these conflicts were always motivated by the will of different people to possess powerful artifacts. In the First Age, there were the Silmarils. In the Second Age, the Rings of Power are forged. Only at the End of the Third Age, with the destruction of the One Ring, the world have a chance to be at peace. It’s an interesting theme that turns the entire literary work of Tolkien into one big cautionary tale against greed.

The first two episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power are streaming now on Prime Video. New episodes become available every Friday.

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