12th of December 2017
In The World of Ice and Fire we find the description of The Great Empire of the Dawn, a mythical realm, which supposedly once existed in the eastern Esssos. Its first Emperor ruled for ten thousand years, and each following reign was shorter and more troubled.
When The Opal Emperor died, the throne should have passed to his daughter, The Amethyst Empress. But her younger brother usurped the crrown. In legends, he is remembered as The Bloodstone Emperor, and his reign as a time of great wickedness and tyrany. The Emperor dabbled in dark magic and necromancy, and set aside the old gods to worship a black stone which fell from the sky. His atrocities are considered to be the cause of The Long Night and fall of The Empire.
This story is startingly similar to one from The Silmarillion, about the Downfall of Numenor.
(The history of that isle is very rich, spanning over three millenia, so here I’ll merely point out some parallels between Numenor and The Great Empire).
The First Age came to an end, when The Army of the Valar arrived in Middle-Earth and defeated Morgoth and his minions. However, during that battle, the realm of Beleriand (a part of Middle-Earth where most of The Silmarillion takes places) was greatly devastated, with nearly most of it claimed by the sea.
To reward Men who fought against The Dark Lord, The Valar created an isle, in the middle of Belegaer, The Great Sea, between Middle-Earth and Valinor. It was called Elenna (Under the Star of Earendil, which means Morningstar/Evenstar, it’s worth to mention that the island’s shape is a reference to Venus’s symbol, the five-pointed star).
Edain (Men, who allied with The Elves against Morgoth), who settled in this realm, became known as The Numenoreans. Their first king was Elros (son of Earendil and brother of Elrond). The Numenoreans lived much longer than other humans, even over 350 years, they were also the tallest among men. Their civilization, science, art, craft and seafaring skills were very advenced. From time to time, ships from Numenor sailed to Middle-Earth and other continents, and for this reason many peoples and cultures remembered them as ‘the kings from the sea’, godlike beings who tought them agriculture, smithing, metallurgy, architecture and many other useful skills.
But, as the time passed, the happiness of Numenoreans became spoiled by awareness that despite their longevity and might, they are still mortal. For centuries, they lived in friendship with Elves and The Valar of Valinor, but, gradually, their relations turned sour.
Tar-Palantir was the 24th King of Numenor, who wanted to reconcile his people with The Powers of the World and Elves. But his reign was short, and reforms futile. One child he had, a daughter named Miriel – according to customs and laws of Numenor, she should have inherited the throne and the sceptre. But, this never happened, as the son of Palantir’s younger brother, Ar-Pharazon (The Golden) usurped the throne and forced Miriel to marry him.
Shortly after his ascension, the king learned that Sauron, fallen Maia who once served as Morgoth’s second-in-command, began attacking Numenorean settlements in the Middle Earth, claiming to be ‘The King of Men’.
Having gathered a great host and vast fleet, Ar-Pharazon sailed to Middle-Earth, and invaded Mordor. So great was the might of Numenoreans that Sauron’s minions fled. The Dark Lord shapeshifted into his fairest form, and presented himself to the king. He offered to become Ar-Pharazon’s hostage. Thus Sauron came to Numenor.
Barely three years have passed, and Sauron already was a member of the Royal Council and chief advisor. A reign of tyrany began, and of deeds so foul that the world has seen no worse since the days of Morgoth. The Numenoreans returned to Middle-Earth, but as conquerors, not teachers. Their people turned away from The Valar and Eru, and a great temple was construced in the middle of Numenor’s capital. There Sauron made bloody sacrifices of slaves and even Numenoreans believed to be Elf-firends in secret.
When Ar-Pharazon felt that his life will soon end, he listened to Sauron’s advice, and ordered the construction of the greatest fleet in the history of Arda, to fight against The Valar and win immortality. When king’s armies landed in The Blessed Realm, the Elves fled, and even The Valar did not know what to do. So they remised the power over the world they held, and prayed to Eru, begging him to intervene.
And Eru answered. The earth shook, smoke and fire belched from Mount Meneltarma, waves swept across the land, destroying everything on their path. The bottom of the sea cracked, and swallowed Numenor. It was year 3119, Second Age.
But for Ar-Pharazon, a diffrent punishment awaited. The ground opened and swallowed him. It is said that he is still trapped somewhere, in a cave in the depths of Arda, until the end of times.