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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
How powerful were the Edain?

Victariongreyjoy
Rivendell


Dec 29 2017, 4:04pm

Post #1 of 18 (3490 views)
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How powerful were the Edain? Can't Post

Since they fought with worse foes than T.A Gondor and Arnor did, would you say The Edain would have outclassed Gondor and Arnor together as in military strength? And let's say Numenor never existed, and The Edain remained as they were in the F.A into S.A, would they have been a force to be reckon against Sauron's might during that time?


(This post was edited by Victariongreyjoy on Dec 29 2017, 4:11pm)


squire
Half-elven


Dec 29 2017, 6:43pm

Post #2 of 18 (3443 views)
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Could you be more specific? [In reply to] Can't Post

Edain generally means the Race of Men. There are more specific meanings, having to do with the history of the West in the Elder Days. How exactly are you comparing the First Age's tribes of Men, as a military power, with the successor empires of the Dunedain in the Third Age, who had both the advantages of larger populations and three to six thousand years of civilized history and naval and military development?

I believe Tolkien started a short story about the Numenoreans expanding their mainland empire and 'rediscovering' a tribe of Men who had remained behind in Middle-earth in the Second Age. I don't recall it exactly, but I thought the tribe lived in terror of Sauron and tried to keep its head down, so to speak.



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Victariongreyjoy
Rivendell


Dec 29 2017, 11:37pm

Post #3 of 18 (3419 views)
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House of Beor and Marach [In reply to] Can't Post

Were they fearsome fighters against Morgoth and his powerful minions during the F.A? And let say Numenor didn't exist and these two houses settled in Arnor regions. How well would they do against Sauron in the S.A without the the advantage of what the numenoreans had?


squire
Half-elven


Dec 31 2017, 2:49am

Post #4 of 18 (3321 views)
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I think that's very hard to say. [In reply to] Can't Post

In Tolkien's world, physical force and military power are secondary to spiritual force and alignment with the Powers who rule the world. The Men of the West benefited from their association with the Elves, who had a more direct connection with the heavenly forces in Valinor across the Sea.

The question for the houses of Beor and Marach, as you propose in a world where the gift of Numenor was never offered to the Men of the West who fought with the Elves against Morgoth, is: what is their relationship with the Elves, in the Second Age? They would not be fighting Sauron alone - they would be part of some kind of alliance. Would they be particularly virtuous? Would they be particularly open to the Elves' instruction? Or...

Would it be ordained by the Powers that Sauron would triumph (in the absence of Numenor) in the Second Age, as a part of Eru's plan? If so, the "fearsome fighters" of the race of Men would be at a loss, by the nature of the struggle.



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CuriousG
Half-elven


Dec 31 2017, 5:49pm

Post #5 of 18 (3256 views)
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If you think of the heroic, determined last stand of Huor and Hurin's army [In reply to] Can't Post

against Morgoth's army at the Fen of Serech, the Edain were pretty awesome fighters on their own against evil lords, even without Elves around for support and leadership, particularly the houses of Beor and Malach (Haleth's people seemed better at defense than offense).

I think your question revolves around numbers: how many Edain would there be in Eriador to oppose Sauron's forces, and would they be under a unified command? For comparison, Gondor did very well in building up an empire that rivaled Numenor, whereas Arnor was nothing but long, slow decline, yet both nations came from the same genetic stock. So if there were no Numenor, and the Edain multiplied into a large population, and they had a united kingdom, I think that they could have done as well as Gondor.

What seems to have inhibited Gil-Galad's resistance to Sauron during the Second Age was sheer lack of numbers for his armies compared to Sauron's, not lack of leadership or quality of weaponry/armor or morale or discipline, just not enough Elves to fight the fight. Since Men reproduce like rabbits compared to Elves (and have nowhere to go oversea to flee), the odds would have been in their favor. Except that somehow, Sauron always found greater breeding pools to the South and East for Men and also amongst Orcs, so hard to be certain about things overall.

And Happy New Year!


Victariongreyjoy
Rivendell


Jan 1, 5:12pm

Post #6 of 18 (3176 views)
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Epic characters Huor and Hurin. [In reply to] Can't Post

Those two I feel were so noble and strong in their will, they could easily fought and destroy the nazguls in the S.A by themselves.
I mean they did fight with more terrifying creatures than the wraiths like the balrogs, firedrakes and perhaps vampires?


(This post was edited by Victariongreyjoy on Jan 1, 5:16pm)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 1, 6:02pm

Post #7 of 18 (3172 views)
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I would think that [In reply to] Can't Post

with Hurin able to defy Morgoth while the latter was at the height of his power, Hurin wouldn't have flinched when fighting a Nazgul or Sauron himself. And Huor too.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jan 1, 6:29pm

Post #8 of 18 (3168 views)
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Defeat if not destroy. [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that either Húrin or Huor might have been able to defeat any of the Nine in single combat; whether they could destroy a Nazgûl is another question. They might have needed a blade that could sever the connection between a Wraith's spirit and flesh, such as the dagger possessed by Merry. Maybe the black sword Anglachel (later reforged as Gurthang) could have done it.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


Victariongreyjoy
Rivendell


Jan 1, 6:33pm

Post #9 of 18 (3163 views)
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Hurin and Huor against the nazgul? [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry, but you did mean they can beat them, but not destroy them right? Didn't the Edain get lots of magic skills from the Eldars back in the days? Aren't Hurin and Huor amongst the greatest fighters of Men in all time? Huor and Hurin wouldn't piss in their pants facing of the ringwraiths, when they during the F.A faced far worse foes.


(This post was edited by Victariongreyjoy on Jan 1, 6:35pm)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jan 1, 6:47pm

Post #10 of 18 (3155 views)
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Fighting the Nazgûl [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Sorry, but you did mean they can beat them, but not destroy them right? Didn't the Edain get lots of magic skills from the Eldars back in the days? Aren't Hurin and Huor amongst the greatest fighters of Men in all time? Huor and Hurin wouldn't piss in their pants facing of the ringwraiths, when they during the F.A faced far worse foes.


I never suggested that either Húrin or Huor would be daunted by any of the Ringwraiths, but that isn't the question. No amount of raw strength could permanently destroy one of the Nazgûl, and I don't know that either of the brothers possessed any power that could have done so without destroying the Master Ring or the Wraiths' Rings of Power, or first severing the connection between the Nazgûl's flesh and spirit. If either of them did have such power, please, explain what it was and where it came from. Húrin and Huor were mighty heroes, but they were still mortal Men.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jan 1, 6:49pm)


Victariongreyjoy
Rivendell


Jan 1, 6:53pm

Post #11 of 18 (3147 views)
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The Eldar and the Edain [In reply to] Can't Post

Didn't some of the eldars teached mortal men great skills of craftsmen or something like that in the beginning? Would that apply also making weapons embeeded in magic?


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jan 1, 7:48pm

Post #12 of 18 (3141 views)
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Yes. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Didn't some of the eldar teach mortal men great skills of craftsmen or something like that in the beginning? Would that apply also making weapons embedded in magic?


Yes, but did either of the brothers acquire such knowledge? I don't recall either of them being skilled weaponsmiths. And to craft spells into an object might have required a craftsman to be attuned to the Music of the Ainur in a way that might not have been possible for most Men even among the Edain. It came so naturally to the Elves that Galadriel had a difficult time even explaining it to mortals. Even the Dwarves' understanding of magic might have been different from the understanding of the Elves.

I am having difficulty recalling any famous magical weapon of Middle-earth that was forged by Men other than the blades that Tom Bombadil recovered from the barrow mounds near the Old Forest.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


No One in Particular
Rivendell


Jan 3, 1:11am

Post #13 of 18 (3043 views)
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Magical weapons [In reply to] Can't Post

Elf swords glow blue on the presence of Orcs. That doesn't seem like such of a much, but it is an indication that the elvish blades were more than just finely crafted.

If I recall correctly, the spear heads of the elves in The Hobbit also flickered during the Battle of Five Armies when the orcs were approaching.

While you live, shine
Have no grief at all
Life exists only for a short while
And time demands an end.
Seikilos Epitaph

(This post was edited by No One in Particular on Jan 3, 1:12am)


squire
Half-elven


Jan 3, 1:49am

Post #14 of 18 (3041 views)
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Very nice catch! [In reply to] Can't Post

"The elves were the first to charge. Their hatred for the goblins is cold and bitter. Their spears and swords shone in the gloom with a gleam of chill flame, so deadly was the wrath of the hands that held them. As soon as the host of their enemies was dense in the valley, they sent against it a shower of arrows, and each flickered as it fled as if with stinging fire." - The Hobbit, XVII.

I'd never notice that detail before!

Now Sting is said to glow whenever goblins are near - the enchantment is automatic, and has nothing to do with the emotions of the bearer of the blade. In this it follows the description of Gandalf's Elven-blade: "...it flashed in the dark by itself. It burned with a rage that made it gleam if goblins were about; now it was bright as blue flame for delight in the killing of the great lord of the cave." (TH IV) So these swords and knives found in the trolls' lair are personified in this regard: they themselves are angry at the presence of evil beings.

But in the passage you recalled, reprinted at the top, it's the anger of those who carry the weapons that makes them "shine in the gloom." It's a significant difference, because of course Sting, the hobbit's blade, in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, becomes an important 'early warning device' rather than a channeler of battle-rage. Whether or not Bilbo or Frodo know that Evil is nearby, Sting does. The Elven weapons at the Battle of Five Armies are significantly different, according to the text. They glow in reflection of their bearers' battle anger and hatred.

It's all magic, but it's not the same magic at all.



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No One in Particular
Rivendell


Jan 4, 3:14am

Post #15 of 18 (2947 views)
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Fair point that. [In reply to] Can't Post

I kind of always conflated the two glowings together, but you are correct, the one in The Hobbit is directly linked to an act of will.

While you live, shine
Have no grief at all
Life exists only for a short while
And time demands an end.
Seikilos Epitaph


Eldorion
Gondor


Jan 24, 8:22am

Post #16 of 18 (2481 views)
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Structural disadvantages [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Were they fearsome fighters against Morgoth and his powerful minions during the F.A?


Neither the courage and skill of individual Edain nor their overall élan compensates for the fact that they controlled a relatively small territory and were harried for most of their history in the First Age, which impeded their ability to substantially increase their population or to develop the more complex social structures that aid in the raising and maintenance of large, well-equipped armies.


In Reply To
And let say Numenor didn't exist and these two houses settled in Arnor regions. How well would they do against Sauron in the S.A without the the advantage of what the numenoreans had?


This is harder to say, but I don't think they would have fared as well. Presumably these Second Age Edain would have retained close ties with the Eldar in Eriador, but the Númenóreans had contact with both the remaining Exiles and Sindar (post-S.A. 600) and the Elves of Tol Eressëa. They also had "wisdom and power and life more enduring than any others of mortal race have possessed" (TS, Akallabêth), which is harder to quantify, but their advantage in height over other humans (including their own Edainic forebears) alone would make a difference.


Attalus
Lorien


Jan 24, 7:48pm

Post #17 of 18 (2435 views)
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How about the Dwarves? [In reply to] Can't Post

I am over average height, and the talk of the Dwarves' battle prowness had always struck me as rather comical until I met a short, powerful individual in med school. I watched him deal with some things and thought to myself, "Gee, I would hate to have him coming at me, armored and armed with a battle-axe." Smile

We are the fighting Uruk-Hai! We slew the great warrior! Well, yeah, first he killed a bunch of us and another whole lot of Mauhúr's lads, and we had to shoot enough arrows into him to drop a Mûmak. But we got him!


Eldorion
Gondor


Jan 24, 8:24pm

Post #18 of 18 (2430 views)
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I was thinking specifically in comparison... [In reply to] Can't Post

...between the Númenóreans and their Edainic forebears and cousins, such as the human inhabitants of Eriador met by Vëantur's men in S.A. 600 (UT, Aldarion and Erendis, note 3), who provide the closest and most relevant comparison for the purposes of answering Victarion's question about what the Edain would have been like if not for Númenor and all the gifts they received from the Valar (though height was only one such difference).

I'm at the low end of average height myself so I certainly don't wish to imply that being short is a bad thing.


(This post was edited by Eldorion on Jan 24, 8:26pm)

 
 

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