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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Middle-earth TV Series Discussion:
Númenórean Age of Exploration


Sep 26, 9:08pm

Post #1 of 14 (1057 views)
Númenórean Age of Exploration Can't Post

Does anyone think we will see much about the voyages of exploration that the Númenóreans undertook in the Second Age? Or will the series gloss over most of it? There are features even on the map of the Second Age at @LOTRonPrime that I would like to know more about. Have Dwarves colonized the mountain range located south of the Havens of Umbar? Those mountains seem to correspond to a range that Tolkien originally named the Grey Mountains, but they should probably be called something else so as to not be confused with the Grey Mountains in the North. There is also the Ice Bay of Forochel as well as the lands adjacent to the Inner Seas and the East Sea. Perhaps one of the Nazgûl was a Lord of Númenor who attempted to establish a dominion in the Far East of Middle-earth.

Map by Karen Wynn Fonstad

Fonstad's map of Arda is based on a map that J.R.R. Tolkien sketched out, but Tolkien's map was for the First Age. Even so, the map released by Amazon shares many features with Fonstad's. However, the lands in the East and South could have been significantly altered by the War of Wrath, and might have been changed even more by the Change of the World that destroyed Númenor. New lands might arisen in the East of Middle-earth, and the large continent in the South called either as the Dark Land or South Land (though not labeled here) might have broken up.

"Change is inevitable. Growth is optional." - DRWolf (after John C. Maxwell)

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Sep 26, 9:22pm)


Sep 26, 9:37pm

Post #2 of 14 (1022 views)
Larger Map of Arda [In reply to] Can't Post

You can find a larger map by Karen Fonstad of Arda in the Second Age here: https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/...5ab9578839dc076d61-c. Note that the previous map shows the voyages of the Númenóreans. Here is Tolkien's original sketch:

Unfortunately, Tolkien wrote that the lands south and east of Middle-earth were uninhabited, so there's no good reason to spend much time or effort on them. My own hypothesis is that the Dark Land would have broken up to become Antarctica, Australia and Indonesia. In the real world, those regions (with the exception of Antarctica) would have been settled many thousands of years before the Third Age--even before the Second Age.

"Change is inevitable. Growth is optional." - DRWolf (after John C. Maxwell)

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Sep 26, 9:50pm)

Chen G.

Sep 26, 10:52pm

Post #3 of 14 (996 views)
I sure hope so [In reply to] Can't Post

because it'll help give the series a sense of expanse, and add to the visual diversity of Middle Earth. I'd love to see deserts and jungles in Far Harad, and so forth. It makes sense chronologically, too, if the show takes place near the Sack of Eregion.

As for the Southern continent, early iterations of the stories (particularly sketches of Earendil's voyages, originally meant to be akin to the Odyssey in scope) mention the Southern continent being inhabited, so...

Anyway, Rhun and Harad will do just fine.

(This post was edited by Chen G. on Sep 26, 11:01pm)


Sep 26, 11:25pm

Post #4 of 14 (986 views)
South Land [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
As for the Southern continent, early iterations of the stories (particularly sketches of Earendil's voyages, originally meant to be akin to the Odyssey in scope) mention the Southern continent being inhabited, so...

Which volumes include those stories? I suspect that I don't own any of those. It would actually make more sense if the South Land (or Dark Land) was inhabited even if that conflicts with the published legendarium. It might be supposed that the early inhabitants moved inland and so were never encountered by Númenórean mariners.

"Change is inevitable. Growth is optional." - DRWolf (after John C. Maxwell)

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Sep 26, 11:28pm)


Sep 27, 12:23am

Post #5 of 14 (975 views)
How would it serve the story? [In reply to] Can't Post

My impression is that Tolkien had little interest in the details of the explorations, using them to illustrate the empire's greatness and similarity to the British Empire. Even in 'The Mariner's Wife', his only story set in the period this TV series is supposed to be set in, we learn almost nothing about the voyages except the ones to the northwestern lands that anchor LotR.

If they stage a voyage or voyages in more detail than just some glamorous establishing shots accompanied by the inevitable finger or animated line on some maps, I should think they will need to come up with a major story line that some detailed voyage adventures actually serve in ways that no other options could. And making movies set on sailing ships is a major undertaking in itself, requiring a real commitment to that aspect of the series.

They already have, we must imagine, the problem of an armada or two. Perhaps CG effects will provide what's needed plus one royal quarterdeck rocking and rolling in the foreground where the leads can get some close-up work done.

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The Shire

Sep 27, 12:34am

Post #6 of 14 (972 views)
Distant voyages [In reply to] Can't Post

I suspect we will not see much of the remote continents. While these would be safest for avoiding entanglements with restricted Second Age material, such distant voyages would be a great departure from the beloved parts of Tolkien’s world, which we can assume will be the main draw for the show. With Amazon’s apparent intention to sway Jackson’s film audiences, it would be very risky to introduce us to both brand new and invented characters and extremely unfamiliar places. At least in the early seasons, if at all.

But that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to it. There are ways to make it work. The expanded eastern view on Amazon's map (which we now know John Howe had a hand in producing) gives me hope that the main character(s) will eventually head that way. This will already require some significant invention since Tolkien’s Second Age stories and outlines don’t connect to that part of the world. So going east would probably be brief and not a long, winding road-trip; furthermore, an epic pedestrian journey would be derivative of both film trilogies. So, again, best to avoid that from Amazon's perspective. Instead, following the maps you’ve already referenced, we could sail around the South Land to access the eastern shores beyond the Wildwood and Red Mountains. Along the way, sure, we should stop and check things out. But I don’t think any of this is very likely.

Another way to explore the world: the main series introduces us to a mariner whose distant voyages can be explored in the potential spin-off. That would probably be an easier sell once the main series has, hopefully, established itself and found its fanbase.


Sep 27, 1:50am

Post #7 of 14 (956 views)
My Own Doubts. [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
My impression is that Tolkien had little interest in the details of the explorations, using them to illustrate the empire's greatness and similarity to the British Empire. Even in 'The Mariner's Wife', his only story set in the period this TV series is supposed to be set in, we learn almost nothing about the voyages except the ones to the northwestern lands that anchor LotR.

The very points you bring up reflect my own skepticism about the series making much out of these voyages. They may be referenced in the context of establishing the presence of the Númenóreans in Middle-earth, first as teachers then later as a more domineering force, but that doesn't require any detailed examination of such explorations. I still think, though, that this is a topic worth some examination.

One other factor that might make a difference is whether the team is going to spend much time on any of the Men who will be gifted with the Rings that will eventually transform them into the Nazgûl. One or more of these Men might well have been Númenórean ship-captains or kings of Middle-earth (Southron, Easterling or other) encountered by such mariners. This could be used as a good excuse to include more ethnic diversity in the show.

"Change is inevitable. Growth is optional." - DRWolf (after John C. Maxwell)

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Sep 27, 2:01am)


Sep 27, 1:53am

Post #8 of 14 (955 views)
Mode up to Marmoon. [In reply to] Can't Post

I tend to agree with everything in your post.

"Change is inevitable. Growth is optional." - DRWolf (after John C. Maxwell)


Sep 27, 6:38pm

Post #9 of 14 (889 views)
Unless they just use Umbar. [In reply to] Can't Post

the Men who will be gifted with the Rings that will eventually transform them into the Nazgûl. One or more of these Men might well have been Númenórean ship-captains or kings of Middle-earth (Southron, Easterling or other) encountered by such mariners.

This seems to be the most likely possibility for such explorations, short having something with one of Elendils forefathers, or himself, to establish that they were mariners. If the show want to build up one or more than one Numenorean antagonist over the span of the show, we may come to see some glimpses of far regions, though probably most of it would be centered on Umbar, or the Capital of Numenor.

(This post was edited by InTheChair on Sep 27, 6:39pm)


Sep 27, 6:47pm

Post #10 of 14 (883 views)
That may be. [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
Unless they just use Umbar.

Yes, that seems as likely as any alternative, maybe more so. Umbar did remain under Númenórean control for a considerable amount of time and later became a haven for the Black Númenóreans.

"Change is inevitable. Growth is optional." - DRWolf (after John C. Maxwell)


Sep 29, 12:44pm

Post #11 of 14 (819 views)
Numenorean expeditions and sea voyages [In reply to] Can't Post

While indeed the text mention Numenoreans traveling to other continents, not only Middle-earth, I doubt that we would see those moments, besides all that is plot important is happening in Middle-earth. Also it's only mentioned in the Akallabeth:

Thus it was that because of the Ban of the Valar the voyages of the Dúnedain in those days went ever eastward and not westward, from the darkness of the North to the heats of the South, and beyond the South to the Nether Darkness; and they came even into the inner seas, and sailed about Middle-earth and glimpsed from their high prows the Gates of Morning in the East. And the Dúnedain came at times to the shores of the Great Lands, and they took pity on the forsaken world of Middle-earth; and the Lords of Númenor set foot again upon the western shores in the Dark Years of Men, and none yet dared to withstand them. For most of the Men of that age that sat under the Shadow were now grown weak and fearful. And coming among them the Númenóreans taught them many things. Corn and wine they brought, and they instructed Men in the sowing of seed and the grinding of grain, in the hewing of wood and the shaping of stone, and in the ordering of their life, such as it might be in the lands of swift death and little bliss.

Then the Men of Middle-earth were comforted, and here and there upon the western shores the houseless woods drew back, and Men shook off the yoke of the offspring of Morgoth, and unlearned their terror of the dark. And they revered the memory of the tall Sea-kings, and when they had departed they called them gods, hoping for their return; for at that time the Númenóreans dwelt never long in Middle-earth, nor made there as yet any habitation of their own. Eastward they must sail, but ever west their hearts returned.

If they would adapt Mariner's Wife then they can show up close Aldarion's voyages, his first trips to Lindon, exploring the coasts, far into Bay of Belfalas, shores of Harad, even up north to Forochel area (it was on one of this journeys when his ships went far north that Bough of Return frosted). It's interesting though to note that even though in Tolkien stories sea is always at the heart and background, Tolkien did not give us a proper narrative showing adventures on the sea, though he gave amazing hints, even on example of First Age stories:

""But the salt air of the sea now stirred anew the heart of my mother's kin within me, and I rejoiced in the waves, learning all ship-lore, as were it already stored in the mind. So when the last ship, and the greatest, was made ready, I was eager to be going saying within my thought: 'If the words of the Noldor be true then in the West there are meads with which the Land of Willows cannot compare. There is no withering nor any end of Spring. And perhaps even I, Voronwë, may come thither. And at the worst to wander on the waters is better far than in Shadow in the North.' And I feared not, for the ships of the Teleri no water may drown.

"But the Great Sea is terrible, Tuor son of Huor; and it hates the Noldor, for it works the Doom of the Valar. Worse things it holds than to sink into the abyss and so perish: loathing, and loneliness, and madness; terror of wind and tumult, and silence and shadows where all hope is lost and all living shapes pass away. And many shores evil and strange it washes, and many islands of danger and fear infest it. I will not darken your heart son of Middle-earth, with the tale of my labour seven years in the Great Sea from the North even into the South, but never to the West. For that is shut against us."

Those sea adventures of Voronwe, for seven years sailing the Belegaer would be a material in itself for a long narrative hehe. But back on topic, the Numenorean voyages will be I guess shown when it is needed for the plot, as Numenor and Middle-earth is divided by great distance and we know that contacts between the island kingdom and continent is required, an element of many events. The ships of Numenoreans, I would hope they will portray them as quite advanced sailing vessels (maybe like great sailing ships of our real world age of discovery :), great galleons, large in size and great treasure fleets like in time of colonial empires, bringing gold, silver and gems like in the time of colonization of the New World).

Aldarion himself brings ore of silver and gold with him from his journeys, he also brings in diamond and other gems and gifts he received from Elves and many others who he met and lots of resources, wood for shipbuilding and so on. Sea voyages and exploration is important part in his story. So I guess there is some chance for that to be in focus in the show too. It's also noted that even after Downfall of Numenor in the first period of Numenorean exiles dominion, they tried to explore themselves:

Among the Exiles many believed that the summit of the Meneltarma, the Pillar of Heaven, was not drowned for ever, but rose again above the waves, a lonely island lost in the great waters; for it had been a hallowed place, and even in the days of Sauron none had defiled it And some there were of the seed of Eärendil that afterwards sought for it, because it was said among loremasters that the far-sighted men of old could see from the Meneltarma a glimmer of the Deathless Land. For even after the ruin the hearts of the Dúnedain were still set westwards; and though they knew indeed that the world was changed, they said: 'Avallónë is vanished from the Earth and the Land of Aman is taken away, and in the world of this present darkness they cannot be found. Yet once they were, and therefore they still are, in true being and in the whole shape of the world as at first it was devised.'

For the Dúnedain held that even mortal Men, if so blessed, might look upon other times than those of their bodies' life; and they longed ever to escape from the shadows of their exile and to see in some fashion fee light that dies not; for the sorrow of the thought of death had pursued them over the deeps of the sea. Thus it was that great mariners among them would still search the empty seas, hoping to come upon the Isle of Meneltarma, and there to see a vision of things that were. But they found it not. And those that sailed far came only to the new lands, and found them like to the old lands, and subject to death. And those that sailed furthest set but a girdle about the Earth and returned weary at last to the place of their beginning; and they said:

'All roads are now bent.'

Thus in after days, what by the voyages of ships, what by lore and star-craft, the kings of Men knew that the world was indeed made round, and yet the Eldar were permitted still to depart and to come to the Ancient West and to Avallónë, if they would. Therefore the loremasters of Men said that a Straight Road must still be, for those that were permitted to find it. And they taught that, while the new world fell away, the old road and the path of the memory of the West still went on, as it were a mighty bridge invisible that passed through the air of breath and of flight (which were bent now as the world was bent), and traversed Ilmen which flesh unaided cannot endure, until it came to Tol Eressëa, the Lonely Isle, and maybe even beyond, to Valinor, where the Valar still dwell and watch the unfolding of the story of the world. And tales and rumours 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 Avallónë, 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.


Sep 30, 2:56pm

Post #12 of 14 (734 views)
The Eastern Continents of Arda and "The Mariner's Tale" [In reply to] Can't Post

Yeah, nothing of significance happens in the Second Age in either the Dark Land (South Land) or the Land of the Sun. Still, it might be fun to see some sort of overlay/map that illustrates the voyages of the Númenóreans; such a visual aid would give us a better appreciation for the size and appearance of Arda as a whole.

If the first season of the show is set far enough back in the Second Age then I can certainly see it incorporating "The Mariner's Tale" into the over-all narrative. Otherwise, the tale could be adapted as a stand-alone side story. Perhaps "The Mariner's Tale" could be told as a straight-to-home animated movie that could serve as a prequel to the show.

"Change is inevitable. Growth is optional." - DRWolf (after John C. Maxwell)

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Sep 30, 2:57pm)

The Shire

Oct 19, 8:43am

Post #13 of 14 (447 views)
historical flashbacks and flashforwards [In reply to] Can't Post

The Mariner's Wife would be most suitable for setting the stage. On one hand, you have a adventurous mariner, on the other hand you have the stay-at-home wife. Or put it another way, you have Aldarion and the exploratory side of Numenor, willing to take part in the life of the rest of the world. One the other side you have Erendis and a Numenor First attitude, wanting to see the world as something left behind, (hundreds of) years ago.
You would not need to go into detail to show the exploratory side of Numenor - a ship docked in the estuary of a river with a tropical or subtropical forest or even desert behind it, and Aldarion seen embarking, saying that he'll be glad to climb the Meneltarma again and lay the first-fruits of his voyage at its peak. Later in the voyage back, Aldarion and the crew discuss the significance of the lands they have seen in relation to Numenor and suchlike.
Which of course leads someone or other to sing snatches of a song about Earendil and his voyaging - this should be easy enough to do, considering we've got at least two different traditions to draw from, the Nordic Viking voyaging traditions and the Polynesian Pacific voyaging traditions; and we get a glimpse of Numenor seeing itself as the land of the supreme voyager, the ultimate navigator who outdoes Kupe and Eric the Red.
Meanwhile we see Erendis cursing the fact she's a wave-widow, having lost her husband to Uinen and maybe discussing things with a Druadan ... if Amazon wish to discuss my ideas, they only have to get in touch with me, and I'll be happy to do so ...


Oct 19, 12:39pm

Post #14 of 14 (431 views)
As well as [In reply to] Can't Post

the first rumors of Sauron's return, which is what drives the plot of the second half of The Mariner's Wife as much as anything. Heck, Aldarion's father resigns the throne because of the Shadow, and being unwilling to choose between a policy of engagement or of isolation.

The two driving stories of the Second Age are those of Numenor and of the rising power of Sauron; Aldarion and Erendis intertwines them. Only twice after will the two storylines engage again: the War of the Rings, and the Downfall/Last Alliance.


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