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Until this morning I'd never realized how explicitly Sauron was targeting the flaws in Arda's worldbuilding,

What are the two things that make everyone in Arda miserable, largely independent of Melkor's influence?


1. The Waning of the Elves

I know Tolkien attributes this to the Melkor-taint on the land, but frankly that explanation doesn't add up:

• The younger elves should be born taint-free, and they should therefore be able to stay for as long as their ancestors did. Emigration should be a rite of passage, a sort of retirement cruise for elves who have lived a long and productive lifespan in Middle-earth. Instead the entire species is emigrating en masse. This isn't a contamination that's building up in the tissues of individual elves from a tainted food supply, this is a change in the land that's making it uninhabitable.

• If we assume Men were always part of the divine plan, then so was the elf-waning. Otherwise there's no need for men and their existence would just generate endless territorial conflict. The only reason they're able to take over without Silmarillion 2.0 is because the elves are either fading or leaving- cut the waning out of the picture and you'd be left with Israel/Palestine. I'd hope even Iluvatar wasn't stupid enough to set that one up.

• The other immortalish species like the dragons and the ents appear to be experiencing no ill-effects from the taint. The ents are turning back into trees, but that in no way resembles the fading of the elves, and it seems to be largely attributable to missing the entwives and to habitat destruction carried out by men, who are just fulfilling their divinely ordained ecological niche as agriculturalists. The dragons seem just fine.


2. Elves Are Immortal, No One Else Is

Men especially aren't, and they're pissed off about it. I don't blame them. Anyone would be pissed off. Tolkien blames Melkor for this, but it's a problem inbuilt in the system. If Iluvatar thought he could give his two main homonoid species radically different lifespans without it becoming a problem at some point, he's a fuckwit. Unless Melkor was the mastermind behind Beren/Luthien, this was a worldbuilding error that was always going to bring innocent people to grief. The humans are understandably jealous, the elves are constantly sad because their doggy/horsey/dwarfy/hobbity/humany friends keep dying on them, and Aman's food web is really fucked up ecologically.


I noticed a long time ago that the main power of the Rings is preservation (which when you think about it is pretty strange for an evil super-weapon), but it never occurred to me why. This is why. Melkor has an elf-brain and just went after the shiniest things he could see, but Sauron is a thinker. He sat down and figured out the fundamental chinks in the worldbuilding.

Arda's major bugbear (because it's Tolkien's major bugbear) is preservation: of the elves' habitable world, of men's habitable bodies. So the Three (which Sauron didn't design himself, but which answer to the One and which draw their power from it) address Problem 1, and the Nine address Problem 2.

It's really a pity the Valar are such useless douchebags, because they're in charge of a planet that's fundamentally fucked up and Sauron and Celebrimbor are the first people to make a serious attempt at hacking the worldbuilding to fix it. Sauron can't be left to his own devices to work on this project because he goes all Dark Lord on everyone, but with adequate supervision he could probably do a lot of good for Middle-earth. Unfortunately the Valar can't be bothered to do anything except call on Iluvatar to drown a bunch of civilians whenever there's a risk they might have to get up off their arses for five minutes, so instead we get the War of the Ring. Twats.

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