As a fantasy trilogy set in J.R.R. Tolkien‘s renowned world, The Rings of Power is rich in world-building and lore. Each episode has taught us something new about Middle-earth and its neighboring kingdoms, and the name of the Valar keeps coming up in discourse.
But who and what are the Valar in The Lord of the Rings, and what is their relevance to the people of Middle-earth?
What Are the Valar in the Lord of the Rings?
The Valar are a collection of godlike beings who assisted the world’s creator, Eru Ilvatar, in crafting the universe. The Valar were the first beings created by Ilvatar, and they were tasked with helping to shape Arda, Middle-earth, and Valinor, the latter of which was where the Valar themselves resided.
Melkor, the most powerful of the Valar, disagreed with Ilvatar’s vision for the world they were building and turned against his kin, desiring to bury the realms in darkness.
Melkor, subsequently renamed Morgoth, was the first Dark Lord to attempt to govern Middle-earth and the rest of Arda until he was ultimately slain; nonetheless, his servant Sauron would return to assume his mantle. Many races throughout Middle-earth referred to the Valar as gods, as each of them oversaw a different component of life, such as the earth, sea, or forests.
Who Are the Valar’s Fourteen Members?
Manwë | Manw was the king of the Valar and lord of the wind and air. He was the eldest of the Valar and the sole person with whom Ilvatar, the creator, conversed. He is comparable to Zeus and Odin in Greek and Norse mythology, respectively.
Varda | The Valar’s queen and Manw’s wife, Varda, was responsible for putting the stars in the sky and lighting the Lamps of the Valar.
Ulmo | King of the Sea, Ulmo ruled over all waters on Arda, from rivers and oceans to the waters beneath the surface of the planet.
Aul | Known as the Smith, Aul was the Vala responsible for the creation of the very building blocks of the world, as well as the creation of the Dwarves and the Two Lamps of the Valar.
Yavanna, the wife of Aul, supervised the growth of all trees, plants, and fruit.
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Orom | Also known as the Huntsman, Orom was the Lord of the Hunt and trained his people and animals to chase the bad creatures of the world.
Vána | Known as the Queen of Flowers, Vána was the wife of Orom and was tasked with preserving the youth and beauty created for all life in Arda.
Námo | Known as Mandos by the Elves, Námo was the Doomsman and Judge of the Dead, determining the fate of the deceased.
Vair | Námo’s wife, Vair, was known as the Weaver because she wove numerous intricate tapestries for the Halls of the Dead.
Irmo | Referred to by the Elves as Lórien, Irmo was the Master of Dreams, Visions, and Longings. Galadriel resides at Irmo’s Lórien home, which became a sanctuary for the Elves, in The Fellowship of the Ring.
Est | The wife of Irmo, Est was the Vala responsible for curing the world’s wounded and tired.
Tulkas | Known as the Wrestler, Tulkas is claimed to have battled against Melkor during the War for the Elves’ Sake.
Nessa | Nessa, the wife of Tulkas, was famous for her speed and agility and was known as the Dancer.
Nienna | And last among the Valar was Nienna, also known as the Weeper. She was responsible for the propagation of sorrow and compassion throughout Arda.
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The Valar Helped to Create the Island Kingdom of Númenor
Following the War of Wrath, in which Middle-Elves earth’s and Men fought against Morgoth, the Valar constructed the island of Elenna and gave it to the Middle-earth men who aided the Elves. These men, commanded by Elrond’s brother Elros, evolved into the Nmenóreans in The Lord of the Rings.
Nmenor was situated between Middle-earth and Valinor, and in order to prevent the Nmenóreans from entering the Undying Lands, the Valar imposed the Ban to prevent any man from sailing west and entering Valinor.
Due in part to Sauron’s influence, Nmenor’s ties with its neighbors deteriorated over time, and Ar-Pharazôn launched an invasion of Valinor. As we saw in a vision at the opening of the fourth episode of The Rings of Power, these deeds resulted in the Destruction of Nmenor as the Valar sent a massive wave that submerged the island kingdom.