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mygif

I’m sort of curious as to what fantasy world this is supposed to be part of; the lack of context sort of deadens the impact. It can’t be Tolkien, but beyond that I’m at a loss.

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See, this is exactly why I get impatient with all these Tolkien movies. The text says “the albino orc is the villain, don’t think any harder” while I’m going “ooh, symmetrical scarification! I bet that was a coming of age ritual! I wonder what that’s like…”

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mygif

@Murc: Why can’t it be Tolkien? Oh, it can’t be Tolkien as Tolkien would have written it, but it strikes me as an interesting and plausible revisionist take on Middle Earth.

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Murc, Kirala, it seems obvious that this is exactly Tolkien, and that the lidless, burning eye is of course Sauron. And I wouldn’t even call this a revisionist take on Tolkien. It seems like a plausible account of how so many orcs came to fight for Sauron.

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@Kirala-

Well, that by definition would make it ‘not Tolkien.’

Orcs are, you know, common as dirt in fantasy settings, so I’m honestly unsure if this is meant to be Middle-Earth or not.

But if we assume it is… I try not to be arrogant, but one of the things I take pride in is my depth of knowledge of Tolkien’s universe.

The speech the Truthspeaker is giving bears about as much resemblance to the actual facts on the ground in Middle-Earth as, say, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion does to Judaism, or the works of Harry Turtledove do to actual history. Moreover, it’s inaccurate in ways that I have trouble seeing actually occurring in-universe even assuming the Orcs have a vested interest in thinking well of themselves and viewing themselves as oppressed.

Put it another way: in a short story involving an American demagogue whipping people into a frenzy by invoking Agenda 21, birtherism, trutherism, and general John Birch craziness, I’m going to nod my head, because those beliefs, while bearing no resemblance to reality, are ones whose sources and evolution I can understand.

But this is, to me, the equivalent of a story of a demagogue whipping people into a frenzy by claiming that the Canadians want to invade us and that liberals turned the Moon into green cheese during the Second American Revolution (the invisible one!) in order to further their agenda of turning us all into trees. I’m not going to wonder at the sociological implications; I’m going to go ‘wait… what? That’s crazy. That never happened. How did these people end up believing it happened?’

This isn’t to say that revisionist Middle-Earth history can be incredibly fascinating and plausible. For example; the Morlindale, the Song of Illuminate Darkness, is pretty awesome. It’s complete Morgoth apologia, a re-telling of the entire history and cosmology of Middle-Earth in a way that makes Morgoth and the Orcs the aggrieved parties. It has holes but it’s wonderful stuff.

There’s also Slouching Towards Gondolin (which I’d link, but I’m not sure how many links you’re allowed here before the website flags your comments as spam) if you want something orc-centric. It’s less than a thousand words long, but it’s kind… well, it’s kind of like this story, but better integrated.

That’s kind of where I’m coming from on this.

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mygif

And here I was expecting a “The King’s Speech” parody.

… then again, maybe it was! :-)

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mygif

I’ve always disliked the perfect, holier-than-thou Tolkien Elves. That is, aside from Elrond (because he’s Agent Smith) and Legolas (because he’s the perfect foil for Gimli).

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@JCHandsom

I’m going to try and be polite here, but… if you think Tolkien portrays his elves as either perfect or holier-than-thou, I have a hard time believing you’ve read much Tolkien.

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@Murc

To be perfectly honest most of my knowledge of Tolkien’s work comes from the films.

My main beef with Tolkien’s Elves is that they are so artificial and constructed. They have eternal life and are immune to disease, they have heightened senses, and they are all gorgeous. Not only that, they were the only ones who avoided Sauron and the One Ring’s influence and control, among many many other of their accomplishments.

They are the wisest, fairest, perfect-est race in Middle Earth just because they were written that way.

Let me put it this way, you know how a lot of comic fans hated The Sentry because he was written to be the almighty linchpin of the entire Marvel Universe and how it undercut the accomplishments and motivations of the other characters? I feel similarly about Tolkien’s Elves.

Keep in mind that I have a very limited working knowledge of Tolkien’s work and that this is the opinion of a casual fan.

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Tim O'Neil said on January 21st, 2013 at 3:43 am

@Murc –

I’m rereading the Silmarillion now and this seems like a perfectly plausible kind of revisionist take on the elf / orc relationship. I know that Tolkein himself never quite made up his mind as to the origins of the species – the account given in the Silmarillion differs materially from descriptions or ideas proposed in the later Histories. But the ambiguity of their origins actually works here.

The Orc’s don’t remember their origins like the elves do. There are still elves alive in Arda at the end of the Third AGe who remember the events of the Cuiviényarna and the wakening of the elves at the dawn of the First Ages – at the least, the Vanyar who left for Aman and never returned across the ocean, including the king Ingwë. Orcs aren’t immortal. So even though they are the second-oldest non-Ainur race in Middle-Earth, they probably don’t have the most accurate record-keeping for 11,000 years of history. But the legends of their creation probably linger in racial memory, in storytellers and shaman. So it makes perfect sense to me that this type of half-forgotten, half-obscure lineage would remain popular.

Yeah, it’s “false,” but there’s enough truth to the story that Sauron could probably still count on the legends to gin up the ancient racial animosity between Orcs and Elves, an animosity that never subsided since the moments of their creation. It’s not like we don’t have plenty examples of warped origin stories being used as propaganda across multiple generations.

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mygif

Eh, I’d say people just like orcs because orcs are underdog-ish. I spent some of my youth playing Battle for Middle-Earth, and in that game, you look at the elves and you see gleaming armor, elaborate construction, glowy arrows. Then you look at the shabbily-dressed orcs and goblins, riding barely-tamed beasts instead of horses and trying to avoid being eaten by their own trolls, and you feel kinda sorry. Elves live forever in harmony with trees in magic forests, orcs scrape food off scorched wastes and mountainsides. At that rate, it hardly matters that the elves are clearly in the right on nearly every occasion (and when they’re not, the orcs are still usually in the wrong); you kind of want the orcs to be right, because damn it, that guy over there is marching off to war with half a frying pan instead of an axe, he’s got to be fighting for SOMETHING.

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@Murc I recently reread the four Middle Earth books Tolkein completed (Silmarillion was incomplete at the time of his death and still being revised) and this seems a fine interpretation of it.

As for this post it entertained me for a few minutes, and for free what more can I ask?

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@JCHandsom: I’m gonna repeat the point that it’s pretty clear you haven’t read much Tolkien. LotR Elves can come across as “the wisest, fairest, perfect-est race in Middle Earth just because they were written that way,” but if you’d like to see some of their faults, try reading Silmarillion. Oh boy, try reading Silmarillion.

Or don’t, and retain your rather reasonable opinion of LotR Elves. Just don’t conflate them with Tolkien’s vision of Elves in general.

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MonkeyWithTypewriter said on January 21st, 2013 at 10:24 am

My understanding was that Tolkien had some theological issues with the idea of Orcs, in that they were totally evil and unable to be saved, so to speak? Is that correct?

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Tim O'Neil said on January 21st, 2013 at 10:41 am

I’ll second the recommendation of the Silmarillion. What I always took from Tolkien’s Elves – or at least the elves of the books – is not that they’re perfect or faultless, but that they represented an supremely amplified, mythical version of man. They’re wiser and more beautiful than men, but also have a greater capacity for stubbornness, tragedy, and even wrath.

There’s a reason why so many metal bands have written songs about the events of the Silmarillion – it’s not because it’s a book filled with images of peaceful sylvan tranquility, but because it’s full of hardcore cataclysmic violence and genocidal warfare. I used to think the Silmarillion was unfilmable – I don’t necessarily believe that anymore. If they did decide to film the elves’ stories, that would be fucking metal.

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Thanks for the recommendations guys. I was putting off reading The Silmarillion, but I should really give it a go if it’s as good as you guys are saying.

As for the “filmability” of The Silmarillion; any more movies set in Middle Earth, heck ANY movie set in a serious fantasy setting, is fine by me.

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I think you can make the argument that the elves of LOTR have learned from their mistakes by virtue of being so much older than men and having gone through the events of the Silmarillion, in which they acted just as petty, cruel, and foolish as men have done. Plus, about all they do in LOTR is sit on the sidelines, delaying their inevitable fading, giving a few bits of help and advice; it’s not hard to be “infallible” in that situation.

On another note, thanks to Peter Jackson, the “orcs are mutant elves” theory has become canon, but I’ve never been a huge fan of it, to be honest. Even when it’s brought up in The Silmarillion, it’s couched as sort of an evolutionary theory, since Orcs are a big question mark to anyone who isn’t Morgoth or Sauron. Tolkien later said that he thought the Orcs must be some kind of artificial creatures, since otherwise they would have souls and some of them, somewhere, would have turned out good. (So, y’know, credit to the guy, since otherwise Orcs raise a whole host of uncomfortable moral and theological issues.)

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mygif

@Murc: It is intended to be Tolkien, albeit a somewhat revisionist and expansionist take, because Orcs as Tolkien envisioned them…well, they don’t make a lot of sense. We’re told that they have no trade or culture, but they have smithing, domesticated animals (wargs), and medicine (they doctor Merry’s wounds in ‘Two Towers’.) These are things that imply at least a degree of culture; you can’t have smithing without mining or at least a barter economy, and domestication of animals requires a reliable food supply, meaning they must have agriculture (and the geography of Mordor is only vaguely described, but there are lands at least somewhat suitable for farming in the south.) There must be an orcish culture of some sort that we don’t see, simply because the things we do see imply a culture by their existence.

The orcs are described to breed “in the manner of the Children of Iluvatar”, implying female orcs and family structures; the race is descibed to be debased and corrupted elves that Morgoth experimented on. Since the Maiar and the elves are immortal, this implies that characters still living in the LotR trilogy might well remember the orcs’ elven forebears personally, even though the orcs probably don’t (Tolkien hints that orcs may be as long-lived as elves, but their lifespan is probably limited by their environment. Which is not great–Mordor does seem to be more or less the least desirable real-estate in Middle-Earth.)

So the orcs were once elves, but now they’re enemies of the elves and are living in the worst part of real estate. They’re short-tempered and prone to violence, but not stupid and have at least some sort of culture (although it’s probably not a particularly pleasant one to live in.) That breeds resentment and anger, which I figure Sauron would have used to stoke the orcs interest in war when he was still weak (and I do think he would have had to get them fired up for the War of the Ring…orcs have a self-preservation instinct, and one of the things we see throughout Tolkien’s work is that they take a lot of casualties in war. Being a shock trooper for Sauron is dangerous, and orcs in small groups tend towards at least judicious caution if not outright cowardice. So they’d have to have a sort of Orcish rabble-rouser out there getting everyone rallied for battle so they don’t think about how much nicer it would be at the back of the pack, bayonetting the survivors.)

That’s the basic idea behind it all, something that fleshes out the Orcish side of the war and makes it clear why they participate when there’s very little in it for them, while still keeping to Tolkien’s basic point that this is a dangerous bunch of vicious thugs that you wouldn’t want to turn your back on. :)

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@Tim O’Neil

I know that Tolkein himself never quite made up his mind as to the origins of the species – the account given in the Silmarillion differs materially from descriptions or ideas proposed in the later Histories.

Yeah, but the Silmarillion controls. The History of Middle-Earth is basically a bunch of books on how Tolkien built the world, and it contains a lot of ideas that didn’t actually make it into the text or were completely discarded later. And as for Tolkien never really making up his mind… that’s both true and untrue.

Tolkien was very clear on Orc origins; they were bred by Melkor in the pits of Utumno as a race of slave warriors. What he waffled back and forth on is where, precisely, he got the raw materiel from. He implies very heavily he bred them from Elves, but never comes flat-out and says it, and he would occasionally have some doubts about that.

The Orc’s don’t remember their origins like the elves do.

Can’t be proven one way or the other.

Orcs aren’t immortal.

Can’t be proven one way or the other.

We know for certain that Orcs have a much longer lifespan than most men do, because Bolg, son of Azog, is still alive and kicking and riding into battle over 200 years after his father died. We do not know if they’re immortal or simply long-lived.

But the legends of their creation probably linger in racial memory, in storytellers and shaman. So it makes perfect sense to me that this type of half-forgotten, half-obscure lineage would remain popular.

This is true, but the history the Truthspeaker is describing is so radically divorced from reality I have trouble following it.

The Orcs were bred in black pit in a fortress at the ass-end of the norther world. The first time any Orc saw an Elf is most likely when they jumped them in the forest and slit their throat. Furthermore, Orcs don’t really mix with the other races, even when they’re nominally following the same overlord. I am curious as to where they’ve heard all these stories about the elves being compassionate and wise and giving. It sure as hell wasn’t from the Elves, and for that matter it wasn’t from humans either, as the humans the Orcs DID nominally associate with would have regarded Elves skeptically themselves.

For that matter, I’m also curious about these skirmishes between elves and orcish raiding parties taking place ‘up north.’ Orcs are an northern race to begin with; the furthest south they ever got was Mordor. And after the Second Age the Elves didn’t really spend a lot of time fighting the Orcs, because there weren’t a lot of Elves left.

So I wonder how the hell you get from that to ‘Oh yeah, the Elves drove us from their cities and turned away from us.’ The stuff the Truthspeaker is saying isn’t just an orc-centric reinterpretation of history, its way the fuck off in cloud cuckoo land.

Yeah, it’s “false,” but there’s enough truth to the story that Sauron could probably still count on the legends to gin up the ancient racial animosity between Orcs and Elves

Why would he need to?

Sauron was there when Orcs were created and is an angry god with nine supremely badass enforcers. He doesn’t need propaganda. Frankly, he would probably find the idea that he needs to resort to it insulting.

Orcs are bred to obey him. In the absence of Morgoth he can probably compel them with his will alone.

@MonkeyWithTypewriter:

My understanding was that Tolkien had some theological issues with the idea of Orcs, in that they were totally evil and unable to be saved, so to speak?

Tolkien never really addresses this issue one way or the other. Salvation as a concept doesn’t really exist in Middle-Earth; it doesn’t have a heaven or a hell, it just has the Halls of Mandos, where Dwarves, Humans, and Elves go when they die. Whether they’re punished or rewarded for their deeds in life is left up in the air; we just know they go there and wait for the world to fulfill its purpose. Elves can come back; some Dwarves can re-incarnate.

The only person we know who was specifically punished for his deeds in life was Feanor, who isn’t allowed to come back from the dead the way most elves are.

It is left unstated as to whether or not other thinking creatures also have a place set aside for them. I choose to believe, because Middle-Earth was created by a compassionate God-equivalent and is run by his generally well-meaning if occasionally very incompetent sub-gods, that even the Orcs and Dragons and Trolls have a place set aside for them, and are part of the grand design of the cosmology envisioned by Iluvatar at beginning of time.

But that’s just what I choose to believe. We don’t know and Tolkien never said.

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@JohnSeavey

We’re told that they have no trade or culture,

We are? I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I am saying that if that’s true I don’t recall where it’s written down. It would seem to contradict Tolkien, who refers to orcish customs (which imply a culture) a lot in a number of his letters.

That’s the basic idea behind it all, something that fleshes out the Orcish side of the war and makes it clear why they participate when there’s very little in it for them, while still keeping to Tolkien’s basic point that this is a dangerous bunch of vicious thugs that you wouldn’t want to turn your back on

I get the idea behind this. I just don’t think… well, I don’t think it was executed well, really. That’s just me personally, but it lacks verisimilitude.

Especially if this is Sauron getting them psyched up for the War of the Ring. Wouldn’t he want to pump them up with anti-human hatred? They barely fight any Elves at all in that war.

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mygif

I note that Tolkien seemed to view orcs and goblins as the same thing; there were different breeds of orcs, sure, but he uses the two terms interchangeably.

Anyway, it is an interesting concept. I assume the Truthspeaker was sent from Sauron to rally orcs to his cause. Tolkien never really does make it clear how Sauron manages to get them to obey him, especially when he has to start over from scratch.

Of course, I also think Tolkien never really viewed the orcs as “people.” He viewed them as demons, evil emotions made flesh. Asking “why is the only a good orc a dead orc?” is a bit like asking “why is the only good demon an exorcised demon?” Of course, this carries Unfortunate Implications.

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mygif

You might find Kirill Eskov’s The Last Ringbearer and Jacqueline Carey’s Sundering Duology fascinating.

The Last Ringbearer is the tale of two orcs trying to survive in middle earth after the War of the Ring. It takes a “history is written by the victors” perspective not quite in line with what John has written above, but interesting none the less. If LotR is World War II from the British perspective (debatable, I know, but it’s just an analogy), the Last Ringbearer is it from the perspective of the Russians or Japanese.

An English translation is available here for free in about any format you could want: http://ymarkov.livejournal.com/280578.html

Carey’s book isn’t directly fanfiction, but depicts the events of (not)-LotR from (not)-Sauron’s perspective, questioning many of the assumptions that Tolkien makes about the nature of evil and racial predestination.

I found both very much worth my time, and it was nice to see someone else address some of the parts of LorR that made me a little uncomfortable.

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Carey’s book isn’t directly fanfiction, but depicts the events of (not)-LotR from (not)-Sauron’s perspective, questioning many of the assumptions that Tolkien makes about the nature of evil and racial predestination.

It would be more accurate to say that it questions what Carey THINKS are the assumptions Tolkien makes about the nature of evil and racial predestination.

When it came to the nature of evil, Tolkien had a number of problematic assumptions. Carey misreads nearly all of them.

And Tolkien’s position on racial predestination was “anything that has a soul is capable of choosing good, and is no more or less intrinsically capable of this choice than any other thing that has a soul.” It can be argued whether or not you can divorce ‘thinking, reasoning creature’ from ‘has a soul’ but on the whole this assumption of his isn’t terribly problematic at all.

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William Burns said on January 21st, 2013 at 2:37 pm

What I’ve always found interesting about Tolkien’s orcs is that you never see a female or a child. Is it easier to present an all-evil race if you just show one gender?

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@Murc: “We are? I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I am saying that if that’s true I don’t recall where it’s written down. It would seem to contradict Tolkien, who refers to orcish customs (which imply a culture) a lot in a number of his letters.”

That part I pulled from the Tolkien wiki, which is admittedly less than 100% reliable but I’m not writing a paper here. :) I think that Tolkien deliberately avoided doing worldbuilding for the Orcs to some extent because he’s writing a very Manichean story, and fleshing out Orcish customs and origins runs the risk of making them sympathetic where they’re more or less intended to be a symbolic interpretation of evil and not a realistic culture like the Elves, Dwarves and Humans. The thing that’s interesting for me is that in the real world, the culture that’s always presented as barbaric and inhuman and not even having a civilization worth mentioning almost always turns out to be a bunch of complex and interesting people whose story is being excluded for very different reasons than those stated by the people doing the excluding, which makes me want to poke around in there. :)

As to why they picked anti-Elven hatred, I just think it would be easier to stir. By tying the Men and Dwarves as “lackeys” of Elves (not at all true, of course, in Tolkien’s world, but race-baiting rarely makes actual sense) it stirs up very ancient tensions and ensures that when an Orc sees a Man, they’re seeing them as a symbol of everything they dislike about Elves as well.

(As to why he needs propaganda…much of Sauron’s strength is tied up in the Ring. He’s not what he was, and the Ringwraiths can’t be everywhere. They’re doing what Sauron sees as the most important task, recovering the Ring. So it’s easier to get the Orcs to want to fight than to use his still-limited power bullying them into it. Sauron is an angry god, but he’s also an expert manipulator.)

You’re almost certainly right that few, if any Orcs ever saw Elves outside of battle, but that’s an interesting point to me in and of itself. Like I said, the Maiar and the Elves are pretty much immortal. We literally know people who must have been alive when Morgoth kidnapped and defiled the Elves into Orcs. (Or Men, or Dwarves, or whatever. Tolkien was pretty clear on the fact that Morgoth couldn’t have created them wholesale, because Morgoth lacked the creative impulse and only knew how to corrupt and destroy.) At some point, they must have faced a moral decision about what to do with these defiled Elves, and whether they could be saved. (I totally see Saruman as saying, “Nope! Junk ‘em!” But that’s just me.) It’s a hypothetical encounter, but I extrapolated it to suggest that a) the Elves tried and failed to rehabilitate the Orcs, and b) the Orcs remember this as folklore and resent the Elves for failing. I freely admit, it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s not without a basis in Middle-Earth lore.

And it’s okay that you didn’t think it came off; it’s not going to work for everyone. Hearing someone who’s clearly very knowledgeable about Tolkien poke holes in it is very useful criticism, and I thank you.

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@Murc,

You’re a little off about the theology of Middle-Earth. Elves go to the halls of Mandos, yes, but Dwarves, seemingly, reincarnate (Elves may “reincarnate”, sort of, by being allowed to travel to Middle-Earth in new bodies, but that’s portrayed as really rare). And Tolkien specifically says that no one in Middle-Earth knows what happens to Men when they die, which is obviously meant to leave room for his Christian belief system. For that matter, the events of the Silmarillion technically don’t conflict with those of the book of Genesis…it’s sort of implied that the garden of Eden and the later fallout from that were taking place waaaaay “off the map” while the sons of Feanor were busily making war on Morgoth, and it’s possible that the destruction of Beleriand was meant to be the source of Noah’s flood. Obviously at a certain point you have to let it go, but I think reconciling his fictional, pseudo-pagan mythology with his religion was important to Tolkien (hence the Valar being explicitly described as angels who had been mistaken for gods, too). And thus, the morality of LOTR is very Christian, despite the seeming absence of any specific aspects of Christian mythology. So asking about the potential for Orcish salvation is pretty pertinent, and again, I’m pretty sure I’ve read one of his later letters where he did specifically consider the issue.

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Elves may “reincarnate”, sort of, by being allowed to travel to Middle-Earth in new bodies, but that’s portrayed as really rare.

Not necessarily Middle-Earth. They’re allowed to leave the Halls of Mandos and wander around Valinor again. They don’t have to be born into a new body the way, say, Durin does.

And Tolkien specifically says that no one in Middle-Earth knows what happens to Men when they die

That’s not entirely true. Men have their own part of the Halls of Mandos, set aside for them. Moreover, the Valar have a certain amount of leeway when it comes to their souls. Mandos had the authority to give Beren a new body and send him back to Middle-Earth.

However, Men, unlike Elves, don’t hang out in the Halls of Mandos endlessly. They tarry there for awhile and then move on. It is true that this leaves open the possibility of a more Christian-style heaven.

So asking about the potential for Orcish salvation is pretty pertinent, and again, I’m pretty sure I’ve read one of his later letters where he did specifically consider the issue.

You have, yes. Tolkien was torn on the subject to a degree.

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@Murc: You present a complaint about Truthspeaker’s inaccuracies, but consider that you’re operating from outside knowledge of Tolkien’s history, whereas orcs are operating under questionable levels of culture. Unlike the elves, we don’t hear about orcish libraries or orcish historians, much less orcish immortality.

This all raises an interesting question applicable to many fantasy worlds, which is the quality and quantity for transmission of information. We have become all too accustomed to the immediacy of Google search results to appreciate the difficulty of library research from just decades ago. Primitive cultures were shaped by word-of-mouth transmission, and that is a lossy transfer by default.

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@Ben: As Murc pointed out, though, we do hear about orcs with greatly-extended lifespans. Not necessarily immortal, but Tolkien didn’t rule that out. My angle wasn’t that they’d necessarily forgotten some distant past truth, but more that like everyone, they remember history the way they want to remember it. :)

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@Ben:

What John said, with added thoughts:

I present a complaint not so much about the Truthspeakers inaccuracies, which are clearly intended, but about how you get to those inaccuracies from the Tolkien canon.

Cultural-specific garbled history is something that happens all the time in the real world, and can be damned interesting used as a plot device in a fictional one. If you read my comments upthread, you will notice that I reference ultra-conservative American subculture. They have an extremely warped view of reality, but it’s warped in a way where I understand how they got to Crazy Idea B from Actual Fact A. In the case of the Truthspeaker, I have enough trouble wondering how this process occurred that that becomes my immediate concern rather than what the actual point of the story is.

Oh, and John, thank you for your kind words regarding my feedback.

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A few quick thoughts:
Clearly Truthspeaker is an Unreliable Narrator in Tolkien’s world. It doesn’t really matter whether he believes his own warped version of history, as long as he can use it to stir everybody up. I haven’t studied enough about Hitler to be sure whether he actually believed his nonsense about Aryan purity, but a lot of his followers swallowed it whole.

Those interested in elves may be interested in how perceptions of them evolve in Elizabeth Moon’s books, “The Deed of Paksennarion” trilogy and those that follow. The protagonist starts out thinking elves are all shiny and wonderful, but comes to realize that they manipulate information (not lying, but withholding pertinent facts) for their own advantage, and are unreliable in other ways. Here’s a quote from the Elvish Lady (high queen, more or less): “We singers of the world, who shrink from disharmony, may choose silence instead of noise, and not always rightly.” For more on elves, see TV Tropes on “Can’t Argue with Elves” and “Screw You, Elves!”

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A couple of things.

1. There is a point early on in the Silmarillion where it specifically states that humans have a chance of spending the afterlife in the presence of Iluvatar, and that is better than being immortal like the elves. I always took that to be an example of Christianity slipping in to the narrative.

2. Sauron not using propaganda? He used propaganda to cause the fall of Numenor. Why wouldn’t he do it again?

Usually in the Silmarillion, Sauron was portrayed as a tough henchman of Morgoth (and less important than the spider monster Ungoliant, interestingly enough) who got into fights and stuff when he wasn’t running one of Morgoth’s hideouts for him. But in the story of how Numenor fell, he acted basically like Satan and used deception and a new false religion to corrupt everybody. He made himself appear as an “angel of light” (to allude to the Bible for a second) and flat out lied about the Valar.

So, he is capable of being a Glorious Godfrey type. I don’t have a problem with anti-elf propaganda being one of his recruitment tools.

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