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Of the Valar and the Coming of the Firstborn

"In the beginning Eru, the One, who in the Elvish tongue is named Ilüvatar; made the Ainur of his thought, and they made a great music before him. In this Music the World was begun; for Ilüvatar made visible the song of the Ainur, and they beheld it as a light in the darkness...
... Therefor Ilüvatar gave to their vision Being, and set it amid the Void, and the Secret Fire was sent to burn at the heart of the World; and it was called Eä."
Valaquenta, The Silmarillion
In this manner "Ainulindalë" (translated from Elvish: The Music of the Ainur) and "Valaquenta" (Account of the Valar), the first two books of Tolkien's "The Silmarillion", begin, and so does also the tales of Middle-earth. We learn how Tolkien's God, Ilüvatar, made the Ainur, the Holy Ones, and set them to sing. By doing this, they created Arda, the world, and the music was the foundation of everything that is or shall be. Here lies both good and evil, for as the song continues, Melkor, one of the mightiest of the Ainur, wishes to create beings himself. Thus the song is disturbed, and the first sign of unrest and war can be seen.

Ilüvatar shows the Ainur what the new world will be like, containing of what they've sung, but also of other things, for only Ilüvatar knows all that is to come. Of those were also the Children of Ilüvatar, for they were made by him alone. They were the Firstborn - the Elves, and the Followers - the Men.
Some of the Ainur longed for Arda, and was allowed to enter it, to prepare it for the coming of the Children of Ilüvatar. These Ainur were called the Valar, the Powers of the World, for they are bound to belong to the world until it is completed.

Tolkien presents us to 14 Valar, and also to their worst enemy, Melkor. The Lords of the Valar are Manwë, Ulmo, Aulë, Oromë, Mandos, Lórien and Tulkas, and the Queens Varda, Yavanna, Nienna, Estë, Vairë, Vána and Nessa. Arda was unfinished, and they worked for a long time to prepare it for the Firstborn and the Followers, but as the Lords and Queens built, Melkor tore down. As they did good, he destroyed. In this way evil came into Tolkien's world.

We also learn of the Maiar, spirits of lesser might than the Valar, often their servants. Few are well known, but sailors both fear and love Össe, lord of the sea. Most Maiar were good, but some were corrupted by Melkor, and made into horrible demons - the Valaraukar, better known as Balrogs. It was by one of these that Gandalf, the Wizard, nearly was killed when protecting the bridge over Khazad-dûm in The Lord of the Rings. The most powerful of the evil Maiar was Sauron, Melkor's foremost servant, who was commander of the fortress Angband.

The Valar and Melkor had long been at war, but at last Melkor was driven away. The Valar dwelt upon the Isle of Almaren, and they planned a great feast after defeating their enemy. Aulë made the two lamps Illuin and Ormal, and their light shone on Middle-earth. Melkor knew this, as he had many spies among the Maiar, and he knew also that Tulkas the Strong, whom he hated and feared, was tired. He entered Middle-earth in secret, and built the stronghold Utumno far beneath the ground. Then he attacked the Valar, and he destroyed Illuin and Ormal, the lights. Even so the Valar were still too strong, and he had yet again to flee to his fortress Utumno, where he hid.

Now the Isle of Almaren was destroyed, and the Valar moved to Aman, the Blessed Realm, and they took Valinor, the Guarded Realm, as their home. To protect themselves, they built the Pelóri, the Mountains of Defence, and upon them Manwë, the mightiest Valar, built his throne. Yavanna, the wife of Aulë, planted the Two Trees, Telperion and Laurelin. These were later destroyed by Melkor, but they gave fruit one more time. The fruits were later known as Anar and Isil, the Sun and the Moon.

Varda, the wife of Manwë, built the stars, and it is said that in the same moment they shone for the first time, the Firstborn woke, as it's told in Quenta Silmarillion - The History of the Silmarils.

On this page you can read about things that I don't have enough material to make whole section or couldn't decide where to put some texts.
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