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If the ring had not been destroyed, the good guys would have got their butts kicked!
Valedhelgwath has got that right! All that would have remained of them would have been a bunch of greasy blood stains and the people of Middle-earth could have looked forward to a millennium of slavery. Very Sad Smilie
Yeah, they were all but done in anyway, same as if Vader hadn't thrown the Emperor into that big hole.
Yup. They would have been slaughtered, although I'd like to think that the eagles would have arrived in the nick of time to carry off Gandalf, Aragorn (maybe?) and a couple of other important leaders. Dunno what good that would do though.

Plastic - disagree with the Vader comment. He only killed the Emperor. Wedge & Lando & co. were well on their way into the DS's reactor core, so Vader, Luke & Emperor would have just been blown to bits irregardless.
But if the Emperor had manged to leg it a bit quicker, then he could have still held control over the Imperial Navy with the force and the Rebels would have been knackered. But then again, his overconfidence was his weakness....
Well, I often thought that to have to live through a millenium of slavery, and to preserve some seeds of all that was noble and beautiful in the older times... that would make a test ten thousands times more grim than passing the Path of the Dead, or Frodo's journey to Mordor...
Is that what made PJ's Elrond so down against mankind; that they could die and each individual wouldn't have to endure the whole thousand years like each of the Elves would, if Gandalf's and Frodo's quest failed? Disturbed Smilie
Well, I often thought that to have to live through a millenium of slavery, and to preserve some seeds of all that was noble and beautiful in the older times... that would make a test ten thousands times more grim than passing the Path of the Dead, or Frodo's journey to Mordor...

But I thought elves were reincarnated in Valinor? Like Glorfindel.
Yes, elves are reincarnated in Valinor, but after a long dull waiting in the Halls of Mandos. Finally, even slavery might be preferable to that silent sad prison-like place where you do not have your body and (presumably) have no company, except perhaps Nienna, coming to weep over you from time to time! These poor slain elves waiting in the Halls of Mandos must really feel like neurology patients with the "shut-in" syndrome!
As for humans, they are quite willing to die. The heroes of both LOTR and SIlm are often and repeatedly told to prefer death to captivity (they have "the hardihood to die free, to use the words of Denethor).
This is indeed an easy way out of the mess!

[Edited on 21/5/2002 by Eryan]
Yes, the Halls of Mandos do sound like a pretty mournful and depressing place. The duration of the stay depends on the deeds done in life though - it is a kind of purgatory is it not? (I am not a catholic, so I am not certain what Tolkien modelled them on, if anything).

An elf like Feanor would likely spen a looooong time there, if not eternity. It is difficult imagining him ever repenting!

But say, for example, if Elrond was killed. I think his stay would be relatively short, since he does not appear to have committed any sins that we know of or can imagine! Except maybe pride (?).

I am not sure that the elves are necessarily separated from each other. I seem to recall someone learning from someone while in the Halls of Mandos, but I cant recall the exact reference of that.

"...Finwe grieved when the Teleri came not, and yet more when he learned that Elwe was forsaken and knew that he should not see him again, unless it were in the Halls of Mandos..." - Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldallie

More or less implies some sort of community? They seem to be able to at least see each other. I wonder how they recognised each other if they no longer had their bodies?Smile Smilie

I think that his idea of a purgatory was a little different, he depicted it in "A leaf by Niggle" as a sort of a hospital-workhouse... The Halls of Mandos were actually more prison-like, because Elves were slain and/or died from grief practically only because they rebelled and left the Valinor. I remember only Miriel, the mother of Feanor, as a person who died in Valinor.
Finwe, too, was killed in Valinor when Melkor stole the Silmarils from his hall. The first kin-slaying also took place there when the Noldor under Feanor attacked the Teleri at Alqualonde and stole their ships.
I think there might also be confusion between the Halls of Mandos and the Doom (or Curse) of Mandos. I believe the Halls were a place envisioned before the Noldor left Valinor. They were a place where the spirits of elves, men and perhaps dwarves stayed for a while in the dim silence to sit and think before being released back into Aman (elves), out of Aman (Men) or to stay there until the End (Dwarves).
The Doom of Mandos however, was the prophesy Mandos gave concerning the Noldor should they leave Valinor in persuit of Melkor and the silmarilli.
As for the elves that were released from the Halls, I'm not sure whether they were given their bodies back, or lived as spirits among all the other spirits that resided in Valinor. I don't think the case of Glorfindel can be used as an example here, because I believe the Glorfindel in Rivendell was a different person to the one slain by the Balrog during the sack of Gondolin. Glorfindel simply means golden-hair and was probably a common name among those descended from the House of Finarfin. I might be totally wrong on this last point however, and Glorfindel's brave sacrifice at Gondolin might have earned him an early release from the Halls.
How very stupid of me to forget Finwe and all the victims of kinslaying at Alqualonde!
The good ones definetely would have lost the battle if it wasn't for Frodo. Maybe the eagles could have saved Gandalf and Aragorn and some others and they could have gone into hiding in the Old Forest, being the last spot for Sauron to gain, but eventually even they would have lost the battle in the long run... Very Sad Smilie I prefer Tolkien's way! Big Smile Smilie
i have to agree that Tolkiens way is not to be tampered with but to go back to the issue of the Halls of Mandos being a incarnation of purgatory: i remember reading an article a bit back (may have used this example elsewhere) where the jorunalist had come across various letters written by Tolkien to a close friend regarding the Lotr, therein Tolkien was quoted as saying that his work was highly Cathloic in its nature, however Tolkien commented that he had tried to root out all refrences to Cathloism. So this idea is quite legitimate in my book, especially considering that Tolkien wrote before Vadican II (in which purgatory would have been a more prominant and accepted idea) and in Europe.
One of the things I like about Tolkien's work is its compatitbility with Christianity. While I am not catholic myself, I still apreciate the reverence and respect Tolkien afforded to christian faiths. I know things are different elsewhere in the world, but in Australia most catholics are on good terms with other christian faiths, so we find Tolkien's catholicism very acceptable.

Would like to get my hands on those letters to that journalist! Wink Smilie Have they been published? Are they in The Letters?

About the doom of Mandos. I think many of the slain Teleri would not have abided there long, having lost their lives defending their homes. The slain Noldor would be another story I think.

I struggle to underdstand Feanor's gief at the killing of his father. Couldn't he just wait for his return? It surely would not have taken long as elves measure time.

Just an aside question, if anyone has read anything on the subject, what happens when a king is reincarnated? Does he regain his throne or does it stay with the heir? Being killed must be downright inconvenient..... Wink Smilie
, what happens when a king is reincarnated? Does he regain his throne or does it stay with the heir?
I cannot be certain on this one Allyssa, but as there doesn't seem to be any case of it actually happening, I'd guess one of two things. Either the time spent in the Halls of Mandos is a long time as elves measure time, and thus none of the first kings have actually been freed by the end of the third age, or simply, no they don't take the throne.
Personally, I don't believe the elves are actually reincarnated when they leave the Halls of Mandos. Reincarnation implies their spirit and flesh are born again, and they get to be as they were before they died, a living elf. Personally, I think when they die, only their spirit goes to the Halls, and when they are released, it is only their spirit that lives on. Valinor is a magical place full of spirits, so I don't feel the elven spirits would feel out of place there.
Actually, while I was checking this, I came across the following passage:-
...yet slain ye may be, and slain ye shall be: by weapon and by torment and by grief; and your houseless spirits shall come then to Mandos. There, long shall ye abide and yearn for your bodies, and find little pity though all whom ye have slain should entreat for you.
It doesn't say they get their bodies back after leaving the halls, but I just feel their release is a spiritual thing.
The spirits of Beren and Luthien were both in the Halls of Mandos and then got back their bodies - but they were reincarnated in their "old" bodies, and Beren even did not get back his hand!
That is true Eryan. Luthien and Beren do seem to be a pretty unique pair though. Luthien bid Beren to wait in the Halls and not leave the world until she could join him. She then sang a song to Mandos, so beautiful, that he was actually moved for the first and last time. Between Mandos and Manwe, certain rule changes then seemed to occur, and both were released. This was unique for a Man to be released, and when Luthien finally died, she too was unique, in that her spirit left the world too, rather than returning to Valinor.
It seems there's one rule for some, and a different one if the Valar favour you.
It seems there's one rule for some, and a different one if the Valar favour you.

Angry Elf Smilie Dont you just hate that!
uh... YEAH! Ten times the number and ten times the strenght as it says in the book, the hobbits were on the right timing when destroying the ring! PHEW!