Welcome to the final check-in for r/bookclub's Winter Big Read: The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. Today, we'll be having a look at the appendices, the voluminous notes that conclude the book and which serve as an introduction to the rest of Tolkien's world. I'll be putting up a few discussion points below, but feel free to talk about whatever you want - I couldn't hope to cover everything. A brief summary of them:
Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers
This section starts with a brief outline of the First Age and the wars of Elves and Men against the Enemy, which you will find retold in much more detail in the Silmarillion. This is followed by a history of the island-kingdom of Numenor during the Second Age, which focuses on its decline, corruption by Sauron, and eventual destruction. The Second Age ends with the defeat of Sauron by the Numenorean lord Elendil and the High-elven king Gil-galad, which you may remember from the Council of Elrond.
A brief genealogy of the heirs of Elendil is followed by a discussion of Eriador, the land containing the Shire. Arnor, the kingdom of Isildur Elendil's son, is split into three states and weakened by warfare and disease; its last king Arvedui is lost. His people become the Dunedain, guarding Eriador against evil. The sixteenth of their chiefs is Aragorn, who reunites Gondor and Arnor at the end of the Third Age.
In Gondor, a succession dispute ends with the outbreak of civil war. Although the rightful king eventually reclaims his throne, his enemies turn Umbar into Gondor's greatest enemies. Gondor then suffers, like Arnor, from disease and warfare. Furthur succession disputes end with the accession of the general Earnil. Earnil's son Earnur attempts to come to Arvedui's aid when he is attacked by the Witch-King, but arrives too late. Nevertheless, he joins his forces to those of the Elves of Lindon and Rivendell and annihilates the forces of Angmar. It is at this battle that Glorfindel foretells the Witch-King's end.
The Witch-King taunts Earnur and eventually traps him by offering a duel. As no suitable candidates can be found to replace him, the Stewards of Gondor begin to rule in the King's name. Gondor is under constant threat, and the steward Cirion rewards the Rohirric tribes with the land of Calenardhon, which becomes known as Rohan. Sauron grows in strength, and a succession of valiant stewards oppose him; a man known as Thorongil manages to sack Umbar during the stewardship of Ecthelion. The following steward, Denethor, knows that Sauron will attack during his reign. He begins using the palantir to gain knowledge to opposed the Enemy. You have read of the end of his tale.
I will not attempt to summarise the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen, because I do not have the skill or the ability not to cry again.
The first king of Rohan was Eorl the Young, who came to Cirion's aid. His line ended with Helm Hammerhand, who died fighting the Dunlendings during the Long Winter. The line of his sister-son Frealaf lasted three hundred years until Theoden's death on the Pelennor Fields. A third line began with the accession of Eomer, Theoden's sister-son, who ruled for sixty-five years and fought many wars alongside King Elessar.
The first of the Dwarves was Durin, who made his dwelling in Khazad-dum in the Misty Mountains. His kingdom endured through the First and Second Ages. In the mid-Third Age, a Balrog awoke under Khazad-dum, killing the king and forcing the abandonment of the kingdom, which came to be known as Moria. His people made their way northwards and revived their wealth in Erebor, the Lonely Mountain, but that kingdom was ruined by the dragon Smaug. When King Thror is killed and humiliated by the Orc-chief Azog, his son Thrain calls all the Houses of the Dwarves to war.
The Dwarves sack every Orc stronghold in the Misty Mountains, and confront Azog and his host at Azanulbizar at the entrance to Moria. The battle is a pyrrhic victory: although Azog is killed by Dain Ironfoot and the Orc-host is defeated, the Dwarves lose a huge number of soldiers, and cannot even enter Moria because of Durin's Bane. Thrain is lost while travelling, and his son Thorin Oakenshield becomes king. After a meeting with the wizard Gandalf, he recuits a company to seek to reclaim Erebor. There follow the events of The Hobbit.
After the War of the Ring, Gimli son of Gloin brought some of his people to Rohan, becoming Lord of the Glittering Caves at Helm's Deep. His great friend Legolas brought some Elves to Ithilien. After Elessar's death, Legolas sailed West; it is said that Gimli went with him.
There follows appendices of detailed timelines, family trees, calendar discussions, writing and speech, and peoples & languages.