Have you read The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings -- and seen the extended editions of the movies -- multiple times? Is Shadowfax your favorite fictional horse? Do you have strong feelings about Tom Bombadil being left out of Peter Jackson's "Fellowship"? Does the eventual marriage of Pippin and Sam's offspring seem like super-basic trivia to you? Are you Stephen Colbert, IRL?
If you answered "no" to all of these questions, the following may not make a lot of sense to you. (But I picked out some really good GIFs, so maybe you should read it anyway.) For everyone else: I, too, am a LOTR superfan. I read The Silmarillion and appendices. I learned a lot of weird stuff. Let's talk about it.
1. Arwen is Aragorn's cousin.
... sixty-three times removed. Aragorn is a descendant of Elros, who was Elrond's brother. Elrond and Elros were part of a race called "halfelves," which gave them the power to choose between elven and human lives. Elros picked life as a mortal man, because he's a badass, while Elrond set up shop in Rivendell as a glowy, immortal elf. This is why Aragorn got to live way longer than normal men. It's also (probably) why Elrond let him move in with the elves and have a super emo relationship with his daughter.
2. Thranduil's dad was the elf responsible for abandoning Dol Guldur, before Sauron moved in.
Maybe that's why Thranduil is such a D? (It's not.) They abandoned it because they were having territory disputes with Lórien and Moria. Honestly, a lot of The Silmarillion is about sh*tty things the elves did to each other, so don't buy into the myth that they are a superior species. Google "Kinslaying Silmarillion." They kill each other a lot.
3. Legolas might not actually have had Orlando Bloom's luscious, long, blonde locks.
We do know his dad, Thranduil, had golden hair (as did most elves described throughout the books, besides Elrond's fam), but Tolkien never actually described Legolas's appearance in detail. Why would he tell us what every other elf looked like, but not our main Woodland-born archer? There's only one conclusion I have decided to draw from this: Legolas is a secret redhead. There is nothing you can say to convince me otherwise.
4. The three elven rings, Nenya, Narya and Vilya, were not forged by Sauron, but by an elf-lord named Celebrimbor.
He also helped Sauron with the other rings of power, except for the One. Celebrimbor thought to himself, "Nards! I don't really trust this Sauron guy. So, I will help him with rings for dwarves and men, but the rings for my people will be forged secretly!" As a result, the One does not hold the same sway over the Three as, for example, it does the Nine. If, like me, you have ever wondered, "How is it that this eye thingy can control the ringwraiths completely, but has no idea that Elrond and Galadriel are mind-communicating about the location of the one thing it is looking for?" Tolkien invented an answer for you.
5. Celebrimbor also designed the door to the mines of Moria.
The gate showcases the stars of the Seven Sons of Feanor, and if you googled the Kinslayer thing, you would know that they murdered a bunch of other Elves. Feanor was an important elf who created the three Silmarils, and made the Palantir. It was nice that Peter Jackson kept the door in the movie.
6. Durin's Bane, the Balrog who took the epic fall with Gandalf in The Fellowship, probably had wings.
He possibly forgot to use them. Besides not being brightest, he was also not the scariest of his kin. There was a Lord of the Balrogs named Gothmog, who commanded a brutal army of Balrogs, Orcs and Dragons in The Silmarillion for an evil dude name Morgoth. More on him soon.
7. The 5 wizards are part of a race called Maiar, who can change forms.
This means Ganders doesn't always look like Ian McKellen. Sad face.
8. Sauron is not the Very Most Evil of Middle Earth.
He was once a vassal of Morgoth, who was one of the Ainur. Ainur means Holy Ones in Quenya, which is one of the Elven languages that Tolkien made up. (Sindarin is the elvish spoken commonly in the movies and Books. Quenya is High Elvish and based off Finnish, whereas Sindarin is based off Welsh.)
Morgoth is basically Satan. The Valar (a subset of Ainur who have entered the physical world) actually sent Gandalf and the other wizards to Middle Earth to protect it from Sauron, who was carrying out Morgoth's evil agenda.
Fun fact: Durin's Bane is most likely one of the Maiar who was corrupted by Morgoth!
9. Shelob is not just any spider.
She is the daughter of Ungoliant, a weird spirit thing that predates time like Tom Bombadil but that is 1. evil and 2. chooses to take the form of a spider, which I don't get. Ungoliant spent a lot of time flitting about with Morgoth. All the large spiders in Middle Earth are descended from her, because she would mate with regular spiders and then eat her offspring. Disappointingly, how and why a spider/spirit mating works is not explained in detail.
10. The Silmarillion is a pretty tricksy text.
Since his son, Christopher, compiled The Silmarillion posthumously, the information it contains sometimes differs from what is found elsewhere in Tolkien lore. For example, there are multiple accounts of the origins of orcs. This means that whatever you -- or I -- write or say about The Silmarillion, our fellow nerds will probably argue that we are incorrect.
Sidney Jones was a contributing writer for this piece. Sidney works in higher education and enjoys knitting, her cat (named Gandalf) and pretending she is in the Misty Mountains -- not Caradhras -- when she backpacks.
Clarification: This article has been amended to indicate that the Wizards were sent to Middle Earth to protect it from Sauron, who was a servant of Morgoth.