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In the ancient past, very approximately 4,000 years before the first rising of the Moon and Sun1
Fought across the northern lands of Middle-earth, culminating in the long siege of Melkor's fortress of Utumno
Fought by the Valar against Melkor and his forces
The war ended with the long siege of Melkor's great northern fortress of Utumno
Other names
The Great War of the Gods2


About this entry:

  • Updated 13 March 2024
  • This entry is complete

War of the Powers

The ancient conflict between the Valar and Melkor

After Oromë discovered the newly awakened Elves, the Valar resolved to remove the threat of Melkor from Middle-earth. They went to war, meeting the forces of Melkor in the northwest of Middle-earth, where the battle that took place left the land scarred and broken. The Valar were victorious, pursuing the fleeing armies of Melkor to his vast stronghold of Utumno, which they besieged. Meanwhile they placed a guard on the Elves at Cuiviénen while the dreadful war continued in the North.

At last the Valar broke the defences of Utumno. Tulkas wrestled with Melkor and defeated him, and the Dark Lord was chained with a great chain made by Aulë, known as Angainor. Melkor was removed to Valinor and imprisoned within the Halls of Mandos for three ages, and Middle-earth had peace for that time. Many of the deep pits and dungeons of Utumno and its outlier fortress of Angband remained, however, and so many of Melkor's servants escaped the destruction. Among these was Sauron, who would prepare Angband for his master's return, many long centuries later.



Rather more precise dating for the war is given in The Annals of Aman (in volume X of The History of Middle-earth). Reckoned in Valian Years (which are somewhat longer than solar years), and counting from the first blooming of the Two Trees of Valinor, the war is said to have begun in 1090. After two (Valian) Years of war, the Valar fought their way to Utumno and besieged it until 1099, when the fortress fell and Melkor was captured, bringing the war to its end.

Converting from Valian Years to solar years is not straightforward (and in fact there are various different approaches) but it is possible to produce some estimates using a typical calculation. In solar years, this would mean that the War of the Powers began 10,445 years after the beginning of the Years of the Trees, and lasted for eighty-six years, with the long siege of Utumno occupying sixty-seven of these. By this system, the war ended 3,843 years before the beginning of the Years of the Sun.


It should be noted that the name 'Great War of the Gods' only appears in The Annals of Aman (ibid) and so cannot be considered strictly canonical. In the same source, the War of the Powers is also described as the 'war of the West upon the North' (referring to the Uttermost West as the home of the Valar, and the far North as the ancient domain of Melkor).


About this entry:

  • Updated 13 March 2024
  • This entry is complete

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