|Rhûn from a map used for The Lord of the Rings film series|
|Other names||the East, the Eastlands, Rómen|
|Location||Eastern Lands of Middle-earth, east of Mordor and Rhovanion|
|Regions||Dorwinion, Cuivienen, Hildorien, Wild Wood|
|People and History|
|Inhabitants||Easterlings, Dwarves, Avari|
|Events||Awakening of Elves, Awakening of Dwarves, Awakening of Men|
|Gallery||Images of Rhûn|
The first Elves awoke far east of the Sea of Rhûn, and many of them were led to the Westlands by Oromë. Some Elves forsook this Great Journey and chose to remain in Rhûn; they were called the Avari. Eventually some of the Avari would also migrate West.
The first Men also awoke in the far east, where they first met Dwarves and Avari. The ancestors of the Edain and Drúedain traveled west out of Rhûn. At the shores of the Sea of Rhûn, some of the Mannish tribes traveling west separated and their languages soon diverged. Other men remained in Rhûn, and many of them came under the dominion of Morgoth and, later, Sauron. These men were called Easterlings, and they led many attacks against Gondor and its allies during the Third Age.
In the Second or Third Ages the Blue Wizards went into the deep regions of Rhûn, never to return. Saruman may have joined them before returning and occupying Isengard. During the Watchful Peace, Sauron went to hiding in Rhûn for 400 years and gathered the Easterlings to his service; the Blue Wizards failed to discover his eastern stronghold.
The most western parts of Rhûn were conquered by Gondor twice, under the Kings Rómendacil I and Rómendacil II, but the Númenóreans never had full control over it. Western Rhûn was finally subdued in the Fourth Age under King Elessar and his son Eldarion.
Rhûn was a wide land largely unknown to those who dwelled in the western regions, and little of its geography was recorded. The western part of Rhûn was given in maps of the Westlands of Middle-earth. It contained the great inland Sea of Rhûn, connected to the River Running in the northwest. A forest lay to the north-east of the Sea, and near the south-western shores there were many hills. Wild white Kine of Araw, or oxen, lived near the shores of the Sea of Rhûn. North-west of the Sea of Rhûn lay also the land of Dorwinion.
Cuiviénen, the land where the first Elves awoke, was a 450 mile march east or south-east of the Sea of Rhûn. It lay on the shores of a bay at the inland Sea of Helcar's eastern end, near the feet of the Orocarni (Red Mountains). The Wild Wood, the ancient and mythical forest where the Elves wondered at their first Dawn, was located near Cuiviénen and the Orocarni. Far east of Cuiviénen lay Hildórien, the land where the first Men awoke.
Far south of the Sea of Helcar was once another inland sea, the Sea of Ringil, which lay at the feet of the Yellow Mountains. In the Battle of the Powers, the Sea of Ringil "became a great sea flowing north-eastward and joining by straits both the Western and Eastern Seas"; it submerged the Yellow Mountains and split Middle-earth from a newly formed continent, the Dark Land.
Dwarves of Rhûn
Dwarves emerged in Middle-earth in the Years of the Trees; after Elves but before Men. When the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves awoke in far-flung corners of Middle-earth, some of them found themselves in Rhûn, and there they founded kingdoms in the East. In the First Age, it is said that some Men had met Dwarves of the East who had fallen under the Shadow and were of evil mind and were distrustful of their race.:323 n.28
The distance between their mansions in the East and the Misty Mountains, specifically Gundabad, was said to be as great or greater than that of Gundabad's distance from the Blue Mountains in the West. These four clans are the Ironfists, Stiffbeards, Blacklocks and Stonefoots.:301, 322
In the Third Age, Dwarves of those kingdoms journeyed out of Rhûn to join all Middle-earth's other Dwarf clans in the War of the Dwarves and Orcs, which was fought in and under the Misty Mountains. After this war, the survivors returned home. Late in the Third Age, when war and terror grew in Rhûn itself, considerable numbers of its Dwarves left their ancient homelands. They sought refuge in Middle-earth's western lands, where some of them met Frodo Baggins.
When asked in an interview what lay east of Rhûn, Tolkien replied "Rhûn is the Elvish word for 'east'. Asia, China, Japan, and all things which people in the west regard as far away."
In the earliest drafts of The Hobbit, Bilbo offered to walk from the Shire "to [cancelled: Hindu Kush] the Great Desert of Gobi and fight the Wild Wire worm(s) of the Chinese." In a slightly later version J.R.R. Tolkien altered this to say "to the last desert in the East and fight the Wild Wireworms of the Chinese", and in the final version it was altered once more to say "to the East of East and fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert."
The Wainriders, as well as the Balchoth, were known for traveling in great camps of wagons which they fortified. Given the eastern origins of the group, this bears many similarities to the orda military structure employed by the Turkic and Mongol peoples.[source?]
Other versions of the legendarium
In a 1948 note on his General Map of Middle-earth, Tolkien drew an arrow from the River Running with the direction to the end of the map, and carries the note: "To Sea of Rûnaer. Hammond and Scull suggest that Rûnaer is likely an alternative name of Rhûn.
Also in these early draft maps for The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien indicated that Neldoreth was the name of the forest bordering the Sea of Rhûn's north-eastern shore. This forest went unnamed in later maps.
As the general direction of the West was revered by the Gondorians, conversely the East had evil connotations in some contexts as it was where Mordor lay; the people of Gondor endured the east wind but do not ask it for tidings, because it came from the "Evil in the East".
Portrayal in adaptations
2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:
- On the 25 March, the day when The One Ring was destroyed, an unknown calamity took place in Rhûn. In the weeks afterwards, streams of refugees begin pouring into the Iron Hills and the Dale-lands, despite those places having waged a war against the Easterlings not a full month before. The refugees are willing to take their chances against the prejudice and outward hostility directed against them from the men and dwarves of those lands, but none of them would speak in detail about what exactly had happened in Rhûn, other than it is absolutely impossible for them to go back. As of 2021, Rhûn itself has not appeared in the game.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Men"
- Robert Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, p. 427
- Karen Wynn Fonstad (1991), The Atlas of Middle-earth, p. 5
- J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 53
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Four. Quendi and Eldar: Author's Notes to Quendi and Eldar", note 9
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Two. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: Concerning the Dwarves (Chapter 13)"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XII. The Problem of Ros", pp. 373-374
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XIII. Last Writings", pp. 384-85
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part One. Time and Ageing: VI. The Awaking of the Quendi", p. 38
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Uruk-hai"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "V. The Ambarkanta: Of the Fashion of the World", pp. 293-294
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "V. The Ambarkanta: Map V"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Shadow of the Past"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix E, "Writing", "The Fëanorian Letters"
- Henry Resnick, "An Interview with Tolkien" dated 2 March 1966, Niekas Volume 18 (archived on eFanzines.com) (accessed 27 September 2022), p. 41
- J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Mr. Baggins, The First Phase, "The Pryftan Fragment", p. 9
- J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Mr. Baggins, The First Phase, "The Bladorthin Typescript", p. 40
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
- Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, p. 199
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "XV. The First Map of The Lord of the Rings", "Map II", p. 307
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Window on the West"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Departure of Boromir"