Tolkien Gateway

Enchanted Isles

Enchanted Isles
General Information
Other namesShadowy Isles
Magic Isles
Locationeast of Valinor, adjacent to the Shadowy Seas
Descriptionan island chain ensnaring anyone without the permission to travel to Aman
People and History
InhabitantsSleeper in the Tower of Pearl (in the earlier versions of the legendarium)
Createdby the Valar after the Flight of the Noldor
Destroyedremoved after the Akallabêth
EventsEärendil's voyage through the Enchanted Isles

The Enchanted Isles or Shadowy Isles[1] were an archipelago in Belegaer, east of Tol Eressëa.


[edit] History

The archipelago was set by the Valar after the Flight of the Noldor to shield Valinor and Tol Eressëa. They had an uncertain number and no charted course could go through them, and as such they ensnared any ships trying to reach Aman without permission. Additionally the seas about them were filled with mists. The isles were enchanted, and anyone who set foot on them fell asleep forever. The creation of the Enchanted Isles and the Shadowy Seas was part of the Nurtalë Valinóreva, the Hiding of Valinor.[2]

However, when Eärendil and Elwing came upon the Enchanted Isles in Vingilótë they passed through successfully. This may be attributed to the Silmaril that Eärendil wore upon his brow as they sailed into the West.[3]

The isles were apparently either removed from Arda or at least made less sinister after the War of Wrath, as Tol Eressëa could be seen from Meneltarma on Númenor without problems. Certainly after the Downfall of Númenor they were gone.

[edit] Other versions of the legendarium

Christopher Tolkien has suggested that the Enchanted Isles were likely inspired from what was known in early versions of the legendarium as the Magic Isles.[4]

In an early map of Arda titled I Vene Kemen (q.v.) two sets of Isles are noted, with the Qenya names Tolli Kimpelear and I Tolli Kuruvar.

In other early works,[5] the isles are also the location of the Tower of Pearl where the "sleeper" (possibly Tuor or Idril) rests, a reference which was later dropped from the mythology, although it remains uncertain if this was due to compression or rejection.

[edit] In other stories

The Magic Isles are referenced in Tolkien's Roverandom. In the story, written down in 1927, the great whale Uin takes the enchanted dog Roverandom (formerly known as Rover) on adventures through the seas: Uin takes Roverandom through the Shadowy Seas to the Bay of Fairyland beyond the Magic Isles where Rover saw the Mountains of Elvenhome and the light of Faery. Roverandom thought he could see the white glint of a city of Elves on a green hill far away in the distance.[6]

[edit] See also


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin", "Notes", pp. 52-53, note 9
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "VI. The History of Eriol or Ælfwine and the End of the Tales"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "V. The Tale of Eärendel"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien; Christina Scull, Wayne G. Hammond (eds.), Roverandom, pp. 73-4