The Lands of Rhûn and Harad

By Berislav “Incánus” Lopac

Contents:

Lands of the Rhûn
Menelotriand and the Banks of Amrûnen
The Wildwoods
Taur Luin and the Mistwoods
The City-states of Nikkea

Lands of the Harad
Near Harad or the Great Desert
Middle or Greater Harad
Falas Morlith or Pharazain
Far Harad and Taur Moredain
Ormal Kharg

The Lost Realms of Arthanor and Amazôn
Rise of the Kingdom of Arthanor
The Island of Amazôn
The Fall of Arthanor and Cursing of Amazôn

Some Notes on the Presented Material
The Map of Middle-earth (160 kB)

Lands of the Rhûn

Menelotriand and the Banks of Amrûnen

Eastward from the Sea of Rhun and to south of the frozen Forodwaith lies a vast plain only rarely spotted with small forests and groves, and with an occasional lonely hill here and there. Since the times when the first Elves passed through that region on their long march from Cuivienen to Valinor, those lands have changed so much that their ancient name is long forgotten.

In the middle of the Second Age, when the ships of Numenor just began to explore the shores of Middle-earth, a group of Dunedain explorers and adventurers traveled past the eastern shores of the Sea of Rhun and discovered the beautiful, endless plain covered with thousands of spring flowers in all colors. They called it Menelotriand, which in Quenya means Land of the Thousand Flowers, and that name remained in records of Gondor and in general use.

The plain of Menelotriand is stretched between the Sea of Rhun in the West and the river Amrûnen and the Orocarni range in the East, and between Forodwaith in the North and the edges of the Khand plateau in the South. Its northern part, from Forodwaith to the line of the southern edge of Sea of Rhun, is inhabited by nomad tribes of dark, tough people with copper skin. In the records of Gondor they are named simply Talathrim, the Plains-folk, but they call themselves Rahiwenna, the Free Peoples. More than anything they value their freedom and -- although technologically at about the same level as the Woses -- they wouldn't give for any riches their ability to fold their leather tents, load them on their sturdy horses and move the whole tribe in a matter of minutes. Because of that freedom -- as well as because of their few numbers and expanse of the plains -- the Talathrim were spared a stronger influence of Sauron, who instead concentrated on their southern cousins.

At the southern part of the great plain, especially around the middle course of Amrûnen, lives a people which shares the same origin and language with the Talathrim, although their cultures differ a lot. Organized in larger tribal communities, they had originally lived in fortified towns along the rivers of southern Menelotriand. Although their basic occupations were farming and trade, the Sauron's emissaries have easily converted them to the worship of the Shadow, organizing their tribes to a firm, warrior culture. In nineteenth century of the Third Age they led them in a westward invasion, towards the civilized lands of Gondor southwest of the Sea of Rhun. The three greatest tribes -- the more civilized Sagath and Logath, who loaded most of their possessions on large wagons, and much wilder Asdriags, akin to the Variags of Khand -- attacked Gondor, where they remained known as the Wainriders.

The Wildwoods

The left, eastern bank of Amrûnen is much more sparsely inhabited than the western. The reason for that are the wild forests that rise just about fifty miles away from the river. Although those woods aren't so dense and dark like Mirkwood or the Old Forest in the West, they are inhabited by a mysterious and wild people, infamous among the population along the river for its constant raids.

That people was easy prey for the Sauron and his emissaries, and in the twenty sixth century he united them with the remnants of the Asdriags and sent them to a new invasion to the lands of Gondor, where they became known as the Balchoth.

Taur Luin and the Mistwoods

The mysterious forests between the Orocarni mountains and the Eastern Sea have ever been a terra incognita for all explorers, from the Numenoreans to the Sauron's emissaries. The unreachable shores covered with thick blue fog don't allow ships to land, and the ignorance has created numerous legends about peoples and creatures that live there. However, it's quite probable that in the deep reaches of that woods can be found hidden communities of the Ents, Giants, Avari Elves, Trolls, Dragons and other beings.

The City-states of Nikkea

The most civilized of all lands of the East, Nikkea is a loose union of small city-states which have developed from the supply posts established during the Second Age by the Numenorean explorers. Those cities are inhabited by a special mixture of all the surrounding peoples -- the Haradrim, Variags and Black Numenoreans, even Moredain from the South and the people from Barmirian in the East. Like all cultures that develop at the crossing of various influences, the cities of Nikkea became rich because of commerce and crafts, and their shipyards supply even the seamen of the far Pharazain.

The cult of the Shadow took root in Nikkea pretty early in the Third Age, and Sauron had used their forces -- primarily warships with slave rowers -- on several occasions, especially during the war against Arthanor, the siege of Amazôn and the great attack on Gondor, when the combined fleet of Ormal and Nikkea sailed around Taur Moredain to join the forces of Umbar and Pharazain.

To the East of Nikkea, on the other side of the wide mouth of Amrûnen, lies Balizar, a sparsely inhabited swampy area ruled by monstrous insects like hummerhorns and dumbeldors, as well as various crocodiles, snakes and other reptiles, some of them related to the Dragons.

The Lands of the Harad

Near Harad or the Great Desert

South of Gondor, across the river Harnen, lies the wide sand desert which is mentioned in the records of Gondor as the Near Harad, while the ancient Elven name for it is Lithaer, the Sea of Sand. It is a harsh and inhospitable land, 300 miles wide at its narrowest point, between Harnen and the river Siresha in the South.

The desert is inhabited only by sparse Haradrim nomad tribes, which -- like the Talathrim -- values their freedom to much to fall under the Sauron's influence too easily. However, towards the end of the Third Age most of the tribes have either sent their warriors against Gondor, or were destroyed while trying to resist Sauron.

In the middle of the desert, on the caravan trail that connects southern Gondor with the cities of Sirayn, there is the city of Tul Poac. It has always been the main center of power in the desert, and whoever ruled it took the title of the Lord of Harad (which was always, of course, laughed at by the nomads); that title was also taken by the King Hyarmendacil of Gondor when he conquered the city in year 1050 of the Third Age.

Middle or Greater Harad

To the south of the Great Desert, along river Siresha, lies the center of the Haradrim civilization, the region named Sirayn. Several large cities, among which dominate Tul Harar and Tul Isra, prosper due to their position on the routes that connect Umbar and southern Gondor (even Mordor as well) in the north, Pharazain in the west, Far Harad in the south and the Bay of Ormal in the east.

Falas Morlith or Pharazain

When the Numenoreans first started to explore and settle on the shores of Middle-earth, they at first avoided the rocky coast southwards of Umbar, the tall black cliffs at places rising hundreds of feet above the sea. This vacant land, called by the Elven and Numenorean mariners Falas Morlith, Coast of Black Sand, has often been covered by clouds of black ash from the volcanic Grey Mountains in the east, among which dominated the dark cone of Amon Lhach. What little fertile land there was along the rivers and in the south was sparsely inhabited by a people blended from Haredain of Sirayn and the dark-skinned Moredain from the southern rainforests.

Then, during the reign of the King Ar-Sakalthor, in the rivers that come from the Grey Mountains through Falas Morlith was discovered gold, and somewhat later rubies and other gems, and everything has changed for good. This empty land suddenly became interesting to the nobles of Numenor, who were becoming more and more greedy, and they started to arrive and claim the land as their own. The only supply port built here by the Numenoreans has soon grown up into the real fortified city called Nimir Kadar, the Shining City, and its port became one of the largest and busiest of all the ports of Middle-earth. Near the largest gold deposits the nobles built fortresses, and a new name for the land came into the common use -- Pharazain, the Golden Lands.

A specific government has soon developed in the new colony, since it had the greatest concentration of noblemen outside of Numenor itself. The King of Numenor, who was the nominal owner of all the lands, had divided the regions around the richest deposits as a fief to some of his vassals, choosing them mostly among the sea captains, or among the younger sons of the most powerful noble houses, who were not the heirs to the family lands on Numenor. In the south, where was no mineral riches, but the land was much more fertile, he did the same with the farmland along rivers and in fertile valleys, to provide the source of food for the miners and their lords in the north. Each of these lords (in Adûnaic bar or baron) was appointed a fief (baruzayan), and he ruled it out of his castle (barukan), giving the rights to mine or to cultivate land to his own vassals -- most often his poorer relatives or former servants. In return, their vassals were due to pay their tributes in part of their products (gold, gems or food), just as the barons were paying theirs directly to the King. The actual work was done by slaves that were brought in from all of the Middle-earth -- especially Eriador and Taur Moredain -- and Pharazain was so the first of the Numenorean lands that saw an extensive use of slaves.

After the Downfall of Numenor Pharazain was left to its own devices just like other Numenorean colonies. However, in contract to most other colonies there was no centralized government which could have continued the rule, which had created a period of political void during which each of the barons saw the opportunity to rule by himself. During the following centuries many wars were waged between various lords, and many of the slaves were freed so they could serve as warriors. Countless treaties were agreed upon and broken, and many noble houses were destroyed from earth, their barukans taken or destroyed. However, during all these years no faction was stronger than others, and still there is no single lord or house which would rule the whole of Pharazain.

Although other towns belong to various lords' fiefs, Nimir Kadar -- or simply Nimir, as it is called -- is a free city ruled by a Council of the about twenty most powerful craft and merchant guilds.

Far Harad and Taur Moredain

In the uttermost South of the Middle-earth, beyond the Yellow Mountains, lie the vast steppes mentioned in the records of Gondor simply as the Far Harad. Warmer and dryer than the plain of Menelotriand, they are home to many wild and fantastic beats known in the North only from illuminations, or from an occasional traveling menagerie, or from bloody invasions of the Dark Men.

The inhabitants of this scorched land, known in Pharazain as Uruthani, Land of the Sun, are tall Men with dark, almost black skin, which in Gondor are known as the South Haradrim or Moredain. They live in villages and towns in various sizes and shapes, organized in tribal groups whose primary occupations are hunting and farming, but also raiding and slave-hunting. Most of these tribes are strongly influenced by the Shadow, especially through the works of the Nazgul Akhorakhil and his minions, who spread evil lore and direct the local religions towards the dark beliefs.

From the east, Far Harad is bordered by the Bay of Ormal, along which is the infamous Ivory Coast, whose empty, dangerous cliffs make the access to rare, well protected ports even more difficult. Those ports however team with life and traffic, since the Ivory Coast is the gathering place of the hunters to the two most important wealth of the Far Harad -- white teeth of the mumakil and black slaves.

Southwards of the hot steppes of Uruthani begin the dense rainforests, known in Gondor as Taur Moredain, Forest of the Black Men. Mysterious and unexplored, that enormous forest hides in its depths unknown monsters, many of which have remained from the ancient times of Darkness when Morgoth had corrupted some of the creatures of the Valar.

Ormal Kharg

The northern shores of the Bay of Ormal, and especially its rockiest, western part, was inhabited even during the First Age by the tribes who remained there while their kin, the Edain, continued to the West. However, the first larger communities didn't appear since the Second Age, when they developed around the Numenorean supply havens. After the kingdom of Arthanor was established this area had recognized the sovereignty of the king, although it always remained a sort of a backwater, already known as Ormal Kharg. This isolation was used by the Sauron's spies, who spread the dark cults throughout the cities of Ormal Kharg. When the Sauron's army finally attacked, the cities rebelled against the king, which only hastened the downfall of Arthanor.

In later years Ormal Kharg has become the area of independent cities which prosper due to continuous trade with the cities of Sirayn, Ivory Coast and Nikkea. Although this fact is not confessed publicly, they are also havens for numerous pirate bands who roam the Bay of Ormal, making the travel across it much more dangerous than it would be without them.

The Lost Realms of Arthanor and Amazôn

Rise of the Kingdom of Arthanor

At the end of the second millennium of the Second Age king Ciryatan of Numenor had built a great fleet to explore and colonize the shores of Middle-earth. When King Tar-Atanamir came to throne in year 2251 S.A., those shores had already been thoroughly explored, and Umbar was the primary Numenorean port. Further to the South and East there was no such large cities and ports, although numerous fortified supply havens were established to provide safety and provisions for passing Numenorean ships.

Although the Numenoreans had started to divide to the King's Men and the Faithful as early as the Atanatar's reign, the real prosecutions against those not loyal to the King started with the coronation of Ar-Adunakhor, who forbid Elven speech on Numenor. One of the Faithful was Anorion, lord of a medium-sized noble house from the southern part of Numenor. In fear for his family he equipped two great ships and -- taking on board as much as the ships could carry, as well as all his relatives and servants who wanted to go with him, sailed towards East.

He came to the shores of Middle-earth and, led by stars and charts, sailed around the southern tip of Taur Moredain. Thus he came to the Inner Seas and soon landed to the warm sandy shores where he found several Numenorean havens. In one of these havens he settled, and because of his wisdom and personality all of the nearby forts had accepted him as their lord.

Led by his hand, those havens started to trade and communicate even more with the local Men, getting larger and turning into real port-towns. When an army consisting of Orcs from Mordor and Variags from Khand tried to overcome the land behind those towns -- bare hills separated with green, fertile fields and valleys, where lived peaceful farming Haradrim tribes -- Anorion had led an army of Numenorean and Haradrim warriors, who used their superior weapons and strategy to utterly destroy and rout the army of the Darkness. The thankful people chose Anorion as their King, and thus was established a new kingdom, called Arthanor, Kingdom of the Sun. After that first invasion Sauron had unsuccessfully tried several more times, and in the time of King Anordur, Anorion's great-grandson, he turned towards the imminent threat of Ar-Pharazon.

The local Haradrim and the Numenoreans from former havens have gradually blended into a single people of specific culture, influenced by both the Haradrim legends and the lore of the Valar. Anorion had also introduced the Sun as a primary being, and it was ever since praised in the kingdom of Arthanor.

The Island of Amazôn

On the opposite shore of the Bay of Ormal, in the vicinity of the Ivory Coast, lies the island that was called Amazôn by the Numenorean explorers, and whose history was always closely tied to that of Arthanor.

The crews of the fortified supply havens built on rocky shores of Amazôn by Tar-Ciryatan and his successors have also settled the interior of the island, much greener and more fertile than the coasts. When Anorion arrived and the kingdom of Arthanor was established some of the Numenoreans who came with him moved to the island, where was at that time built its only port, Sarnlond. However, the population on Amazôn was never numerous, and many wise men from Arthanor moved there to seek reclusion, building their small havens and towers in which they established small schools, libraries and research laboratories. In contrast to their cousins in Arthanor, the people of Amazôn have retained the Numenorean culture and the way of life, as well as the purity, mingling with surrounding peoples only slightly.

Amazôn had have no king; instead the wise men took the model of the Valar and established the Ring of Judgment, consisting of nine Men and Women of all classes -- wise men and mages, warriors, mariners, craftsmen and others. There was relatively few warriors on the island, but they were fierce and skillful, so that the Amazôn's unit send as a support to the wars of Arthanor against the Sauron's armies was the one which gave the Enemy the most trouble. In that unit, which was unheard of in other lands, there was almost as much women as there was men.

When the Wizards came to the Middle-earth about 1000 T.A., their interest was naturally directed -- besides Gondor and the Dunedain -- towards traditions of Arthanor and Amazôn, especially the schools and laboratories of the island. Saruman and Gandalf have both had visited the island, each at his own time, teaching the wise men there many new skills and lore, and the latter even became known as Incanus, the Lord of Wisdom. However, the Wizard who was the most frequent visitor there was Pallando, one of the Blue Wizards, who took abode in Arthanor in the early days after his arrival. After the Sauron's army overran the kingdom he escaped to Amazôn, and was one of the main reasons why the Enemy's fleet failed to conquer the island.

The Fall of Arthanor and Cursing of Amazôn

Peace and prosperity of Arthanor and Amazôn have been growing for thousands of years. Their influence covered Sirayn in the west and Nikkea in the east, and their ships sailed to the unexplored lands of the Dark Lands and through the Strait of Mists to the island which will later become the kingdom of Barmirian. Their commercial ties reached even Gondor, although they were mostly isolated from other lands of the Faithful because of the Nazguls' influence and continual raids of Orcs, Variags and the evil Haradrim.

When Sauron was forced to withdraw from Dol Guldur in year 2063 T.A., he chose a dark fortress high in the mountains of Khand as his abode. From there he started a campaign of re-conquering the lands that used to be under his influence in past ages, but have forgotten him during his long absence. The dark cults and beliefs moved again in Khand, Sirayn, Nikkea, Far Harad and along the banks of Amrûnen, while the agents of Sauron covertly took over the rulers and put their own marionettes.

The only great land which resisted that was the kingdom of Arthanor, and Sauron decided to conquer it in a more classical way. He raised a great army, consisting of the wild Easterlings, Variags of Khand, Orcs, desert nomads and the Moredain from the Ivory Coast and Far Harad, together with great war fleets of Nikkea and Pharazain, and in a long and hard war which continued across more than a hundred years -- from 2226 to 2339 T.A. -- he leveled the kingdom of Arthanor to the ground. What remained of the once great and rich kingdom were bare hills and poisoned rivers, with numerous ruins which are still infested with Orcs, Trolls and other monsters, while the northern edges of the former kingdom are slowly claimed by the sands of the Great Desert.

Following tradition, Amazôn has sent all of its small army to help defending the kingdom. But this was a long war, and all the men -- as well as many women -- were sent to it as soon as they were able to hold sword and shield. When Arthanor was destroyed, Sauron had sent his ships to raze the island, but they met there an unexpected and fiery resistance of the remaining women and old men, among which was the Wizard Pallando. The ancient lore and skills of Numenor, preserved through the centuries and further empowered by the Wizard, enabled them to resist the Enemy's fleet and defend the island. After a long and unsuccessful siege Sauron came himself to the island, but although his person was spreading terror and fear around him, the women of Amazôn stayed adamant. Infuriated, Sauron then uttered the terrible curse: that no woman who ever put her foot on the island will never again give birth to a male child.

Although with that the siege ended and the terrible hordes of Sauron withdrew, many of the Amazonian women almost wished that they have surrendered to the Dark Lord. For a culture have no future without men, and they knew that they are doomed to a slow disappearance, after which their island will be free for Sauron to take it. However, they didn't give up hope: aware that mixing with the men of other peoples will weaken the blood of Numenor in their daughters, they decided to raise every future Amazôn woman to be equally a warrior, a mariner and a sage. They have created a system which determines each woman's place in the hierarchical structure, and which will enable all the skills and lore to be carried over to future generations, without fear of forgetting them.

They started to obtain men in various ways -- from buying slaves on the nearby Ivory Coast, to raids upon the shores of Ormal Kharg and Nikkea, to offering rich bounties to higher class individuals of purer Numenorean descent. During the long ages of mingling their skin turned from pale to a brownish hue, while their came mostly became dark and curly -- but their eyes remained Numenorean, of deep green or grey shade.

The only man remaining on the island of Amazôn lives secluded in a tower deep in the interior, and is much too old to be able to help the Amazonians to continue their line. His name is Pallando, and once he was one of the five Istari or Wizards, the most powerful beings in the shape of Man who ever walked in Middle-earth. But the long years of struggle against Sauron have consumed many of his powers, and he has withdrawn from the matters of the world, only occasionally appearing on the court of the Amazôn queen to help her resolve some great problem.


Some Notes on the Presented Material

Creating the above lands and histories I have used the method exercised by Tolkien himself: instead of trying to invent anything, I just recorded what came to my mind as if it has always been there. During that process I have embraced the work of other people who have done a similar job before me, and this is the right place to acknowledge them.

First of all, the praises go to Ms. Karen Wynn Fonstad, who has done a marvellous work by providing “The Atlas of the Middle-earth”, especially its Second Edition, where is a fine rendering of the Endor according to an early Tolkien's sketch.

I also have to thank the Iron Crown Enterprises on their great job in developing and presenting the Middle-earth Role Playing game, although I don't always share their ideas about the geography and history of Endor (otherwise I would never even start such a project). One of their most impressive works, which I have incorporated almost completely into my description of the lands of the Harad, is the module named “Greater Harad” (© 1990).

And last, but not least, there is the great bard, J. R. R. Tolkien, himself. His works have been my inspiration ever since I have read the Hobbit for the first time, and without all the short mentions of the lands to the East and South I would never be able to imagine and describe them in such detail.

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