A range of hills in Tolkien's Middle-earth, most notable for mention in The Lord of the Rings. It is the setting for several key events, including the breaking of the Fellowship and the ''taming'' of Sméagol.
emyn: Sindarin for hill (plural); muil: Doriathrin for shadow, twilight, vagueness.1 Pronounced approximately: E''mYn mu%il2
Doriathrin or Doriathric has a complex and disputed background, but can essentially be considered an archaic form of Sindarin, spoken in the time of Lúthien Tinúviel. It's more complicated than that, but it'll do for this. Also according to Helge Kåre Fauskanger of Ardalambion fame, muil is ''a cognate of Quenya muilë 'secrecy'''.
The Emyn Muil, like all of Tolkien's places, is well named. It can be considered the Shadowed Hills for its approach to Mordor. Twilight Hills is fitting for the home of the Argonath and the border of Gondor, a nation built in the twilight and downfall of Númenor. And then, the hills themselves are difficult to navigate, mazes of grey rock and tumbled stones.
The south western range of the Emyn Muil is cut north to south by the great river Anduin. This section of the Anduin is marked with rapids called the Sarn Gebir which end in the Falls of Rauros even as the Anduin passes the southern edge of the Emyn Muil. The Fellowship have to portage the boats they receive from Galadriel and Celeborn past the rapids of Sarn Gebir, after which they come upon the Argonath and the oval lake of Nen Hithoel which surrounds the tall island of Tol Brandir, and which ends in the Falls of Rauros.
The long eastern edge of the Emyn Muil borders the Dead Marshes and, by extension, the Dagorlad or Battle Plain. The site of many of the battles of the Last Alliance, the encroaching waters drowned parts of the Dagorlad and turned it into swamp.
The southern edge, on the eastern side of the Anduin, is bordered by the Nindalf (Wetwang in Westron), another stretch of swamp. The Nindalf borders the north and northwestern region of Ithilien.
The hills themselves are steep and rocky, with sheer drop offs and labyrinthine passageways of stone.
Here the highlands of the Emyn Muil ran from North to South in two long tumbled ridges. The western side of each ridge was steep and difficult, but the eastward slopes were gentler, furrowed with many gullies and narrow ravines. (LotR, pg 411)
Aragorn has difficulty tracking Merry and Pippin's company of orcs through the maze. Frodo and Sam, traveling without a guide, experience, or great knowledge of the place are far worse off.
... they had almost lost count of the hours during which they had climbed and laboured among the barren slopes and stones of the Emyn Muil, sometimes retracing their steps because they could find no way forward, sometimes discovering that they had wandered in a circle back to where they had been hours before. Yet on the whole they had worked steadily eastward, keeping as near as they could find a way to the outer edge of this strange twisted knot of hills. But always they found its outward faces sheer, high and impassable, frowning over the plain below; beyond its tumbled skirts lay livid festering marshes where nothing moved and not even a bird was to be seen. (LotR, pg 590)
The ascii art isn't great and certainly isn't to scale, but it should help place where the Emyn Muil is in relation to everything else. As Frodo expresses at one point, he should have left the Fellowship earlier, and avoided the Emyn Muil entirely, approaching the Morannon from further north, through the Brown Lands. Of course, as he realizes upon reaching the Morannon, there was no way he'd be able to sneak into Mordor from the Black Gate even if he had taken the northerly route.
00 -- (The Anduin) (The Brown Lands)
00 m mm m mm
00 m mm m mm mm
(Rohan) 00 m mm mmm m mm
00 mm m mmm m mm v v
00 m mm mm m mmm v v (Dagorlad)
(the EMYN MUIL) -- m mm mm 00 m mm m mmm mmm m v v
m mm mm 00 mm mm m mm mm v v v v
mm mmm 00 m mm m mm mmm v v v v
m mm m 0*0 m mmm mm mm v (Dead Marshes) v
(* Nen Hithoel *) -- m mm mm 0***0 mm mm mmm v v
m mm mm m 0**0 v v v v v
o (The Falls of Rauros) -- 00 v v v
o 00 v v v v
o -- (The Entwash) 00 v v v v
o .o00 v (Nindalf) v
o (.Border of .o 00 v v v
o Rohan.) -- .o o00 v v v
(Eastfold) o .o o 00 v v v (to the Morannon ---->
o .o o o00 v v and Mordor) M
o .ooooooooo 00 v v MM
o .....o o 00 v MMMMM
(Mouths of Entwash)-- .ooooooooooooooooo 000 v (North Ithilien) MMMMMM
......................o o o o o000 * (Henneth Annun) MMMMMM
ooooooooooooooooooooo ooooooooooooooooo 00000 MMMMMM
(Mering Stream) 000000000o MMMMMM
(q Cair Andros q) -- 0qq0 MMMMM
(Gondor) 00 (Ephel Duath - MMMMMMM
00 Mountains of MMMMMMM
00 Shadow) -- MMMMMMM
1Ardalambion - Doriathrin
The e is, like i, a, o and u, a ''normal'' vowel and sounds much like the e in the English word were. Tolkien does indicate that much variation is to be expected in local dialects, however. The ''y'' in Sindarin is a '''modified' or fronted u, more or less as u in French lune.... In Gondor this y was usually pronounced like i.'' The ui is a diphthong, and all Eldarin diphthongs are ''falling'', in that they are stressed on the first part and then the rest runs together. Tolkien is quite explicit that the ui sound is like that in the English word ruin. In words of two syllables (emyn), the stress falls on the first syllable. The falling stress of the diphthong establishes the stress pattern for muil. (LotR, pg 1089-1090) *
All information gleaned from The Lord of the Rings, single volume edition, Houghton Mifflin, 1994, with forays into the Ardalambion website for help with the languages.