The Silmarillion Recap: Reasons to Never Take Malice-Filled Swords

On a personal note: It’s been a busy week of novel editing, reading students’ short stories, and playing with the kitten so he’ll sleep at night. I’m planning on catching up on checking in on everyone else’s blogs in the next few days. :)

Want to catch up on The Silmarillion so far? Check out the Silmarillion Recaps page here.

Last week, Beleg set off to find Turin, who had been captured by the Orcs. While there isn’t much hope, Beleg refuses to give up on his charge so easily, but at what cost?

Quenta Silmarillion Chapter 21 part 3

After being attacked by Mim and realizing that Turin has not been killed, Beleg hurries off to find Turin.

Along the way, though, he encounters someone who he surely didn’t expect to meet. Remember Gwindor, who had been captured during Nirnaeth Arnoediad (the battle of Unnumbered Tears) after he tried to save his captured brother? It’s been many years, but now he sits along the road, hunched and tired.

When Morgoth took captives during wars, especially Elves, he didn’t kill them. Instead, he used them, forcing them to apply their forging and mining skills in prisons. For a long time, Gwindor has been one of these slaves, mining in the brutal North before escaping through secret passages. All of his former glory seems to have been stripped away, leaving a wraith of an Elf. (Not a literal wraith, mind you. Just a wraith in the figurative sense.)

Needless to say, Gwindor is glad to see Beleg, who also fought during that dreadful war. He tells Beleg that he’s seen a company of Orcs tromping through, and they had a tall, chained man in their midst. Beleg knows that it’s Turin. There might be hope after all, if he can just reach them before they arrive in Morgoth’s stronghold.

Gwindor doesn’t see any hope ahead, though. In fact, he tries to convince Beleg that he shouldn’t go. If he does, he’ll just be captured and tortured. But Beleg’s unwavering determination inspires Gwindor, so together they hurry off to save Turin.

They final catch up to the Orc company at night. Everyone is asleep, and in the center of the camp, Turin is bound and surrounded by knives that have been thrown at him in a sick game of darts. Beleg sneaks in to release Turin. However, as he cuts Turin free, Anglachel—that sword that was made by Eol and has been infused with his malice—slips and cuts Turin’s foot.

Turin, who has been asleep the whole time, jolts awake. All he sees is a figure in the darkness, holding a sword over him. Furious and terrified, Turin wrestles the sword off of Beleg and kills him with it. (Oh, Beleg, if only you had listened to Melian’s warning!)

Then lightning flashes, and Turin sees the face of his “attacker.” When he realizes it’s his dear friend, he loses it. Even though he’s in a sea of Orcs, he doesn’t move.

The lightning also wakes all of the Orcs, who decide they need to break camp and leave. Gwindor tries to warn Turin, but Turin is completely unresponsive. In a strange twist of fate, this actually saves Turin’s life. In the darkness of the approaching storm, the Orcs assume that he’s run away, so they flee without him.

Once they are alone and safe, Gwindor rouses Turin and they bury Beleg. While they leave Beleg’s bow with him in the grave, Gwindor takes Anglachel because it’s better to kill Morgoth’s minions with it than leave it to rust in the ground.

Now filled with new courage himself, Gwindor takes Turin away and they head off for a new set of adventures. But this moment defines Turin. From now on, he is always grave. He will never be the same again.

Next week, Turin finds himself in the middle of a love triangle.


The Simarillion Recap: Why You Might Not Want to Be “Friends” with Turin

Want to catch up on The Silmarillion so far? Check out the Silmarillion Recaps page here.

Last week, Beleg found Turin, who had run away after killing an Elf in Doriath. Though Turin wouldn’t return home, where he had been pardoned, Beleg did manage to convince King Thingol to let him rejoin Turin and protect him wherever he goes. Before Beleg returns, though, we have to find out what Turin’s been up to in the meantime.

Quenta Silmarillion: Chapter 21 part 2

For years, Turin and his company of outlaws have lived on the edge of danger, fighting Orcs (and, formerly, everyone else around). Now, they’re tired of always living in dangerous places, so they head off to find a new hideout. It comes unexpectedly (and by means that Beleg, King Thingol, and any reasonable person would find distasteful).

One day, Turin and his band come across three Dwarves. Apparently forgetting that they decided to only harass Morgoth and his allies, they chase these three Dwarves, capturing the slowest of them and loosing an arrow at the other two as they escape. The Dwarf in their custody identifies himself as Mîm, one of the last Petty Dwarves (known as Noegyth Nibin in Sindarin Elvish) and a very old one at that. In return for his life, he offers Turin and his company use of his home, the hidden tunnels under the hill Amon Rudh. Interested, Turin and company agree and follow Mîm to his home.

Amon Rudh is an impressive hill covered in red flowers called seregon. One of Turin’s company offhandedly mentions, “There is blood on the hill-top” (242), and they all continue onward, not thinking much of how foreboding those words sound.

S.B. Roberts 2014

S.B. Roberts 2014

Mîm welcomes them to their new “home,” which he calls Bar-en-Danwedh (House of Ransom). Before they step inside, though, Mîm is immediately met with terrible news. Those two Dwarves he had been traveling with when he was captured? They were his sons. The one, Ibun, scowls at them as they enter, and for good reason. The other son, Khîm, was struck by that arrow Turin’s company loosed and is now dead.

Turin immediately feels awful, wishing that he could take back that arrow. But, since he can’t, he makes a deal with Mîm. It will indeed be called the House of Ransom because Turin will repay Mîm with gold for murdering his son. After pondering a moment, Mîm agrees, partly because Turin’s promise is a very Dwarvish thing to say.

For a while, Turin and his company live with Mîm and Ibun in relative peace. Perhaps they even become something like friends. Then a very harsh winter settles over the land, leaving all of them mostly snowbound. However, this changes when someone unexpectedly arrives in spite of the snow. Beleg.

Obviously, Turin is thrilled to see his old friend again. After fighting together, Turin and Beleg have a special relationship. At first, Beleg tries to convince Turin to return to Doriath again. He’s not in trouble and King Thingol wants him home. But Turin refuses, leaving Beleg no choice but to stay with this ragtag band. Bearing healing powers and the lembas from Melian, Beleg helps the company and becomes a very welcome part of the Bar-en-Danwedh household. Well, he does with Turin and his company. Mîm and Ibun have reason to hate the Elves for things that happened to their Dwarven kin years ago, so they brood in the corner together, avoiding everyone else.

When spring comes again, Morgoth makes another push, invading new territories and causing the usual havoc. At first, things go his way, but he’s soon met with resistance led by Turin (who now likes to go by Gorthol, the Dread Helm) and Beleg. It takes a little time, but Morgoth eventually figures out that Turin is the son of his captive, Hurin, so he devises a plan.

As the next winter approaches, Mîm and Ibun head out to gather food. They are caught unawares by Orcs and Mîm is captured. After being threatened, he again is forced to take intruders to his home at Amon Rudh. They arrive in the middle of the night, and the Orcs attack, taking Turin and his men completely by surprise. Many of Turin’s men are slaughtered, and Turin is captured before the Orcs clear out once more. In a bitter irony, some of the company died on the top of Amon Rudh, their blood mixing with the red seregon flowers.

Once the massacre is over, Mîm surveys the aftermath. To his surprise, not everyone who looks dead on Amon Rudh actually is. And the one he hoped was dead but wasn’t? None other than Beleg. Mîm finds Anglachel (that evil sword made by Eol) laying under a body, and he picks it up to kill Beleg. However, Beleg isn’t as bad off as Mîm thought. Beleg hops up, wrenches Anglachel from Mîm’s hands, and threatens the terrifed Mîm, who then runs off.

Beleg then searches all over Amon Rudh for Turin. However, he soon discovers that Turin is nowhere to be found, which means that he has no choice but to find him and rescue him from the Orcs.

Next week, Gwindor (yes, the tragic Elf from the war known as Unnumbered Tears) makes another cameo, and Beleg finds out just how cursed his sword, Anglachel, is.


The Silmarillion Recap: Enter Turin

Want to catch up on The Silmarillion so far? Check out the Silmarillion Recaps page here.

Remember Hurin and Huor, the heroic brothers who play an important role in Nirnaeth Arnaediad? There’s more to their story than visiting Gondolin, fighting beside Turgon, and Hurin being captured by Morgoth. They also have very important children. The first we’ll discuss: Turin, son of Hurin and Morwen. (It’s another long story, so prepare yourself.)

Quenta Silmarillion: Chapter 21 part 1

Nirnaeth Arnaediad – the battle known as Unnumbered Tears – has ended, and times are hard. Easterlings have taken over plenty of land, oppressing the Men who had first come out of the East and befriended the Elves. Among those facing the Easterlings is Morwen, Hurin’s wife. After his capture, she has been left alone with their son Turin, daughter Lalaith (who sadly dies at 3), and their unborn child. While the Easterlings, especially their leader Brodda, bother everyone, they’re afraid of her. Her husband used to be the leader of her people, and she manages to hold her own against the Easterlings, thanks in part to Aerin, Brodda’s wife and friend of Morwen.

However, as Turin turns eight and after Lalaith dies, even Morwen has a hard time keeping Turin from being sold into slavery like the other children. Knowing that she has few options, especially with the new baby, Nienor, to care for, she sends Turin to live under King Thingol’s care in Doriath. Since Morwen is related to Beren (who’s now Thingol’s son-in-law), she knows that the Elven King will help.

Which, of course, Thingol does. He treats young Turin as his own and promises that he will continue to until Hurin is released from Morgoth’s clutches. Thingol offers Morwen a place under his roof too, but she refuses, wanting to stay where she and Hurin lived before everything fell apart.

For nine years, this arrangement continues. Morwen and Nienor frequently send messages to Turin and Thingol. But one day, unexpectedly, the messages stop. Turin is worried so he takes the Dragon-helm (an heirloom of his people that his mom sent for him) and leaves to join the war against Morgoth. But he doesn’t go alone. Remember Beleg, one of the only Elves from Doriath to fight in Nirnaeth Arnaediad? He cares a great deal about Turin, so he goes with him and they fight on the front lines together.

Three years after leaving Doriath, Turin returns alone. He’s a bit bedraggled (probably an unshaved beard, long hair, and some quick repairs to his clothes done on the road), and a counselor named Saeros (who’s always been a bit jealous of this Man receiving such favor from Thingol) actually taunts Turin about it. Bad idea. Turin hurls his cup at him, hurting him. The next day, Saeros takes it a step farther by trying to waylay Turin. When he does, Turin becomes angry enough to strip Saeros naked and run him off. Saeros is so afraid that he falls off a chasm and dies. Other Elves (namely Mablung, also from the last chapter) tell Turin that he should go talk it out with Thingol. But Turin considers himself an outlaw for this and runs away.

Not too long after, Beleg returns from war too. Thingol tells Beleg all about what happened with Turin and how Turin isn’t in trouble: Thingol agrees that Turin was wronged and is clear of any charges. After offering to bring Turin home, Beleg sets off on a yearlong journey to find him.

When Beleg does, he’s in for a surprise. After leaving Doriath, Turin joined a group of outlaws, became their leader, and changed his name to Neithan (the Wronged). Turin isn’t home when Beleg arrives, so the outlaws think that Beleg is a spy sent from Doriath. They’re quite cruel to him until Turin arrives. Then Turin recognizes his old friend and feels awful for what he’s done.

Once he’s comfortable, Beleg delivers the good news that Turin isn’t in trouble and can come home, but Turin isn’t interested. He wants to stay with his band, which has just dedicated itself to harassing Morgoth’s friends instead of everybody. Beleg tries every tactic he can think of, but nothing will sway Turin. So, regretfully, he returns to Doriath.

There, Beleg comes up with a genius plan. He’ll protect Turin so that he and Thingol can feel at peace with the situation. Thingol agrees and gives Beleg some special gear. One of the things Beleg picks: a sword called Anglachel. It’s made from “iron that fell from heaven as a blazing star” (241) and is only one of two made from this rare metal. The problem: this sword was forged by Eol, the Dark Elf. Melian tries to warn him not to take it: “There is malice in this sword. The dark heart of the smith still dwells in it. It will not love the hand it serves; neither will it abide with you long” (241). But Beleg doesn’t listen and takes it anyways. (You would think he would know better after meeting Maeglin, Eol’s son!) Melian also gives Beleg (and, by proxy, Turin) lembas, magical Elvish waybread. It’s a gift that only a queen can give, and it’s the first time that a Man has been given such an honor.

With gifts in hand, Beleg finishes his business on the front lines and hurries back to find Turin, his new charge.

Next week, what Turin’s been up to since Beleg left and why he might not be the best at picking friends.


It’s Really November Already?

So this is officially my first year not participating in NaNoWriMo since I first discovered it. Novel #1 and I are too busy in the editing phase, and I’m not sure that I could manage the long writing stints with this brand new kitten chasing toys around the house. (Not because he gets into mischief or is loud. He’s just so terribly adorable. All I want to do is watch him, play with him, and cuddle him. I suppose I can’t be blamed since we’ve had him for less than a week.)

But that doesn’t mean I’m not bending the Pavlovian desire to write that comes with November. I still do have a goal for the month: to finish this editing round for Novel #1.

I still have a long way to go, but it’s been a great experience so far. I love unearthing those little details that my characters have always wanted me to include but that have never come out before. It feels like this story is finally, truly reaching its peak. (Maybe after this, I’ll finally be able to leave it alone.)

How are your November writing adventures going? Do you have any special goals for the month?


My New Writing Buddy (Who Purrs)

The newest addition to our family: Monti!

The newest addition to our family!

Tiny orange striped, spotted blur

bounds up and down the steps

nestles in shoes, pounces laces

bats at feet and toys.

 

Big blue eyes grow heavy

cradle him in my arms

feel his contented purrs

sprawls on my lap.

 

Ears perked, watches me type

plays with the mouse

tiptoes across the keyboard

hops down to start again.

My new writing buddy

My new writing buddy

After years of passively contemplating adopting a pet, we fell in love with this six-week-old former stray. He’s a cuddler, always purring, just perfect for us.


The Silmarillion Recap: The War of Unnumbered Tears

Want to catch up on The Silmarillion so far? Check out the Silmarillion Recaps page here.

Last week, Maedhros gathered Elves, Men, and Dwarves to confront Morgoth once more. Now, for the beginning of the battle known in English as “Unnumbered Tears.”

Quenta Silmarillion: Chapter 20 part 2

The time for plotting is over. The time for the newest assault on Morgoth has begun. Instead of detailing the battle blow by blow, as described in the chapter, this post will focus on the highlights. If you want to read the whole battle in detail, check out Chapter 20 in The Silmarillion. In either case, this war is so devastating that it is named Nirnaeth Arnoediad, “Unnumbered Tears.”

The first important event that happens is Turgon and his army from the secret land of Gondolin arrive. No one has known Gondolin’s location since its founding, so it’s a huge surprise to find Turgon roaming around after spending countless years cloistered away in his secret palace. (For all anyone knew, he had just fallen off the face of Middle-earth.) This certainly excites everyone, especially Fingon, Turgon’s brother who hasn’t seen him for years.

Speaking of Fingon, he has been with Gwindor, the Elf from Nargothrond whose brother had been captured during Dagor Bragollach (the last major war with Morgoth). In an attempt to lure Fingon into making a hasty move, the Orcs bring out Gwindor’s captured brother, Gelmir. Poor Gelmir has been blinded and tortured while in Morgoth’s prisons. And in this moment when it looks like they might bargain for his freedom, the Orcs instead execute him in front of everyone. Gwindor loses control of himself. Weapons blazing, he leads a charge straight to Angband’s gates. Fingon follows, hoping to help, but it’s too late. By the time he gets close, everyone but Gwindor is dead, Gwindor is captured, and Fingon is so overwhelmed that he has to withdraw.

After this, Fingon withdraws, where he meets with Turgon and his forces. This bolsters Fingon’s troops, which is good because they’ll need it. In the next breath, Morgoth fires everything he has, including Glaurung the dragon.

Unfortunately, Glaurung isn’t Morgoth’s only secret weapon. Throughout the years, Morgoth has used manipulation and lies to separate people. (After all, that’s why the Noldor became exiles in the first place.) In Middle-earth, he’s applied these tactics on Men, specifically the Easterlings (a familiar name from The Lord of the Rings) among other tribes. Now, in this moment when they need to stand together to face the dragon, a whole group of Men withdraws, abandoning Maedhros on the battlefield.

With a fraction of the army gone, there is no choice but to retreat. While it’s devastating, a few brave folk keep it from becoming a complete disaster.

The first: Azgahal, the Dwarven Lord of Belegost. When the dragon attacks, he and his armies fight back, and to the death. In fact, as Glaurung the dragon manages to kill Azgahal, Azgahal wounds the dragon so badly that it has no choice but to flee. This saves countless lives.

The second: Fingon himself. While he is with Turgon, they are faced with Gothmog, Lord of the Balrogs. Unfortunately for the Elvish brothers, they’re separated by enemy forces, leaving Fingon to fight Gothmog himself. And while Fingon is a formidable foe, he’s eventually slain. While this is a terrible blow, Turgon does survive.

The third: Hurin. He and his brother, Huor, have been among the forces of Turgon, their old friend. (Yes, Maeglin still hates Hurin and Huor as much as ever.) Now that the battle has gone south, the brothers give Turgon a chance to flee. They offer to hold a bridge, allowing Turgon and the folk from Gondolin to cross, and the brothers will basically fight Morgoth’s forces to the death. At first, Turgon isn’t fond of this idea. However, Hurin convinces him that it’s for the best. He and his brother have lost everything. Their people have been devastated, their land is gone, they have nothing to return to. They want to go down fighting.

So that’s what they do. After Turgon and his forces escape, Hurin, Huor, and their men hold the bridge. Unfortunately, Huor is badly wounded by a venomed arrow to the eye and all of the men are killed, leaving Hurin to fight alone. But even then, Hurin never stops. He picks up an axe and starts swinging it, shouting, “Day shall come again!” (233) (By the way, if someone ever makes movies/tv miniseries of The Silmarillion, I hope they make this moment as epic as I imagine it. Slow motion and everything.) Eventually, Hurin is overwhelmed and captured, but not before he keeps his promise to Turgon and protects Gondolin’s location from Morgoth.

Once the battle is over, Morogth is quite pleased with himself. Sure, he’s bummed that Gondolin is still hidden and Turgon escaped, but at least the Orcs and wolves have the run of the place and the Elves won’t be banding together to bother him again for a while. Also, fortunately for him, he has Hurin in his custody. But back to this in a moment.

You see, in the aftermath of the war, many of the Elves flee to the Havens, where Cirdan the Shipwright has been for the longest time. Among them is Gil-galad, Fingon’s son. (He will be very important later.) Turgon and the other Elves try to send ships West to ask for help from Valinor, but none of them return, save one that was saved by Ulmo.

This action does, however, catch Morgoth’s attention. After attacking the Havens, Morgoth turns to the captured Hurin for information about Gondolin. After all, he’s been there before. But Hurin refuses to help. As punishment, Morgoth takes Hurin to a “high seat” where he’s forced to watch the fate of his family. As the events that follow take place, he never asks for mercy or death. He just watches, probably stealing much of the twisted pleasure out of the experience for Morgoth.

Next week, the things Hurin had to watch, part 1.


The Annual NaNoWriMo Quandary

As November swiftly approaches, I’ve been forced to face an all-important question: Am I doing NaNoWriMo this year?

To be honest, it’s been hard to answer. That fantasy/sci-fi steampunk novel idea from two years ago seems to have some potential, and two years of letting it brew in the back of my mind has left be itching to try it out again. It’s quirky and has pushed me into trying things that I haven’t done before, and I’m excited to see what another very rough draft will reveal about the world and the strange situation it’s in. Also, since I haven’t dedicated half of my life to it, it’s a novel that I’d be willing to try self-publishing without feeling like I’m selling it and myself short. It’s a terrifying and exciting thought.

On the other hand, Novel #1 and I have been getting along well and making some great progress in this latest review. The story is the same, but changing some things about one of my techniques has opened up some new, very candid moments between characters. I’m only partway through the draft, and I’d hate to interrupt this time.

And so, with November starting next weekend, I wonder what to do. To follow those impulsive urges to furiously write a story that’s just starting to take shape or to gently guide an old friend through a new level of growth?

I suppose the decision doesn’t have to be made until next Saturday arrives. Until then, I’ll let the debate continue in the back of my mind while Novel #1 and I keep plugging along.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year?


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