The Silmarillion Recap: Quenta Silmarillion (Part XV)

August 20, 2014 at 9:37 am (Knowledge, Literature, Nerdiness) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Today is a story of Elf meets Men.

Part I (Chapter 1)
Part II (Chapters 2-3)
Part III (Chapters 3-4)
Part IV (Chapters 5-6)
Part V (Chapter 7)
Part VI (Chapter 8)
Part VII (Chapter 9)
Part VIII (Chapter 10)
Part IX (Chapter 11)
Part X (Chapter 12)
Part XI (Chapter 13)
Part XII (Chapter 13 cont.)
Part XIII (Chapter 14-15)
Part XIV (Chapter 16)

Quenta Silmarillion: Chapter 17

The first time the Elves meet Men, it’s because of a song.

While Men have been roaming Middle-earth for a while now, they have finally migrated from the far east to the western regions of Middle-earth, where the Elves have been living for a very long time.

One particular evening, a group of Men led by Bëor are gathered around a fire, singing. This is perhaps the first time that they have felt truly safe in a very long time. Morgoth’s servants have been lurking among them for a long time, but this land is different than anywhere else they’ve been before. So they sing because they have much to be glad about.

On this same evening, Finrod (Galadriel’s brother) is riding through the forest. From a distance, he hears the singing but he sees fires, which isn’t common for the Elves who live in this neck of the woods. He sneaks closer only to find creatures that he has never seen before. And just as the Valar became excited the first time that they heard the Elves had arrived, he is delighted to see the people they have all been waiting for: the Secondborn of Iluvatar. Men.

After the Men drift off to sleep, he comes among them to watch over them and sing to them about the history of Arda. The Men don’t know the language, but they do understand what he’s saying. This immediately starts a long friendship between Men and Elves, specifically Finrod who becomes their advocate. Bëor and his people follow Finrod to a new land near Finrod’s realm, and they accept him as their ruler. (This is much to the relief of the Green Elves who live in that area, who weren’t so sure about having these Men roam around in their forests.)

But Bëor tells Finrod that his people aren’t the only ones headed over the mountains. There are two other groups: the Haladin and the people of Marach. And while not all of the Elves are thrilled at their arrival, the Noldor gladly welcome Men into their realms. In those times, it isn’t uncommon at all for the most important Men to serve in an Elven King’s court.

Among the Elves discomforted by this new turn of events is Thingol. He and Melian have lived safely in their realm of Doriath for a long time, and he is wary of them. (It’s been a hard life in Middle-earth, so who can blame him?) In fact, he decides that the only Men allowed to come directly onto his lands are the descendants of Bëor, and only because Finrod is such good friends with them.

Melian also has something (rather foreboding) to say on the matter: “… one of Men, even of Bëor’s house, shall indeed come [into Doriath], and the Girdle of Melian shall not restrain him, for doom greater than my power shall send him; and the songs that shall spring from the coming shall endure when all Middle-earth is changed” (Tolkien 168). Thingol doesn’t understand what it means yet, but he will in two more chapters…

Now, it hasn’t taken long for Morgoth to see Men and Elves getting along so beautifully and to see that he isn’t able to easily ruin the friendship. So he decides to do the next best thing: attack Men with endless Orc raids. The group that seemingly gets the brunt of it is the Haladin. Unlike Bëor and Marach’s people, they prefer independence and stay off on their own. They also do not have centralized leadership but work more like a confederation. In this case, though, both of these factors leave them vulnerable.

During an Orc raid, many of the Haladin are killed. Among them is a well-known and strong man named Haladin. He has twin children, Haldad (a son) and Haleth (a daughter). When Haldad tries to defend his father, he is killed. This leaves Haleth to handle the situation. So what does Haleth do? She takes up a sword, protects the remnant of the Haladin, and leads them to one of the Noldor princes, Caranthir.

Caranthir is heartbroken for the Haladin and offers to protect them, but Haleth wants to maintain the independence her people has always known. Instead, she leads them through a dangerous region (where Aredhel got lost in the last chapter) and brings them to a forest that is technically on Thingol’s lands. (They are outside of the magical barrier, but still on his doorstep.)

S.B. Roberts 2014

S.B. Roberts 2014

As Haleth’s people settle in, Thingol watches them with crossed arms and a raised eyebrow. Finrod assures him that it’s okay. After all, they’ve endured so much and they have the same enemy: Morgoth and the Orcs. So Thingol and Haleth strike a deal: the People of Haleth (as they are now known) can live in the forest if they help guard their part of the forest from Orcs. And the deal ends up working perfectly.

While there are many other things that happen in this chapter, there’s only one more that I want to highlight. Remember Bëor, one of the first Men that Finrod met? Well, at the age of 93, he dies, just as all Men do. It’s just from old age, and he passes happily. But this is the first time that Elves have witnessed death like this, and they truly wonder at it. What a strange gift Iluvatar has given the Secondborn.

Next week, dragons and Balrogs and battles — oh my! And Sauron shows back up to stir up more trouble in a great showdown between Morgoth and the newly allied Elves and Men.

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The Silmarillion Recap: Quenta Silmarillion (Part XIV)

August 13, 2014 at 9:17 am (Literature, Nerdiness) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Middle-earth is a dangerous place, but it’s not just because Morgoth and his lackeys are roaming about. Consider this a public service announcement for why you shouldn’t wander through the mountains around Angband alone…

Part I (Chapter 1)
Part II (Chapters 2-3)
Part III (Chapters 3-4)
Part IV (Chapters 5-6)
Part V (Chapter 7)
Part VI (Chapter 8)
Part VII (Chapter 9)
Part VIII (Chapter 10)
Part IX (Chapter 11)
Part X (Chapter 12)
Part XI (Chapter 13)
Part XII (Chapter 13 cont.)
Part XIII (Chapter 14-15)

Quenta Silmarillion: Chapter 16

Last week, Turgon created a secret kingdom known as Gondolin. And the rule of Gondolin is once you enter it, you can never leave. Well, it turns out that Turgon’s not always the best at enforcing this rule.

He has a sister named Aredhel, who came with him to Gondolin. 200 years into living there, though, she wants to roam freely through the forests again. (Of course, who can blame her after 200 years behind the same walls?) Turgon denies her for a long time before finally conceding, even though he has a bad feeling about it. She is under the strict order to only to go to the realm of their brother, Fingon, but she shrugs him off.

Part way there, she reveals to her escort that she has no intention of going to Fingon’s realm to the north. Instead, she wants to visit Fëanor’s sons, Celegorm and Curufin. (More on them later.) Her escort manages to convince her to stop in Thingol’s realm, which is along the way.

When Aredhel arrives at Thingol and Melian’s place and tells them that she plans on visiting the sons of Fëanor, Thingol isn’t so thrilled. (Understandably after they took part in massacring his people in Valinor.) He warns her that the path to their realm is very dangerous, but she shrugs him off too.

But she should have listened to Thingol. In the mountains right against Angband, she loses her escort. While she presses on and eventually finds Celegorm’s people, her escort never finds her and reports back to her brother, Turgon, that she’s lost and might be dead.

Meanwhile, Aredhel finds that Celegorm isn’t in his realm, so she waits around for several years before becoming bored and riding off. On one of her adventures, she comes too close to those fateful mountains again. This time, though, she’s spotted by a Dark Elf named Eöl. Eöl is a friend of the Dwarves and a skilled smith, but he’s lived away from the other Elves in the literal darkness of the forest. He is callus and has some serious anger problems, which will cause him trouble later. When he spots her roaming amid the trees, he decides he’d like to marry her, so he uses enchantments to bring her to his house. She does marry him, though it sounds like there’s a hint of unwillingness to the situation. And she’s happy enough there. For a while.

Eventually, they have a son. She secretly called him Lómion (“Child of the Twilight”), but his father doesn’t give him a proper name until he turns twelve. Then he’s called Maeglin (“Sharp Glance”). While Maeglin has a grim, harsh personality (like his father), he is closest to his mother. She often tells him stories of the Noldor (her people) and her brother, Turgon. It catches Maeglin’s interest. In fact, he mentions to his father that he’d like to meet his Noldor relatives, but Eöl won’t even consider it. He is Teleri, like Thingol, and he knows well enough that the Noldor were responsible for slaughtering them in Valinor. No son of Eöl will have anything to do with the Noldor (besides, of course, Maeglin’s mother, who is definitely Noldor). But that doesn’t last for long.

One day, while Eöl is off with the Dwarves, Maeglin begs his mother to show him the way to Gondolin. They can go together. Aredhel is thrilled. So they tell Eöl’s servants that they’re headed off to see Celegorm and Curufin (the sons of Fëanor), but they actually head the other direction, back towards Gondolin.

Two days after they leave, Eöl returns home ahead of schedule. He finds out which direction his wife and son claim to have gone, and finds himself captured and in Curufin’s throne room. There, Eöl learns that he’s been tricked. Curufin enjoys the situation thoroughly, since he and his brother don’t like Eöl and they are upset that he captured Lady of the Noldor and married her. After he’s been waylaid as long as Curufin can manage, Eöl dashes off in the other direction to find his wife and son. He is furious and embarrassed by what’s happened, which only darken his already unpleasant mood.

The chase ensues for a while, but Aredhel and Maeglin arrive in Gondolin first, where Turgon is thrilled to see his sister again and meet his nephew. Eöl isn’t far behind, though. As he creeps up to the secret entrance, he’s captured and brought to Turgon for judgement.

The debate between Turgon and Eöl is intense. According to Turgon, Eöl has no claim over Aredhel or Maeglin (neither of whom want to go with him), but Eöl insists that he should at least be able to take Maeglin home with him. When Eöl realizes that he’s losing the argument, he grabs his javelin and throws it at Maeglin. (If he can’t have Maeglin, no one can.) But Aredhel leaps in the way to protect her son. What they don’t know: The tip is poisoned, so Aredhel dies the next day. Turgon is furious, so he has Eöl thrown off a cliff. Literally. As he stands on the edge, Eöl tells Maeglin, “Here you shall fail of all your hopes, and here may you yet die the same death as I” (Tolkien 161). Then he falls to his death.

Maeglin is unmoved by his father’s death, which doesn’t sit well with his cousin, Idril (Turgon’s daughter). And this doesn’t bode well for Maeglin. The moment he met her, he only had eyes for her. But now she doesn’t feel comfortable around him, and they’re too closely related to get married anyways. This doesn’t sit well with Maeglin. While he becomes a successful warrior, he always longs for Idril — who has very little to do with him. As the years drag on, the same disposition his father had lurks under the surface. As the last sentence of the chapter says, “Thus it was in Gondlin; and amid all the bliss of that realm, while its glory lasted, a dark seed of evil was sown” (Tolkien 162).

Next week, Men finally wander far enough west to meet the Elves.

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You Know You’re a Writer When…

August 8, 2014 at 9:42 am (Writing, Writing About Writing) (, )

… you get a burn while cooking grits and then spend the next week and a half documenting the burn’s healing progress.

The burn as of earlier this week.

The burn as of earlier this week.

For those interested, the mild blistering started the day after the incident and stayed around for four days. Once the blister healed, the rest of it improved quickly. At this point, the new skin is just a bit lighter and pinker than the rest of my hand.

An important tidbit when cooking grits in a pot: Turn them down after they start to thicken, or bubbling pockets of them will burst out of the pot and could land on the back of your hand.

The good news: They’re still a delightful side — especially with a little cheddar mixed in — even if they have left you wounded.

What’s the oddest thing that you’ve observed or documented for the sake of writing?

 

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