A Date with My Impulsive Side

They say confession is good for the soul, and I have a confession to make. I’m a pretty impulsive person sometimes. Yesterday afternoon, my blog suffered the consequences of it.

When I hopped on yesterday afternoon to see if there were any new posts to check out, I also went to my blog. And sighed. I think I’ve had the same scheme for two years now. While that isn’t a bad thing, it also means that it was doomed to change sooner or later. Everything deserves a fresh face once in a while, right?

Thus the itch began. I could sit on the idea for a few days, but I knew it was for naught. No matter how long I waited, I would probably make the same decision unless someone talked some sense into me. That’s how it always works.

As soon as I gave in, my fingers were ready. I found myself scrolling down the different themes, hunting for one that fit me. Not that the other one didn’t. That little flourish in the corner and the color scheme was very me, but it is time for something new. Like a new haircut. And like just the right haircut or a wedding dress (because you really can just put one on and know that it’s the one — I did), sometimes you just know the right one when you stumble upon it. And its name, “Elegant Grunge,” certainly didn’t hurt either.

Now, ink smudges and all, I have a new look.

Fortunately, it’s not as drastic as some of the other things my impulsive side has driven me to do. Like completely rearrange all the furniture in the house. Or cut my hair too short to braid. Or run a half-marathon with my mother…

What’s the last impulsive thing you did?

The Silmarillion Recap: Luthien and Beren’s Fate

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

Last week, Beren and Luthien showed what they were made of as they stole one of the Silmarils. Of course, everything didn’t quite end up according to plan, leading to the climax of their story (which we’ll finally reach today).

Quenta Silmarillion: Chapter 19 part 6

After taking one of the Silmarils and losing it (and Beren’s hand) to Carcharoth (Wolf of Angband), Beren heals under Luthien’s care and they spend quite a while living out in the forest. All they really want is to be with each other anyways, so Luthien doesn’t care that she’s completely abandoned the palace she used to call home to live in the forest like a hunter. However, Beren doesn’t feel so great about it. He did make a promise to King Thingol (Luthien’s father), and it only seems right to face him, even if he’s sure that Thingol won’t be so happy to see him.

What Beren doesn’t know is that Thingol and Melian (Luthien’s mother) aren’t the only ones back in Doriath who miss Luthien. The whole kingdom has fallen under a melancholy shadow. Since she left, Thingol had been listening to rumors of Luthien’s whereabouts. Last he’s heard, Beren and King Finrod are dead, and Luthien has been captured by Celegorm (who isn’t such a great guy). In case that isn’t bad enough, Carcharoth — the dreaded Wolf of Angband — has been ravaging the countryside and has now somehow broken through Melian’s magical barrier and is roaming through Doriath, his own kingdom.

S.B. Roberts 2014

S.B. Roberts 2014

It’s at this moment — when everything seems to be falling apart — that Luthien and Beren show back up in Doriath. Obviously, Thingol is thrilled to see his daughter, though he’s not so keen on this Beren guy. If it hadn’t been for Beren, there wouldn’t have been so much sorrow in his happy kingdom. Still a bit miffed, Thingol asks Beren for that Silmaril. After all, that’s what he was supposed to bring back in return for marrying Luthien.

And this is where it gets good. Like Macduff’s surprise for Macbeth good. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you have to read Shakespeare’s Macbeth… and think of Eowyn and Merry from The Return of the King as you do. After all, Macbeth was an inspiration for several of Tolkien’s ideas, including the Ents. “Biram Wood comes to Dunsinane…”)

Beren simply tells Thingol that he did fulfill the quest, and “even now a Silmaril is in my hand.” (218) Then he shows where Carcharoth bit off his hand, which had the Silmaril in it.

I would dare to say that Thingol is impressed. His animosity for Beren diminishes, and he does allow Beren to marry Luthien, as promised.

But that’s not the end of the story because the quest still isn’t finished. Carcharoth is still out in Doriath’s forests, and they need to take him out and save the Silmaril once and for all. Thingol and Beren join the hunt, leaving Luthien behind. Again.

It’s not long before they find Carcharoth, soothing his burning insides with some of the enchanted waters. Huan (hound from Valinor) doesn’t hesitate to attack, and Beren charges in after him. Within moments, Beren is badly wounded. Thingol drops everything to tend to him.

Meanwhile, the two hounds fight it out until both are mortally wounded. Carcharoth dies, and Huan limps to Beren’s side, where he collapses. Since Huan is only able to speak three times before his death and he has only spoken twice so far, he uses his last time to bid farewell to Beren. Beren rests his hand on Huan’s head, and the brave hound dies.

One of the Elves cuts Carcharoth open, finding Beren’s whole hand and the Silmaril still wrapped in it. He quickly takes the Silmaril and lays it in Beren’s good hand. At this, Beren, who’s been in and out of consciousness, offers it to Thingol and then slips back into darkness.

The Elves quickly bring Beren and Huan back to the palace. Before they can reach it, though, Luthien meets them. She wraps her arms around Beren, knowing that he’s fading fast, and tells him to wait for her “beyond the Western Sea.” Then he dies.

But this isn’t the end of the story either. Beren does indeed wait for her in the Halls of Mandos, which is a place where the dead live in Valinor. It doesn’t sound like mortals usually hang out there for long (or at all), but Beren does. And, after a time, Luthien finally arrives there as well. It’s not clear exactly how she accomplished this, but Tolkien spends no time explaining it, so I’m not worrying about it.

When she arrives, Luthien immediately enthralls everyone with her beauty and sorrow. Mandos (the Vala in charge of the dead) notices her and listens as she sings “the sorrow of the Elves and the grief of Men” (221). This song is so incredible that others later sing it as well, and it is still sung in Valinor.

For the first and only time in history, Mandos is moved. So moved, in fact, that he hurries to Manwë (the head Vala) and asks if there’s anything that they can do. Manwë speaks in turn with Iluvatar, who reveals his will.

Luthien has two choices. She can either live among the Elves over the Sea forever, but without Beren. Or she can give up immortality, her kinship with the Elves, and any assurances of a long, happy life and be returned to Middle-earth with Beren. She chooses the second, and she and Beren are reunited. (How could she not, after fighting so hard to be with him and help him with the quest?) They both will face a “second death” (222), but they will be together.

And while this is the end of the chapter, it’s not quite the end of Luthien and Beren’s story. There’s a little more about them both at the beginning of the next chapter and towards the end of the “Quenta Silmarillion.” But here ends the beginning (and the most exciting) part of their tale.

Next week, it’s time for another war against Morgoth, spurred on by one of Fëanor’s sons.

Writing History

Every time I begin reworking anything in my novels (especially Novel #1), I find myself thinking about things I never considered before. I suppose it shouldn’t be any wonder that it’s been a 15+ year adventure.

Anyways, my most recent musings have mostly centered on history. It’s probably thanks, in part, to reading The Silmarillion. Of course, that should be no surprise. Many of Carrick’s overhauls as a world have come from analyzing the techniques of other writers, especially Tolkien.

In any case, Tolkien’s world – and the worlds of most fantasy authors – are very old. Thousands upon thousands of years. Perhaps it’s in part because our world has thousands of years of history to its name so we’re very familiar with it, or just because it’s the perfect breeding grounds for epic events to grow to mythical proportions.

In either case, for whatever reason, it’s not the road I ended up on so far. The original histories I started to compose in high school only account for 516 years of Carrick’s history. Of course, there’s more to it: a time before the monumental mistake that changed the world completely, but I don’t know much of it. How long was it? What was life like before it? How much have things changed? I used to dodge the question because I would deal with it later. But that’s starting to change. I need to establish this now, before I get in too deep.

This whole musing makes me think of conversations I’ve had with my students lately. As we discuss King Arthur, we’ve talked about what the real man who inspired King Arthur might have been like and how the story could have changed over the years. But this inflation to legendary status doesn’t just happen to stories that are over a thousand years old. After all, the United States has only been in existence for less than 250 years, but George Washington and many of the other Founders are usually thought of with a similar mystique: many people know some facts about them but some things have become more like legends. (George Washington and the cherry tree, anyone?) So there’s plenty of opportunity for anything to grow to legendary proportions, even if it’s only been a few hundred years. Right?

In any case, it’s just one more thing to ponder in this never-ending adventure.

What are your thoughts on writing histories for stories?

The Silmarillion Recap: Luthien and Beren’s Showdown with Morgoth

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

Last week, after Beren was rescued from Sauron, he decided to leave Luthien behind, for her own safety, since he knows that he will surely be killed in his quest to bring back one of the Silmarils “in his hand.” But leaving alone won’t be that easy…

Quenta Silmarillion: Chapter 19 part 5

Beren has left Luthien in a safe place, back in the forests by her home. She has already proven herself to be heroic and selfless, but she’s already endangered herself enough by confronting Sauron to save him. His original quest — the one that he still hasn’t been able to fulfill yet — is his alone. He won’t risk her.

So Beren leaves her sleeping in the forest and heads back towards danger. As he does, though, he sings a parting song for the world and for his beloved Luthien. Since he knows he’s going to die, he sings it loud and proud. But he never considers that Luthien, who has seemingly magical senses, will hear him, grab Huan (a hound from Valinor), and chase after him.

When Luthien and Huan leave the safety of Doriath — her parents’ homeland — she disguises herself and Huan. She gives Huan the appearance of Draugluin, the hound that tried to kill him back when they saved Beren. Then she takes on the appearance of Sauron’s messenger, Thuringwethil — who is apparently a vampire. (And this is the first and last mention of vampires that I’ve found in Tolkien’s works).

It’s in these disguises that they finally find Beren. He’s dismayed, but Luthien quickly throws off the façade, revealing that it’s just her. Even though he’s upset that she’s in danger (again), he’s happy to see her.

It’s in this moment that Huan (who has the gift of speaking three times during his life) speaks a second time:

From the shadow of death you can no longer save Luthien, for by her love she is now subject to it. You can turn from your fate and lead her into exile, seeking peace in vain while your life lasts. But if you will not deny your doom, then either Luthien, being forsaken, must assuredly die alone, or she must with you challenge the fate that lies before you — hopeless, yet not certain. Further counsel I cannot give, nor may I go further on your road … yet it may be that our three paths lead back to Doriath, and we may meet before the end. (Tolkien 211)

With that, Beren and Luthien continue on their way alone. Luthien resumes her previous disguise while Beren is given the shape of a werewolf. (Seems a little bitter after Finrod and Beren’s companions were killed by one…)

They make it all the way to the Gate of Angband without being discovered. There, though, they’re confronted by Carcharoth, a monstrous beast of a hound that Morgoth himself has tended, hoping to one day have the chance to kill Huan. (Everyone wants this, don’t they?) Before Carcharoth can do anything, Luthien puts him to sleep, and they slip into Angband.

Inside Morgoth’s on fortress, Luthien and Beren reach the throne room unhindered. There, Beren creeps under Morgoth’s throne, still safely in werewolf form. Luthien, however, is stripped of her disguise and Morgoth sees her exactly for who she is: this radiant, beautiful girl. He’s enthralled by her and is even more so when she offers to sing to him. As she does, she slips on her cloak that makes her like a shadow, and Morgoth continues to listen in fascination to her voice as he tries to find her again.

What Morgoth doesn’t know is that her song has a magic in it that’s able to put his entire court to sleep. Then she slips her cloak over his eyes, and he dozes off as well. As he does, the slumps out of his throne and his crown with those three precious Silmarils falls to the ground.

Beren acts fast, drawing his knife and wrenching one of the Silmarils out of it. As he finishes, he hesitates. Maybe he should remove the other two, just for good measure. After all, Morgoth shouldn’t have them. However, as he starts work on the second, his knife breaks, hitting Morgoth’s cheek which makes him stir and the rest of the court shift in their sleep. Luthien and Beren are so startled that they take the one Silmaril and run for it, without disguises or much thought of what they’ll find further up the stairs.

That’s not a good thing because Carcharoth is still there, waiting for them. Luthien wants to fight him off, but all of the power she’s used has left her weary. So Beren holds up the Silmaril, hoping the blinding light will help.

Carcharoth isn’t fazed. Instead, he does one of the most awful things imaginable. He lunges forward, gets Beren’s hand and the Silmaril in his mouth, and chomps down.

Immediately, Carcharoth regrets this. The Silmaril burns his insides, and he launches into a fury, attacking anything and anyone that gets in his way. In his madness, he leaves Luthien and Beren alone at Angband’s Gate.

When Luthien examines Beren’s wound, she discovers that it’s bad. Really bad. Carcharoth’s bite has poisoned him, he’s barely clinging to life, and she doesn’t have much power left to help him.

Fortunately for them, though, Huan has already set all of the birds and beasts around on high alert to watch for Luthien and Beren. And before long, Thorondor — King of the Eagles — and his posse show up to whisk Luthien and Beren away.

They’re returned to the safety of Doriath, and Luthien and Huan nurse the badly wounded Beren back to health. But, alas, they have no Silmaril to show for their efforts.

Next week, Thingol learns the importance of semantics.

The Silmarillion Recap: Everybody Hates Celegorm and Curufin

What a week! All of my writing time has been sucked up by playing car mechanic’s assistant to my husband. (Here’s hoping our precious 20-year-old Corolla doesn’t finally bite the dust.) I plan to catch up on the blogs I normally read this weekend, but I couldn’t wait any longer to slip in this week’s Silmarillion Recap. So, without further ado…

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

Last week, Luthien and Huan (the hound from Valinor) saved Beren from Sauron himself. This week, the unexpected consequences for Celegorm and Curufin.

Quenta Silmarillion: Chapter 19 part 4

Now that Beren has been rescued from Sauron’s tower, he and Luthien are thrilled to be reunited. And, seemingly, they forget all about Thingol’s quest to take one of the Silmarils from Morgoth’s crown for Luthien’s hand in marriage for the time being. They are just happy to be back together.

While Huan (that great hound from Valinor) would surely have preferred to stay with Luthien and Beren, he is still faithful to his master, Celegorm, and decides it’s time to return home to Nargothrond. When he does return, though, he’s not as fond of his master as he once was. How could he be after seeing how cruelly Celegorm and his brother, Curufin, treated Luthien, kidnapping her and locking her up?

Not long afterwards, things begin to change in Nargothrond. When Finrod first left to help Beren, Celegorm and Curufin were the favorites, and everyone in the realm listened to them over their own king, Finrod. (After all, they are the sons of the famous — or should it be infamous? — Fëanor.) Now, though, Elves who have long been Sauron’s prisoners are free once more since Sauron gave it up to free himself. With these former prisoners come stories of Luthien and how she bravely faced Sauron. Something that Fëanor’s sons weren’t brave enough to do.

Needless to say, that not only ruins Curufin and Celegorm’s reputation, but it also turns everyone against them. So, with those sneaky smirks, they decide to leave Nargothrond to spend some time with their brother, Maedhros. They don’t need those people in Nargothrond anyways. And, since he’s a faithful hound, Huan follows Celegorm.

On their way, they come across the last two people they expected to find: Luthien and Beren. Finally, a chance for revenge.

Curufin grabs Luthien while Celegorm attacks Beren. But nothing can stop Luthien and Beren from protecting each other, so Beren overpowers Celegorm and then hops onto Curufin’s moving horse. While the moment feels like it’s brushed over, it obviously is quite the impressive jump because it becomes known as the famous Leap of Beren, and it’s never been matched.

While Beren is strangling Curufin, Celegorm tries to help his brother, but Huan — his own hound — has turned against him and won’t let him anywhere near Curufin, Beren, or Luthien.

Finally, Luthien tells Beren to stop. Curufin isn’t worth killing. Instead, they strip him of his gear and his horse and let Curufin and Celegorm continue on their way.

Before leaving, though, Celegorm pulls out his bow and looses two arrows at Luthien. The first, Huan catches in his mouth. The second hits Beren as he protects Luthien. Then Curufin and Celegorm head off, leaving the badly wounded Beren with Luthien and Huan.

Fortunately, Luthien is an Elf and is skilled in healing, so Beren ends up being just fine. As he recovers, he remembers his quest, and he decides it’s time to finish it. He and Luthien had been talking about it just before Celegorm and Curufin showed up, and Luthien had insisted on going with him, but he doesn’t want her to. She’s already risked her life for him. He doesn’t want that to happen again. So he slips away in the middle of the night, leaving Luthien with Huan.

Beren knows that he’ll probably die, but at least Luthien will be safe.

Next week, it’s do or die time in Morgoth’s stronghold.

Wait, My Favorite Novels Have Been Banned? – Banned Book Week 2014

A couple of days ago, I found out that this week is Banned Book Week. I’ve seen some posts about it in my reader over the past two weeks, but since there’s been so much grading to do and there were so many posts, I hadn’t paid much attention to it.

Over at Cindy Grigg’s blog, she has a list of 19 frequently challenged books. Many are ones that I read and enjoyed: The Great Gatsby and Brave New World among them. (Seriously, if you’re in late high school or an adult, Brave New World is a must. It’s an eye-opener.) They both have adult content, so I understand why they would be inappropriate for younger age groups. But banned outright?

The one I was most surprised to find on the list was Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Needless to say, I had to do some research into why. But once I did, it was obvious. I had a firsthand experience with the reasoning during my senior year of high school.

I dual enrolled in some college courses that year, and one of them was speech class. At 7:30am, the class was a mix of 19 year olds, 20-somethings, and adults returning to earn a degree. It was a small, community college class, so I ended up becoming acquainted with some of the people, including one of the adult men. I don’t remember his name anymore.

For one speech, the professor allowed me to use The Lord of the Rings as my topic. I was so excited to pull that speech and PowerPoint presentation together. It was a breeze since I already knew so much about all things Middle-earth and had a collection of pictures from the movies saved on my computer.

After giving the speech, I was pulled over by the aforementioned man who asked something to the effect of, “You like Tolkien and you’re a Christian?”

I was puzzled. How could those things possibly be at odds?

He presented his reasoning — the same reasoning I found while researching. It has wizards in it. And magic. And that Dark Lord, Sauron. Christians can’t like that, can they? Isn’t it dark and full of, you know, witchcraft?

But anyone who says that obviously knows nothing about Tolkien or the books. He was a devout Catholic, and his works contain themes that are reflective of the Bible. None of it’s allegory (because he, understandably, detested it), but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t correlations between the two. I could go on and on with the research I did around that time, but suffice to say, I don’t believe that any of it conflicts with my faith. If anything, I believe that the books compliment it. After all, as Tolkien would say, “God is the Lord, of angels, and of men — and of elves.”

This is why I would argue that people should read and research things for themselves before jumping on a bandwagon. And that doesn’t just apply to books. :)

Have you read any of the books on the banned/challenged lists?

The Silmarillion Recap: Luthien Saves the Day (Or Hell Hath No Fury…)

First, an update. When I first started these recaps, I had no idea that there would be so many of them. So, instead of linking back to all of them in each post, there’s a new page, “The Silmarillion Recaps,” that has links to all of them in one place. Things I wish I’d thought of earlier…

Last week, Beren and Finrod teamed up to take one of the Silmarils from Morgoth so that Beren can marry Luthien. That plan didn’t go so well, though. Sauron found them and threw them in prison. He might not know who they are, thanks to Finrod’s enchantments, but he can kill them off one by one…

Quenta Silmarillion: Chapter 19 part 3

Ever since Beren left on the impossible quest to take a Silmaril from Morgoth, Luthien has been anxiously waiting for his return. Her father, Thingol, might not like it, but she wants to marry him and would do just about anything to be with him.

The same day that Beren and Thingol are captured, Luthien has a terrible feeling. She asks her mother, Melian, about it. Since Melian is one of the Maia, she knows what’s happened and tells her daughter that Beren’s been captured and is in danger.

Some girls would lay in bed and cry for days, but not Luthien. Instead, she plots a way to leave her home and save Beren. At first, she asks for help from Daeron, a minstrel who’s secretly in love with her. But Daeron tricks her into trusting him and then reveals her plans to Thingol, who is both befuddled and angry with his daughter.

Not wanting her to risk her life anymore, he chooses a typical fairytale punishment for his daughter: he has a special house built up in the trees that she can’t escape from where his most trusted guards keep an eye on her.

But he’s underestimated Luthien and fairytale clichés used to escape such imprisonment. Through her own enchantments, she grows her hair so long that she’s able to make both a rope and a cloak out of it. (To clarify, she does cut the hair off first.) She also includes two special enchantments on the cloak: it can put others to sleep and keep others from noticing her, like a shadow. Once both are ready, she tests her sleep-inducing hair cloak on the guards and makes her escape into the forest alone.

Also in the forest are Celegorm and Curufin. The last time we saw these two, they were usurping Finrod’s authority in Nargothrond. Now, they’re out hunting Orcs and other evil creatures.

With them is Celegorm’s hound, Huan. This hound is unlike anything in Middle-earth. He originally came from Valinor and has the gift of speaking (like a human) three times during his life. When the Noldor left Valinor, Huan followed his master but was placed under his own curse: he will die after meeting the mightiest wolf in the world. To this point, he has neither spoken nor met the mightiest wolf, so he still has his life ahead of him.

While Huan is in search of Orcs, he happens across Luthien. She might be hidden in her hair cloak, which would throw anyone else off her trail, but Huan is more deft than most and sees right through the enchantments. Luthien has no choice but to follow this enormous, menacing dog back to Celegorm.

Once they find Celegorm, Luthien removes her hair cloak, revealing herself as more than a shadow. Celegorm is immediately enamored with her beauty and sees how valuable she could be to his plots against Finrod and Beren. After all, he knows everything about Beren’s quest to find the Silmaril since he was right there when Finrod presented Beren’s problem to the other Elves in his realm. If he can help it, Celegorm will ensure that the Silmaril never ends up in anyone’s hands but his own. And, on top of that, he could try to force Thingol into letting him marry her, increasing his power over Finrod’s.

So, he plays it smooth and tells Luthien that he’ll help her save Beren. To do that, though, they have to go back to Nargothrond. You know, for reinforcements. As soon as they reach the gates of the city, though, Celegorm has Luthien imprisoned. (Again.)

Understandably, Luthien is upset. Every time she tries to help Beren, something stops her. As she sits in her cell, Huan the hound comes by, and she tells him the whole story of her and Beren. Unlike his master, Huan has a good heart, so he uses the first time he can speak to give her advice on how to escape. Then he finds her hair cloak, breaks her out, and they sneak out of Nargothrond together.

Meanwhile, a werewolf lurking in the shadows has been killing all of Beren and Finrod’s companions. Twelve of them had left Nargothrond, but now it’s only Beren and Finrod. Sauron (the one who captured them) plans to leave Finrod for last. He still can’t figure out who they are, thanks to Finrod’s enchantments, but he’s going to have fun trying to find out.

On this fateful day, the werewolf returns, obviously ready to attack Beren. Before it can, though, Finrod uses a burst of magic (which I assume he’s been conjuring for a while) to break out of his chains and leap to Beren’s rescue. I’m not sure what an Elf vs. werewolf fight looks like, but it’s obviously intense. The werewolf is killed, and Finrod is left fatally wounded. Before dying, Finrod manages to free Beren from the chains. Then he dies in Beren’s arms.

Beren has a hard time with this. Finrod has been there for his family since the beginning. He showed kindness to Beor when he found him out in the forest. He stuck up for them when the other Elves didn’t want anything to do with them. They had even fought together against Morgoth when Beren was young. And now, he’s dead. Hopeless and heartbroken, Beren mourns.

At this moment, Luthien and Huan arrive at the bridge to Sauron’s fortress. Luthien sings “a song that no walls of stone could hinder” (Tolkien 205) in hopes of finding Beren. And, fortunately for her, he hears her. He thinks it’s just a dream of their first days in the forest, but he still sings back before basically fainting from sorrow and fatigue. This is all that Luthien needs to hear. She starts singing a greater song of power, this time aimed at Sauron himself.

I don't have a picture of a nightingale (Tinuviel, in Elvish; Luthien's nickname), but I do have this...

I don’t have a picture of a nightingale (Tinuviel, in Elvish; Luthien’s nickname), but I do have this…

Now, Sauron has heard rumors of Luthien and her voice, and he’s thrilled that she’s come. Surely he would receive a great reward if he captured her and presented her to Morgoth. So he sends a wolf out to get her. When the wolf doesn’t come back, he sends another. Then another. And another. Finally, not sure what’s going on, he sends out the greatest wolf he has in his arsenal.

When this wolf (Draugluin) trots out onto the bridge, it has no idea what it’s facing. The other wolves haven’t returned because Huan has effortlessly taken each one down. This wolf recognizes Huan but still fights him. However, the wolf is defeated and limps back to Sauron’s feet where it dies. But not before whispering the name, “Huan.”

Now Sauron is very excited. Not only could he capture Luthien but he could also turn into a werewolf and kill Huan, as the curse foretold. So he does just that. He turns himself into a werewolf and hurries to the bridge. There, Luthien gets her cloak over his eyes before being overcome by his power. Since Sauron can’t see, he’s no match for Huan, who quickly pins him down. Panicking, Sauron turns into every other form he can think of, but he’s not able to escape Huan’s grip. He realizes that there’s only one way out: to abandon his body. But he’s very reluctant to do so.

Luthien, who’s regained consciousness, realizes Sauron’s predicament, so she gives him a choice. “[In Morgoth's fortress] everlasting thy naked self shall endure the torment of [Morgoth's] scorn, pierced by his eyes, unless thou yield to me the mastery of thy tower” (Tolkien 206).

Sauron grimaces. Either give up his body and be humiliated in front of Morgoth or give up his tower and fight another day. But with Huan locked onto his neck, there’s no real choice. He gives up the tower, and Huan lets him flee.

Immediately, Luthien uses a command to open all the gates and set everyone in the tower free. She expects Beren to be among the rescued captives, but he’s not. So she goes looking for him. And when she finds him, he’s next to Finrod’s body… and he seems dead. She takes him in her arms and mourns him, but eventually Beren wakes. Fortunately, it doesn’t sound like a very gushy reunion, but they are relieved to find each other again.

Before continuing with the quest, they bury Finrod. And, as the chapter says, Finrod now walks with his father Finarfin “beneath the trees in Eldamar” (Tolkien 207).

Next week, Celegorm does what his father (Fëanor) and some of the Noldor do best: seeks revenge against Luthien and Beren.


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