Now that the Noldor are reunited and have an alliance with Thingol and his people, the Elves are settling in. But secrets are about to change everything.
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.)
Quenta Silmarillion: Chapter 14-15
Chapter 14 focuses on the boundaries of the Elvish realms at this point in Arda’s history. It can be summed up in the map below.
Among these realms, one is unlike any other.
Turgon (one of Fingolfin’s sons) has already established his own realm in Nevrast. But one night, Ulmo (the Vala who loves water) gives him a warning. Morgoth is a more dangerous foe than they all realize. If Turgon wants to keep his people safe, it’s time to create a safer fortress. A secret one.
So, with some direction from Ulmo, Turgon finds the perfect spot amid the Encircling Mountains (though discomfortingly closer to Morgoth’s fortress of Angband) and starts building his new kingdom, Gondolin.
Once it’s ready, he slowly begins gathering his people in Nevrast and secretly transporting them to Gondolin. Before long, Nevrast is completely abandoned, about a third of the Noldor and some of the Sindar (Elves who never went to Valinor with the other Elves) are hidden away in the secret kingdom, and no one outside of the walls knows where they’ve gone. After all, living in Gondolin provides a new level of safety but it comes with a price: once you come in, you’re not allowed to leave again. (Unfortunately for Turgon, though, this rule is occasionally broken… like in the very next chapter.)
While Turgon and his people feel safe in Gondolin, Ulmo leaves with a final warning. Because Turgon is one of the doomed Noldor, Gondolin won’t be safe forever. One day, treason will compromise it and the people within. But that won’t be for quite a while, so Turgon can rest easy for now.
Meanwhile, Galadriel (yes, the Galadriel) has settled into Thingol and Melian’s realm. Since Thingol and Melian never went to Valinor, the only news they have of the Noldor’s time in Valinor comes from the Noldor themselves. Since the beginning, Galadriel has freely spoken to them about everything up until Morgoth kills the Trees. After that, though, she is silent.
This is concerning to Melian. Originally, she and Thingol thought that the Noldor had been sent by the Valar to help them against Morgoth. But that clearly isn’t the case.
One day, Melian confronts Galadriel about it, and Galadriel finally tells more of the story. They have come for revenge on Morgoth, who stole the Silmarils. Though Melian doesn’t know what’s to come, she does know that “the fate of Arda now lay locked in those things [the Silmarils]” (Tolkien 148). She has no idea just how true those words are.
But Galadriel still doesn’t tell Melian everything. She still omits the part about the Noldor killing the Teleri (Thingol’s kin) for their ships.
But that doesn’t last for long. Morgoth himself sees to that. Just as he spread rumors in Valinor that made the Noldor turn against the Valar in the first place, he starts spreading rumors about how the Noldor killed the Teleri for the ships. And, as Morgoth hoped, Thingol finds out about it.
The first time he speaks openly about it, though, is when Galadriel’s brothers have come to visit. As they’re eating dinner, Thingol can’t contain his anger and grief. He’s entertaining those responsible for the brutal slaughter of his people. If he hadn’t met Melian, he would have been there too, and he likely would have been killed as well.
Finrod (Galadriel’s brother) knows that he can’t defend himself, his siblings, or the rest of the Noldor. They made a terrible mistake. He knows that now. But he doesn’t try to throw the blame on Fëanor and his sons alone since they all had a part in it.
His brother, Angrod, however, does try to defend what little honor they have. He makes sure that Thingol knows it was Fëanor’s idea, and he tells Thingol the rest of the story in gut-wrenching detail. And he doesn’t skip over the fact that Fëanor left them to die in the frozen wastelands between Valinor and Middle-earth, ending with “Wherefore should we that endured the Grinding Ice bear the name of kinslayers and traitors?” (Tolkien 150).
Though Thingol is deeply hurt, he sees that Finrod, Angrod, Galadriel, and the others who arrived with them have been betrayed too. In a way, they’ve already paid for their crimes because of the near-impossible road they had to take to reach Middle-earth. So he shows them some mercy. They will stay allies. But Thingol wants some time alone. Galadriel and her brothers leave his realm, leaving Thingol to mourn his fallen kin.
Next week, Aredhel (Turgon’s sister) learns why we don’t wander in Middle-earth alone. (You might get kidnapped and married off to a Dark Elf!)