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.