The Silmarillion Recap: War Is in the Air (Again)

Sorry this week’s recap is a day late. Yesterday, I was up to my eyeballs in papers to grade. Now that the pile is back down to a manageable level, it’s time to dive into the fun stuff!

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

After six weeks (believe it or not) of following Luthien and Beren’s story, it’s time to explore its aftermath. No one can face Morgoth and beat the other impossible odds they did without everyone taking notice.

Quenta Silmarillion: Chapter 20 part 1

As promised last week, Luthien and Beren make a quick appearance at the beginning of this chapter. After all that they have gone through, they are finally back in Middle-earth, where they can enjoy their lives together. One of the first places they visit is Doriath, the realm of Luthien’s parents. Seeing Luthien again is a relief to poor Thingol, her father, who’s been grieving over her and Beren. However her mother, Melian, is completely heartbroken. Because of Luthien’s fate, Melian knows that she won’t spend forever in Valinor with her daughter anymore, and she is most keenly aware of this because she is a Maia, one of the servants of the Valar, so she knows things the others around her can’t imagine.

In any case, Luthien and Beren make their home in Dor Firn-i-Guinar (Land of the Dead that Live), and there they have a child named Dior. Don’t worry. There will be plenty more about Dior, often known as Thingol’s Heir, later.

It’s not long before rumors of Luthien and Beren’s return spread far and wide. Among those who hear of it: Maedhros, one of Fëanor’s sons. It’s been a while since Maedhros has received a mention in The Silmarillion. My first impression of him was that he had been the most grounded son of Fëanor. You know, one that didn’t have his father’s bent towards greed. However, years of hoping to reclaim his father’s Silmarils have apparently worn him down, so he seems to be just as difficult to work with and obsessive as his father and other brothers.

When Maedhros hears how Luthien and Beren broke into Morgoth’s fortress of Angband, put him to sleep, and stole a Silmaril out of his crown, he gets the crazy idea to attack Morgoth. After all, if a Man and Elven princess (basically) can go in alone and survive, maybe this is the opportune moment to strike.

With this, he gathers as many of the Elves as he can. While many do come, there are two particular realms who refuse to help.

The first: Nargothrond. Remember how Finrod was the king there until he left to help Beren retrieve one of the Silmarils? And how Maedhros’ brothers, Curufin and Celegorm, refused to help Finrod and then left Nargothrond in shame when everyone found out Finrod had been killed? Well, the Elves of Nargothrond wanted nothing to do with any of Fëanor’s other sons, and especially not Curufin and Celegorm, who were sure to be helping their brother in the battle.

A handful of Elves, however, are given permission by the current king of Nargothrond, Orodreth, to tag along. Leading them is Gwindor, whose brother was captured during the last major fight against Morgoth, Dagor Bragollach. If there’s any chance for him to save his brother, he wants to take it.

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It may not be Dagor Bragollach’s battlefield, but it is one from the Civil War.                                              S.B. Roberts 2014

The second realm that refuses to help: Doriath. Of course, things may have gone better for Maedhros’ messengers if the conversation didn’t start with, “Hey, better give back that Silmaril you have. By the way, want to come fight with us?”

In all seriousness, though, Thingol has good reason to want nothing to do with Fëanor’s sons. Curufin and Celegorm had kidnapped Luthien and then attacked her and Beren out in the forest. Now, to add insult to injury, Maedhros is demanding for the Silmaril to be returned. After all that Luthien and Beren endured to retrieve it, it is far too valuable.

Very importantly, though, there’s one more reason Thingol doesn’t want to return the Silmaril. As much as he doesn’t want to admit it, he’s growing obsessed with it. The same accursed greed that killed Fëanor is now eating away at Thingol, but no one is aware of it yet.

When Thingol refuses to help, Fëanor’s sons are ticked (but what’s new there?). In fact, Curufin and Celegorm tell Thingol that, if they make it out of the war alive, they’re coming back to kill him when it’s all over.

Only two Elves from Doriath leave to aid in the battle: Mablung and Beleg. (They will show back up later, which is why they deserve a mention now.) They don’t want to be a part of Thingol or Fëanor’s sons’ drama. They just want to do what’s best for Middle-earth.

In addition to Elves, Maedhros is joined by the Naugrim — the Dwarves — as well as many of the Edain and other Men who have come to the western regions of Middle-earth over the years. Most notable among the Edain: Húrin and Huor. As mentioned before, these two brothers are very important to some of the upcoming chapters.

Together, they all prepare for the next major assault on Morgoth. But don’t think that Morgoth isn’t plotting as well…

Next week, Gwindor finds his brother, a dragon joins the party, and it’s revealed why the next battle is named, in English, Unnumbered Tears.

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