The Silmarillion Recap: Tuor Comes to Gondolin

First off, sorry for completely missing this post last week. Several big things were happening at once that required my full attention. The good news, though, is that I’m back! Here’s to getting ahead in posts again and returning to my regular schedule. :)

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

Last time, Tuor entered the story. After a brief imprisonment, he becomes a thorn in the Easterlings’ side. (Just like his father, Huor. And his uncle, Hurin. And his cousin, Turin. Don’t mess with them!) This week, though, he exchanges harrying the enemy for a much more important role.

Quenta Silmarillion Chapter 23 part 2

For four years, Tuor has lived alone. His main goal in life has been seeking revenge on the Easterlings who killed the Elves who had raised him. However, after four long years, something changes. A new idea comes to mind. It’s time to leave.

What Tuor doesn’t know is that it’s not completely his idea. Ulmo has put the thought in his heart. Unlike the rest of the Valar who stay across the Sea in Valinor (and unlike Morgoth who is bent on taking over Middle-earth), Ulmo stays off the coast of Middle-earth, watching what happens and helping when he can. And this is one of those moments in which he can help its inhabitants. Or at least try.

Tuor finds himself on roads he doesn’t know. No one else knows them either, especially Morgoth’s servants. And before long, Tuor finds himself at the Sea. Namely in an abandoned city called Nevrast. He absolutely loves it there and stays for about a year before he spots seven swans flying over head and decides that he’s been sitting around too long. There’s something he has to do, and he needs to do it now.

What Tuor doesn’t know about Nevrast is that it used to belong to the Elvenking Turgon. (Want to read the full story? Click here.) Before building Gondolin, Turgon and his people lived here, against the Sea. Years before, Ulmo had shown up and warned them to leave because Morgoth was far more dangerous than any of them yet realized. Before Turgon and his people evacuated to the secret kingdom of Gondolin, Ulmo left a last instruction. Leave behind armor, a shield, and a hauberk. It would make sense later.

And this is later. Tuor happens upon the abandoned palace, and inside he finds the armor, shield, and hauberk that Turgon had left years ago. Tuor puts them on before heading outside again.

S.B. Roberts 2015

S.B. Roberts 2015

There, though, he’s met with a storm over the water, and Ulmo is literally there. Ulmo tells Tuor that he needs to go to Gondolin and deliver a message. He also gives Tuor a special cloak that makes him like a shadow so that he will travel more safely. And once the storm clears and Ulmo vanishes, Tuor finds that Ulmo has left one last thing for him. A guide.

A while before, Turgon (again) had sent ships West. On one of these ships was an Elf named Voronwë. The key word here is was. During Ulmo’s storm, he took Voronwë from his ship, told him that he needed to take someone to Gondolin, and plopped him right in the middle of Nevrast, where Tuor was. So when Voronwë sees Tuor, he knows exactly what to do, and they head off together for Gondolin.

Fascinating fact: On the way, they see Glaurung’s destruction and pass by a Man wearing black with a black sword. None other than his cousin, Turin.

Finally, Tuor and Voronwë arrive in Gondolin. When they do, Tuor removes the cloak from Ulmo, revealing the armor that Turgon had left back in Nevrast so long ago. He’s immediately ushered into Turgon’s throne room where Turgon listens with interest to what Tuor has to say.

However, Tuor has come with a warning that Turgon has long dreaded. The Curse of Mandos (also known as the Doom of the Noldor) is about to be completely fulfilled. All of the work of the Noldor will be destroyed. Ulmo told Turgon this back when he originally told him to build Gondolin: “Love not too well the work of thy hands and the devices of thy heart; and remember that the true hope of the Noldor [the group of Elves to which Turgon belongs] lieth West, and cometh from the Sea” (288).

But Turgon doesn’t want to leave. The city of Gondolin is beautiful. It’s been safely hidden for countless years. And, on top of that, Turgon has become a bit proud. Maybe there’s another way.

When Turgon speaks with his council, his nephew Maeglin is quick to side against Tuor. (This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Maeglin’s father was a Dark Elf, and some of his malice lived on in Maeglin’s heart. On top of that, Maeglin never liked Tuor’s dad or uncle.) And Turgon unwisely decides to side with Maeglin instead of listening to Ulmo’s warning.

However, Turgon doesn’t ignore the warning completely. Afraid of what might come (including treason from within), he has all of the entrances to Gondolin completely blocked. No can come in or out. The only way that they receive news is from Thorondor, King of the Eagles, and most of that news is bad. First Nargothrond falls. Then King Thingol is killed. And then his grandson Dior is murdered.

Instead of doing anything about it, Turgon keeps Gondolin completely shut. They will never leave Gondolin again. Ever.

Next week, Tuor finds love and learns why Maeglin was his dad and uncle’s frienemy.

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