The Silmarillion Recap: The Beginning of Earendil’s Adventures and the Trouble with Silmarils

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

Last week, Doriath and Gondolin’s survivors create a new society together. With ships, the Sea, and (perhaps unbeknownst to them) Ulmo’s protection, they have what they need to rebuild after two terrible tragedies. However, things won’t stay perfect forever.

Quenta Silmarillion Chapter 24 part 1

After all of the trouble that they’ve faced, the survivors of Doriath and Gondolin seem to be getting along well beside the Sea. Eärendil has married Elwing, uniting the two Half-elven lines mentioned so far in the Silmarillion. (Eärendil’s parents are Tuor — a Man — and Idril — an Elvish princess; Elwing’s grandparents are Beren — a Man — and Luthien — an Elvish princess who kicks Orc butt.) And, to bring this Half-elven line to more familiar territory, Eärendil and Elwing have two sons: Elros and Elrond (the one and only).

While Eärendil seemingly has a great family at home, his parents’ disappearance has never sat well with him. Tuor and Idril built a ship and sailed off to the West, never to return. So Eärendil decides to build his own ship to find them and Valinor. Finding his parents isn’t his only reason for finding Valinor, though. More than anything, he wants to plea for Men and Elves. Life under Morgoth is hard, and he wants to ask the Valar to have pity on them. (Yes, Ulmo asked for the same thing last time, but Eärendil doesn’t know that.)

With these hopes in mind, he and his buddy, Cirdan the Shipwright, build a ship named Vingilot (the Foam-flower). It’s certainly an impressive sight with its golden oars and white timbers. In fact, it’s perhaps the fairest ship to ever grace the Sea.

Once it’s finished, Eärendil takes it on an adventure to find his parents and Valinor, leaving his wife Elwing and sons Elrond and Elros behind. Eärendil searches far and wide but finds no signs of the things he’s searching for. Instead, one night, he has a foreboding dream and decides that he needs to return home quickly. And it’s a good thing because something is afoot.

Back when Elwing was just a child, Doriath fell. Fëanor’s sons had attacked in an attempt to take back the Silmaril that Beren and Luthien had won from Morgoth. The result? Her parents, Dior and Nimloth, are killed, and her brothers, Elured and Elurin, are never found. All that’s left of Doriath are the Elves who now live here by the Sea.

One of Fëanor’s sons, Maedhros, was heavily involved in the attack. And after he saw the terrible slaughter, he feels bad. In fact, he even tries to find Elwing’s brothers, but it’s too late. Now, years later, he discovers that Elwing is still alive. Perhaps that shouldn’t be a surprise to him since they never could find her. But he now knows where she is and that she still has that Silmaril that caused the fighting in the first place.

Because he still feels awful about what he did to her parents and brothers, he chooses not to just attack. Instead, he tries to put it out of his mind. Relax. Not obsess. The trouble though, is that this seems to be impossible for any of Fëanor’s sons. Their lives since Valinor have been dedicated to retaking the Silmarils. Knowing that Morgoth has two in his crown is frustrating enough. But knowing that Elwing still has the other one? It’s more than he can bear. After a while, he tells his surviving three brothers about it and demands that the Silmaril be returned.

When Elwing receives this message, she obviously refuses. Yes, Maedhros’ father made the Silmarils and died because of them. But her grandparents endured just as much — arguably, perhaps even more — to win it so that they could be together. Besides, it’s believed that the Silmaril has some sort of blessing on it. One that benefits their homes and ships. There’s no way that she would turn it over. Not to her parents’ killers.

Next week, the sons of Fëanor make their move.

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2 responses to “The Silmarillion Recap: The Beginning of Earendil’s Adventures and the Trouble with Silmarils

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