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text 2017-09-09 03:21
Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : V. Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien,Ted Nasmith, Christopher Tolkien

This week, a picture says a thousand words.

The divisions between the Elves partially came down to luck, which I have various grumbly feelings about.  That those who were too far away to hear Ulmo's summons are a sub-classification in terms of Elven standing and lore is a bit snobbish.  Especially since the Valar could have reunited the groups much earlier than they did.

That being said, residing in Valinor and among the Valar wrought changes on the Quendi, so there is reason behind the division between the different groups.  And, while I generally bitch about the Valar failing their duties, even those doing some of them, Ulmo actually does seem to take care of the Elves, including forming an island for the Teleri and their love of the sea.  The Valar variously had their favorites, those inline with their own inclinations.  After all, they are only fallible, so such a human favoritism is almost to be expected.  But to their favorites they impart knowledge, wisdom, and skills, enriching the Calaquendi.

For those in Valinor, there was the White Tree and it's light.  Their love so strong that Yavanna made them their own Tree in it's image, a tree that does not shed light, yet loved none the less.  That tree and it's seedlings, including the white Tree of Numenor, are loved, but loved I feel more for their creation as an act of kindness and affection, and for their resemblance to the White Tree itself.  But remember as well that at this time Middle Earth still exists in a perpetual twilight.  Love and veneration of the White Tree is akin to veneration of the Sun.  It would be stranger if they didn't hold the Tree as sacred.  It also bears remembering that Elves are functionally immortal, so there are Elves who beheld the Light of the Tree at large during the time of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings who remember a time before there was sunlight.  I feel like that's worthy of dwelling on.

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/09/silmarillion-blues-quenta-silmarillion_8.html
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text 2017-09-02 03:03
Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : IV. Of Thingol and Melian
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien,Ted Nasmith, Christopher Tolkien

Considering the significance of the moment covered by this chapter and Tolkien's treatment of epic love stories, this chapter stands out as shockingly short.  Elwë (referred to in the chapter title as Thingol), an was one of the elves to visit Valinor then come back to their people to offer the choice of haven in the Light of the Trees.

And then he comes across the Maia Melian, and that whole plan of residing in Valinor goes out the window.  We've met the Maia before, the name Gandalf probably rings a bell.  Melian brought song to the twilight of Middle Earth.

Beyond inspiring Elwë to abandon the life he convinced what would become a whole subset of his own race to follow, they are the first couple in a lineage of epic love stories that transcend race.  Melian births Lúthien Tinúviel, of Elven song and lore and her marriage to Beren.  The line continues through to Elrond, and then to Arwen who marries Aragon in her own repeat of the trials of Lúthien and Beren.

On the other hand, he devotes a chapter, as short as it may be, to the fact that these two met, fell in love, and that "of the love of Thingol and Melian there came into the world the fairest of all the Children of Iluvatar that was or ever shall be."  That alone indicates a significant weight to their love story.  At the same time, I feel like he sells their relationship a bit short, framing it with their daughter, rather than the significant action their relationship was.

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/09/silmarillion-blues-quenta-silmarillion.html
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text 2017-08-27 14:56
Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : III. Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien,Ted Nasmith, Christopher Tolkien

Wherein the Valar largely avoid doing their job, let things get bad, then scramble to make up for it.

"Through long ages the Valar dwelt in bliss in the light of the Trees beyond the Mountains of Aman, but all Middle-earth lay in a twilight under the stars."

Dwelling in their own private Haven is really not what they were sent to the world to do.  Yavanna moped about, but at least did what she could to protect the life that couldn't grow under the twilight.  Besides that...well, Melkor certainly took advantage of the situation, digging in and fortifying his position.  Most notably we learn about his fortress, Angband, commanded by his lieutenant, Sauron.

Finally the Valar realize maybe they should see about that assignment to prepare the earth for Iluvatar's children?  From this we see the greatest of all works of the Valar since they first came to Arda, that is the making of the new stars.  Not fully bringing light to the world, but bringing some... and this is the only light that the Elves live under when they first come forth.  This profoundly effects their, well religion isn't quite the right word, but perhaps the best way to describe their relationship with the world.  The Elves sing to the constellations, call on the stars and their creator for aid in dark times.

As it so happens, the Valar discover the Elves, the Quendi, in passing chance through Orome hearing their song as he rides through Middle Earth.  Melkor knew of the Quendi first, and had spent shadows and spirits to incite fear and distrust among the Quendi, stealing away those that stray far, so that the Quendi fear that the Hunter had caught them.  See where I start at the beginning with saying the Valar dropped the ball.  But those who had courage and did not flee on first meeting learned that the Hunter was not a thing of darkness.

This all leads to, and is part of, tragedy.  The lesser is that the Quendi are sundered.  Into those who go live with the Valar and see the light of the tree, those who don't, and the order and manner of which they do either.  This doesn't ruin them, but it changes and creates unnecessary divisions that do not benefit the race as a whole.  The greater tragedy is what happens to those whom were lost to the darkness or shadow.  Those were by and large taken into the fortress Utmno, where Melkor twisted and corrupted them, ultimately creating the Orcs.  Melkor cannot create life, but he can remake it.  And so he creates the mortal enemy of the Elves from themselves.

It is the presence of the Quendi themselves that finally stir the Valar to rise up against Melkor, from which he takes insult from, earning the Elves an enduring resentment from him.  The Valar achieved some success, hunting down and binding Melkor, but they failed to fully uncover the depths of his works allowing evil to flourish in hidden caves and his loyal underlings, such as Sauron, to escape.  While Melkor pleads for pardon, none is given, and he is thrown into Mandos "whence none can escape, neither Vala, nor Elf, or mortal Man."

I should probably cut the Valar some slack.  They are new to their jobs.  But at the same time they put off their assignments to create a glorious Haven and revel in it.  They create beautiful and priceless works, that stay locked away from Middle Earth itself.  Only a few of them pay attention to the larger expanse of Arda, and attempt to care for what still lives there.  The Quendi, for whom they were to prepare Arda for, come forth and start their civilization under the shadow of Melkor and are only discovered by the rest of the Valar almost too late.  Were they less fallible, life on Middle Earth would have progressed quite differently.

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/08/silmarillion-blues-quenta-silmarillion_27.html
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review 2017-08-25 00:00
The Hobbit: Illustrated Edition
The Hobbit: Illustrated Edition - J.R.R. Tolkien,Jemima Catlin

This has to be at least the fourth or fifth time I've read this delightful book and at least the second time I've read this particular edition, enhanced by the charming illustrations of Jemima Caitlin.

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text 2017-08-17 01:28
Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : II. Of Aulë and Yavanna
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien,Ted Nasmith, Christopher Tolkien

Valanar to me seems almost a Garden of Eden, but Ilúvatar proves rather more benevolent than Yahweh.  Rather than a forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge we have the creation of life.  Which by Christian standards and morals strikes me like the larger transgression.  So Aulë so desired Children to pass on his knowledge to that he formed the Dwarves, and Ilúvatar shows compassion in the face of Aulë's demonstrated humility, awarding the Dwarves a place in the world.  Even if that place comes after a long hibernation so that the Elves can still be the First.  I guess the crime in Eden could be considered Pride, a sin Aulë debased himself against.

The Seven Father of the Dwarves are laid to rest, to reawaken once the children of Ilúvatar come forth.  Perhaps most interestingly is the Dwarven belief of the afterlife, where they go to their maker's halls, and to serve beside im in the remaking of the world after the Last Battle.  While clearly different, it brings to mind Valhallah and Norse concepts of the afterlife.

An odd, and perhaps uncomfortable tension exists between Aulë and Yavanna.  The husband and wife have different passions, his of the working of stone and metal, she of the growing things.  Both of the Earth, but with profoundly different relationships to it.  I can't tell from the wording if Yavanna deliberately withholds her blessing or if because they were birthed without her presence they will have no love for her works.  Regardless of the intent of her words... there's some marital strife.  I feel like Aulë is a little blase, but he has a point as well, whereas Yavanna holds to this idealistic but limited world view.  The world, and song, of Ilúvatar is not one of pure harmony, but one of distinct melodies growing, changing, and at times, conflicting with each other.  Aulë may have been tactless in his remark that his children will need wood, but he spoke only the truth... and not only for that of the Dwarves.

As almost an afterthought, we get mention of what become the Ents and the Eagles.  Yavanna is excited by these spirits, the kelvar and the olvar, that will serve as nature guardians.  But says "only the trees of Aulë will be tall enough."  That is, the Eagles will make their homes in the mountains while the Ents will serve as Tree Shepherds in the forests.  It possesses a fitting symmetry, and the origins of the Ents is one that I've been curious about for some time.

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/08/silmarillion-blues-quenta-silmarillion_15.html
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