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text 2017-10-15 05:02
Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : X. Of the Sindar
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien,Ted Nasmith, Christopher Tolkien

We change gears for a bit, looking at the Sindar, those that started the "Great Journey," but who stayed in Beleriand instead of crossing the ocean.  After all, there's more than just Valinor.

I have to assume if you're reading The Silmarillion  you're at least vaguely familiar with The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.  But if you aren't, I hope that the fact that Tolkien makes specific mention of the birth of Lúthien stands out.  Spoiler, she's kind of a big deal, and not just because she's the daughter of the Maiar Melian and the Elven King Thingol.

The focus here is of the meeting of the Dwarves and the Elves, and what came of that meeting.  The
Elves experienced a bit of a shock on learning they were not the only creatures who spoke and crafted (Valar and Maiar excluded, of course).  The dirty secret being, of course, that the Dwarves predate the Elves, and were just in forced hibernation for awhile.  The Dwarves keep their secrets though, and learn the Elven tongue instead of sharing their own, and a cool friendship between the races grows.

However, having a Maiar to help guide your your King and entire Kingdom proves surprisingly beneficial.  I originally didn't include surprisingly... but then thought about the mess of things the Valar have been making, and decided that this did all work out surprisingly well.  She had the foresight to advise the building of a kingly stronghold against yet unrealized evil waking in Middle Earth, and to seek the skills of the Dwarves in the building.  From this the Dwarves learned knowledge and skills from Melian and gained great pearls from Thingol, and considered themselves well paid indeed.  From this a city is wrought from the labor of Elves and Dwarves alike, each bringing their skills together for a single purpose and so created Menegroth.

Time moves on, and during the Third Age of Melkor's captivity the Dwarves bring news to King Thingol that evil still lurks in the dark northern reaches, multiplying and roaming forth.  Kudos to Thingol for listening, had he not things would have turned out much darker.  So they were able to drive off the creatures of evil, and with a stocked armory against future trouble, and Menegroth became a place gathering of the scattered hosts of people.

The Sindar and the Dwarves knew nothing of the destruction of the trees, but when Melkor cried out in his contest with Ungoliant, they heard and were afraid.  Ungoliant comes north into their realm, but Melian provides protection.  But meanwhile Melkor rebuilds his stronghold, and Menegroth comes under attack from different directions, and only at a high cost do the Elves prevail at all.  The Elves of Ossiriand lose their King, taking no king after him, and many pulling away in wariness and secrecy, becoming the Laiquendi, the Green elves, while others merged with Thingol's people.  The shipwrights are driven to the rim of the sea itself.  And so Thingol draws all his people within, and Melian spins forth a wall of shadow and bewilderment to protect them.

But Fëanor is coming, changing the shape of Middle Earth with his own host.

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/10/silmarillion-blues-quenta-silmarillion_14.html
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text 2017-10-02 16:15
Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : VIII. Of the Darkening of Valinor
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien,Ted Nasmith, Christopher Tolkien

For a time Melkor avoids those hunting him, still empowered with the ability to change shape or pass unseen.  Meanwhile, Ungoliant, a creature of whom her origins are wondered at by even the Eldar, made her home within Avathar, taking on the form of a giant spider, and consuming any Light that fell within her grasp and spinning it out into shadowy webs.  Ungoliant is the progenitor of the Spiders we meet throughout The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Shelob and her ilk, dark creatures in spider form that are burned by blessed Light.  Melkor seeks her out, taking on his guise of a Dark Lord he bore in Utumno, a form in which he remains, and strikes a deal.  "Do as I bid; and if thou hunger still when all is done, then I will give thee whatsoever thy lust may demand."

Under a cloak of darkness woven by Ungoliant, Melkor strikes at Valinor in the midst of a celebration of thanks giving and forgiveness.  Fëanor comes in simple presentation, and reconciles with Fingolfin before the throne of Manwë.  Manwë, the Valar, and the Eldar may have wished for a sight of the Silmarils that Fëanor left locked in Formenos, but the triumph of Melkor would have been more complete had he brought them.  Melkor strikes down both Trees, and Ungoliant drains any vitality they hold into herself, and then the Wells of Varda, growing and swelling so large that even Melkor fears her.  And so darkness falls on Valinor, a darkness imbued with living shadows as our antagonists leave, their vengeance complete.

Troy closed his post off with Voltaire, but I'm going with Blue Oyster Cult, and making a Career of Evil (it was that or Skull Crusher Mountain).

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/09/silmarillion-blues-quenta-silmarillion_30.html
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text 2017-09-24 16:28
Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : VII. Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien,Ted Nasmith, Christopher Tolkien

During this time Fëanor creates his Masterwork, the Silmarils, in which he captures the light of the Trees.  Varda imbued the rings "so that thereafter no mortal flesh, nor hands unclean, nor anything of evil might touch them," (which leaves me wondering how the Silmarils and the quasi-mortal half-Elves would interact) and Mandows foretold that the very fates of Middle Earth lay within them.

 

I'm going to assume no one here is surprised that Melkor wants them for himself?  I actually find Melkor's desire and frustration regarding the Silmarils backing for his claims about teaching Fëanor being little more than lies.  He could make many great and terrible things, but these lay beyond his power.  That being said, there's nothing to say how much knowledge from Melkor made its way indirectly to Fëanor.  What cannot be denied, however, is how skilled and insidious were Melkor's lies.  He spoke to them of favoritism, of ambition, and glory.  And, it cannot be denied, Melkor is good at subversion.

Fëanor is called to account for aggression triggered by his own ambition and poisoning by rumor.  While this reveals Melkor's influence, Fëanor is not held blameless for his action and is banished, creating a fulfillment of Melkor's words.  With his heart tied to the Silmarils and the pain of his banishment, leaves Fëanor ripe for temptation.  Melkor tries, but incites such wrath that even he experiences fear, slinking away to lick his wounds and bide his time.

The light of the Two Trees still shines, but now the Valar wait uneasily for the fragile peace to shatter again.  The next Chapter is "Of the Darkening of Valinor," so I think we know that shattering comes soon.

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/09/silmarillion-blues-quenta-silmarillion_24.html
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text 2017-09-21 00:14
Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : VI. Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien,Ted Nasmith, Christopher Tolkien

All good things must come to an end.

Things start out quite nicely, with Melkor locked away, the Eldar gathering and enjoying a time of peace.  We even have a love story.

Spoiler: it all ends horribly.

As soon as I read that Míriel could only stand to bear a single child and that Finwë wanted more my first thought was "Well, this is going to end poorly."

steep cliffs under a twilight sky, overlooking the sea

Tolkien enjoys his epic love stories, ill fated or destined for greatness.  And so we have the marriage of Finwë and Míriel, deeply in love and from whom comes perhaps the greats of the Noldar artisans, Fëanor.  Birth is never easy, something that we often forget when it happens behind the closed doors of hospital rooms.  Women undergo intense physiological and psychological changes during pregnancy and at the end of it they suddenly have another life they are responsible for.  Actually, one of the biggest fears I have regarding spawning is that with my baseline neurochemical imbalances (and other factors) I have a deep seated fear of postpartum depression and/or postpartum psychosis.

Míriel bears a son, and "was consumed in spirit and in body; and after his birth she yearned for release from the labour of living."  I can't help but feel intensely frustrated with Finwë expansive grief when his wife says "No more children."  Functionally immortal with their first child yet a babe, they have time (let alone arguments about bodily autonomy and reproductive choice).  In a few decades or more, maybe she would look at her life and reconsider how she felt about bearing another child (or not, and that's OK).  Instead he displays a complete inability to understand the depth that is wife was suffering.  Maybe there was nothing Finwë could do to save Míriel, and the Eldar are a young race with much to be learned about heart and mind.

So Míriel lays down in the gardens of Lorien to rest, and her spirit departs.  I'm still not convinced this is not a deep deep depression and it's repercussions.  A literal "giving up the ghost," but not a deliberate suicide in my interpretation (I realize others do not agree with this assessment).  Meanwhile, Fëanor grows up brilliant, strong, and glorious, creating masterworks of metals and gems, and for a time married to Nerdanel who provided balance to his life and bore him seven sons.

And then, in no particular order, Finwë marries again and Fëanor is decidedly not happy with his stepmother or new brothers, Fëanor largely splits from the family and becomes his own force of driven angst, and Melkor makes parole.

How I summarize what comes next (to see video link you'll probably have to view on blog page):



Manwe is simply too innocent and too good to understand evil, though Ulmo and Tulkas grok what's going on.  Or maybe they're just distrustful and hold a grudge, but that's better than anyone else, so I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.  In this case, even with Melkor confined to a region, the Valar are showing a depressingly characteristic lack of wisdom or understanding of things beyond their personal and limited scopes.  "But fair-seeming were all the words and deeds of Melkor in that time, and both the Valar and the Eldar had profit from his aid and counsel, if they sought it."

Interestingly, while the Valar and the Eldar, the Noldar in particular, availed themselves of Melkor's knowledge, Fëanor holds a deep seated hatred of Melkor deep enough to surpass any desire or ambition.  “But he lied in his lust and his envy, for none of the Eldalie ever hated Melkor more than Feanor.”  I was surprised by this, I totally expected Fëanor to succumb to ambition based on all the hinting this chapter gave.  I guess his dark destiny still awaits.

Predictions: things will continue to worsen, including in several theoretically preventable ways.

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/09/silmarillion-blues-quenta-silmarillion_20.html
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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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