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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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review 2017-09-21 16:28
Alycat and the Monday Blues by Alysson Foti Bourque
Alycat and the Monday Blues - Alysson Foti Bourque

Ok I have to just say I am a 40 something woman and I loved this adorable book. This is one book I really enjoyed not only reading to the kids but I personally enjoyed it. Not just the story either. The illustrations are are top notch. They are so colorful, bright, and eye catching. The pictures themselves pretty much tell the story without the words. The story itself is great. Not only is is a sweet story but it also teaches a lesson. I really like reading stories to the kids that have meaning more then just a cutesy story. 

 

The story is about Alycat. Alycat wakes up on a Monday morning and just can't get it together. She just wants to go back to bed. Lord knows I have a lot of Mondays as I am sure we all do. Mom tells her she must go to school an that she must work out her problems. 

 

One of her biggest worries for the day is the talent show is coming up the next day and she has no clue what her talent will be. Still worrying and thinking about what she would do for the show she ran across Spotty. Spotty was practicing his saxophone for the show, he played wonderfully but wanted some lyrics to go with his music. Together they decide Spotty would play the sax and Alycat would sing. Both friends get very excited and now can't wait for tomorrow.

 

Alysson Foti Bourque has done a wonderful job with this story and Chiara Civati has done a wonderful job with the illustrations. This book would make a great bedtime story or even a great story when your child is having a bad day. 

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text 2017-09-21 00:14
Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : VI. Of FĂ«anor 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 2017-09-02 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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