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text 2018-01-30 05:06
Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : XXII. Of the Ruin of Doriath
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien,Ted Nasmith, Christopher Tolkien

Wherein Morgoth spreads the misery though puppetry.  Releasing Húrin to the world after years of captivity, he aims to increase strife among Men and Elves.  His reception is varied, with his own people shunning him as in league with Morgoth.  Even the Eagles state that "Húrin Thalion has surrendered to the will of Morgoth."  This reception makes me think of Gandalf speaking of how to treat Gollum, and the importance of mercy.  I wonder how this story would have changed if people had shown him kindness and acceptance, while acknowledging that Morgoth had his plans for Húrin still.  But again, that is often the beauty of the "curses" Tolkien lays against his characters, their fated doom often not of divine or infernal end, but the result of deliberate action and self-fulfilling prophesy.

We some of what could have been, when Melian speaks kindness in face of his twisted perceptions and grief, but it leaves Húrin bereft of purpose and so he passes away.  It also happens to late, for a great treasure of the Dwarves is still given unto Thingol, who has the Dwarves set within it the Silmaril.  As we have seen so far, nothing involving the Silmarils goes well, with all those who see it desiring to possess it.  Those that wished it laid claim, and Thingol responded in anger, provoking the Dwarves to rise against him.  Pursuit was given, but two escaped back to their people and reported that they were unfairly slain by order of the Elvenking.

Melian's power was withdrawn from the full realm, which allowed the Dwarves to move forward unheeded until they met the Elven host.  They win their way in and take for themselves the Silmaril they coveted, among other plunder.  They meet on their leaving Beren, his son Dior, and many Green Elves, and those that fled met the Ents, who we know from The Lord of the Rings can be quite viscous when provoked.  The Silmaril is reclaimed and given to Lúthien, Thingol's daughter, and her son, Dior, takes on the mantel of King of Doriath where he rules until the Necklace of the Dwarves with the Silmaril set within is passed onto him upon his parents death.  While Lúthien was unassailable, her son had no such protection, and Celegorm and Curufin again raise strife, assaulting Doriath and Dior, losing their own lives, ending those of Dior, Dior's wife, and his sons, and destroying Doriath.

The Sons of Fëanor and their followers fail to claim the Silmaril, secreted away by Dior's daughter and a few survivors of Doriath.

I am not sorry to see the end of Celegorm and Curufin, who again and again have acted as villains in self-interest and in following an oath made to regain the Silmarils.  As for the Silmarils, there is not so much a curse upon them as a depressing reminder of the power of avarice and greed, and that seems in line with the type of message and story Tolkien tells again and again in this saga.

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2018/01/silmarillion-blues-quenta-silmarillion_29.html
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text 2017-12-26 02:49
Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : XIX. Of Beren and LĂșthien
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien,Ted Nasmith, Christopher Tolkien

If you've read the main Middle Earth novels, it's hard to remain unaware of Beren and Lúthien.  Their love story is the basis of a cycle we see repeated most notably between Arwen and Aragorn, and a song we hear within The Lord of the Rings.  I'm not going to compare it to Romeo & Juliet, because this isn't a cautionary or satirical play about impulse and naivete that takes place within a single week.  When Tolkien does romance, he goes big.  Realm shaking politics, claims to immortality, and epic trials of valor and devotion.

Our story even starts with the weight of love and grief, as Sauron uses Gorlim's desperate hope that his wife still yet lives to bring about the downfall of Beren's father and his men.  After slaying the orcs that killed Barahir, Beren spends the next few years wandering in solitude and needling Morgoth until a bounty is placed on his head equal to that on Fingon, High King of the Noldor, and orcs flee at rumor of him rather than seek him out for their reward.

Eventually he makes his way out of Dorthonion and towards the Hidden Kingdom, into the land of Lady Melian and King Thingol, passing through Dungortheb, where Ungoliant's children rule.  On coming into this new land he beholds Lúthien, falling into her thrall. Not knowing her name, he thinks of her as Tinúviel, Nightingale, and continued his wandering hoping to find her once again.  Lúthien, to her doom, falls for Beren on her final sight of him, tying her fate to his mortality.

To make things more complicated, Beren is not the only one to fall in love with Lúthien... and daddy dearest is rather protective.  Possibly a bit racist, but it could just be that he's upset at his daughter becoming mortal.  That Beren has the ring of Felagund, causes some pause, and Melian tells her husband that he shall not slay Beren.

And so, Thingol sets Beren on a task doomed to failure.  Retrieve a Silmaril from Morgoth's crown.  While Thingol would honor his word, by his intent he seals himself within the curse of Mandos.  Betrayal is not a pretty thing, and the Silmarils are cursed with an oath of hatred.  Lúthien knows it.  King Finrod Felagund knows it.  Thingol himself knows it, though perhaps the taint the quest spreads among his kind was far beyond what he ever feared.

Things go poorly, including events we have read about in earlier chapters, and in an odd symmetry.  Beren thrown into a pit by Sauron, and Lúthien trapped into a mighty treehouse by her father.  In an act that would impress the Brothers Grimm, she uses magic to grow her hair out and weaves it into a magic robe and into a robe to climb out of her tower from.  She finds little assistance from the Noldor, with Celegorm and Curufin promising help but instead taking her as token to advance their power, Lúthien saved only by the honor of the hound Huan.  Spoiler, Celegorm and Curufin basically try to ruin everything, and even when this backfires do what they can to make everyone else's life miserable.

They win free, as we knew they would in the end, through Lúthien's song and wit, and through the sacrifice of others.  My favorite part of this is where Sauron believes that if he takes on the form of a wolf he can fulfill Huan's doom, and is defeated soundly, his spirit sundered from his flesh, leaving Lúthien to claim mastery of his island.  The nice thing is that in addition to freeing Beren, a whole bunch of captives also see the light of day again.  Of course, they then proceed to cause trouble for their lieges for being upstaged by a maiden... but I feel this also establishes a connection or justification to Eowyn's  blow against Sauron in The Return of the King.

But we aren't done yet, Beren still needs to retrieve a Silmaril from Morgoth's crown.  While I get why he didn't cut out all three stones, I'm wondering why he didn't just grab the whole *crown.*  I'm sure there's some reason.  Regardless, Beren doesn't want Lúthien to follow him into Morgoth's shadow, she says "fat chance," and the wolf takes her side.  Good thing too, I doubt he could have succeeded with out her.  Their quest almost fails, when Carcharoth, the might wolf raised by Morgoth bites off Beren's hand while it holds a Silmaril, and the Morgoth's host awakens.  Fortunately, the Eagles came.

Home is not as it once was when they return.  Lúthien thought lost and with it the light she brings and the Doom playing out.  Melian I feel is less than pleased with her husband throughout this.  Of course, Beren has not the Silmaril with him... but it is in his hand.  The Silmaril and his hand are regained, though it costs Beren and Huan their lives.

I had to re-read the ending of this chapter a few times, going "Wait, did he just die? ... and how long after did Lúthien depart this mortal coil?"  Some how up until now I remained unaware that Beren flat out died and due to Mandos' pity and Lúthien's choice they had a second chance at living together.  I mean, they're Elrond's great-grandparents (...and progenitors of Aragorn's line, but at least there's a significant number of generations before Aragorn comes out).  At first read I was left wondering when they had a chance to reproduce, particularly since Tolkien is not really known for explicit sexy times in his writing.  It looks like this chapter was devoted to how the two of them created the romantic story of Middle Earth, and a romance cycle that is destined to repeat itself, rather than the life they actually lived together.

Source: mee6.xyz/levels/332569573369053185
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text 2017-12-10 05:10
Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : XVIII. Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien,Ted Nasmith, Christopher Tolkien

The Noldor, strong and numerous, fair well in their alliance with Men.  For about five hundred years at least.  Time gets a bit wonky when dealing with the conniving of immortals, and "patience" becomes a bit relative.  I can't even say that Morgoth was really patient by waiting five hundred years because he built up his resources until he reached "good enough," and rushes out to burninate the countryside without really evaluating his plan.

His opening salvo is fire, rivers of flame, volcanoes, dragons, and Balrogs.  Morgoth's forces wrecked destruction on their unprepared enemy, but many retreated and regrouped, to strengthen those further away from the front and fortify defenses.  Fingolfin beholds the apparent destruction of his people, and calls out Morgoth in challenge.  Their fight is one of legend, a fight between demigods.  Morgoth rends the earth with his hammer, while Fingolfin springs away from Morgoth's blows, wounding Morgoth seven times.  But in time, Fingolfin tired, giving Morgoth the advantage, and three times he strikes Fingolfin down, until after the third time he arises, Fingolfin falls.  He deals one final wound to Morgoth, cutting off Morgoth's foot before he dies.

The hostilities continues for years, and sees the rise of Morgoth's servant, Sauron and the expanded use of Morgoth of not only spies but thralls and deceptive recruiting, claiming sympathy and then betraying.  Morgoth would also take captives and enslave their minds, only to let them "escape" to return home under his control.

These years reshape the landscape of Middle Earth, as Morgoth's power expands, battles rage, and the holdings of Elves and Men shift and condense.  Rulers fall and their heirs take on their mantles.  A decade of a war of attrition, with no clear victor, but many gains by the aggressor held off by determination and blood.

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/12/silmarillion-blues-quenta-silmarillion_10.html
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text 2017-11-29 22:45
Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : XVI. Of Maeglin
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien,Ted Nasmith, Christopher Tolkien

I suppose it's semi-redundant to say any particular chapter exists to introduce characters and set the stage, as we're reading a "history" text... but this chapter introduces us to characters and sets the stage.

The really short summary is the daughter of Fingolfin goes on walkabout, gets ensnared in a marriage, has a kid, then goes back home, sacrifices herself to keep her kid alive, and her kid brings glory to the Noldor while slowly becoming consumed with envy and anger.

Aredhel Ar-Feiniel, the White Lady of the Noldor, daughter of Fingolfin, once roamed far and wide in the realm of Valinor.  Now she lives within the bounds of Gondolin, under the rule of her brother Turgon... and after 200 years she's had enough of living in one spot.  When asked for permission to explore again, brother dear wanted her to do so his way.  If you haven't noticed by now, Tolkien rarely writes women who simply concede to what the men around them want.  So Turgon sends his guards to protect her, and she ignores them utterly and does her own damn thing.

Her walkabout brings her up against the Girdle of Melian, where she is barred entry (see last week's entry), so she continues around.  Along the way she loses the guards, and continues on alone until she meets the people of Celegorm who welcome her and invite her to stay on until he returns.  She stays for some time, but too restless to stay and so moves on and ends up in Nan Elmoth.

We've been in this wood before, back when Melian and Thingol met.  However, the days when Melian walked through these woods are long past, and it grew tall and dark, blocking the sun from its floor.  In these woods Eöl, kin of Thingol and known as the Dark Elf, resides since the Girdle of Melian went up.  For all that Eöl resented the the Noldor for the return of Morgoth, the role he plays in this story is more akin to the Noldor than his own branch of Elven kind.  He loves the twilight and shadow, night and the stars.  He, like someone else I could name, created masterworks with metal, devising Galvorn, a black and shining metal "as hard as the steel of the Dwarves, but so malleable that he could make it thin and supple; and yet it remained resistant to all blades and darts."

So, Eöl sees Aredhel in the wood and desires her, casting enchantments so that she wanders the woods until she finds him, and he takes her as his wife.  Consent here is a bit dubious, though they live in peace together for some time, and Aredhel shuns the sunlight, wandering far together at night with her husband, or alone, as long as she does not seek out the other Noldor.  In time, she bears a son whom she names Lomion, or "Child of Twilight" in the Noldor tongue, his only name until his father names him Maeglin, "Sharp Glance," at the age of twelve.

I can't imagine Eöl particularly liked hearing anything spoken in the Noldor tongue, and the fact that he names his kid after twelve years makes me really wonder about the father-son relationship for those twelve years.  Even with functional immortality, those first few years of life have to make an impression.

Maeglin spoke little, saw much, and learned all he could.  His mother told him tales of her kin, and in the telling, awoke a desire to see them again.  Maeglin also grew curious about his kin, and he and his father fought, Eöl wanting nothing to do with the "slayers of our kin, the invaders and usurpers of hour homes."  Tolkien doesn't really tend towards milquetoast characters central to the narrative, and if we consider this chapter a narrative in itself... we can make some guesses about how this all ends.  That's right, Eöl goes off, and then Aredhel and Maeglin go off their own way.  When he finds them missing he follows in pursuit, meeting little sympathy from those he encounters and receiving the earnest suggestion that he leave his family alone lest things end poorly for all.

The prodigal daughter and her son are received warmly, and perhaps because she's one of the first elves of even comparable age he's met (and perhaps because she is actually gorgeous), Maeglin develops a massive crush on Turgon's daughter.

Unfortunately, they were followed too closely and Eöl finds his way in full of wrath.  Turgon greets
Eöl as kin, but insists that the law be followed and Eöl must stay.  This goes over poorly, and Eöl argues vehemently for his son's return.  I'm not sure if this indicates quite how poor their marriage was or that Eöl considers Aredhel her own woman.  When told he must "abide here, or to die here; and so also for your son," Eöl decides that death of his only child is preferable to his son being raised among the Noldor.  Dude, maybe you shouldn't have married into the Noldor then.  Aredhel sacrifices herself, intercepting the javelin thrown at Maeglin, later sickening and dying from poison on its tip.

Maeglin becomes a great boon to the Noldor with his skills at metal craft learned from his father, and proves both deadly and fearless in battle.  Unfortunately he loves his cousin, Idril, who is not only too closely related but cares not for him.  So it is that Maeglin lets envy and jealous wanting corrupt himself, and so brings corruption into the heart of the Noldor... of which I am sure we will hear more of in chapters to come.

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/11/silmarillion-blues-quenta-silmarillion_29.html
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text 2017-10-22 04:28
Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : XI. Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien,Ted Nasmith, Christopher Tolkien

The trees have fallen and the Silmarils lost.  Teleperion bears one last flower of silver, and Laurelin a single fruit of gold, which were taken and put into vessels to hang in the sky as great lamps.  With these lamps they resolve to illuminate Middle Earth, bringing light to the people's there and hindering Melkor's (literally) dark deeds.

Good news: the Valar have a solid idea that they need to actually pay attention to Melkor and the danger he poses.

Bad news: with the arrival of humans imminent (plus the waking of the dwarves), waging war on Melkor might take out the life they're charged with preparing the world for.

Isil the Sheen the Vanyar of old named the Moon, flower of Telperion in Valinor; and Anar the Fire-golden, fruit of Laurelin, they named the Sun.  But the Noldor named them also Rana, the Wayward, and Vasa, the Heart of Fire, that awakens and consumes; for the Sun was set as a sign for the awakening of Men and the waning of the Elves, but the Moon cherishes their memory.
cliffs and clouds rising above a sea at dawn

It's almost shocking to me to see that the waning of the Elves starts so early.  But the Sun and the Moon are hung in the sky, each steered by a Maiar.  Arien for the Sun and Tilion for the moon.  Arien... is kind of amazing, mightier than her hunter counterpart, a spirit of fire, undecieved by Melkor, and with eyes too bright for even the Eldar to look upon.  As the Sun Melkor dares not come near her and her might.  Like I said, kind of amazing.

The original plan was to have the Moon and the Sun in the sky at the same time, crossing opposed with their lights mingling.  Like many myths of the Sun and the Moon, the path the follow now is the result of an attraction between them.  In this case Tilion, wayard and uncertain in speed, seeks to come near Arien, drawn in by her splendor while yet the flame of Anar scorches him and the Moon itself.  Even when Varda decrees a change in path, a course across and under the world, Tilion's pace remains unsteady.

The withered husks of the trees still stand in Valinor, and while Melkor will not come near the Sun, his failed attacks against Tilion unsettle the Valar.  And so they fortify their home and mount continuous guards, closing all egresses save one, for the Eldar must at times need to breath the air from the land of their birth as carried by the breeze, and for their kin they refuse to sunder entirely from.

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