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Of the Coming of Men Into the West - Rumours of Witchcraft

In which Tolkien explains how the sort-of-Scandinavians got there.

Finrod, lord of the Thousand Caves, had wandered off from a hunting party (given the distances the elves in the Sil cover when they ramble, it strikes me that it would not be unusual enough to be remarked on in elven society for someone to go out one day and return months later) and came across a strange thing in northern Ossirand: groups of campfires on a hill. The scribe makes two very interesting observations here, that Finrod knew the owners of the distant lights were not Laiquendi because those guys "light no fires" (do they eat everything raw? Or is this just a reference to campfires?) but that he had to go look to check they were not orcs, because apparently that's how they sounded.

Orcs sing! We knew that, of course, from Tolkien's tendancy for verse interludes in The Hobbit and LotR, but the idea that they sing like a semi-nomadic people and have some kind of folklore if not history is quite a poignant detail. We will never know what orcs sing about when not singing war songs. Anyway, these guys are humans, and the first ones Finrod has met. Charmed by their almost person-like qualities, Finrod decides these mortals would make good pets, and - effortlessly bypassing those on watch to take up a discarded harp and gently wake the camp with real singing at silly in the morning - adopts them.

There's another mention of thoughtspeak here, and how it (doesn't quite) function between species - before they're mutually intelligable, Finrod can give the humans rough images of things he wishes to convey, particularly through song, and pick up with reasonable accuracy thought-ideas immediately preceeding speech, thereby achieving a reasonable fluency in the humans' Sindar-like trade speech in a remarkably short time. That Finrod, though seemingly allowed by the tribe who now see him as something like a god, could not penetrate human thought any deeper than things immediately about to be spoken argues for fundamentally different minds, to my reasoning. It's a reason I get upset if a book promises me elves then just gives me humans with their ears filed down and maybe some fading complaint.

As more bands of humans migrate over the mountains, the local Laiquendi start to take notice and - assuming they're Finrod's - tell him to do something about them. Finrod persuades his pet tribe to shift over to Noldor land, and the newcomers follow once they discover that approaching these forests with any kind of settler intentions results in resembling a pincushion.

The new collection of humans attracts interest, both from elves of all kinds and Morgoth via his spy rings - it's implied the latter might have made attempts to catch and turn humans into orc-like things (presumably where goblins come from?) and has certainly been exerting his powers to try and prevent their alliance with the elven tribes presently keeping him in check. There's a very unnerving incident recorded in which a 'spy' manages to either perfectly impersonate or possess a chieftain in the middle of a crowd and suggest Melkor is a rumour made up by the Noldor to prevent rebellion (the inclusion of the incident itself appears to be a rebuke to early atheists).

What the Noldor actually appear to be doing to prevent rebellion is very interesting, as in our world it was a standard tactic of Norse warlords to take vassals' children as foster-hostages, wheras the Noldor seem to be picking grown young men specifically as elite guards in the manner of Ghengis Khan. The scribe-viewpoint glosses over a lot of the implications of this and the later founding of semi-governed reservations for humans to prevent their widescale spread into Western Sindar/Eastern Teleri territory.

Melian, whose girdle of magic protects most of these lands, doomfully prophecises that a mortal will eventually cross her barrier on the momentum of Doom more powerful than she. There's a great mini-saga here about a ?Finn-like population led by a fierce shieldmaiden called Haleth, which I can't really do justice to and you need to re/read. My points of interest are that Haleth was apparently raised as a warrior/boy because she was a twin (is this the Noldor mythological concept as twins as half-people again? Was her brother part-raised with feminine-coded duties? Or simply a kink in inheritance via primogeniture?) as her people's women don't fight. Also that she turned down an offer to be Caranthir's pet to his face after he'd saved the beseiged remnants of her people from orcs. Considering how much of his father's fire that particular Fëanorian inherited, that is godsdamn Awesome.


Oh, and mention of orcs habitually "devouring" humans killed in battle. Poor bastards must be hungry...with the lack of much evidence for orcish agriculture in this era, it seems constant hunger would have been a defining orcish trait. Some begottery follows, with a mythological precedent for the name 'Boromir' - that is some deep worldbuilding there.

Amusingly, humans' occasional restlessness under their Noldor masters is attributed by the scribe (of an elf-centric document, never forget) to the Curse's effect of causing factioning.

Date: 2/3/16 23:36 (UTC)
wispywillow: (girl blowing hair)
From: [personal profile] wispywillow
My goal is to start the first chapter this weekend.

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