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XV - Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin

Yet another thing oft forgotten by those that criticise Tolkien for the acts of his imitators was that there was a time when the Dark Lord won.

Not for lack of opposition. )

Nor without exception. )

Orcs are eating everything. Dark days settle in, and even the "outlaws" left in the worst-hit areas are whittled down to one man, called Beren.


...another long-long post: this one should probably have been two, but it would have messed with my numbering. Hopefully it makes sense, since between this cold and very little sleep of late I'm not sure I do.
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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.

They walked! )

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.
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XIII - Of Maeglin - Child of Darkness

Ah, Maeglin. My second-favourite skinny elven traitor with a black sword. He wasn't always that way, though, which is why the Sil devotes an entire chapter to his screwed-up upbringing.

Of Maeglin's Parents )

The last few paragraphs note how damn hard Maeglin struggled to ignore the curse in reaching adulthood and working for Gondolin, doing his best to gain all he set his hopes on and avoid even the faint temptation of treason. That and how his incestuous heart was a seed of evil within the City of White Trees.

Long post is long. I didn't even get onto thoughtspeak and Maeglin's verbalising issues...
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XII - Of the Noldor in Beleriand - A Forbidden Tongue

Turgon starts building his city in the secret Good Place in the mountains. He calls it Ondolindë, 'singing-water-rock-place' because of the sound of the cataracts through the canyons at its lower approach, and it promptly enters Sindarin legends as the supposedly mythical Gondolin ('a hidden rock').

Bilingual puns aside... )

Finrod is doing well with his tunnel city, too, though when Galadriel comes over to help (/avoid Thingol) and asks her eldest brother if he plans to marry now he has a home the scribe casts his negative reply as a foreboding that this place too will pass.

Oddly enough, the same line is used to mention the Noldor's losses amidst their gains and city-founding: the girl Finrod would have asked, if they came of age together, was a Vanyar and never left the Light.
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XI - Of Beleriand and its Realms - Wood and Pasture

This is one of those chapters where Tolkien pretty much tells you to draw a map. Someday, I would actually like to go over it with copies of his drawings and a map of pre-Flood northwest Europe, though I'm sure such work has been done far better elsewhere. At any rate, unless you have cartographic equipment to hand it's best to read lightly over this chapter rather than memorising precise directions until the brain squeaks.

Some general impressions )

Mention is also made of the possibility of wandering across the entirety of Ossiriand without seeing any of the resident Laiquendi, something I've always loved about the Green-Elves. They're there all right, but they feel no social pressure to interact or even clump together outside of festivals. Or be nice to dwarves.
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X - Of the Return of the Noldor - Kindred Reunited

Morgoth hears a bunch of Noldor have arrived from over the sea (quite literally, as they landed in the Echo Hills where all loud noises pick up the ghost of his scream).

He's not too concerned )

The Noldor get tips on crops and share new technology. Dubious relationships with local dwarves are established. People start observing festivals once more, with the nobility briefly gathering in one place now and then. Things are quiet again, in a way that can't last.

*it's noted later in the chapter that those raised in the Blessed Lands tend to be bigger, stronger and incidentally tend to darker colouration than the dark elves bred in the star-forests...not what Morgoth's dark-bred orcs were expecting at all.
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IX - Of The Sindar - Meanwhile by Starlight

Some mention of what the elves of the darkened young world have been doing in the long-by-mythtime-standards gap between their relations heading West and the fall of the Trees.

About what you'd expect )

Of The Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor )

Of Men )

The first mention of mortal dominance in days to come is entered here, bringing the 'sickly', prey-like attributes of the first humans encountered by elves, and the sharp-edged vigour of the ancient elves into starker contrast.
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VIII - Of The Flight of the Noldor - Swearing Bloody Murder

It takes a while for the Dark to clear a little, leaving plain old darkness in its wake. The First Light now exists in only one place: Fëanor's Shinies.
Uh oh. )

Back over the water, Fingolfin realises his elder brother has ditched the lot of them and grinds his teeth on his oath of loyalty for a bit before ordering his kith and kin, the remnant of the rebel Noldor, into a nigh-suicidal march across the Great Ice. He stamps along at the head of the column, nominally to test the ice, but presumably in fact due to the strangth of his cold-burning desire to catch up with Fëanor and throttle him.
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VII. Of the Darkening of Valinor - A Devouring Shadow

Doubling back to throw off pursuit by the enforcer-Valar who assume he's heading for his old haunts, Melkor heads southeast out into the dark, and digs out Ungoliant, the All-Devourer.

Read more... )

The scribe tantalisingly mentions some (non-existent in RL) texts lamenting the first shock of Tree-loss...and it would be a major trauma to immortals, so much life and beauty gone at once, for the first time. By the time everyone's stopped panicking/stort-circuiting from routine-loss after long adaptation, the villians are long gone in a cloud of Dark.
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VI. - Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor - Viper in the Empty Den

Estranged from and no longer restrained by Nerdanel, Fëanor turned that star-burning soul and ferocious talent of his to making shiny things.

Enter the Silmarils )

Everyone knows he'll be back, however; so ended the age of innocence in Aman.

Gosh, that was a lot for a tiny chapter.
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V. Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor - A Flame and a Shadow

Once upon a time, there was a boy whose father wanted to call him Finwë's-Skill and whose mother, dying of the effort of bringing him forth, named Spirit-of-Fire, and he was forevermore known as the latter, because it was true.

Spirit of Fire )

Seven sons. With the inalienable ability to build trebuchets. Much as the Fëanorians' confidence in their self-sufficiency later cost the Noldor, I can see why Nerdanel and/or the inhabitants of Tirion apparently sent them off camping as far away as possible with great regularity.
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IV - Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië - Named Elves Settling

More on transposed islands, geneologies and the vital importance of shiny things.

Read more... )
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III. - Of The Beginning of Days: An Unshaped World

This post actually covers from the above chapter through to Of Thingol and Melian, containing a lot of worldbuilding ramble.

Of The Beginning of Days )

Of and Aulë and Yavanna )

Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor )

Of Thingol and Melian )

*this is the first time we see song as world-shaping magic whilst within the world: the necessary shamanic counterweight to smith-worship tends to be underplayed, but it's there.
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II. - Valaquenta: Named Gods Working

Wherein the names, aspects and affiliations of the Valar are given, and Melkor discounted from their number.

Read more... )

Probably going to do the next four scene-setting mini-chapters at once, since they're thematically linked.
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In an attempt to make words happen - and even better, words about elves - I am going to be posting a commentary series whilst reading the Silmarillion. It may not be comprehensable to non-fans, and may additionally contain references to Nerriméan perspectives which will confuse those of you who haven't encountered my deep-elves; you have been warned.

Capitalised Concepts ahoy.

I - Ainulindalë : Gods Singing

Wherin One externalises His thoughts and has them sing a world for Him. Introducing Melkor, who mistakes the harmony of perfection for a really really long Black Metal intro, gets bored of it and attempts to launch into a solo with power chords, thereby dooming Creation.

Read more... )

Next up, the Valaquenta, then into the Slimarillion proper.

*Tolkien specifically notes that the Valar have gender even when they wear no flesh, so we assume One identifies as and thus is male. Whilst a few Christians are known to believe their God is literally a male entity and the Western gender binary was so entrenched in the era of writing he may have thought Eru had to be one or the other, I think this is JRRT quietly practicing his theory of sub-creation. That is, implying that whilst Eru may be a shade or reflection of Tolkien's own Catholic God, as many a monotheist holds the better aspects of other peoples' gods to be, Eru isn't quite the Infinite/omnipotent and shouldn't be absoloutely equated with It/Him.
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