We did it, everyone! We’re more than halfway through our discussion of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. To those of you have survived the journey, you rock. You have been a wonderful Fellowship, and there is no way I would have got this far in the book without all of you. I think our patience has paid off because this week’s chapters take an even more dramatic turn as Morgoth comes back into the picture.
Chapter 17 – Of the Coming of Men Into the West
Look out Elves, the Men are coming! They wandered into Beleriand, and when Felagund encountered them for the first time, he couldn’t help but love them… and sing for them. I admire that he stepped in and essentially acted towards the humans as the Valar acted towards the Elves in the beginning. He helped them, taught them, and stole their leader Bëor. Okay, he didn’t kidnap him, but Bëor left when Felagund did.
The groups of the Edain (I prefer that word to Men) who traveled into Beleriand made homes across the land. They were friendly with Elves, and many of the Edain served the Elves. But grumpy old King Thingol wouldn’t have any of it. He was as unwelcoming as ever. Maybe his home was really dirty and he was embarrassed about having new guests? I like that explanation more than him being so protective and distrusting.
As the Edain settled in their new home, Morgoth stirred. He wanted to turn the Edain against the Eldar because he still hasn’t and never will get over his hatred of them. He also sent out his Orcs, and some of the first Edain to feel his wrath were the Haladin. Here we meet a woman who is my new favorite character: Haleth.
Her father and twin brother were slain by Orcs, and she rose to fight and to hold the Haladin together. She became their chief and took them farther West, eventually living in the Forest of Brethil. She never wed, and she defended their home against Orcs and sounds completely awesome.
Lady Haleth by shyangell
One other item of note occurred: the Elves saw Bëor perish of old age. It was the first time they saw death happen in this fashion, and it seemed to make an impression.
Chapter 18 – Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin
You have to love how the spoilers are in the chapter titles. Until we hit Fingolfin’s death, I spent most of the time worrying about how it would happen. It was at the hands of Morgoth, as he decided he was over waiting and that it was time for serious offensive actions. Beginning with the Battle of Sudden Flame, war gripped the lands near Angband. Fingolfin died in a courageous but also stupid single combat against Morgoth. Sauron took Minas Tirith by assault, and Beleriand seems to be a dimmer place.
The layout of Beleriand means some areas were left untouched. Gondolin was clearly tucked away and hidden from the battle, but Thorondor (one of the eagles) sort of ruined that by taking Huor and Húrin there. I’m confused as why Thorondor took them to Gondolin as opposed to anywhere else that is not a secret location in Beleriand, but the action ultimately led to others becoming aware of a hidden city – including Morgoth. Oops.
Among the battles between the Edain and Eldar against Morgoth, one character in particular jumped out at me: another female warrior. Emeldir the Manhearted armed the women and children among Barahir’s people and led them to safety. It reminds me of Eowyn of Rohan and reading about both her and Haleth makes me wonder why Tolkien seemed to feature less women in his other Middle-earth stories.
Fingolfin and Morgoth by juliedillon
Relevance to The Hobbit and/or Lord of the Rings
I only picked up a couple of references to the Lord of the Rings in the latest chapter. We learn about Morgoth wielding a giant mace called Grond in his fight against Fingolfin. When the Orcs attacked the gates of Minas Tirith in The Return of the King, their battering ram was also named Grond.
The text touched briefly on the ancestors of Númenor and the origin of their common tongue.
“’A darkness lies behind us,’ Bëor said; ‘and we have turned our backs upon it, and we do not desire to return thither even in thought. Westwards our hearts have been turned, and we believe that there we shall find Light.’”
“Fingolfin gleamed beneath it as a star; for his mail was overlaid with silver, and his blue shield was set with crystals, and he drew his sword Ringil that glittered like ice.”
“’We took long roads, desiring to escape the people of Middle-earth and the dark things that dwell there; for we heard that there was Light in the West. But now we learn that the Light is beyond the Sea. Thither we cannot come where the Gods dwell in bliss. Save one; for the Lord of the Dark is here before us, and the Eldar, wise but fell, who make endless war upon him. In the North he dwells, they say; and there is the pain and death from which we fled. We will not go that way.’”
“To corrupt of destroy whatsoever arose new and fair was ever the chief desire of Morgoth; and doubtless he had this purpose also in his errand: by fear and lies to make Men the foes of the Eldar, and bring hem up out of the east against Beleriand.”
Turgon by MatsumotoSensei
– Bëor left his people to go with Felagund. Was it selfish of him?
– We see another instance of Melian keeping information from Thingol. Why do you think she hid her vision about one of the Men coming through the Girdle?
– Was Amlach lying about being present at the meeting, or was it a trick of Morgoth’s?
– Witnessing the death of Men hit the Elves pretty hard. Do you think avoiding witnessing the decline of old age had anything to do with why they pulled away?
– After the way Thingol has refused to assist others (except for giving the Haladin the forest of Brethil), do you think any would be willing to help him if Doriath fell under attack?
Have answers for the discussion questions, more questions, or favorite quotes? Whatever you’re feeling about Chapters 17-18 of The Silmarillion, share it with us in the comments! You can hit me up on on Twitter as well. If you do tweet or make any other social media posts about the book, be sure to add the #NerdistBookClub hashtag so everyone can find your thoughts.
One more thing: what would a book club be without prizes? If you’re still with me, come over to Twitter and let me know, and I’ll send you a virtual sticker.
Come back for Part 8 next Tuesday, August 26, at 10:30am PST. It’s all about Chapter 19 and Beren and Lúthien.
Top image: Huor and Hurin Approaching Gondolin by DonatoArts