Why You Probably Shouldn’t Read The Silmarillion (Part III)

Welcome back to sj Reads The Silmarillion So You Don’t Have To…or something.  We left off with Melkor and Ungoliant destroying the Poo Two Trees and traveling to Formenos to steal the Silmarils.

By the way, I COMPLETELY realize that I’m cutting things pretty close, since we’re starting The Hobbit on Saturday.  This was my face when I realized how much I still have to talk about:

Anyway.  Picking up where we left off.

Quenta Silmarillion

(the Tale of the Silmarils)

(continued)

Soooooooo, Big Baddie Melkor and Ungoliant get to Formenos, kill Finwë (King of the Noldor, ‘member?) and abscond with the jewels.  They then travel back to Middle-Earth, where Melkor refuses to hand the Silmarils over to Ungoliant.  She gets all pissy cos he reneged on their deal and binds him up in her Spidery Webs of Doom.  Melkor shouts out “Hile Gunslingers Balrogs!  To me!” and the Balrogs all come pouring out of Utumno to rescue his ass.  He then sets up a secondary fortress (further north) and re-establishes his Evil Empire from Angband and places the Silmarils in his crown, even though he’s so evil that they’ve already burned his hands black.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Fëanor renames Melkor Morgoth and incites a riot cos his daddy was killed and the Silmarils were stolen.  He blames the Valar for failing to protect them, and convinces most of the Noldor to leave Valinor and launch an attack upon Morgoth (and anyone else stupid enough to try to withhold the Silmarils from them).

The Noldor try to convince the Teleri to leave with them, but they refuse.  Fëanor orders that the magic ships be taken by force, and many of the Teleri are slaughtered (this is later referred to as the Kinslaying).  On their journey back to Middle-Earth, they’re confronted by Mandos (one of the Valar) and he puts a curse on them all for being such stabby asshats and killing their brethren.

Finarfin and Fingolfin (younger brothers of Fëanor) have second (maybe third) thoughts about this whole thing.  They weren’t present for the Kinslaying and once they heard that they were being cursed, they were all “Whoa now.  We’re only here for our kids.”  Finarfin turns back with a small band of followers.  His daughter Galadriel stays with her uncle Fingolfin, only to have Fëanor decide that he needs ALL THE SHIPS, so Fingolfin, Galadriel and the rest of HIS followers are forced to make their way to Middle-Earth across the Ice Wastes of Helcaraxë.

Back in Middle-Earth – remember how I mentioned that the Sindarin didn’t make the trek to Valinor cos their King (Thingol) was lost in the woods?  Well, eventually he was found, and the Sindar set up the kingdom of Doriath.

The Seven Father Dwarves are released from their slumber.  Durin, the oldest of the dwarves, creates the great fortress of Khazad-dûm under and through the Misty Mountains.  Other dwarven cities are founded far to the west in the Blue Mountains.  The dwarves of Belegost were the first to forge chain-mail and often traded weapons with the Sindarin.

Dude. It was a long nap.

Morgoth decides he needs more room for his evil-doings and sets siege to Doriath.  There are several battles.  First he sends out two armies of orcs and Thingol is forced to create the Girdle of Melian, which is kind of like a magical force field around the kingdom.  Second battle, Fëanor arrives and the Sindarin work with the Noldor to roust the orcs from Doriath.  Fëanor is still all full of righteous fury, though, so he chases after the retreating armies and is killed by Balrogs.

Now, I’m sure you’re all saying “Wait just a second here, sj.  WTS are these orcs you’re on about now?  We haven’t heard of them before.”  Well…the story of the orcs gets more confusing the more Tolkien you read.  There are SO MANY different origin stories because he couldn’t make up his damn mind about where they came from.  Since we’re discussing The Silmarillion, we’ll go with the following story:

All those of the Quendi who came into the hands of Melkor, ere Utumno was broken, were put there in prison, and by slow arts of cruelty were corrupted and enslaved; and thus did Melkor breed the hideous race of the Orcs in envy and mockery of the Elves, of whom they were afterwards the bitterest foes.

So, for our purposes, we’re going to go with orcs were once elves until Melkor and Sauron got their dirty little hands on them.

‘kay.  Back in Valinor, the Valar are unable to bring back the Poo Two Trees.  They take the only remaining piece of fruit and the one remaining leaf and use those to create the Sun and the Moon.

Morgoth and his minions don’t care for the light of the sun, so they’re forced to hide in the dark and the clouds.

Around this time, Men appear.

The Noldor set up various kingdoms, which are ruled by the descendents of Fëanor, Finarfin and Fingolfin.  They choose not to tell the Sindarin about the Kinslaying and subsequent cursing, but of course Thingol finds out.  He decrees that no Noldor shall set foot in Doriath, and bans the use of their language in his kingdom.

After about 50 years, Morgoth decides that the time is ripe once more to attack the elves.  He picks the Noldor, believing them to be weak.  Fingolfin was totally ready for him, though, and his forces defeated Morgoth’s in the third battle (called Dragor Aglareb or Glorious Battle).  They pursued the orcs to the gates of Angbard, completely destroyed the orcs forces and laid siege to Angbard itself…that lasted for FOUR HUNDRED YEARS.  [sigh]

Morgoth sent small sorties out around the Noldor to try to take care of the rest of those pesky elves a few times over the next few hundred years, including once a dragon called Glaurung (he’s the first of the fire breathing dragons in Middle-Earth, they’re sometimes called Urulóki).  Glaurung is young, though, and he’s sent home crying thanks to Fingon and his archers.

I'm pretty sure this is almost exactly what it looked like.

I’m pretty sure this is almost exactly what it looked like.

The period that follows is referred to as The Long Peace, and it lasted for two hundred years.

You just knew that Morgoth was biding his time, though, right?  He starts the warring again in the FOURTH battle, Dragor Bragollach (The Battle of Sudden Flame) and Glaurung comes back out to play, but this time he’s fully grown and a force to be reckoned with.

Fingolfin got pissed.  “HEY, MORGOTH, YOU CAN’T JUST SLAUGHTER MY PEOPLE BECAUSE YOU’RE A DICK!  WHY DON’T YOU COME OUT AND FIGHT LIKE A MAN?!”

Even though Morgoth didn’t really want to, he couldn’t turn down that challenge.  Fingolfin got a few hits in but Morgoth was stronger.  As he was crushing Fingolfin under his foot, Fingolfin got one last strike in and managed to maim the evil one’s foot.

Morgoth was about to feed Fingolfin’s body to his wolves, but the KING OF THE GIANT EAGLES (Thorondor) swooped in, gouged Morgoth’s face a few times, then took Fingolfin’s body away to be buried properly.

The wounds inflicted by Fingolfin and Thorondor never healed, so Morgoth was all scarry and limpy after that.

16 years later, Men and the Noldor band together for one last assault on Morgoth.  This final battle (Nírnaeth Arnoediad or The Battle of Unnumbered Tears) did not end well for the good guys.  Morgoth had so many orcs that the elves and men were completely outnumbered.  Glaurung led the charge and the forces of Noldor were crushed.  Morgoth killed or captured the elf-lords and declared himself to be King of the North.

Okay, let’s pause on a down-note.  I’m going to do my best to finish this up tomorrow, but you may get two more posts.  Not sure yet.  ;)

Related Reading

Why You Probably Shouldn’t Read the Silmarillion

32 thoughts on “Why You Probably Shouldn’t Read The Silmarillion (Part III)

    • [phew] I was worried that everyone else would think this part was super boring. I’m trying to keep it from being incredibly dry, but this was work.

      • I don’t doubt that *reading* the book was a slog. But, your summaries are great, especially because no one’s family tree is ever particularly compelling reading, even if it is filled with orcs. This is also making me less annoyed at the references Tolkien makes in the book I’m reading now but shouldn’t be yet about stuff that happened “before” but that he doesn’t “have time” to talk about now. ;-)

  1. It’s kind of hard to feel Feänor’s righteous fury when he’s willing to slaughter the Teleri AND steal their ships. Like Morgoth is an unmitigated tool, sure, but the Elves are better how, in this instance? I especially love the depiction here of poor lil’ Glaurung.

    • He’s all YOU KILLED MY DADDY, YOU BASTARDS! But, yeah, killing your cousins, stealing their ships, then abandoning the people who were following you anyway on the Grinding Ice? Kind of dick moves all around, Feänor. <.<

      • And Mandos is all like, OK, we were going to give you a pass, because your fancy jewels now preserve the last light anywhere of the Pooh/Two Trees, but I mean COME ON MAN, now I gotta curse you.

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  3. Dang sj, you have done so well with summarizing this – I’m in awe! This book of hefty and you’ve made it flow really well. Mad props to you, lady!! (Oh, and I love the crying dragon picture. Is that My Little Pony?)

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