Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reading YouTube Comments

Today I was on YouTube when I saw a video with a picture of Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn as the thumbnail.  Intrigued, I clicked on it and was led to the video "5 Famous Movies That Don't Mean What You Think" by the channel called Cracked.

Towards the end, the video talked about The Lord of the Rings "trilogy" (sigh):

"Written in the 1950s about many countries teaming up to fight the army of wizard Hitler...The Lord of the Rings is about World War II, right?  Wrong.  It's about the evil of trying to cheat death; an evil that spreads through: Isildur, Gollum, the Nazgul, Sauron.  But death reaches all, even Sauron's giant angry fire eyeball.  Which is also why good characters graciously accept death more or less."

Normally I would be uncomfortable with a video making such a broad generalization about the story such as asserting that the main point of the story is the theme of death.  But at least they debunked the WWII myth (which Tolkien was adamantly against) and they did succeed in pointing out at least one important theme.

What really perplexed me were the comments people left.

The first comment is pretty much right on!  There are a couple themes he left out, but that is not a big deal.  I'm just glad Tolkein's allegory views were pointed out. 

But quickly (and unsurprisingly) the comments become very, very wrong.

The third reply seems to say that there is nothing deeper than the story itself.  I could be wrong (maybe that's not what the author meant) but if it is, it is incorrect.  Of course there is more to the story than just the events, but people do have to be careful to assign themes that do not belong.

I am so happy with WranDm's reply, however.  It was exactly right!  The reason that there are similarities between WWII and The Lord of the Rings is because both stories share a common denominator: human themes.  WWII might have lessons to be learned about power, and so does The Lord of the Rings, but the latter's is not derived from the former's.

The next comment totally caught me off guard.  I have never heard of any comparisons between Jewish people and dwarves.  Apparently people seem to think that because the dwarves are greedy they represent wealthy Jews during WWII.  But if that were true, wouldn't the dwarves be sent to camps by Sauron?  Wouldn't they be murdered?  They're not!  This is very far fetched.

But then, it gets even weirder when someone suggests that Tolkien's wife was Jewish.  That is just an incorrect fact.  His wife was Protestant prior to her conversion to Catholicism and their marriage.  It is true that Tolkien loved Jews though from when he said (to German publishers ascertaining that he was not Jewish and was Aryan): "But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people." (From the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien).  Clearly he held Jewish people in high regard and would not portray them as money-hungry dwarves.

The next comment talks about The Chronicles of Narnia, and as far as I am aware, Tolkien did have a certain level of dislike for it since it was a clear allegory.  And it is true that while Tolkien does not have one to one substitutions in his work, there are still elements of his faith in it--how could there not be?  It was a big part of who he was and what his views were.

People can twist Tolkien's work around in order for it to say whatever they want.  I'm sure I'm not the only fan who is frustrated when they see comments like this on public forums.  It is comments like this that wish that I had a YouTube account so I could set the record straight.  What do you think of these comments?

A quick note: I have nothing against the author's of these comments, and I'm glad that they shared their views!  I would encourage them to read up on the subject so they can make informed decisions about the themes in The Lord of the Rings as I will continue to do :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Lego Lord of the Rings Wii Game

My sister gave me the Lego Lord of the Rings video game for the Wii for Christmas!

I have never actually played a Lego video game, so I didn't know what to expect.  Like the 2002 EA Two Towers video game I have for Gamecube, it started off by going through the movie and stopping when there was action.  The training sequence was actually exactly the same: you start off as a character at the Battle of the Last Alliance.  One interesting thing about this game is it is multi-player.  Also, you can hurt people on your own team.  For instance, I accidentally kept hitting my sister who was playing with me and she actually lost some life power.

After a while battling Sauron (which was really awesome!) and running up Mt. Doom to throw the Ring into the fire (as Isildur and Elrond), we finally got to play as Sam and Frodo and go exploring around the Shire!  This is my favorite part of the game so far.  We collected coins and wandered around the Party Field.  Eventually we realized we were supposed to be collecting maps and other objects in order to advance to the next level.

We ended it up in Farmer Maggot's crop and met Merry and Pippin.  There was even a Lego scythe chasing us!

Then the story line split between the Ringwraiths chasing us and the wizard battle between Gandalf and Saruman at Orthanc.  I played Gandalf while my sister became Frodo.

Obviously I haven't gotten very far into the game, but so far it has been really fun.  I must confess that I am not the best (at this or any video games...) but I still have a good time playing it, which is the mark of a good video game. 

Oh, Thranduil

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Netherlands

Wow!  This city in the Netherlands has streets named after characters from Middle-earth:

Isn't that just the coolest thing?  If you could name a street after a character, who would you choose?  I would of course go with Idril Celebrindal.  Wouldn't it be so amazing to live on one of those streets?  Imagine your address: 123 Gandalf Lane or something like that.  I just thought this was so amazing and I wanted to share it with you.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Character Quiz

Which Lord of the Rings character are you?  I put together a short quiz so you can see which of the fellowship you are most like.

Because of the strange tendencies of Google Forms, I am not able to give you your results right away which is a pity, but I will post all of the results in the comments section of this article as soon as I tally them up (probably sometime the next day).  Make sure to leave your screen name with your submission so you can tell what your results are.  Good luck!

And for those of you hungry for more quizzes, take this one to find out which character from The Silmarillion you are!

(Sorry, this poll has been closed!)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Tales from Valinor: Authenticity

Okay, so I realized that this whole "Tale from Valinor" thing might not really make much sense.  I'm not exactly clear on how the whole sailing to Valinor/dying and returning to Valinor/going to the Halls of Mandos etc. really works.  I guess my original notion was that elves would be reincarnated once they died and would live out the rest of the days in Valinor until the final song of the Ainur after a brief repose in the Halls of Mandos.  But after reading some stuff about how Finrod Felagund was one of the only known instances where this happened, I got kind of confused about how it would all work.  For example, would it be possible for Idril and Frodo to ever meet?  Or would Idril live in the Halls of Mandos until the final song?

Also I read directly from Tolkien that Galadriel (for sure, I'm not sure about others descended from the Noldor) would only be allowed to go to Tol Eressea.  Does this mean elves like Legolas and Elrond would not be allowed to Valinor?  Did Frodo actually go to Valinor or Tol Eressea?

There are numerous opinions on this subject and I'm planning on doing some research about what exactly happens when elves die or sail into the west.  In any case, it is difficult to say for sure that these meetings between Frodo and other famous elves could theoretically transpire.  If anyone has a source in favor or against this idea, please let me know!  I try to make my fanfiction as accurate as possible (though I do stray at times like I mentioned with the Palantir incident) and this would be a valuable piece of information.

The bottom line is that I don't want to go on with these tales until I know that they are authentically based in until I have that all straightened out there will be no more tales.  That doesn't mean there won't be more fan fiction...I am hoping to start writing some new ones, just maybe without the whole Valinor part.  I am kind of bummed though because I really did like that template.

Also, producing one fanfic each week might not work into my schedule, so I may have to reduce my number...quality over quantity!  Anyway, sorry to everyone expecting a tale...but good things are worth waiting for I suppose!

So what do you think?  Is the whole question of the accuracy kind of irrelevant?  Is it really that important to be technically correct or should I just keep going even though it may not be completely authentic?  Do you know anything about where elves go and he whole Tol Eressea/Valinor issue?  Please let me know what you think the next step should be.  Thank you!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Six and a Half Months Ago Today...

I would have been enjoying the feeling of having the windows open and being able to go outside without any shoes on.  The sun would probably still be out now casting it's last summery rays on my house.

But something important happened six and a half months ago on this day.

One June 11th, 2015 I posted my very first article on this here blog, called My Lord of the Rings Journey.  On that day I had no views, no comments, no followers.  I had no pictures up, I was not following any other blogs and I only had one post.

Little by little I raked in a few views, and I remember one day I saw that I had gotten a view all the way from Indonesia.  I was thrilled and I kept posting every day.  Soon enough I got my first comment (that wasn't from my friend who commented to make me feel better).  I quickly followed my first blog, then another and another until I was really in the network.  Comments kept coming in, posts kept going out, and views kept going up.

Now I think it is time to look back on my blog and how far it has gone from the time when I started.

3,056 views from the U.S., Russia, Germany, France, Canada, Ukraine, Romania, the Netherlands, Poland, and Australia.

5 followers who I am very grateful for.

and 253 comments on

271 posts.

This may not seem like a lot to some people and indeed my friends are perplexed as to why I keep posting everyday.  But people reading this blog and taking the time to listen to my thoughts and even comment really makes all the time I put into it more than worth it.

I guess I just wanted to dedicate this post to all the wonderful readers who inspire me to keep going on this blog and thank them for all they do.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Mereth Veren e-Doled Eruion!

"Joyous Feast of the Coming of the Son of God" or as I like to say, Merry Christmas.

I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday and are able to spend time with your friends, family, and God on this happy celebration.  

As for my Christmas morning, it went swimmingly and I was so blessed to receive a fair amount of gifts from my generous family.  I have a pretty big immediate family, so I usually get presents from each of them and since I'm the youngest I have always gotten the most!  

I guess my family decided this was the year of Lord of the Rings (or maybe they caught onto the fact I talk about it all the time) and so a large portion of my gifts were related somehow to it.  I wanted to share some of them with you, and here they are!

First up is The Art of the Lord of the Rings which looks like it has a lot of the maps and drawings that Tolkien himself did for his books and to make his world appear more real.  It is in beautiful hardback with a gorgeous jacket and it has full color glossy photos.  

I also got the most beautiful book I have ever owned: Tolkien's translation of the Old English poem Beowulf.  It too is hardcover with a jacket and I am really excited to jump right in--though it does look like a challenge.  This one is definitively going on display on my bookshelf.

I also got a softcover book by Peter J. Kreeft called The Philosophy of Tolkien which looks really interesting.  I picked it up just to scan over a page to see what it was like, and before I knew it I had already read through the entire introduction!

I got a paperback copy of The Children of Hurin, illustrated by Alan Lee which is of course, fabulous.  I really had my heart set on a hardcover edition, and so I might pitch in with my own money to upgrade it.  

My brother got me a paperback compilation of all kinds of Old and Middle English poems and sagas including The Wanderer, a huge influence to Tolkien which I am eager to start.  I have a few books on deck before I can jump into those ones, but I am going as fast as I can!

I got Lego Lord of the Rings for the Wii from my sister.  I didn't know they still made games for the original movies (I thought they only made them for The Hobbit), so I am planning on starting in on it this afternoon.

I got two T-shirts, one with The Fellowship on it, and one with the White Tree of Gondor on it.  I am really hoping that people might see the shirts and strike up a conversation about Lord of the Rings with me...I'm sure that there are some people around me who I don't even know are fans!  

It was a wonderful and blessed Christmas for everyone and I am really thankful to all of the people who gave me these gifts.  And I am also thankful to all you readers out there for making this blog possible, and I hope that you are all having a great Christmas.  Mereth Veren e-Doled Eruion!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Magic: The Gathering

I was looking around the internet and I stumbled across a very interesting Reddit page.  It was run by someone who created 230 Lord of the Rings Magic: The Gathering Cards!

I think it is safe to say that I have fully crossed into nerd territory.

For those of you unfamiliar with Magic: The Gathering, it is a card game which features different creatures and combatants you can buy using your land resources and use to attack the opposing player(s).  You can also buy and cast enchantments which affect how the creatures are able to attack and defend.  Each card comes with fairly complicated rules and stipulations and so only the most patient and dedicated (and generally nerdy) players are successful.

My brother was really into Magic and so he has a few sets of the infamously expensive cards that my sister and I use to play.

When I saw they had Lord of the Rings themed magic cards, I was completely floored!

Isn't this the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?
Unfortunately, the cards are not compatible with other Magic: The Gathering Sets so you can only play with someone who has the exact same set as you.  Also, they are not licensed official Magic: The Gathering cards, so you can't actually buy them.  I'm thinking you could print and laminate them yourself though if you wanted.  There are so many beautiful cards with all of my favorite characters, and you should check them out here.

Just so you guys know, I'm going to be having a pretty low-key Christmas, so I probably will end up posting tomorrow.  But I get that a lot of you probably won't be around to read it, so for those people, have a very, very merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Of the Tolkien Society

So yesterday I stumbled across the Tolkien Society website and fell in love.

I had always known about it, but I never really gave it a second thought.  I forget the exact reason, but somehow I ended up there and it blew my mind.   I was reading and rereading each blog post, checking each and every event, and basically I went through the entire website devouring every bit of knowledge I could.

Their blog is amazing with lots of society members contributing to create a fantastic atmosphere and they had a lot of unique takes on any given Tolkien subject.  The people there really know what they are talking about.

I love all of their events and I think about what I wouldn't give to be able to go to Oxonmoot, their biggest event and celebration of Tolkien.  But they have little things too, like the birthday toast to Professor Tolkien on January 3rd (which I am marking as soon as I get my new 2016 calendar!).

They even have their own magazines--two actually.  They have Mallorn which is a yearly publication and Amon Hen which is bimonthly.  Oh how I wish I was a member so I could get those!  It's too late to put it on my Christmas list, but maybe I can save up enough to be a member in the future.

But what really intrigued me was it's material on education, paper writing and essays.  They have a whole section filled with free materials to help teachers and students alike with academic research on Tolkien.  They have so many great ideas that I hope to use some of them to write my own essays which I can post here.

They linked me to a number of different blogs and websites which I promptly bookmarked including:

Houghten Mifflin- which has a whole course devoted to the wonderful work that is The Lord of the Rings
Waymeet For Tolkien Teachers- which is a resource for teachers aiming to teach concepts through Lord of the Rings
The LOTR Project Blog- all kinds of things about Lord of the Rings; data about hobbit names and ages, hand-drawn maps, family trees, quotes, anything you can conceive Lord of the Rings related
Middle-earth- Another blog about Lord of the Rings that answers your questions and thoughts

Inspired to find other LOTR websites, I also came across J.R.R. Tolkien's Facebook page run by his publishers.

I hope you enjoy exploring the sites as much as I did!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Two Towers Video Game

In the depth of my basement where no man dares go,
Property Newline Cinema
There are sometimes fun things; like a toy or plastic bow.
Today as I went into the darkness of the house,
I wasn't expecting anything, except perhaps a stray mouse.
I opened the door carefully; it squeaked,
and took a deep breath before taking a peek.

Inside of the chest a golden treasure lay hid,
And my breath caught in my throat--really, it did!
As I pulled it out I was delighted to see
What looked like a brand new Two Towers DVD!
A video game for the Gamecube, it was,
I clutched it close, breathed and took a pause.
I read the instructions, pulled out the system,
And soon I was mashing buttons like a madman.

Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, it's your pick,
If video games are your thing, this one will make you tick!
I battled the Ringwraiths upon Weathertop,
And fought my way to Moria, who says I have to stop?

Ah yes, the 2001 Gamecube.
Not even the nerdiest of my game
systems, that would fall on the
Nintendo 64 (which also
happens to be my favorite)

So today I was just looking around in my basement, like the poem says, when I came across this video game--one of my brother's old things.  I was shocked and amazed and of course I put it right into the Gamecube! The first scenes of the Fellowship movie flashed on the screen to my delight.  Suddenly, the shots of the Last Alliance turned into video game format and I was tasked with fighting as Isildur against the orcs of Mordor.  Next I became Aragorn fighting to defend Frodo on Weathertop.  I'll have you know I killed five Ringwraiths and it only took me ten different attempts.  

I am really excited to play the rest of this game because so far it is really awesome.  Right now I am at the gates of Moria prepared to hash it out with the watcher in the water.  Until next time, my friends!
(Runs to controller shouting a war cry in epic fashion) 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Tree of Gondor Pillow

I love the Tree of Gondor and so when I saw this pillow I decided to spend the last of my Amazon giftcard on it.

It came today right in the time zone (between Dec. 17 and Jan. 6).  It is really large!  The first thing I noticed about it was it's color though.  It is not quite it's vibrant blue like you see in the picture but more of a dusty gray color.  It is so big I don't know what kind of pillow will fit it, but I can probably double up a normal sleeping pillow and shove that inside.

When I originally bought it for $10.26 I thought it would be an actual pillow and it wasn't until after that I realized it was just the case.  I'm not totally convinced it was worth the price, but I'm still glad I have it.  Now I have to go wash it up and pop it on my bed!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Tales From Valinor: Thorin's Funeral

Frodo basked in the golden sun that was streaming through the windows of the library.  It was reasonably organized after hours and hours of work by Elrond and Frodo.  Frodo glanced over at the section reserved for his and Bilbo's works.  He reread the titles of each work silently to himself, running his hand down the leather binding.  "An Account of the Funeral of the King Under the Mountain" he whispered to himself.  Frodo remembered sitting down to write this.  Bilbo had asked him to record it for him.  Frodo remembered this particular account distinctly because it was one of the only times his uncle had cried while relating a tale.  Frodo pressed his lips together and decided to reread it and correct any errors he found.  He took his place and began to read aloud.
Bilbo looked over the railing.  It was rather cold, he thought, perhaps too cold to be dressed in a mithril coat--however grand it made him feel.  But at this moment, the grand feeling he usually got from the fancy coat was rather suppressed.  In fact the whole day was a plainly grievous and sad day all around.  Bilbo thought to himself that the ten dwarves surrounding him looked very downcast.  And they did.  For today was the day that their king and leader, "a very important dwarf", was to be buried.

From around the corner of stone marched Balin, Dwalin, Ori, Nori, and Dori carrying the casket upon their shoulders.  It was a very elaborate casket covered in gold and blue with runes Bilbo could not read etched upon it's surface.  The thrush perched above them on the leafless tree cawed three times and even he sounded grieved.

The dwarves bent their knees as Dwalin, Ori, Nori, and Dori lowered the casket into the tomb appointed for Thorin.  Bilbo forgot all the courtesies he was supposed to acknowledge for pure sorrow, and let out a choked sob which led to a flurry of tears and other unprofessional carrying on.  But at that moment Bilbo had little care for the professionalism of the moment, and was rather overcome with sadness for the loss of the king...for the loss of his friend.

Bilbo watched with tear filled eyes as Fili and Kili were taken to their respective tombs which were laid beside Thorin's grand one.

Balin stepped up on a marble stair and began to recite some verses in dwarvish.  Bilbo could not tell what he was saying, but it pressed his heart to hear Balin so emotional.  Gandalf who was standing behind all of the dwarves and out of the way of the processesion muttered something in a language that was similar to Elvish but was not quite like it.  Bilbo looked at him for comfort, but saw only Gandalf's bowed head, his pointed hat clutched to his chest in reverence.

When Bilbo looked back, the other dwarves were surprisingly facing him.  Have I done something wrong? Bilbo thought to himself self-consciously, looking back questioningly.  "Speech," Bofur said, elbowing Bilbo into action.

He took shaky steps to the stairs and Balin gave him his space.  Bilbo took a deep breath and cleared his throat.  He wiped the last tears from his cheek and then began.

"I met Thorin the Grand not very long ago.  Indeed it may have only been a twelvemonth, but I cannot be sure.  Thorin the Important came to my door with an imperitive mission for me."

Bilbo tried to use his most impressive language, but found himself stuttering and discombobulating several words to the point where he had to recompose himself and begin again.

"Honorable Thorin Oakenshield called me a grocer once, I believe," Bilbo said, recalling how he had reacted with indignation, and smiling smally to himself about how he proved it untrue, "And indeed at the time I might have seemed like one.  But because of Thorin the Magnificent, and because of all of the dwarves here, including Fili and Kili the noble, I have learned things and seen things I never thought possible...and for that..." here Bilbo was appropriately emotional, "I am very grateful."

Recalling that dwarven speeches tended to be longer than Bilbo expected or wanted, he felt pressed to continue on.

"Thorin the Excellent and I did not always see eye to eye," Bilbo said and several dwarves nodded in agreement, "And at times indeed I was exasperated by his 'important' ways and tendencies...but he was a good dwarf and a kind friend.  He was always brave and never a coward..." Bilbo thought back to his bold declaration to reclaim the mountain.

"Thorin the Kind has succeeded in his quest and truly is the King Under the Mountain, and so I believe this is his..." Bilbo said, growing quieter.  He reached his hand into his pocket.  His hand brushed his Ring, but he went over it and instead grasped a gemstone.  He pulled the Arkenstone out of his pocket and held it aloft for a moment.  The shine of the gem was reflected in the onlooking dwarves.  Bilbo placed it lightly on the casket and held his hand their fleetingly.  He mumbled something to himself, or maybe to Thorin, he couldn't be sure.

But at that moment he was overcome with emotion and could not speak.  The best he could do was raise his hand weakly, nod to signify his speech was completed, and step down.  Bifur set a gently hand on Bilbo's shoulder and soon Bilbo was sobbing quietly to himself.

"The streams shall run in gladness,
The lakes shall shine and burn,
All sorrow fail and sadness
At the Mountain-king’s return!"*
The dwarves chanted sadly as they each placed a hand on the casket as they walked by it.  It was carried into the tomb and the door was closed.  It was silent for a time until Gandalf spoke.

"The king under the mountain shall be succeeded," he said, extending his arms out.  A dwarf with a red beard and bright blue eyes ascended the stairs and all of the dwarves bent their knees.  So this is Dain Ironfoot, Bilbo thought to himself, slowly bowing his head, still teary-eyed.

"Long live the king under the mountain!" Gandalf proclaimed, extending his staff.

"Long live the king under the mountain!" The dwarves collectively roared.

Bilbo listened to their cries echo off the vast stone halls.

"Long live the king under the mountain," he whispered.
*Direct quotation from The Hobbit

I thought I would do something Hobbit-related because I've been doing a lot with The Silmarillion recently.  One of the few things I liked about "The Battle of the Five Armies" movie was that (in the extended edition--which I haven't seen--at least) they included Thorin's funeral.  It got me thinking about what it might be like.  It doesn't exactly fit with the more lighthearted tone of The Hobbit, but I have tried to write it in the same style as the book in other ways.  Let me know what you think of this and as always, leave a suggestion for a future Tale from Valinor in the comments below.  Thank you!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Shire Treehouse

So I was watching Treehouse Masters today on Animal Planet.  Treehouse Masters is basically a show that documents a group of carpenters who specialize in treehouse building.  I was interested to see that today's episode was a treehouse inspired by the Shire!  You can see what it looks like in this video.

I first thought that they should have made one like a Lothlorien flet!  But the spiral staircase is sort of reminiscent of it.  I'm not sure what hobbit would enjoy being up so high in the tree--Bilbo gets very scared in the eagle's eyrie--but nevertheless I think it was a great idea.  The netting reminds me of the spiders of Mirkwood, the rounded designs speak of Hobbiton, and the treehouse as a whole looks similar to Caras Galadhon like I said.  

Overall I was really interested to see this awesome treehouse, and I wanted to show it to you.  What do you think of it? 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Q&A: What Happens to Galadriel in Lothlorien?

You remember, I'm sure, the Galadriel monologue in which she says (in a very monstrous deep crazy person voice):

"In place of a dark lord you would have a queen!  Not dark but beautiful and terrible as the dawn!  Treacherous as the sea!  Stronger than the foundations of the earth!  All shall love me and despair!"

It was pretty intense. That's what happened in the movie anyway, but actually in the book she was a bit more calm.

But why did this happen at all?

This part has particularly confused my mother for as long as she has known the movies, so I decided I would answer it for her today.

The Tolkien Professor, Corey Olsen describes this as a Ring-induced-monologue.  This means that it is basically a character describing the effect the Ring is having on them.  Galadriel is describing how the Ring is tempting her: it is telling her that she could be a dark queen, terrible, and powerful.

Galadriel does resist though and decides she doesn't want to be a queen "terrible as the dawn" or "treacherous as the sea".

Then she says the most perplexing thing of all.

"I have passed the test!  I will diminish and go in to the west and remain Galadriel."

This goes all the way back to ye olde first age.  Galadriel was one of the Noldor who left Aman in exile.  She is forbidden from going back into Valinor since she refused the second summons at the end of the War of Wrath.

Okay, let me rephrase that.

A group of elves called the Noldor rebelled against the Valar, or the powers, and left Elvendom (where they could have remained in eternal bliss) for Middle-earth (where they could be seek revenge against their enemy, or in Galadriel's case, be powerful).  Galadriel wanted to be the most powerful of the Middle-earth elves rather than the least of the elves in the west,so she refused to return there,

Therefore she became an exile and even when she began to weary of Middle-earth she was unable to return to happiness.

Galadriel refused the One Ring which gained her permission to go back into the west.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Doctor Sherlock takes the Silmarils from PJ's Dining Room

Check out this video:

First of all, I hope PJ isn't hinting at anything with that copy of The Silmarillion in the table...

Anyway, my friends are huge fans of "Doctor Who" so they were pretty excited to see this, as was I.  I'm a fan of "Sherlock".  

While we're on the subject, do we have any "Sherlock" fans who are as excited for the Christmas special as I am?  It's going to be set in Victorian times!

Okay, okay, that's enough of my (short but potent) nerd rant.  I just wanted to share the video with you and see your thoughts.  Navaer!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Doom of Mandos

The Doom of Mandos is proclaimed just before the Noldor are going to leave Valinor.

"'Tears unnumbered ye shall shed; and the Valar will fence Valinor against you, and shut you out, so that not even the echo of your lamentation shall pass over the mountains.  On the House of Feanor the wrath of the Valar lieth from the West unto the uttermost East, and upon all that will follow them it shall be laid also.  Their Oath shall drive them, and yet betray them, and ever snatch away the very treasures they have sworn to pursue.  To evil end shall things turn that they begin well; and by treason of kin unto kin, and the fear of treason shall this come to pass.  The Disposessed shall they be forever.

"'Ye have spilled the blood of your kindred unrighteously and have stained the land of Aman.  For blood ye shall render blood, and beyond Aman ye shall dwell in Death's shadow.  For though Eru appointed you to die not in Ea, and no sickness may assail you, yet slain ye may be, and slain ye shall be: by weapon and by torment and by grief; and your houseless spirits shall come then to Mandos.  There long shall ye abide and yearn for your bodies, and find little pity though all whom ye have slain should entreat for you.  And those that endure in Middle-earth and come not to Mandos shall grow weary of the world as with a great burden, and shall wane, and become as shadows of regret before the younger race that cometh after.  The Valar have spoken.'" 

Oofta.  That's pretty rough!

But let's look at it closer, and how it came to fulfillment.

"'Tears unnumbered ye shall shed;'" 
The Nirnaeth Arnoediad, also known as the Battle of Numbered Tears brings this part of the prophecy to pass.

"'...and the Valar will fence Valinor against you, and shut you out, so that not even the echo of your lamentation shall pass over the mountains.'"
The Valar banned the Noldor from returning to Valinor, and they are known as the Exiles.  

"'On the House of Feanor the wrath of the Valar lieth from the West unto the uttermost East, and upon all that will follow them it shall be laid also.  Their Oath shall drive them, and yet betray them, and ever snatch away the very treasures they have sworn to pursue.'"

This too comes to realization.  Maedhros' oath drives him to actually reclaim a Silmaril, but also leads him to throwing it away and dying.

"'To evil end shall things turn that they begin well; and by treason of kin unto kin, and the fear of treason shall this come to pass.  The Disposessed shall they be forever.'"

The fear of treason within Gondolin's walls causes Turgon to ban all travel which leads to Maeglin's capture and his subsequent betrayal of Gondolin.  Gondolin, which began well, ended evilly by treason of kin by kin through Maeglin to Turgon.  Additionally, when Maedhros hands the kingship of the Noldor over to Fingolfin, the house of Fëanor officially becomes dispossessed.

"'Ye have spilled the blood of your kindred unrighteously and have stained the land of Aman.  For blood ye shall render blood, and beyond Aman ye shall dwell in Death's shadow.  For though Eru appointed you to die not in Ea, and no sickness may assail you, yet slain ye may be, and slain ye shall be: by weapon and by torment and by grief; and your houseless spirits shall come then to Mandos.  There long shall ye abide and yearn for your bodies, and find little pity though all whom ye have slain should entreat for you...'"

The blood they spilt was the Teleri's at Alqualondë and in Middle-earth all of Fëanor's sons die except for Maglor, who wanders the shores of the sea in lament forever.  

"'And those that endure in Middle-earth and come not to Mandos shall grow weary of the world as with a great burden, and shall wane, and become as shadows of regret before the younger race that cometh after.'"

Think of Galadriel.  She watches the glory of Men arise, and yet she is doomed to live on without release in Middle-earth until she is granted permission to go back into Aman.

The Doom of Mandos is a good launch pad for anyone reading The Silmarillion, especially for the first time, because it basically outlines all of the major events in the book.  These are just some of my thoughts on the topic.  What do you think?

"'The Valar have spoken.'" 

Monday, December 14, 2015


Oops...I forgot to post yesterday.

Actually, I didn't.  I knew that I had to do the Tale from Valinor.  I hadn't much time to work on it throughout the week, so I had nothing more than I started with.  Then I said to myself: just finish both parts and you can be done with Maedhros.  I started...but my brain...has...nothing.  I am going to put Maedhros on the back-burner because I just can't get through this block.  Anywho, I was planning on writing a poem or vignette as the Tale from Valinor, and I even started!  I have proof!

But then I didn't actually end up finishing, and eventually I put it off and put it off again...until I forgot.  

I realized this morning and I felt terrible!  I have posted every single day since I started this blog (save four days when I was on vacation and didn't have access to internet) and now that streak has come to an end.  The worst part is, this is the second week in a row I have been forced to write an apology post.  Sorry, sorry, sorry!  Or in the words of the elves: Goheno nin Im naier, nae, gerich naergon nin.  

I'll do better next time.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Fellow Fans!

I don't have very many "LOTR friends", that is, people who are huge fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, like me.  That is one of the reasons why I just love blogging, because there are so many fans on the interwebs I can talk to!

But last night I actually met two other people (in person) who I talked to about The Lord of the Rings, and I was so excited!

You remember how I was really bummed when I missed my priest's homily on LOTR this past Sunday?  Well I had a chance to talk to him about it last night, and as it turns out, he is a huge fan of The Silmarillion and the Children of Húrin like me!  It is not very often I meet a fellow Sil fan.

Then, I was sketching some medieval armor--you know, the usual--when someone started talking to me about it, and then about The Lord of the Rings and about how he loves the books and the poetic style...he was really awesome.  The only problem is, I was at an inter-parish gathering thing, so I probably will never see him again, but he was really nice.

Lo and behold, there are a lot of fans around me...I just have to find them.

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Camelot Connection

I've been reading Le Morte d'Arthur, the Death of Arthur recently.  I came across something that sounded strikingly familiar.  Start reading at "Nay, said Balin..." about half way down the page.
First  of all, the name Balin is in there, but I don't think it is too significant since this knight doesn't bear any similarity to the dwarf in The Hobbit.

I actually meant the whole part about Balin choosing to take the sword.  The lady tells him not to take it because bad things will occur--like the slaying of his best friend and ultimately himself--but Balin takes it anyway.  And lo and behold, that does actually happen later on.

Who does that remind you of from The Silmarillion?

Beleg!  Beleg takes the sword Anglachel from Doriath even though Melian advises him against it.  Eventually, it does end up killing Beleg (when Túrin slays him) and Beleg's best friend (who happens to be Túrin, when he slays himself after realizing the truth about Nienor).  I wonder if Tolkien was inspired by this?  Or was it sheer coincidence?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Thought About Èowyn

Èowyn: the shield maiden and tough girl from Rohan who proved she can hold her own, even though she is a woman.
I think there is a tendency to make Èowyn into a figure for the feminist movement.  This stance was heightened in the movies.  But, in the book, Èowyn ends up settling down with Faramir in Ithilien and giving up war forever.  She becomes a healer there.  Many fans were disappointed to hear that this courageous woman was pushed back into her "place as a woman" by the end of the story.  So there is also a tendency to think of Èowyn as an anti-feminist figure.

I think both of these suppositions are wrong.  I think that Èowyn's gender has little to do with any of this, actually.  

So Èowyn's culture, the Rohirrim, is entirely obsessed with war and the glory of battle which is fairly obvious to anyone who read the books or watched the movies.  Èowyn, as a woman, cannot take part in these activities, and she hates that.  She expresses this to Aragorn right before his departure to the Paths of the Dead.  Èowyn wants nothing more than to die in a glorious battle like Théoden or Théodred.

Faramir's view is much different.  He says to Frodo in Ithilien: "I do not love the sword for it's sharpness or the arrow for its swiftness; I love only that which they defend."

When Èowyn meets Faramir, she realizes that war is not good in and of itself, but it is necessary if evil is threatening you.  Once she understands this, she is no longer obsessed with being a man so she can fight, and she is much happier.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sil Annotations Part 3

I finished The Sil for the fourth time!  Woo!  Okay, so now these are the annotations I found in the second half of the book.  There are not as many as in the first part.

First up is the theme of fate.

"Thus was the fate of Túrin woven..." (pg. 198)

"But fate that day was more strong..." (pg. 207)

"But Húrin does not lie there, for his doom drove him on, and the Shadow still followed him." (pg. 230)

All three of those examples are from Of Túrin Turambar and they all show that there was another thing driving both Túrin and Húrin.

And now the theme of pride.

"'Shut the doors of the fortress and go not abroad.  Cast the stones of your pride into the loud river, that the creeping evil may not find the gate.'" (pg. 212)

The people of Nargothrond did not listen to this warning from Ulmo and their city fell because of it.

"But Turgon had become proud, and Gondolin as beautiful as a memory of Elven Tirion, and he trusted still in its secret and impregnable strength, though even a Vala shall gainsay it..." (pg. 240)

Turgon did not listen to this warning from Ulmo and heir city fell because of it.  Man, Ulmo is 0 for 2.

The theme of death is most prevalent in the Akallabêth and pretty much the entire story centers around it, so I would advise you to read it.  I pulled out just a couple selections about it.

"And they said among themselves: 'Why do the Lords of the West sit there in peace unending, while we must die and go we know not whiter, leaving our home and all that we have made?  And the Eldar die not, even those that rebelled against the Lords.  And since we have mastered all seas, and no water is so wild or so wide that our ships cannot overcome it, why should we not go to Avallone and greet there our friends?'" (pg. 264)

In peace unending?  I'm not sure fighting Melkor over and over again was exactly "peace unending" but whatever, Numenorians.  Also, you have to leave your homes and all that you have made and "go you know not whither" because that is what Eru wants.  And you best do what Eru wants.

Now for self-sacrifice.  There are a couple of examples in the text.

"But Beleg would not abandon Turin, and despairing himself he aroused hope again in Gwindor's heart; and together they went on..." (pg. 207)

"'But that peril I will take on myself alone, for the sake of the Two Kindreds.'" (pg. 248)

Earendil is very courageous and when he goes to Valinor to plead on behalf of elves and men, he accepts that he may never return.

"'I will suffer myself the penalty, lest all my people should become guilty.'" (pg. 275)

This is what Amandil says when he endeavors to go to Valinor to plead on behalf of the Numenorians, but it is not known what actually happened to him.

Nothing much on nature of evil that I haven't already pointed out in the last post.  Of course there is a lot of evil happening on Numenor, but I already pointed that out in part one.   I did find one thing about the dwarves though.

"Then the lust of the dwarves..." (pg. 233)

It goes on to explain how the dwarves rose up and slew King Thingol. This was all caused for the dwarves' greed for the Silmarils.

So, to the signposts, starting with prophecies.

"'There is malice in this sword.  The dark heart of the smith still dwells in it.  It will not love the hand it serve; neither will it abide with you long.'" (pg. 202)

Melian's counsel to Beleg upon his choice to take Anglachel as his sword.  As it turns out, Melian was right and the sword ended up killing Beleg.

"And Beleg cried after him [Mim]: 'The vengeance of the house of Hador will find you yet!'" (pg. 206)

And indeed it does when Hurin kills Mim in Nargothrond.

"'And if you will, your love shall betray you to bitterness and death.'" (pg. 210)

This is Gwindor's warning to his love Finduilas not to fall for Turin.  She does, and she ends up pinned to a tree with a spear.

"'And this last I say to thee: she alone stands between thee and thy doom.  If thou fail her, it shall not fail to find thee.  Farewell!'" (pg. 212)

Gwindor says this to Turin and the "her" he is referring to is Finduilas.  Turin does end up failing Finduilas, and his doom catches up with him and leads to his unfortunate marriage.

The sudden realization I found was from Turin and Nienor:

"'Farewell, O twice beloved!  A Turin Turambar turun ambartanen: master of doom by doom mastered!  O happy to be dead!'" (pg. 223)

"'This is a bitter jest indeed!...This only was wanting.  Now comes the night.'" (pg. 225)

No tough questions, but I did find some typological parallels.  Think back to when Hurin is shouting "Aure entuluva!" and now consider Turin's despairing "now comes the night!"

"He [Turin] named himself Wildman of the Woods." (pg. 216)

This reminded me of when Turin got very offended at Saeros insulting him saying that his people were savages, and now he is calling himself the Wildman.

"Then he sent forth heralds, and he commanded Sauron to come before him and swear to him fealty.  And Sauron came." (pg. 270)

This is a very stark parallel to Fingolfin's challenge of Morgoth, but this one is a man challenging a lesser evil power.

Here are some of my favorite quotes as well.

" the darkness he seized Anglachel, and slew Beleg Cuthalion thinking him a foe.  But as he stood, finding himself free, and ready to sell his life dearly against imagined foes, there came a great flash of lightning above them; and in its light he looked down on Beleg's face.  Then Turin stood stonestill and silent, staring on that dreadful death, knowing what he had done; and so terrible was his face, lit by the lightning that flickered all about them, that Gwindor cowered down upon the ground and dared not raise his eyes...he sat unmoving and unweeping in the tempest beside the body of Beleg Cuthalion." (pg. 208)

"'Hail Earendil, of mariners most renowned, the looked for that cometh at unawares, the longed for that cometh beyond hope!  Hail Earendil, bearer of light before the Sun and Moon!  Splendour of the Children of Earth, star in the darkness, jewel in the sunset, radiant in the morning!'" (pg. 248-249)

"'For there is but one loyalty from which no man can be absolved in heart for any cause.'" (pg. 275)

*All page numbers are from the Second Edition of The Silmarillion from 1999.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Q&A: What if The Hobbit didn't Happen?

How would The War of the Ring be different if Bilbo and the dwarves had not been successful?

There are many ways that the quest could have failed.  The dwarves could have been killed by the trolls, the goblins, the moon letters might not have been noticed by Elrond, the dwarves could have abandoned Bilbo, been killed by spiders, trapped in the halls of Mirkwood...I think you get the idea.  

Even Gandalf acknowledges that the events of The Hobbit were intrical to the success of the War of the Ring.  He even gives a few examples:

"Yet things might have gone far otherwise and far worse. When you think of the great Battle of the Pelennor, do not forget the battles in Dale and the valour of Durin's Folk. Think of what might have been. Dragon-fire and savage swords in Eriador, night in Rivendell. There might be no Queen in Gondor. We might now hope to return from the victory here only to ruin and ash. But that has been averted - because I met Thorin Oakenshield one evening on the edge of spring in Bree. A chance-meeting, as we say in Middle-earth."  (The Return of the King Appendix A)

First off, the obvious and most important connection: the Ring.  Bilbo never would have found it and given it to Frodo to take to Mt. Doom.  This would either leave the Ring undiscovered for another millennia, or perhaps Gollum would have taken it to Mordor, a goblin may have found it, or maybe even Saruman might have found it's location.  It is no doubt that the finding of the Ring was the catalyst to the War of the Ring, and extremely important.  

But let's assume that someway, somehow, Frodo got a hold of the Ring.  Because The Hobbit never happened, Bilbo and Frodo would not have had ties with Gandalf, and so he would not be able to identify the Ring and counsel Frodo not to use it.  Both Bilbo and Frodo could have been corrupted with devastating results.

That right there stops the quest.  But, again, assuming that someway, somehow, Frodo realizes that the Ring has to be destroyed in Mt. Doom, he his three hobbit friends set off.  But Gandalf never would have told Strider about them or given him the note to prove to the hobbits his benevolence.  Without Strider, the hobbits almost assuredly would have died or been captured on the way to Rivendell.  It is very possible that the hobbits never would have had the courage to embark on this mission anyway, since they did not have Bilbo's inspiration.

So, assuming someway, somehow, none of these things happened, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin make it to Rivendell.  Bilbo of course remains in The Shire since he never had dealings with the elves.  So Frodo meets Elrond, Gandalf, Aragorn, and all of the other members of the fellowship and get their act together.  

But it is very possible, as Gandalf points out, that Rivendell would be destroyed by Smaug or the goblins of the mountains.  Even if it had survived, the mountains would have been much more treacherous than they already were when Frodo and crew were crossing them.  

If we fast forward to the Battle of Pelennor, it is very likely that Smaug would have been corrupted by Sauron and used as a weapon there.  Maybe Sauron would even begin breeding dragons.  

Obviously, the events in The Hobbit were a major factor in all things War of the Ring.  There is any number of ways that the war might have gone differently, including the strong probability of failure.  What do you think would happen?

Oh, and thank goodness for divine intervention, am I right?

Monday, December 7, 2015


Yesterday was Sunday, yes?  Yes.  Okay, so I went to Mass at the regular time of 9:00am and it was a dandy time.  Christmas bazaar and all that fun stuff.

There was also an alternative Mass for my bible group to go to at 6:00pm, but since I had already gone that morning, I decided to opt out.

Lo and behold, the priest talks about Lord of the Rings in his homily.

And this is not even the first time this has happened to me!  He has done it before at another Mass I was not at (because I went to the Saturday night vigil).  

What are the odds?

My friend was at said Mass last night and I asked him if he could tell me what the priest was saying in his homily, but my friend couldn't hear because he had to do some serving things in the other room.  He said he heard snatches of things like "Faramir" and "Lord of the Rings" and that is basically it, but that the priest was for sure talking about it for a good ten minutes. 

I will be seeing this priest on Friday for a retreat, so I am planning on talking to him about this issue. I'll be sure to report back with my findings. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Insert Tale from Valinor Here

I am going back on a promise that I made.

It was really hard to get this part together.  I had all these ideas of what I wanted to happen floating around in my head, but then I would reread The Silmarillion and notice that certain ideas contradicted canon which is a huge no-no.  And then I had the opposite problem: things in The Silmarillion that I had to somehow work into this story.  Additionally, the narrative style was really hard.  I wasn't sure how to introduce certain characters because they didn't seem like the type of people that Maedhros would be writing about, at least not yet.

And that is why I have no Tale from Valinor for you today.  I am going to work really hard on it this week in hopes of finishing as soon as possible, and then I will plop it right in here for your reading pleasure.  I am so sorry that I couldn't finish on time!  But I figured it would be better to post quality writing than to smack together some haphazard incoherent jottings (which is mostly what I have at this point).

But excuses aside, next week is the last part of Maedhros the Tall, and I am working really hard to wrap up all the loose ends.  As I have been rereading the Sil, I have found a few quotations that seem good places to launch off into a new fanfiction, so I have a few ideas circulating.  If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments.  Thank you!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Sil Annotations Pt. 2

These are the signposts that I annotated for in The Silmarillion:

Basically, signposts are things that good readers look for throughout a story.  For instance, whenever you read a prophecy, it should be a flag that something important is happening, and the same with the other signposts.

First I looked for prophecies as I read and this is what I came up with.  Prophecies are important because they offer foreshadowing and they call attention to events that match up with what has been proclaimed.  There are several examples of prophecies in The Silmarillion such as the Doom of Mandos, Ulmo's warning to Turgon, and Huor's "eyes of death" proclamation to Turgon on the battle field.

"But Illuvatar knew that Men, being set amid the turmoils of the powers of the world, would stray often, and would not use their gifts in harmony; and he said: 'These too in their time shall find that all they do redounds at the end only to show the glory of my work.'  Yet the Elves believe that Men are often a grief to Manwe, who knows most the mind of Illuvatar; for it seems tot he Elves that Men resemble Melkor most of all the Ainur, although he has ever feared and hated them, even those that served him." (pg. 42)

Illuvatar's prophecies are the most accurate of all because he is the only character who knows absolutely everything that will happen.

"'O Kementari, Eru hath spoken, saying: 'Do then any of the Valar suppose that I did not hear all the Song, even the least sound of the least voice?  Behold!  When the Children awake, then the thought of Yavanna will awake also, and it will summon spirits from afar, and they will go among the kevlar and the ovlar, and some will dwell therein, and be held in reverence, and their just anger shall be feared.  For a time: while the Firstborn are in their power, and while the Secondborn are young.'" (pg. 46)

"'So it is doomed.  From this summons came any woes that afterwards befell..." (pg. 52)

Here the author gives a specific alert that you should be paying attention to the event that was just told about because it is going to be important later on.

"Mandos foretold that the fates of Arda, earth, sea, and air, lay locked within them [the Silmarils]." (pg. 67)

Mandos is second in line (behind Eru) in the accurate prophecy business so whenever he proclaims something, it is in the peoples of Middle-earth's best interest to pay attention.

"'Tears unnumbered ye shall shed; and the Valar will fence Valinor against you, and shut you out, so that not even the echo of your lamentation shall pass over the mountains.  On the House of Feanor the wrath of the Valar lieth from the West unto the uttermost East, and upon all that will follow them it shall be laid also.  Their Oath shall drive them, and yet betray them, and ever snatch away the very treasures they have sworn to pursue.  To evil end shall things turn that they begin well; and by treason of kin unto kin, and the fear of treason shall this come to pass.  The Disposessed shall they be forever.

"'Ye have spilled the blood of your kindred unrighteously and have stained the land of Aman.  For blood ye shall render blood, and beyond Aman ye shall dwell in Death's shadow.  For though Eru appointed you to die not in Ea, and no sickness may assail you, yet slain ye may be, and slain ye shall be: by weapon and by torment and by grief; and your houseless spirits shall come then to Mandos.  There long shall ye abide and yearn for your bodies, and find little pity though all whom ye have slain should entreat for you.  And those that endure in Middle-earth and come not to Mandos shall grow weary of the world as with a great burden, and shall wane, and become as shadows of regret before the younger race that cometh after.  The Valar have spoken.'" (pg. 88)

Yikes. This is the most important prophecy in the entire Silmarillion and it warrants a long discussion which will have to wait for a future post.  But basically, all of the events in The Silmarillion and a lot of events in The Lord of the Rings can be traced back to this extremely accurate and detailed summary.   Indeed, the Battle of Unnumbered Tears (Nirnaeth Arnoediad) fulfills the first part of this decree, roads are bent at the end of the story so that Valinor does end up getting barred, etc.

"I forebode that ill will come of it both to you and to me." (pg. 131)

This is Turgon explaining to his sister that bad things are probably going to come from her leaving Gondolin, and lo and behold, he was right.  His sister was killed (by Eol, who she never would have met had she remained in Gondolin) and later, Turgon is killed (because of the treachery of Maeglin who never would have been if Aredhel had stayed in Gondolin.

"'My heart warns me that if you now pursue those who love you no more, never will you return thither.'" (pg. 136)

Curufin warns Eol that he is going to meet a bad end if he continues pursuing Aredhel and Maeglin toward Gondolin, and that as well comes true because Eol eventually gets executed by the people of Gondolin.

"'So you forsake your father and his kin, ill-gotten son!  Here shall you fail of all your hopes, and here may you yet die the same death as I.'" (pg. 138)

Eol prophesies that Maeglin will die in the same manner as he which does come to pass when Maeglin is thrown over the walls of Gondolin by Tuor during the fall of the city.

"'And one of Men, even of Beor's house, shall indeed come, and the Girdle of Melian shall not restrain him, for doom greater than my power shall send him; and the songs that shall spring from that coming shall endure when all Middle-earth is changed.'"

Melian foresees the coming of Beren in to Doriath and the immense change that he will incur.  Additionally, she adds in that element about fate "greater than my power" which leads a reader to believe their is a larger power at work, perhaps Eru.

" was decreed that he [Huan] should meet death, but not until he encountered the mightiest wolf that would ever walk the world." (pg. 173)

Huan is killed by Carcharoth, the great wolf.

"'This I [Huor] will say to you, lord, with the eyes of death: though we part here for ever, and I shall not look on your white walls again, from you and from me a new star shall arise.  Farewell!'" (pg. 194)

The star that Huor is referencing is indeed the Star of Earendil who is the son of Tuor (Huor's son) and Idril (Turgon's daughter).

"'Sit now there; and look out upon the lands where evil and despair shall come upon those whom thou [Hurin] lovest.  Thou hast dared to mock me, and to question the power of Melkor, Master of the fates of Arda.  Therefore with my eyes shalt see, an with my ears thou shalt hear; and never shalt thou move from this place until all is fulfilled unto its bitter end.'  And evens so it came to pass; but it is not said that Hurin asked ever of Morgoth either mercy or death, for himself or for any of his kin." (pg. 198)

The next signpost is sudden realizations.  When I wrote this I was thinking specifically of Of Turin Turambar which I have not gotten to yet.  I actually did not find any other sudden realizations in this point of the story.

Tough questions are often important to look for in stories because if a character is asking you a question it is probably important for you to be asking yourself the same thing.  Here is the tough question I found.

"'Shall we then leave the lands of their dwelling desolate and full of evil?  Shall they walk in darkness while we have light?  Shall they call Melkor lord while Manwe sits upon Taniquetil?'" (pg. 48)

No, probably not.

And now for typological parallels, perhaps my favorite thing to annotate for.  Typological parallels are very common in the Bible, such as when Jesus was lost in the temple for tree days, it sort of paralleled when he was dead for three days.  So they are kind of a mini, scaled-down version of something yet to come.  There are many of these within The Silmarillion and also from The Silmarillion to The Lord of the Rings and I found several.

"But being alone he [Melkor] had begun to conceive thoughts of his own unlike those of his brethren.'" (pg. 16)

This is a parallel to Saruman in The Lord of the Rings.  When he began to fortify himself at Isengard, his views started to change away from his "brethren", in this case, the White Council of the Wise, Elrond, Gandalf, and Galadriel.

"Then Tulkas slept, being weary and content, and Melkor deemed that his hour had come.  And he passed therefore over the Walls of Night with his host, and came to Middle-earth far in the north; and the Valar were not aware of him." (pg. 36)

This parallels many of Melkor's other attacks.  When all of the Valar are resting after Tulkas and Nessa get married, Melkor attacks.  When all of the elves and the power of Valinor are having a feast, Melkor destroys the trees.  When Gondolin is having a celebration to welcome summer, Melkor sends out his forces.

"'I will not debate with you, Dark Elf.  By the swords of the Noldor alone are your sunless woods defended.  Your freedom to wander there wild you owe to my kin; and but for them long since you would have laboured in thraldom in the pits of Angband.'" (pg. 137)

This reminded me of Aragorn's speech in The Fellowship of the Ring explaining to the hobbits how he has protected the Shire and Bree for a long time--without their knowing--and how he is offended when the men of Bree look down on him for being a ranger.  Similarly, Boromir says the same thing of Gondor in the Council of Elrond.

"...for Haleth was a woman of great heart and strength.  But at last Haldad was slain in a sortie against the Orcs; and Haldar, who rushed out to save his father's body from their butchery, was hewn down beside him.  Then Haleth held the people together, though they were without hope."  (pg. 146)

Can you think of another golden-haired female whose father and "brother" we're both killed?  Someone who was courageous and could fight in battle?  Èowyn, of course!  You will notice that Èowyn and Haleth have some differences (Haleth's father died before her brother; the opposite of Èowyn, etc.) but they share some common characteristics. 

"Huor fell pierced with a venomed arrow in his eye..." (pg. 194)

Both Huor and Arathorn were killed by an arrow to the eye.  Both of them had famous mortal sons (Tuor and Aragorn) who married elves (Idril and Arwen).

Finally, I marked in my book where I found quotes that I particularly loved.  Here are some of them.

"Reward on earth is more dangerous for men than punishment!" (pg. xxi)

"'And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite.  For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined...and thou, Melkor, wilt discover all the secret thoughts of thy mind, and wilt perceive that they are but a part of the whole and tributary to its glory.'" (pg. 17)

"'Eru is bountiful,' she said.  'Now let thy children beware!  For there shall walk a power in the forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril.'  'Nonetheless they will have need of wood,' said Aule, and he went on with his smith-work." (pg. 46)

"'So it is, even as I guessed,' he [Feanor] said.  'My half-brother would be before me with my father, in this as in all other matters.'  Then turning upon Fingolfin who drew his sword, crying: 'Get thee gone, and take thy due place!'  Fingolfin bowed before Finwe, and without word or glance to Feanor he went from the chamber.  But Feanor followed him, and at the door of the king's house he stayed him; and the point of his bright sword he set against Fingolfin's breast. 'See, half-brother!' he said.  'This is sharper than thy tongue.  Try but once more to usurp my place and the love of my father and maybe it will rid the Noldor of one who seeks to be the master of thralls.'" (pg. 70)

"'As I promised, I do now.  I release thee, and remember no grievance,'  Then Feanor took his hand in silence; but Fingolfin said: 'Half-brother in blood, full brother in heart will I be.  Thou shalt lead and I will follow.  May no new grief divide us.'  'I hear thee,' said Feanor.  'So be it.' But they did not know the meaning that their words would bear." (pg. 75)

"The Light failed; but the Darkness that followed was more than loss of light.  In that hour was made a Darkness that seemed not lack but a thing with being of its own: for it was indeed made by malice out of Light and it had power to pierce the eye, and to enter the heart and mind, and strangle the very will." (pg. 76)

"Then Feanor ran from the Ring of Doom, and fled into the night; for his father was dearer to him than the Light of Valinor or the peerless works of his hands; and who among sons, of Elves or of Men, have held their fathers of greater worth?" (pg. 79)

"'We renounce no friendship.  But it may be the part of a friend to rebuke a friend's folly.'" (pg. 86)

"Then many quailed; but Feanor hardened his heart and said: 'We have sworn, and not lightly.  This oath we will keep.  We are threatened with many evils, and treason not the least; but one thing is not said: that we shall suffer from cowardice, from cravens or the fear of cravens.  therefore I say that we will go on, and this doom I add: the deeds that shall do shall be the matter of song until the last days of Arda.'" (pg. 88)

"And though he [Fingon] knew not yet that Maedhros had not forgotten him at the burning of the ships, the thought of their ancient friendship stung his heart." (pg. 110)

"Maedhros in time was healed; for the fire of life was hot within him, and his strength was of the ancient world...and he lived to wield his sword with left hand more deadly than his right had been." (pg. 110-111)

"Maedhros did deeds of surpassing valour, and the Orcs fled before his face; for since his torment upon Thangorodrim his spirit burned like a white fire within, and he was as one that returns from the dead." (pg. 152)

"Thus he [Fingolfin] came alone to Angband's gates, and he sounded his horn, and smote once more upon the brazen doors, and challenged Morgoth to come forth to single combat.  And Morgoth came." (pg. 153)

"But Beren laughed.  'For little price,' he said, 'do Elven-kings sell their daughters: for gems, and things made by craft.  But if this be your will, Thingol, I will perform it.  And when we meet again my hand shall hold a Silmaril from the Iron Crown; for you have not looked the last upon Beren son of Barahir.'" (pg. 168)

"The captives sad in Angband mourn.
Thunder rumbles, the fires burn--
And Finrod fell before the throne." (pg. 171)

"Then suddenly, when her hope was almost spent, he woke again, and looked up, seeing leaves against the sky; and he heard beneath the leaves singing soft and slow beside him Luthien Tinuviel.  And it was spring again." (pg. 183)

"Then when Fingon heard afar the great trumpet of Turgon his brother, the shadow passed and his heart was uplifted, and he shouted aloud: 'Utulie'n aure!  Aiya Eldalie ar Atanatari, utulie'n aure!  The day has come! Behold, people of the Eldar and Fathers of Men, the day has come!  And all those who heard his great voice echo in the hills answered crying: 'Auta i lome! The night is passing!'" (pg. 190)

"'Aure entuluva!  Day shall come again!'" (pg. 195)

*All page numbers are from the Second Edition of The Silmarillion from 1999.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Sil Annotations

I've gotten fairly far through The Silmarillion (up to Of Turin Turambar) and I've been annotating as I go.  I want to share with you some of the things that I have found as we go.  I annotated for the following things:

So first, the theme of fate.  I decided to annotate for fate because I've read that fate was a really big part of medieval life and people back then believed that their lives were completely bound by fate.  Knowing that Tolkien was influenced a lot by the middle ages, specifically in England, I wanted to try to see if that theme appeared in his stories.  I found a couple mentions in Of Beren and Luthien.

"And he [Beren] passed through the mazes that Melian wove about the kingdom of Thingol, even as she had foretold; for a great doom lay upon him." (pg. 165)

This passage indicates that there is something that Beren is meant to do, something that is his fate--which is, of course, to meet Luthien and go on the quest of the Silmaril.

"It came then into Beren's mind that he would go beyond his vow, and bear out of Angband all three of the Jewels of Feanor; but such was not the doom of the Silmarils.  The knife Angrist snapped, and a shard of the blade flying smote the cheek of Morgoth.  He groaned and stirred, and ll the host of Angband moved in sleep." (pg. 181)

This quote makes it sound as though it was not Beren's fault that the blade snapped.  Some other power was at work it would seem which willed that the Silmarils remain with Morgoth for a limited time.  Perhaps this was Eru!  Eru himself has stated that all of the evil that Morgoth (or anyone, for that matter) does, only achieves greater glory for him.  Maybe Eru didn't want the Silmarils all taken right now because then the Sons of Feanor would stop trying to attack Morgoth, and all of their valiant deeds against him would not have happened.  Or maybe, possession of the Silmarils would have caused Beren to become greedy like King Thingol later on and Eru wanted to prevent that.  There is a whole host of reasons for Eru to prevent Beren from taking the other two Silmarils.  The quote demonstrates that (as Gandalf says): "There are other powers at work, besides that of evil...and that is an encouraging thought."

"Therefore after a while he persuaded her, and their footsteps forsook the houseless lands and he passed into Doriath, leading Luthien home. So their doom willed it." (pg. 183, emphasis mine)

Doom and fate seem to be closely related.  Doom actually comes from an Anglo-Saxon word which means a statute or judgement, for example, the Doom of Mandos, the judgement of Mandos.  In today's language, doom seems to have a negative connotation, one of foreboding and ill-fate.  That is not how it is used in this section.  Again, this passage makes it seem like they were meant to enter Doriath by someone other than themselves.

So the passages relating to fate (called "doom" by Tolkien) seem to reflect that while humans have free will (such as Beren wanted to go to Doriath himself), there is a larger power at work that has plans for people.

The next theme is pride.  I know that pride will play a factor in the downfall of Gondolin once I get there, but I also found it in a couple other places.

"But the delight and pride of Aule is in the deed of making, and in the thing made, and neither in possession nor in his own mastery; wherefore he gives and hoards not,and is free from care, passing ever on to some new work." (pg. 19)

This is a stark contrast to Feanor's immense pride over the Simarils and subsequent self-destruction.

"Manwe has no thought for his own honour, and is not jealous of his power, but rules all to peace." (pg. 40)

Another example of one of the Valar being humble.

"They hoarded them not, but gave them freely, and by their labour enriched all Valinor." (pg. 60)

I suppose this goes more with greed than pride, but I think that greed comes as a direct product of too much pride.  Pride leads you to think that you are the best and that you should have everything nice and own as much as you can.  This is contrasting that opinion.

"The Noldor began to murmur against them, and many became filled with pride, forgetting how much of what they had and knew came to them in gift from the Valar." (pg. 68)

This one is pretty obvious.

"He [Feanor] seldom remembered now that the light within them [the Silmarils] was not his own." (pg. 69)

I really like this aspect of the book and this theme.  There are so many different applications of this in real life, and I think it is a beautiful message.

"I will go as seems good to me." (pg. 131)

Aredhel refusing counsel was not a good idea, and she ends up dead because of it.

Next up is death.  I was specifically thinking of the Akallabeth when I decided to annotate this theme, but just like with pride, I ended up finding a couple of passages elsewhere.

"But the sons of Men die indeed, and leave the world; wherefore they are called the Guests, or the Strangers.  Death is their fate, the gift of Illuvatar, which as Time wears even the Powers shall envy.  But Melkor has cast his shadow upon it, and confounded it with darkness, and brought forth evil out of good, and fear out of hope." (pg. 42)

The first part of this quote, about Men being called the Strangers of the world, I think is very interesting.  It shows that the world is not the ultimate home for Men and so clinging to it and relying on it's material things is probably not a good plan.  Also, the fact that gift is called a gift is very neat.  Illuvatar gave it to them presumably so that they could come and live with him, nearer to him.  Melkor has twisted and perverted it as he ever does and it has become a thing of dread instead of a gift.

"For it was not permitted to the Valar to withhold Death from him, which is the fit of Illuvatar to Men." (pg. 187)

I just thought that it was interesting that the word "withhold" was used.  Like you would withhold candy from a child, or something good from someone.  This indicates, again, that Death is a very good thing and a gift.

I chose to annotate for self-sacrifice with Earendil in mind, and I found one other thing:

"And he [Fingolfin] marched against his wisdom, because Fingon his son urged him, and because he would not be sundered from his people that were eager to go, nor leave them to the rash counsels of Feanor."  (pg. 84)

Even though Fingolfin that it was unwise and dangerous to accompany Feanor on the trip back into Beleriand, he sacrificed his own safety in order to protect his people from Feanor's "rash counsels".

For the final theme, I did the nature of evil and I found a lot especially in the beginning.

"This desire is at once wedded to a passionate love of the real primary world, and hence filled with the sense of morality, and yet unsatisfied by it.  It has various opportunities of 'Fall'.  It may become possessive, clinging to the things made as 'its own, the subcreator wishes to be the Lord and God of his private creation.  He will rebel against the laws of the Creator--especially against morality." (pg. xiii)

This was actually from the letter J.R.R. Tolkien wrote to Milton Waldman which is included in part as the preface to the second edition.  I find that entire letter very interesting and I have referenced it many times, and this is especially intriguing with regard to how evil comes about and how it is made manifest.

"His [Morgoth] was a sub-creative Fall, and hence the elves (the representatives of sub-creation par excellence) were peculiarly his enemies, and the special object of his desire and hate--and open to his deceits.  Their Fall is into possessiveness and (to a less degree) into perversion of their art to power." (pg. xiv)

The elves in Tolkien's story demonstrate how creating things can be honorable, as they are acting in Eru's image.  Sub-creation is a big theme of Tolkien's and you can read more about it in my other post on that very topic.  Morgoth, on the other hand, demonstrates how sub-creation can be perverted in order to have power over others and bend others' will.  

"He [Sauron] becomes a reincarnation of Evil, a thing lusting for Complete Power--and so consumed ever more fiercely with hate (especially of gods and Elves)." (pg. xviii)

This would indicate that power leads to hate which constitutes Evil.

I would suggest reading Of the Enemies in the Valaquenta which is all about the nature of evil.

"And deep in their dark hearts the Orcs loathed the Master whom they served in fear, the maker only of their misery.  This it may be was the vilest deed of Melkor, and the most hateful to Illuvatar."  (pg. 50)

The deed discussed here, is the corruption of elves into orcs.  It would seem that corruption and perversion are the methods of evil.

"But she [Ungoliant] had disowned her master, desiring to be mistress of her own lust, taking all things to herself to feed her emptiness...for she hungered for light and hated it." (pg. 73)

It is possible that the very fact that Ungoliant relies on light causes her to hate it.  It may be that Ungoliant resents having to rely on other things and would rather be completely self-reliant (which, of course, is impossible).  For that reason, she hates the fact that she needs light, and seeks to destroy it.  She is destroying what she needs, however, which causes her to run out of food and consume herself in her "uttermost famine".

"And desiring above all else to sow fear and disunion among the Eldar..." (g. 116)

Morgoth's top priority is spreading lies and misleading good creatures.

"Though he [Eol] was amazed no less than his son at all that he saw, his heart was filled the more with anger and with hate of the Noldor." (pg. 137)

Now I'm not sure if this hate is originating from Eol's political views on the Noldor and the fact he wants them out of Beleriand, or just a general hate of things that are good that are not his.

"His [Maeglin] love turned to darkness in his heart.  And he sought the more to have his will in other matters, shirking no toil or burden, if he might thereby have power.  Thus it was in Gondolin; and amid all the bliss of that realm, while its glory lasted, a dark seed of evil was sown." (pg. 139)

This demonstrates that Evil can come from love that is unrequited.

"'All this is but Elvish lore, tales to beguile newcomers that are unwary.  The Sea has no shore.  There is no light in the West.  You have followed a fool-fire of the Elves to the end of the world!  Which of you has seen the least of the Gods?  Who has beheld the Dark King in the North?  Those who seek the dominion of Middle-earth are the Eldar.  Greedy for wealth they have delved in the earth for its secrets and have stirred to wrath the things that dwell beneath it, as they have ever done and ever shall.  Let the Orcs have the realm that is theirs and we will have ours.  There is room in the world, if the Eldar will let us be!'" (pg. 145)

This is the type of lie sown by evil which starts rumors of doubt among the elves.

Tomorrow I will relate the signposts I found.  I hope enjoyed all of the different themes and annotations I have found so far.  I will continue reading through Of Turin Turambar and should have more annotations soon.  Galu!

*All page numbers are from the Second Edition of The Silmarillion from 1999.
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