Middle Earth Challenge: The Silmarillion

by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Silmarillion is Tolkien’s first book and his last. Long preceding in its origins The Lord of the Rings, it is the story of the First Age of Tolkien’s world, the andcient drama to which characters in the Lord of the Rings look back, and in which some of them, such as Elrond and Galadriel, took part. The Silmarillion was begun in 1917, and Tolkien worked on it, changed it, and enlarged it throughout his life. Edited by his son, Christopher Tolkien, the book finally appeared four years after the author’s death.

Now this novel out of all the Tolkien’s novels, I was worried the most about. I’ve tried reading it in the past a number of times and never could make. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why. I love Tolkien and the Middle Earth. But I just could not make it through this novel. Then I realized I need to tae it on like a history book and not a adventure/epic story novel. While yes it is a story and there are MANY stories through out this book, it does not read that way. I had to approach it like I did for the History of the Lord of the Rings or the first part of The Lord of the Rings. In fact is also like reading a ancient scroll or even a Bible of the Middle Earth at points.

The Silmarillion is the source for the First Age of the Middle Earth and the downfall of the Kingdom of Númenor. It is composed of five different parts:

  • The Ainulindalë – Creation of Eä (Tolkien’s universe), the Timeless Halls, and Ainur by Eru Ilúvatar and the corruption of Melkor
  • The Valaquenta – Description of the Valar and Maiar, the supernatural beings.
  • The Quenta Silmarillion – Events before & during the First Age, which is the bulk of the collection
  • The Akallabêth – The history of the Second Age
  • The Rings of Power and the Third Age

If you take the The History of Middle Earth and Unfinished Tales, with The Silmarillion you get more of the narrative of the universe that Tolkien was trying to express in the The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Within’ this novel there is also 4 Great Tales that were summarized:

  • “Of Beren and Lúthien”
  • “Of Túrin Turambar”
  • “Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin”
  • “Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath”

Now Tolkien’s son Christopher Tolkien finished putting together Middle Earth Challenge: The Fall of Gondolin, Middle Earth Challenge: Beren and Lúthien, Middle Earth Challenge: The Children of Húrin. You can follow the link to find out more details about them. But those stories definitely expanded more on the The Silmarillion adn the history of the First, Second Age of the Middle Earth. Now from what I gathered, Christopher Tolkien had some problems with The Silmarillion material. Mostly caused by Guy Kay who helped Tolkien’s son put this together. Stating:

“This story was not lightly or easily conceived, but was the outcome of long experimentation among alternative conceptions. In this work Guy Kay took a major part, and the chapter that I finally wrote owes much to my discussions with him. It is, and was, obvious that a step was being taken of a different order from any other ‘manipulation’ of my father’s own writing in the course of the book: even in the case of the story of The Fall of Gondolin, to which my father had never returned, something could be contrived without introducing radical changes in the narrative. It seemed at that time that there were elements inherent in the story of the Ruin of Doriath as it stood that were radically incompatible with ‘The Silmarillion’ as projected, and that there was here an inescapable choice: either to abandon that conception, or else to alter the story. I think now that this was a mistaken view, and that the undoubted difficulties could have been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the bounds of the editorial function. ‘Apart from a few matters of detail in texts and notes that have not been published, all that my father ever wrote on the subject of the ruin of Doriath has now been set out (…) If these materials are compared with the story told in The Silmarillion it is seen at once that this latter is fundamentally changed, to a form for which in certain essential features there is no authority whatever in my father’s own writings.”

In the later books that I list above, Christopher would go back and introduced the details his Father planned on. There were a number of other issues that Christopher had, like the slaying of Thingol(High King of the Teleri). Again Christopher like to blame Guy Kay… At this point I’m growing tired of Christopher Tolkien. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the work he has done. But there comes a point where you need to stop riding your Father’s coattails and blaming other people. If there questions or something didn’t set right with the Silmarillion, why publish it? Why wait year down the road, let everyone think one thing about the Middle Earth history. It’s just not the books, it’s everything dealing with the Middle Earth universe. Sorry, after reading and writing about this for a couple of months now. I’m starting to see a patter with Christopher Tolkien and his selfish/possessive behavior or dare I say holier than thou? Yes, yes I do..

But at any rate, back to the slaying of Thingol.. Christopher had this to say:

“In the story that appears in The Silmarillion the outlaws who went with Hurin to Nargothrond were removed, as also was the curse of Mîm; and the only treasure that Húrin took from Nargothrond was the Nauglamîr – which was here supposed to have been made by Dwarves for Finrod Felagund, and to have been the most prized by him of all the hoard of Nargothrond. Húrin was represented as being at last freed from the delusions inspired by Morgoth in his encounter with Melian in Menegroth. The Dwarves who set the Silmaril in the Nauglamîr were already in Menegroth engaged on other works, and it was they who slew Thingol; at that time Melian’s power was with-drawn from Neldoreth and Region, and she vanished out of Middle-earth, leaving Doriath unprotected. The ambush and destruction of the Dwarves at Sarn Athrad was given again to Beren and the Green Elves [following my father’s letter of 1963 quoted on p. 353, where however he said that ‘Beren had no army’] and from the same source the Ents, ‘Shepherds of the Trees’, were introduced.”

The game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, a story of a ranger leading a garrison on the Black Gate is killed along with his family, shortly after he is revived and a wraith Celebrimbor takes host in his once dead body. As told in the last section of The Silmarillion, Celebrimbor is killed after protecting his forged rings of power from Sauron. These two sharing a body both seek revenge and redemption.

This is a vary important novel to have with LOTR & the Hobbit. I would also pick up the other three novels I listed earlier. they stories are fantastic.

Middle Earth Challenge: Gothmog

Middle Earth Challenge

Gothmog. Lord of the Balrogs, High Captain of Angband in the First Age of Middle Earth. At this Age his only equal would be Sauron under the Rule of Morgoth. Gothmog gave his allegiance Morgoth before the revolt of the Ñoldor, then later killing two of the High Kings of the Ñoldor.

After the Death of Fëanor, Gothmog would later reappear as a general of Angband in several more battles. Dagor Aglareb and Nirnaeth Arnoediad, Gothmog fought the High King of the Ñoldor, Fingon. Gothmog managed separate Fingon from the main host but was unable to kill him, till another Balrog appeared behind the Ñoldor “cast a throng of steel about him”. Gothmog was then able to slay Fingon and later captured Húrin, father of Túrin Turambar.

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Later in the First Age, Gothmog and the forces of Angband took the Hidden City of Gondilin. Gothmog and his forces held the northern gates, till later they went into battle with Ecthelion of the Foutain. From there Gothmog and Ecthelion dueled. It was there that Gothmog knocked the sword from Ecthelion’s hand and to the ground, while the Gothmog was about to swing his axe. Ecthelion was able to get up off the ground and ram him with his pointed helmet, both of them fell into the Fountain of the King. It was there that Gothmog met his end, the waters from the fountain quenched the flames that kept Gothmog alive. Sadly, Ecthelion also fell in this battle, drowning within’ the fountain as well and ending the Battle of Gondolin.

I know I’ve shared this video before about the Balrogs in a an older post. But I figure I’d share it again for this post.

Gothmog from the movies

Middle Earth Challenge: Fells Beasts & Update

So while writing out the last remaining installments of this challenge. I figured I’d share a few more of these lore videos by History of Middle Earth. Right now I’m working on the Silmarillion, Return of the King, and a few more history events/icons within’ the Middle Earth. So I am sorry if there was a long pause there. I’ve been reading and writing at the same time at points.

I have to say this has been a rather interesting adventure and I had no idea what I was getting into when I started it in May of 2020. Almost feel kinda sad that I’m nearing the end.

Middle Earth Challenge: The Dark Powers of Tolkien

Middle Earth Challenge

The Dark Powers of TolkienJ.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and The Silmarillion are some of the greatest tales of good versus evil ever told. From the creation of Arda to the War of the Ring, Tolkien’s Middle-earth has seen war and rebellion, devastation and loss, in which the powers of darkness emerged.

Here in his latest book, best-selling author and Tolkien expert David Day explores Tolkien’s portrayal of evil, and the sources that inspired his work: from myth, literature and history.

 

I found this book at a local Costco for $10.00. I wasn’t expecting groundbreaking, but it did look cool and filled with useful information into the Middle Earth. Most the darker side of Middle Earth that is. This is Book 5 in a series, here are the other ones if you are interested.

  • The Heroes of Tolkien
  • An Atlas of Tolkien
  • The Battles of Tolkien
  • The Hobbits of Tolkien

First and foremost, the art work is amazing and the maps/timeline are well planned out. That’s where it kinda ends really.. Where it does history of the characters, it’s rather basic. It spends more time focusing on the parallels between Christian icons and Middle Earth icons. As well the Norse and Geek mythology themes/icons. Which is well and good, but it comes off as Sunday school lesson and I found myself loosing interest after awhile.

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I think it was my fault in the end really. I was hoping that there was more history and insight of Middle Earth and it’s people/monsters. But like I said before the art work is amazing and the timelines that are laid out are great. In the end I am happy I got it and it fits in with my collection of Tolkien books. I just had higher hopes for it.

Middle Earth Challenge: The Two Towers

Middle Earth Challenge

Two TowersOne Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

Frodo and his Companions of the Ring have been beset by danger during their quest to prevent the Ruling Ring from falling into the hands of the Dark Lord by destroying it in the Cracks of Doom. They have lost the wizard, Gandalf, in a battle in the Mines of Moria. And Boromir, seduced by the power of the Ring, tried to seize it by force. While Frodo and Sam made their escape, the rest of the company was attacked by Orcs. Now they continue the journey alone down the great River Anduin—alone, that is, save for the mysterious creeping figure that follows wherever they go.

Book III:

BoromirThe death of Boromir…

Like so many before me, this was always heart breaking read and to watch for that matter. The way the book are split up the first chapter in The Two Towers is (Book III) The Departure of Boromir. At least with my copy of the book it is broken up into two parts: Book III & Book IV. The Book III part introduces the Riders of Rohan, Uruk-Hai, the great Treebread, The white Rider and the epic Battle of Helm’s Deep. Now keep in mind in the films they had added this chapter at the end of the movie. The whole visual of Boromir taking on all the orcs to protect the Hobbits, to only be pierced by many arrows and fall. While Boromir was still alive when Aragorn found him. The book states that there was at least 20+ Orcs lay slain around him and still holding on to his sword, even tho the blade was snapped into two, same thing with the Great Horn. Before Boromir died, he told Aragorn that Halflings were not dead. But the Orc had taken them.

“”Farewell , Aragorn! Go to Minas Tirith and save my people! I have failed.”

“No!” Said Aragorn, taking his hand and kissing his brow. “You have conquered. Few have gained such a victory. Be at peace! Minas Tirith shall not fall!”

Boromir smiled.”

Helm’s Deep..

Jumping ahead here a bit. The events that took place right before the Battle of Helm’s Deep are as follows:

  • Eomir and the Riders of Rohan destroy the Uruk-Hai army and Merry and Pippin escape unnoticed.
  • The Riders of Rohan inform Aragorn of the Uruk-Hais’ destruction.
  • Merry and Pippin have been taken under the protection of Treebeard the Ent.
  • At the last moment, Smeagol convinces Frodo to take a secret route into Mordor, as an alternative to the Black Gate.
  • Gandalf meets Aragorn in the Fangorn Forest and finds out that Merry and Pippin are safe.
  • With the help of Gandalf, Theoden banishes Wormtongue and is healed from sickness.
  • Feramir captures Frodo while he is traveling to the Crossroads.
  • Treebeard and the Ents lay seige on Isengard, destroying all exept the Orthanc.
  • Frodo convinces Feramir to let him leave to go and destroy the ring.

Gimli_9d7bc0_2011386On the second day of their journey to Isengard, a messenger who told them that Saruman had almost won met the group. Gandalf left them with the excuse of having an errand to run. When they reached Helm’s Deep, the battle was fierce and the Orcs seemed to be winning. Suddenly, Théoden and his men rode up from behind, trapping the Orcs. Gandalf appeared with a contingent of reinforcements, led by Erkenbrand. The Orcs fled into the nearby forest, but the Ents captured them and the battle was over as quickly as it had begun. Following after the the Battle of Heml’s Deep, Merry and Pippin rejoin Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli at Isengard. At which point Gandalf offers Saruman a chance to return to good, but Saruman declines and is stripped of his honor. Now in the film Saruman is killed and his staff is broken by Gandalf. He is pushed off the balcony by Grima and is impaled on one of his machines, a spiked wheel. In the novel Saruman dies after Wormtongue slashes his throat in the Shire at the end of the War of the Ring.

Book IV:

Frodo avoids being seen by the Nazgul at Minas Morgul, and begins to climb the staris of Cirith Ungol.

Sam and ShelobSam and Frodo encounter Shelob the Great Spider and offspring of Ungoliant. Shelob would later attack the Hobbits after Gollum had lead them to a trap. Frodo was poisoned by her venom, Sam then attacked Shelob using Sting. After stabing Shelob in the eye, cutting a leg off  and stabbing her under belly. Shelob would runaway, mostly do to the fact that no one had ever wounded her that badly. Now after looking some information as to what might have happened to Shelob. No one really know… If she is alive or dead after the battle with Sam. The only other time we hear anything about Shelob is when Sam puts on the One Ring and it is said Sam heard her “bubbling in her misery”.

But still, she was there, who was there before Sauron, and before the first stone of Barad-dûr; and she served none but herself, drinking the blood of Elves and Men, bloated and grown fat with endless brooding on her feasts, weaving webs of shadow; for all living things were her food, and her vomit darkness.“—The Two Towers, “Shelob’s Lair”

Unlike in the books, Shelob makes her appearance in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, rather than The Two Towers, because if she had appeared in The Two Towers, there would be very little for Frodo and Sam to encounter in the final film. Also in Middle-earth: Shadow of War, she is visible in human form in the wraith-world. In the game, she has Celebrimbor’s ring for quite some time while giving Talion visions about the fate of Minas Ithil (Minas Morgul) and the Ringwraiths. It is also seen in the game that Shelob was working with Sauron during the period he was posing as Annatar, and was implied to be his lover before he betrayed her. The mobile version of Shadow of War classifies Shelob as a Maia, though J.R.R. Tolkien never specified her exact nature. (which I did not know about this. Thank you Tolkien Gateway.net)

Choices of Master Samwise…

Frodo is captured by orcs after being paralyzed by Shelob’s sting. Sam follows the guards who carry off the paralyzed Frodo. Upon hearing them mention that Shelob only devours living creatures, Sam is shocked to realize that his friend is alive. He chastises himself for taking the Ring for himself, unaware that he has actually saved the Ring and kept it from Sauron by taking it from Frodo. Sam realizes that Frodo is alive at the very moment when the guards enter Mordor, slamming the gates in Sam’s face. As The Two Towers ends, Sam is anguished by the thought that he and Frodo are separated.

Over all this is a great read and it makes you want to pick up the Return of the King right away to find out what happens next. Now the Book vs Film:

  • Film Opens With Gandalf’s Battle with the Balrog
  • Film: The film begins with a gorgeous panoramic view of the mountains, a voice is heard in the background yelling “The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun. Go back to the shadow! You cannot pass… ” Then the camera turns into the rocks nearby and smashes through them as Gandalf yells “Fly, you fools!” – we then see a repeat of the shot from Fellowship but instead of Gandalf falling away from the camera into the darkness, this time the camera races after him, following him down – and then we see a great battle between Gandalf and the Balrog.
  • Book: Gandalf merely discusses his battle with the Balrog several chapters into the book.
  • Treebeard Makes Short Work of Grishnakh
  • Film: After meeting Merry and Pippin, Treebeard “makes short work of Grishnakh,” who has pursued them into Fangorn forest.
  • Book: Grishnakh is killed by the Riders of Rohan, providing Merry and Pippin with an opportunity to escape into Fangorn, where they meet Treebeard.
  • Gandalf’s Resurrection Shown on Screen
  • Film: Gandalf is shown being resurrected as Gandalf the White while lying naked upon the snowy mountain-top after his battle with the Balrog.
  • Book: Gandalf merely discusses this event when he meets up with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli.
  • Théoden Gives Wormtongue The Bum’s Rush
  • Théoden and Wormtongue go mano-a-manoFilm: After Gandalf heals Théoden and reveals Wormtongues treachery, Théoden tosses his old advisor down the stairs.
  • Book: Grim ran down the stairs without “assistance.”
  • Éowyn Leads Rohan Refugees To Helm’s Deep
  • Film: With Saruman’s forces destroying Rohan villages, Éowyn leads Rohan civilians to the refuge at Helm’s Deep. Aragorn accompanies her.
  • Book: Éowyn lead the Rohan civilians to the refuge of Dunharrow. None of the story’s other main characters accompanied her.
  • Boromir’s Death Discussed in Faramir’s Refuge
  • Henneth Annûn: The Window on the WestFilm: After being led blindfolded to Henneth Annûn, Frodo discusses Boromir’s death with Faramir.
  • Book: Frodo discusses Boromir’s death with Faramir before being taken to the refuge.