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: The Fall of Gondolin

Middle Earth Challenge

39798828._SY475_In the Tale of The Fall of Gondolin are two of the greatest powers in the world. There is Morgoth of the uttermost evil, unseen in this story but ruling over a vast military power from his fortress of Angband. Deeply opposed to Morgoth is Ulmo, second in might only to Manwë, chief of the Valar: he is called the Lord of Waters, of all seas, lakes, and rivers under the sky. But he works in secret in Middle-earth to support the Noldor, the kindred of the Elves among whom were numbered Húrin and Túrin Turambar.

Central to this enmity of the gods is the city of Gondolin, beautiful but undiscoverable. It was built and peopled by Noldorin Elves who, when they dwelt in Valinor, the land of the gods, rebelled against their rule and fled to Middle-earth. Turgon King of Gondolin is hated and feared above all his enemies by Morgoth, who seeks in vain to discover the marvellously hidden city, while the gods in Valinor in heated debate largely refuse to intervene in support of Ulmo’s desires and designs.

Into this world comes Tuor, cousin of Túrin, the instrument of Ulmo’s designs. Guided unseen by him Tuor sets out from the land of his birth on the fearful journey to Gondolin, and in one of the most arresting moments in the history of Middle-earth the sea-god himself appears to him, rising out of the ocean in the midst of a storm. In Gondolin he becomes great; he is wedded to Idril, Turgon’s daughter, and their son is Eärendel, whose birth and profound importance in days to come is foreseen by Ulmo.

At last comes the terrible ending. Morgoth learns through an act of supreme treachery all that he needs to mount a devastating attack on the city, with Balrogs and dragons and numberless Orcs. After a minutely observed account of the fall of Gondolin, the tale ends with the escape of Túrin and Idril, with the child Eärendel, looking back from a cleft in the mountains as they flee southward, at the blazing wreckage of their city. They were journeying into a new story, the Tale of Eärendel, which Tolkien never wrote, but which is sketched out in this book from other sources.

Following his presentation of Beren and Lúthien Christopher Tolkien has used the same ‘history in sequence’ mode in the writing of this edition of The Fall of Gondolin. In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, it was ‘the first real story of this imaginary world’ and, together with Beren and Lúthien and The Children of Húrin, he regarded it as one of the three ‘Great Tales’ of the Elder Days.

Here it is! Third novel in the first age of Middle Earth.. Now I have written on a number of events that take place during this time and the links are as follows:

Middle Earth Challenge: Tom Bombadil

Middle Earth Challenge: The Children of Húrin

What Are The Origins Of The TROLLS? | History of Middle-Earth | Lore

The Fall of Gondolin was set into motion a few decades after the Nírnaeth Arnoediad (which is the fifth battle against morgoth in the first age of Middle Earth). Now keep in mind that the War of the Great Jewels (The Silmaril) went on for decades and decades. There were six great battles that took place:

First Battle – Fought mainly by Sindar(also known as the Grey Elves/Elves of telerin descent) against the Dark Lord Morgoth.

Dagor-nuin-Giliath – This wold the second battle, also known as the Battle Under the Stars. It was set in Beleriand(a region in the North West of Middle Earth) and first to be fought by exiled Ñoldor(the second clan of Elves, greatest of the Elves in lore and smithcraft.)

Dagor Aglareb – The third battle and the second battle in Beleriand. After the battle of Dagor-nuin-Giliath, there was a the beings of a civil war. But Morgoth began his attack and united the Elves and Men. This is also the first COMPLETE victory over Morgoth. This also made a period of the peace call Siege of Angband.

Dagor Bragollach – Also known as Battle of the Sudden Flame became the fourth greatest battle of the War of the Jewels. This is also the end of the Siege of Angband and the Dark Lord Morgoth took control over the war. This is also where Morgoth created the first Dragon. Morgoth’s army was in full swing with Orcs, Trolls, Balrogs and Glaurung(first dragon).

Nírnaeth Arnoediad – Or Battle of the Unnumbered Tears  is the fifth battle I was talking about in the beginning of this. Like I said before, the actions in the battle set forth the Fall of Gondolin and also the tragic history of Húrin. This battle saw a number of casualties on both sides. In the end Morgoth got the upper hand in the battle field of Anfauglith. The Failure of the Elves and Men of the Battle of Nírnaeth Arnoediad. Morgoth had destoryed all the people of Hithlum and his Orcs sacked Beleriand and forced the Sons of Fëanor away from Himring. This is also when Morgoth laid the curse upon Húrin and his kin, as well bound Húrin to a chair to watch the curse unfold before him. This is where the novel The Children of Húrin comes into play.

War of Wrath – Also called the Great Battle. Elves, Men, Dwarves and Valar all fought against Morgoth. This is now the end of the first age of Middle Earth and it is considered to be the largest battle of Middle Earth. The clashes between the forces of Valar & Morgoth was so violent, it broke apart the northwestern of Middle Earth and caused Beleriand to sink into the ocean.

But I feel that War of Wrath is set for another time. This is about the  Fall of Gondolin. While the novel itself does cover the War of Wrath, it was a rather short or at least it fell short. The Tale of Earendil is the highlight of the book. Sadly there are times within the novel it where is kinda lags. Where Christopher Tolkien goes into how his father wrote and the process he went through. While interesting to read, it kinda takes away from the book a little bit. But I am happy over all that these novels are finished and out there for everyone. It just make the Middle Earth bigger and more room for other stories to be told. But before reading these three novels, I say you have to read The Silmarillion first as it give you more insight into the history.

Middle Earth Challenge: Beren and Lúthien

Middle Earth Challenge

32708664._SY475_Restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a fully continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Humans, Dwarves and Orcs and the rich landscape and creatures unique to Tolkien’s Middle-earth. The tale of Beren and Lúthien was, or became, an essential element in the evolution of The Silmarillion, the myths and legends of the First Age of the World conceived by J.R.R. Tolkien. Returning from France and the battle of the Somme at the end of 1916, he wrote the tale in the following year. Essential to the story, and never changed, is the fate that shadowed the love of Beren and Lúthien: for Beren was a mortal man, but Lúthien was an immortal Elf. Her father, a great Elvish lord, in deep opposition to Beren, imposed on him an impossible task that he must perform before he might wed Lúthien. This is the kernel of the legend; and it leads to the supremely heroic attempt of Beren and Lúthien together to rob the greatest of all evil beings, Melkor, called Morgoth, the Black Enemy, of a Silmaril. In this book Christopher Tolkien has attempted to extract the story of Beren and Lúthien from the comprehensive work in which it was embedded; but that story was itself changing as it developed new associations within the larger history. To show something of the process whereby this legend of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he has told the story in his father’s own words by giving, first, its original form, and then passages in prose and verse from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed. Presented together for the first time, they reveal aspects of the story, both in event and in narrative immediacy, that were afterwards lost.

by

Alan Lee (Illustrator)
If you have read the The Silmarillion or the Book of Lost Tales Vol 1 & 2, you would know this tale. I know in the Lord of the Rings, Aragorn had mention. Do to the parallels in theme with him and Arwen.
Now this is a tricky one to write about… Where I do like the book and think it does have a home in the Tolkien line up. It really isn’t a stand alone story like the The Children of Húrin. Beren and Lúthien novel is not set up in a stand alone format, in fact it’s reads more like a history/poem/how Tolkien worked book. There is about 40 or so pages of just intro/preface by Christopher Tolkien. Then the story of the Tale of Tinuviel (Beren and Lúthien). . So basically the first one hundred pages are worth the read. The part I had trouble getting through was the long poems afterwards. Hundred plus pages of this.. With notes from Christopher in between explain how his father wrote these stories and what the meaning behind a lot of it was.
When the story of Beren and Lúthien came about in the The Silmarillion and it was vary straight and to the point. Much like the recalling from Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings. it is said that Tolkien wanted these stories that were brought up in the The Silmarillion to have their own long narratives. The stories are Beren and Lúthien, The Children of Húrin, and The Fall of Gondolin. It was within these stories that covered the events in the first age of Middle Earth.
While the novel of Beren and Lúthien is the beginning of the 3. It does not read like the other two. If you want more information about  Beren and Lúthien, I would recommend reading the The Silmarillion and Book of Lost Tales 1 & 2. I would also check out these website about  Beren and Lúthien:

 

Beren and Lúthien (LOTR Wiki)

Beren and Lúthien (Wiki)

It is here you can get a more full history and understanding of this love story and the rise of Morgoth. Now please keep in mind, I am not bashing this book. I just made the mistake of reading The Children of Húrin first. So I had a mind set of a stand alone story, only to find it was more of a history/poem novel. So that kinda lead to my… I don’t want to say my disappointment… But it left me with a “meh” feeling haha. I guess if you really want to look at it. It’s almost like The Fellowship of the Ring and how it reads. Except the Fellowship severed more as a stand alone novel kinda..

At any rate, I would say check it out if you have the time and are a big Tolkien fan.

Middle Earth Challenge: The Tale of Tinúviel

Middle Earth Challenge

…It is a long tale…” — Aragorn

This one is a little different. As the The Tale of Tinúviel is really the first chapter in the novel The book of Lost Tales Vol. 2. I kinda felt I should write about this before the I write about Beren and Lúthien. Now the Book of Lost Tales Vol. 1 & 2, cover of events that happen in the first age of Middle Earth. They also go with the The Silmarillion to add support to the events and stories within that novel as well.

In the story of The Tale of Tinúviel it is the earliest version of Lúthien(but in this story she is named Tinúviel) writen by Tolkien in 1917. It’s a complex tale of the love between her and Beren and the quest/adventure they have to get the Silmaril. **Spoilers** it also tells the stories of the deaths of Finrod Felagund, Draugluin, Carcharoth, Huan (Beren’s wolf-hound), and the tragic death of Beren.

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Art work by https://www.deviantart.com/steamey

The Silmarils is the jewels of the Fëanor. Made with the essence of the two trees of Valinor. Said to be the most prized wonders that would made by the Elves. It was this that started the War of the Jewels and ended the first age of Middle Earth. Now much this tale is told again in the novel The Silmarillion as the epic poem The Lay of Leithian and it does not differ much. In the Lord of the Rings, Aragorn told Frodo of the story Beren and Lúthien. Plus the fact the both Aragorn and Arwen were both descendants of Beren and Lúthien.

It is also said that the tale of Aragorn and Arwen were to act a follow up to the Beren and Lúthien love story. So the themes are similar to each other and Tolkien also mirrored his relationship with his wife within these stories. In 2017 Christopher Tolkien wrote and worked on a 3 part series of the first age of Middle Earth. Beren and Lúthien became the first, taking the tales from Vol 1 & 2 and the works from the Silmarillion. Plus with the note from his father Christopher was able to make a book out of their quest.

Fun History Facts:

  • Tinúviel is only known by that name, which in this version is her given name and not an epithet given by Beren; the name Lúthien never appears.

  • Tevildo, “Prince of Cats”, is the precursor to the later character of Sauron.

  • Tinwelint was the name of the King of Artanor, who later would be changed to Thingol, King of Doriath.

  • Gwendeling was the name of Tinwelint’s wife, who later would be changed to the Maia Melian, Queen of Doriath.

  • Umuiyan is a character who is Tevildo’s doorkeeper.

  • Karkaras is the name of the beast-villain who later would be the wolf Carcharoth.

  • When Beren cuts the Silmaril from Melkor’s crown, he uses a kitchen-knife of Tevildo’s in this tale. Later, Angrist is what he uses instead.

  • Glorund the dragon is mentioned, who later becomes Glaurung.

  • Two named giants are mentioned, Nan and Gilim. In a certain song that Tinúviel sings, they are noted for their length of sword and height of neck, respectively. (Nan’s sword is said to be named Glend).

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.