The Fall of Fëanor and the Rise of the Noldor
Remember last week we tackled 3 chapters? This week it’s just the one. Things are about to get intricate and personal…
Chapter 13 – Of the Return of the Noldor
Fëanor and his followers land in the Firth of Drengist and establish camp around the lake of Mithrim. Their arrival back to Beleriand compels Morgoth’s numerous hosts of Orcs to assail the camp at unawares. Conflict ensues: Dagor-nuin-Giliath, the Battle-under-Star (the second battle in the Wars of Beleriand). It is named so because the Moon had not yet risen by then. After prolonged fighting, the Noldor emerge victorious: resulting in the remaining Orcs fleeing back to Angband.
Having grown too proud of himself, Fëanor pursues the Orcs, thereby hoping to arrive to Angband itself and reclaim the stolen Silmarils. Yet, he finds himself assailed by Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs and other fire demons. Although valiant and displaying great prowess and skill in combat, Fëanor is finally overwhelmed and slain.
Fëanor battles Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs
Maedhros, son of Fëanor accepts the summons of Morgoth for a truce, and as he rides to the Hells of Iron (Angband) he is trapped and enslaved: doomed to hang from a precipice at Thangorodrim, with his right hand fastened to a chain.
During this turmoil Fingolfin finally crosses over the Helcaraxë and into Beleriand, at the first rising of the Sun. His contingent establishes camp on the other side of the lake. Having been betrayed by their own kin, a justified bitterness resides with the newcomers.
Fingolfin arrives in Beleriand
Fingon (son of Fingolfin) hears of Maedhros’ imprisonment and, laying aside any feud against Fëanor’s people, goes to his friend’s rescue. With the help of Thorondor, the lord of the Eagles, (and a certain hand-cutting gesture) Maedhros is freed and returns to his people.
This act of bravery slowly reconciles the two Noldor factions, which soon comes to good use as Morgoth renews his attack on the Elves. The Dagor Aglareb (the Glorious Battle, and third of the Wars of Beleriand) unfolds; and after much conflict the Noldor emerge victorious.
Lands are settled in, dwellings established, pacts and allegiances are formed (between Elves and Dwarves), and the only person not thoroughly happy is Thingol of Doriath – who sees the newly come Noldor as the cause for Morgoth’s renewed attacks. But although strained, there is a rekindling of hope in withstanding the threat of the Dark Lord.
Unhappy Elf: Thingol, Lord of the Sindar
The shadow is pushed back, and for a while Beleriand and its inhabitants grow fair and prosperous.
A victory it was, and yet a warning; and the princes took heed of it, and thereafter drew closer their leaguer, and strengthened and ordered their watch, setting the Siege of Angband. which lasted wellnigh four hundred years of the Sun.
What to ponder on:
Fingolfin is perhaps my favourite character in The Silmarillion. It’s a really symbolic gesture that his arrival back in Beleriand should herald the rising of the Sun – a bringer of hope. It’s very similar to other major turning points in the narrative of The Hobbit (Gandalf saving the Dwarves from the Trolls) and The Lord of the Rings, with Gandalf’s arrival at Helm’s Deep and the Rohirrim’s approach towards Minas Tirith at dawn. Fingolfin almost serves as the original herald of hope at the start of day.
Next week it’s Chapters 14 & 15 …