Not all Elves are Nice…
From this point onward, the narrative of The Silmarillion shifts into personal stories and specific events: of which their outcomes will somehow or other affect the whole balance of the story.
This is one of the alluring beauties of the book: Tolkien’s ability to shift between the grand-scale cosmological narratives to the intricate human (and elf) stories – weaved together as one interlocking tapestry.
Chapter 16 – Of Maeglin
Turgon, son of Fingolfin, has established the Hidden Kingdom of Gondolin. His city and people prosper as they hide from the malice and evil of Morgoth.
After two hundred years, Aredhel Ar-Feiniel (the White of Lady of the Noldor), the King’s sister, becomes weary of the city and demands to leave Gondolin – against the ban set by her brother.
With a heavy heart, Turgon grants her request and sends three messengers to lead her to the dwelling of Fingon (their brother), in Hithlum.
Unsurprisingly, the plan falls apart; Aredhel is lost, wandering alone close to the eastern borders of Doriath, until she finds herself in the woods of Nan Elmoth.
There she meets Eöl: a Dark Elf who was once the kin of Thingol, but eventually left to live alone. There he wooed her and became her husband, where she gave birth to a son by the name of Maeglin.
Eöl lures Aredhel into Nan Elmoth
As the years pass, Aredhel becomes weary of the forest and longs to return to her brother in Gondolin. Maeglin too desires to meet and learn more about his kin, and thus together they run away to the Hidden City.
Turgon greets his sister and nephew with joy, but it is soon discovered that Eöl has pursued them and found the hidden entrance to the city. He is brought in front of the King to receive judgement, and a choice: to stay in the city and live the rest of his life, or be executed for his trespassing.
Eöl (putting the “dark” in his Dark Elf status) accepts the second option, but not without attempting to kill his son with a poisoned arrow. Aredhel rushes forward and instead receives the fatal wound.
The King puts Eöl to death and raises the orphaned Maeglin as his own son.
As it turns out, this was an unwise decision that will bring terrible consequences in the coming strife…
Thus it was in Gondolin; and amid all the bliss of that realm, while its glory lasted, a dark seed of evil was sown.
Chapter 17 – Of the Coming of Men into the West
Finrod Felagund, a lord of the Noldor and ruler of the great city of Nargothrond in the south west, undertakes a journey towards Ossiriand in the east of Beleriand.
One evening he discovers a camp within a valley, and soon realises they are Men.
The younger children of Ilúvatar had awoken in the far east of Middle-earth; one group, under by Bëor the Old, had come over the Blue Mountains and into Beleriand.
That night, Finrod creeps quietly among the sleeping figures and uses his harp to sing a beautiful tune. The Men are amazed and soon befriended him and learn much knowledge from the elf lord.
Three main houses of Men emerge from the great journey into the western parts of Beleriand; they become known as the Edain: the House of Bëor, the House of Haleth and the House of Hador.
Men cross the Blue Mountains into Beleriand
Whilst not all Elves greet the coming of Men with open arms, the Noldor received them gladly: especially Fingolfin. The elf lord perceives that they are both strong and wise. As the year pass, great alliances are forged and the three houses of Men establish dwellings across Beleriand.
Meanwhile, many men who had remained behind in the East become corrupted by Morgoth and turn to evil. Unlike the Edain, they reduce the span of their lives and become weaker and less wise: driven by fear of the Dark Lord.
All these were caught in the net of the Doom of the Noldor; and they did great deeds which the Eldar remember still among the histories of the Kings of old. And in those days the strength of Men was added to the power of the Noldor, and their hope was high; and Morgoth was straitly enclosed…
Next week we’ll be tackling only one chapter, so as to make way for the first of the great tales from the First Age: Beren and Lúthien.