10) Of the Sindar
11) Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor
12) Of Men
13) Of the Return of the Noldor
Of the Sindar.
Having concerned itself with the events surrounding the Valar and the Noldor Elves in Aman, this chapter takes us back to Middle Earth. King Thingol (Elwe), with his wife Melian the Maiar, have established a powerful realm within Beleriand, and all elves west of the Blue Mountains call him their lord. With Melkor still chained, the Sindarian elves are prospering, and Thingol and Melian have a daughter, Luthien.
This chapter tells us about the coming of Dwarves too. Founding the mansions of Belegost and Nogrod in the Blue mountains, they enter Beleriand and meet Thingol’s people. The Elves are amazed to find another race that can speak and quickly befriend the newcomers. This friendship between the Dwarves and the Sindar is never overly warm however, but more of mutual respect. Both races profit greatly from each others friendship, and it is the Dwarves of Belegost who build King Thingol’s underground mansion of Menegroth for him.
Menegroth, the Thousand Caves, was built with the skill of both the Dwarves and the Sindarin craftsmen and was said to have been the fairest dwelling of any king east of the Sea, almost like an underground forest with silver waterfalls.
Not long after the building of Menegroth, the Dwarves start coming across Melkor’s fell creatures that had multiplied in the dark over the long years. Hearing of these creatures, Thingol has the Dwarves craft weapons and armour for his people, for up until then they had had no need of them.
This chapter also tells us of the Nandor, a group of Teleri who had not crossed the Anduin on their journey West. Originally of Olwe’s people, these now have Lenwe as their lord. These are a woodland folk, and without weapons of steel, they greatly fear Melkor’s creatures that are invading their woods. Having heard of Thingol’s realm, Lenwe’s son, Denethor, leads a group of his people into Beleriand, where they settle in Ossiriand and become known as the Laiquendi or Green Elves.
Finally in this chapter, after killing the Two Trees, Melkor and Ungoliant return to Middle Earth. Ungoliant settles in a valley on the border of Thingol’s realm and breeds with other great spiders there and poisons the land, while Melkor returns to Angband and raises the mountain of Thangorodrim. He then unleashes his orcs in two vast armies which attack to the west and to the east of Menegroth. The Eastern army, caught between Thingol and Denethor’s forces is utterly defeated, though Denethor and many of the lightly armed Green elves are slain. The western army is more successful, however, and they succeed in driving Cirdan to the edge of the sea. In response, Thingol pulls his people back into the forests around Menegroth and Melian protects this land with an unseen wall of shadow and bewilderment known as the Girdle of Melian. The Elves of Cirdan, who are mainly mariners, defend themselves behind the walled havens of the Falas, while Melkor’s forces roam freely throughout the rest of Beleriand.
Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor.
After hearing Feanor and the Noldor’s decision to leave Aman, the Valar attempt to redress the evils of Melkor. Under Yavanna and Nienna’s prayers, the Two Trees, with the last of their lives, produce a single silver flower and a single golden fruit. Manwe hallowed these, and Aule created vessels that would house and preserve their radiance. These vessels were then given to Varda, that they could be set in the sky and become lamps of heaven. Two Maiar were then chosen to steer these lamps across the sky. Tilion the Hunter, a servant of Orome was given the task of steering Isil (the Moon), while Vana’s chief servant, the fiery Maiar Arien was given the task of guiding Anar (the Sun). These two lights, particularly Arien, Melkor greatly feared, and so scattered had his power become in lies and evil creatures, he no longer had the strength to assail them.
At this time, also, the Valar increased their defences around Valinor. They increased the height of the Pelori Mountains, and also created the Enchanted Isles around the coast. Through the latter no mariner could pass, and so the Noldor were effectively shut out as had been told to them by Mandos.
This short chapter tells us how as the Sun first rose in the sky, the Younger Children of Eru (Men) awoke in the land of Hildorien in the east of Middle Earth. For the most part, having given Middle Earth the light of the Sun and the Moon, the Valar now pretty much left Middle Earth untended. With no Valar to guide or summon them West, Men feared rather than loved the Valar and failed to understand the purpose of them. Ulmo, as always, maintained his watch over the Children, but Men had no skill in reading his messages in the water.
This chapter very briefly describes the similarities and differences between the Elves and Men at this time and also hints that Men will come to usurp the elves under the sunlight while the latter begin to wane.
Of the Return of the Noldor
This chapter begins with Feanor’s force of Noldor landing in Middle Earth. Seen by Melkor’s spies they are quickly attacked before they can ready their defences, but Melkor has underestimated their strength. They quickly defeat the army that attacked them, and also the one that had defeated the forces of Cirdan. Of the vast army that Melkor had prepared for the conquest of Beleriand, only a few return to Angband. All does not go well for the Noldor, however. Consumed by his own wrath, Feanor pursued the enemy back to Angband hoping to meet Melkor himself, and soon he drew far ahead of his own forces. Balrogs then came out of Angband and surrounded him, and although his sons eventually rescued him, the wounds he had suffered proved fatal. As Mandos had predicted, Feanor’s spirit joined him in his Halls before his Oath had been completed, and because of the harm he had caused, it never again left those Halls.
Shortly after the death of Feanor, Melkor called a truce with the Sons of Feanor, offering the surrender of a Silmaril if they would depart. During the talks, however, he deceived them and captured Maedhros, Feanor’s eldest son. Holding him hostage he had him fixed to the face of Thangorodrim with a steel band around his wrist.
Having crossed the Grinding Ice, as the Sun first rose into the sky, Fingolfin and his followers marched into Mithrim. As Melkor’s forces cowered from the light of the Sun, Fingolfin’s army marched to the gates of Angband, but wisely, Fingolfin had his men retreat rather than assail the great fortess. Together the hosts of Feanor and those of Fingolfin and Finrod could have perhaps prevailed at that time over Melkor, but because of the burning of the ships there was much distrust between the two groups. The Curse of the Noldor was already beginning to work against them.
Wishing to heal the rift between the two groups of Noldor, Fingon, once a great friend of Maedhros, went alone and climbed the mountain of Thangorodrim. There, with the aid of the giant eagle Thorondor, he rescued Maedhos, though he was forced to sever his friend’s right hand to release him. In gratitude (and shame over the burning of the ships), Maedhos relinquished kingship of the Noldor, passing it on to Fingolfin. Although this healed the rift, not all of Maedhos’s brothers were happy with this decision.
Though King Thingol was not too happy with the return of the Noldor, and so many princes wishing lands of their own to rule, he did grant them leave to take whatever lands he did not rule himself. The princes therefore occupied Beleriand with the exception of Doriath, and posted a watch on Angband. Please note, there is a map on page 154 showing the realms taken at this time.
The last pages of this chapter tell of the Siege of Angband which lasted for several hundred years. The Noldor kept a tight watch on Melkor, and though most of these years passed peacefully, on several occasions Melkor did test the strength and vigilance of the Noldor by releasing his forces upon them.
Questions for discussion
1) What was the relationship between the Sindar and the Dwarves like in the early days after their first meeting? Was this typical of other Elf/Dwarf relationships seen in LotR?
And it was told by the Vanyar who held vigil with the Valar that when the messengers declared to Manwe the answers of Feanor to his heralds, Manwe wept and bowed his head. But at that last word of Feanor: that at the least of the Noldor should do deeds to live in song for ever, he raised his head, as one that hears a voice far off, and he said: ’So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Ea, and evil yet be good to have been.’
Would any of you like to attempt to interpret what Manwe was saying here?
3) The light of the Two Trees was a creation of Yavanna alone. How was the creation of the Sun and the Moon different to this?
4) Melkor was once said to be the most powerful of the Valar. He destroyed the Lamps of the Valar, and then with Ungoliant’s aid he killed the Two Trees too. When he assailed the Moon, however, he was unsuccessful. He is becoming weaker over time. Why is this?
5) Is it any accident that Men first awoke as the Sun first climbed into the sky?
6) Apart from the obvious physical differences, how are Elves and Men different to each other?