Silmarillion Book Club (Week Six)
For key terms, major events, and takeaways, I've found the posts on TrueMyths.org to be the most helpful. Click here to read them! And I'm including some of the key quotes below as well as discussion questions. This guide to the Silmarillion is also helpful, although not broken up into chapters; and The Silmarillion Writers' Guild also offers a chapter-by-chapter summary, which is incredibly helpful!
This week, we witness some pretty exciting changes to Middle-earth including the creation of the Sun and Moon and the awakening of Men! We also see the Valar drawing back from the Children of Iluvatar and leaving them mostly to take care of themselves. Lúthien is also born, and we hear a few familiar names (Eärendiland Elrond!) at the very end of the last chapter.
Chapter Ten: Of the Sindar
In this chapter...
- Elwë becomes Elu Thingol, King Greymantle, Lord of the Sindar
- Lúthien is born to Thingol and Melian
- The Dwarves came over the Blue Mountains into Beleriand; they called themselves Khazad; the Sindar called them Naugrim. This is the first encounter between Dwarves and Elves.
- Thingol commissioned the Dwarves to create Menegroth.
- The servants of Melkor are roaming freely in the north; Thingol commissions the Dwarves to make them weapons for self-defense
- Denethor brings his people into Beleriand for protection under Thingol's kindship
- Melian keeps Ungoliant from entering their realm
- Melkor sends Orcs to attack; the Dwarves and Elves are overall victorious in battle although Denethor is killed.
- Melian creates a border (the Girdle of Melian) to protect against further attacks and this realm is called Doriath.
- "They are called the Sindar, the Grey-elves of starlit Beleriand; and although they were Moriquendi, under the lordship of Thingol and the teachings of Melian they became the fairest and most wise and skilful of all the Elves of Middle-earth."
- "Now Melian had much foresight, after the manner of the Maiar; and when the second age of the captivity of Melkor had passed, she counselled Thingol that the Peace of Arda would not last for ever."
- "But of bliss and glad life there is little to be said, before it ends; as works fair and wonderful, while they endure for eyes to see, are their own record, and only when they are in peril or broken for ever do they pass into song."
- "In Beleriand in those days the Elves walked, and the rivers flowed, and the stars shone, and the night-flowers gave forth their scents; and the beauty of Melian was as the noon, and the beauty of Lúthien was as the dawn in spring."
- "But it came to pass at last that the end of bliss was at hand, and the noontide of Valinor was drawing to its twilight."
- How is Lúthien described?
- Reflect on the meeting of Dwarves and Elves. How did they respond differently to one another?
- How was the relationship between the Dwarves and Elves initially?
- What does Melian percieve at the beginning of the chapter? How does Thingol respond?
- What becomes of Ungoliant?
- What does Melkor do in this chapter? How do the Dwarves and Elves respond?
- How does Melian protect her people?
- How does this chapter end?
Chapter Eleven: Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor
In this chapter...
- The Valar sat long in council, mourning
- Mandos predicts Feanor will die soon.
- The Valar learn the Noldor have returned to Middle-earth
- Yavanna and Nienna try to heal the trees but are unable to
- Aule makes the sun and moon from the last flower and fruit of the Trees
- Morgoth is afraid of the sunlight and puts forth smoke and clouds to shield himself
- The Valar hide Valinor, raising up the surrounding mountains and placing 'shadows and bewilderment' in the seas surrounding.
- "It is told that after the flight of Melkor the Valar sat long unmoved upon their thrones in the Ring of Doom; but they were not idle, as Feanor declared in the folly of his heart.
- "Yet neither power nor wisdom assuaged their grief, and the knowing of evil in the hour of its being. And they mourned not more for the death of the Trees than for the marring of Feanor: of the works of Melkor one of the most evil."
- "But Mandos said: 'And yet remain evil. To me shall Feanor come soon."
- "Telperion bore at last upon a leafless bough one great flower of silver, and Laurelin a single fruit of gold. These Yavanna took; and then the Trees died, and their lifeless stems stand yet in Valinor, a memorial of vanished joy."
- "But Morgoth hated the new lights, and was for a while confounded by this unlooked-for stroke of the Valar."
- "Thus it was that as Mandos foretold to them in Araman the Blessed Realm was shut against the Noldor; and of the many messengers in after days sailed into the West none came ever to Valinor--save one only: the mightiest mariner of song."
- Is it interesting to you that the Valar mourned the 'marring of Feanor'?
- What do the Manwe and Mandos say about Feanor?
- What paths had Varda originally intended the sun and moon to take? How did that change?
- Reflect on the themes of dark and light in this chapter specifically. Why does evil love darkness? What is the power of the light?
- Why did the Valar choose to shut the Blessed Realm? How did they do so?
- Who is 'the mightiest mariner of song' mentioned in the last sentence?
- What are the consequences of the Blessed Realm being shut?
Chapter Twelve: Of Men
In this chapter...
- The Valar leave Middle-earth untended
- The Noldor are the only ones fighting Melkor
- Umlo kept the exiles in his thought, gathering news through the waters
- This was the beginning of the Years of the Sun
- The first Men awoke in Hildórien; they were called the Atani by the Eldar
- Men are afraid of the Valar, but Ulmo cares for them
- Elves are immortal whereas men die.
- We learn the Valar do not control the fates of Men
- Men and Elves fought side by side
- "From this time forth were reckoned the Years of the Sun. Swifter and briefer are they than the long Years of the Trees in Valinor. In that time the air of Middle-earth became heavy with the breath of growth and mortality and the changing and ageing fo all things was hastened exceedingly..."
- "At the first rising of the Sun the Younger Children of Iluvatar awoke in the land of Hildorien in the eastern regions of Middle-earth; but the first Sun arose in the West, and the opening eyes of Men were turned towards it."
- "Of Men little is told in these tales, which concern the Eldest Days before the waxing of mortals and the waning of the Elves..."
- "...and Men have feared the Valar, rather than loved them, and have not understood the purposes of the Powers being at variance with them, and at strife with the world."
- "Immortal were the Elves, and their wisdom waxed from age to age, and no sickness nor pestilence brought death to them... But Men were more frail, more easily slain by weapon or mischance, and less easily healed; subject to sickness and many ills; and they grew old and died. What may befall their spirits after death the Elves know not.
- "The fate of Men after death, maybe, is not in the hands of the Valar, nor was all foretold in the Music of the Ainur."
- "But in the dawn of years Elves and Men were allies and held themselves akin, and there were some Men that learned the wisdom of the Eldar, and became great and valiant among the captains of the Noldor. And in the glory and beauty of the Elves, and in their fate, full share had the offspring of elf and mortal, Earendil, and Elwing, and Elrond their child."
- How are the Years of the Sun different from the Years of the Trees?
- What does the name 'Atani' mean?
- The Elves awoke under starlight but the Men awoke with the rising of the sun. Why do you think Tolkien makes this distinction? What does it say about each race?
- What do the different names given to Men mean (Atani, Hildor, Apanonar, Engwar, Firimar)?
- What happens to the spirits of Men after they die? Do we know?
- What was the relationship between Men and Elves in the beginning?