Aiya, nildor, today we talk about Chapter 13 : Of the Return of the Noldor. Also, a one-sentence summary of Chapter 12: Of Men. Actually, that’s a pretty good summary just by itself. Chapter 12: Oh yeah, also, Men showed up, but since this is a story about Elves, we don’t really pay much attention to what they’re doing.
Chapter 13 covers the establishment of various little Elf-kingdoms in Beleriand, the major setting of the story. If you started in the Shire, walked west until you hit the sea, and then looked out over the water, that’s Beleriand. Or at least it used to be, until it got sunk under the sea. But that is neither here nor there.
Important plot points from previous chapters : The Valar/angels did eventually manage to squeeze one last little bit of life out of each of the dead trees, and used them to create the Sun and Moon we all know and love at around the same time that Feanor was nabbing the ships out from under his half-brother Fingolfin and leaving him and his following to try and cross a sea of icebergs on foot. While this was going on, the Elves that never made it to heaven were regrouping under their no-longer-lost-in-the-woods king, Thingol. Thingol married a sort of lesser-angel named Melian — the same rank as our more familiar Sauron, Gandalf, and Saruman — and she used her angel-power to put a magic fence around Thingol’s kingdom that nobody could pass without his permission. Which came in quite handy on a number of occasions!
On to the chapter itself — Feanor shows up in Middle-Earth with his elves, and Morgoth sends an army to go beat up on him. Feanor’s people are still “bright with the light of [heaven]” and so they proceed to pretty much smash that army to pieces. Feanor’s arrogant snobbery gets the better of him, as it usually does, and he proceeds to chase the fleeing orcs all the way back to Angband (Morgoth’s fortress and Barad-Dur equivalent). And so filled with Righteous Anger is he that he doesn’t notice he’s gotten maybe a little too far out in front, and maybe that might not be such a good idea since a guy as all-powerfully evil as Morgoth might have other things than orcs he can throw at you. Like Balrogs. Yes, plural, that ‘s’ is not a typo. Exit Feanor, stage right.
Fingolfin’s people finally make it across the ice and meet up with Feanor’s people. And there’s some unpleasantness, as you might expect, but surprisingly they do not come to blows; instead, they just camp at opposite ends of a lake and glare at each other.
Morgoth says, hey, maybe we should sign a peace treaty. I’ll even give you a Silmaril back, maybe. And we should meet to discuss this peace treaty around the back of the school where there aren’t any teachers to watch. Morgoth and Feanor’s eldest son Maedhros show up to negotiate. Surprise, Morgoth was evil and therefore lying, he brought lots more bad guys than he was allowed. Surprise, Maedhros was smart enough to pick up on that, and also brought more than he was allowed. So there’s a big fight, which Morgoth wins because he brought the big musclebound bullies to the fight, and Maedhros’ idea of good backup was to bring the chess club. Morgoth takes Maedhros and pins him way high up on the outside of his tower, hanging by a hand and exposed to the elements. Which basically means a lot of smog, since Morgoth blocked out everything else with evil black clouds. Sauron learned his technique from the best, you know.
Fingolfin’s son Fingon says to himself, this is bad how we’re kind of fighting each other instead of Morgoth. I know how to fix this! So he goes all by himself over to Angband to go rescue his favorite cousin Maedhros, and succeeds with the help of an eagle…though not without having to chop off Maedhros’ hand to get it out of the pin. Kind of like an animal chewing its leg off to get out of a trap. So that’s a bummer. Maedhros is so grateful that he passes his right of Noldor High King-ness (being as Feanor’s dead, he technically had the job) to his uncle Fingolfin in recognition of the fact that his dad pretty majorly screwed him making him cross the icebergs like that. And that’s great and everyone gets pretty much back together, though Maedhros’ brothers are a little unhappy with him that he renounced all of their rights as a package deal without consulting them.
The Elves set a watch all around Angband and kill the bad things whenever Morgoth tries to break out; this happens every so often for the next several hundred years, but whatever Morgoth tries, and this includes dragons which he invented, he’s still locked behind a wall of Elven awesomeness. Most of the Elves think they’re pretty hot stuff for keeping the bad guy on lockdown like this, but two of them are not so sure — Finrod makes friends with dwarves and builds himself a little cave complex near a river called Nargothrond, and Turgon finds a secluded valley, walls it off, kills the masons so that nobody knows where he disappeared to, and builds a pretty city called Gondolin. And at some point in history, some weaponsmith out of Gondolin crafts a sword called Sting, which will eventually pass to a pair of hobbits of your acquaintance.
So we have a tale of four cousins here basically :
Maedhros – gets himself captured by Morgoth
Fingon – rescues Maedhros and gets all the Elves back together
Turgon – (Fingon’s brother) founds a secret city, Gondolin
Finrod – makes nicenice with the dwarves and builds a cave city called Nargothrond.
In terms of the kingship, Feanor’s dead, and the crown has passed to his half-brother Fingolfin…which would no doubt have Feanor turning in his grave.