FA 455 – 462
*This chapter of The Silmarillion is titled Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin. I hope nothing bad happens in it.
*Timeline indicates a date of FA 455 – 462 for this one. Hmm, and the chapter explicitly states this one: "It being then four hundred years and five and fifty since the coming of Fingolfin."
*So, the Long Peace is shattered suddenly in the night and the Fourth Great Battle of Middle Earth begins, Dagor Bragollach, Battle of Sudden Flame.
*So, Glaurung the Dragon, now more fully grown, issues out of Angband, leading a pack of angry Balrogs. They send fire all over the place and then the Orcs come. The Siege of Angband is broken, the Elves and Men guarding all the passes and such are scattered, towns are raided and destroyed.
*Finrod hastens down to get completely surrounded and nearly murdered, but Barahir, a brave man leads an army of men in and saves Finrod from the Orcs.
*From this time forth, Tolkien writes, fighting never truly ceased in Beleriand. The Battle of the Sudden Flame sort of technically ends in the spring, when the attacks of Morgoth slack off just a bit.
*"Hithlum remained unconquered, a threat upon the flank of Morgoth's attack."
*Right, cause with all that rain in Hithlum what could a dragon do? Or a Balrog? They'd be like, "I'm a Balrog" and then they'd be like sssssssssssssss as the rain put them out. And then they'd just sort of turn and walk sadly away in the rain and all the other Balrogs would laugh when the one who wasn't burning anymore got back and they'd be like, "You must have gone to Hithlum" and he'd be like "Shut up" and they'd be like, "How's the weather in Hithlum these days" and he'd be like "I SAID shut up" and then they would but they'd still kind of snicker and call him Hithlum behind his back and then he'd be like, "So, anybody got a light?"
*I say Hithlum, you say . . .
*So, anyway, Morgoth's troops are just destroying Noldor all over the place, so Fingolfin gets a crazy idea.
*He goes to Angband, blows his little horn and challenges Morgoth to single combat! OH WOW OH GOD OH WOW MORGOTH'S GOING TO HAVE A FIGHT NOW OH GOD OH WOW THIS IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!
*Just listen to this prose:
*"Then Fingolfin beheld (as it seemed to him) the utter ruin of the Noldor, and the defeat beyond redress of all their houses; and filled with wrath and despair he mounted upon Rochallor his great horse and rode forth alone, and none might restrain him. He passed over Dor-nu-Fauglith like a wind amid all the dust, and all that beheld his onset fled in amaze, thinking that Orome himself was come; for a great madness of rage was upon him, so that his eyes shone like the eyes of the Valar. Thus he came alone to Angband's gates, and he sounded the horn, and smote once more upon the brazen doors and challenged Morgoth to come forth to single combat. And Morgoth came."
*I literally had to put the book down and just hyperventilate for a couple of minutes when I finished that paragraph.
*So, they fight and it's predictably awesome. In the end, though, Morgoth gets Fingolfin down and puts his foot on his neck and raises his great hammer. Fingolfin stabs Morgoth in the foot one last time and then Morgoth puts him the hell away with that hammer of his.
*Thorondor the Eagles comes flying down and he claws Morgoth in the face and then grabs Fingolfin's body and carries it away to be buried.
*"Morgoth went ever halt of one foot after that day, and the pain of his wounds could not be healed; and in his face was the scar that Thronodor made."
*Okay, that was totally awesome.
*So, anyway, meanwhile, there's this other group, led by Barahir, father of Beren (you know, & Luthien?). These guys, who are men, are being harried like crazy by Morgoth's army, so finally, all the wives just up and leave in a pack, taking all the children with them. The men keep fighting; eventually there are just twelve of them left and they flee into the forests, Morgoth's Orcs hot on their trail. This will be important later.
*Here's the names of the twelve: "For these were slain one by one, until at last only twelve men remained to Barahir: Beren his son, and Baragrund and Belegund his nephews, the sons of Bregolas, and nine faithful servants of his house whose names were long remembered in the songs of the Noldor: Radhruin and Dairuin they were, Dagnir and Ragnor, Gildor and Gorlim the unhappy, Arthad and Urthel and Hathaldir the young."
*I love how they specifically mention that one of them was unhappy. I guess the others were just dancing and singing all day.
*So, two years after the Battle of Sudden Flame, things take yet another turn for the worse as Sauron ventures out leading his own force at the orders of Morgoth.
*Anyway, Sauron captures Minas Tirith, this great watchtower and we get the following passage:
*Oh, by the way, this isn't the Minas Tirith from Return of the King with the Heffalumps and all that stuff outside. This is a different one.
*Anyway, check it out: "Then Sauron made it into a watchtower for Morgoth, a stronghold of evil, and a menace . . . No living creature could pass through that vale that Sauron did not espy from the tower where he sat."
*I just found that interesting that Sauron's first big campaign ended up with him basically sitting on top of a tower and watching everybody, much as he spends the entirity of the Lord of the Rings.
*Oh, by the way, Sauron's army includes 'Werewolves.' Are those like the classic Werewolves?
*The arrival of the Easterlings, more Men from the east, but Swarthy ones. Some of them prove faithful, but others don't, so I suppose this isn't quite as racially charged as some would have us think it is.
*So, a couple of men, Hurin (soon to be the titular character of The Children of Hurin) and Huor get seperated from their group in a battle and Thorondor the Eagle saves them by carrying them up into Gondolin.
*At first it looks like they'll have to stay there, according to Turgon's law, but actually since they don't know the way, they can leave, if Thorondor will carry them down the same way they came up. Thronodor does so.
*Maeglin has a brief appearance basically acting the jerk to Hurin and Huor. Apparently he's still not gettin' any.
*Turgon is stunned at how desperate the situation on the outside has become. He has his people build ships and they send messengers out onto the sea, to sail into the West, to Valinor and implore the Valar (you know, those big powerful people hiding back there behind a big wall?) to help their children. The ships are all lost at sea; none reach Valinor.
*So, after the Battle of Sudden Flame which lasts several months itself, there has been essentially two years of non-stop battle throughout Beleriand. After those two years, things quiet somewhat as everyone sort of stops where they are and holds what grounds they can.
*However, Morgoth has heard of the boats that Turgon sent and he decides that he needs to find out where Turgon has disappeared too. Thus the doom of Gondolin draws nearer.
*After four or five years of some slight peace, the Orcs occupying large swaths of Beleriand and plenty of prisoners having been sent to Angband and plenty of dead on both sides, Morgoth makes a renewed effort. Among the things that happen as this chapter closes is that the twelve remaining men under Barahir are all slain as is Barahir himself. One only survives: His name? Beren (& Luthien?)
*MOVIE #5 – The Silmarillion: The Sudden Flame – from Glaurung’s assault to Beren’s lone survival
*Okay, so I mean this chapter is essentially movie five all by itself. The movie opens with the Battle of Sudden Flame and then progresses to check in with Gondolin and their efforts to contact Valinor, Hurin's visit to Gondolin and his increasing bravery in battle, Finrod being saved by Barahir and then Barahir's people being slowly slaughtered until only Beren remains, Fingolfin's battle with Morgoth, Sauron taking Minas Tirith. You just interweave all this stuff into, essentially, a three (or four (or five) ) hour battle that roves over all of Beleriend, covering seven years. I mean it could be one of the greatest war movies ever made, if done properly. And it would, of course, end with the last stand of Barahir and the ultimate survival of Beren, a tragic moment but also one that is perhaps uplifting. And a great cliffhanger for movie six which would be the story of the next chapter, the story of Beren & Luthien.
*This was a great, taut, gripping chapter to read. Epic in scale and apocalyptic in nature. Loved it, particularly Fingolfin's smackdown with Morgoth. I don't know why people have such trouble with this book; it's a fine read, epic and very immediate.
*Next time, Beren and Juliet! Er, no, that's not right. Anyway, Beren and his tragic love FINALLY! Also, a talking dog.