The Years of the Sun
The First Age
FA 1 – 260
*Okay, so I decided to sort of rethink how I would be doing my posts. I decided to split things up via the dates noted on the timline I'm using. So, rather than taking the next eight chapters of the Silmarillion at a leap, as I was originally planning, I'll be going a little slower and, hopefully, keeping things in a very strict time frame for us all. I know this will help me keep things straight and also be able to talk about things in more depth.
*So, to start the Years of the Sun is to enter the periods of timekeeping. We are now beginning the First Age; The Lord of the Rings, as I’m sure we all know, takes place toward the end of the Third Age. The First Age covers around six hundred years of Middle Earth History, so let's leap into it.
*This post will cover the first 260 years of the First Age in a leap. Then in my next post we'll go back and take a look at some of those events in more detail.
*So, Chapters 12 & 13 of the Quenta Silmarillion.
*Okay, so the Years of the Sun obviously refer to the time when the sun is in the sky. This would be the 600 years of the First Age, the 3500 of the Second Age, the 3000 of the Third Age, the unnumbered years of the Fourth Age and the Modern Age, which is of course the span of recorded human history.
*We are told at the beginning of chapter 12, Of Men, that the Years of the Sun are briefer than the Years of the Trees, the time when the Elves lived in Valinor and Middle Earth was lit by the two trees in Valinor.
*So, jeez, recorded human history seems to go back a long time. And then add at least 8000 years to that. That's the Years of the Sun. And the Years of the Trees were far, far longer than that. Wow.
*So, Of Men basically alerts us that Men have awakened in Middle Earth. They will become an increasingly important part of the story as we move forward. No sign of women yet, so all is still peaceful. *rimshot*
*Here's a great representative passage, talking about the names of Men: "The Atani they were named by the
Eldar, the Second People; but they called them also Hildor, the Followers, and
many other names: Apanonar, the After-born, Engwar, the Sickly, and Firimar,
the Mortals; and they named them also the Usurpers, the Strangers, and the
Inscrutable, the Self-cursed, the Heavy-handed, the Night-fearers, the Children
of the Sun."
*That's right, seventeen different names. You'll excuse me if I just call them *ahem* Men.
*The end of this chapter namechecks Beren and Luthien, story still to come, and also tells of someone named Elrond, soon to be born.
*Chapter 13, Of the Return of the Noldor, catches up with our two Noldor groups, the one led by Feanor in his quest to regain the Silmarils and the other by Fingolfin, still a little pissy about that whole 'burning the boats leaving to die on the icefloes' thing Feanor pulled.
*So, no sooner does Feanor arrive than Morgoth, having spotted the burning ships from afar (yeah, great job with the stealth, Feanor) sends his Orcs to drive Feanor and his group of Noldor into the sea.
*This is the first great battle of Middle Earth; Dagor-nuin-Giliath, the Battle-under-Stars. It lasts ten days and sees the Orcs roundly trounced. They call for reinforcements from the Balrogs, but are still forced to retreat.
*Feanor, however, is slain by Gothmog, king of the Balrogs.
*Astonishing Prose Alert: "Then he
died; but he had neither burial nor tomb, for so fiery was his spirit that as
it sped away his body fell to ash, and was borne away like smoke."
*Thus, fare thee well, Feanor, you great honking ass. Thinks for ruining everything. EVERYTHING.
*Maedrhos, eldest son of Feanor, is captured by Morgoth and is not exactly treated adhering to the Geneva Convention:
*"Therefore Morgoth took Maedhros and hung him from the face of a precipice upon Thangorodrim, and he was caught to the rock by the wrist of his right hand in a band of steel."
*Fingolfin's group of the Noldor show up, but they "have little love in their hearts" for Feanor's sons. Feanor may be dead, but still the tension mounts.
*Fingor, son of Fingolfin, decides this breach needs to be healed; facing Morgoth, the Noldor must be united or destroyed.
*So, there's a great scene where he goes and rescues Maedhros from his captivity.
*Also, Manwe the Vala has sent the Eagles to watch over Morgoth because he still has some pity for the Elves. Thorondor, king of the Eagles, assists Fingor in his rescue of Maedhros, bearing him up a sheer cliff to where Maedhros hangs. Maedhros begs Fingor to simply slay him, but Fingor frees him by severing his right hand. And thus the breach between the two groups of the Noldor is (mostly) healed.
*So, anyway, after the Battle Under Stars and Fingor's rescue of Maedhros, things click on nicely for a few years. There's some tension because Thingol of the Sindar (remember, the elves who stayed in Middle Earth so Thingol could marry Melian?) is not too thrilled with all these Elves who previously left suddenly returning and taking his land.
*Wait a sec . . . who the hell is Finrod?
*Okay, wait, Turgon is also a son of Fingolfin, like Fingor, right? But Finrod is a son of Finarfin. And now Finarfin went back to Valinor after the Kinslaying, but Fingolfin went across the ice. Ah, wait, Finrod stayed with Fingolfin instead of going back with his father, Finarfin.
*Also, I'm probably going to shoot myself or something.
*So, fifty years pass with not much aside from all the Elves settling down under all these different kings which I'm not even going to get into.
*After fifty years, Turgon and Finrod, who will become two extremely significant characters as we press on through the First Age, go off on a camping trip together.
*Well, no, they don't call it a camping trip, but that's what it is.
*While on this journey, Ulmo, the Vala of the water, lays in each of their hearts a message while they sleep. They each awake with the strange feeling that they should retreat from the larger society and prepare a haven of sorts as a fallback against Morgoth's next attacks.
*So, Finrod pretty quickly goes to a place in the mountains, forms an allegiance with the Dwarves that are there, and starts digging caves and tunnels and storing up weapons. He becomes known there as Finrod Felagund, Finrod Hewer-of-Caves. This is Nargothrond, a locale of incredible importance as we move forward.
*Galadriel shows up again, so I should remind you that she is Finrod's sister. She doesn't go with him to play in the dirt; she moves in with Thingol and Melian in Doriath behind the magic fence Melian has put up.
*Turgon, meanwhile, heads another direction and finds a secret vale in the Encircling Mountains and decides to set up a secret city there, a city that will be known as Gondolin, also of incredible importance.
*Now some stuff here isn't important, but remember Turgon, in the mountains building Gondolin, and Finrod with the dwarves, hewing Nargothrond.
*Now comes the second great battle of Middle Earth, Dagor Aglareb, Glorious Battle, so called because the Elves whip up on Morgoth pretty good, pursuing the Orcs and killing every last one of them even in sight of Angbad, Morgoth's stronghold.
*After Glorious Battle, there's the four hundred year Siege of Angband, during which time the Elves strengthen each other and their alliances and keep close watch on Morgoth's stronghold.
*A hundred years after the Glorious Battle, there's a small skirmish with Fingolfin and some Orcs, but it's too small to be numbered among the Great Battles and thus has no name.
*Then, after another hundred years, the first dragon shows up. Glaurung is his name and he ventures out of Angband, but is repulsed by Fingon and a host of archers. After this, two hundred years of quiet. Glaurung will be important later.
*I'm still just really enjoying this. I'd love to see an epic series of movies made out of this stuff. All these great sweeping battles and stuff. Particularly great would be a movie about Feanor. From his fall in Valinor to his death on the field of battle, he's a great character, sketched extremely well, arrogant, wrathful, obsessive, angry.
*Actually, a great film could be made that would stretch through the rescue of Maedhros by Fingon. That would be a great endpoint since it would essentially close with the Noldor that have left Valinor back together as one, admittedly still somewhat fractious, group, all old wrongs (in the main) forgiven.
*A movie from the awakening of the Elves to the mending of the Noldor in Middle Earth. That would be doable. In four hours or so. From their exodus from Middle Earth to their return to it! Come on, let's do it. Anybody got a camera? I get to play Finrod though.
*swings sword wildly* *dons blonde wig*
*Or, how about a movie that starts with the Creation and goes up through the first battles with Melkor and then ends when the Valar find the Elves and bring them back to Valinor. Followed by the second, which goes from the Elves' arrival in Valinor to their mending in Middle Earth.
*And then the third one starts with Finrod and Turgon getting their little visions as a nice foreboding opening and then moves on through the Second Great Battle, Fingolfin's skirmish and Glaurung's battle. It could end with . . . well, I'll tell you how the third movie ends when I get to it in my next post.
*I hope someone with a lot of money is reading this. I'm telling you, we'll make billions!
*That was a great section to read. Lots of action and history very quickly, but I loved it.
*Next time, chapters 14 & 15 of the Quenta Silmarillion!