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The Silmarillion - A Beginner's Guide (Redux) - Part 18 - Of Beleriand and Its Realms

John Carswell | Tuesday, October 24, 2017

This is the fashion of the lands into which the Noldor came, in the north of the western regions of Middle-earth, in the ancient days...
(The Silmarillion, 118)

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This post continues my chapter-by-chapter walk through of The Silmarillion. This time, I examine the fourteenth chapter of The Silmarillion, "Of Beleriand and Its Realms". You can see all the posts in this series by clicking here. You can also find other Silmarillion resources here.

Beleriand - Realms by Sirielle

"Beleriand - Realms" by Sirielle © 2013 - 2017. Check out the color version as well.

OK, so nothing really happens in this chapter. Instead, it’s something like a textual map of Beleriand. The map of Beleriand included with The Silmarillion makes the layout of Beleriand look very complex. However, a few quick notes on Beleriand’s major boundaries will help:

download Getting Started on The Silmarillion

Beleriand's Boundaries

  • North: Iron Mountains, the realm of Morgoth.
  • West: The Great Sea (Belegaer).
  • East: Blue Mountains (Ered Luin).
  • South: Beleriand extends far into the south, and it’s not really clear where it ends, nor does the action ever extend further south than Ossiriand.
Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien

Key Realms

  • Iron Mountains: The realm of Morgoth in the far north of Beleriand. This is not shown on the map of Beleriand in the book.
  • Hithlum: To the west of the Iron Mountains, this is the kingdom of Fingolfin and Fingon.
  • West Beleriand: West of the River Sirion, this is the realm of Finrod son of Finarfin. Also referred to as the realm of Nargothrond. Finrod’s realm also contains Cirdan’s realm.
  • East Beleriand: This vast land is broken up into kingdoms for Fëanor’s sons.
  • Doriath: The hidden kingdom of Thingol and Melian.
  • Ossiriand: The realm of the green elves.

There are also a few important cities and fortresses mentioned that come up often.

Key Cities / Fortresses

  • Angband: Morgoth’s fortress at the foot of the Iron Mountains.
  • Nargothrond: This was the city Finrod was inspired to build by Ulmo’s dream. It's in the center of West Beleriand, on the bank of the River Narog.
  • Gondolin: This was the city Turgon was inspired to build by Ulmo’s dream. It lay near the Mountains of Terror, hidden within the Encircling Mountains.
  • Menegroth: The Thousand Caves of King Thingol.

There are several others that I haven’t listed, but these are the major ones. As I said, not much action in this chapter, but it does help to understand all of the different places in Beleriand.

download Getting Started on The Silmarillion

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this chapter in the comments below.

Tolkien's Requiem Concerning Beren and Lúthien by John CarswellWant to learn more about The Silmarillion? My book Tolkien's Requiem explores the stories of Middle-earth's First Age through the prism of Tolkien's most personal tale: Beren and Lúthien. It's designed to work as a "back door" approach for those who struggle to get a start on The Silmarillion. Click here to learn more!

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