TRUE MYTHS

Concerning Hidden Realities and Human Destiny

The Silmarillion - A Beginner's Guide (Redux) - Part 28 - Of the Fifth Battle (2 of 2)

John Carswell | Thursday, January 25, 2018

From that day the hearts of the Elves were estranged from Men, save only those of the Three Houses of the Edain.
(The Silmarillion, 195)

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This post continues my chapter-by-chapter walk through of The Silmarillion. This time, I examine the second part of the 20th chapter of The Silmarillion, "Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad". You can see all the posts in this series by clicking here. You can also find other Silmarillion resources here.

Gothmog by Nergling

"Gothmog" by Nergling © 2008 - 2018.

The first half of this chapter concluded with the death of the High King Fingon at the hands of the demon Gothmog (pictured above). With the Union of Maedhros suffering huge losses, the battle concludes and the rest of the chapter deals with ithe fallout.


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Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien

Key Events

  • The Triumph of Morgoth: With Fingon and countless others dead, the remaining force of Maedhros’ Union must retreat.
  • The Seven Ships of Cirdan: Turgon instructs Cirdan the shipwright (of the Grey Havens) to construct seven ships and send them west over the Great Sea to seek the aid of the Valar. None of them are able to complete the mission though.
  • The Torment of Húrin: Morgoth captures Húrin, Huor’s brother, and subjects him to torment upon a throne of Thangorodrim.

Key Takeaways

  • The Sundering of Fëanor’s Sons: Though none of them die in the battle, nevertheless the battle represents the end of their power and influence in Beleriand.
  • The West Still Closed: Though one of the sailors does receive help from Ulmo, it is a pittance compared to the aid they seek from the Lords of the West. The Valar seem uninterested in aiding the peoples of Beleriand.
  • Is it secret? Is it safe?: The days of Gondolin’s secret location seem numbered. The brief reference to Maeglin alludes to its coming doom.

Key Quotes

  • Fading Glory:
    Great was the triumph of Morgoth, and his design was accomplished in a manner after his own heart; for Men took the lives of Men, and betrayed the Eldar, and fear and hatred were aroused among those that should have been united against him. From that day the hearts of the Elves were estranged from Men, save only those of the Three Houses of the Edain. The realm of Fingon was no more; and the sons of Fëanor wandered as leaves before the wind. Their arms were scattered, and their league broken; and they took to a wild and woodland life beneath the feet of Ered Lindon, mingling with the Green-elves of Ossiriand, bereft of their power and glory of old. (195)
  • Lost At Sea:
    And when Turgon heard of this he sent again his messengers to Sirion’s mouths, and besought the aid of Círdan the Shipwright. At the bidding of Turgon Círdan built seven swift ships, and they sailed out into the West; but no tidings of them came ever back to Balar, save of one, and the last. The mariners of that ship toiled long in the sea, and returning at last in despair they foundered in a great storm within sight of the coasts of Middle-earth; but one of them was saved by Ulmo from the wrath of Ossë, and the waves bore him up, and cast him ashore in Nevrast. His name was Voronwë; and he was one of those that Turgon sent forth as messengers from Gondolin. (196)
  • Húrin Cursed:
    Therefore Húrin was brought before Morgoth, for Morgoth knew that he had the friendship of the King of Gondolin; but Húrin defied him, and mocked him. Then Morgoth cursed Húrin and Morwen and their offspring, and set a doom upon them of darkness and sorrow; and taking Húrin from prison he set him in a chair of stone upon a high place of Thangorodrim. There he was bound by the power of Morgoth, and Morgoth standing beside him cursed him again; and he said: ‘Sit now there; and look out upon the lands where evil and despair shall come upon those whom thou lovest. Thou hast dared to mock me, and to question the power of Melkor, Master of the fates of Arda. Therefore with my eyes thou shalt see, and with my ears thou shalt hear; and never shalt thou move from this place until all is fulfilled unto its bitter end.’ (196-197)

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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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About TrueMyths

Hi - I'm John. Welcome to TrueMyths, where I explore music, Christianity, literature, and culture. I'm co-host of The Tolkien Road podcast, and am the author of Tolkien's Requiem. You can learn more about TrueMyths here.

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