(The Inklings Series is a monthly series featuring the works of my two favorites, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, or books about them. But I don’t want it to be just me chatting about these books, so that’s where y’all come in! I’ll announce the book at least four weeks in advance of when the discussion post will go live, so you have plenty of time to get the book and read it. Then, the following month, I’ll post a discussion post and let the fun begin!!)
It’s time for more of Middle Earth! In case you want to check out Part 1 discussion of The Silmarillion, you can find that post here.
Yet again I am amazed at Tolkien’s ability of creating such an incredible world. There’s intense sadness, pain, evil, extra evil and yet, goodness, hope and love. Even if you don’t like fantasy, you have to respect the talent.
I love the sentences he creates (and descriptions). Like this one:
But Fingolfin gleamed beneath it as a star; for his mail was overlaid with silver, and his blue shield was set with crystals; and he drew his sword Ringil, that glittered like ice.
In case you were wondering how creepy and scary and evil Morgoth was, here’s a snippet of what he was like (and also an epic and tragic Tolkien battle scene):
Then Morgoth hurled aloft Grond, the Hammer of the Underworld, and swung it down like a bolt of thunder. But Fingolfin sprang aside, and Grond rent a mighty pit in the earth, whence smoke and fire darted. Many times Morgoth essayed to smite him, and each time Fingolfin leaped away, as a lightning shoots from under a dark cloud; and he wounded Morgoth with seven wounds, and seven times Morgoth gave a cry of anguish, whereat the hosts of Angband fell upon their faces in dismay, and the cries echoed in the Northlands. But at the last the King grew weary, and Morgoth bore down his shield upon him. Thrice he was crushed to his knees, and thrice arose again and bore up his broken shield and stricken helm. But the earth was all rent and pitted about him, and he stumbled and fell backward before the feet of Morgoth; and Morgoth set his left foot upon his neck, and the weight of it was like a fallen hill. Yet with his last and desperate stroke Fingolfin hewed the foot with Ringil, and the blood gushed forth black and smoking and filled the pits of Grond.
Also, Sauron is all kinds of nasty as well: “Sauron was become now a sorcerer of dreadful power, master of shadows and of phantoms, foul in wisdom, cruel in strength, misshaping what he touched, twisting what he ruled, lord of werewolves; his dominion was torment.” He also sometimes turned into a vampire. So there’s that.
But, as with the first half, it would be near impossible to discuss each story or segment, so I thought I would spend most of my time on the story of Beren and Lúthien because it’s my favorite. Here’s a few reasons why:
- I love their relationship. From how it started, to how it grew.
- She fights right along side him.
- They help each other overcome evil
- They show what’s worth fighting for
- They change into some hardcore animals when taking on Morgoth
- They have their own happily ever after
- They have the most awesome animal best friend ever in Huan the Hound of Valinor.
I think the way Tolkien even started our their chapter says something:
Among the tales of sorrow and of ruin that come down to us from the darkness of those days there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures. And of these histories most fair still in the ears of the Elves is the tale of Beren and Lúthien. Of their lives was made the Lay of Leithian, Release from Bondage, which is the longest save one of the songs concerning the world of old; but here the tale is told in fewer words and without song.
Then there’s simply sentences like this:
But she was not willing to be parted from him again, saying: ‘You must choose, Beren, between these two: to relinquish the quest and your oath and seek a life of wandering upon the face of the earth; or to hold to your word and challenge the power of darkness upon its throne. But on either road I shall go with you, and our doom shall be alike.’
This was and still is my favorite story in The Silmarillion.
Then of course, if you’ve read The Children of Húrin, I’m sure you were just as excited to re-read the cliffnotes version of one of the most DEPRESSING FAMILY STORIES EVER. In case I forgot how tragic their lives were due to Morgoth’s wickedness, I was super excited to re-live it. Since the internet doesn’t give off sarcastic vibes, let me tell you…I got to be sad all over again. It’s such a sad sad tale. Tolkien definitely introduced it right:
Here that tale is told in brief, for it is woven with the fate of the Silmarils and of the Elves; and it is called the Tale of Grief, for it is sorrowful, and in it are revealed most evil works of Morgoth Bauglir.
One thing that came from it though, Húrin was pretty legit to withstand Morgoth’s torment as it all went to rags around him. “And even so it came to pass; but it is not said that Húrin asked ever of Morgoth either mercy or death, for himself or for any of his kin.”
Of course there is quite a bit more that goes on, but those were some highlights for me. As far as discussion questions, I have mostly the same ones:
1. After reading the whole book, do you have a favorite story?
2. What are some overall thoughts about it?
It’s been real Silmarillion, until I return to Middle Earth!