the season 3 announcement cleared my skin, watered my crops, paid my bills, and filled my gas tank
also i just blitzed through all of akito the exiled a few weeks ago and my brain wouldn’t let me live until i drew two things: car freshener kingsley, and a ship that I desperately hope exists purely so that it can be called “orange julius”
Fëanor brooded in the dark. And it seemed to him that he was beset in a ring of enemies, and the words of Melkor returned to him, saying that the Silmarils were not safe, if the Valar would possess them. ‘And is he not Vala as are they,’ said his thought, ‘and understandeth their hearts? Yea, a thief shall reveal thieves.’ Then he cried aloud: ‘Nay, this thing I will not do of free will. But if the Valar will constrain me, then verily shall I know that Melkor is of their kindred.’
Something that gets overlooked in most analyses I’ve seen of Fëanor’s post-darkening mental state - when it comes to the Valar’s motivations, he’s absolutely right.
Let’s look at how the Valar, or at least heir representative, acts when he finally get his hands on some silmarils:
Eönwë answered that the right to the work of their father, which the sons of Fëanor formerly possessed, had now perished, because of their many and merciless deeds, being blinded by their oath, and most of all because of their slaying of Dior and the assault upon the Havens. The light of the Silmarils should go now into the West, whence it came in the beginning.
No. No no no no no. That is not how this works. I’m not trying to excuse the kinslayings, or make any kind of judgement at all on Maedhros and Maglor’s actions. The point is that the Valar have never established rules about property. And this doesn’t seem to apply to anything else that Maedhros and Maglor own - it’s unique to the silmarils. It’s not like the Fëanorians were party to an agreement with the Valar w/r/t their behavior, which they then broke. Regardless of whether or not his actions are appropriate, Eonwë is just making up this justification out of thin air.
And the Valar making up new restrictions during times of crisis is historically kind of a big deal. Moving back a few centuries -
Now the unrest of the Noldor was not indeed hidden from the Valar, but its seed had been sown in the dark; and therefore, since Fëanor first spoke openly against them, they judged that he was the mover of discontent, being eminent in self-will and arrogance, though all the Noldor had become proud. And Manwë was grieved, but he watched and said no word. The Valar had brought the Eldar to their land freely, to dwell or to depart; and though they might judge departure to be folly, they might not restrain them from it. But now the deeds of Fëanor could not be passed over, and the Valar were angered and dismayed; and he was summoned to appear before them at the gates of Valmar, to answer for all his words and deeds.
First off, the line about the Ñoldor being allowed to depart freely is bullshit. The most generous interpretation here is that Manwë literally forgot that trying to cross the Helcaraxë would kill them. Given Manwë, it’s not unlikely. It’s pretty clearly stated that the Teleri would “rather dissuade them than aid them; and no ship would they lend, nor help in the building, against the will of the Valar." The Valar won’t let the Teleri lend their ships or even teach the Ñoldor to build new ones. When the Ñoldor do decide to leave, they’re actively working to prevent them.
This quote also sheds some interesting light on Fëanor’s trial. Fëanor’s crime - the one he’s exiled for - is drawing a sword on his half-brother. But that’s not why he’s summoned to Valimar. It’s because he’s self-willed and arrogant, the mover of discontent. It’s worth remembering what Fëanor and Fingolfin were arguing about, that caused the sword-drawing incident: Fingolfin had accused Fëanor of agitating against the government, because of his statements that the Valar were trying to trap the Ñoldor in Valinor, and that it would be better for them to return to Middle-earth. In doing so, according to Fingolfin, he’s challenging Finwë’s authority, because Finwë led them all to Valinor in the first place.
That’s what Fëanor’s trial is about. And as I’ve just said, he turns out to be quite correct in saying that the Valar are trying to keep the Ñoldor trapped in Valinor. He’s made to answer for his words as well as his deeds, his discontent is also criminal.
I am not the first person to make the argument that it is highly unusual - in fact, probably unique to this one instance - for the Valar to try criminal cases like this. What we do know is that the Ainur are incapable of fully understanding the Children of Illuvatar, and are meant - according to their own theology - to guide rather than rule. If we’re not assuming that Eru is omni-benevolent, they don’t even have that. The elves never asked for near-omnipotent alien beings to start micromanaging them. Even the Eldar agreed to travel to Aman because of the promise of the light of the two trees - a contract Fëanor later brings up as one of his reasons for leaving. Nowhere do the representatives of the Eldar agree to submit to the Valar. Ingwë, Finwë, and Elwë are never asked to do so as a condition of bringing their people to Aman. There’s no agreement on the part of the Ñoldor to abide by Valian law.
What this means is that the only reason they’re sentencing Fëanor to exile is because they are capable of enforcing it. They’re physical gods, there’s no point in resisting. Again, whether or not the exile is deserved is irrelevant. Fëanor had no way of knowing he was breaking the law because up to that point there wasn’t any, this was the first (and last) incident of it’s kind. Given the innate power imbalance, the Valar shouldn’t be ruling over Elves at all, but since that the are, it’s incredibly important that they have a consistent legal code. Otherwise, they could use their reality warping abilities to enforce any punishment they like on anyone who displeases them, just because they decide that their actions are illegal after the fact.
As, in fact, they do.
And this is Fëanor’s mindset, when he’s refusing to give up the silmarils. He’s just been punished for speaking out against the Valar, there’s mounting evidence to suggest his accusations are true. He knows that the Valar aren’t consistant in their dealings with the Eldar. He really is beset by enemies. He knows they’re willing to leverage their power to limit his freedom when they decide it’s justified and has no reason to believe that they won’t confiscate his property for similar reasons. Which is exactly what happens, courtesy of Eonwë, centuries later.
The Valar, of course, have no idea that what they’re doing is wrong. They don’t understand the children. Having been imbued with ultimate knowledge of Eru’s plan, it’s incomprehensible to them that everyone else doesn’t just fall into line with what they know is best. Manwë has Eru’s council, dissent against him is dissent against Eru, from his perspective literally all that is good in the universe. This is not an excuse.