Genuine question about the Oath of Fëanor: why didn’t the why didn’t the Fëanorians give priority to capturing the silmarils in Morgoth’s possession? Like, Beren and Lúthien succeed in taking one from Morgoth’s crown and Fingolfin succeeds in injuring Morgoth during single-combat, both of which occurred a few decades before the Second Kinslaying. Yet they only went up against Morgoth once after that and relied primarily on others’ strength for that. I’d like to think the reasoning was a bit better than:
“Well, our oath requires that we need to get all three silmarils back, but in no particular order. Two are in the hands of the super evil dude who killed our grandfather and father and one is in the hands of [young king whose parents successfully proved the silmarils could be retrieved from Morgoth/young woman whose parents, family, and city we brutally murdered]. So… Kinslaying anyone?”
Thranduil in Doriath during the Second Kinslaying. I’ll leave it to your imaginations as to which Feanorion the sword belonged to:P To add a little context to the drawing, I left Thranduil looking quite disheveled because Tolkien said the Feanorions launched a surprise attack during winter which would explain his diva hair look. I imagine they were attacked during the night when most would be sleeping because the Feanorions are wretched that way.
Okay, so I was re-reading Return Of The King, and it something occured to me.
“Elrond wore a mantle of grey and had a star upon his forehead, and a
silver harp was in his hand, and upon his finger was a ring of gold with
a great blue stone, Vilya, mightiest of the Three.”
You can find this at Return Of The King, Book VI, chapter 9.
Okay, so, lets’ talk about this, and spefically about one line: “and had a star upon his forehead, and a silver harp was in his hand,” It’s no big deal right? Many elves wear circlets with stars on their foreheads, don’t they?
No, but wait! What is that?
No, don’t overreact, many elves in the Third Age can have a banner with the emblem of the house of Fëanor. Right?
No. No they don’t. By that time everyone had either forgotten Fëanor and his sons, or were cursing them for every bad thing that happened to them. Granted, the people attending Aragorn’s coronation have no clue about any of that, but Elrond is an elf born in the First Age, whose mother was “killed” by the sons of Fëanor. Surely he knows that this is an emblem no one uses anymore. And no one can convince me that the harp wasn’t Maglor’s.
And here comes my headcanon about Elrond and the Fëanorians.
Elrond -and of course Elros- were taken by Maedhros and Maglor after the attack at Sirion and as Tolkien himself says, somehow came to love them.
Now I love the idea of Elrond considering Maedhros and Maglor as his fathers, and openly showing that. I mean, he still claims the name of his father to avoid scandals and stuff, but it is impossible for anyone living in Rivendell at the Third Age, not to know who Elrond thinks his real fathers were.
It’s because he keeps dropping hints, openly defending them when the opportunity comes, telling things like “My father taught my brother and I how to fight, I am sure that I am as good as you Glorfindel, if not better” or “Thank you, all my knowledge at music comes from my father” until no one can ignore it anymore.
And it’s common knowledge among all the elves in Middle-earth that NO ONE EVER says anything bad about the Fëanorians in front of Lord Elrond. It happened once, an elf who was not aware of this openly insulted Maedhros about how he was a monster, and everyone turned to Elrond with eyes wide and filled with fear. But Elrond doesn’t do anything, his face remains impassive, but then, in the afternoon he invites the elf for tea. The next day no one can find him, and when they ask Elrond he casually goes “Oh, he decided that he wanted to leave.” The elf is still alive but no one ever sees him in Rivendell again.
You can point out that the Fëanorians did bad things, Elrond acknowledges that and allows people to say it, but not without some kind of defence. Like someone is talking about the second kinslaying and then Elrond goes “That reminds me of this one time Elros and I took art lessons…” and he proceeds to say something that makes the eldest sons of Fëanor look compassionate or kind. Or if someone is insisting on hating them, as the dinner rolls by Elrond’s comments are always something about redemption and second chances, and kindness in the most surprising places, with some of his childhood stories, accompanied of unsettling raised eyebrows and pointed looks until the elf has to excuse himself form the table.
And Celebrían stands by her husband. Her mother had never necessarily hated the sons of Fëanor-it was mostly pity she had come to feel for them with the years- so Celebrían grows up without thinking that they were monsters. And when someone makes a snide comment, or even an open insult in her presence, thinking that she doesn’t care, Celebrían puts on what her husband and children call the “Lady Galadriel face”, and she points out how that is not a very kind thing to say, or how everyone deserves second chances, or she reminds the elf that her mother is one of the exiles until the elf apologizes with a flushed face and a stutter and leaves.
And their chldren grow up like that as well. Celebrían doesn’t tell them stories about flying ships and stars, but about long lost musicians and brave warriors. The twins especially love their father’s stories about the youngest twin sons of Fëanor and they idolize them. (Elrond finds himself understanding Maedhros even better.) Arwen likes Maglor most, who her father makes out to be so kind and gentle, wholly devoting himself to everything he did, and she smiles brighter when her father says she has Maglor’s beautiful voice, because in her eyes he is the most skilled singer in all Middle-earth.
And of course they defend their grandfathers as well, but their ways are a bit more drastic. Like some elves are speaking badly about the Fëanorians behind Elrond, but in front of him they are all smiles and flattery. And when the twins get their revenge it is by toads under the pillows, stuff that mysteriously disappear and small things that make their life harder. Arwen prefers her mother’s approach of intimindating the elf until they awkwardly apologize. And in later years, Aragorn who is growing in that environment comes to defend and look up to the elves that raised Elrond and his brother as well.
Just- just imagine Elrond and his family defending the sons of Fëanor.
My art for @elesianne‘s wonderful character Tinweriel!
Tinweriel is my take on the unnamed, unknown woman who was Maglor’s wife.
Maglor and Tinweriel meet when they are teenagers and Tinweriel, who is some years older, is acting as an assistant to Maglor’s new music tutor. They become friends as they grow up and become more equal, delighting in making music and dancing together. It takes years of convincing and courting from Maglor to deepen their relationship beyond friendship, but once they are married they are fiercely loving and loyal to each other.
Tinweriel is loyal to Fëanor as well, speaking out for his views during the unrest of the Noldor and learning to fight along with Maglor and his brothers when Fëanor forges weapons. She goes with Maglor to Beleriand, fighting and guarding the Gap together with him. She meets a bloody end in the Second Kinslaying, but even after that she walks alongside her husband in his dreams.
So far there are only two stories about Maglor and Tinweriel’s relationship in the Fëanorian marriages series, but there will be more. Consonance, the story of their courtship, is currently ongoing.
au where thingol puts aside his grievances for the greater good and treats with fingolfin and the sindar and the noldor are allies against morgoth what becomes of it
In canon, despite the treachery, our boys almost won the day at the Nirnaeth and with an army from Doriath (and possibly a larger force from Nargothrond as well - Orodreth took much advice from Thingol and if he’d pressed for it might well have sent more men), they could have carried it.
But the thing is, the Silmarillion isn’t a story about alliances and logistics, political maneuvering and military strategy. It’s a story about Doom.
Tears unnumbered ye shall shed; and the Valar will
fence Valinor against you, and shut you out, so that not
even the echo of your lamentation shall pass over the mountains. On the House of Fëanor the wrath of the Valar
lieth from the West unto the uttermost East, and upon all
that will follow them it shall be laid also. Their Oath shall
drive them, and yet betray them, and ever snatch away the
very treasures that they have sworn to pursue. To evil end
shall all things turn that they begin well; and by treason of
kin unto kin, and the fear of treason, shall this come to
pass. The Dispossessed shall they be for ever. Ye have spilled the blood of your kindred unrighteously
and have stained the land of Aman. For blood ye shall
render blood, and beyond Aman ye shall dwell in Death’s
shadow. For though Eru appointed to you to die not in Eä,
and no sickness may assail you, yet slain ye may be, and
slain ye shall be: by weapon and by torment and by grief;
and your houseless spirits shall come then to Mandos.
There long shall ye abide and yearn for your bodies, and
find little pity though all whom ye have slain should entreat
for you. And those that endure in Middle-earth and come
not to Mandos shall grow weary of the world as with a great
burden, and shall wane, and become as shadows of regret
before the younger race that cometh after. The Valar have
You can’t really politic your way out of that one.
If Thingol relaxes his policy of extreme isolationism, Morgoth’s spies are able to infiltrate Menegroth and foment paranoia. Even AU this Thingol must be a little paranoid and they feed it. We’ve seen how he ‘protects’ those he loves, and now he affords that same care to his niece and nephews. Nargothrond is never built and Dorthonion is not held and Beleriand falls.
Perhaps that doesn’t happen, but maybe the need for more open borders means the magic of the Girdle is weaker and Doriath takes the brunt of the assault during the Dagor Bragollach, and falls.
Or maybe they fight the Nirnaeth and win but at great cost; Thingol dies and Melian leaves and Doriath is undefended when the Noldor realise that imprisoning a god is easier said than done.
How about they fight and win again and seal Morgoth away in his own dungeons? Then all that’s left is to divide the spoils of war. For the part they played, the Doriathrim deserve some kind of reward and by what right do the Feanorians claim all three Silmarils when their allies bore just as much of the risk? The Second Kinslaying happens a little earlier this time around.
Am I being unfair with these hypotheticals? Of course, but that’s the point. It’s all rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic; the Noldor are Doomed and Beleriand will sink beneath the weight of their crimes, no matter what they do.
Actually, thinking back to that fic I posted this morning, and what must have been going through Maedhros’s head while searching for Eluréd and Elurín, that must have been one of the worst, most twisted feeling moments of his life. I mean, he’s just participated in the Second Kinslaying, these two young children were left in the woods to die by his own brother’s servants – Just after Celegorm’s death, mind you, as well, so already you have so many ambivalent, twisted up emotions right there – as an act of retribution in said dead brother’s name, and on top of it all…
Well, just imagine how familiar of a scenario this must be for Maedhros. He is the eldest of seven brothers and comes from a family of explorers. I mean, Nerdanel and Fëanor met while exploring the wilds of Middle-Earth, and together with their father, Maedhros and his brothers “traveled far and wide upon the confines of Valinor, going even to the borders of the Dark and the cold shores of the Outer Sea, seeking the Unknown.” That that this love of wandering off and exploring was something instilled in the
Fëanorians from a young age seems only to make sense. And how many times must Maedhros have been sent off during their childhoods to go and find his brothers, to call them in for dinner, or when they’ve been missing for several hours? How many times must have have had to go looking for Maglor, up in the high branches of some tree singing to the songbirds? How many times must he have dragged Celegorm and the twins home covered in dirt after finding them in the depths of the forest, or clambering through old caves and tunnels or diving off a cliff into some hidden lake that they thought only they knew about? How many times must he have found Caranthir brooding in some secret corner of the house after getting into a fight with their cousins again? How often would he have to backtrack and go chasing after Curufin during family rides, when the younger elf decided to wander off on his own to show off? This kind of thing would have almost have been second nature to him in his youth.
But on Valinor, there was less to worry about no extreams of weather, neither heat nor cold, and the Noldor were under the protection of the Valar. Eru, the very place they lived in was called the Undying Lands. There wasn’t anything to worry about then, and he could always be assured that eventually he would find his brothers again and bring them home safely.
Eluréd and Elurín, the entire point was to leave them where they couldn’t be found, where they would starve or freeze and die. To Maedhros, that entire scenario must have felt like some twisted reflection of all of those memories.
Caranthir is interesting. He’s always seemed to me to be the most independent of the sons of Feanor (in that, perhaps even more than Maedhros their leader, he acts as an individual, independent of his brothers.) And, even more interestingly, he kind of shows character growth throughout the Silmarillion, as seen through his involvement with several alliances in the First Age.
The first mention of Caranthir as an individual (aka, acting independently of his brothers), is his reaction to Angrod introducing himself to Thingol on the Noldor’s arrival to Beleriand:
But Caranthir, who loved not the sons of Finarfin, and was the harshest of the brothers and the most quick to anger, cried aloud: “Yea more! Let not the sons of Finarfin run hither and thither with their tales to this Dark Elf in his caves! Who made them our spokesmen to deal with him? And though they be come indeed to Beleriand, let them not so swiftly forget that their father is a lord of the Noldor, though their mother be of other kin.”
This passage not only specifically characterizes Caranthir as harsh and quick to anger, but also shows that he has no interest in allying himself (or his people) to the Sindar (in fact, he shows contempt for the Sindar when he calls Thingol a “dark elf” - he’s likening him to one of the Avari, even though Thingol had actually seen the Two Trees.)
Despite this harsh reaction to Thingol, Caranthir seems to realize pretty quickly that compromises and alliances will be necessary if the Noldor are going to survive in Beleriand. His land, Thargelion, was closest to the dwarves, and so he was the first of the Noldor to meet them. And Tolkien says:
No great love was there between them; for the Dwarves were secret and quick to resentment, and Caranthir was haughty and scarce concealed his scorn for the unloveliness of the Naugrim, and his people followed their lord. Nevertheless since both peoples feared and hated Morgoth they made alliance, and had of it great profit; for the Naugrim learned many secrets of craft in those days, so that the smiths and masons of Nogrod and Belegost became renowned among their kin, and when the Dwarves began again to journey into Beleriand all the traffic of the dwarf-mines passed first through the hands of Caranthir, and thus great riches came to him.
So Caranthir proves capable of setting aside his own prejudices when he and his people stand to gain something (in this case trade from the dwarves, which probably included metal as well as finished products - including, in all likelihood, some of the most famous weapons of the age, such as Angrist and Narsil.) And from this point Caranthir seems to warm up to the idea of alliances a bit. When men first arrived in Beleriand, it seemed Caranthir wasn’t really interested in them (the Haladin lived in his land for some years, though Tolkien says “the people of Caranthir paid little heed to them.”) But then the Haladin are attacked by orcs, and Haleth led her people through a week-long siege. In the end they were saved by the arrival of Caranthir and his warriors, and after the battle Tolkien says:
Then Caranthir looked kindly upon Men and did Haleth great honour; and he offered her recompense for her father and brother. And seeing, over late, what valor there was in the Edain, he said to her: “If you will remove and dwell further north, there you shall have the friendship and protection of the Eldar, and free lands of your own.”
Haleth turned down his offer, and led her people out of Thargelion and to the west, but this is still a notable turning point for Caranthir (and all the sons of Feanor, really.) Having recognized the valor of the Edain, when the next wave of men (the Swarthy Easterlings) arrive in Beleriand, it’s Maedhros and Caranthir who form alliances with them. Though it turned out to be more harmful than helpful - the people who swore allegiance of Caranthir, led by Ulfang the Black, were secretly servants of Morgoth, and betrayed the Noldor.
Caranthir died soon after in the Second Kinslaying at Doriath. We follow him from rash disdain, to grudging respect, to acceptance, and then to betrayal, only for him to die at the hands of the Sindar (which sort of brings us full circle, doesn’t it?)
I am so happy, because I have been waiting my entire blogging life for someone to ask this question. ‘Cause here’s the thing: elves in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit? Largely portrayed, like you said, as pretty and (nearly) perfect. But look a little further back in history - like, say, in the Silmarillion - and you discover that this is actually not a very common trait (well, I think the pretty thing is still common, but perfect… not so much.)
And so, I proudly present: Six Reasons to be Wary of Elves (in no particular order.)
The Oath of Feanor and the Three Kinslayings. Here’s the short version: Way back when, Morgoth stole the three silmarils from their creator, Feanor. Feanor was a member of the Noldorin royal family, and so had a great deal of influence over the elves. He and his seven sons swore an oath to retrieve the silmarils no matter what, and this oath included a pretty terrifying “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” component. And, for the entirety of the First Age, the Feanorians stuck to this oath, even when it meant attacking fellow elves. Which they famously did three times. You can read more about the Three Kinslayings in this post, but just know that it was ugly. And, in the end, useless.
Sometimes They’re Pretty Creepy About Women. In his later writings, Tolkien decided that elves were incapable of rape (either committing it, or surviving it, as the spirit would just up and flee the body.) Even so, there are still a few elves that I would not want to be anywhere near. Namely Eol and Maeglin (who are, coincidentally, father and son.) Eol basically bewitched the woman that caught his eye into getting lost in his forest, and when she was finally lost and tired enough to approach him, he “took her to wife.” He then forbade her from leaving the forest or having any contact with the outside world, until she and her son (Maeglin) finally escaped. Maeglin, though, went on to fall in love with his cousin (which is a no-no among the elves.) When he was caught and tortured by Morgoth, Maeglin gave up secrets about their city, Gondolin. Which isn’t really his fault. But, the deal was that, after Morgoth took the city, Maeglin would get his cousin Idril (even though she was already married and had a kid of her own.) During the ensuing battle, Maeglin basically tried to kidnap her, but her husband killed Maeglin instead. Beyond that family, Celegorm and Curufin once kidnapped a lady and essentially planned to force her father to let one of them marry her. So… yeah.
They Don’t Always Treat Their Prisoners Well (At All.) In Lord of the Rings we learn that the elves of Mirkwood felt so much pity for Gollum that they’d let him climb trees during his captivity. But in their earlier history the elves were not so sympathetic to captured enemies. Though the cultural rule was that orcs that surrendered and asked for mercy must be treated well, Tolkien admits that this “was not always heeded.” In fact, Morgoth says that few orcs ever surrendered because Morgoth convinced them that “the Elves were crueler than themselves, taking captives only for 'amusement’, or to eat them (as the Orcs would do at need).” It’s possible that there was some truth to Morgoth’s warning (though probably not the eating them part.) Beyond hints and rumors, we know full well that, during the Second Kinslaying, the two young sons of Dior were captured by the Feanorians and left to starve in the forest.
A Lot of Elves Kind of Look Down on the Race of Men. While Tolkien’s main narratives usually focus on amazing friendships between the elves and men, there is reason to believe that the average elf would not have the highest opinion of the average (wo)man. In the famous philosophical debate between Finrod (an elf) and Andreth (a mortal woman), Andreth says “All ye Elves deem that we die swiftly by our true kind. That we are brittle and brief, and ye are strong and lasting. We may be 'Children of Eru’, as ye say in your lore; but we are children to you also: to be loved a little maybe, and yet creatures of less worth, upon whom ye may look down from the height of your power and your knowledge, with a smile, or with pity, or with a shaking of heads.”, and Finrod replies “Alas, you speak near the truth. At least of many of my people.” This, plus a post-colonial perspective, have led many fans to criticize the way that the elves treated the early men (even the ones they claimed as allies and friends.)
Even More Elves Kind of Look Down on the Dwarves (And Maybe Used to Hunt Them For Sport, A Little.) The relationship between elves and dwarves is complicated, and complex (though, if interested, I’ve written many posts on the subject that can be found here.) But I think the worst moments of elf/dwarf relations was in the very beginning, when elves didn’t know what dwarves were, assumed they were animals, and hunted them for sport. Yeah, that’s right. Read more about it in this post.
(+1 Bonus) And, Of Course, Some Elves Just Weren’t Very Nice People. Feanor, in an attempt to hold on to political power, stranded his brother and his brother’s people on the wrong side of the ocean (more on that here.) Thingol essentially sent his daughter’s mortal lover to his death in a crazy quest to win her hand in marriage. Celegorm and Curufin similarly let Finrod join this death-quest in the hopes that they could take political control of his kingdom in his absence. Eol tried to kill his son at one point (sort of a “if I can’t have him, no one can” scenario.) There are more, but these are the highlights.
Of course, I’m not saying that the elves were evil, or anything. And there are certainly plenty of elves that seem to be genuinely great people. But, if you read beyond The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, you’ll find more and more that the elves, as a whole, are anything but perfect. Especially in The Silmarillion. You know what, you should just read The Silmarillion…. Yeah, definitely read The Silmarillion.
SOURCES: The Silmarillion, The Histories of Middle Earth vol. 10 (“Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth”, “Myths Transformed”, “Laws and Customs Among the Eldar”)
Círdan is One of the Most Important Figures in Arda's History
If there was an important battle – he showed up. If there were refugees – he took them in. If you needed a lift near the sea, and the Eagles were busy, Círdan was there. He didn’t lose sight of who the enemy was. If there was drama an in-fighting – he wasn’t there. If there was great power that someone else could use more effectively – he gave it freely.
Stand back, I have examples and quotes.
Fought long against Morgoth before the Noldor arrived
“Thingol was cut off from Círdan at Eglarest.”(The Silmarillion – Of the Sindar)
“And when Thingol came again to Menegroth he learned that the orc host in the west was victorious, and had driven Círdan to the rim of the sea.” (The Silmarillion – Of the Sindar)
Showed up to the Mereth Aderthad
“And there came also great numbers of the Grey-elves, wanderers of the woods of Beleriand and folk of the Havens, with Círdan their lord.” (The Silmarillion – Of the Return of the Noldor)
Kept up good relations with the Noldor
“Between Círdan and Finrod there was friendship and alliance, and with the aid of the Noldor the Havens of Brithombar and Eglarest were built anew…with the aid of the Elves of the Havens, some of the folk of Nargothrond built new ships…” (The Silmarillion – Of Beleriand and its Realms)
Also kept up good diplomatic and economic relations with Doriath
“These [pearls] Círdan gave to him, for they were got in great number in the shallow waters about the Isle of Balar.” (Unfinished Tales – Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin)
sometimes I think about Celebrimbor hearing about the Second Kinslaying and that Celegorm and Curufin are dead. and there’s this stab of loss because it’s his father and favorite uncle, and even though he knew it was coming that’s different from knowing that someone is really gone. and guilt, because he wasn’t there. two things that were drilled into him almost since birth is loyalty and the importance of family, and he sacrificed both of those. and it feels like…there was always some childish part of him that wanted, somehow, a reconciliation. knowing it was impossible, that he couldn’t forgive - and still wanting it.
and another part of him is angry, because how could they, how could they keep following this path that was leading them to ruin, how could they attack other Elves, again, how could they get themselves killed.
but at the same time, I wonder how many eyes on him were looking, waiting for his reaction, scrutinizing his every expression and word for a sign of what he was thinking, how he was going to react to the atrocity of the Kinslaying but also the deaths of his kin. and there’s no right reaction for him to have. too much grief and they’ll say he forgets the victims. no grief at all and they will call him heartless. once a Feanorian, always a Feanorian.
Celebrimbor’s answer is to retreat into silence and work, hammering out mingled grief and anger into metal.
I heard you do Silmarillion AUs? I'm wondering what you think would happen if a different Feanorian- let's say Maglor- was captured instead of Maedhros.
If Maglor is captured:
As in canon, the Feanorians refuse to treat and leave him in Morgoth’s hands.
Maedhros, having likely had more training and being a monarch rather than a regent, makes more overtures towards the local Sindar and Doriath but, even with no knowledge of the Kinslaying, Thingols gonna Thingol and Doriath is probably still unwelcoming.
I honestly don’t think the interactions with Fingolfin and his host change all that much, beyond the timeline being sped up a little. Rather than awkwardly squatting on opposite sides of the lake, Maedhros leverages his own lack of culpability for Losgar to open negotiations and makes the same token transfer of the high kingship.
Maglor, more than his big bro, has an appreciation for the acoustics of Thangorodrim. A lot of orcs have headaches. Maybe Morgoth does as he did to Salgant and twists him into a creature in his service. Maybe he does a Maeglin and sends him back, eventually. Maybe he dies. Perhaps one of his more impetuous brothers eventually pulls his thumb out of his ass and goes to fetch him down - pretty sure it wouldn’t be Maedhros or Curufin, could be any or several of the other three (…or four).
Once they’ve got him back, it probably goes a lot like the earlier drafts of the Silmarillion, where they switch which M saves the twins, and which one is all ‘hey maybe all these murders were a bad call’ and which one says ‘sometimes…things that are ethical…are worse.’
Or like the earlier draft where the second kinslaying ends with Maglor murdering all his brothers and fucking off with the jewels to go drown or whatever.
Big brother Maedhros comforting his crying baby brothers
big brother Maedhros placing little Caranthir in his lap and teaching him how to do embroidery
big brother Maedhros helping little Caranthir get past his insecurities
big brother Maedhros assuring little Caranthir that he’s a handsome little devil, when Caranthir admits to feeling ugly in comparison to his eldest brother
big brother Maedhros going out in public dressed like a hobo and his hair a mess, making little Caranthir burst into a fit of giggles
big brother Maedhros going out to find little Caranthir in his secret hideout in the woods after he ran away red-faced and in tears after a fit of anger
big brother Maedhros calmly enduring Caranthir yelling and screaming at him and then holding him when he breaks down in tears
big brother Maedhros being the only one who really understands Caranthir and sees past his hot temper and screaming fits
big brother Maedhros sending Caranthir secret little letters and gifts in Beleriand
Caranthir nearly losing his sanity when he learns about Maedhros being captured by Morgoth
Caranthir secretly crying himself to sleep with Maedhros’ little gifts clutched to his chest
Caranthir visiting Maedhros alone after his rescue and hugging him so tight he nearly crushes his ribs. Caranthir refusing to let go
Caranthir staying with Maedhros and refusing to leave his side throughout his recovery
big brother Maedhros finding his hot-tempered baby brother’s dead body after the second kinslayingbig brother Maedhros kissing his precious red-faced baby brother’s forehead and saying goodbye for the last timebig brother Maedhros and baby brother Caranthir
The Feanorians are so complicated. It’s what makes them such great characters, of course (and, I can only assume, really awesome subjects for scholarly work as well.) But it does mean that opinions on Feanor and his sons vary widely among fans - evidenced by the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever written a post about a Feanorian without somebody sending me a message to argue with me afterwards, lol. That being said, I think one of the most interesting ways to look at Maglor is within the context of his brothers and the issue of remorse.
Feanor had seven sons, all of which swore his oath to retrieve the silmarils no matter what. As most of us know, this led the Feanorians to commit several pretty awful acts during the Silmarillion, including a fair amount of actual murder. So it’s not really a matter of whether or not they should be remorseful, but rather which sons feel it (and when) that’s an interesting topic. By my count, Tolkien specifically describes feelings of remorse in relation to three of the seven sons: Amrod, Maedhros, and Maglor. And while Maglor is the last of the remorseful sons to really be described as such, he is the most obviously and dramatically remorseful.
Amrod, if you’re reading “The Shibboleth of Feanor” was the first of the Feanorians to really feel remorse and question their oath. Tolkien says that he was dismayed by his father’s actions at Alqualonde and actually wanted to return to Valinor (and assumedly repent.) In fact, he was so uncomfortable that he didn’t want to sleep on the ground in Middle Earth, and instead chose to stay in the stolen ships. Unfortunately, nobody knew this, and so when Feanor set fire to the ships, Amrod died. This story doesn’t appear in the published Silmarillion, (in that version Amrod lives and dies with his twin in the Third Kinslaying), and we don’t know what would have happened if Amrod had lived, or his thoughts on the oath, but it’s chronologically the first sign of Feanorian remorse.
Maedhros seems to be the most consistently remorseful of the Feanorians. He starts early, expressing his wish for Feanor to return the ships to Aman so that Fingolfin’s people (especially Fingon) could join them in Middle Earth. And it’s said that he stood apart from the burning of the ships, not taking part in the act. After his captivity in Angband, Maedhros seems pretty committed to Noldorin unity, ceding the High Kingship to Fingolfin and moving his people east to avoid further conflict with Fingolfin’s people. And he was reluctant to allow the Second or Third Kinslaying, and is specifically said to have searched the woods to try and rescue Dior’s sons. But at the very end, it’s Maedhros who’s pushing Maglor to continue with their oath and try one more time to retrieve their father’s silmarils. So while he undoubtedly felt remorseful for much of the chaos and suffering he and his brothers had caused, Maedhros in the end still wanted to fulfill the oath anyway.
And then there’s Maglor. Largely overshadowed by Maedhros, we really don’t see Maglor act much until the very end of the Silmarillion. We still see a few hints of remorseful behavior - it’s said that Maglor wrote the song Noldolante, the Fall of the Noldor, about the First Kinslaying. It’s after the Third Kinslaying that we really start to see some development for Maglor, though. He spares Elrond and Elros, choosing to raise them with love and care instead of killing them or treating them like hostages. Tolkien says that “Maglor’s heart was sick and weary with the burden of the dreadful oath.” But while Maedhros reacted to this feeling by rushing to fulfill the oath and be done with it, Maglor seemed more inclined to abandon the oath entirely, and so argued against stealing the silmarils after the War of Wrath. I wouldn’t necessarily look at him in terms of being the “nicest” - rather, I would say that, in the end, his weariness and remorse caused him to “turn from the Feanorian path”, if you will, and more so than any of this brothers.
This is something I’ve been a little nervous to do, because I’m not a Tolkien expert, I’m sort of in the middle between the movies and the books, but yet I still want to talk about some stuff, I want to write a series of posts that examine the movies and try to fill in the backgrounds of them. I want to do this for two reasons:
1) When I first watched the movies, even when I rewatched them again recently, I had no idea of so much stuff going on and I think the movies can be difficult to pick up on some of the details! and 2) I just really fucking love the Greenwood elves and I want to specifically talk about them/I want to talk about why I think movie!Thranduil has some context that is pretty important to his character! It’s not a Thranduil character analysis post, more a… “so, here’s what I think is the context for a lot of this stuff, also, it’s interesting!” post.
So, when I write these posts, it’s not as someone trying to claim all knowledge on them (and I may still have some things mixed around), it’s as someone who’s trying to get this down for my own sake and maybe provide a little bit of context for some of the stuff that happens, as best I can. And because THERE ARE HEADCANONS HERE THAT YOU CANNOT TAKE FROM ME.
With that in mind, I decided to start with the Battle of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, because I think it’s something that the Hobbit movies didn’t address very well and yet are really important to Thranduil’s characterization. Since this battle was covered in the LOTR opening scenes, the caps will mostly be from there, and of course Thranduil wasn’t in them directly (as these movies are from the early 2000s and the Hobbit movies weren’t made until much later) and I’ll maybe go over the Hobbit movies themselves later. SPOILERS for BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES, etc.
The basic plot was this: Towards the end of the Second Age (it started about 10 years before the SA ended, then the Third Age lasted for 3021 years after the defeat of Sauron there, which ended at the end of the third movie, so basically, the Last Alliance was about 3,000 years ago) was a huge joining of Elves and Men together (the scale of which has only happened a very few times–like, three total–in the history of Middle Earth) because Sauron was making his big move to conquer pretty much everything.