The Adventures of Turgon

Ulmo: *helps Turgon*
Turgon: *Discovers Tumladen* wow. This place would be perfect to build a memorial to Tirion.
Turgon: hmm …….
Turgon: *goes back to Nevrast* I’ll think of something later.
*Dagor Aglareb happens*
Ulmo: ……………
Ulmo: *sends some people to build the city up; SIGH*
Turgon: oh! I came up with a name - Gondolin. Cool, right?
Ulmo: bropls
Turgon: Hey! What’s up Ulmo, did you hear? I came up with a name for my secret city and it only took me 250 years!
Ulmo: Just go to Gondolin already.
Turgon: Yeah? But who will protect the entirety of Nevrast.
Ulmo: Me. Now go to Gondolin.
Turgon: Phew. Okay.
Ulmo: Go. Now. But remember, the Doom of Mandos is still hanging over your head, buddy.
Turgon: Got it!
Ulmo: OMG leave.

Now where did she walk in Gondolin? not by the walls, where dreamers argued, lovers paraded, and musicians played to the wind, in case the mountains would give a fair critique; not in the palace, where her father sat and thought of ships. Not in the smithy where cousin Maeglin never forged an anchor. She liked gardens, and the fountains in gardens. She was to be seen lifting her legs over the wall of a well, to bathe her feet.

Tuor himself couldn’t resist the city walls, not least because he expected to see the ocean mount above the mountain-waves, and fill the valley, billowing, and writhe up from the foot of the Rock. But, forgetting his oath to Ulmo, he liked the green fields of Tumladen and the shadow of eagles gliding low, shadows which almost crawled, then raced, as Thorondor’s folk descended or drew level. On the other hand he couldn’t resist anywhere in Gondolin; he loved the palace, with its silence like a platter for birdsong, and metal trees the birds did not disdain—and the hot clamor of the Mole-house smithy made him itch to get in the way, regardless of how balefully the master begged his pardon. Once he met Idril in an in-between place, a steep gooseneck alley where the white clay produced stairs like a brow might wrinkle. Lines of washing crossed the sky and sketched gray lines of worry on her face, long jagged scars—Idril the outlaw. Propped on one hip, a great basket, and she kept her fist on the lid—but she smiled as though carrying nothing of weight, she met his eyes once, when she said his name, and then looked down and kept her smile. He felt compelled to look where she looked and convince her that he, too, had seen it; also, to stay looking at her face. “Where are you going? Would you like an entourage? I’m told I’m loud again as seven elves, so we will make a merry party.” What she had looked toward were a cluster of children, shooting marbles, which for mortal children on a hill would have been a sad game; the young elves sang pure notes, and the marbles shivered and returned.

“I am for the healers’ house. I have a victim for them.” She nodded him closer, and stepped under the wide eaves of a weaver’s shop. From inside, the voice of the loom; it made him think his pulse had quickened, less a beat than a trill. She wore no scent, but he smelled a cookfire, and cloth made hot by sun, out of the wind. She raised the wicker lid; in the basket dozed an adder, light dewing its scales.

“Venom for a poultice?”

“They’ll milk it, yes. And now I must be on my way.” Down went the lid. He opened his mouth to make a fast farewell, and she gave a shake of the head, still with that smile, and kissed him. She might not have done it if she had had the use of either hand; a method of retreat, and she lingered. He touched her cheek without understanding how he could, and when she leaned into his palm, brought up his other hand to touch her hair; she straightened and his hand was on her nape, full of her hair. She met his eyes in seriousness and sudden, pained attention. It seemed that she regarded him as she would have the view from the walls.

Timeline of Gondolin

Hope you don’t mind, but I expanded this a bit to make it a more general timeline of events in/concerning Gondolin. All dates take place in the First Age.

  • 50: Ulmo sends his vision to Turgon and Finrod, encouraging them to build hidden kingdoms.
  • 53: Turgon discovers the valley of Tumladen, the future site of Gondolin.
  • 64: Construction of Gondolin begins; Turgon’s people start traveling in secret from Nevrast to Gondolin.
  • 116: Gondolin’s construction is completed.
  • 304: Aredhel leaves Gondolin.
  • 400: Aredhel, Eol, and Maeglin arrive in Gondolin. Aredhel and Eol die.
  • 458: Hurin and Huor arrive in Gondolin.
  • 459: Hurin and Huor leave Gondolin.
  • 472: Gondolin’s army fights in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. Turgon becomes High King of the Noldor.
  • 496: Tuor and Voronwe arrive in Gondolin.
  • 503: Earendil is born.
  • 509: Maeglin is captured and tortured by Morgoth’s servants.
  • 510: Fall of Gondolin. Idril and Tuor lead survivors south to Havens of Sirion. Turgon, Ecthelion, Glorfindel, and many others die.

SOURCES: The Silmarillion, The Histories of Middle Earth (various volumes, but especially vol. 11 “The Grey Annals”)

But Turgon remembered the city set upon a hill, Tirion the fair with its tower and tree, and he found not what he sought, but returned to Nevrast, and sat in peace in Vinyamar by the shores of the sea. And in the net year Ulmo himself appeared to him, and bade him go forth again alone into the Vale of Sirion; and Turgon went forth, and by the guidance of Ulmo he discovered the hidden vale of Tumladen in the Encircling Mountains, in the midst of which there was a hill of stone. Of this he spoke to none as yet, but returned once more to Nevrast, and there began in his secret counsels to devise the plan of a city after the manner of Tirion upon Túna, for which his heart yearned in exile.
—  J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion, p.115 (Of the Return of the Noldor).
Gondolin is Not Sustainable

You know, I look at Gondolin and wonder what on God’s green Earth they were thinking when they came up with the idea. This situation is not sustainable, not at all, and I wonder how it was able to prosper for as long as it did, to be brought down not by the infrastructure collapsing, but by betrayal and invasion.

Well, actually, I think I do know what happened. Turgon didn’t know the first thing about farming and agriculture. Neither did Aredhel, Idril, or any of the nobles who approved of his plan to move everybody in Nevrast to this hidden valley deep in the mountains, away from everybody else. (And let’s not get into how narrowly Turgon must have avoided triggering an international incident by deciding to claim land not previously owned by him as his own; it was sheer dumb luck that the Vale of Tumladen wasn’t already inhabited, and wasn’t already claimed by Thingol or somebody else. Sometimes, the Valar just call on you to do some seriously diplomatically risky stuff.)

But really, I’m amazed that Gondolin lasted as long as it did.

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