I: The Book of Lost Tales part 1, X: GILFANON’S TALE: THE TRAVAIL OF THE NOLDOLI AND THE COMING OF MANKIND

This is the final chapter in the Book of Lost Tales part 1. This chapter looks a bit different than the earlier chapters, because it is not told as extensively as tales told by characters. A short passage is a tale told by Gilfanon (about the Eldar dwelling in Palinsor and how Nuin finds the sleeping men). The rest (The Awakening of Men and The History of the Exiled Gnomes) are written as outlines consisting of very abbreviated concepts of what events took place. 

First, I will write down the plot of the tale that Gilfanon tells, then I will just give a brief description of the outlines of the other parts.

1 – Gilfanon’s tale

On the morrow, the day after Vairë finished her tales about the Hiding of Valinor and the Sun and Moon, Gilfanon starts to tell about what have happened in the Great Lands.

There were still elves left in the Great Lands after the Noldoli, Solosimpi and Teleri had left. Some was lost on their way butmost had most had decided to stay in Palinsor. These elves are called Qendi or Dark Elves. By the Eldar who had dwelt in Kôr they were called Ilkorins. One of the elves, called Tû was very skilled in magic and considered a wizard. He was the king of Palinsor and the people in his realm was called Hisildi, the twilight people. One of these was an elf called Nuin. He often wandered. At this time, before the sun had started it journeys from east to west over the Great Lands, it was still dark when Nuin came upon Murmenalda (Vale of Sleep). Here he found the sleeping bodies of the race of men. He got back to Tû and told him of what he had found in the east.

There Gilfanon’s tale breaks off and what happens next is not told as a tale of Gilfanon, but as outlines. Christopher writes about that there have been four different outlines of these events. A, B, C, D. A and B forms the early outlines and C and D the later outlines. I have chosen to only share the abbreviated content of the later outlines that are found in this chapter. I’m going to put more focus on the Awakening of Men rather than the History of the Gnomes, because what happens is extensive and difficult to grasp in just one post based on the abbreviated shape that it is told in the Book of Lost Tales here. 

2 – Awakening of Men

Though cautious about the sleeping men, Nuin returns to watch them. He awakens two of them, Ermon and Elmir. They are the only humans awake at the first dawn. Previous to this, creatures of Melko, Ùvanimor (monsters, giants etc.) have already started to wander the Great Lands. Fankil, who is called “Child of Melko” is among them. Nuin learnt Ermon and Elmir speech and when the other men have woken up they learn from the elves. They live in the centre of the world but starts to spread in all directions. Fankil, dwarves and goblins went among men and spread the corruption of Melko. The first war of goblins and elves took place, the War of Palinsor. During this war Nuin dies by the hands of the goblins due to the treachery of men.

3 – The History of the Exiled Gnomes

Here I’m just going to feature the listing of evens as it appears in the book (p. 241f).

  1. The Noldoli cross the Helkaraksë and spread into Hisilómë, making their encampment by Asgon (Mithrim).
  2. They meet Ilkorin Elves.
  3. Fëanor dies.
  4. First battle with orcs;
  5. A Gnomish army goes to Angband;
  6. Maidros captured, tortured and maimed;
  7. The Sons of Fëanor depart from the host of the Elves.
  8. A mighty battle called the Battle of Unnumbered Tears is fought between Elves and Men and the hosts of Melko;
  9. Treachery of Men, corrupted by Melko, at that battle;
  10. But the people of Úrin (Húrin) are faithful, and do not survive it;
  11. The leader of the Gnomes is isolated and slain;
  12. Turgon and his host cut their way out, and go to Gondolin;
  13. Melko is wrathful because he cannot discover where Turgon has gone;
  14. The Fëanorians come late to the battle;
  15. A great cairn is piled.

Mentioned is also the enthrallment of the Noldoli. Those who escaped this fate founded Gondolin.

Characters to note

  • Tû – Qendi elf who knows magic. King of Palinsor.
  • Nuin – Called “Father of Speech”. One of the Hisildi with keen eye-sight, he wanders and finds the sleeping mankind.
  • Ermon and Elmir – The first of men to awake. They are the only men who see the first dawn.
  • Fankil – “Child of Melko”. An evil servant of Melko.

Places to note

  • Palinsor – The region where most of the elves who stayed in the Great Lands dwells.
  • Murmenalda – Vale of Sleep. Where Mankind are found and wakes up.

Features to note

  • Qendi – The Eldar who stayed behind in the Great Lands when the other went to dwell in Valinor.
  • Hisildi – The twilight people who dwells in the realm of Tû.
  • Ùvanimor – The creatures and monsters of Melko who dwell in the Great Lands.

Comments

One of the interesting things in this chapter is the highligting of dwarves as evil creatures. They are not connected with Aulë but rather with goblins and are part of corrupting the men.

When reading the previous chapter one get the impression that mankind had not yet awoken at the first dawn. But this chapter contradicts this by having two men already awake at this time. The majority of mankind do wake up after the first dawn. They’re said to have been waiting for the light.

I choose to focus on the awakening of mankind for the characters and features to note because of the extensiveness of the other material (in terms of events that takes place). I do not think that I can make it more easy or abbreviated than it already is in the book and I’d recommend readers of the Book of Lost Tales to read that section very carefully and to look over the same events by reading The Silmarillion to make comparisons. I think that some of this might be covered or mentioned in upcoming chapters in The Book of Lost Tales part 2, but I’m not sure and for me, this have been the most difficult part of Silmarillion to grasp and remember. Though, from what I can tell online, there are a lot of these events that have been captured and that fans apprechiate. The fate of the Fëanorians seems to be quite capturing. There are a lot of brilliant fan-art out there that might help to look at.

Have you read this chapter? Please comment and tell me what you think of this part and if you have anything to add!

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