This post concerns the chapter The Tale of Eärendel. This and the next chapter are two chapters that are based on outlines and notes about the plot and do not consist of narrative form. Earlier chapters have been told as tales to which Eriol listens, but here we completely lack this element. The chapter provides outlines, notes and poems which Christopher Tolkien have commented. The Tale od Eärendel was meant to follow-up on the The Tale of the Nauglafring which left off at the flight of Elwing. However, this chapter also put some light on the Eldar leaving Kôr. I will give a summary of that first and then focus on the fates of Eärendel and his family. More of the Eldar leaving Kôr will be featured in the next post.
Of the Eldar leaving Kôr
After the destruction of Gondolin, the birds of Gondolin flies to Kôr and tell the elves there what have happened. This starts and uproar due to the fate of the Noldoli and the Valar gathers for council. The elves (the Inwir,Teleri and Solosimpi) leave Kôr and march for the Great Lands. Out of wrath and sorrow, the Valar veils Kôr from their own sight. The Solosimpi take a route along the shores. After the binding of Melko the elves depart from the Great Lands to Tol Eressëa.
(More on this in the next post…)
The Voyages of Eärendel
Following the events in the Tale of the Nauglafring, Elwing has fled and then arrives at the mouth of Sirion where Tuor, Idril and Eärendel dwell. Eärendel and Elwing loves each other. Tuor ages and upon hearing the conches of Ulmo, he sails away in Swanwing. Idril will later try to follow him. Eärendel sails north, trying to find his father. He is even willing to venture to Mandos to find his father. In the north he gets shipwrecked, but is saved by Ulmo. Ulmo says he must go to Kôr.
Again, Eärendel sets sail, this time to find Mandos but first he sails to Falasquil and is once again wrecked. This time the Oarni who had befriended him when a youth saves him (which Ossë is not happy about). He sights the Isle of Seabirds but then ventures by land back to Sirion. When he returns Idril had already sailed away. Now Ulmo’s conches urges Eärendel to once more set sail and at this he says farewell to Elwing and builds the ship Wingilot. He sails for Valinor and wanders for years before getting there. Meanwhile, the curse of the Nauglafring brings death to Elwing (in some early versions she is transformed into a seabird).
Eärendel finally gets to Kôr, but finds it empty. There he get covered in glimmering dust. He returns home, but the dwellings at the mouth of Sirion is also empty. They have been attacked. Eärendel then visits the ruins of Gondoloin before he saials to Tol Eressëa and the Isle of Seabirds, searching for Elwing. Then he voyages to the firmament. He can never return to the Great Lands, or he will die, due to his mortal heritage from his father.
Characters to note
- Eärendel – Also called “Eärendel the Mariner”. Son of Tuor and Idril. First halfelf.
- Tuor – Father of Eärendel. Married to Idril. First man to reach the sea.
- Idril – Nolodoli elf. Mother of Eärendel. Married to Tuor. Daugther of Turgon.
- Elwing – Daugther of Dior, son of Beren and Tínúviel.
- Voronwë – Noldoli elf, friend and companion of Tuor. Later companion of Eärendel. Father of Littleheart.
- Ulmo – One of the valar, ruler of water. Dwells in the Outer Ocean.
- Ossë – Vassal of Ulmo, although often with conflicting interests.
- Mandos – Fantur of Death. Dwells in underground cavern halls. Hosts the fallen elves in his halls until they can be reborn.
Features to note
- Swanwing – Ship sailed by Tuor.
- Eärámë – Eärendel’s first ship.
- Wingilot – A ship of Eärendel.
- Oarni – Mermaids.
Places to note
- Falasquil – The place of dwelling of Tuor before he was called upon by Ulmo before going to Gondolin.
- Kôr – The dwelling of the Eldar, in particular the Teleri and Inwir, in Valinor.
- Gondolin – The destroyed kingdom of the Noldoli in the Great Lands, where Tuor and Idril dwellt.
The summary I have given is an overall view of the events that took place and the voyages of Eärendel. A few various details and differences are put forward in the chapter and I recommend reading it!
I have chosen not to make any comments on the poems, only name them, because they are short and easy to get back to (this also applies to the commentary on them in the book).
What I think I like most in this chapter is how closely related Tuor and Eärendel seem to be. Eärendel is very much like Tuor and that bond between them, and Ulmo, is noteworthy. There are not many instances where any god interfere with what happens in the Great Lands/Middle-Earth. For example, there is mentioned in some notes that Tuor actually was allowed to live with Ulmo and could therefore not be found with Mandos or in Valinor.
There is an interesting section concerning the name of Eärendel and the character of Eärendel which I recommend anyone to read more throughly (p. 265-267). As some of you who have read the Silmarillion, there have not been any mention about how Eärendel was put in the sky by the Valar, shining with the light of a Silmaril.
Have you read this chapter or do you want to know more? Please comment and tell me what you think of this part or if you have something to ask!