Of the Voyage of Earendil and the War of Wrath

Wow. Pretty good. Tolkien squeezed even more into this last chapter than I expected, but I don’t have a whole lot to say.

Earendil the MarinerSomething interesting that I hadn’t realized earlier is that the dragons hadn’t had wings and couldn’t fly (those from before the War of Wrath). That helps explain why Turin calls Glaurung a worm a few chapters back. I’d never pictured the dragons without wings, which of course is common in fantasy–I’d just not thought of them like that in this case.

In this chapter, there are a few twists that reach into the realm of the fantastic more so than much of the rest of the story. I’m thinking mostly of Elwing’s transformation (thanks to Ulmo) into the likeness of a bird when she cast herself into the sea (her and the Silmaril’s rescue); also, Earendil becoming a mariner of the stars; and Elwing learning the language of the birds and how to fly.

A little Melkor/Morgoth related issue: Fingolfin already cut off one of his feet and ever after went halt of one foot, so the statement that “his feet were hewn from under him” in this chapter actually makes no sense. Just something to point out. Before I move on, let me also say that Melkor’s defeat was incredibly unsatisfying. Although Tolkien was no more brief in his account of this last battle than his accounts of previous ones, it still felt incredibly brief. The armies of the Valar come and get him and kick his butt out of Ea and shut the door on him. Even if Tolkien had left it at that I would’ve been unsatisfied, I mean this guy is the root of all the evil that went down, all that suffering, and he just gets kicked out of Ea. What a let down. As if that’s not bad enough, Tolkien has to go pointing out that even though he’s gone, he lives on in the lies and deceptions he started all those thousands and thousands of years ago–that the evil even of today can trace it’s origins back to him. It makes me scratch my head and ask, “who was the real winner here?”

Moving on, another thing I can’t help but wonder is how long Maglor remained by the Sea after throwing the Silmaril in. He’s the only son of Feanor that the story doesn’t tell explicitly that he dies. He is very descriptive of the others’ deaths, Maethros for example threw himself into the firey opening in the earth. But Maglor we are told threw the Silmaril into the sea and then wandered nearby bemoaning their fate and whatnot. By refering to Galadriel as the only one left “of those who led the Nolodor to exile in Belariand,” we have to assume that Maglor did die at some point, we just aren’t told when or how.

And, how incredibly fitting that the Silmarils should end up in the earth (fire), sea (water), and sky (air); not in the posession of the Valar as I had suspected.