In Feanor’s Footsteps – Michael Martinez’ J.R.R. Tolkien and Middle-earth

by Jul 16, 2001Other News

“In seeking for details on the War of Wrath, we must concede that it is no better conceived of or elucidated by J.R.R. Tolkien than are the events which unfold as background for the handful of our most ancient Germanic stories. Such details as we can point to are simply generalizations. But from the generalizations, and what we know of Beleriand’s geography, we may be able to draw a few rational conclusions.”
In his July 16th Suite101 essay, Michael asks: could Tolkien have fully visualized the War of Wrath as he provided details for so many other events, or was it necessarily a legend about which little could or should be known?

Here is an excerpt:

The War of Wrath is a mysterious event. The Silmarillion tells us that it occurred some time after the Feanorians destroyed the haven at Arvernien. The War of the Jewels tells us it began in the year 545 of the First Age of the Sun and that the war lasted for 42 years. The account in The Silmarillion, compressed by Christopher Tolkien from earlier texts, says very little. The armies of Morgoth were vanquished in an unspecified number of battles, and then the Host of Valinor approached Angband, only to be driven back by the winged dragons. Eventually, Earendil and the Eagles of Manwe defeated the dragons.

And that’s about it. After the dragons were defeated, the Valar (or their army) ransacked Angband, freed Morgoth’s thralls, and took him prisoner. 42 years’ worth of history are related in the space of a few paragraphs. And J.R.R. Tolkien always intended it to read that way, because his histories are derived mostly from the Elves and Men who participated in the events reported in the tales. The War of Wrath is an exception to this convention, because the narrative states that those Elves who remained free (on the Isle of Balar) did not take part in the war. And these were the Elves who stayed in Middle-earth and conveyed their histories to the Dunedain.

Still, some people insist, it would be nice if we knew how Tolkien envisioned the War of Wrath.

And you know what? We may indeed have some clues about the way it should have unfolded.

Please click on the link below to read the entire article.


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