Book Review

All the (Silmarillion) Feels | Chapter 4: Of Thingol and Melian

All the (Silmarillion) Feels is an emotion- and story-focused summary of The Silmarillion. You’ll get facts, but that’s not the point here. Let’s talk themes, meaningful quotes, and moments that made us go “WHOA.” I started this project after falling in love with The Rings of Power television show, so expect me to focus on things to do with Galadriel and Sauron.


Chapter 4: Of Thingol and Melian

Short but Sweet

This chapter is a mere two pages long, but a lot of romance is packed within these pages. In fact, alongside Aragorn/Arwen and Beren/Luthien, I would say that Thingol/Melian is one of the most romantic pairings in all of Middle-earth. They’re all also about otherworldly women singing in glades while being beautiful, so clearly both Tolkien and I have a type!

Melian

Our first lovebird is Melian, who is unique in Middle-earth for being a female Maia. The Maiar are higher beings like the Valar, though one step down in the power hierarchy. For reference, both Gandalf and Sauron are Maiar. Like them, she chooses to spend her time in Middle-earth rather than Valinor, though when she was in the land of the gods, her preferred haunt was hanging with Lórien, the Valar of dreams and visions. She is similarly magical, though her enchantments involve singing and drawing nightingales to her side; she’s very much a Disney princess.

Elwë/Thingol

Our second lovebird is Elwë, the leader of the Teleri, the third group of Elves to journey across Middle-earth toward Valinor. During the journey, he leaves the group and is captured by the song of nightingales. Literally! Hearing Melian’s voice, “it filled all his heart with wonder and desire” to the point that he forgets about all of his friends, family, and duty. Meeting Melian the Maia is so powerful that he changes his name to Elu Thingol and never rejoins his clan. Instead, his brother Olwë becomes the leader of the Teleri.

A Magical Love

Elwë is lovestruck by the sound of Melian’s voice, and when she sees him for the first time, she is just as entranced. In fact, having laid eyes upon each other, “they stood thus while long years were measured by the wheeling stars above them; and the trees of Nan Elmoth grew tall and dark before they spoke any word.”

Guys, Tolkien was a capital R romantic. He loved love, and he wasn’t afraid to write about the wonder and desire that is so utterly captivating that you could spend literal years staring into your beloved’s eyes. Is it silly? Yes. Is it a little weird that all of his romantic leading ladies are chivalric queens to be adored and worshipped? Yes. But I love it!

Anyway, Elwë becomes Thingol, and he and Melian make a home called Menegroth. They rule together for a very long time, and we will get to see them again in later chapters. They are also the ancestors of some of Middle-earth’s greatest; their daughter Luthien is the grandmother of Elrond and therefore great-grandmother of Arwen, wife of Aragorn. Of course, these are the generations of immortals, so from great-great-grandmother Melian to Arwen is thousands of years.


Chapter 4 was a nice little snapshot of individual characters, but chapter 5 will take us back to the Elves who are crossing Middle-earth in an attempt to enter Valinor!

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