Book Review

All the (Silmarillion) Feels | Chapter 5: Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië

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 5: Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië

This chapter title likely reads as nonsense, though admittedly, nonsense made of very pretty words. Chapter 5 is about how the Elves settled into Valinor and who the major players are going to be moving forward.

The Magical Ship-Island

We left the Elves on the western shore of Middle-earth eager to move to Valinor. We learn that there is a land bridge of sorts to the north, but it is full of dangerous “grinding ice,” so instead Ulmo uproots an island and moves it to the shoreline so that everyone can hop aboard. This is quite possible the coolest thing, and it’s stuff like this that makes The Silmarillion feel properly mythic.

You’ll remember that at first, only two groups of Elves made the full journey to Middle-earth. The Vanyar and the Nolder take the island-ship to Valinor. The Elves loved the light of the Trees, but they missed the stars under which they’d lived in Middle-earth, so the Valar create a deep valley that leads to the eastern shore of Valinor with a mountain from which one can view both their new home and their old. Upon the mountain the Elves built their city Tirion, and Yavanna makes them a mini-Tree that’s just as beautiful as the ones lighting Valinor, but without any self-giving light. The White Tree of Númenor is a descendant of this tree!

Even though the Vanyar and Noldar are having a good time in Valinor, communing with the Valar and learning all sorts of skills and crafts, they miss their kin. So let’s pop back to Middle-earth and see what the Teleri have been up to, shall we?

The Teleri Tarry

You’ll remember that the leader of the Teleri found himself in a love trance with Melian, and his people anxiously hung out on the shore of Middle-earth waiting to see if he would ever show up again. Ossë, a Maiar who essentially works for Ulmo, befriends them, and the Teleri become known as “lovers of water” and “the fairest singers of all the Elves.”

The cries of the Elves in Valinor convince Ulmo to take the ship-island back to Middle-earth to see if any of the Teleri want to make the second journey. It is unclear why the island couldn’t just perpetually float back and forth like a ferry, but Tolkien does like to focus on adventures that demand a choice, and regular travel options don’t really fit with that aesthetic.

Weirdly, the island gets all the way to the Bay of Eldamar (chapter title!), Ossë convinces them to stop the island and just…live on the island. It’s a weird choice to me, since it seems like the worst of both worlds. They’re no longer in Middle-earth, but also not in Valinor with the other Elves! But they seem happy enough, especially when the problem is solved by Ossë teaching them how to build actual ships. They can now make their way to Valinor and back to the island as they wish. Even when they’re in the Undying Lands, however, they like to stick close to the water. They build their own city called Alqualondë on the shores, and they take the gems that the Noldor give them and strew them along the beaches so that they positively glitter. UM, COOL. Tell me you’re rich without telling me you’re rich: “My beaches are full of gemstones.”

The Teleri Who Stayed Behind

Some of the Teleri chose not to go on either of the two island-voyages because they wanted to see if their leader would ever return. And eventually he does! After a very long time, Thingol and Melian come out of their love-trance and find the waiting Teleri. Thingol is disappointed to have missed out on seeing Valinor, but only temporarily, because the light of Valinor shines in Melian’s face. Cute, right? His time spent with a Maiar has changed him, and we get this juicy tidbit about his future: “Fair and noble as he had been, now he appeared as if it were a lord of the Maiar, his hair as grey silver, tallest of all the Children of Ilúvatar; and a high doom was before him.” I’m sure that’ll be fine.

The Family Tree You’ve Got to Learn

Everyone is now fairly settled; most of the Elves are in Valinor, although Thingol and some of the Teleri stayed in Middle-earth with the Maiar Melian. With everyone in place, The Silmarillion tells us about the family around whom the rest of the book is going to revolve, and spoilers, Galadriel enters the story here!

Finwë is the King of the Noldor, the Elves who befriended Aulë and loved to make things. His first son is born to his first wife Miriel, and this son is HELLA IMPORTANT. Fëanor, don’t forget his name. Miriel dies and Finwë marries Indis, and together they have two more sons, Fingolfin and Finarfin. Yes, there are a lot of “F”s this family.

We will go into a ton more depth with these characters as the story progresses, but take note! Finarfin’s youngest child is Galadriel, making her Fëanor’s niece and therefore tied up in all the ish that’s about to hit the fan.

Chapter 5 sets the stage for all the drama that’s about to unfold, and we’ll learn more about the main dramatist, Fëanor, in chapter 6!

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