Book Review

All the (Silmarillion) Feels | Chapter 7: Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor

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 7: Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor

It is time! The thing this whole dang book is named after has finally arrived. Fëanor and Melkor continue with their will they/won’t they tension (whoops, sorry, I mean mortal enmity), and the peaceful utopia on Valinor begins to crumble.

Fighting Over Jewelry

In the last chapter, we learned that the Nolder Elf Fëanor is the best of the best, and he knows it. This chapter begins by describing his greatest accomplishment: the creation of three jewels called the Silmarils. They capture the light of trees of Valinor, and nothing else like them exists in all the world. The Elves and the Valar both are “filled with wonder and delight;” but Melkor is filled with envy.

Real talk, I love that the central conflict of The Silmarillion is about artistic accomplishment. Where other fantasy novels focus on sex and bloodshed, everything here hinges on the creation of something beautiful, and the ways in which envy and possessiveness can destroy the most fantastic of creations.

Melkor is Jealous

You’ll remember that Melkor is a Valar who tried to wrestle the song of creation away from Ilúvatar. He has always been enamored with the art of creating something, but without the flair to make something truly original. As someone with similar skills and limitations, I can confirm that this often leads to jealousy when others seem to effortlessly create things far beyond your ability.

What Melkor excels at, however, is talking (oh no, are we the same?). He represses his jealousy and instead foments distrust amongst the Noldor. He subtly insinuates that the Valar brought the Elves to Valinor because they feared the Elves would surpass them if left to their own rule. The book notes that “many who heard [his words] believed in recollection that they arose from their own thought.” He’s sneaky!

He also gets personal by exploiting the familial distance between King Finwë’s sons by other mothers. Fëanor hears that his half brother plans to usurp his line as eldest, and Fingolfin hears that Fëanor plans to drive them out of the city. Drama!

It is at this point that weapons are created, as Melkor helpfully suggests that they all arm themselves to prevent something terrible from happening. Spoilers, something terrible happens because they arm themselves! Funny how that happens.

Brother Against Brother

The whispers and rumors reach a fever pitch when Fingolfin seeks a private audience with his father, King Finwë, and Fëanor breaks in, accusing him of being a sneaky snake who would “be before me with my father, in this as in all other matters.” He draws a sword against his half brother twice, and this is the first time threatened violence against kin has ever happened! It is a big deal! The Valar punish Fëanor with twelve years of exile to the north, where his bad mood only grows worse.

Everyone does figure out that Melkor’s whispers and insinuations caused all this chaos, but he disappears as a thundercloud, and no one can catch him. He tries to befriend Fëanor, since let’s be real, they have a lot in common. But he slips by mentioning the Silmarils, and the Elf realizes Melkor’s real intentions. Without any allies and his cover blown, Melkor leaves, and we get this amazing final sentence of the chapter:

“The Valar sought in vain for tidings of their enemy; and as a cloud far off that looms ever higher, borne upon a slow cold wind, a doubt now marred the joy of the dwellers in Aman, dreading they knew not what evil that yet might come.”

The Silmarillion, page 76.

Bonus Foreshadowing

At the beginning of this chapter, we get a very interesting tidbit that hints of the final days of Middle-earth in some unwritten future: “But not until the End, when Fëanor shall return who perished ere the Sun was made, and sits now in the Halls of Awaiting…”

This is some Norse Ragnorak mythology! I love it! Spoilers I guess that Fëanor won’t survive, but like I said, this is written on page 69.

Tensions are at a boiling point, and they’re going to spill over in the next chapter: Of the Darkening of Valinor.

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