Sunday, January 8, 2012

What about Silmarillion?

Eru (or Iluvatar) is alone, and he starts to sing.
He sings the ocean into existence, and then he sings the Valar spirits into existence. The most powerful of them are Manwë and Melkor, brothers in thought...one good, one evil. This story sure starts out great.
I particularly love the idea whit a universe springing out from music.
Then they all sing in his divine choir, a symphony from his thought. One of the powerful Valar, the previous mentioned Melkor, starts creating his own harmonies, forcing those closest to him to sing along to avoid disharmony. He thinks he's quite clever. But then Eru starts a new pattern and they are once again singing in perfect harmony. But Melkor again had a pride in creating his own harmony (or so he thought), and the Valar closest to him again had to correct their song according to this disharmonious melody (he was dangerous as Melkor, but it's when he scorched his face and built Utumno and changed his name to Morgoth that he became really nasty. And to be quite honest, he's a real danger as Melkor as well, because he uses his beauty and his innocent face to scheme and plot, and he manages to hunt the elves from the Undying Lands, having behaved like the snake in Paradise, so no matter name, he's a real evil piece of work.).
However, in the end even Melkor singing out of tune, is all a part of Eru's plan, and their song has created what was later to become the Undying lands, and further Middle Earth. Thus, only slightly more poetic than what I present, starts Tolkien's wonderful, epic, compound, sublime story about the creation of the precious Silmarils. In the beginning of the story Tokien has created this biblical language getting vast amounts of information in every sentence written. Every single word matters, and this is why it's hard to read, that and the many elven names (personally, that's where I get a bit confused, who's related to whom, and who is not related at all. Read it, and you'll know what I mean.).

I have an illustrated copy of The Silmarillion, and the pictures (by Ted Nasmith, you know one of the two creating artwork for the Lord of the Rings movies) are of such beauty that I sometimes go to the bookshelf, taking it out, stroking it...looking at the paintings...yes, I guess I'm quite strange. But look at this painting below, that big guy is Ulmo, the god (or the Valar spirit) of the ocean...The litle guy is probably Fëanor, but I might be mistaken. This is not me offering an expert statement on Silmarillion, this is me looking into the novel from a fan's point of view. I'm not that kind of fan unable to talk about anything else than my heart's desire, no I'm something else. I can go days, weeks, months even without mentioning LOTR or Silmarillion, but I'm thinking about the stories every single day, knowing that the world would be a lesser place without them, feeling sorry for those who claim they don't like fantasy and adventure, and simply trying to convey the importance of dragons!
The artwork inspired by Silmarillion are beautiful because of the stories they represent.
The story about the creation of Arda is simply breathtaking (this is the biblical part).
The story about Beren and Luthién had me in tears from the beginning to the end, I think I cried for an hour after reading it. And the fact that Viggo (Aragorn) sings a song about Beren and Luthién in the extended version of LOTR (The Fellowship of the Ring) is even more brilliant. That shows me that Peter Jackson has understood what Middle Earth is all about, and I respect him more and more.

This picture is from the age of the stars, after Melkor has destroyed the lamp, and before Arda has fashioned the great trees of Valinor. This is when the firstborn were awakened, the elves, and they marveled at the sight of the faint, yet mesmerizing light from the sky.
I am not going to use much energy on what this book is about. The reasons to that are many. But the most important one is that I might remember wrong, because it's a quite compound story, loaded with small details, and a lot happening at the same time...I might have mixed them up a bit. For example, who is Eärendil and who is Elendil, I know one is an elf and one is a king of Numenor, and I know one of them ended up with the last Silmaril on his forehead, up on the sky in a boat, as a star...(in fact Galadriel refers to him in the fellowship of the ring when she gives Frodo the light of their most beloved star, you know, the shiny bottle Sam uses to scare Shelob aawy...but who of them was he?) And also, I really think you should read it yourself if you haven't yet. It has it all. Creation, evil, good, love, war, hate, despair, victory, defeat, deception, creativity, magnitude, and brilliance... (I have given it some thought, and checked... Elendil was Isildur's father, and also a king of Numenor. Their signature was the white tree, a feature they brought with them to Gondor after the first war with Sauron... Eärendil was an elf who currently sails across heaven with the last Silmaril on his forehead, and bears the name of the elves most beloved star).

I can tell you, though, that there are three main stories. Next to the creation of The Undying Lands and Middle Earth, the first really important one is the creation of the stones called the Silmarils, and the war that followed (everybody wanted to own the precious... Sounds like another story we know? They probably have similarities, but the ring of power was created for bad, whereas the stones were created for good. The light in the stones was taken from the trees of Arda. Only the one who created the stones can hold them, but they make him, Fëanor that is, into a hard hearted elf. He also has to bear the blame for the war, even though the real enemy is Melkor, and the war is evil, bloody and long lasting, and also incredibly poetic. One stone is thrown into the ocean, one is lost in the pits of Utumno (I think), and the last one ended up as a star.
The next is the story about Beren and Luthien.
Beren is human and Luthien is an elven princess. They meet in the forest ( a forest that might end up as Lothlorien...But the world changes, so it might also be Rivendell, but in my mind it's what ends up as Lothlorien), and fall in love. Not the kind of love that is presented in an romantic comedy, or a chick flick, but the kind of love that is eternal and pure and even God-like. They are not allowed to act on their love, but they end up doing so in the end.
Beren is at one point taken prisoner by Morgoth (I think he has changed his name at the time, yes he has, because this is after the war of the stones, and his face was scorched by the powerful stones, making him unable to change back to the elven beauty he possessed as Melkor), and then Luthien single handedly (well...with the help of a big dog that can talk) saves Beren from a pit in Utumno. The story is really beautiful. It describes a love that I'm not sure exists any longer, I think we have forgotten it. But I do believe the love a mother or a father feels for their child is close to what Tolkien is trying to describe here.
And then the last important story is about the kings of Numenor.
But all the time there are stories beautiful and strong enough to crush your heart.
 Reminding me that it's about time for me to read it again.
What I will give a try to convey is the way I felt when reading the best book so far in my life.

I had, at that time, read The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings, and now in my hands was this amazing book. I might have bought it myself, but I had it in my possession, and was looking forward to read it with awe and a feeling of disturbance in whatever force I'm led by. Disturbance because the people I know who had already read the book told me it was difficult, both the language and the story. And my copy was in English, so I was worried my English skills wouldn't suffice. They did! And I entered a universe of lamps who could reach the universe. I cried when Melkor destroyed them. I really loved the trees,
one for day and one for night. Though this image is from the age of the lamp... But again, look at the serenity in this painting, I have no doubt it is a magical world.
Oh, I almost forgot. The story about Gondolin is also brilliant! And also, listen to Marillion... they are my favorite group, and guess where they got their name...
Yeah... getting carried away, much??? I think so :-)
Ilye, arat mellon ello palan, hi vana parma lóm ello Valinor. Enquant i ore. Mán dú!

1 comment:

  1. Silje. This is so good. Keep up the good work

    ReplyDelete