Monday, 21 November 2011

The Silmarillion Chapter 3

If you are not sure what this is all about, reference to this post, please, which hopefully explains why the following sounds familiar.

The third chapter is a rather lengthy one. Which is interesting (pronounced in a very GladOS way), because I'm going to shorten it considerably. It has a lot of elvish history ... which seems rather pointless to me at this time.

Anyway, the gods lived happily in their newly built god-city on the edge of the world (not literally, it's a round world, but on the edge of the part that matters). In the north, Melkor built his army inside an underground fortress (made from creepy black stone, with creepy designs on the corridor walls, I am sure). And because the humans and elves were not really running around yet, and the dwarves were told to go back to sleep, and Melkor had a lot of imagination, he invented lots of monsters and sent them out to play in the forest.

A monster playground, that forest was. Complete with swings and see-saws and everything.

And he also invented his most fearsome monster of them all. The balrogs. Now those are like a being made from shadow, with a heart of fire and a whip made of flame. Very scary. And dangerous. And really really big, too.

He also built a second fortress (possibly underground, it's not really stated) and gave it to one of his commanders. I am loath to use names - as you may have noticed - but this is one that'll actually be around for a while. The commander of Angband fortress was called Sauron.

The gods decided to not actually decide anything and instead went on watching what was going on and sitting in their city. There were different voices among them, ranging from "Oh no, we'll wait and see" (Lady of Starlight) to "Lets hit him in the face - repeatedly - hard!" (Lord Fisticuffs, obviously). In the end they decided that it would only be fair towards the elves and humans if they didn't have to enter into a world full of monsters.

So they made some new stars [*] (Lady of Starlight) and put them where the elves could use them to navigate and actually see something (remember: sun and moon have not been made yet - although this technically is only explained later) and then went to war with Melkor.

The elves woke up and found a ginormous war raging in the north, except that they had just been born and had no idea what a war was. They just saw lightning and earthquakes and decided not to go there on their first holidays.

After the war was over (and Melkor bound in chains for three ages [which is a long time, seeing as the age of the elves counts as one and the humans as another and they are not gone yet in the later stories]) the gods wanted to bring the elves to safety. So they invited them to their city.

But the elves mostly wanted to run away from the gods, not knowing them from monsters (which doesn't say too much about the beauty of the gods messengers, really). In the end, the gods only managed to talk the three elvish kings into visiting and when those came back to their people, they said "Ah yup. It's nice there. We should all go".

Most of the elves actually went to see the gods. They are given about a zillion names in the Silmarillion, but in the end they all leave Middle Earth and go sit in the city of the gods. Except for a few. Some get captured by Melkor (probably before he is chained for three ages, to be fair) and turned into orcs. Some run off into the forest and become masters of healing herbs (and possibly smokable herbs, too). Some live near the water, because they want to play, not sit nicely at the table with the gods at a formal dinner (seriously. I'm not making this up!).

[*] Just so you can appreciate what I'm skipping here, let me quote one of the star-naming sentences:
"She took the silver dews from the vats of Telperion, and therewith she made new stars and brighter against the coming of the Firstborn; wherefor she whose name out of the deeps of time and the labours of Eä was Tintalle, the Kindler, was called after by the Elves Elentári, Queen of the Stars. Carnil and Luinil, Nénar and Lumbar, Alcarinque and Elemmíre she wrought in that time, and many other of the ancient stars she gathered together and set as signs in the heavens of Arda: Wilwarin, Telumendil, Soronúme, and Anarríma; and Menelmacar with his shining belt, that forbodes the Last Battle that shall be at the end of days."

Taken from: J.R.R Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Harper Collins Publishers, 1994, p. 55f.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Silmarillion Chapter 2

If you are not sure what this is all about, reference to this post, please, which hopefully explains why the following sounds familiar.

Now you might remember that so far we always waited for humans and elves to appear. Those were the two races created by the One, and the elves were supposed to be immortal and "first-born", the humans were supposed to be around.

The god of dirt - living under the earth - didn't get much involved in fighting and thus had extra time. He got bored waiting for the others to finish their playing and secretly made a new race. Molded seven dwarves from stone, gave them life and beards and bad social skills - the whole package. Of course the One, being the One and all, noticed and asked what that was all about. The two of them eventually agreed to leave the dwarves alive (and not smite them for being made without request or permission) - but they had to go back to sleep, so the elves could still claim to be the firstborn.

I'm not making this up, you know ... the dwarves were there first!

All those stories about humans and elves and dwarves running around got the goddess of fields and farming a little bit down. She didn't like all her pretty creatures and plants to be under the thumb of those two-legged freaks. So she ran off crying to the One and he granted her the power to make one of her creations able to fend for themselves. And then another one, because the god of air was also a bit grumpy. Both the eagles and the trees were given the power to talk. Limited time offer, though - only good while the firstborn (the elves, he means, even though technically ... ah you know) were in power and the secondborn (that's the humans, I think, although with all of his going back on birth-orders it does get a bit confusing) were young. Like babies. Although he doesn't mean like babies, but while they have only recently moved in.

And the chapter concludes with fruity goddess saying "Mwahahahahahaha... now the humans and elves and dwarves can't go into the forest to annoy my precious trees! Because there are other trees that walk and talk and will pounce on them if they dare! Muhahaha!" and her husband smithy-god going: "Oh ... but they'll still need wood" and crafting a few axes.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The Silmarillion Chapter 1

If you are not sure what this is all about, reference to this post, please, which hopefully explains why the following sounds familiar.

Now that all the preliminaries are out of the way, it's time to start with the real story. The history of the world! (you should imagine trumpets playing here and a loud cheer, because this was an important line).

It (that's the history) starts with the first sand-pit fight. Melkor was stomping around on everyones sand-castles and they were all just about to cry and give up, because he was really mean and strong and they couldn't quite win. On that day, though, the fisticuffs god had his first day in kindergarten (I mean.. on Earth) and he decided that he had to help the others, and he scared Melkor away.

So Melkor really really didn't like fisticuffs god after that any more.

The gods and goddesses started building a proper world in their sand-pit when Melkor was gone. They made stars and mountains and rivers and trees and animals and all sorts. And when they had enough of all the building, they went for lunch. Probably all hungry. Fisticuffs god was a little tired from all the excitement and actually fell asleep on a bench nearby.

Now Melkor thought this would be a good time to get his revenge (or rewenge when I'm reading it with a german accent)! So he snuck into the playground and dug a fort under one of the stars. When everyone suddenly noticed that he was back again, he jumped on the picknick table and started kicking stuff over. When the other gods noticed and chased him off again, he hid in his little fort under the star and kicked over two stars, which fell on the earth and caused volcanoes to erupt where they struck. Everything was falling apart and all the gods were busy saving the day, so they didn't have enough time and energy left to assault Melkors fort.

They also didn't want to dig a secret tunnel to Melkors fort, because the elves and humans were still asleep under the sand of their sand-pit. They didn't know where, so they had to be extra careful where they used their shovels.

Because they couldn't dig and couldn't get rid of Melkor, the other gods decided to be the wise ones who'd stop fighting first. They walked away (probably looking regal, not like they were running scared) and built a new city (on a mountain). They put all the things they had saved into there. All sorts of cool toys and all the starlight they could find. Magical!

The goddess of gardening grew two trees in their new city. The trees had flowers and leaves at different times and the gods used them like a clock. Much like the two arms on a watch, really, just with more magic and less engineering.

Now it was almost time for the humans and elves to wake up. The One had given them some powers, so they would have fun when they woke up. The elves were supposed to be beautiful and enjoy beautiful things: they liked to dance and draw and make things from Play-Doh. The humans were a little bit different: they had fantasy and could think about things they had never seen before - which made them much better story tellers and movie directors.

He also made the elves immortal (which means they don't die from old age, they can only manage to get themselves killed in silly accidents) and the humans could die. Which seems slightly unfair, really, but the One probably had a plan. Oh ... to further confuse everyone, he said the humans would be important in the second part of his song - which even though the gods already played it hasn't happened yet.

Yep. That doesn't make much sense. It's a bit like saying "I made a movie and although it's already finished, you haven't seen it yet. It'll be on _after_ the show that's currently on, so you have to wait a bit. And the humans will be important in it!"

Friday, 18 November 2011


If you are not sure what this is all about, reference to this post, please, which hopefully explains why the following sounds familiar.

Remember the little gods that had walked around on Earth when they had their big sand-pit fight with Melkor? Well, turns out there was 7 boys and 7 girls among them. They had names, too, but we'll only use those when we really really need to, because Tolkien used weird spelling and made them particularily hard to pronounce if you're not an elf. And I'm not. Honest!

There is a long long chapter here that introduces the gods. To make it quick: The god of winds lives with the goddess of the stars. She's a real pretty goddess. The god of the water lives along. He doesn't like walking around on land (probably because he's a squid-thing), but he likes humans and elves and occasionally sings to them while pretending to be a waterfall. Most humans and elves are scared of him, though. The god of dirt is married to the goddess of farming. They are both powerful and good looking. Probably tanned, too, from all the working outside.

There are a few more non-fun ones, like the god of dead things and ghosties and the goddess of time (and probably watches, time-keeping and alarms in the morning). One of the cool ones is listed near the end. He's the god of fighting in a fair fight with his bare hands and of sports and running and swimming and blonde hair (which is a bit long, so we'll call him the god of fisticuffs instead). He is apparently not very good at giving good advice. I have to wonder if he got bashed on the head a lot. I mean.. he's one of those guys who likes to fight with gods.

There's also a god of hunting, who is married to the goddess of spring. While one would assume she's the prettiest (you know: spring, short dresses, flowers and so on) she's actually not as cute as the goddess of the stars. Her hubby apparently is a bit of a hot-head - and I'm not sure that's because he didn't get the best looking wife. He likes to shoot things with a bow.

Remember Melkor? He was the bad guy, stomping around on the sandcastles of the other gods when he was in a bit of a huff. Now apparently the elves bear are a bit of a grudge, so they don't actually call him by his real name. They instead call him Morgoth. Which is still the only name with M, so they didn't have to change their secret code: "M is coming - hide the children". As elvish runes are a bit of a pain (and they didn't have crayons and had to do all their writing by pouring molten metal on stone slabs in the beginning), this may have been quite a wise move of the elfish ones.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Ainulindale (or: the Beginning)

If you are not sure what this is all about, reference to this post, please, which hopefully explains why the following sounds familiar.

In the beginning, the One created little gods from his thoughts - probably because he was lonely, or possibly because he had a cunning plan. Because they were little gods they already knew quite a lot, so the first thing he had to properly teach them was how to make music.

And he taught them a song and all the little gods sat together and made music and the One leaned back and enjoyed the show. One of the little ones, a guy called Melkor, wanted to show off and started playing a solo. Some of the other little gods got confused and didn't quite stay in tune, some others didn't like it and stuck to the original song. The One laughed and made them start a new song and again Melkor went to show off. And this repeated for a bit with the One inventing new songs and Melkor going on to show off.

After a while, the One had had enough and told everyone to stop. He showed them that their music had created a whole planet to live on - with elves and humans and all sorts of things on it. Some of the little gods wanted to create their own things, but they all found that Melkor had somehow fiddled with their part of the song (one of them singing of water, the next of air and so on) and made it more scary than they thought it should be.

The One started the world and some of the little gods went down onto it. They found it was not as beautiful as it had been described - they sort of fell for the IKEA model of a world. It still needed assembly.

Even though it was still a lot of work, Melkor (like a member of management) wanted the world for himself. And he said "I did something to create this, I wanna keep it!". The other little gods said "No way! We sung as well, we'll share it!" and Melkor stalked off into the void of space and sulked.

As soon as he was gone, the others decided to start working properly. They started building all sorts of things, like mountains and lakes and rivers and grass (because they were gods, obviously, not just working people). Melkor got a bit fed up when he saw them having fun and returned from his sulking spot to stomp on everything they had built. A bit like a naughty kid in the sandpit when everyone else is building sand-castles.

So they had a big fight scene, but because there was no elves or humans around yet, no one noticed.

The Silmarillion for four year olds

So our little one is very interested nowadays in Lord of the Rings online. He loves the map and that he can tell where the little arrow is pointing - and that there is water where he sees blue. He also has a character, that is progressing very very ... very ... slowly. This might be due to his total disregard for safety ("Ooh.. a cliff.. can I jump off it?") or his (ir-)rational fear of caves ("I don't like it - there's no sun in here - I'll go back to the river").

Of course we considered reading him the proper story, so he could appreciate it. And then we considered that maybe the Hobbit (being a childrens book and all) might be more appropriate. However, I argued (successfully) that things need to be read in proper chronological order to make sense, so we'll have to start with the Silmarillion.

It's been a while since I read it. Quite a long while, in fact. The main facts I remember were sentences that rambled on for several page - some of them spanning more than one page solely for the introduction of a characters name. You know... suchandsuch, who was known as slightlydifferent in the region of over there, who was widely considered wise in the valleys of overyonder where he was called this.

And ... erm... if it's not too much of a spoiler... when I opened the book, the first sentence I read was "There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the off-spring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made." [1]

And somehow, that does not seem appropriate for a four year old. I want him to listen to a whole chapter before falling asleep - not get annoyed and bounce around the bed after 30 seconds. So .. in the following chapters, I'll summarize the Silmarillion (until I loose interest, realistically speaking). For a four year old. Who loves monsters, and sharks, and dinosaurs, and who needs to grow up and beat up a caveclaw, so we can level in the Shire!

[1] Taken from: J.R.R Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Harper Collins Publishers, 1994, p. 15