Archive for April 13, 2023

Blind Read Through: J.R.R. Tolkien; The Book of Lost Tales, part 1, The Chaining of Melko

“‘Yet nothing do you know of the coming of the Elves, of the fates wherein they move, nor their nature and the place that Ilúvatar has given to them. Little do you reck of that great splendour of their home in Eldamar upon the hill of Kôr, not all the sorrow of our parting. What know you of our travail down all the dark ways of the world, and the anguish we have known because of Melko; of the sorrows we have suffered, and do yet, because of Men, of all the fears that darken our hopes because of Men? Know you the wastes of tears that lie between our life in Tol Eressëa and that time of laughter that we knew in Valinor? O child of Men who wouldst be sharer of the fates of Eldalië, what of our high desires and all those things we look for still to be – for lo! if you drink this drink all these must you know and love, having one heart with us – nay, even at the Faring Forth, should Eldar and Men fall into war at the last, still must you stand by us against the children of your kith and kin, but until then never may you far away home though longings gnaw you…(pg 97-98)”

Welcome back to another Blind Read! This week we delve back into The Book of Lost Tales and discover how the Valar captured Melkor and (in this iteration) what turned him entirely to the Dark Side.

The quote above is the perfect transition exposition to get into the meat of the chapter. The section comes from Meril-i-Turinqui “in her Korin of elms (pg95).”

Meril by Sandrine Gestin

Meril tells Eriol that he knows nothing of the Elves and to stop making assumptions based on other stories he has heard or what he has seen. This dialogue is also a turning point in the book because everything previously has been from the perspective of Eriol and thus from the standpoint of “Men.” What Meril is trying to introduce is that the Elves have had a completely different story and perspective. That story is directly tied to the fate of Melkor and what happened when the Valar decided to imprison him.

When Oromë “blew great blasts upon his horn as though he would awake the grey rocks to life and lustihood (pg 99).” He used his music to create the lands where the Elves would live. This land inhabited many creatures who came from Mandos and traveled with Ilúvatar, but some came “from the fortresses of the North where Melko then dwelt in the deep dungeons of Utumna. Full of evil and unwholesome were they; luring and restlessness and horror they brought, turning the dark into an ill and fearful thing, which it was not before (pg 99).”

This transgression was the last straw for the Valar. They had put up with Melko’s betrayal in building the fake lamps, which melted, but now he was bringing elements into the world that they intended to keep away from the Children of Ilúvatar.

I find it fascinating that these “gods” were so petty. Of course, Melkor was somewhat unreasonable because of his anger and jealousy, but the way Tolkien writes the book, it seems almost more like he’s more a Loki, or trickster god, than an actual menace.

It seems that the Valar themselves are the vengeful gods (which will come out more at the beginning of the next chapter) because they decided that the only way not to have Melkor interfere or change their ultimate vision was to chain and imprison him. “Behold, Aulë now gathered six metals, copper, silver, tin, lead, iron, and gold, and taking a portion of each made with his magic a seventh which he named, therefore, tilkal (pg 100).”

This tilkal is the early iteration of Mithril, as the alloy is unbreakable. It was the ultimate tool to hold Melkor so he wouldn’t be able to cause any more mischief amongst the Valar or the world they had created. Aulë “made two manacles of tilkal only and four fetters likewise. Now the chain was named Angaino, the oppressor, and the manacles Vorotemnar that bind for ever, but the fetters Ilterendi for they might not be filed or cleft (pg 100-101).”

The Valar then did something akin to the devious Melkor. They went to his chambers to apologize and ask him to return to Valinor: “Behold, we have come and salute you here in your own halls; come now and be in Valinor (pg 103).” They even tied Tulkas up (the Valar who hated Melkor the most) in Angaino and brought him before Melkor as an offering that they wanted to work with him.

Their plan had foresight because Melkor’s pride was his fall. “‘Nay first,’ said he, ‘wilt thou come Manwë and kneel before me, and after you all the Valar; but last shall come Tulkas and kiss my fooot, for I have in mind something for which I owe Poldórëa no great love (pg 103).”

The Valar catered to those demands, but the sight of the mighty Valar paying homage to a sneering Melkor angered the conspirators even further; “so fiercely did wrath blaze up in the hearts of Tulkas and Aulë at that sight that Tulkas lept across the hall at a bound despite Angaino, and Aulë was behind him and Oromë followed his father and the hall was full of tumult (pg 104).”

They brought Melkor back to Valinor as a prisoner, but this is the point where Melkor became the Dark Lord. He cursed the Valar and “writhed in rage at the name of Eldar and of Men and at his own impotence (pg 105).”

In this iteration, he was chained for ages, and his anger and despair grew through that time. Finally, he became hated incarnate because the only thing he could think about for his eternal life was revenge and to escape those bonds.

The Valar wanted to save the world they created and have everything be perfect, but what ended up happening was they created a darkness that they didn’t understand how to control. Their hubris created the monster that would inevitably destroy Beleriand, even though they thought they were protecting the world and it’s future by eternally imprisoning one of their own.

Join me next week as we move into the next chapter, “The Coming of the Elves and the Making of Kôr!”