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SeanF

Tolkien 3.0

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FPT, Feanor is an extreme case, but Elven leaders do have a tendency to put honour above reason.

Fingolfin rides to his death, challenging Morgoth to a duel.

Turgon et al lead their people through Arctic conditions to reach Middle Earth, leading to vast casualties.

Orodreth challenges Morgoth's army in open battle, leading to a rout.

Oropher gets two thirds of his warriors killed a wild charge against Sauron's armies.

Being less naturally gifted than Elves, men seem to rely far more on cunning in warfare.

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Thinking about it a bit more...

  • Feanor: he wasn't about honour, but rather blind hatred. The burning of the ships was not an honourable move (nor was it a clever move).
  • Fingolfin: challenging Morgoth was blind despair.
  • Finarfin: reasonable. Went home.
  • Finwe: honourable. Didn't flee the dark.
  • Finrod: honourable. Joins suicide quest.
  • Orodreth: a doormat.
  • Maedhros: honourable to a point - he did try to cheat Morgoth, but was out-cheated. Grabbing the silmarils was despair, not honour.
  • Maglor: a doormat.
  • Celegorm and Curufin: neither reasonable nor honourable.
  • Thingol: greedy bastard.
  • Turgon: hubris.
  • Eol: bastard.
  • Maeglin: like father, like son.

Of that bunch, I'll give you Finwe and Finrod. Maedhros was honourable, but honour didn't get him killed.

Maeglin is the closest we get to a cunning Elf, I think. Curufin's cunning is grossly overrated.

 

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2 minutes ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

Thinking about it a bit more...

  • Feanor: he wasn't about honour, but rather blind hatred. The burning of the ships was not an honourable move (nor was it a clever move).
  • Fingolfin: challenging Morgoth was blind despair.
  • Finarfin: reasonable. Went home.
  • Finwe: honourable. Didn't flee the dark.
  • Finrod: honourable. Joins suicide quest.
  • Orodreth: a doormat.
  • Maedhros: honourable to a point - he did try to cheat Morgoth, but was out-cheated. Grabbing the silmarils was despair, not honour.
  • Maglor: a doormat.
  • Celegorm and Curufin: neither reasonable nor honourable.
  • Thingol: greedy bastard.
  • Turgon: hubris.
  • Eol: bastard.
  • Maeglin: like father, like son.

Of that bunch, I'll give you Finwe and Finrod. Maedhros was honourable, but honour didn't get him killed.

Maeglin is the closest we get to a cunning Elf, I think. Curufin's cunning is grossly overrated.

 

The standard of Elven leadership was not high.

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Maedhros is a good political leader, but poor at military stuff.

Fingolfin seems to be the best overall. IMHO, the despairing challenge was out of character for an Elf that had led his people across the Helcaraxe.

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2 minutes ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

Maedhros is a good political leader, but poor at military stuff.

Fingolfin seems to be the best overall. IMHO, the despairing challenge was out of character for an Elf that had led his people across the Helcaraxe.

I would add to this list Galadriel, Earendil and Elwing who are probably the three best leaders the Elves had. 

Earendil in particular is Morgoth's greatest foe both for his decision to enlist the aid of the Valar (which, come on, the elves really ought to have attempted earlier) and because he defeats Ancalagon the Black in the final battle. 

My favorite part of the Silmarillion has always been the contest between Finrod Felagund and Sauron.  Finrod is the Ned Stark of the Silmarillion (with Beren as Jon Snow). 

Question: It is stated at outset of the Silmarillion by the herald of Manwe that nothing the elves do can defeat Morgoth.  And yet despite dissension, rivalry and incompetent leadership the Elves come oh-so-close to taking him.  How does one reconcile the two? 

 

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The Elves *did* attempt to try to reach the Valar earlier. Voronwe can tell you how successful that was.

As for the Doom of the Noldor... they did fail. This gets into one of those icky questions about determinism vs free will (did Mandos curse them, or merely foretell?). 

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@The Marquis de Leech

Why do you think Maedhros was poor at military stuff?

The text says he was an even better warrior with his left hand than his right after it was cut off and after the Battle of Suddrn Flame Himring was the only holding of the Sons of Feanor not to fall before Morgoth.

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Just now, The Grey Wolf said:

@The Marquis de Leech

Why do you think Maedhros was poor at military stuff?

The text says he was an even better warrior with his left hand than his right after it was cut off and after the Battle of Suddrn Flame Himring was the only holding of the Sons of Feanor not to fall before Morgoth.

I meant commanding, not fighting.

He revealed himself too early during the Union of Maedhros, giving Morgoth time to prepare. He also got himself captured earlier, suggesting he's not the best at anticipating the Dark Lord's moves.

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4 minutes ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

I meant commanding, not fighting.

He revealed himself too early during the Union of Maedhros, giving Morgoth time to prepare. He also got himself captured earlier, suggesting he's not the best at anticipating the Dark Lord's moves.

Didn't he take a strong guard because he knew Morgoth was lying but got overwhelmed by sheer numbers?

And as for the Union, that was doomed by the treachery of Ulfang's sons and the lack of support he received from Orodreth and Thingol, who I agree is an asshole.

I just really relate to Maedhros, being the eldest out of a brood of six myself.

In some ways he also reminds me of Jaime.

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I thought Maedhros was regarded in posterity, in-universe, as an upstanding guy constrained, driven, and ruined by the Oath and the Doom. In fan circles he seems to be thought well of.

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3 hours ago, Gaston de Foix said:

I would add to this list Galadriel, Earendil and Elwing who are probably the three best leaders the Elves had. 

Earendil in particular is Morgoth's greatest foe both for his decision to enlist the aid of the Valar (which, come on, the elves really ought to have attempted earlier) and because he defeats Ancalagon the Black in the final battle. 

My favorite part of the Silmarillion has always been the contest between Finrod Felagund and Sauron.  Finrod is the Ned Stark of the Silmarillion (with Beren as Jon Snow). 

Question: It is stated at outset of the Silmarillion by the herald of Manwe that nothing the elves do can defeat Morgoth.  And yet despite dissension, rivalry and incompetent leadership the Elves come oh-so-close to taking him.  How does one reconcile the two? 

 

Galadriel was a good leader by the Third Age, after thousands of years of experience.  In the First Age, she seems to have been as rash as the rest of them.

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3 hours ago, The Grey Wolf said:

Thingol, who I agree is an asshole. 

I think I'd also be an asshole to the unrepentant murderers of my kin.

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3 hours ago, illrede said:

I thought Maedhros was regarded in posterity, in-universe, as an upstanding guy constrained, driven, and ruined by the Oath and the Doom. In fan circles he seems to be thought well of.

That's how I see him too.

1 hour ago, The hairy bear said:

I think I'd also be an asshole to the unrepentant murderers of my kin.

Except he's not an asshole to just the Noldor, many of whom didn't even know that Feanor was the one that started the First Kinslaying, having arrived after conflict with the Teleri had already broken out.

Furthermore, Morgoth should take priority.

Edited by The Grey Wolf

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16 hours ago, The Grey Wolf said:

Except he's not an asshole to just the Noldor, many of whom didn't even know that Feanor was the one that started the First Kinslaying, having arrived after conflict with the Teleri had already broken out.

Furthermore, Morgoth should take priority.

He acknowledges all that. When he learns about the kinslaying, the first thing he says is:

"I will not shut my doors for ever against you, my kindred, that were ensnared in an evil that you did not aid. With Fingolfin and his people also I will keep friendship, for they have bitterly atoned for such ill as they did. And in our hatred of the Power that wrought all this woe our griefs shall be lost."

He forgave the House of Finarfin (that didn't participate in the kinslaying) and the house of Fingolfin (that participated in it, but incorrectly assumed that the Teleri had attacked first). And he even inserts a reminder that the main enemy is Morgoth.

Thingol was one of the fairest kings of Middle Earth. In his place, most would have gone to war against the sons of Fëanor, but he continuously put the common good before his pride or personal interest. Not something that could be said of anyone from the House of Fëanor.

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@The hairy bear

I forgot that line but he does kind of go off the deep end once he has the Silmaril in his possession and even before that sending Beren on that suicidal quest was a low thing to do.

As for the Sons of Feanor, I'll grant that Celegorm, Curufin, and Caranthir were pieces of shit but Maedhros and Maglor are decent people ruined by the oath they twice swore their father. Just as an example, Maedhros gave up his claim to the position of High Kingship to Fingolfin to make amends and ensure the Noldor weren't further divided than they already were.

Edited by The Grey Wolf

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Out of curiosity, has anyone read the Banewreaker series? Thoughts?

The argument could be made that the perspective on events in the Silmarillion are to a great extent Valarist propaganda.  The facts are that the Valar consistently mishandled Melkor and prevented him from wreaking great harm to the Noldor.  They then abandoned the Noldor to fight a doomed battle against him, wearing down his resources, while failing to permit any Noldor to even seek succour.  Even when they finally intervened, they were sloppy enough to leave a threat like Sauron around. 

 

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5 hours ago, Gaston de Foix said:

Out of curiosity, has anyone read the Banewreaker series? Thoughts?

The argument could be made that the perspective on events in the Silmarillion are to a great extent Valarist propaganda.  The facts are that the Valar consistently mishandled Melkor and prevented him from wreaking great harm to the Noldor.  They then abandoned the Noldor to fight a doomed battle against him, wearing down his resources, while failing to permit any Noldor to even seek succour.  Even when they finally intervened, they were sloppy enough to leave a threat like Sauron around. 

 

The one by Jacqueline Carey? If so I have. It wrecked my heart.

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15 hours ago, Gaston de Foix said:

The argument could be made that the perspective on events in the Silmarillion are to a great extent Valarist propaganda.

Am I the only one who loathes meta-fictional interpretations like this? I mean, what's the point? Sure, you can twist the world beyond recognition by imagining the entire story written by an unreliable narrator, but then why even bother? You are by that point on the border between a fanfic and just an new story somewhat inspired by the original. So just write the new story...

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17 hours ago, Gaston de Foix said:

Out of curiosity, has anyone read the Banewreaker series? Thoughts?

I love Carey's prose (my tastes lean towards the purple). The thematic point she is making falls over on two fronts:

  • The good guys are explicitly the bad guys. It isn't a matter of subjectivity.
  • Tolkien's Evil is more substantial than dressing up in black armour and being stigmatised by Good.

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3 hours ago, One-Winged Balrog said:

Am I the only one who loathes meta-fictional interpretations like this? I mean, what's the point? Sure, you can twist the world beyond recognition by imagining the entire story written by an unreliable narrator, but then why even bother? You are by that point on the border between a fanfic and just an new story somewhat inspired by the original. So just write the new story...

At least with stories that are clearly not written with “unreliable narrators”.  Where questioning the narrator is built into the story... go for it.  That’s not Tolkien’s work.

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