Thus ended the mightiest of the Noldor, of whose deeds came both their greatest renown and their most grievous woe.(The Silmarillion, 107)
This post continues my chapter-by-chapter walk through of The Silmarillion. This time, I examine the thirteenth chapter of The Silmarillion, “Of the Return of the Noldor.”
The action really picks back up in Chapter 13. We get another big battle with Morgoth as well as the tense reunion of the Noldor brethren. Because of the density of this chapter, I cover it in two parts.
Death of Fëanor: Having arrived in Beleriand, Fëanor wastes no time going after the Silmarils. He marches right up to Angband, gets attacked by Balrogs, and dies, cursing Morgoth and re-confirming his fatal oath for his sons.
Maedhros’ Torment: Maedhros, Fëanor’s eldest son, is captured by Morgoth and hung by his wrist from a sheer face of Thangorodrim. He is eventually rescued by his cousin Fingon.
Thingol vs the Noldor: Thingol is not pleased that the Noldor have entered Beleriand, and warns them against entering his realms without leave. Angrod, son of Finarfin, obtains some respect from Thingol for the Noldor, yet tension remains.
Reconciliation of the Noldor: Fingon’s bravery in rescuing Maedhros achieves some reconciliation between the sons of Fëanor and the other Noldor, and Maedhros forgoes his right to the Noldor throne, giving it to his uncle Fingolfin.
Manwë’s Watch: During Fingon’s rescue of Maedhros, Manwë sends Thorondor, the King of Eagles, to aid in the rescue.
The Secret of the Kinslaying: Even as Angrod entreats Thingol to look with favor upon the Noldor, he fails to mention the fact that “We sort of murdered a bunch of your Teleri brethren in cold blood and burned their ships before we left the Blessed Realm.” This is mentioned in the narration as a glaring omission.
Under the cold stars before the rising of the Moon the host of Fëanor went up…and there on the grey fields of Mithrim was fought the Second Battle in the Wars of Beleriand.106
Then he died; but he had neither burial nor tomb, for so fiery was his spirit that as it sped his body fell to ash, and was borne away like smoke; and his likeness has never again appeared in Arda, neither has his spirit left the halls of Mandos. Thus ended the mightiest of the Noldor, of whose deeds came both their greatest renown and their most grievous woe.107
His prayer was answered swiftly. For Manwë to whom all birds are dear, and to whom they bring news upon Taniquetil from Middle-earth, had sent forth the race of Eagles, commanding them to dwell in the crags of the North, and to keep watch upon Morgoth; for Manwë still had pity for the exiled Elves. And the Eagles brought news of much that passed in those days to the sad ears of Manwë. Now, even as Fingon bent his bow, there flew down from the high airs Thorondor, King of Eagles, mightiest of all birds that have ever been, whose outstretched wings spanned thirty fathoms; and staying Fingon’s hand he took him up, and bore him to the face of the rock where Maedhros hung. But Fingon could not release the hell-wrought bond upon his wrist, nor sever it, nor draw it from the stone. Again therefore in his pain Maedhros begged that he would slay him; but Fingon cut off his hand above the wrist, and Thorondor bore them back to Mithrim.110