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The History of Middle-earth (chibi version) - Part 161 - Enemies

21st October 2014 (11:47)

For those of you (if any) wondering why there were no cartoons on Thursday and yesterday, it's not because I didn't have any to post, but because my internet connection (and, for that matter, telephone landline) was out of action for a week. :(  A telecom engineer just traced the problem to faulty cabling outside in the street, so hopefully things are back to normal now...

It's canon that Fëanor (and other rebellious Noldor) started forging swords at this time, but I'm not entirely clear who they were planning to fight with them. Perhaps the Valar themselves (Melkor at least (spoiler!) is vulnerable to weapons in his physical form, just ask Fingolfin) , or perhaps they thought they would have to fight Men for rulership of Middle-earth if they returned there?

Today's cast of characters, from left to right: Galadriel, Fingon, Caranthir, Fingolfin, Fëanor. Bottom row, Nerdanel, Mahtan (Nerdanel's father) and all seven assembled Sons of Fëanor.

Part 161: Enemies

Next time: Part 162: Gang colours

Chibis by tektek.org
Original story by and copyright to J R R Tolkien, ed. C Tolkien: Primarily based on the Silmarillion, but incorporating ideas from the 12-volume History of Middle Earth series.
Questions and comments welcome!


Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 21st October 2014 14:36 (UTC)

Is it ever explained what makes a Vala more physically imposing than anyone else? I don't recall any straight-up D&D style blasting magic in Tolkien's legendarium. I assume if you killed a Vala's physical form in Valinor, they would just immediately form a new body... but what can they really do aside from picking up a sword and fighting it out with anybody who attacks them?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 21st October 2014 16:32 (UTC)

Both Lúthien and Galadriel manage to destroy a fortress with, apparently, only the power of their words. (Tol-in-Gaurhoth and Dol Guldur, respectively.) That's more than the average D&D mage could manage.

As for the Valar:

"The Quendi knew nothing of the great Battle of the Powers, save that the Earth shook and groaned beneath them, and the waters were moved, and in the north there were lights as of mighty fires. Long and grievous was the siege of Utumno, and many battles were fought before its gates of which naught but the rumour is known to the Elves. In that time the shape of Middle-earth was changed, and the Great Sea that sundered it from Aman grew wide and deep; and it broke in upon the coasts and made a deep gulf to the southwards."

In short, don't make a Vala angry... Though it does seem that as time went by, they became less and less (able / willing ?) to use their raw destructive power so freely.

Balrogs were Maiar, and we know what they were like in combat. Morgoth apparently preferred the form of a huge giant of a man, able to crush Fingolfin under his heel.

In one of his essays Tolkien wrote that originally, all the Valar and Maiar were able to form or dissolve physical bodies at will, with no more thought than putting on clothing. However, the more often they used those bodies - especially if it was always the same body, and even more so if they used the body to do 'physical' things (like eat, drink, get pregnant, etc), then they tended to become fixed in that form, and unable to consider shedding it again without great stress and discomfort.

The lesser Maiar (such as Balrogs, etc) were more vulnerable to this fate than the powerful and wise Valar. However, even a Vala might ultimately fall victim - as Morgoth eventually does.

Posted by: L'Ignota (lignota)
Posted at: 21st October 2014 15:21 (UTC)

I'm glad to see these back! I like the composition of this one, especially the Sons of Fëanor assembled in the lower right-hand corner. There's a nicely ominous build-up.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 21st October 2014 16:16 (UTC)

I was having internet withdrawal symptoms all week. :(

And yes, I did think having all the Sons together like that was ominous...

Posted by: goldenusagi (goldenusagi)
Posted at: 22nd October 2014 01:05 (UTC)

Remind me: are there still a group of Elves who stayed in Middle Earth and never took the Valar up on their invitation?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 22nd October 2014 09:57 (UTC)

Yes, there are. Two main groups, in fact:

About 60% of the Elves originally accepted the invitation, the other 40% refused it. However, this was far in the East of Middle-earth - the Elves who came to Valinor had to trek thousands of miles across the continent before reaching the Sea. The ones left behind are too far away to figure much into the story, and haven't appeared again in my cartoons.

However, in addition some of the Elves who accepted the invitation never completed the journey, but got left behind in Middle-earth. These do appear in the stories - they're led by Thingol, with his wife Melian and daughter Lúthien.

Edited at 2014-10-22 09:58 (UTC)

Posted by: goldenusagi (goldenusagi)
Posted at: 23rd October 2014 03:43 (UTC)

I guess I never knew before this that there were Elves like Galadriel that were already in Valinor and went back to Middle Earth. I always thought when the Elves left Middle Earth at the end of LotR that they were all going to Valinor for the first time, etc.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd October 2014 10:38 (UTC)

That's right - Galadriel in LotR is actually an exile from Valinor. By the time of the books she wants to go back, but until the Ring is destroyed thinks she wouldn't be allowed.

However, for most of the Elves you were right - the majority of them have never been to Valinor before. Elrond, for example, was born in Middle-earth. So was Legolas.

Posted by: Garth St.Claire (Garth St.Claire)
Posted at: 22nd October 2014 21:55 (UTC)

Huh, I just always figured Feanor and his faction and Fingolfin and his faction were preparing for a sort of Noldor civil war.

BTW you should think perhaps about making Fingolfin and his sons a bit more distinct, I had to play process of elimination before I concluded that the guy talking with Galadriel and Caranthir was Fingon (I hadn't noticed your guide)
Why didn't you give Fingon the braids/plaits he had according to the Shibboleth of Feanor?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd October 2014 11:01 (UTC)

I just always figured Feanor and his faction and Fingolfin and his faction were preparing for a sort of Noldor civil war.

That might be part of it, but not the full story. Fëanor's anger was directed against the Valar, for (in his words) keeping them enslaved in Valinor out of fear and jealousy, when they could have ruled wide realms in the East. (In his own specific case, he was also afraid that the Valar would try to take the Silmarils from him.)

Fëanor's problem with Fingolfin was that Melkor's rumour-mongering convinced him that his half-brother was a tool of the Valar, and that he was plotting a coup against Fëanor to set up a Valar-friendly puppet government in Tirion. Fëanor saw Fingolfin as a Valarin running dog, a 'useful idiot' in Manwë's pay.

Fingolfin, meanwhile, was worried that Fëanor had always resented him and Finarfin - and now he was powerful, had the ordinary Noldor under his spell and his father under his thumb. So from Fingolfin's perspective, arming his supporters probably was more of a 'preparing for a Noldor Civil War' thing, though from Fingolfin's perspective a defensive move.

Why didn't you give Fingon the braids/plaits he had according to the Shibboleth of Feanor?

Because I didn't see-stroke-remember that part when I designed the chibi?

My primary aim was actually trying to ensure that you could tell the House of Fëanor, House of Fingolfin and House of Finarfin apart at a glance due to their hair and clothing, with the individual differences between the people involved a lower priority. Though what I might see if I can do is giving Fingolfin and Finarfin diadems or golden headbands of some kind so you can tell that they're more senior royalty than their children.

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