A couple of weeks back, I outlined the various branches of the Elven line in their completion, the idea being that familiarity comes with repetition, and it’s just easier (if somewhat more overwhelming) if you can see the entire web up front. Last week, we saw the creation of the Sindar. This week’s chapter goes further into the separation of the Vanyar, the Teleri, and the Noldor. As I’ve summarized this previously, I’ll leave it for you to go check back if you like. Or for those of you who are following along in the book and haven’t yet found it, there’s a family tree outlined at the end of the book, before the index.
A note that never occurred to me before, one worth sharing: whenever you see reference to the Hither Lands, this is the part of Arda also known as Middle-Earth.
This chapter goes into detail of the end of the Great March of the Elves and the arrival of the Vanyar and the Noldor to Valinor. The Teleri remained behind for a time, hearing the summons until too late. (Side note: the name Teleri means “the late-comers.”) For the sake of not simply regurgitating Tolkien, I’ll simply say the tribes of Elves separated under their respective Valar, and lands of beauty were gifted all around, the likes of which is awe-inspiring to read in Tolkien’s own words.
Since the Elves loved the White Tree the most of all things in Valinor, Yavanna made one for them as a lesser image of Telperion, the silver tree. This new tree had no light of its own, but was otherwise a perfect a reproduction. It was named in Sindarin as Galathilion and planted at Mindon. From this tree, seedlings were spread across Eldamar, one of which was planted at Tol Eressëa, the large island off the coast of Valinor. That tree was named Celeborn (no relation to the Elf of the same name), and over a large expanse of a time one of its seedlings would come to be known as Nimloth, the White Tree of Númenor (towards the end of the Second Age). Nimloth will have quite the story unfold around it before its seedling grew into the first White Tree of Gondor.
As stated, I’m not going to outline the family breakdowns of the Elven families. I can’t summarize them any better than Tolkien did. The important thing is to note the names and who follows whom so the stories will register in their time with the impact Tolkien is looking to make. I will say that Tolkien’s descriptions of the various Elves are just incredible. I especially love how he describes Galadriel: “her hair was lit with gold as though it had caught in a mesh the radiance of Laurelin.” Knowing what we now know of the Two Trees, it makes one realize exactly how precious a gift it was that she gave three of her hairs to Gimli.
The Teleri eventually come to Aman, and they are taught the art of shipbuilding from Ossë, a vassal of Ulmo, who also offered a gift of strong swans to pull their boats that the Teleri should eventually arrive at Eldamar. If one thinks to the swan-shaped boats in Lothlórien, this is where that image first derives.
The final bit of the chapter is setup for the next as it tells how Fëanor and his seven sons were never satisfied with what they had and set about to wander to the borders of the Dark, ever seeking the unknown.