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Silmarillion Sunday: The End of the Affair

"On a time of night Earendil at the helm of his ship saw her come toward him, as a white cloud exceedingly swift beneath the moon, as a star over the sea moving in strange course, a pale flame on wings of storm. And it is sung that she fell from the air upon the timbers of Vingilot, in a swoon, night unto death for the urgency of her speed, and Earendil took her to his bosom; but in the morning with marvelling eyes he beheld his wife in her own form beside him with her hair upon his face, and she slept."

Chapter 24 is the last chapter in the Quenta Silmarillion. It ends about how you might expect. The sons of Feanor attack Elwing's camp to get at the Silmaril necklace she inherited from her grandmother Luthien; Elwing throws herself into the sea to save it and is changed into a bird. Her sons Elrond and Elros are captured. All the armies are the greatest ever seen, every new loss the most terrible. Maglor and Maedros are the last sons of Feanor left alive, after slicing and dicing their way through Middle Earth, and when they finally lay hands on their precious Silmarils they burn, even as they burned the wolf Carcharoth, because of course they do.

Anyone could have told them way back at the beginning that swearing an oath to recapture the jewels at all costs had already made them unfit to touch them, and every subsequent action in fulfillment of the oath was going to carry them further from any hope of redemption. Probably a lot of people told them; probably they always knew it themselves, but couldn't really believe it until it happened. That's what makes it a tragedy, I guess.

This is the end of the Quenta Silmarillion, but not the end of the book. I'm not surprised anymore by how emotionally exhausting it's been, but I am a little impressed. There are two other sections, one about the Second Age (which will have Sauron and the Numenorians) and one very briefly about the Third, the time period of Lord of the Rings. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to take a break or read them straight through.

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