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I can't tell you how much I hate unbreakable oaths. They are just the worst idea on earth. Even if it seems like something completely benign, like taking an oath to do something nice every day or bake cookies whenever the vicar comes by, making it unbreakable is just asking for trouble. Contingencies! Any life is going to be full of them, and an effectively immortal life even more so! Feanor and his sons could conceivably be stuck with this oath and its consequences for thousands or even millions of years, and no matter how many centuries pass without trouble, there will always be the chance that something will happen to activate the oath in some hideous and ironic way or another. They are going to be waiting for the next shoe to drop UNTIL THE END OF TIME. It's just not reasonable.

In Chapter 9 of the Silmarillion, Melkor, now called Morgoth, has made off with the Silmarils and killed Feanor's father. Feanor wants to go after him but the Valar won't help, so he figures his family is just as good. Better, even, since they're not so giant and complacent and cryptic all the time. The oath he and his sons take is to "pursue with vengeance and hatred to the ends of the World Vala, Demon, Elf or Man as yet unborn, or any creature, great or small, good or evil, that time should bring forth unto the end of days, whoso should hold or take or keep a Silmaril from their possession."

This is a terrible idea in every way. This is even worse than the time Melkor/Morgoth tried to enter into an alliance with an insatiable hunger-spider.

In Chapter 9, Feanor and his sons swear a terrible, ridiculous oath that they are all definitely going to regret, and leads a campaign to the North to overthrow Morgoth, because why the hell not? IT COULD WORK.

He tries to get some of the other Elves to join him and lend him their ships, but they don't want to; it seems like a bad idea and also they like their ships too much -- hey, just like you, Feanor! They're proud of a thing they made and don't want to see it ruined, even for a good cause! Can Feanor and the shipwrights see eye to eye on this very simple point? Does Feanor go back home and build his own damn boats like a reasonable person?

No, Team Feanor just STEALS A BUNCH OF SHIPS and then kills everyone who tries to stop them!

Feanor, why? >:(

Later, when they have too few ships remaining to make an important crossing by sea, this happens:

Therefore it came into the hearts of Feanor and his sons to seize all the ships and depart suddenly; for they had retained the mastery of the fleet since the battle of the Haven, and it was manned only by those who had fought there and were bound to Feanor. And as thought it came at his call, there sprang up a wind from the north-west, and Feanor slipped away secretly with all whom he deemed true to him and went aboard, and put out to sea, and left Fingolfin in Araman. [. . . ] But when they were landed, Maedhros the eldest of his sons, and on a time the friend of Fingon ere Morgoth's lies came between, spoke to Feanor, saying: 'Now what ships and rowers will you spare to return, and whom shall they bear hither first? Fingon the valiant?'

Then Feanor laughed as one fey, and he cried: 'None and none! What I have left behind I count now no loss; needless baggage on the road it has proved.'



He then SETS FIRE TO THE SHIPS that he went to all that trouble to STEAL in the first place, just to make sure NO ONE CAN HAVE THEM NOW, MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, leaving Fingolfin and the rest of the party to overland it in the icy wastelands of the North.

Now poor Maedhros is stuck campaigning with his douchebag dad and wondering if his cousins are ever going to make it home. WORST OF ALL, he took that stupid oath back in the beginning of the chapter, so by the Rules of Fantasy he is now stuck fulfilling its stupid, pointless, horrible requirements FOREVER or until he dies horribly fulfilling its requirements. Poor Maedhros. Poor everybody.

Which is to say: The Silmarillion is getting pretty good.


Feb. 23rd, 2015 02:50 pm (UTC)
That sounds amazing! I look forward to reading it. :D


blase ev

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