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In Chapter 10, we have dwarves! MY FAVORITE. Though I wonder if they are my favorite just because there's relatively so little worldbuilding dedicated to them? But I also have a personal attachment to them because they are dedicated to the making of beautiful things without needing to be beautiful, and that is a distinction I prefer to keep nice and solid. I like that they'd rather learn a new language than teach other people their own, I like that the other characters find them hard to understand and that they don't bother to explain themselves, and as I've mentioned before, I love their creation story. They're a surprise to everyone; they weren't accounted for in the World Song; they're a total wild card in Epic Tolkien Geopolitics because they are affiliated with neither harmony nor discord, but only with themselves and maybe Aule.

My resident Tolkienist says that prior to 1937, the year that saw the release of both The Hobbit and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the depiction of dwarves in fantasy was almost universally negative. I don't know enough about pre-Tolkien fantasy to know whether that's true or not. But Tolkien apparently rewrote a lot of his Silmarillion material post-The Hobbit to make the Dwarves more sympathetic and morally ambiguous and less of an always-evil curses-and-greed race. Which is all for the best, I think -- though if Tolkien and Disney hadn't done it, I like to think someone else would have by now.

I don't know how much of the structure of the published Silmarillion is Christopher Tolkien's doing, but I appreciate the way it reads nothing like a novel and everything like a heavily edited collection of mostly-related ancient manuscripts. Which is exactly its conceit, of course. The pieces don't quite come together; it reads like a medievalist's game attempt to pull a narrative together out of a pile. Here, after all the drama with Feanor, we're back in Thingol's country, fighting orcs, making and breaking alliances, and setting up a magical wall of confusion around the guarded kingdom of Doriath, and Feanor and his party are brought back at the very end of the chapter, almost as an aside. Luthien also gets a name-drop, but only a name; she hasn't been introduced yet.

The next two chapters look really short, so maybe I'll get through two at once this week! We'll see.


blase ev

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