Reader deep thought: Fëanor definitely was the poster-Elf of the Firster cred for the Elves. But pertinent to this chapter: where and how did Fëanor get the inspiration and knowledge to even conceive of making the Silmarils? Actually, since there were two trees, why did he think to make three? Why not one, or four? And did he name them? But really, with his rep sheet, Melkor was trusted again to walk free? He was the original frENEMY after all.
“In that time were made those things that afterwards were most renowned of all the works of the Elves. For Fëanor, being come to his full might, was filled with a new thought, or it may be that some shadow of foreknowledge came to him of the doom that drew near; and he pondered how the light of the Trees, the glory of the Blessed Realm, might be preserved imperishable. Then he began a long and secret labour, and he summoned all his lore, and his power, and his subtle skill; and at the end of all he made the Silmarils.”
Fëanor, foremost master craftsman of the Ages. What a mind he must have had to even conceive of the Silmarils, and even to find or invent the substance from which they were made.
Even the Powers were clearly impressed.
All who dwelt in Aman were filled with wonder and delight at the work of Fëanor. And Varda hallowed the Silmarils, so that thereafter no mortal flesh, nor hands unclean, nor anything of evil will might touch them, but it was scorched and withered; and Mandos foretold that the fates of Arda, earth, sea, and air, lay locked within them.
And of course Melkor lusted after them as well. How well and how adroitly he played the field, using the “ears that would heed him, and some tongues that would enlarge what they had heard; and his lies passed from friend to friend, as secrets of which the knowledge proves the teller wise.” As ever, the potent cocktail of power, pride, strictures, jealousy and divine inheritance he peddled so skillfully did its work. Manwë’s penchant for revealing things in their own time was a great help in Melkor’s deviance. And as ever, the Valar became aware of what was happening just a bit late to be able to pre-empt damage.
But surely, that “the heart of Fëanor was fast bound to these things that he himself had made” was the first sign of clinical OCD.
Fëanor began to love the Silmarils with a greedy love, and grudged the sight of them to all save to his father and his seven sons; he seldom remembered now that the light within them was not his own.
Fëanor vs Fingolfin+Finarfin. The best soap operas are made of the worst family scandals, and Melkor definitely knew which buttons to push on the Noldorin royals. Expectedly, the Noldor populace began taking sides as well.
So Melkor was the source of the proliferation of weapons in the ‘hood. But he surely did not anticipate the thoughts and abilities of Fëanor, who “made a secret forge, of which not even Melkor was aware; and there he tempered fell swords for himself and for his sons, and made tall helms with plumes of red. Bitterly did Mahtan rue the day when he taught to the husband of Nerdanel all the lore of metalwork that he had learned of Aulë.” Things were getting serious. And when Fëanor “began openly to speak words of rebellion against the Valar, crying aloud that he would depart from Valinor back to the world without, and would deliver the Noldor from thraldom, if they would follow him”, surely he popped what passed for bubbly in his little secret place.
The brother against brother episode surely was the highlight of the soap opera. So riveting was it that even the Valar tuned in fully at last. It only took the point of Fëanor’s sword on Fingolfin’s breast and some choice words, but what a ruckus it resulted in.
Now the unrest of the Noldor was not indeed hidden from the Valar, but its seed had been sown in the dark; and therefore, since Fëanor first spoke openly against them, they judged that he was the mover of discontent, being eminent in self-will and arrogance, though all the Noldor had become proud. And Manwë was grieved, but he watched and said no word. The Valar had brought the Eldar to their land freely, to dwell or to depart; and though they might judge departure to be folly, they might not restrain them from it. But now the deeds of Fëanor could not be passed over, and the Valar were angered and dismayed; and he was summoned to appear before them at the gates of Valmar, to answer for all his words and deeds. There also were summoned all others who had any part in this matter, or any knowledge of it; and Fëanor standing before Mandos in the Ring of Doom was commanded to answer all that was asked of him. Then at last the root was laid bare, and the malice of Melkor revealed; and straightway Tulkas left the council to lay hands upon him and bring him again to judgement. But Fëanor was not held guiltless, for he it was that had broken the peace of Valinor and drawn his sword upon his kinsman; and Mandos said to him: ‘Thou speakest of thraldom. If thraldom it be, thou canst not escape it: for Manwë is King of Arda, and not of Aman only. And this deed was unlawful, whether in Aman or not in Aman. Therefore this doom is now made: for twelve years thou shalt leave Tirion where this threat was uttered. In that time take counsel with thyself, and remember who and what thou art. But after that time this matter shall be set in peace and held redressed, if others will release thee.’
Fingolfin spoke up: ‘I will release my brother.’ But Fëanor wasn’t gracious, leaving without a word. He went into exile with his seven sons, and set up shop at Formenos north of Valinor, where he hoarded gems and weapons. Things were changed forever even for those left behind for “Finwë the King, because of the love that he bore to Fëanor; and Fingolfin ruled the Noldor in Tirion.”
Melkor, like any good gossip-monger, made himself scarce as soon as the truth was outed during Fëanor’s interrogation. But a what good is a schemer if he did not scheme? Melkor tried to do more damage at Fëanor’s new pad. But even in his anger and humiliation, the Elf kept his wits about him.
And Melkor, seeing that Fëanor wavered, and knowing that the Silmarils held his heart in thrall, said at the last: ‘Here is a strong place, and well guarded; but think not that the Silmarils will lie safe in any treasury within the realm of the Valar!’
But his cunning overreached his aim; his words touched too deep, and awoke a fire more fierce than he designed; and Fëanor looked upon Melkor with eyes that burned through his fair semblance and pierced the cloaks of his mind, perceiving there his fierce lust for the Silmarils. Then hate overcame Fëanor’s fear, and he cursed Melkor and bade him be gone, saying: ‘Get thee gone from my gate, thou jail-crow of Mandos!’ And he shut the doors of his house in the face of the mightiest of all the dwellers in Eä.
So Melkor left in humiliation and anger. Finwë sent word back to Valinor but of course the Valar did not catch Melkor, even though Oromë and Tulkas set off in pursuit at once.
Thus Melkor departed from Valinor, and for a while the Two Trees shone again unshadowed, and the land was filled with light. But the Valar sought in vain for tidings of their enemy; and as a cloud far off that looms ever higher, borne upon a slow cold wind, a doubt now marred the joy of all the dwellers in Aman, dreading they knew not what evil that yet might come.
Things were really heating up now.
(Relevance: read-along schedule)