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Old 02-10-2004, 04:42 PM   #1
Lefty Scaevola
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Chapter 20: Of the Fifth Battle

Synopsis

The chapter starts With the return to Beleriand of Luthien and Beren. From their deeds, Maedhros and others perceive that Morgoth is not invulnerable. Maedhros forms an alliance to attack Morgoth. In are the Oathtakers, Belegost, Nogrod, Ulfang’s tribe, Bor’s tribe, Hithlum & Dor-Lomin, The Falas, and Brethil. Gondolin is also coming, but unknown yet to most of all of the others (although I suspect Fingon may have had some word of it). Not in are Doriath or Nargothrond because of grievances with the Oathtakers, fear of war, and overconfidence of defensive measures.
Preliminary measures were the clearing of northern Beleriand and retaking of Dorthonion. Both strategically necessary, but undertaken too soon, before there could be and immediate follow-up attack on Angband, and thus telegraphing intentions to Morgoth.
The plan for the main battle is for the eastern forces under Maedhros to advance to Angband, and if Morgoth advances against them for The western forces under Fingon the then attack. Presumably the is a plan B for if Morgoth does not come forth, but it is not mentioned.
Morgoth has good intelligence of the plans and operation of the Union of Maedhros, and his counter plan is to delay Maedhros by means of traitors, and to draw Fingon out and crushed him first.
Maedhros’ Plan fails, Morgoth’s succeeds.
Maedhros is delayed by deceits from the traitors, Uldor, Ulfast, and Ulwarth. Morgoth advances and army towards Hithlum, and by atrocity lures out the western army, despite the resistance to such stratagem by some of its leaders. Their assault falls heavier than the Morgoth has expected and drives his army with much slaughter back to Angband. Morgoth sends forth more armies to counterattack Fingon, whose host is strung out in pursuit, and Fingon is driven back and then surrounded on the Anfauglith. Turgon attacks and Breaks through to Fingon from the south, and Maedhros attacks from the East. Morgoth attacks with his reserves, including the Balrogs and Glaurung the dragon, and drive a solid wedge between Fingon and Maedhros. Treachery is triggered and part of Maedhros’ forces desert, and the Ulfangians switch sides and attack his rear, and allies of their attack from the east. Maedhros’ host breaks, with a cadre of his Noldor s and the Dwarves fighting their way out. Azaghal, King of Belegost, and his guard wounds Glaurung, allowing some of the host to escape. Morgoth now condetrates on the west host, and Gothmog drives a wedge between the forces of Fingon and the rest, driving Hurin and Turgon to the south. Fingon is surrounded and destroyed, himself killed dueling with Balrogs. Hurin, Huor, and the men of Dor-Lomin rearguard for Turgon, who escapes to Gondolin. Hurin is captured.
Hithlum, and Dor-Lomin are occupied. Dorthonion taken (again), and NE Beleriand. Morgoth betrays (what a surprise) his human allies, and shut them up in Hithlum and Dor-Lomin. The remaining Oathtakers take refuge in Ossirland. Morgoth’s raids not go far south into Beleriand. Next year Morgoth takes the Falas and Barad Nimras, and the surviving Sindar (and Noldor refugees) there flee to the Island of Balar. Turgon tries to send emissaries to Aman, they fail. Morgoth tries to break Hurin but fails, and curses him and his family.
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Old 02-10-2004, 04:44 PM   #2
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Additional Readings

HoME
III The Lays of Beleriand
The lay of the Children of Hurin: lines 8 thru 104
IV The Shaping of Middle Earth:
The Earliest ‘Silmarillion’: sec 11
The Quenta: chap 11
The Earliest Annals of Beleriand: years 165 thru 173
V The Lost Road:
The Later Annals of Beleriand: years 265 thru 273
Quenta Silmarillion: chap 16
XI The War of the Jewels:
The Gray Annals: years 468 thru 472 (sec 211 thru 250)
Unfinished Tales
The Narn I Hin Hurin: The Words of Hurin and Morgoth: pp 65 to 68
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Old 02-10-2004, 04:46 PM   #3
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Discussion Topics:

1. How do Maedhros and Fingon confer?
2. How does word reach Turgon (which must have included secret operational and timing information)? Do he and Fingon have a sort of dialog where Fingon gets answers back?
3. Rate JRRT’s military operational and strategic sense, from how He describes the preliminaries to the battle, its approaches, and development
4. If Ulfang’s people are already traitors and spies for Morgoth, why does he not get intelligence of Maedhros’ growing strength and plans until Maedhros make his preliminary attacks.
5. Compare Fingon’s Host with Maedhros’ host, particularly with their stamina of the battlefield (Fingon’s starts 4 days earlier, and finishes a day later).
6. Try to think up effective tactics for the good guys to use against mature dragons.
7. Could the hosts of Nargothrond and Doriath have turned the battle result, thus delaying Morgoth’s dominance for a generation of orc rebuilding?
8. Why can not Maedhros and his brothers, with all their Noldorin wisdom, caution of treason, and some telepathic power (see Finrod in chap 17) not detect treason in the sons of Ulfang?
9. Huor has a significant prophecy at the end of the battle. This is rare in ME, if not unique, that a purely mortal human has such power. Most other instances of prophecy that my (dimming with age) memory comes up with are Ainur (duh), elves, and men descended in part from elves. How intentional is this limitation and what are its reasons?
10. Aure entuluva! This theme, ending some sort dark age (with the variant of staving off a dark age), seems to be nearly universal in epic fantasy. How practical is it to try epic fantasy without it? Any examples of successful epic fantasy without it?
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Old 02-10-2004, 07:34 PM   #4
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Oooh! Nice work!
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Old 02-11-2004, 02:03 PM   #5
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Gimli

I cant offer too much (need to go back and re-read the chapter). Your summary is excellent, and this is probably my favorite chapter in the book. The battle is so well defined and described.

I'm going to hit on #4 up there, in that I think that JRR did a good job with the tactics and strategys of both Morgogh and Maedhros. Like I said, I need to go back and re-read the chapter, but I remember that I was impressed when I read it. Good plan on Maedhros' part, with the two pronged attack on Morgoth, and the uniting of the elves. All through the Sil, he (Tolkien) says that the elves will never on their own power defeat Morgoth, and I think that in this instance, they could have (assuming that he was exhausted from the battle, hell, Fingolfin wounded him), if they had only united. They could have had a three front battle at once, with Fingon to the west, Maedhros to the east, and the whole host of Nagothrond and Doriath to the south, keeping Gondolin in reserve for when Morgoth's line broke. But, as we know, that didnt happen, so they were screwed. The idea of goading the western lines into attacking too soon of Morgoth was definitely a good one too. They do it all the time, and it usually works. However, if I was the captains of the Orcs that Gwindor(?) pursued to the gates, I would have had my soldiers part rather than get slaughtered, and attacked the rear and sides of the charging elves, which would have been thin at best. That way, Fingon would have been destroyed quickly, and all Morgoth would have to worry about was Maedhros.

Anyway, I guess I didnt really discuss anything, but I do like this chapter, and I welcome any critizsm (cant spell good).
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Old 02-11-2004, 07:36 PM   #6
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Re: Discussion Topics:

Thanks, Lefty - nice summary of a great chapter!

Quote:
Originally posted by Lefty Scaevola
9. Huor has a significant prophecy at the end of the battle. This is rare in ME, if not unique, that a purely mortal human has such power. Most other instances of prophecy that my (dimming with age) memory comes up with are Ainur (duh), elves, and men descended in part from elves. How intentional is this limitation and what are its reasons?
Yes, this is interesting - Huor (husband of Rían ) had a pretty important prophecy, and it really seemed to sway Turgon to return to Gondolin. Before, Turgon seemed to be leaning towards staying, and I'm sure it was hard for him and his warriors to leave the battle.

I like how Huor doesn't deny that Gondolin will fall (he doesn't indulge in pipe dreams) ("pipe dreams" - what an expression!), but says "Yet if it stands but a little while....". Also, JRRT mentions foresight somewhere in HOME (perhaps MR?), and notes that it's especially accurate when the person knows they are going to die; as Huor says "This I say to you, lord, with the eyes of death: though we part here forever..."

Quote:
10. Aure entuluva! This theme, ending some sort dark age (with the variant of staving off a dark age), seems to be nearly universal in epic fantasy. How practical is it to try epic fantasy without it? Any examples of successful epic fantasy without it?
Whew! What a scene! What a battle cry! 70 times!
One of the great scenes in all the legendarium, IMO.
Kind of ties into my quote over in the quote game, too, in a way - altho there is sorrow and grief, the beauty and courage that have existed and still exist more than make up for it, and shall win in the end. Aurë entuluva! Day shall come again!
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Old 02-11-2004, 07:40 PM   #7
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(ps - just looked up "pipe dreams" because I had NO idea where it came from - "fantastic idea, vain hope or plan, etc., such as an opium smoker might have". Oh, the "pipe" makes sense now. The linguistics lesson for the day!)
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Old 02-11-2004, 10:12 PM   #8
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6. Try to think up effective tactics for the good guys to use against mature dragons.
_________________________________________
This has always seemed to me an incredible blind spot and short-term thinking by the good guys.The elves relaxing and nonunderstanding even after it took Fingon and his archers together to, not kill or wound a half-grown Glaurung, but just drive him back.

Since Turin's killing of Glaurung indicates that even fully grown dragons had stomach vulnerabilities (Smaug had encrusted diamonds protecting him, and what about mouth and eyes?), for a non-flying dragon the logical approach would to be fight on broken ground or in ways forcing a dragon to rear (attacking from hills above)? (think of the good guys at the end of the movie "Willow" popping up from cover). Such tactics should have been combined with significant commissions to the dwarves for their "dragon proof" masks (perhaps, like [Perseus?] against the Medusa, with some sort of reflective surface to see where the dragons were. These specialist units should have been some sort of elite anti-dragon units, held back for such specific purposes (somewhat like American Rangers or glider paratroop units in
WW II).

Of course, flying dragons are another story!
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Old 02-12-2004, 09:03 AM   #9
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Re: Discussion Topics:

Lovely intro Lefty!
Quote:
Originally posted by Lefty Scaevola
2. How does word reach Turgon (which must have included secret operational and timing information)? Do he and Fingon have a sort of dialog where Fingon gets answers back?
That's a very good question, to which I have no good answer. I've always imagined Gondolin to be a place from where no one ever left and to where no one ever entered, save on very rare and special occations. Nonetheless it seems clear that Turgon knew exactly when to come forth. Maybe also the reason why he restrained his host from attacking too soon was because he knew about Maedhros' and Fingon's plan. Or he may have been just wise and careful, guessing Morgoth's tactics.
Quote:
5. Compare Fingon’s Host with Maedhros’ host, particularly with their stamina of the battlefield (Fingon’s starts 4 days earlier, and finishes a day later).
Well Lefty, I read between the lines here that you think Maedhros' host should have shown more valour and stayed longer before they fled. I believe the people of Fingon were said to be the hardiest and most valiant of all the Ñoldor, and so they also seem to be at the battlefield. But then Fingon's host did not have trouble with treason among their own, and no dragons to worry about, only a few balrogs and such.
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Old 02-12-2004, 09:09 AM   #10
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Oh, can anyone please tell me, where exactly lies Anfauglith?
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Old 02-12-2004, 10:01 AM   #11
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Quote:
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Oh, can anyone please tell me, where exactly lies Anfauglith?
IIRC, Anfauglith was Ardgalen, the land of Angrod and Aegnor before the Dagor Bragollach. It was located to the north of Dorthonian near Angband and devided from Angband by a great bulwark.

Regarding how Turgon may have known about the Nirnaeth, I always thought and I think it says somewhere in the Sil, that the eagles often brought word to him of events in the outside world.
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Old 02-12-2004, 10:24 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sister Golden Hair
IIRC, Anfauglith was Ardgalen, the land of Angrod and Aegnor before the Dagor Bragollach. It was located to the north of Dorthonian near Angband and devided from Angband by a great bulwark.
Thanx SGH, that makes good sense. From the description of the battle I assumed it would lie far north.
Quote:
Regarding how Turgon may have known about the Nirnaeth, I always thought and I think it says somewhere in the Sil, that the eagles often brought word to him of events in the outside world.
That would be a plausible explanation, I guess.
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Old 02-12-2004, 10:32 AM   #13
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News gather by eagles and such would not likely have informed Turgon of the planned date of the battle. Relying on visual scouting reports, he would have been several days behind in mobilization and march than Fingon. I believe that was some actual messages sent him by some means, eagles of otherwise (maybe telepathic communication with his brother, since we have some hints of telepathy and long range telepathy between the great of the Eldar.)
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Old 02-12-2004, 10:38 AM   #14
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'Telepathy'? But it says that Turgon was unlooked for and that Fingon had a heavy heart before he appeared? It doesn't fit.
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Old 02-12-2004, 10:44 AM   #15
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Although not clear as to how much Fingon personally was suprised, as opposed to his host, that would suggest that only one way communication was involved, with no reply by Turgon, likely in the form of messages carried to Turgon by the eagles.

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Old 02-12-2004, 10:53 AM   #16
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Lefty, do you think that Maedhros and Fingon when planning the battle communicated through 'telepathy'?
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Old 02-12-2004, 12:21 PM   #17
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Possible, I suspect they met face to face during the prelimiaries of the campaign, after Maedhros had clear Dorthonion, and the western forces had clear the the vales of the Sirion and the pass of Sirion. Indeed a principal object of such premliminaries would be to facilitate communication and cooperation. Some forces were maintained in Dorthonion, and signal beacons place there.

We have only minor refences to the telepathy, both in LoTr and Sil.
Although there is no refence to palantir (reputed to have been made by Feanor) like devices in Sil, it is possible that some sort of long range communication technology was available to the Noldor in Belariand.

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Old 02-12-2004, 12:24 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lefty Scaevola
We have only minor refences to the telepathy, both in LoTr and Sil.
And the Ósanwe-kenta.
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Old 02-12-2004, 01:05 PM   #19
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Re: Discussion Topics:

Quote:
Originally posted by Lefty Scaevola
7. Could the hosts of Nargothrond and Doriath have turned the battle result, thus delaying Morgoth’s dominance for a generation of orc rebuilding?
Yes and yes again! The strength of Nargothrond and Doriath would probably have changed the outcome of the battle. Why, oh why, my dear Maitimo, didn't you tell your little brothers to Shut Up their big mouths?
Quote:
8. Why can not Maedhros and his brothers, with all their Noldorin wisdom, caution of treason, and some telepathic power (see Finrod in chap 17) not detect treason in the sons of Ulfang?
Yes, I think that the Fëanoreans should have been more careful, and they should at least have taken into account the possibility of treason. They must have known that there were spies about, and more, that Morgoth had had dominion over the Men in the east.
Quote:
9. Huor has a significant prophecy at the end of the battle. This is rare in ME, if not unique, that a purely mortal human has such power. Most other instances of prophecy that my (dimming with age) memory comes up with are Ainur (duh), elves, and men descended in part from elves. How intentional is this limitation and what are its reasons?
Rían has already said all I wanted to say here.
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Old 02-12-2004, 02:09 PM   #20
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About the Great Eagles helping. They seem to intervene not to actively assist the Noldor but passively (guarding Gondolin) and in ways not effecting the fate of the elves (Thorondor rescuing Fingolfin's body and attacking Morgoth [ouch!] ). I believe there's speculation they were Maia, if so, might they have been constrained from interfering unduly (particularly because of the Curse of Mandos), and especially with the sons of Feanor (the Eagles didn't rescue Maedhros when he was on the cliff). Therefore, if there had been no kinslaying might the Eagles have been more active (and would the efforts of the elves to get help from Valinor have been earlier effective and would the elves have gotten more cooperation from Doriath- particularly in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, although Thingol would probably have still been in a snit over being elbowed out of dominance in Doriath)?
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