Just pondering Memory, Thorn, and Sorrow still. I think I thought this the first time I read it, and I’m not usually the gushy, romantic type, but I think the thing that sticks the most with me is the relationship between Simon and Miriamele and how painstaking Tad Williams actually fleshed out its nuances. I think my most favorite scenes are when Simon and Miriamele head out on there own to return to the Hayholt in their bid to try to stop the Storm King and to prevent the End of the World, and they have to seek shelter in people’s abandoned houses, and I was struck especially by the scene where she is doing common, domestic things that you wouldn’t expect a princess to know how to do (not that I’m suggesting that that’s women ought to do)—there is a sort-of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves quality to it. I guess the mundanity of it all really struck me, and how what moved that section of the plot along was the developing romance between the two characters. For some reason, these scenes actually seem to capture the sense of Home for me (which also happens to be a major theme in this book.) Whereas Tolkien touches upon the fact that “you can never really go home again,” particularly when he turns the Shire into a totalitarian state, Williams reiterates the (admittedly disgustingly trite) idea that “home is where the heart is,” which may or may not actually represent an physical place. In retrospect, I suppose maybe Tad Williams had the same idea that I did when I read Book IV and VI of LotR: how different the scenes would’ve been if Frodo and Sam weren’t both male (or, I suppose, alternately, how different it would’ve been if J.R.R. Tolkien wasn’t an old school Catholic and had tried to tap the homoerotic side of it all) and indeed I do find it very touching.
But the main thing I was thinking of (which the title of this post alludes to) is that I think that J.R.R. Tolkien’s Fëanor from The Silmarillion probably serves as the prototype for Williams’ Ineluki. Now I haven’t read The Silmarillion as much I’ve read LotR so I may have this wrong, but the story of Beren and Lúthien describes a similar conflict between the kindreds of the Sindar and the Noldor which presage the conflict between the Sithi and the Norns. (Hey, check that out, the two kindreds even start with the same letter…) The mistrust between the two kindreds was born with the Kinslaying in Alqualondë, however, but the fatal oath that the sons of Fëanor took eventually led them to attack and completely destroy the Sindarin Realm of Doriath in an effort to retrieve a Silmaril. Somehow, the mortal Eärendil manages to bring the Silmaril to the Uttermost West, out of the reach of the sons of Fëanor. But can you only imagine what would’ve transpired if Fëanor had survived? Would he have mowed down Thingol and Melian? Slain Beren and Lúthien? It would be terrible to imagine.
Both Fëanor and Ineluki are driven by loss—while the tragedy that Fëanor wrought was directly the result of his terrible Oath, the back-story makes it seem that the darkness had started within his soul prior to this, with the death of his mother Míriel and with his father Finwë afterwards marrying Indis. He then completely goes over the edge when Melkor kills his father and steals the Silmarils. At this point Fëanor leads his people out of Valinor, kills his kindred the Teleri for their boats, and then burns the boats to leave his half-brother Fingolfin and his people behind to try to cross the Grinding Ice on foot.
Ineluki’s loss is the same loss that Elrond and Galadriel and all the other Elves are forced to endure: the weakening of their respective realms, and the ascendancy of that upstart race, the race of humans. This brings up an interesting theme that I’ll bring up later.
Another similarity: both Fëanor and Ineluki are described as the best of their respective races, the most skilled, the most intelligent. They are both consumed with passion, and are described as fiery spirits. And they both create things that wreak havoc on the the balance of Nature—the Silmarils, which doom everyone who touches them, versus the sword Sorrow, made out of the antithetical materials of iron and witchwood.
Anyway, the theme about the weakening of the elder race and the ascendancy of the human race intrigues me as a child of the Filipino diaspora. Especially in Osten Ard, which draws directly upon European history, the process of conquest and colonization has been at work (the Herynstiri and the Sithi displaced by the Rimmersmen, the Rimmersmen conquered by the Nabbanese, the Nabbanese declining and allowing the Erkynlanders to take center state), and the Sithi, like many indigenous cultures, are forced to abdicate their ancestral lands, and their numbers decline, often at the hands of their conquerors. The difference between this and the real world, though, is that they theoretically have the advantage of magic, which, while it doesn’t necessarily translate into technological superiority (particularly since they can’t use iron), still suggests a sort of technological gap that for example, separates sword-wielding cultures and rifle-wielding cultures.
So, in a way, Ineluki is a force that attempts to resist the tide of conquest and colonization, and in that sense, I can’t help but root for him, although I’m not a fan of the whole death and destruction for all humans thing.
I suppose it is more akin to the rise and fall of Great Empires (which is another, slightly different process at work)—Rome after all was supposedly somewhat technologically superior to their Germanic conquerors, and, well, some folks just can’t let go of the past.