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The Tale of Eärendel

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The Tale of Eärendel is the fifth chapter of The Book of Lost Tales Part Two. It contains a discussion of the various notes and "condensed and often contradictory outlines"[1] of the uncompleted Tale of Eärendel. This narrative was to pick up where The Fall of Gondolin and the Tale of the Nauglafring left off, with upbringing of Eärendel and Elwing amongst the Lothlim at the Mouths of Sirion, and the love between them. The outlines then sketch Eärendel's from a wreck rescue by Ulmo, his voyages in search of Valinor, the binding of Morgoth and finally his departure to the "firmament".

There are two major discrepancies between this outline of the Eärendel narrative and that of the later Silmarillion. Firstly, in the Lost Tale Eärendel arrives in Valinor too late: a message borne by the birds of Gondolin have already roused the Valar and Valinorian Eldar to war and they have departed to the Great Lands. According to Christopher Tolkien the "extraordinary" conclusion that Eärendel's quest was fruitless survived to the early versions of the Silmarillion, but leaves a serious unresolved question regarding Ulmo's purpose in guiding the fates of Tuor and Eärendel[2]. The image of Eärendel arriving in Kôr (Tirion) only to find it deserted is indeed preserved in the published Silmarillion, but in the later conception it is because the inhabitants are attending a feast in Valmar.

Secondly, it does not appear that Elwing was intended to be resurrected after her death in the sack of Eärendel's home. In contrast to the Silmarillion the earlier narrative has Eärendel driven through the Door of Night in search of Elwing, not at the design of the Valar and not bearing a Silmaril. His brightness is instead attributed to having trodden in the 'diamond dust' of Kôr. The ambiguity concerning the fate of the Silmarils after the otherthrow of Morgoth is referenced in a note on one of the Eärendel outlines, anticipating their greater importance to the legends of the First Age in later conceptions.

Also included are four early poems which deal with Eärendel:


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "The Tale of Eärendel", p. 252
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "The Tale of Eärendel", p. 257