The Valar Give Melkor the Ol’ Switch-a-roo! (A Slight Diversion)

Since I’m clearly taking the Silmarillion at my own pace, I thought I’d get us a bit sidetracked once again. In the previous post, Tulkas was mentioned in passing. Whenever Tulkas is mentioned, I always find it best to go back to the Book of Lost Tales version. Tolkien gave this character much more dialog and fun way back in 1919. But this version was drastically different. Rather than deciding to do nothing, the Valar acted!

While Yavanna’s meeting was still called, it was Ulmo and Aulë who devised a plan to battle and ultimately capture Melko (as Tolkien first named Melkor). Aulë turned to his smithy and made a chain which they named Angaino, because what good is a chain if it doesn’t have a bitchin’ name? The Valar then went to Utumna, Melko’s abode, banged on the door and asked to see the guy in charge.

Langon, Melko’s servant, claimed his master was super incredibly thrilled to see them, but since he was totally not even a tiny bit ready to entertain the lot of them, he only had space for two of them at a time. Also, please don’t send Manwë or Tulkas, thanks.

Melko was also a bit sassy, wondering (via Langon) “what it were the Gods so greatly desired that they must leave their soft couches and indolence of Valinor for the bleak places where Melko laboured humbly and did his toilsome work.”

At that, Tulkas “would have started straightway raging down the narrow stairs that descended out of sight beyond the gates, but the others withheld him…” They needed a plan, and it was Aulë who reasoned that since Melko didn’t want to see Manwë or Tulkas most, that Manwë and Tulkas needed to find a way to sneak in and surprise the big guy.

So they sent a messenger to butter Melko up, telling him that he was the best and how much they missed him, and that they really hoped that he’d come the hell back to Valinor. To make it believable, they even told him that “Tulkas alone would not assent” and because of that, they totally restrained him “with violence to beg thee to pardon them each one.”

And it worked! Melko bought it hook, line, and sinker. But they weren’t out of the woods yet. Melko wanted them to bow to him. I mean, if he was the greatest, why wouldn’t they just do this one small thing – “but – Tulkas I will not see, and if I come to Valinor then will I thrust him out.”

Though Melko and Tulkas were super unfriends, Tulkas still got really angry about this and “smote his hands in wrath.” But the Valar used this to their advantage. They really wanted to chain Melko and get Tulkas inside. What better way to do this than playing a trick on Melko by binding Tulkas in the chains of Angaino, leading him into Detention Block AA-23, to cell 2187 where Tarkin was keeping the Princess. Or something like that. Anyway…

So after binding Tulkas, they brought him before Melko, who sat in a chamber “lit with flaming braziers and full of evil magic, and strange shapes moved with feverish movement in and out, but snakes of great size curled and uncurled without rest about the pillars that upheld the roof.” It was a strange joint, to be sure. But with that, Manwë asked Melko to come back to Valinor.

But Melko wasn’t quite finished. First, he wanted Manwë to kneel before him and for Tulkas to kiss his foot. Here we get a quick peek into the mind of Melko. We’re told that “he purposed to spurn Tulkas in the mouth in payment of that buffet long ago.” You’ll remember, that this “buffet” came in the form of Tulkas socking Melko in the face. Melko didn’t exactly forget that.

While Manwë had sincerely thought there was good still in him, it was now clear to all that Melko was more evil now than Vala. So the sneaky original plan was still on track.

The plan seemed to be for Manwë to bow and Tulkas to kiss Melko’s feet, and for them to bring him back to Valinor and deal with him on ground of their own choosing. But then Tulkas jumped the gun. (Note: Classic Tulkas.)

Camera: Spartus 35F Model 400 Film: Svema 125 (expired)

Camera: Spartus 35F Model 400
Film: Svema 125 (expired)

Seeing Manwë bow, both Aulë and Tulkas were enraged. And while Aulë could keep his emotions all bottled up, Tulkas really really couldn’t. So he “leapt across the hall at a bound.” Aulë and Oromë both followed his cue, “and the hall was full of tumult.” The Valar battled Melko’s minions, but even the dark lord himself got in on the action, grabbing his iron flail and swinging it at Manwë. But Manwë’s blew his breath at it and diverted its path.

So then naturally “Tulkas smote Melko full in his teeth with his fist of iron, and he and Aulë grappled with him, and straight he was wrapped thirty times in the fathoms of Angaino.” It was a boring conversation, anyway.

Oromë really wanted to kill him, and lamented that Gods couldn’t (yet) be killed. So they beat him up real good and his minions fled. It was Tulkas who got the pleasure of dragging Melko out of his abode, where Aulë put their prisoner in iron cuffs. Tulkas and Ulmo then destroyed Utumna. And with that, they brought him back to Valinor to stand trial.

From this point on, the story is echoed in the published Silmarillion, with Palúrien (Yavanna) here standing in for Nienna and her tears, though falling in against Melko rather than in his favor. Manwë, even in this early version, was hopefully naive that Melko could be rehabilitated. Tulkas and Palürien weren’t thrilled, but all went along with it. And for a time, there would be peace.

In this early version, dating from 1919, it was only after Melko was chained that the Elves came. He would be partially freed on the day of the awakening, losing the heavy chain of Angaino, but still having to wear the wrist and ankle cuffs. Manwë did this before the full time of Melko’s sentence. And “Melko sat at the feet of Tulkas and feigned a glad and humble cheer.”

In 1930’s Quenta Noldorinwa, the story’s outline remained basically the same, though much of the fun writing was gone. (Shaping of Middle-Earth, p84, 264) By 1937’s Quenta Silmarillion, Tolkien had decided upon the basic outline that he carried through to the last – that the attack upon Melkor would come after the awakening of the Elves.

But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. Next post, we’ll return to the published Silmarillion and see more about the awakening of the Elves, this time with Melkor!


Some Note:

  • Uh, we had a slight weapons malfunction, but uh… everything’s perfectly all right now. We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you… How are you?
  • This is all in the Book of Lost Tales, Book I, p100-105, with a bit from 115.
  • The in-laws are visiting, so I’m pretty sure that I’ll not be able to get a post up on Monday. I’m sure you’ll survive.

Pages & Text

  • Page 48 (with a bit of 47 – but really it doesn’t matter for this post)
  • Chapter: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor, Paragraphs 4-8
  • Starting with:
    “It came to pass that the Valar held council…”
  • Ending with:
    “…and have revered Varda Elentári above all the Valar.”

7 thoughts on “The Valar Give Melkor the Ol’ Switch-a-roo! (A Slight Diversion)

  1. I swear mellow… One of these days. Bam, full in the teeth!
    I can’t read any of his words without hearing super sarcastic Trace Beaulieu. He should voice Melko!

  2. Fantastic! I’ve always wanted more Tulkas and hadn’t read this episode before. I just remember then short intro he gets in The Silmarillion. “His weapons are his fists.” As a huge Star Wars fan, I love the classic references. You’ve outdone yourself on this one. Awesome.

    • Curiously, May 4th is the only day in which I don’t quote Star Wars! Kidding, kidding. I can’t stop for even that long!

    • Hey! Well no, they’re not STILL here. 🙂 But summer just kicked into high gear right after they left. I really want to get back to work, but … you know… summer! I miss Tolkien!

      • Yeah that’s very understandable, I don’t know how your summers are but in the UK we get about two weeks worth of hot days and the rest is a wash out, a day of sunshine followed by a few days of storms haha. Just glad the blog’s not discontinued you write it too well for it to stop in its prime. Hope you enjoy the summer!

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