Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin

Author: J.R.R. Tolkien;

"Unfinished Tales"; Part I

Outline of the Tale "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin"

Ran, wife of Huor, delivered of a son before the end of the Year of Lamentation”. He was given the name of Tuor.

“And Ran said to the Elves: "Let him be called Tuor, for that name his father chose, ere war came between us. And I beg of you to foster him, and to keep him hidden in your care; for I forebode that great good, for Elves and Men, shall come from him.”

Tuor speaks about going away in search of Turgon - at that time High King of the Noldor, in order to seek help for his people in their struggle against the Easterlings – allies of Morgoth.

Tuor was sixteen years of age and was become strong and able to wield arms, the axe and bow of the Grey-elves; and his heart grew hot within him at the tale of the griefs of his people, and he wished to go forth and avenge them on the Orcs and Easterlings. But Annael forbade this.”

Lorgan the Easterling captures Tuor as a prisoner and a slave.

Three years later Tuor escapes.

For four years Tuor lives as an outlaw near the caves of Androth.

“And for four years he was an outlaw in the land of his fathers, grim and solitary; and his name was feared, for he went often abroad, and slew many of the Easterlings that he came upon.

On a day in the beginning of the year (twenty and three since Nirnaeth) Tuor sets on a quest to find the hidden city of Turgon, led by the flow of a creek. He reaches Ered Lmin.

“Then he took up harp which he bore ever with him, being skilled in playing upon its strings, and heedless of the peril of his clear voice alone in the waste he sang an elven-song of the North for the uplifting of hearts. And even as he sang the well at his feet began to boil with great increase of water, and it overflowed, and a rill ran noisily down the rocky hillside before him. And Tuor took this as a sign, and he arose at once and followed after it.”

Tuor meets "Gelmir and Arminas … of Finarfin's people”. With their help, he crosses the mountain through a secret path.

"Through darkness one may come to the light," said Gelmir.

Tuor continues his journey following the river and reaches the Echoing Mountains of Lammoth about the Firth of Drengist, where “once long ago Fanor had landed from the sea, and the voices of his host were swelled to a mighty clamour upon the coasts of the North ere the rising of the Moon.”

On the next morning Tuor sees for the first time “the great gulls, beloved of the Teleri” and follows them.

Frightened by the tide, although he did not know it was the tide of the great sea, Tuor “went away southward, and so came not to the long shores of the Firth of Drengist”, thus entering “into the borders of Nevrast, where once Turgon had dwelt”.

Tuor tarried many days in Nevrast” and “found traces of the Noldor of old.”

Tuor meets the great swans and they give him a sign to follow them.

“Now Tuor journeyed south along the coast for full seven days.” And he thus reaches “grey hills” which “were indeed the western outliers of Ered Wethrin, the north-fence of Beleriand, and the mountain was Mount Taras, westernmost of all the towers of that land."

And at that hour the sun went down beyond the rim of the world, as a mighty fire; and Tuor stood alone upon the cliff with outspread arms, and a great yearning filled his heart. It is said that he was the first of Men to reach the Great Sea, and that none, save the Eldar, have ever felt more deeply the longing that it brings.”

Tuor finds Vinyamar, or what is left from the once splendid capital of Turgon.

Tuor takes the “ shield and the great hauberk, and the helm and the long sword in a sheath.”, which hang on the wall inside the ruined palace and which, by the advice of Ulmo, once long ago, Turgon had left.

"Then Tuor spoke, and his voice rang as a challenge in the roof: "By this token I will take these arms unto myself, and upon myself whatsoever doom they bear."

Ulmo tells Tuor that he has to find Turgon, and look upon the hidden city. Tuor has to bear Ulmo's warning message to Turgon that ... yet Doom is strong, and the shadow of the Enemy lengthens” and that “now the Curse of Mandos hastens to its fulfilment, and all the works of the Noldor shall perish, and every hope which they build shall crumble. The last hope alone is left, the hope that they have not looked for and have not prepared. And that hope lieth in thee; for so I have chosen.

For thou art arrayed thus to be my messenger, even in the arms which long ago decreed for thee.

If I choose to send thee, Tuor son of Huor, then believe not that thy one sword is not worth the sending. For the valour of die Edain the Elves shall ever remember as the ages lengthen, marvelling that they gave life so freely of which they had on earth so little. But it is not for thy valour only that I send thee, but to bring into the world a hope beyond thy sight, and a light that shall pierce the darkness.

Ulmo sends Tuor a vision of the world.

And thereupon Ulmo lifted up a mighty horn, and blew upon it a single great note, to which the roaring of the storm was but a wind-flaw upon a lake. And as he heard that note, and was encompassed by it, and filled with it, it seemed to Tuor that the coasts of Middle-earth vanished, and he surveyed all the waters of the world in a great vision: from the veins of the lands to the mouths of the rivers, and from the strands and estuaries out into the deep. The Great Sea he saw through its unquiet regions teeming with strange forms, even to its lightless depths, in which amid the everlasting darkness there echoed voices terrible to mortal ears. Its measureless plains he surveyed with the swift sight of the Valar, lying windless under the eye of Anar, or glittering under the horned Moon, or lifted in hills of wrath that broke upon the Shadowy Isles," until remote upon the edge of sight, and beyond the count of leagues, he glimpsed a mountain, rising beyond his mind's reach into a shining cloud, and at its feet a long surf glimmering. And even as he strained to hear the sound of those far waves, and to see clearer that distant light, the note ended, and he stood beneath the thunder of the storm, and lightning many-branched rent asunder the heavens above him. And Ulmo was gone, and the sea was in tumult, as the wild waves of Oss rode against the walls of Nevrast.

The next day Tuor meets Voronwe – a Noldor, who once had been sent by Turgon to seek the help of the Valar, but his ships and companions had perished and he alone had been saved, as it turns afterwards - in order to guide Tuor to Gondolin.

They set on a log journey to the Hidden City of Turgon.

On the way Voronwe tells a lot of facts from the history of the Noldor and about his journey to Aman.

By Ivrin, Tuor and Voronwe encounter Turin, Tuor’s cousin, known as the "Black Sword". They however did not know each other.

They finally find an ancient road. As they walk along and fortunately escaping the dangers of Orcs assault, they reach the Encircling Mountains and the walls of the realm of Turgon.

On the far side of the ford they came to a gully, as it were the bed of an old stream, in which no water now flowed; yet once, it seemed, a torrent had cloven its deep channel, coming down from the north out of the mountains of the Echoriath, and bear-ing thence all the stones of the Brithiach down into Sirion.

"At last beyond hope we find it!" cried Voronw. "See! Here is the mouth of the Dry River, and that is the road we must take."

And so they do.

They are held by the Guards of the Guarded Gate, but:

Then Tuor spoke, and feared no longer. "I come with Voronw son of Aranw, because he was appointed to be my guide by the Lord of Waters. To this end was he delivered from the wrath of the Sea and the Doom of the Valar. For I bear from Ulmo an errand to the son of Fingolfin, and to him will I speak it.

They are led through and pass

The Gates in order:

The Wooden Gate

Thus they came at length to a wide arch with tall pillars upon either hand, hewn in the rock, and between hung a great port-cullis of crossed wooden bars, marvellously carved and studded with nails of iron.

The Stone Gate

Tuor saw that the way was barred by a great wall built across the ravine from side to side, with stout towers of stone at either hand. In the wall was a great archway above the road, but it seemed that masons had blocked it with a single mighty stone. As they drew near its dark and polished face gleamed in the light of a white lamp that hung above the midst of the arch.

Gate of Bronze

After a little space they came to a wall yet higher and stronger than before, and in it was set the Third Gate, the Gate of Bronze: a great twofold door hung with shields and plates of bronze, wherein were wrought many figures and strange signs. Upon the wall above its lintel were three square towers, roofed and clad with copper that by some device of smith-craft were ever bright and gleamed as fire in the rays of the red lamps ranged like torches along the wall.

The Gate of Iron

Four towers of iron stood upon it, and between the two inner towers was set an image of a great eagle wrought in iron, even the likeness of King Thorondor himself, as he would alight upon a mountain from the high airs…. a light came through the traceries of the gate, which were wrought and hammered into the shapes of trees with writhing roots and woven branches laden with leaves and flowers. And as he passed through he saw how this could be; for the wall was of great thickness, and there was not one grill but three in line, so set that to one who approached in the middle of the way each formed part of the device; but the light beyond was the light of day.

The Silver Gate

The wall of the Fifth Gate was built of white marble, and was low and broad, and its parapet was a trellis of silver between five great globes of marble; and there stood many archers robed in white. The gate was in shape as three parts of a circle, and wrought of silver and pearl of Nevrast in likenesses of the Moon; but above the Gate upon the midmost globe stood an image of the White Tree Telperion, wrought of silver and malachite, with flowers made of great pearls of Balar. 28 And beyond the Gate in a wide court paved with marble, green and white, stood archers in silver mail and white-crested helms, a hundred upon either hand.

Golden Gate

So they came to the Golden Gate, the last of the ancient gates of Turgon that were wrought before the Nirnaeth; and it was much like the Gate of Silver, save that the wall was built of yellow marble, and the globes and parapet were of red gold; and there were six globes, and in the midst upon a golden pyramid was set an image of Laurelin, the Tree of the Sun, with flowers wrought of topaz in long clusters upon chains of gold. And the Gate itself was adorned with discs of gold, many-rayed, in likenesses of the Sun, set amid devices of garnet and topaz and yellow diamonds. In the court beyond were arrayed three hundred archers with long bows, and their mail was gilded, and tall golden plumes rose from their helmets; and their great round shields were red as flame.

The Gate of Steel - the Great

The Seventh Gate, named the Great, the Gate of Steel that Maeglin wrought after the return from the Nirnaeth, across the wide entrance to the Orfalch Echor.
No wall stood there, but on either hand were two round towers of great height, many-windowed, tapering in seven storeys to a turret of bright steel, and between the towers there stood a mighty fence of steel that rusted not, but glittered cold and white. Seven great pillars of steel there were, tall with the height and girth of strong young trees, but ending in a bitter spike that rose to the sharpness of a needle; and between the pillars were seven cross-bars of steel, and in each space seven times seven rods of steel upright, with heads like the broad blades of spears. But in the centre, above the midmost pillar and the greatest, was raised a mighty image of the king-helm of Turgon, the Crown of the Hidden Kingdom, set about with dia-monds.
No gate or door could Tuor see in this mighty hedge of steel, but as he drew near through the spaces between its bars there came, as it seemed to him, a dazzling light, and he shaded his eyes, and stood still in dread and wonder. But Elemmakil went forward, and no gate opened to his touch; but he struck upon a bar, and the fence rang like a harp of many strings, giving forth clear notes in harmony that ran from tower to tower.

Finally, Tuor “beheld a vision of Gondolin amid the white snow. And so entranced was he that for long he could look at nothing else; for he saw before him at last the vision of his desire out of dreams of longing.”

This is where the story ends.



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