Skip to content
Home » The Epic Tale of “The War of the Jewels” by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Brief Summary

The Epic Tale of “The War of the Jewels” by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Brief Summary

J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The War of the Jewels” is a crucial piece of Middle-earth’s history, detailing the long and complex wars fought over the Silmarils, three jewels created by the elf Fëanor. This article provides a brief summary of the epic tale, including key events and characters, and explores the significance of this work within Tolkien’s larger legendarium.

The Silmarillion and The War of the Jewels

The Silmarillion and The War of the Jewels are two of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most beloved works. The Silmarillion is a collection of stories that detail the creation of Middle-earth and the struggles of its inhabitants. The War of the Jewels, on the other hand, is a more focused tale that centers around the conflict between the Elves and the Dark Lord Morgoth. Despite their differences, both works share a common thread: the importance of the jewels known as the Silmarils. These gems were created by the Elf Fëanor and were coveted by Morgoth, who sought to use their power to dominate Middle-earth. The War of the Jewels chronicles the battles fought over these precious jewels and the sacrifices made by the Elves to protect them. It is a story of heroism, betrayal, and the enduring power of hope in the face of darkness.

The Two Great Jewels

The Two Great Jewels, also known as the Silmarils, were the most precious and beautiful gems ever created by the Elves. They were crafted by the Elf Fëanor, who poured all his skill and love into their making. The Silmarils contained the light of the Two Trees of Valinor, which were destroyed by the evil Melkor. Fëanor swore to avenge the Trees and protect the Silmarils at all costs. However, Melkor coveted the Jewels and sought to steal them for his own purposes. Thus began the War of the Jewels, a conflict that would shape the fate of Middle-earth for ages to come.

The Kinslaying and the Oath of Fëanor

The Kinslaying and the Oath of Fëanor are two of the most significant events in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The War of the Jewels.” The Kinslaying refers to the tragic incident where the Noldor Elves, led by Fëanor, attacked and killed their own kin, the Teleri Elves, in their quest for the Silmarils. This act of violence caused a deep rift among the Elves and set the stage for the long and bloody conflict that followed.

The Oath of Fëanor, on the other hand, was a binding promise made by Fëanor and his sons to reclaim the Silmarils at any cost. This oath was fueled by their burning desire for the precious jewels, which had been stolen by the Dark Lord Morgoth. The oath had dire consequences, as it led to the deaths of many Elves and the eventual downfall of Fëanor and his family.

Together, the Kinslaying and the Oath of Fëanor serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of greed and the destructive power of oaths. They also highlight the complex relationships and tensions that existed among the Elves during this tumultuous time in Middle-earth’s history.

The Quest for the Silmarils

The Silmarils were three precious jewels created by the elf Fëanor, which contained the light of the Two Trees of Valinor. They were coveted by many, including the dark lord Morgoth, who stole them and caused a war between the elves and Morgoth’s forces. The quest for the Silmarils became a central theme in J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic tale, “The War of the Jewels.” The story follows the journey of various characters as they attempt to retrieve the jewels and restore peace to the land. The quest for the Silmarils is a tale of bravery, sacrifice, and the enduring power of hope.

The Siege of Angband

The Siege of Angband was a pivotal moment in the War of the Jewels. The fortress of Angband, located in the northernmost region of Middle-earth, was the stronghold of Morgoth, the Dark Lord. The siege lasted for nearly 400 years, with the armies of the Valar and the Elves laying siege to the fortress in an attempt to defeat Morgoth and his minions. Despite the long and grueling battle, the forces of Morgoth were able to hold out against their attackers, thanks in part to the powerful magic of the Dark Lord himself. However, the siege did have some positive effects, as it weakened Morgoth’s forces and allowed the Elves to reclaim much of their lost territory. Ultimately, the Siege of Angband would set the stage for the final battle of the War of the Jewels, which would determine the fate of Middle-earth for centuries to come.

The Battle of Unnumbered Tears

The Battle of Unnumbered Tears was one of the most devastating battles in the history of Middle-earth. It was fought between the forces of the Elves and the Orcs, and it resulted in the deaths of countless warriors on both sides. The battle took place in the First Age of Middle-earth, during the long and bitter conflict known as the War of the Jewels. The Elves were fighting to protect the Silmarils, three precious jewels that contained the light of the Two Trees of Valinor. The Orcs, on the other hand, were fighting for their dark lord, Morgoth, who sought to possess the Silmarils for his own evil purposes. The battle was fought in the land of Beleriand, and it lasted for many days. In the end, the Elves were defeated, and many of their greatest heroes were slain. The Battle of Unnumbered Tears was a turning point in the War of the Jewels, and it marked the beginning of the end for the Elves in Middle-earth.

The Fall of Gondolin

The Fall of Gondolin is one of the most tragic events in the history of Middle-earth. It is the story of the hidden city of Gondolin, which was built by the Noldorin Elves in the First Age. The city was hidden from the eyes of Morgoth, the Dark Lord, and his minions, but it was eventually discovered by the traitor Maeglin, who was the son of the king’s sister. Maeglin betrayed the city to Morgoth, and the Dark Lord sent his armies to destroy it. The battle was fierce, but in the end, Gondolin fell, and most of its inhabitants were killed. Only a few survivors managed to escape, including Tuor, the son of Huor, who was guided by the Vala Ulmo to safety. The Fall of Gondolin is a tragic tale of betrayal, heroism, and loss, and it is one of the most memorable stories in J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium.

The Arrival of Eärendil

The arrival of Eärendil marked a turning point in the War of the Jewels. He was the son of Tuor and Idril, and his arrival brought hope to the Elves and Men who were fighting against Morgoth’s forces. Eärendil was able to sail to Valinor and plead with the Valar for their aid in the war. The Valar agreed to help, and they sent their armies to Middle-earth to defeat Morgoth once and for all. Eärendil’s bravery and determination were crucial in the victory over Morgoth, and he became a legendary figure in the history of Middle-earth.

The War in Beleriand

The War in Beleriand was a major conflict that took place in the First Age of Middle-earth. It was fought between the forces of Morgoth, the Dark Lord, and the Elves and Men of Beleriand. The war lasted for centuries and was marked by many battles and sieges. The Elves and Men were aided by the Valar, the powerful beings who created the world, and by the Dwarves, who provided weapons and armor. Despite their allies, the Elves and Men suffered many losses and setbacks. Morgoth’s armies were vast and included many fearsome creatures, such as dragons and Balrogs. However, the Elves and Men were determined to resist Morgoth’s tyranny and to protect their lands and people. The War in Beleriand was a pivotal event in the history of Middle-earth, and its outcome would shape the destiny of the world for centuries to come.

The Valar and the War of Wrath

The Valar, also known as the Powers of Arda, were the divine beings who helped shape the world of Middle-earth. They were led by Manwë, the King of the Valar, and included such notable members as Ulmo, the Lord of Waters, and Yavanna, the Giver of Fruits. During the War of Wrath, the Valar played a crucial role in defeating Morgoth, the Dark Lord who sought to dominate all of Middle-earth. With their aid, the armies of the Elves and Men were able to overcome Morgoth’s legions and cast him out of the world forever. However, the victory came at a great cost, as many of the Valar’s own kindred were slain in the conflict. Despite this, the Valar remained steadfast in their commitment to protecting the world from evil, and continued to watch over Middle-earth for many ages to come.

The Fate of the Silmarils

The Silmarils, the three precious jewels created by Fëanor, were the cause of much strife and bloodshed throughout the history of Middle-earth. After the War of Wrath, the Silmarils were recovered from the ruins of Morgoth’s fortress by Eönwë, the herald of Manwë. However, the fate of the Silmarils was far from settled. Fëanor’s sons, who had sworn an oath to reclaim the jewels at any cost, continued to pursue them relentlessly. The Silmarils passed through many hands, causing great joy and great sorrow, before ultimately being lost forever. The story of the Silmarils is a tragic one, but it is also a testament to the power of beauty and the lengths to which people will go to possess it.

The Legacy of the War of the Jewels

The War of the Jewels, as depicted in J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic tale, has left a lasting legacy on the world of fantasy literature. The conflict between the Valar and Morgoth, and the subsequent battles between the Elves and the forces of darkness, have inspired countless works of fiction and influenced the development of the genre as a whole. The themes of sacrifice, redemption, and the struggle between good and evil continue to resonate with readers today, making The War of the Jewels a timeless classic that will be remembered for generations to come.

The Influence of Norse Mythology on Tolkien’s Works

One of the most significant influences on J.R.R. Tolkien’s works is Norse mythology. Tolkien was a scholar of Old Norse and drew heavily from its stories and characters in his own writing. In “The War of the Jewels,” we can see this influence in the character of Fëanor, who bears similarities to the Norse god Odin. Both are known for their wisdom and cunning, as well as their fierce determination and willingness to sacrifice for their goals. Additionally, the concept of the Valar, powerful beings who shape the world, is reminiscent of the Norse gods who control the elements and fate. Overall, Norse mythology played a crucial role in shaping Tolkien’s vision of Middle-earth and its inhabitants.

The Role of Elves and Men in the War of the Jewels

The War of the Jewels was a pivotal moment in the history of Middle-earth, and it was fought by a variety of races and creatures. Two of the most important groups were the Elves and Men, who played crucial roles in the conflict. The Elves were ancient and wise, possessing great magical powers and a deep connection to the natural world. They fought fiercely against the forces of darkness, using their skills in archery, swordsmanship, and magic to defend their homes and loved ones. Meanwhile, the Men of Middle-earth were a more recent addition to the world, but they were no less important in the war. They were brave and strong, and they fought with a fierce determination to protect their families and their lands. Together, the Elves and Men formed a powerful alliance that was able to withstand the onslaught of the enemy. Although they suffered many losses and setbacks, they ultimately emerged victorious, thanks to their courage, skill, and unwavering determination.

The Significance of the Oath of Fëanor

The Oath of Fëanor is a pivotal moment in the epic tale of “The War of the Jewels” by J.R.R. Tolkien. This oath, taken by the elf Fëanor and his sons, binds them to a quest for vengeance against anyone who withholds the Silmarils, three precious jewels crafted by Fëanor himself. The oath is significant because it sets in motion a chain of events that leads to the destruction of entire kingdoms and the downfall of many characters. It also highlights the dangerous consequences of pride and the destructive power of oaths. The oath of Fëanor serves as a cautionary tale, reminding readers of the importance of humility and the dangers of making rash promises.

The Tragic Story of Beren and Lúthien

One of the most tragic and romantic stories in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The War of the Jewels” is that of Beren and Lúthien. Beren was a mortal man, while Lúthien was an immortal elf. Despite their differences, they fell deeply in love and embarked on a perilous journey to retrieve a Silmaril, a precious jewel, from the evil Morgoth. Along the way, they faced countless dangers and obstacles, including the monstrous wolf Carcharoth. In the end, Beren was mortally wounded, and Lúthien sacrificed her immortality to bring him back to life. The story of Beren and Lúthien is a tragic reminder of the power of love and the sacrifices we are willing to make for those we love.

The Importance of Music in Tolkien’s Mythology

Music plays a crucial role in J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythology, particularly in “The War of the Jewels.” In this epic tale, the creation of the world is depicted as a symphony, with the Valar, the angelic beings who helped shape the world, singing a great song that brought forth the universe. Music is also used as a weapon in battles, with the Elves using their songs to defeat their enemies. The power of music is further emphasized through the character of Lúthien, who uses her singing to put the evil Morgoth to sleep and retrieve a Silmaril, a precious gem. Overall, music serves as a means of communication, a tool for creation, and a weapon in Tolkien’s mythology, highlighting its importance in the world he created.

The Symbolism of Light and Dark in The War of the Jewels

One of the most prominent themes in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The War of the Jewels” is the symbolism of light and dark. Throughout the epic tale, the author uses these two opposing forces to represent the struggle between good and evil. The light is often associated with hope, purity, and goodness, while the dark represents corruption, despair, and malevolence. This symbolism is particularly evident in the character of Morgoth, the main antagonist of the story, who is often described as a dark lord who seeks to extinguish all light and goodness in the world. On the other hand, the character of Fëanor, the hero of the story, is often associated with light and fire, which represent his passion, creativity, and determination to fight against the darkness. Overall, the symbolism of light and dark in “The War of the Jewels” adds depth and complexity to the story, highlighting the eternal struggle between good and evil that is at the heart of all great epic tales.

The Evolution of Tolkien’s Mythology Through The War of the Jewels

The War of the Jewels is a crucial work in the evolution of J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythology. It was written during the 1950s and 1960s, a period when Tolkien was revising and expanding his earlier works, including The Silmarillion. The War of the Jewels contains many of the ideas and themes that would later be developed in The Lord of the Rings and other works.

One of the most significant aspects of The War of the Jewels is its exploration of the nature of evil. Tolkien was deeply interested in the concept of evil and how it could be overcome. In this work, he introduces the character of Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, who seeks to dominate and destroy all that is good in the world. Morgoth’s actions and motivations are explored in great detail, providing a deeper understanding of the forces of evil in Tolkien’s mythology.

Another important theme in The War of the Jewels is the idea of redemption. Many of the characters in the book are flawed or have made mistakes, but they are given the opportunity to redeem themselves through their actions. This theme is particularly evident in the character of Maedhros, who is one of the leaders of the Elves in their war against Morgoth. Maedhros has made many mistakes in the past, but he is given the chance to make amends and fight for the greater good.

Overall, The War of the Jewels is a fascinating work that sheds light on the evolution of Tolkien’s mythology. It contains many of the themes and ideas that would later be developed in his more famous works, and it provides a deeper understanding of the forces of good and evil in Middle-earth.