Jan 16 2013, 2:53am
Thanks for another insightful lead-in, noWiz!
Even immortal elves can't escape Death and Taxes (VATs)
This chapter flows well for me in that we just read through all those lists of who's who, with little teasers about them, but now we see them in action. I actually like the Valaquenta on its own because I find it well-written and interesting, but for those who want some plot, now we get some payoff.
Yavanna question: I understand her motivation for wanting to wrest the world away from Melkor, but does it seem unusual for a Nature Goddess to espouse violence? And maybe her in particular, since she seems gentle in spirit, not a female Tulkas or an Eowyn. To fast forward, when she's distressed about her hubby's creatures cutting down her trees, she goes to Eru about it, and doesn't come up with a combative solution on her own. I can see Varda going to war, but Yavanna and Nienna? Just hard to picture them.
Time: funny, but I never thought about measuring it in this era, only later when the Elves are in Valinor. I think that prehistories that are all about gods usually span centuries or millenia. I wouldn't hazard an estimate here, but I'd says many centuries instead of a few years or months (as measured by our time units).
For the mention of the Children of Iluvatar: yes, I'm getting impatient at this point. Maybe Tolkien is good at building up anticipation, but I remember on first read that I wanted him to hurry up and show me some Elves.
Writing style: yes, it does bounce around some, though not too distractingly so for me. I'm traveling for a couple days and left Arda Reconstructed at home; maybe someone else can check it and see if this chapter was compiled from different bits or if Tolkien wanted it this way. I think the style remains evocative of the Bible, which bounces around in the early parts also and takes awhile to follow a linear path.
Alluding to my reply to Mim about Melkor having personality, what does everyone think about the Valar at this point: do their personalities seem developed now, or are you still waiting for them to take shape? One that never quite coalesces for me is Manwe. On the other hand, Tulkas takes shape easily--he's like any hero in an action movie, and seems rather simple-minded like one too. Is that too cliche?
Orome is intense in a likeable way, Mandos is more intense and more scary than likeable, while I never get a sense of Lorien, and Varda remains elusively ethereal, the opposite of Tulkas (and Ulmo, who feels as familiar as the Boxer God).
Aule is forever a kind-hearted dwarf to me. I would never invite Nienna to a party, but she would be a great shoulder to cry on if you needed one--which I suppose isn't very fair.
Melkor is always scary to me, but he feels familiar too, so "scary" in the sense of someone I wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley, but not as scary as an evil ghost. The familiarity about him is maybe that we see into his mind more than anyone else's, or it seems that way to me.