Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin
Huor, the brother of Húrin, had one son who was born after his death in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. His name was Tuor and he lived in the caves of Androth, where he was fostered by a group of Sindarian Elves. When he turned sixteen, he and the others tried to escape down south towards the Havens of Sirion. Yet his group was attacked by a combined force of Orcs and Easterlings, who managed to capture and enslave Tuor to a chief named Lorgan. Tuor was forced into hard labor for three years before managing to escape in stealth.
For four more years he lived a nomadic existence alone, but he had been marked by Ulmo as a tool of prophecy. Tuor went west and eventually came to the shores of Nevrast, and he felt amazed by the sea. Tuor tarried in Nevrast for the remainder of the summer and into the autumn, when he was guided southwards by a group of swans. Thus he found the abandoned city of Vinyamar and the arms once made by Turgon at the behest of Ulmo. Tuor took those items for himself and went down to the sea, where Ulmo himself appeared out of the waters.
Ulmo bade Tuor to leave and search for the hidden city of Gondolin. Tuor woke the next morning to find that an Elf named Voronwë had also found his way to Vinyamar. Voronwë was once part of a crew sent by Turgon to sail to the West, but his ship had been destroyed on the journey, and only Voronwë survived. After being told by Tuor of Ulmo's will, Voronwë began to guide him to the hidden city.
During their journey, they came to the Pools of Ivrin and there saw the devastation of Glaurung. Before they moved on, they saw a man there as well, who ran northwards, but they said nothing to him, nor did he seem to notice them.
At last, they came to Orfalch Echor and crossed the seven gates of Gondolin. Once in the city, they were taken to Turgon, who saw the arms Tuor bore and he himself once made. This served as a confirmation to him that the warning of Ulmo was indeed coming to pass. Tuor reminded Turgon of Ulmo's warning, but Turgon had grown proud since those days. He was loath to abandon his city and trusted its secrecy and defenses. So Ulmo's warning went mostly unheeded, but it did manage to stir up fear in Turgon's heart. Turgon thus ordered the city closed off from the outside world. Even hearing of the doom of Nargothrond and Doriath did not move him. His pride was aided by Maeglin, who took an instant disliking to Tuor and spoke against him at every turn.
Tuor stayed on in Gondolin, for Turgon remembered the words of Huor his father at Serech. Tuor was treated well by Turgon and eventually won the love of Idril, Turgon's daughter. This only served to make Maeglin all the more enraged, for he loved Idril as well, but he hid his feelings for the time being.
Tuor and Idril had one child: Eärendil, who was well loved by all who met him. And the bliss of Tuor and Idril seemed complete. Yet Idril also foresaw the doom of Gondolin, and ordered that a secret way be made from their house out of the city. This path was kept hidden from all.
Idril saw correctly, for Maeglin was captured by Morgoth during one of his expeditions out of the city to look for ores. They brought him before Morgoth, who daunted him, and Maeglin was compelled to reveal the location of Gondolin. However, Maeglin himself was moved to treachery as well, revealing information on how to defeat Gondolin's defenses and promising to aid Morgoth in the attack in exchange for Idril. Maeglin was set free and returned to Gondolin to avoid any suspicion while Morgoth prepared.
The attack finally came on Midsummer during Eärendil's seventh year. The attack force was great, consisting of Orcs, Dragons, Balrogs, and many other fell creatures. Much is told elsewhere of this attack in The Fall of Gondolin, including the mutually fatal duel between Ecthelion and Gothmog, lord of Balrogs. However, it was a losing battle, and Gondolin was at last overthrown with many killed, including Turgon, who died in the collapse of his tower.
Tuor searched for his wife, but Maeglin found her first and tried to kill Eärendil. Yet Tuor found him and fought with Maeglin before throwing him from the walls, fulfilling the curse of Eöl. Tuor took Idril and Eärendil, as well as any other person they could find, through the secret passage out from their dwelling to the north of the city. There they made their escape through the plain of Tumladen, which was covered with mists and smoke from the burning city. However, while crossing the northern mountains, the exiles of Gondolin were ambushed by a small party including a Balrog, who Glorfindel fought to the death and threw over a cliff before dying himself.
The exiles made their way through the Vales of Sirion to Nan-tathren, where they rested. But the sorrow they felt could not be healed, and they mourned the loss of Gondolin. Tuor told his son of the sea and awoke the same longing for it within Eärendil that he himself had. Eventually, they also left Nan-tathren and came to the Mouths of Sirion, where Elwing and survivors of Doriath hid from Morgoth. They created a small settlement on the isle of Balar. Upon hearing of Turgon's death, Gil-galad became High King of the Noldor.
Morgoth's victory over the Noldor was complete. All of their kingdoms were overthrown. The sons of Fëanor were scattered and posed no threat to him. He paid no heed to the survivors in Balar, nor to the Lords of the West.
Ulmo himself now came before the other Valar and made the case for an intercession on the behalf of the Elves and Men, but Manwë was unmoved, and the other Valar paid him no heed. It was said later that Manwë would do nothing until one who pled for both Elves and Men came to Valinor to crave their pardon.
As for Tuor and Idril, Tuor built a ship, Eärrámë, in his old age and took Idril with him. Together they sailed west and came into no more stories. Yet it is said that Tuor did indeed sail to Valinor, and alone of Men is counted as one of the Eldar.
History of composition
- A more thorough version of the composition of this story is available here.
The Fall of Gondolin was one of the first fully fleshed out tales written by J.R.R. Tolkien. The original version of the tale was written between 1916 and 1917. This version of the story would be included in The Book of Lost Tales Part One as well as the The Fall of Gondolin volume released in 2018. It is the most complete version of the story, though this version is incompatible with the later changes made to the Legendarium over the years, as is much of the Book of Lost Tales.
Tolkien would undergo various efforts to rewrite the story in later years, such as a poem known as The Lay of the Fall of Gondolin, which has never been fully released to the public. His most famous effort to rewrite the story was released in Unfinished Tales as Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin, however the story breaks off upon Tuor's arrival to Gondolin and goes no further.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "III. The Fall of Gondolin": "Notes and Commentary",p. 146
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lays of Beleriand, "II. Poems Early Abandoned: The Lay of the Fall of Gondolin", p. 145
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin"