Glorfindel. Elf of elves, forgotten by Peter Jackson, but always in our hearts. Was he a great elf or the GREATEST elf? Hear me out.

It should probably go without saying, but I’ma have spoilers below. If spoilers for 60-something- and 40-something-year-old books and 20-something-year-old movies are an issue for you, you have been warned.

Glorfindel was born during the Years of the Trees in Tirion upon Túna, the seat of Finwë, in Aman.

Glorfindel, by Magali Villenueve

After Melkor murdered Finwë, stole the Silmarils, and then destroyed the Two Trees, Finwë’s sons Fëanor (dick) and Fingolfin lead the Exile of the Ñoldor, when a number of elves left Aman for Middle-earth to get revenge on Melkor – against the Valar’s will. Glorfy followed the House of Fingolfin in the Ñoldor’s flight.

Fëanor (who was a DICK, y’all – I need to write a post about him) wanted ships and didn’t have any, but knew some elves who did. He tried to persuade the Teleri of Aqualondë to let him have their ships. When they refused, because they wouldn’t go against the Valar, Fëanor decided to steal the ships anyway, which started a battle and precipitated the first elf-on-elf kinslaying. While Fëanor’s gang were fighting the Teleri, Fingolfin came in and, thinking the Teleri started it, joined in the kinslaying; however, Glorfindel did not take part in this because he’s our good, good boy. (P.S. Mandos was PISSED and cursed all involved in the kinslaying to never return to Valinor.)

After Fëanor peaced out with the boats and then BURNED THEM AND KNEW EVERYONE WOULD SEE HIM DOING IT (I told you, he’s a dick), Fingolfin and his company, including Glorfindel, had to take the long way around to get to Middle-earth. They traveled over the Helcaraxë, a dangerous, cold, icy route at the very northmost part of Arda connecting Aman with Middle-earth. Once in Middle-earth, Glorfy eventually ended up in Turgon’s company (Turgon was the second son of Fingolfin). Turgon founded Gondolin, the hidden city, and appointed Glorfy as one of his king’s captains and Lord of the House of the Golden Flower.

Gondolin remained hidden from Melkor for hundreds of years, but Fingolfin’s grandson Maeglin wanted to get in his first cousin’s knickers so badly that he betrayed the Gondolindrim by telling Melkor the location of the hidden city in exchange for the rule of Gondolin and his cousin’s hand.

Melkor’s forces attacked Gondolin in FA 510 and orcs ransacked the city. Glorfindel was right in the thick of it, trying to defend the city but with his company ambushed, they were forced to retreat. Eventually a Balrog came upon a group of Gondolindrim as they tried to flee the city, and Good Ol’ Glorfy jumped in to defend them. He defeated the Balrog, but as it fell from the bridge they were fighting on, it grabbed Glorfindel’s beautiful golden hair and pulled Glorfy with him into the abyss below. The King of the Eagles, Thorondor, returned Glorfy’s body to his people, and they buried him high in the Echoriath, the mountains which encircled the Valley of Tumladen where Gondolin had been built. 

Like all elves, Glorfy’s spirit returned to the Halls of Mandos. But because he was such a good, good boy, Glorfy was given a spiffy new body and near-Maia-level superpowers. He lived in Valinor for some time, but then in SA 1600, Manwë sent shiny new Glorfy to Middle-earth to be an emissary for the Valar. 

By the middle of the Third Age, Glorfy was living it up in Rivendell. He was key in turning the Battle of Fornost against the Witch King, and it was there that he made his prediction that the Witch King would not be slain by a mortal man (and hey, it turned out to be true). 

Here’s where I get a little salty. In the movie The Fellowship of the Ring, Elrond’s daughter Arwen searches for the company carrying the Ring (more on that here). But in the book The Lord of the Rings, it was actually everyone’s favorite elf who was sent to go looking for Fro-dawg and Co. Being that he lived in the light of the Trees and was the Valar’s best good boy, Glorfindel existed in both the Seen and the Unseen and had mad power. This is why Elrond chose him to find Frodo – Glorfy ain’t afraid of no ghosts ringwraiths and actually, the ringwraiths were pretty damn scared of him.

Glorfindel attacked the ringwraiths at the last bridge (at the west border of the Trollshaws) and after finding the company, popped Frodo onto his horse Asfaloth and asked Mr. Horsey to bear Frodo to Rivendell (and Elrond’s healing magic). When Frodo saw Glorfindel after being stabbed with the Morgul blade, he saw a bright white light shining from Glorfindel: his presence in the Unseen.

Glorfy sat next to Elrond and Gandalf at the Council of Elrond. He suggested sending the One Ring to Tom Bombadil (which Gandalf declined because our hey dol! merry dol! friend would likely lose track of it as a child loses a toy) or throwing it into the sea (which Gandalf also poo-pooed because it would probably resurface on the land after some time). They briefly considered having Glorfy be part of the fellowship, but they decided that it was probably not the best idea to send Valar’s Best Powerful Boy on a covert mission. After the Ring was destroyed, Glorfy got to attend Arwen and Aragorn’s wedding. And after that we don’t know where Glorfy ended up, but it’s likely that he sailed back to Valinor with his kin.

So Glorfindel: Great Elf or GREATEST Elf? I think you know my answer. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.


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