I really hope the Amazon show picks a side in the Gil-Gadad debate. Just for the drama. I think it will be funny to watch.
It will set a thousand invented fans screaming and re-launch the Infamous Debates.
#gil galad#rings of power#lotr#silmarillion#wait someone break it down for those of us who haven’t read silm
Keeping in mind that I am a semi-casual Tolkien fan and will almost certainly get a few things wrong, here is my summary of The Gil-Galad Debate.
…please forgive me for the long post, this is my soapbox and I really feel like exposition at the moment.
Gil-Galad is referenced in JRR Tolkien’s *The Lord of the Rings* series as “the last of the great Elf-kings of Middle Earth”, who was in charge of the elvish forces during the Last Alliances of Elves and Men and was killed by Sauron. This is accurate, but not the entirety of his background as described in The Silmarillion.
Gil-Galad was the last High King of the Noldor in Exile in Middle Earth, the Noldor being essentially a subethnicity of elves, many of whom left Valinor (aka the Blessed Realm) and headed to Middle Earth for various reasons it would take a much longer post to explore in full. (It is interesting to note that this group does not include the Wood-Elves, who were never in Valinor to begin with – their own High King was historically someone else entirely. No, it wasn’t Thranduil, and yes, said someone else was long dead by the events of LOTR.)
Historically, the first High King of All The Noldor Everywhere was an elf called Finwe. The Kingship, descending as it apparently did via agnatic primogeniture (meaning, according to wiki, ‘determined by tracing shared descent from the nearest common ancestor through male ancestors’) means that all of the High Kings of the Noldor, in Exile or not, presumably back their claim to the throne via relationship to Finwe.
Meaning that Gil-Galad has to be related to Finwe in some way for his claim to hold. Got that? Good, because here’s where it gets complicated.
Here’s where we break the fourth wall and consider the Tolkiens – both JRR himself, and his son, Christopher Tolkien, who spent a good portion if not all of his life working with his father’s unpublished materials.
The issue regarding Gil-Galad is that canonically we do not know who his parents are. JRR Tolkien apparently listed Gil-Galad’s father as at least four separate elves in various drafts/unpublished materials, and never came to a definite conclusion about exactly how GG was related to Finwe. We think his final decision might have been that his father was an Elf named Orodreth (who himself had at least two separate fathers listed!) but we’re not sure. When Christopher Tolkien cleaned up and published his father’s drafts in The Silmarillion, he apparently chose a different elf (an elf named Fingon) to be Gil-Galad’s ‘definite’ father, adding some background material to make it work. HOWEVER.
Christopher Tolkien himself said that “ this decision to make Gil-galad a son of Fingon was an editorial mistake on his part, and did not represent his father’s conception of the character. He suggested that it would have been better to have left Gil-galad’s parentage obscure.”
Christopher Tolkien said that.
This means, of course, that the fandom has been arguing over just who Gil-Galad’s father was – and who the elf-king himself was – pretty much ever since the Silmarillion came out. The fandom has taken every single interpretation you can imagine and run with it – all four of the elves Tolkien considered making his father, plus a number of other options. Was his father Sauron? There’s fic for that. Was his father a background character who shows up in precisely one page of the Silmarillion only to be subsequently killed off? There’s fic for that, and entire online essays defending said options. Was he a time-traveling elf from the future? At least one good fic.
Much more amusing, in my opinion, are the stories where, in-universe, no-one knows exactly how Gil-Galad is related to the line of Finwe.
So. That’s my summary of ‘The Gil-Galad Debate’.
In my humble opinion, whatever option Amazon picks, it’s going to be debated and subsequently disputed by a large number of, if not the entire, fandom.
Potential fathers for Gil-Galad from Tolkien’s drafts include:
1. As Hamelin-born mentioned, Orodreth. Orodreth has the advantage of definitely having had a living wife on the same continent as him at the same time as Gil-Galad first appeared on the scene. This would make him a really appealing candidate except (a) Tolkien fans really enjoy this mystery, (b) while this would put Gil-Galad in line for the throne, it would arguably mean he was not next in line at the time he became king, and © Orodreth is … probably not the most popular descendant of Finwe. Which is a little unfair to him, considering what some of the others got up to, but there it is.
2. As Hamelin-born also mentioned, Fingon! The pro side to this is that if Gil-Galad is Fingon’s son, he is next in line for the throne when becomes king. The downsides with this from the fandom’s general views are (a) Christopher Tolkien’s comments, and (b) Fingon being married would interfere with one of the more popular Silm ships.
3. Finrod! Two big problems here: Not only does this renew the inheritance issues, it also introduces a new problem. Namely, Finrod is very much engaged to a woman that is very much not on the same continent as him at the time Gil-Galad is born.
4. Son of Feanor, unspecified. There are absolutely no problems with this theory. None whatsoever.
I mean, it creates an entirely new and different wrinkle in the inheritance debate thanks to Maedhros’s abdication, raises several questions about exactly what string of events led to Gil-Galad being king, and was from an earlier almost certainly rejected draft of Tolkien’s writings, but I don’t care because it’s so much fun to play with.
Other theories worth mentioning!
– @cycas’s theory of Lalwen/Cirdan. This has the advantage of actually identifying Gil-Galad’s mother, a feature most theories decidedly lack.
– Dior/Nimloth – the theory here being that Gil-Galad is one of their twin boys who were lost in the woods after their city fell and who were never seen again. This theory has the advantage of making something in the Silm marginally less awful and the additional advantage of Thingol presumably rolling in his grave.
– Orodreth/his wife, except Gil-Galad isn’t an additional child they had, Gil-Galad is their canonical daughter Finduilas. Canonically, Finduilas died horribly, but that’s no reason we can’t theorize that she decided to fake her own death and return to rule the Noldor.
– Some random dude who got hypnotized by a dragon into believing he was the rightful king of the Noldor. The Noldor, being short on kings at the time, ran with this.
I feel an obligation to note that this last theory, unlike the others, does not have a sizable faction behind it in the fandom. I just like it.
– And many, many more. There are so many theories about his parentage. So many.
I kind of want to come up with as many crazy ones as possible before the new series comes out just in case it somehow manages to finally bring an end to the debate.
tags via @goldenvoicedminstrel
#gil galad just being a random dude with a fancy name who was too awkward to correct someone’s assumption he must be in line for the throne#and then just rolling with it because it really is too late to back out now#*i don’t know why everone thinks i’m the rightful king of the noldor and at this point I’m too afraid to ask*#gil galad
#thank you Silmarillion side of Tumblr #Middle Earth #meta #I didn’t actually laugh aloud but it still amused me enough to reblog