The Accidental King: Five Reasons Why Finarfin Deserves an Appreciation Month

Author: Dawn Felagund

Nominator: Imhiriel

2007 Award Category: Genres: Non-Fiction - First Place

Story Type: Non-Fiction  ✧  Length: N/A

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: n/a

Summary: In January 2006, the Silmarillion Writers' Guild sponsored a Finarfin Appreciation Month. Many people responded, wondering what Finarfin had actually done to deserve such special attention. This essay looks at canon facts and interpretations about why Finarfin doesn't deserve the reputation of a boring coward that so many are quick to give him.

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Reviewed by: dkpalaska  ✧  Score: 10

Dawn Felagund has written a highly-organized, intelligently-explored essay that is also extremely entertaining. I love the description of Finarfin as ["the accidental king"], as it highlights one of his greatest accomplishments touched on further in the text. Dawn is an excellent writer, and she puts her talent to good use here. The tone is conversational and personal, with appropriate quotes smoothly worked into the narrative itself. The scholarly effort is obvious, but the result is enjoyable and easy to read. I also liked the non-Tolkien quotes used at the beginning of each section - they set up the following points very well. Each argument is made clearly and reasonably, and the author notes personal interpretations and extrapolations, although none are out of line. The conclusions drawn from the sources make perfect sense to me, and in truth I remembered most of the Silm quotes from my many readings of the book - but I had never quite put them together so succinctly. I am especially thinking of the specific time at which Finarfin left Feanor's host to return to Valinor, and the conditions under which he took up the kingship. I had neither negative or positive opinions about Finarfin before reading this, but am now convinced: He deserves *at least* his own month, and a great deal of respect.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 10

This essay, while being well-structured, well-reasonened and lucid, is nevertheless written in a vivid, engaging, and entertaining style. Keeping a tight focus on the text and analysing very thoroughly pertinent lines - and their placement - in canon, the essay is able to expose misconceptions or oversimplifications of certain readings of Finarfin. It reveals where aspects of fanon might have originated by erroneously conflating different passages. I think here in particular about Finarfin's actual reasons for turning back from exile, which was not fear of the wrath of the Valar, but ["grief"] and ["bitterness"] at what had already been done at Alqualondë. I also appreciate that you pointed out the harsh and bitter realities - and uncertainties - Finarfin found at his return to Valinor. It could not have been easy to come home to so much grief and destruction and try to lead a remnant of a folk that would be held responsible for a good part of it, especially as Finarfin would never have expected to have to adopt this role, and as he is so much personally affected. The look at Finarfin's children and their deeds to further illuminate his own character is also a reasonable and convincing step, especially in a Tolkien-context. It shows, I think, that his importance, or his influence, reached further than his canon appearance would suggest.

Reviewed by: Rhapsody  ✧  Score: 10

Well okay, I think in a way Finarfin never has had that appeal to fanfic writers as his elusive kin has and Dawn clearly illustrates the why in this essay by tackling the most often used reasons why people don’t write him. Personally, truth to be told with all those Fin's out there, the thought will pop up like: who was he again? For a while, I was glad to know all family members of Finwe's first house (although I can keep all the fin’s apart now). Now many months later after I read this essay (or lj post of nearly two years ago), I do have a different view on him (perhaps also because after this essay a lot of Finarfin stories authored by different writers popped up). With great quotes and canonical facts (as few as there are about this character) Dawn tells the reader very convincingly that when it comes down to this character, a lot is still to be discovered about him, let alone to explore in writing. I think besides these five, more can be said in favour of Finarfin, especially regarding his leadership, who played his own role within Tolkien's mythology. Dawn's essay is very well constructed and can of course stir up a debate (the lj post back then only had very enthusiastic replies), nonetheless she somehow dusts of this often forgotten character and places him in a well-deserved spotlight. An absolute extra bonus still is that we now do have more Finarfin stories to enjoy! I would say: mission accomplished Dawn!

Reviewed by: stefaniab  ✧  Score: 10

Dawn Felagund is a veritable font of knowledge about the First Age. Her Silmarillion summaries for the Henneth Annun (HA) yahoo group are such an excellent source for anyone who wants to make sense of the Sil, let alone write fanfic that merely alludes to the events in those mythic years. This particular essay is more of an opinion piece than her summaries. Here Dawn presents her opinion of Finarfin, the least reknown and least appreciated son of Finwe, original leader of the Noldor. While son Feanor is most reknown for creating the Silmarils and son Fingolfin for his heroic deeds in the ancient battles in Beleriand, Finarfin is known for what? For being one of the more vague, confusing F characters that pervade the Silmarillion? After you read Dawn's essay, you will appreciate how difficult Finarfin's role was as leader of the diminished Noldor in Tirion. Dawn exhorts that Finarfin wasn't weak or vacilating for not following his older brothers to Middle Earth. Unlike them, Finarfin was a healer and a peace maker. Moreover, for nothing else Finarfin is important for siring his two illustrious children, Fingon and Galadriel, who play important roles in the key conflicts of the First and Third Age. Now, as I plunge into "The Children of Hurin," I particularly appreciate Dawn's efforts to illuminate the Silmarillion and other First Age tales for those of us who once were confused by them. All I can say is, thank you and more please.

Reviewed by: Oshun  ✧  Score: 10

Dawn's exploration of the role of Finarfin in the context of the Silmarillion and in comparison to other members of his illustrious family is an interesting read. As she notes it is far too easy to dismiss Finarfin as a dull and/or underchieving member of a family filled with rash and intense overachievers. The other side of the coin, the even less appealing one for me, is Finarfin as a mild-mannered saint among a crowd of much more attractive sinners. I am glad that she tries to put to rest to the concept that the only motivation Finarfin could possibly have for returning to Aman is either fear or subservient respect for the Valar. I presume, as she does, that if either of those were the case he would not have traveled as far as he did. I still find it hard to accept Finarfin as the wisest of Finwë's sons. The most pragmatic or sycophantic? I would not go so far as to say that either. Perhaps he is neither, but rather, unlike most of his close kinsman, does not have an ego the size of Arda and is able to step back and make decisions regarding where he could most readily serve his people. Who would have taken charge of the Noldor in his absence? Or was anyone really needed to fill this role? Dawn asserts that someone was needed and that Finarfin knew that and took upon himself that responsibility. Whether or not one agrees with her position, she raises an interesting discussion in this article and provides her own logical and thoughtful considerations. I would definitely agree with Dawn on one question. Finarfin is interesting. Also, he produced children who were driven, brilliant and bold. A dull non-entity is unlikely to do that.

Reviewed by: Robinka  ✧  Score: 6

When it comes to failing to take account of Finarfin, I'm guilty as charged, if anyone asks me. I can admit I'm a devoted Sindar fan, and though I have respect for the Noldor, none of them could get to me (with the exception of Glorfindel, to be honest. But I digress). It is so easy to overlook characters such as Finarfin. Great deeds or horrible crimes are more, let us say, spectacular than having to take care of one's people and their well-being. And, let's face it, Finarfin pales in comparison to his brothers, Feanor and Fingolfin, in the 'command-and-conquer' regard. But... Thanks to Dawn and her effort to show that Finarfin really deserves the reader's attention, thoughts and, finally, appreciation, I will look at him differently from now on. Thanks Dawn! Great job!

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 5

This essay is really well put-together; it does for Finarfin's character what Marnie's fiction and essays did for me for Marnie (that is to say: made him a WHOLE lot more accessible, and pretty sexy to boot :-P). Kidding aside, I had always thought of him as something of a non-starter, canonically: great fodder for fanfic, but not a lot to go on. Yet in what is unsaid and in the nuances of what is said, Dawn shows us a side of Finwe's youngest son hat I never imagined. And he's a really interesting and intriguing character, with all of the alure of Faramir's nobility or Frodo's insistence that he will not use a sword that has so captured the imagination of us Ring War fanatics. I'm glad this essay gave him a bit of limelight.

Reviewed by: Fiondil  ✧  Score: 5

Finarfin (or Arafinwe as I think of him) has always been a sympathetic character for me and much underrated since the focus of “The Silmarillion” is on the deeds of his brothers, nephews and children. It had to have been a nearly impossible task to take up the kingship of the Noldor-in-Aman when one has presumably no leadership skills and little resources, given the circumstances. The fact that Finarfin succeeds is a testament to his true worth as Finwe’s heir. Returning to Tirion was an act of courage unparalleled by anything any of the exilic Noldor accomplished. Dawn’s insightful and clearly stated reasons for why January should be considered “Finarfin Appreciation Month” certainly has my vote.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 4

A worthy exploration of Finarfin's decision to leave the Noldor, following the Kinslaying, and return to Valinor. The essay reveals Finarfin as an Elf of Conscience, who made a difficult decision with no guarantee of forgiveness for following his rebellious kindred. I also appreciated the section detailing the impact of Finarfin's children's actions on the future of Middle-earth. Excellent use of real-world quotations.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 3

A very interesting look at the father of Finrod and Galadriel. The author's arguments certainly make a good case that Finarfin was a very good leader of his people, and deserving of appreciation.