Right, this is going to be a long, rambling text about The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion.
The Lord of the Rings was a actually a long text about two hobbits going rambling, but that is not the point here.
If you don’t want to read my badly thought through notions about some overly long books (and a quite short book that was made into three over long films), then look away now.
So, the main conceit of this (apart from me imagining that anyone would want to read this drivel) is that The Arkensone of Thrain was actually the Silmaril of Maedhros.
The Arkenstone of Thrain was the Crown Jewel of Erebor, and one of the many reasons (perhaps the main one) that Thorin Oakenshield wanted to take back the Lonely Mountain in the popular work of “fiction”, The Hobbit.
It was a fabulous jewel, best described in this passage from The Hobbit:
“It was the Arkenstone, the Heart of the Mountain. So Bilbo guessed from Thorin’s description; but indeed there could not be two such gems, even in so marvellous a hoard, even in all the world. Ever as he climbed, the same white gleam had shone before him and drawn his feet towards it. Slowly it grew to a little globe of pallid light. Now as he came near, it was tinged with a flickering sparkle of many colours at the surface, reflected and splintered from the wavering light of his torch. At last he looked down upon it, and he caught his breath. The great jewel shone before his feet of its own inner light, and yet, cut and fashioned by the dwarves, who had dug it from the heart of the mountain long ago, it took all light that fell upon it and changed it into ten thousand sparks of white radiance shot with glints of the rainbow.”
Thorin got a bit greedy about this rock, declared war on his allies, and eventually got killed for it.
The Silmaril of Maedhros was one of the three fabulous gems wrought by Feanor in The Silmarillion. The desire for these three gems basically kicked off a civil war, kin-slaying (three times), attempted genocide, and mass destruction on a continental scale. As MacGuffins go, they are right up there with The Old Testament Apple and The Pulp Fiction Briefcase. Yes I did just compare the base text for Abrahamic religions to a shite yarn about a bunch of crooks. Get over it.
Anyway, blasphemy aside, what did the silmarils look like?
As three great jewels they were in form. […] Like the crystal of diamonds it appeared, and yet was more strong than adamant, so that no violence could it or break it. Yet that crystal was to the silmarils but as the body to the Children of Iluvatar: the house of its inner fire. And the inner fire of the silmarils Feanor made of the blended light of the Trees of Valinor.
So, you got that? Shinning with an inner light fits both.
Now, the three silmarils had three different fates. One ended up in the sky, taken by Earendil on his quest to the west, and later glued to his head as he piloted the sky-ship Vigilot throught the heavens. Not “Heaven” heavens, full of clouds, magic angel babies (if you bother reading The Bible, then you’ll know that the Cherubhim are described as four-winged, four-faced, knee-less, bull-footed, metal-legged, cyborg death machines) and the almighty sky-beard, but the night sky definition of the heavens. Basically, Earendil’s spiffy head-torch is Venus.
As for the other two, they were seized as spoils of war by the forces of the “good side” of the war. I say “good side”, but really there wasn’t one, as both sides did some pretty shady shit. Maybe a better description would be the “god-like UN Peacekeep deux ex machina force”. Anyway, they promptly got stolen by the two remaining sons of Feanor: Maglor and Maedhros. Never trust and elf under the influence of a oath.
Maglor eventually chucked his in the sea as it burned him so much. (Side note: The fate of Maglor is never revealed, save that he forever wandered the coast searching for his lost jewel. If you choose to interpret The Silmarillon as a creation myth for our world – some do – then he his still out there. Maybe that sad man staring out to sea at the end of the pier – there always is one -is Maglor?)
Maedhros, similarly pained by what he had done in pursuit of the gem chucked himself into a fiery chasm along with the gem.
So, one ends up in the sky, one in the sea, and one buried in the land. There I’ve saved you the pain of reading The Silmarillion.
And now we get to the point about the Silmaril of Maedhros being the Arkenstone of Thrain.
My theory (shared by some people on t’internet, but not all) is that the silmaril was carried under the crust and ejected many, many years later into the obviously volcanic Lonely Mountain, or Erebor.
Obviously? Well yes, look at the evidence: single mountain in the middle of nowhere, rich in precious gems, pointy. Yup, an extinct volcano. But Tolkien was a linguist, not a geologist, and he drew his maps the way he wanted.
Nay sayers will come up with lots of reasons why it can’t be a silmaril, but like all good conspiracy theorists, I’m ignoring evidence that doesn’t fit my beliefs.
We’ve taken a while to get here (just like Frodo getting to Mordor when we all know that he could have flown there and back with Gwaihir the massive fucking eagle, and finally we get to the point of all this (cue the big text):
What if The Arkenstone was a Silmaril?
Well, this would put an entirely different slant on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
After the reshaping of Middle Earth into a ball world, the Valar basically stepped back and got more subtle, just chucking in a few secret agents to nudge the elves, men, dwarves and ‘obbitses in the right direction.
Eru Iluvator (the over-arching Creator), couldn’t keep his fingers out though. Cleverer people than me theorise that Bilbo finding The Ring was not The Will Of The Ring, but Iluvator giving Bilbo a nudge. Without this nudge, not only would the Erebor Quest fail, but the entire War Of The Ring and defeat of Sauron couldn’t happen.
They also say that Iluvator force-tripped Gollum, and had previously caused the whole Isildur getting shot thing too. What can I say? Tolkienists are a strange bunch.
Now we’ve got Bilbo and the dwarves getting to Erebor, which couldn’t happen without The Ring. And Bilbo eventually robs The Arkenstone, bringing it to the attention of Gandalf. Gandalf the Grey, AKA Olorin the Maiar, closeted angelic being, and possibly one of three beings on Middle Earth to have seen a silmaril.
Others may possibly have seen one. Galadriel possibly, Cirdan not so much. Elrond doubtful, even though his dad had one welded to his forehead. Sauron may have seen one, it is never stated, but he would at least know of them, as would all of the above.
Maybe Sauron send Smaug to grab the silmaril and then just got too busy to follow up on it and take it for himself?
As it plays out, The Arkenstone is buried with Thorin, as is back in it’s rightful place – in the ground.
Did Iluvator nudge Bilbo into finding The Ring, just so that the Silmaril of Maedhros could be rediscovered and returned to Valinor? Was the whole War of the Ring just a side-effect and collateral damage? Is Iluvator that shallow? Probably not that last one.
But here are things we do know:
In The History of Middle Earth Volume 4:
This third part is also called Silmarillion, that is the history of the Eorclanstanas [Silmarils]
There are several different forms of this Old English word: eorclan-, eorcnan-, earcnan-, and eorcan- from which is derived the ‘Arkenstone’ of the Lonely Mountain.
Going with the assuption that The Arkenstone of Thrain is actually The Silmaril of Maedhros, we have three scenarios that we need to explore.
At the end of The Return of the King, Frodo, Bilbo, Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel left Middle-earth on a ship, along with other elves.
Gandalf had quietly investigated how much each of the passengers known about the Lonely Mountain, and this is missing from the book:
Gandalf led Bilbo and Frodo into his cabin and bolted the door. Taking off his hat, he sat down and sighed.
“Things are going to be different for you lads,” he said as he lit his pipe, ” but there is something you must remember. You’ll hear your fill of song, for the elves of Tol Eressea love to sing, but if you write your own songs you must never mention Erebor or The Arkenstone!”
“But without the Lonely Mountain Quest and my discovery of The Ring, nothing I sing will make sense” replied Bilbo.
“Nevertheless, mention not the Arkenstone, for no good will come of it!” Gandalf said, putting his hat back on.
“But it is quite central to the story”, objected Bilbo.
Gandalf stood and grabbed Bilbo by the throat, pinning him against the bulkhead. His visage grew as dark as his rainment was white.
“Look, you little shit, you have no idea how much trouble this will cause. Look out of the windows. Do you see that we are not sailing on an ocean anymore? If I chuck you off this boat then you are fucked. So do me a favour and just agree that there will be no songs about glowing jewels!
“I…I promise,” shuddered Bilbo, and Gandalf dropped him to the floor.
Gandalf glanced at Frodo and was pleased to see him making a motion sewing his lips together.
Bilbo keeps quiet about the whole thing.
Gandalf steps off the ship, immediately sheds his robes and becomes Olorin again. He transports to Manwe and reports that he’s located a silmaril. Manwe assembles an Away Team consisting of Himself, Orome, Tulkas, Thorondor for air support, and Aule to help pacify the dwarves.
The resulting military operation accidentally levels Erebor and reduces the northern half of Mirkwood/Greenwood the Great to a crater which becomes an inland sea. The Iron Hills become a fishing resort, and the northern reaches of the Misty Mountains get a coastline. Maglor moves there hoping his silmaril might turn up there too.
Bilbo gets pissed and sings about the Arkenstone. All the Elves of Tol-Erresea suddenly get Silmaril-fever and want to go back to Middle Earth to grab it. But there can be no going back to Middle Earth,.
There is a second uprising against the Valar, lead by Feanor’s distant cousin, thrice removed.. Much strife occurs, and Iluvatar intervenes and opens the way…
A troopship full of ineffectual, inexperienced, untrained and quite frankly shite elves arrive at the Grey Havens. Cirdan is long gone and not there to disuade them from their stupid quest to Erebor.
They storm across The Shire like a bunch of cocky Manchester United fans, only to be cut down by a small army of sensible, woolly-footed locals who “won’t put up with their shit”.
And that is the sequel that I want to see!