Finduilas, Daughter of Orodreth

by Arien-(Valar)
January 20, 2007

Elves > Finduilas 

According to two books which mention the lovely Elven maiden (that is The Silmarillion and The Book of Lost Tales 2) she was the daughter of an Elven king. Interestingly the Unfinished Tales do not mention her or her relationship to Túrin apart from a few sentences at the end mentioning his search for her.  

In BoLT the caves themselves are not named and the people’s name is given as Rodothlim while both Silmarillion and UT refer to Nargothrond as the caves and the Elven tribe as Noldor. The Silmarillion mentions the golden colour of her hair which she inherited from her father’s mother, Indis of the Vanyar. Her father was Orodreth, Finarfin’s son.Unfortunately none of the book versions mention the name of Finduilas’ mother, but it is not unlikely that her mother was of high ranked Noldorin decent. I first will tell about Finduilas as is told in the Silmarillion, as the version in the Lost Tales differs somewhat in names and content.

Silmarillion version:

Finduilas was deeply in love with Gwindor, son of Guillin, before the Nirnaeth Arnoediad where he was taken prisoner and long held in Angband as slave. He had given her the pet name Faelivrin , which means “gleam of the sun on the waters of the pool of Ivrin”. When he eventually escaped and returned with Túrin to Nargothrond, she spoke for her old lover when he was received with mistrust and contempt by the other inhabitants of Nargothrond. At the same time she became aware of Túrin who was received with honor by Orodreth her father for Hador’s sake, and the shadow that lay on his heart. In time she fell in love with him against her will, which roused the displeasure and jealousy of Gwindor, but she knew from the beginning that her love was hopeless and would never be returned (p. 239). Gwindor tried to talk her out of this unhappy affair, as he perceived the sorrow and paleness of Finduilas, but she only said she cannot help where her heart is given. He also revealed Túrin’s true identity to her, which changed absolutely nothing about her feelings for him, but she rather felt that some great doom was connected with him. After this Finduilas informed Túrin about these revelations, and he then had a long conversation with Gwindor. Interestingly Gwindor stated, “She alone stands between thee and thy doom; if thou fail her, it shall not fail thee” – words, which we know, were only too true.

It must not have been too long after this conversation that the attack of the orcs and Glaurung on Nargothrond took place, during which Orodreth and Gwindor were both killed (the dieing Gwindor pledged Túrin to look after Finduilas and search for her) and she herself was taken prisoner, destined to servitude and thralldom in Angband.  

Nothing of the miserable march is mentioned until the band reaches the Fords of the Teiglin, where a few bold men of Brethil under the leadership of one Dorlas try to free them but are hopelessly outnumbered. Moreover, on the assault all the prisoners are killed and Finduilas pinned to a tree by an orc spear. Her last words are “Let Túrin know that Finduilas is here”, as a consequence of which they buried her there in “Haudh en Elleth, the Mount of the Elven maid", under which name her tomb is known. Her own story ends here, but it might be of interest that Túrin later defends her tomb and makes it a place that orcs learn to fear and avoid. Here follows the story of Failivrin according to The Book of Lost Tales 2

Book of Lost Tales 2 version:

The first difference we see here is the name which is spelled quite differently from Gwindor’s pet name. A matter of small interest might be the explanation of her name which gives according to the "Appendix, Explanation of Names": a name given by Gnomes to many maidens of great beauty. It gives as word elements failin – pale, pallid and brin, Quenya virin which means a magic glassy substance of great lucency used in fashioning the moon. But now let us go back to Failivrin herself in The Book of Lost Tales 2.  

Here her father’s name is given as Galweg, who is called a bit further on the Lord of the Rodothrim. Her father often had Túrin as guest in his house for meals and entertainment, as he was courageous and held in high esteem amongst that people. Maybe, I suspect, he wanted Túrin as husband for his daughter, but that is mere speculation. Be that as it may, Failivrin’s heart was drawn to Túrin when she perceived the shadow on his heart and tried to soothe it and cheer him up, but she was unsuccessful in this. In the BoLT this is the cause for her paleness and it mentions that her bright shining eyes stood out in her face (p. 83).

She learned to admire the braveness of Túrin and ever tended to him when he was in the halls of her father, resting from his fight against Morgoth and his Orks. She even defended him in his absence when other Elves complained about the attention Túrin might arouse with his deeds, fearing revelation of their hitherto hidden abode.  

These fears became finally true and Glorund the Dragon attacked the caves with numerous Orks and killed the whole population of Elves, save Túrin and Galweg who long defended the halls by themselves before they were finally overwhelmed and Galweg killed. Túrin broke the news to Failivrin who fainted upon hearing the news, showing how deeply she loved her father. She herself was taken captive while Túrin was held under the Dragon’s spell and lead away to Angbandi. There is no further mention of the form of her death or that she died at all but the option that she either was killed on the way or later in captivity seems very likely and remains open to the fantasy of the reader.

What do we learn about Finduilas here in this story? In my opinion both versions show her as woman of great beauty with a heart that is moved by pity and love. She also has the courage to take a position for other people against the majority (in the Sil she defends Gwindor against his kinsfolk and in the BoLT Túrin against the Rodothlim) and gives her love freely to where her heart is given – both Túrin and her father, and Gwindor before the Nirnaeth.  

I personally see Finduilas as a tragic figure, a chance for Túrin to fight his doom (which he misses), but this does not make her less loveable. She is a worthy princess of the Noldor and true daughter of Orodreth, King of Nargothrond.

    The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two, as part of the History of Middle-earth, published by Harper Collins Publishers in 2002
    The Silmarillion.  Edition by the Book Club Associates London, published in 1978 by Arrangement with George Allen  &  Unwin Publishers Limited
    Unfinished Tales.
see also Finduilas of Mankind