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Literature / The Fall of Gondolin

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"Now thou shalt go at last to Gondolin, Turgon; and I will set my power in the Vale of Sirion, so that none shall mark thy going, nor shall any find there the hidden entrance to thy land against thy will. Longest of all the realms of the Eldalië shall Gondolin stand against Melkor. But love it not too well, and remember that the true hope of the Noldor lieth in the West and cometh from the Sea."

The Fall of Gondolin is a Dark Fantasy tale by J. R. R. Tolkien, one of the three "Great Tales" of the First Age (the other two being Beren and Lúthien and The Children of Húrin), and one of the main tales of the Tolkien's Legendarium, which Tolkien started writing during sick leave in 1916. Published posthumously by his son Christopher Tolkien, the book includes the first — and complete — version, the different drafts and sketches composed by Tolkien throughout four decades, and the last and most elaborate (albeit incomplete) version.

Morgoth has won the Battle of the Unnumbered Tears and has crushed nearly all his enemies. His rule over the subcontinent of Beleriand is nearly uncontested, but some Elven realms remain free. Chief among them is Gondolin, the hidden city ruled by Turgon, his most hated and feared enemy. Morgoth has spent four centuries searching for Gondolin, but his only hint so far is that the hidden city lies somewhere in the Encircling Mountains.

Morgoth nearly destroyed Gondolin's army during the Unnumbered Tears, but the Mannish Tribe of Hador, led by Hurin and Huor, covered Turgon and his army's retreat. Nonetheless, most of the tribe was slaughtered, and the survivors were enslaved by Morgoth's minions. One of those slaves, Tuor, son of Huor, manages to escape from his master when he is nearly twenty and becomes an outlaw. His wanderings lead him to the Western coast of Beleriand, where Ulmo, the Lord of Waters, appears before him. Ulmo asks Tuor to warn Turgon that he must evacuate Gondolin because Morgoth will find the city before long.

But even if his warning is disregarded and Gondolin falls, Ulmo is putting a subtler scheme in motion to ensure Morgoth's final defeat and the salvation of the Free Peoples.


  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Morgoth's army storms the valley of Tumladen and attack Gondolin. Its gates, walls and towers are smashed down and burned by dragons and fire snakes, letting Orcs and Balrogs invade, pillage and burn the city.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Morgoth finally finds and wipes out the last Elven Kingdom who posed a threat to him. Ameliorated because one of the survivors will finally bring the wrath of the Valar on his head.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: In the original tale it is mentioned that Morgoth used to hunt, chain and torture eagles; and he then cut their wings off to figure out how to build flying gear for himself. Many millennia later, Thorondor, the Lord of Eagles really hates him because of it.
    Then arose Thorondor, King of Eagles, and he loved not Melko; for Melko had caught many of his kindred and chained them against sharp rocks to squeeze from them the magic words whereby he might learn to fly (for he dreamed of contending even against Manwë in the air); and when they would not tell he cut off their wings and sought to fashion therefrom a mighty pair for his use, but it availed not.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The survivors of Gondolin are climbing up the Cirith Thoronath ("the Eagles' Cleft") pass when they are assaulted by a band of orcs led by a Balrog. The situation is looking completely hopeless when a flock of eagles show up and push the orcs into the abyss.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Ecthelion gets both arms broken when he fights Gothmog, Lord of the Balrogs, and loses his life killing him.
  • By the Hair: Maeglin grabs Idril by the hair and tries to drag her to the battlements during the battle, so she sees him throwing her son off the wall; he was not counting on her actually fighting back, though.
  • Cue the Sun: Both the sun's rising and falling are played for drama. The people of Gondolin are celebrating a night festival as waiting for the sunrise, when they see a red glow coming from the the North. The Gondolindrim are wondering about the origin of those lights when they realize that they are caused by the fires of Morgoth's army heading towards their city, and their amazement changes to dread. When the real sun rises in the East, it looks very red and large due to the smoke of the burning city and fields. Some few hours later, the survivors of the battle watch the last remains of their city burning while the sun sets.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Morgoth invents tanks to bring down the walls of a city defended by people armed with swords, axes and bows. No matter how hard the Gondolindrim battle, their fields are burned by metallic flaming snakes, their gates are brought down by mechanical dragons, their towers are smashed down by living drakes, their streets are overrun with orcs and balrogs, and the survivors must flee as their beautiful city is razed to the ground and their kingdom ceases to exist.
  • Destination Defenestration: While looking for his family during the battle, Tuor discovers that Maeglin is trying to take advantage of the chaos to kidnap his wife and murder his son. Mad with rage, Tuor seizes and hurls Maeglin off the battlement, and his body hits the rocks below before falling into the flames burning the hill.
  • Dirty Coward: Salgant, lord of the House of the Harp, fawned upon and worked for the king's nephew Maeglin, even though he knew Maeglin was a traitor who had betrayed the hidden city's location to Morgoth. When Morgoth finally attacks Gondolin, Maeglin tasks Salgant with delaying Tuor as he kidnaps his wife. However, Salgant completely loses his nerve when the siege begins, so he rushes to his home, crawls under his bed's covers and is never seen again. It is believed his house was probably consumed by flames and Salgant burned to his death.
    Now Meglin was afeared that even the secret token which Melko had given him would fail in that direful sack, and was minded to help that Ainu to the fulfilment of his promises of safety. No doubt had he however of the death of Tuor in that great burning, for to Salgant he had confided the task of delaying him in the king's halls and egging him straight thence into the deadliest of the fight – but lo! Salgant fell into a terror unto death, and he rode home and lay there now aquake on his bed; but Tuor fared home with the folk of the Wing.
  • Disney Villain Death:
    • Maeglin gets thrown off the Gondolin's walls by Tuor during the battle.
    • Glorfindel and the Balrog fall off a cliff as fighting each other.
  • The Dragon: Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs and High-Captain of Angband, leads the attack which annihilates the last Elven Kingdom in Beleriand.
  • Dramatic Irony: As Tuor is leading a host of survivors towards the hills, his young son Ëarendil notices Salgant -the Lord of the House of the Harp, who used to tell him tales and play with him- is missing. Everybody assumes Salgant is dead, and they greatly mourn his loss. And they will never know he was one of the traitors who betrayed his city to Morgoth and was probably killed by his own cowardice (since he rushed to his house and crawled into his bed when the battle began).
  • Due to the Dead: Glorfindel dies protecting the refugees of Gondolin from a Balrog, and they raise a stone-cairn to remember him and his sacrifice.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • In the original tale, Balrogs were much more numerous and less powerful than they later became. Whereas in the final versions of The Silmarillion killing a Balrog has only been accomplished thrice and each time it was a mutual kill, early drafts had the heroes killing them by the hundreds.
    • The story calls Tuor/Idril the first instance of human/elven intermarriage. Later, when the Tale of Tinúviel was written down, a great deal was done from Beren and Lúthien being the first Man and Elf to ever tie the knot.
    • The Gondolin refugees suffered from fevers as travelling through the southern marshlands. Several years later, Tolkien would write Elves cannot get sick.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Gondolin is a subversion: a shining city on a hill, but hidden away behind almost impenetrable mountains, so effectively underground as far as concealment and defense are concerned.
  • Endless Winter: The Fell Winter summoned by Morgoth lasted five months, covered North Beleriand in snow and ice and nearly killed Tuor and Vonronwë before they reached Gondolin (which would have doomed Middle-Earth). It is said that people remembered that brutal winter for a long time.
  • Evil Chancellor: Maeglin, one of his uncle King Turgon's trusted advisors, never warns Turgon about the coming invasion even though he knew of it for seven years. Mainly because he's in on the plan.
  • Evil Is Petty: When Tuor and Voronwë reach the source of the Ivrin, they discover that Glaurung has uprooted and burned the trees, broken the marges of the stone basin, and turned the beautiful pool into a swamp of foul stagnant water and frozen, poisonous mud. Since there was no strategic reason whatsoever to defile the fountain, and given Glaurung and his master's modus operandi and mindset, it is a reasonable assumption that the Dragon's motives amount to: "It is beautiful, therefore I hate it".
  • Face–Heel Turn: Maeglin betrays the Free Peoples and serves Morgoth willingly in exchange for being given the woman he lusts after, as well as his own realm to rule over.
  • Forced to Watch: As Gondolin is being destroyed by Morgoth's army, Maeglin tries to drag the woman who turned him down and her son to the battlements because he wants her to see how he throws her child off the wall and into the fire.
    Now then Meglin had Idril by the hair and sought to drag her to the battlements out of cruelty of heart, that she might see the fall of Eärendel to the flames
  • Genocide Backfire: Morgoth's troops slaughter hundreds and burn Gondolin to the ground, but they are unable to prevent a group of survivors from escaping beyond the mountains. One of those survivors is Ëarendil, who several years later will cause Morgoth's downfall.
  • Hate at First Sight: Idril disliked and distrusted her cousin Maeglin, without really knowing why, almost as soon as she met him, though she didn't hate him. He fell in love with her and being unable to woo her, became so embittered he eventually betrayed their whole city and got it sacked.
  • Hero of Another Story: As Tuor and Voronwë are travelling towards Gondolin, they briefly cross paths with "a tall man clothed in black and holding a long black sword then appeared and came towards them, calling out a name as if he were searching for one who was lost. But without any speech he passed them by." Tuor will never know who that person was, as they've never met before and will never meet again, but he is his own first cousin Túrin, fleeing from the ruin of Nargothrond as told in The Children of Húrin.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: At one point, Tuor is captured and enslaved by the Easterlings. When Tuor eventually runs away, his master Lorgan sends his soldiers and his hunting dogs after no avail because Tuor had befriended Lorgan's dogs, so they wouldn't bother him even if they found him.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: When a Balrog intercepts a group of refugees of Gondolin fleeing from Morgoth's army, Glorfindel engages the demon and kills him by throwing him and himself off a cliff.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Gondolin was built by Turgon in a hidden valley encircled by the Echoriad (the Encircling Mountains), remaining a haven for the Elves for nearly four hundred years until it was finally found and burned to the ground.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: When storming the hidden city, Morgoth's dragons, fire snakes and balrogs burn everything in their path until the whole mountain-encircled valley is covered with dark mists made of burning fumes and steam. It is thanks to their shadowy cover that Tuor and several hundred survivors are able to flee towards the mountains without being spotted.
  • Horse of a Different Color: A squad of twenty Orcs riding giant wolves try to hunt down a group of Elves fleeing from the burning city.
    Behold then at the clearing of the airs they saw, but a few furlongs off, a knot of men that fled on foot, and these were pursued by a strange cavalry, for on great wolves rode Orcs, as they thought, brandishing spears.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: As Gondolin is being sacked and burned, Maeglin tries to make off with Idril and bed her, whether she likes it or not. He is encumbered, though, because Idril fights him off fiercely, which Maeglin was not expecting.
  • In Mysterious Ways: Tuor is following the stream which flows through the Rainbow's Cleft when he notices three great gulls flying overhead. Ulmo the Lord of Waters/the Ainur then put into his heart the desire to climb the ravine's left wall to stare at the strange birds more closely, thus saving him from death in the rising tide and ensuring that he finally escapes from Hitlum.
  • Incest-ant Admirer: Maeglin lusted after his first cousin Idril, who noticed and was sickened by his obsession. Still, Maeglin's lust was so great that he willingly helped Morgoth to destroy Gondolin.
  • Inner Monologue Conversation: Tuor is being walked through the tunnel leading to the hidden city when he looks back and realizes that most of guards have disappeared. His second guide Elemmakil guesses Tuor's thoughts and tells that guards are not needed beyond the First Gate.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Tuor and Voronwë (who is at least several centuries older), become close friends after meeting each other in Vinyamar, to the point Tuor trusts him to protect his wife Idril during the battle.
  • Interspecies Friendship: Tuor (Man) and Voronwë (Elf) become good friends and brothers-in-arms during their sojourn to Gondolin.
  • Interspecies Romance: Tuor (Man) and Idril (Elf) end happily married.
  • Invisibility Cloak: So that Tuor can make it safely though Morgoth's territory, Ulmo gives him a piece of his misty mantle. It is large enough to cover Tuor plus another person from head to foot, and makes its bearer look like a drifting shadow or a passing mist. Unfortunately, it does not completely mask their scent and Tuor and Voronwë are almost found by an Orc patrol who cannot see them but can smell the presence of intruders.
  • It's All My Fault: As his city is being sacked and burned to the ground by Morgoth's troops, a saddened Turgon admit that he is to blame: Ulmo warned him repeatedly that his people couldn't remain hidden forever because Morgoth would find the hidden city before long. And yet, he refused to listen and evacuate Gondolin.
  • Just Before the End: Ulmo, the Lord of Waters, sends Tuor personally to warn Turgon that he needs to evacuate Gondolin because his hidden city will be found and destroyed by the Dark Lord before long. Although Turgon and most of his court decide to dismiss Ulmo's warnings, Idril takes the god's warnings seriously; moreover, she has her own visions about the imminent destruction of the city, so she spends seven years preparing for it.
  • Karmic Death: Maeglin attempts to kill his seven-year-old nephew Eärendil by throwing him from the walls of Gondolin, and is killed by Ëarendil's father Tuor that way.
  • Kidnapped by the Call: In the original draft, Ulmo subtly nudges his chosen one onto the path to Gondolin by luring Tuor into a subterranean stream and then cutting off the entrance so he must follow the river until he reaches its mouth; he then uses three swans to guide Tuor towards the mountains. Though when Tuor reaches the banks of the Sirion and considers staying in the region, Ulmo appears before him to tell he is awfully sorry about disturbing his quiet life, but the future of Middle-earth depends on Tuor fulfilling his mission. Tuor does not fully understand Ulmo's explanations, but he nonetheless packs his belongings and leaves towards his destiny.
  • Kissing Cousins: Maeglin is in love with his first cousin Idril Celebrindal, who is squicked by this, for "the Eldar wedded not with kin so near, nor ever before had any desired to do so."
  • Language Drift: When Tuor meets the Gondolindrim for the first time, he notes they also speak Sindarin, but it sounds really strange. He correctly guesses their language has changed during their four-century-long self-isolation.
    And even as the echoes died in the stone, Tuor heard out of the darkness a voice speak in the Elven-tongues: first in the High Speech of the Noldor, which he knew not; and then in the tongue of Beleriand, though in a manner somewhat strange to his ears, as of a people long sundered from their kin.
  • Last Stand: Double subversion when the last defenders of Gondolin gather around the King's Tower. Since Gondolin has fallen, and bursting through the enemy lines and fleeing through the burning fields seems impossible, some men suggest standing there and die fighting. However, Tuor is unwilling to let the city's women and children die -never mind his own wife and son- and reveals the existence of a secret escape tunnel. Turgon approves of his plan, but he announces he will not leave, preferring to burn with his city; and their closest retainers gather around the base of the tower, determined to stay and perish there.
  • Leave No Survivors: A heroic example. Morgoth's troops are burning Gondolin to the ground, but Tuor has managed to lead several hundred people out of the city and towards the hills. He then sees six soldiers have managed to rescue his son and make it out of the city, but are being chased by twenty wolf-riders. Tuor picks up fifty soldiers, surrounds the pack of Orcs and Wolves and orders to kill all of them, lest one of them gets away and informs Morgoth about the refugees.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Deconstructed. Tuor and Voronwë are on route to Gondolin when they come upon an Orc camp standing in the middle of the road. Tuor wants to attack them immediately, but his Elf friend points out that there are more Orcish posts watching the road. If Tuor makes his reckless attack he will bring a host upon them, and Vonronwë refuses to show him the way to the city with an army at their heels.
  • Lost Technology: In earliest version, when Morgoth destroyed Gondolin, his army crossed the peaks with metal troop carriers that had fire in their bellies (i.e. engines).
  • Love Makes You Evil: Maeglin of Gondolin lusts after his cousin, Idril. Since he can't have her, Maeglin ends up willingly betraying Gondolin's position to Morgoth.
  • Love Triangle: Maeglin lusts after his cousin Idril, who despises him and marries Tuor instead.
  • Made a Slave: Tuor is separated from his adoptive family during an Orc ambush, and is captured and brought before Lorgan, chief of the Easterlings ruling Dor-lómin. Lorgan takes Tuor as his slave, intending to break his spirit, but Tuor endures his abuse while waiting for a chance to escape. Three years later, Tuor is sent with other thralls into the woods, and he picks up an axe, kills the guards and flees into the hills.
  • Mama Bear: In the original version, Idril is described as fighting 'like a tigress' to protect her son Eärendil from Maeglin.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The people of Gondolin are holding a night festival to celebrate the coming of the spring when they notice a faint red glow crowning the northern mountains. As the glow intensifies, the partygoers' amazement and marvel devolves into terror when they realize Morgoth has found their hidden city and has sent his army to kill all of them.
  • Master Archer: Duilin of Gondolin is referred to as the "swiftest of all men to run and leap and surest of archers at a mark".
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Tuor (mortal Man) and Idril (immortal Elf) fall in love and get married. It is rumored that after their leaving Middle-Earth, Tuor supposedly was granted immortality.
  • Missed Him by That Much: When Tuor and Voronwë reach the source of the Ivrin, they find the area has been completely defiled and ruined. Alarmed, the Elf deduces Glaurung, the Father of Dragons, has just been here, so they hightail it out of there.
  • The Mole: Having agreed to betray Gondolin to Morgoth, Maeglin went back to the city and pretended everything was just fine, waiting for the invasion to start. He never once warned anybody. In the original tale, his House's symbol is even a black mole, supposedly because he's "great among quarrymen and a chief of the delvers after ore."
  • Mutual Kill:
    • After driving his spike's helmet into Gothmog's chest, Echthelion wraps his arms and legs around the Balrog, causing him to fall into the Fountain of the King. Both drowned.
    • Glorfindel slays a Balrog by throwing himself and the demon off a mountainside.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Ulmo warns Turgon that he must abandon Gondolin and gather an army to face Morgoth. If he does not want to fight, Ulmo will personally guide him and his followers back to Valinor. If he does not evacuate the hidden city, though, Ulmo will no longer be able to help him, because Gondolin is about to be found and destroyed. Unfortunately, Turgon has grown too fond of his city and chooses to dimiss the Lord of Waters' warning, ensuring that hundreds will die when Morgoth attacks Gondolin.
  • Noble Fugitive: Tuor, son of one of the lords of Dor-lómin, led a fugitive and outlaw's life until he found the hidden elven city of Gondolin and married Princess Idril. Ten years later, Tuor, Idril and their son become refugess when Morgoth finds and sacks Gondolin.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Maeglin grows bitter and resentful after being rejected by Idril (on grounds of him being her incredibly creepy cousin) and seeing her happily married to someone else. Hence, Maeglin betrays the location of the hidden city to Morgoth in hopes of exploiting the chaos of the battle to kidnap Idril and murder her family.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: Invoked. After travelling through frozen wastes in the death of winter during nearly one month, Tuor and Vonronwë have almost run out of supplies. When they spot an Orc camp, Tuor is ready to attack them, muttering he would not turn Orc meat down right now. However, he gives up attacking them when Voronwë points out they would alert other Orcish posts.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: When Tuor and Voronwë creep into the dark tunnel leading to the hidden city, they cannot see or hear anything, not even the drip of water. Vonronwë grows worried about the lack of visible guards, and fears they are being ambushed. And indeed, a few seconds later, a voice commands them to stand still or they will be shot.
  • Ocean Awe: Tuor reaches the west coast of Middle-Earth and has to watch the Great Sea for the first sea, becoming in love with it.
    In this way Tuor passed into the borders of Nevrast, where once Turgon had dwelt; and at last at unawares (for the cliff tops at the margin of the land were higher than the slopes behind) he came suddenly to the black brink of Middle-earth, and saw the Great Sea, Belegaer the Shoreless. And at that hour the sun went down beyond the rim of the world, as a mighty fire; and Tuor stood alone upon the cliff with outspread arms, and a great yearning filled his heart. It is said that he was the first of Men to reach the Great Sea, and that none, save the Eldar, have ever felt more deeply the longing that it brings.
  • Official Couple: Tuor meets Idril when he arrives in the hidden city and falls in love with her. After three years, they get married and have a son.
  • One-Steve Limit: In the first version of the tale, an Elf named Legolas Greenleaf of the House of the Tree is among the Gondothlim refugees, using his especially keen sight to aid in the evacuation—just as the more famous Legolas Greenleaf in The Lord of the Rings is from the forest and is the most sharp-eyed of the Fellowship. They are not the same Legolas, being of different Elven kindreds, but a reader may be forgiven for thinking so. (The name is simply Sindarin for "Greenleaf.") It's likely Legolas would have been renamed if the final version had progressed to his appearance.
  • Papa Wolf: When Tuor finds his family and sees Maeglin attempting to murder his son, he literally roars loud enough to scare the Orcs laying siege to the city. Maeglin then tries to stab Ëarendil, but Tuor breaks Maeglin's arm, lifts him and hurls him off the battlements.
  • Parental Substitute: Rian left her baby son Tuor in the Grey Elves' care before dying. Their leader, Annael, took care of Tuor until his ward was sixteen, when they were separated by an Orc attack as travelling towards the South.
  • Prefers Going Barefoot: Idril is called "of the Silver Feet" because she goes around barefoot, and she only wears shoes in festivals.
  • Price on Their Head: Tuor becomes an outlaw after escaping Lorgan, starting a one-man-army guerrilla war. The Easterlings set a great price upon his head, but they did not dare to approach his hideout because they were afraid of the Elves and places formerly inhabited by Elves.
  • Properly Paranoid: Even though the hidden city has remained safe for four centuries, Idril is convinced that Morgoth will find and destroy Gondolin before long; and since her father will not listen to her misgivings, she builds a secret escape tunnel leading towards the mountains. Idril is also certain that her cousin Maeglin, the King's most favored advisor, will sell them out to Morgoth out of jealousy and spite, so she commissions tailor-made chain mail for her and her son Ëarendil. Her foresight eventually saves many lives, including her family's.
  • The Quisling: Maeglin is captured by orcs and dragged to Angband, and Morgoth tortures him to try and extract the location of Gondolin from him. Maeglin gives in when Morgoth offers or agrees to make him ruler of the city after its conquest, and to deliver Idril into his hands.
  • Raised by the Supernatural: Baby Tuor (Human) is adopted and raised by Annael (Elf) and the Grey Elves of Hitlum until he is separated from his adoptive family by an Orc ambush at the age of sixteen.
  • Resigned to the Call: Ulmo tells Tuor that he needs him to send a message to Turgon, the king of Gondolin, and Tuor will soon find someone who will guide him to the hidden city. Upon meeting Vonronwë, Tuor repeats Ulmo's words, and Voronwë tiredly says he doesn't wish to return to Gondolin ever again; if he survived his sea voyage, he intended to travel southwards, far from Morgoth and the war. Nonetheless, he reluctantly agrees that he must return if evil is again growing and threatening his city.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Maeglin betrays the location of the hidden city to Morgoth in exchange for becoming one of Morgoth's captains, the rule of Gondolin, and receiving Idril as his wife. Salgant, Lord of the House of the Harp, helps Maeglin betray the city. When Morgoth finally attacks Gondolin, his army burns the city to the ground, Maeglin himself dies during the attack, and Salgant either is burned to death or he is captured and enslaved.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Subverted. Morgoth expressly invents tanks and war machines to destroy Gondolin. For their part, the Gondolindrim are still geared with Early Middle Ages-level equipment: swords, axes, bows, shields and chainmail vests. They put up a brave, good fight, but it is clear they have no chance to win, and the survivors end fleeing from the city.
  • Rousing Speech: During the siege, Rog stirs his troops against Morgoth's army:
    Then said Rog in a great voice: 'Who now shall fear the Balrogs for all their terror? See before us the accursed ones who for ages have tormented the children of the Noldoli, and who now set fire at our backs with their shooting. Come ye of the Hammer of Wrath and we will smite them for their evil'
  • Rule of Seven:
    • Turgon got seven ships built to send one message to Valinor.
    • The entryway to the Elven city of Gondolin is protected by seven gates (wood, stone, bronze, iron, silver, gold, and steel).
    • Gondolin is the City of Seven Names:
      'We are the guardians of the issue of the Way of Escape. Rejoice that ye have found it, for behold before you the City of Seven Names where all who war with Melko may find hope.'
      Then said Tuor: 'What be those names?' And the chief of the guard made answer: 'It is said and it is sung: "Gondobar am I called and Gondothlimbar, City of Stone and City of the Dwellers in Stone; Gondolin the Stone of Song and Gwarestrin am I named, the Tower of Guard, Gar Thurion or the Secret Place, for I am hidden from the eyes of Melko; but they who love me most greatly call me Loth, for like a flower am I, even Lothengriol the flower that blooms on the plain." Yet,' said he, 'in our daily speech we speak and we name it mostly Gondolin.'
    • The Gondolin's archers "might shoot an arrow into heaven seven times as far as could the best bowman among Men"
    • After finally finding out the location of Gondolin, Morgoth waits seven years until his new war machines are built and ready.
  • Scenery Porn: The wild landscapes of Northern Beleriand and the layout of Gondolin, the City of White Stone, are lavishly and detailed described in the original draft.
    It was a great day's journey that Tuor put behind him that day; and he came ere evening to a region where trees again appeared, and the manner of the land through which he now fared differed greatly from those shores about Falasquil. There had Tuor known mighty cliffs beset with caverns and great spoutholes, and deep-walled coves, but from the cliff-tops a rugged land and flat ran bleakly back to where a blue rim far to the east spoke of distant hills. Now however did he see a long and sloping shore and stretches of sand, while the distant hills marched ever nearer to the margin of the sea, and their dark slopes were clad with pine or fir and about their feet sprang birches and ancient oaks. From the feet of the hills fresh torrents rushed down narrow chasms and so found the shores and the salt waves.
  • The Siege: Morgoth's forces besiege Gondolin and succeed in taking the city, with only a remnant of its population escaping.
  • Start of Darkness: Maeglin starts out as someone overly ambitious and maybe disturbingly cold, but not evil, despite his unrequited crush on his cousin Idril. When Idril gets married to Tuor and has a son, though, Maeglin lets his lust, bitterness, jealousy and hatred get the better of him, and he willingly betrays the location of the hidden city to Morgoth (depending on the version, he went to Morgoth and volunteered the information, or he was captured and baited into speaking).
  • Take Care of the Kids: Rian asks Annael to look after the newborn Tuor before she goes to die at her husband's grave.
  • Take Our Word for It: Morgoth captures Maeglin and threatens with torturing him if he does not reveal the Hidden City's location. It is unknown what torment Maeglin was menaced with, but the story assures that Maeglin was not weak or cowardly... and even so, he completely gave in.
    But often Maeglin went with few of his folk beyond the leaguer of the hills, and the King knew not that his bidding was defied; and thus it came to pass, as fate willed, that Maeglin was taken prisoner by Orcs, and brought to Angband, Maeglin was no weakling or craven, but the torment wherewith he was threatened cowed his spirit, and he purchased his life and freedom by revealing to Morgoth the very place of Gondolin and the ways whereby it might be found and assailed.
  • Taking You with Me: Two Balrogs die at the siege of Gondolin, but so do their opponents: Ecthelion dies of his wounds, and Glorfindel kills a Balrog by knocking them both off a cliff.
  • Together in Death:
    • Tuor was a mortal Man and Idril a Noldorin Elf. When Tuor grew old, they headed together toward the west on their ship Eärrámë. It is claimed Tuor alone of all Men has been accounted to the Elder Kindred whom he loved.
    • Played straight with Rian, who after trusting her son to the Grey Elves heads towards her husband Huor's grave to lie there.
  • Too Dumb to Live: When his forces are ready to assault Gondolin, Morgoth withdraws all his spies prowling around the Encircling Hills to lure the hidden city's inhabitants into a sense of false security. The Gondolindrim swallow the bait utterly, convincing themselves that Morgoth has given up, and Turgon reduces the number of wardens and border patrols. A few months later, Morgoth sends in his legions of orcs and war machines, Gondolin ends destroyed and Turgon and most of its people dead.
  • Uncertain Doom: Salgant is last seen bunkering in his home when the battle begins. As the refugees are fleeing towards the hills, Ëarendil asks where Salgant is, since the man used to play with him and even tell him tales. But nobody knows what happened to him: Maybe he was burned to death inside his own home, maybe he was captured and made a slave.
    But none could say where Salgant was, nor can they now. Mayhap he was whelmed by fire upon his bed; yet some have it that he was taken captive to the halls of Melko and made his buffoon – and this is an ill fate for a noble of the good race of the Gnomes. Then was Eärendel sad at that, and walked beside his mother in silence.''
  • Untrusting Community: As Tuor finds out, the people of the hidden city are paranoid and suspicious, and they meet strangers with hostility, at best. Elemmakil, one of the guards of the Gates, justifies their weariness stating that "If our law were less stern, long ago guile and hatred would have entered and destroyed us."
  • Uptown Girl: Idril, Princess of Gondolin and daughter of the High King of the Noldor Elves, falls in love with Tuor, a warrior human who has led a live of lonely wandering outlaw during years.
  • Use Your Head: After losing both of his arms, Ecthelion hurts Gothmog by headbutting him, driving his helmet's long steel spike into the Balrog's chest.
  • Villainous Crush: Maeglin, the only Elf to ever serve Morgoth willingly, has been obsessed with Idril for centuries, despite her despising him and marrying someone else.
  • Villainous Incest: Maeglin lusts after his cousin Idril. His feelings are unreciprocated, partly due to the Noldorin incest taboo, partly because she marries someone else. Later, Maeglin betrays the location of the formerly hidden city to Morgoth in exchange for lordship and possession of Idril.
  • War Is Hell: The first version goes into detail about the destruction of Gondolin. Morgoth's troops and war machines march into the hidden valley, burning fields and forests. Dragons -living or mechanical- and giant fire snakes smash gates and walls down, and legions of orcs and balrogs invade the city. Morgoth's troops demolish and burn everything -buildings, parks, fountains, libraries, art treasures- down, loot anything valuable and slaughter hundreds...or capture them to enslave them. Tuor manages to lead several hundred people out of the city, but they are chased and harassed by Morgoth's troops. Fortunately, the survivors manage to escape from the valley, but they spend one year living like refugees, wandering around unknown lands, suffering from hunger and thirst and putting up with bad weather until they find one place where they can settle down.
  • Watching the Sunset: After managing to flee into the hills, the survivors of Gondolin turn around to watch how their city burns in the fading light of dusk. The crowd see the last standing tower burning and collapsing before the sun sinks completely, stressing the fact that the hidden city has ceased to exist.
  • Watching Troy Burn: As Gondolin is being burned to the ground, Tuor manages to lead several hundred survivors towards the mountains. Before climbing up the mountain pass, the crowd turn around to watch their city for the last time. As the sun sets in the west, they see the last standing tower going up in flames and crumbling down before darkness covers the valley.
    About the set of the sun the way so wound behind a shoulder of the hills that they might not again look towards Gondolin. There all that company turned, and lo! the plain is clear and smiling in the last light as of old; but afar off as they gazed a great flare shot up against the darkened north – and that was the fall of the last tower of Gondolin, even that which had stood hard by the southern gate, and whose shadow fell oft across the walls of Tuor's house. Then sank the sun, and they saw Gondolin no more.
  • We Have Become Complacent: In several versions, after moving to their secret valley to hide themselves from Morgoth, the Gondolin Elves become so enamored with their city after several centuries of peace that they stop paying attention to the outside world and watching over the Encircling Mountains, thus ensuring that Morgoth's troops find Gondolin, cross the mountains before being spotted, and reach the city's walls unopposed.
  • Weaponized Headgear: Ecthelion stabs Gothmog with the spike on his helmet. He doesn't live to tell the tale, but neither does the Balrog.
  • Winter of Starvation: Downplayed. Tuor and Voronwë must traverse Beleriand during the five-month-long Morgoth-summoned Fell Winter despite their scarce supplies. When they run into an Orc camp, close to his destination, Tuor is so hungry that he would not mind eat them, but he doesn't go through with it.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Maeglin attempts to murder his seven-year-old nephew by throwing him off the walls and into the flames burning below. When he spots Tuor approaching quickly, Maeglin decides to stab Ëarendil in the chest instead. Unfortunately for him, Idril foresaw his betrayal, and his knife is blocked by Êarendil's chainmail. Unfortunately for him, too, Tuor objects to his son's attempted murder by flinging Maeglin off the wall.
  • Yandere: After revealing Gondolin's location to Morgoth, Maeglin plans to murder Tuor and Ëarendil during the battle, kidnap Idril and force her into marriage.
  • You Are in Command Now: When Gondolin is all but conquered, Turgon declares everybody must follow Tuor now, since he will lead the survivors to safety. Turgon, though, intends to stay in his tower until the bitter end.