In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, Maglor (IPA: [ˈmaɡlor]) is a fictional character, the second son of Fëanor and Nerdanel. Born in the Years of the Trees, his final fate is unknown. He was one of the greatest poets and bards of the Elves and was said to have inherited more of his mother's gentler temperament.
Maglor is a Sindarin rendering of his Quenya mother name Makalaurë (or Macalaurë), which means "Gold-cleaver"—alluding to his skill with the harp, and possibly the power of his voice. (He was also known as "Strong-voiced" and "the Mighty Singer".) The meaning behind Maglor's father name, Kanafinwë (or Canafinwë), is uncertain, but probably contains the prefix kana/o (commanding) + Finwë.
As with the other Sons of Fëanor, Maglor was bound by the Oath of Fëanor to recover his father's Silmarils, from whoever possessed them, as the jewels had been stolen by the Dark Lord Morgoth. This oath took Fëanor and his seven sons to Middle-earth during the First Age where the sons established realms in exile, waged war against the armies of Morgoth, fought their own Elvish kind, and eventually brought ruin upon themselves and their followers.
Maglor was briefly the leader of the Fëanorians after Fëanor had died in Dagor-nuin-Giliath and his oldest son Maedhros had been imprisoned by Morgoth after he was trapped and captured in a phoney parley. It is not known if Maglor tried to rescue his elder brother. Under his leadership, the Noldor built a fortified camp on the northern shore of Lake Mithrim, after Maglor had refused Morgoth's demands. The Noldor had their first contact with the Grey-elves and the Falathrim during this, and these meetings were "glad".
It seems Maglor chose neither to confront nor to reconcile with the house of Fingolfin his uncle, who was forced to lead his followers and those of the House of Finarfin into Hithlum through the Helcaraxë (grinding ice of the north) because Maglor's father ordered the ships of the Teleri to be burned that had carried Fëanor's house across the sea. The Fëanorians left their camp and withdrew to the Southern shore of Lake Mithrim. Maglor did not act on the feelings of shame and repentance of his followers.
Maglor went east with his brothers and was responsible for defending a plain between mountain ranges Maglor's Gap with a large force of riders. His relationship with the other Noldor princes seemed to mirror that of his older brother Maedhros who desired to unify against Morgoth. Maglor was present with many warriors from east Beleriand at the "Feast of Reuniting", Mereth Aderthad, hosted by Fingolfin in Y.S. 20 near the Pools of Ivrin. Daeron, the greatest bard of the elves was also there, but nothing is said of the meeting of Maglor and Daeron. Finrod, son of Finarfin, hunted with Maedhros and Maglor in Estolad just before he met the Edain for the first time. Maglor's Gap, the March of Maedhros and Dor Caranthir (Thargelion) seem to be the only places that had been named after Fëanorian lords in Beleriand.
Maglor's Gap was breached during the Dagor Aglareb, although the Fëanorians managed to destroy the Orc bands that had passed south. Maglor and Maedhros beat back an attack by Morgoth in Y.S. 402 aided by Angrod and Aegnor, sons of Finarfin. In the Dagor Bragollach, the forces of Angband, with Glaurung the dragon at their head, overran Maglor's Gap, and Maglor retreated to the stronghold of Maedhros after his horsemen had been burnt in the plain of Lothlann. He and Maedhros marched to the great battle Nirnaeth Arnoediad, that the Elves hoped would see their revenge upon Morgoth, but they were defeated, partly by the treachery of Uldor the Accursed. Maglor himself slew Uldor. After that he retreated with his brothers to Mount Dolmed. It is unclear whether he lived in Ossiriand or at Amon Ereb, where Maedhros chose to live. Maglor later took part in the Fëanorian attacks to recover a Silmaril on Doriath and on the Havens of Sirion, and survived these battles. After the sacking of Sirion, Maglor also saved and fostered the sons of Eärendil, Elrond and Elros. The Silmarillion indicates that a bond of love had grown between Maglor and Elros and Elrond.
After the War of Wrath, he and his last surviving brother, Maedhros stole the two remaining Silmarils taken by the Valar from Morgoth, even though initially Maglor tried to dissuade his older brother from doing this. But because of the evil deeds committed by the brothers to regain the jewels, they burned in Maglor and Maedhros's hands. Unable to bear the suffering, Maglor cast himself and his Silmaril into the sea:
No other player has there been,
|— J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lay of Leithian Recommenced (1955)|
Tolkien refers to Maglor as one of Fëanor's sons that were probably married, but we have no information on his wife or any children. Maglor composed the song "The Fall of The Noldor" (Noldolantë), although nothing but its title is known.
House of Fëanor
Earlier versions of the legendarium
In the 1930s Quenta Silmarillion (published in The Lost Road), Maglor does not drown himself, but instead wandered along the shores of the world, singing laments over the loss of the jewel, until he faded from memory. This version was used in the published Silmarillion. (The 1930s Silmarillion also has Maglor live with his foster-son Elrond after the end of the First Age: "Yet not all the Eldalië were willing to forsake the Hither Lands...and among these were Maglor, as has been told; and with him for a while was Elrond Halfelven, who chose, as was granted to him, to be among the Elf-kindred; but Elros his brother chose to abide with Men.") Maglor, along with Galadriel and Gil-galad, was the greatest surviving Noldo at the beginning of the Second Age. There is speculation that he remained even after the Third Age in Middle-earth, forbidden forever from returning to Valinor. It is also possible that Maglor did not, in fact, survive into the Second Age, but instead perished when Beleriand sank into the Sea in the War of Wrath.