Newsletter: August 2009

Table of Contents

SWG News

Akallabêth in August

Every August, the SWG devotes the month to the stories of the Second Age. Annually since 2006, we have run the Akallabêth in August challenge and encouraged our authors to write a story based in the Second Age. This year, we decided to take August's festivities even further and to host an event focused on the Akallabêth and related histories.

First, we put together a lengthy list of Akallabêth events, then asked our intrepid Second-Age authors and artists (and anyone else who dared) to write a story, poem, ficlet, or create a new piece of artwork about that event or taking place on Arda at the same time. The ultimate goal, we hoped, would be a "retelling" of the Akallabêth from a variety of different perspectives and interpretations. The response we received was overwhelming, and before the end, almost every event on our list was claimed.

So, every day for the month of August, we will present a new story, poem, or work of art on our Akallabêth in August page. The works have been arranged chronologically and trace the whole of the history of Númenor and the world around. The participants in this project have outdone themselves, and the responses we've received are enlightening, thought-provoking, and as ever entertaining. The SWG moderators have enjoyed getting to preview them in putting the project together and hope you will too.

We hope you'll join us this month for a journey through the history of Númenor as part of Akallabêth in August!

Complete Listing of Second Age Stories on the SWG Archive

Of course, we cannot neglect to mention the dozens of excellent Second-Age stories, poems, and ficlets to be found currently on the SWG archive. We encourage you to check them out! Please note that links go to the story's Table of Contents, where you can find more information about the story.

Adar's New Ship by Lady_Roisin
Isildur takes Anarion's young daughter to see her father's new ship. A rare moment between one of Tolkien's heros and a small child.

Alliance by SurgicalSteel
Míriel considers her options to avert civil war in Númenor as she prepares for her father's funeral.

All Else Lost by Keiliss
In a changed world there was one thing that remained untouched by time or distance.

All Our Yesterdays by Keiliss
The Last Day.

The angel that came from the West by ford_of_bruinen
A poem about the elven smiths of Eregion and the making of the Dwarf rings.

The Apprentice by pandemonium_213
An ambitious young Noldorin man of Ost-in-Edhil lands a coveted appointment as an apprentice to the most skilled master smith of the Gwaith-i-Mirdain: Istyar Aulendil. The apprentice's mentor, a prodigy of the Aulënossë, has been sent to Middle-earth by the Valar and has knowledge of exotic and wondrous technology. Istyar Aulendil also has notoriously high standards. The apprentice must meet his mentor's expectations if he is to become a journeyman and work on an important new initiative.

Ashes onto the Water by Lady_Roisin
Anárion grieves alone after the murder of his wife, Anúviel, in the temple in Armenelos. The story is written from 1st person perspective.

The Beginning by oshun
Extended drabble on the theme of Elrond and Gil-galad.

Broken Star by pandemonium_213
Sauron's last request of Celebrimbor. A double drabble epilogue of sorts to Cat's Paws.

Cat's Paws by pandemonium_213
Tyelperinquar/Tyelpo (Celebrimbor) and Aulendil (Annatar/Sauron) discuss brotherhood and the secret of the deep arts on an early summer evening in Ost-in-Edhil.

The Choice by Ithilwen
A conversation between a pair of brothers, reflecting on the choices they've made in their lives. Takes place near the beginning of the Second Age.

The Consuming Darkness by Isil Elensar
It is written that Tar-Miriel was too late to reach the supposed safety of the Meneltarma when Numenor sank into the sea. But why was she late? What was so important that she would risk her life, knowing she would not survive?

Coronation of the Past and Future by Lady_Roisin
A short ficlet about the coronation of the first High King of Gondor and Arnor.

Cultural Differences by Keiliss
Cultural differences, a young king, an arrogant Maia, and rather too much wine.

Defiance by Marta
Of all the Valar, Ulmo arguably knew the Numenoreans best and it was his waves that were used in their destruction. What must he have thought about the Akallabeth?

The Departure by Keiliss
Departure, to be followed by a return.

Descent by Lady_Roisin
A poem from Tar-Miriel's perspective about her last moments alive.

Downfallen by pandemonium 213
Sauron recounts the first human sacrifice in the temple of Armenelos.

The Eastern Sea (III) by Gadira
Part III of the Númenor Seas series, for the Sea Voyage challenge. Yehimelkor, the last High Priest of Melkor, stares at the sea thar robbed him of a loved one and bears his fate proudly.

Elegy for Númenor by elfscribe
Chronicles the last days of Númenor from the time Sauron "surrenders" to Ar-Pharazôn to the fall of the empire.

The Elendilmir by pandemonium_213
A young child of Men befriends Sámaril, the troubled master smith of Imladris. The Noldorin craftsman experiences the joy and pain born of friendships between the Eldar and mortal Men and comes to question his people’s values as his life becomes entwined with Isildur’s youngest son and two powerful women of the Dúnedain. A sequel to The Apprentice.

Elendur's Hero by Lady_Roisin
Isildur is startled by the sound of shouting, but finds the situation to not be what it first seems.

Elfstone by Gandalfs apprentice
Celebrimbor creates the Elessar.

Esquire of the King by Lady_Roisin
We know very little about the character known as Ohtar. How is that he was isildur's kinsman? Why was he dear to the King? Why would Isildur entrust him to deliever the Shards of Narsil to Rivendell? This is my take on the conception, birth, and life of this mysterious character. The events of the stories follow canon events leading up to, and a bit beyond, the Disaster of the Gladden Fields.

Even Quicker Than Doubt by Keiliss
Set in the weeks before Elros departs for Númenor, Doubt explores the reason the twins chose different paths, Elrond’s emotional coming of age, the evolving relationship between Gil-galad and Glorfindel, and the reborn Elf’s adjustment to his new life in Second Age Lindon.

Factions by Marta
Isildur's theft of the fruit of the White Tree, from a different perspective.

The Far Side of the World by SurgicalSteel
During the reign of Tar-Ancalime, a group of Numenorean mariners find something that surprises and alarms them in their explorations.

The First Sword that was Broken by Lady_Roisin
After giving his young daughter a sword, Anárion has a bit of a humorous accident, one that Isildur takes all too much joy in poking fun at.

Footnote to the Akallabeth by clotho123
The results of the Downfall, from the point of view of the Noldor in Aman. Semi-serious.

Forsaken Knowledge by Rhapsody
In order to finish one of his greatest achievements, Celebrimbor applies a skill he considered forgotten.

Fruit of Life by Lady_Roisin
After a tragic injustice is dealt to Isildur's betrothed and he learns of the imminant destruction of Nimloth, isildur plots what seems like a suicide mission. This story was inspired by canon events in which Isildur steals a fruit from Nimloth.

Full of Wisdom and Perfect in Beauty by Gadira
The History of the Downfall, from Ar-Sakalthôr´s accession to Ar-Pharazôn´s Armada.

Hands of Evil, Fingers of Life by Lady_Roisin
As Isildur awaits the birth of his firstborn, he is haunted by the decline of Númenor, and the persecution the faithful face. This is a story of contrasts between good and evil.

A high-king on his death. by ford_of_bruinen
Gil-Galad after his death...

His Match by Lady_Roisin
On the day of her wedding to Isildur, Tindalómë ponders the reasons why Elendil’s eldest son chose her for his bride, but little does she know she is about to see herself through his eyes.

Honeymoon is Over by Lady_Roisin
Not even the great heros are immune to the age old battle of the blankets.

Into Exile by Aiwen
Elendil's arrival in Middle Earth, and his first meeting with the Elves.

I Won't Dance by Lady_Roisin
Isildur is expected to lead a dance at a court function, unfortunately for him he failed to practice the steps. Thankfully his wife’s sense of humor comes to the rescue.

Landfall by Keiliss

The Land of Gift by Gadira
On the final fate of Tuor and Idril, and the roots of certain important events of the Second Age.

Last Alliance by Isil Elensar
For a few moments in time, a soldier in the Last Alliance remembers the woman he left behind.

The last farewell of you and me by ford_of_bruinen
Elrond's and Elros' last meeting.

The Last Queen by Gadira
The cliché setting for the Downfall of Númenor... or maybe not so much?

A Little More Conversation by Keiliss
A story told through letters of the friendship that grows between Glorfindel, sent to take charge of the newly-discovered valley of Imladris, and Erestor, an assistant to one of Gil-galad's military advisors.

A Lonely Bride by Alquawende
Erendis regrets her actions toward her husband and daughter.

The Men Who Would Be Kings by SurgicalSteel
In the late Second Age, a merchant from Belfalas comes to an agreement with new arrivals from downfallen Numenor.

Midwinter Sweetness by ford_of_bruinen
These are two different stories, the first one was a Christmas tale for Christmas 2004 and retells the Christmas Story in a Second Age setting.

Moon of the Sea by pandemonium_213
There are any number of unnamed women in Tolkien's canon who surely played important roles behind the scenes. One of these women is Elendil's wife, the mother of Isildur and Anárion. She figures as a supporting character in my WIP, The Elendilmir, but this strong woman is taking on a life of her own. So, to keep the bunnies from gnawing my ankles raw, I have been writing ficlets about Isilmë, some of which may blossom into full-fledged stories in the future.

The Northern Sea (I) by Gadira
Vignette based on Full of Wisdom and Perfect in Beauty. Alissha, entombed in her prison, surrenders to desperation.

No title yet. by ladyoflight
Written to cheer up JDav/JDE who is going through a tough time in RL. Pairing: Gil-Galad/Elrond.

Now Both of You are Safe by Lady_Roisin
Elentir was not the only one who captured the heart of Tar-Míriel. This is a story of passion, sacrifice, and how much one is willing to break the rules of integrity, even love, to save those she adores the most. This is my take on what could have become of Elentir, and why he, and a certain lady in service to the Queen, vanish from written history.

Of Numenor That Was by Marta
The story of the last sacrifice offered to Morgoth by Numenor, told in four true drabbles from the perspectives of four OCs.

Of Sauron and the Lesser Rings by Anlashaq
To an old Friend.

One more minute by ford_of_bruinen
Another poem about Gil-Galad following his death.

Ossë's Gift by elfscribe
Glorfindel and Erestor's sea voyage from Umbar to Lindon is filled with intrigue and suppressed yearnings.

Past the Walls of Night by Lady_Roisin
A happy reunion beyond the Circles of the World.

The People of Akallabeth by Hamfast Gamgee
A tale set at time of the end of Numenor, involving original characters, Amandil, Elendil, some Elves a bit of angst and some of my own ideas thrown in, and a bit of poetry!

Pivot Point by Aiwen
Celebrimbor and Annatar meet for the first time.

The Promised Land by Rhapsody
Isildur and Anárion standing on the bow, hoping what good will come after the destruction of Númenor.

Revelry's Victim by Lady_Roisin
Anárion manages to convince his brother, isildur, to attend a gathering. But little did Isildur expect to have his own kind of fun at the event.

Rings of Pride; Rings of Ruin by Aiwen
Celebrimbor discovers that Annatar has betrayed them all, and has to take responsibility for the situation before total disaster can result.

Rising by Dawn Felagund
Tar-Míriel's final ascent to the Meneltarma. A "dribble" poem.

Risk Assessment by pandemonium_213
Noldorin journeymen and masters of the Gwaith-i-Mírdain discuss the secrets of lembas with a Sindarin apprentice to the Yavannildi.

Shards of Courage by Alassante
A squire is trusted with an heirloom of the king but at what cost to his honor?

Spaces of the Heart by Keiliss
Glorfindel's first meeting with Idril's grandson.

Stones of Seeing 1. Vardamir Nólimon by Clotho 123
At the end of his reign Elros receives a visitor. How the palantíri came into Númenor.

Stones of Seeing 2. Tar Míriel by Clotho 123
Second in a trilogy telling the history of the palantiri. In the dying days of Númenor the stones come into the keeping of Elendil's line.

Survivors of the Downfall by SurgicalSteel
Sailors from Umbar realize that Numenor is no more.

This Distant Shore by Rasksha the Demon
When much is lost, there still remains much to do. A Thanksgiving-inspired look at some special immigrants in the late Second Age.

Till Fire Purge All Things New by Pandemonium_213
Sauron has a moment of doubt in the Sammath Naur.

A Time to Heal by clotho123
At the beginning of the Second Age Gil-galad must decide what to do about the surviving Feanorian followers. Can the Noldor be reconciled?

Torn asunder by Rhapsody
What were Mithrellas thoughts on the eve when she left her family behind on Middle Earth?

To Ward Winter's Chill by elfscribe
Sometimes it takes more than one night of passion to start a relationship on a sound footing. (Glorfindel/Erestor) Sequel to Osse's Gift.

True Gift by Tarion Anarore
An old, old Celebrimbor drabble, written once upon a time ago for the HASA Word of the Day challenge.

Uneasy Vigil by Lady_Roisin
Tindalome awaits the return of Isildur and their three eldest sons. Sometimes a small written word is enough to give one a small shred of

Waiting for Hope by Lady_Roisin
The sequel to "Past the Walls of Night". Isildur's lady watches her husband's endless search of the horizon, of news that all hope had not been lost. Isildur's search sees in vain until a ship is seen on the horizon.

The Western Sea (II) by Gadira
Second fic in my arc about a certain Númenórean family of notorious traitors. This time I give you Melkorbazer, a character who also gets mentioned in my fic Full of Wisdom.

Woolgathering by pandemonium_213
In the waning years of Tar-Palantír's reign, a young woman of the Númenórean nobility and a shepherdess of Hyarastorni find pleasure in one another's company. They know that they must guard the nature of their relationship, but Elerína recalls what her grandmother told her of a great queen who loved a woman.

New to the Reference Library:: "The Accidental King: Five Reasons Why Finarfin Deserves More Appreciation" by Dawn Felagund

Finarfin does not command the respect and devotion of fans that his two older brothers do, this essay--newly added to the Reference Library--argues that he deserves more appreciation than what he gets.

I am a self-proclaimed Finarfin fangirl. I think that the guy is terribly underrepresented and sometimes misrepresented outright by the Tolkien fan community. In 2006, the Silmarillion Writers Guild declared January as Finarfin Appreciation Month. This started as an earnest joke on my part and quickly burgeoned until all sorts of people that I'd never imagined as Finarfin fans were writing stories and creating artwork about him. That month, as I'd bring up Finarfin in light of the fact that it was Finarfin Appreciation Month, the responses I received could basically be dichotomized as such:

1) "Yes! Finarfin deserves an appreciation month! Why hasn't Finarfin Appreciation Month been declared before??"

... and ...

2) "Finarfin? Why Finarfin?"

So, using the published Silmarillion as my guide, I am taking on this second question--"Why Finarfin?"--in hopes of convincing those non-Finarfanatics out there why the current High King of the Noldor is deserving of greater appreciation. Read more ...

Congratulations to Our MEFA-Nominated Essayists and Columnists!

I was perusing the MEFA check-ballots this week past and arrived at the non-fiction section, which is always one of my favorite categories to read. And I noticed something rather odd ... a whole lot of the stories seemed really familiar. Of course they were--they were from the SWG Reference Library!

A considerable number of the SWG's essay-writers and columnists are nominated for this year's Middle-earth Fanfiction Awards in the non-fiction category. I hope that they are all as proud of their nominations (though I suspect they are!) as we are. Writing for the SWG Reference Library takes a lot of hard work. Essays must be approved by the Reference staff and then undergo line-by-line scrutiny from our reference readers, a process that usually takes over a month and (I can speak from experience) can be anxiety-provoking. Columnists start with a new topic each month, do the research and write the essay ... and then start all over again a few days later for the next month's newsletter. All of our contributors to the Reference Library are such an asset to the SWG, and I think their MEFA nominations reflect why.

So congratulations to the nominees from among our Reference writers! Your knowledge and dedication to sharing it is, as always, greatly appreciated!

Darth Fingon, Twenty-Two Words You Never Thought Tolkien Would Provide
Esteliel, Exile, Wyrd and the Anglo-Saxon Warrior Ideal in The Wanderer and Tolkien's Quenta Silmarillion
Kitt Otter,
The Stars That Varda Made
Marta, Isildur
Oshun, Fingon the Valiant, Elwing the White, and Beleg Cúthalion

Happy 4th Birthday, SWG!

On 27 July, the SWG celebrated its fourth birthday. We've come a long way from our humble origins four years ago and have you all to thank for it! Whether you're an author, an artist, a reviewer, a researcher, an essayist, a reference reader, a volunteer, a moderator, a columnist, or you "just" enjoy reading stories on our archive and talking about The Silmarillion on our discussion group, we owe these last four years to you. Thank you--and here's to many more!

(Return to Top)

Character of the Month Biography



Ar-Pharazôn the Golden, mightiest and last King of Númenor, was the victim of his own deluded pride, spurred by the lies of Sauron the Deceiver, who promised him no less than immortality and the kingship of the world if he stood against the Valar. When he attempted to claim these prizes he sealed his doom and that of his people, and even Sauron was aghast at the devastating consequences of his deception.

So, who was Ar-Pharazôn?

Ar-Pharazôn, son of Gimilkhâd and nephew of the King Tar-Palantir, was born in Númenor, the Land of Gift granted to the Edain by the Valar after the War of Wrath, in the year 3118 of the Second Age (1).

The published version of The Silmarillion does not give us a description of Ar-Pharazôn. One, however, was written and can be found in The Peoples of Middle-earth (2):

He [Ar-Pharazôn] was a man of great beauty and strength/stature after the image of the first kings, and indeed in his youth was not unlike the Edain of old in mind also, though he had strength of will rather than of wisdom as after appeared, when he was corrupted by the counsels of his father and the acclaim of the people. In his earlier days he had a close friendship with Amandil who was afterwards Lord of Andunie …

Tolkien also tells us that he was a captain and “a leader in the wars that the Númenóreans made then in the coastlands of Middle-earth, seeking to extend their dominion over Men” (3). When Ar-Pharazôn’s father died he returned to the island bearing many riches and the people of Númenor welcomed him back warmly.

In 3255 (4), following his uncle’s death, he wedded Tar-Palantír’s only daughter Míriel by force and against the laws of his land, which forbade marriage between first-degree cousins, and usurped the sceptre that belonged to his wife. In this way he became the twenty-fifth (5) King of Númenor.

Ar-Pharazôn was his Adûnaic name, derived from pharaz, which means gold in this language. His Quenya title was Tar-Calion; though the use of the Elven tongues had been forbidden by his grandfather Ar-Gimilzôr in defiance of the Valar, it is likely that this was the name inscribed in the Scroll of Kings. Superstition still demanded to keep this tradition, lest evil should befall the island and its rulers if the ancient customs were forsaken.

Through reports from his captains, Ar-Pharazôn heard of the might of Sauron, whose realm in Middle-earth had grown to the point where he had given himself the title of King of Men, and of his intent to destroy the Númenóreans and their island. The King of Númenor would not put up with this outrage: that another ruler would become as powerful as to rival him, the heir of Eärendil, even less to threaten him. He decided that Sauron could be nothing but his vassal. So he prepared a huge army and sailed to Middle-earth. He landed in Umbar in the year 3261 (6) and everyone fled from the coastal areas at the sight of his ships. He made camp and sent heralds out commanding Sauron to come before him and swear fealty.

Sauron, disciple of Melkor the first Dark Lord, is usually associated with the idea of domination and violence, leader of ruthless armies and master of many slaves. That he might be as devious as to answer Ar-Pharazôn’s high-handed summons and surrender himself to the Númenóreans he hated so much seemed most unlikely, but this he did, because he had realised he would not overcome his foe with strength.

He humbled himself, and came himself on foot before Ar-Pharazon, and did him homage and craved pardon for his offences. And Ar-Pharazon spared his life; but took from him all his titles, and made him prisoner, and carried him at length back to Numenor to be hostage for the submission and faith of all who had before owed him allegiance.

'This is a hard doom,' said Sauron, 'but great kings must have their will', and he submitted as one under compulsion, concealing his delight; for things had fallen out according to his design. (7)

Sauron, a Maia of great power, must have been rather confident of his chances to seduce his enemy before placing himself in his hands. After all, he had recently proved his skills at manipulating the Children of Ilúvatar against the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, the People of the Jewel-smiths in Eregion, whom he had tricked into forging the Rings of Power under the fair guise of Annatar, the Lord of Gifts.

We must assume that Ar-Pharazôn ignored the tragic fate of Eregion at Sauron’s hands. Otherwise logic would have demanded him to keep a prudent distance from the Dark Lord, even if he appeared harmless and subdued. But the Númenóreans, except for the Faithful, had estranged themselves from the Elves and it is therefore quite likely that news of what had befallen the Elves of Eregion had never reached the ears of Ar-Pharazôn. In all likelihood he was also ignorant about the One Ring and its power. To dominate the wills of others to that of its master.

Ignorance is dangerous, even more so when dealing with a foe such as Sauron the Deceiver. But the King of Númenor, blinded by arrogance, grossly underestimated his enemy. One can only imagine Sauron’s glee when he was given free passage to Númenor as a prisoner and hostage.

Once on the island he saw the glory of Númenor and was filled with hate and envy. But he hid his purpose and instead managed to gain relative freedom, and most importantly to his designs, access to Ar-Pharazôn. He did not waste time: “ere three years had passed he had become closest to the secret counsels of the King” (8).

We can but envision how Sauron’s keen perception of Ar-Pharazôn’s fears and desires shaped his honeyed words to achieve a position of influence and a reputation of wisdom. Flattery mixed with apparently genuine submission and the sharing of knowledge beyond that possessed by Men must have been irresistible. His whispers echoed the very thoughts that Ar-Pharazôn and several of his predecessors had harboured for many years: how the Valar were keeping immortality from them and how the noble race of Númenor deserved better than the Gift of Ilúvatar that robbed them of riches, power and achievements on Arda.

And slowly but surely Sauron wormed his way into the King’s favour and began to control his mind and, through it, the fate of Númenor. Guile and patience had indeed proved more fruitful than violence. Through them he had become the real ruler of the Land of Gift, and worked towards its corruption and ruin.

Sauron knew that as a hostage he would never rise to be accepted as the lord and deity he had been to his subjects in Middle-earth. Instead he destroyed the bonds between the Númenóreans and the Valar. He accomplished this severance by warping Eru Ilúvatar into a fictional entity created by the Valar to force the compliance of the Númenóreans to their arbitrary rules and to discredit the true Lord of Arda: Melkor. According to Sauron, his master Melkor was the “Lord of the Darkness”, from what the world was made, and the “Giver of Freedom” who would grant Ar-Pharazôn all the boons that the Valar and Eru allegedly withheld from him. First in secret and then openly, the King began to worship the Dark and Melkor its Lord in a temple built by Sauron, and his people followed him, lured by the promise of immortality.

Only a minority of the people of Númenor rejected the Sauron’s counsel and remained true to their friendship with the Eldar and their reverence to the Valar and “kept Ilúvatar in their hearts” (9). They were called the Faithful and were led by Amandil, lord of Andúnië, who was dismissed, no doubt at the instigation of Sauron, from his position of councillor to the King.

Sauron also persuaded the King to fell Nimloth, the White Tree of Númenor, to remove the last link to the Eldar and Valinor. At first Ar-Pharazôn refused, because of the prophecy by Tar-Palantir that bound the tree to the dynasty of the Kings, but Sauron found arguments to change his mind and Ar-Pharazôn relented. Only because of the courage of Isildur, Amandil’s grandson, was a fruit preserved and planted by the Faithful, so that Nimloth’s seedling would later grow in the Citadel of Minas Anor in Gondor.

As time went by, the worship of Melkor became more demanding and bloody, until it came to offering human sacrifices in the hope that the Lord of Darkness would save them from death. Many of the victims were taken by force from amongst the Faithful under pretexts such as treason.

The final days of the Faithful must have been dark indeed, if the disturbing description included in The Lost Road is anything to go by:

… His [the king’s] displeasure falleth on men, and they go out; they are in the evening, and in the morning they are not. The open is insecure; walls are dangerous. Even by the heart of the house spies may sit. And there are prisons, and chambers underground. There are torments; and there are evil rites. … Even our gardens are not wholly clean, after the sun has fallen. And now even by day smoke riseth from the temple: flowers and grass are withered where it falleth. The old songs are forgotten or altered; twisted into other meanings. (10)

Unsurprisingly Melkor did not answer the prayers of his new followers, and death did not depart from Númenor; on the contrary, the lifespan of its people shortened and their end became uglier, marred by madness, sickness and fear. There was violence and murder, which Sauron instigated by speaking lies to set people against each other.

When Ar-Pharazôn felt his own old age approaching “he was filled with fear and wrath” (11). The year was 3310 of the Second Age of the Sun, according to Tolkien’s Tale of Years (12). Those of the pure blood of Númenor had been granted a longer lifespan to that of other Men, but during the later generations it had dwindled greatly, even for those of the line of Elros. Ar-Pharazôn was less than two hundred years old but his three immediate predecessors on the throne of Númenor had not reached 230 years before their deaths (13).

At this time Sauron played his final card. He incited the King to invade the Undying Lands and thus wrest immortality from the Valar on the grounds that their Ban was imposed only to prevent the Kings of Men from surpassing them, that the powerful and worthy King of Númenor, “to whom Manwë alone can be compared, if even he,” (14) could not be denied such a gift. Ar-Pharazôn must have been completely under Sauron’s spell by then, as well as terrified of death, and he prepared a great fleet to invade the Blessed Realm and claim his reward.

The Faithful learnt of these designs and started to fear the retribution of the Valar if the King was to go ahead with his plan. They also began preparations to flee, at the advice of Amandil, who sailed West in an attempt to seek the pardon from the Powers before it was too late.

The signs of the approaching doom were everywhere: the weather turned hostile, ships sank in the sea, clouds in the shape of eagles appeared from the West and darkened the sunset. Some men were afraid; others, including the King, became more resolved in their defiance.

At last lightning struck the temple of Melkor, but Sauron survived unharmed and the people acclaimed him as a god and ignored the final warnings when “the land shook under them” and smoke came out from the peal of the Meneltarma where the hallow of Ilúvatar stood. Blind and deaf to all signs, Ar-Pharazôn continued building his fleet. His ships “darkened the sea upon the west of the land, and they were like an archipelago of a thousand isles; their masts were as a forest upon the mountains, and their sails like a brooding cloud; and their banners were golden and black” (15).

It was the year 3319 when all was ready (16). The King went aboard his ship, Alcarondas, Castle of the Sea, and though there was little wind “they had many oars and many strong slaves to row beneath the lash” (17) and the fleet moved West among the sound of loud trumpets, and at last they broke the Ban of the Valar when the Land of Gift disappeared on their Eastern horizon. In the meantime, wary of the consequences of Ar-Pharazôn‘s folly to attempt to wage war against the Valar, Sauron remained inside his temple, believing himself safe from their wrath.

The fleet reached Avallónë and Tol Eressëa, and finally reached the coasts of Valinor. The Elves had fled: “all was silent, and doom hung by a thread” (18). At this point, Ar-Pharazôn almost turned back at the imposing sight of the Blessed Realm and Taniquetil itself. But in the end his pride won the day and he disembarked and claimed the land.

Manwë, High King of Arda, called upon Eru Ilúvatar and temporarily laid down his kingship. What happened next not even Sauron could have foreseen. No other words but Tolkien’s can describe better the fate of Ar-Pharazôn and his followers, or the Fall of Númenor:

But Ilúvatar showed forth his power, and he changed the fashion of the world; and a great chasm opened in the sea between Númenor and the Deathless Lands, and the waters flowed down into it, and the noise and smoke of the cataracts went up to heaven, and the world was shaken. And all the fleets of the Númenóreans were drawn down into the abyss, and they were drowned and swallowed up for ever. But Ar-Pharazôn the King and the mortal warriors that had set foot upon the land of Aman were buried under falling hills: there it is said that they lie imprisoned in the Caves of the Forgotten, until the Last Battle and the Day of Doom. (19)

One wonders why such a cataclysmic punishment was meted out by Ilúvatar to the Númenóreans when nothing of the same scale was triggered when the kinslayings took place in Alqualondë, Doriath or the Havens of Sirion; or while Sauron, caught utterly by surprise at this catastrophic outcome, was not brought to judgement but allowed to escape, forsaking his bodily form to flee across the sea and return to plague Middle–earth for another whole age.

His only punishment was that, from then on, “he was unable ever again to assume a form that seemed fair to men, but became black and hideous, and his power thereafter was through terror alone” (20). He returned to Mordor to lick his wounds and began to plot revenge against Elendil, Amandil’s son, and his sons. But that is another story…

And what about the One Ring?

Was Sauron’s corruption of Ar-Pharazôn aided by the power of the One Ring? Did Sauron leave it in Mordor or take it with him across the sea? To abandon his mightiest weapon, into which he had poured his very power, to leave it behind where it might be found and used against him seemed an unlikely course of action. So, if Sauron took the Ring to Númenor (21), he would have kept it secret, or at least named it a worthless trinket.

Though Ar-Pharazôn’s actions could not yet be wholly justified by having become a victim of the Ring, at least its presence would help explain the ease with which Sauron, an enemy hostage and prisoner, managed to seduce and dominate him and his subjects; for after all, was it not “One Ring to rule them all”?

Who would have resisted the Dark Lord and his One Ring when they offered the luring image of one’s deepest desires laid out, ready to be taken, upon the white beaches of Valinor?

Notes on earlier versions of Ar-Pharazôn’s story

In the first version of the fall of Númenor (22) Ar-Pharazôn is named Angor. Sauron comes as a great bird to the island to preach the second coming of Morgoth; and Angor “assailed the shores of the Gods, and he cast bolts of thunder, and fire came upon the sides of Taniquetil” (23).

In a later, more elaborated but incomplete draft of the tale, which can be found as part of The Lost Road and other Writings Ar-Pharazôn is named Tar-Kalion or Tarcalion. Also, Sauron sailed freely to the island answering the summons of the King, thus invalidating the protection that the Valar had granted Númenor against the Dark Lord: “For the Lords said that Sauron would work evil; but he could not come hither unless he were summoned” (24).

The other key difference in Ar-Pharazôn’s earlier incarnations can be found in The Peoples of Middle-earth. In this version of the story he did not force marriage on his cousin, but she was instead enamoured of his wealth and beauty. She forsook her beloved, the brother of Amandil to whom she was about to be betrothed, and when her father Tar-Palantir died, not only did she marry Ar-Pharazôn willingly, but also of her own volition did she yield the sceptre to him (25).

Works Cited

  1. “The History of the Akallabêth”, History of Middle-earth, vol. XII: The Peoples of Middle-earth and “The Line of Elros: Kings of Númenor”, Unfinished Tales.
  2. “The History of the Akallabêth: Note on the marriage of Míriel and Pharazôn”, History of Middle-earth, vol. XII: The Peoples of Middle-earth.
  3. Akallabêth, The Silmarillion.
  4. “Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers”, The Lord of the Rings.
  5. Tolkien recorded him in some texts as the twenty-fourth.
  6. “Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers”, The Lord of the Rings.
  7. “The Tale of Years of the Second Age: Appendix B”, History of Middle-earth, vol. XII: The Peoples of Middle-earth.
  8. Akallabêth, The Silmarillion.
  9. Akallabêth, The Silmarillion.
  10. “The Lost Road: The Númenórean chapters, Chapter IV”, History of Middle Earth, vol. V: The Lost Road and Other Writings.
  11. Akallabêth, The Silmarillion.
  12. In the appendices of The Lord of the Rings.
  13. From birth and death dates listed in “The Line of Elros: Kings of Númenor”, Unfinished Tales.
  14. Akallabêth, The Silmarillion.
  15. Ibid.
  16. “Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers”, The Lord of the Rings.
  17. Akallabêth, The Silmarillion.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Ibid.
  20. “Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers”, The Lord of the Rings.
  21. This point is not mentioned in The Silmarillion, but seems to be confirmed by Tolkien (Letter 211 To Rhona Beare, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien).
  22. “The Fall of Númenor: The First Version of The Fall of Númenor", History of Middle Earth, vol. V: The Lost Road and Other Writings.
  23. Ibid.
  24. “The Fall of Númenor: The second version of The Fall of Numenor”, History of Middle Earth, vol. V: The Lost Road and Other Writings.
  25. “The History of the Akallabêth: Note on the marriage of Míriel and Pharazôn”, History of Middle-earth, vol. XII: The Peoples of Middle-earth.

View past character profiles.
Read all archived stories about Ar-Pharazôn.

(Return to Top)

Linguistic Foolery

Elvish Fanons and Canon Contradictions
(Or, how to get those canatics off your case for stuff you were right about in the first place)

Darth Fingon

Every writer of Tolkien fanfiction has probably been in this scenario at least once. You put a lot of work into a story, glow with pride at your accomplishment, post it to an archive, and eagerly hope for a few good reviews. And then, inevitably, someone comes along to comment with the dreaded 'Elves would never [insert un-Elvish action here].'

So, who's right, you or the unimpressed reviewer? Here's a look at a few things that Elves would supposedly never do.

1) Elves never refer to their own kind as men, women, or children.

There are some people out there (notably on who insist that Elves should always be referred to by Elvish terms (ellon, elleth, ner, nis) or fanon constructs (the word elfling is not used by Tolkien). These people are wrong. You can use these popular terms if you want, but they are not mandatory. Anyone who tells you otherwise should be directed with all haste to The Fall of Gondolin from The Book of Lost Tales 2 (p 191-192):

Now the pass of Cristhorn, that is the Eagles' Cleft, is one of dangerous going, and that host had not ventured it by dark, lanternless and without torches, and very weary and cumbered with women and children and sick and stricken men, had it not been for their great fear of Melko's scouts, for it was a great company and might not fare very secretly. Darkness gathered rapidly as they approached that high place, and they must string out into a long and straggling line. Galdor and a band of men spear-armed went ahead, and Legolas was with them, whose eyes were like cats' for the dark, yet could they see further. Thereafter followed the least weary of the women supporting the sick and the wounded that could go on foot. Idril was with these, and Earendel who bore up well, but Tuor was in the midmost behind them with all his men of the Wing, and they bare some who were grievously hurt, and Egalmoth was with him, but he had got a hurt in that sally from the square. Behind again came many women with babes, and girls, and lamed men, yet was the going slow enough for them. At the rearmost went the largest band of men battlewhole, and there was Glorfindel of the golden hair.

The bold emphasis is mine, but you can clearly see the men, women, and children in that passage. All of them (save Tuor and, to an extent, Eärendil) Elves. In the same story, Tolkien uses capitalised Men to refer specifically to the mortals of Tuor's ilk, thus illustrating the difference between Men and men. In other writings, terms like Elf-man and Elf-woman appear. The Elvish words are not used.

2) Elves can never become sick.

Apart from all the men and women, another curious aspect of the passage quoted above is its two references to sickness. Though the Prophecy of Mandos contained in The Silmarillion explicitly states that Elves cannot suffer from sickness, different versions say otherwise. A comment made in BoLT1 has wording that indicates that Elves, at least in Middle-earth, WILL suffer from sickness (in direct opposition to their illness-free life in Valinor). Compare 'no sickness may assail you' (Silmarillion, p 88) with 'never would they have made the dreadful passage of the Qerkaringa had they or yet been subject to weariness, sickness, and the many weaknesses that after became their lot dwelling far from Valinor.' (Book of Lost Tales 1, p 166).

In another example, HoME4 shows a shift in phrasing to show that while 'Elves were immortal, and free from all sickness,' in one draft, Tolkien changed this to 'Elves were immortal, and free from death by sickness' (Shaping of Middle-earth, p 21). So while Elves could indeed become sick, they could not die from their ailments. Death still may only occur through injury or fading.

From the viewpoint of linguistic analysis, the Qenya Lexicon lists several words relating to sickness, including cough, cold, sneeze, nausea, disease, and invalid.

3) Elves can never die from hunger or thirst.

This one is pretty silly from a logical standpoint. Recall what Frodo told Sam as they were crossing Mordor: Orcs are living things, therefore they need to eat and drink. The same applies to Elves. If Elves did not need to eat to live, they would not have made lembas. They also would not have made words for hunger, thirst, and starve, all of which exist.

4) Elves are not right- or left-handed: they are all ambidextrous.

Tolkien does state that Elves are ambidextrous, but also contradicts himself in this. The evidence goes both ways. So it's perfectly fine to write ambidextrous Elves, and also perfectly fine to write them as right- or left-handed.

In The Silmarillion, it is implied that Maedhros was (primarily?) right-handed before his Thangorodrim ordeal, but later 'he lived to wield his sword with left hand more deadly than his right had been.'

The early wordlists are even more obvious: the Gnomish word for left hand also means clumsy, while right hand also means clever. The Qenya word for left hand also means slow, dull, and stiff. These words are likely made obsolete by revision (later Quenya and Sindarin connect the right hand with north and the left with south), but Elvish terms for right-handed and left-handed still exist.

Have a question or item you'd like to see discussed in a future instalment of Linguistic Foolery? Send an email to and share your ideas.

View past Linguistic Foolery columns.

(Return to Top)

A Sense of History

Plato in Númenor


An island in the middle of the ocean whose royal line descends partly from gods partly from mortals, that rises to power and creates an all-powerful maritime empire, becomes excessively ambitious and proud and while its armies are engaged in an expedition overseas is overcome by a huge wave and disappears under the ocean forever. The armies, incidentally, are swallowed by the earth. Familiar, isn't it? Tolkien maybe? No, Plato. And no, he is not talking about Númenor. The name of this island is, of course, Atlantis.

Plato introduces the myth of Atlantis in his Dialogs Critias and Timaeus (360BC) where he recounts what a mythical Greek traveler had been told in Egypt. According to him, the gods had divided the world at the beginning of time and Poseidon, the god of the sea, had received an island in the middle of the ocean. He went to live there after marrying a mortal woman who gave him ten children (five sets of twin boys) who would be the rulers of Atlantis. The first kings lived and ruled by the laws that Poseidon had laid down and their kingdom was prosperous and peaceful and the people were happy. Their needs were supplied by the wealth of the island's fields and forests and later on they started trading with other islands and even the continent "…for the ocean there was at that time navigable […] and it was possible for the travelers of that time to cross from it to the other islands, and from the islands to the whole of the continent …" (1). But as time went by, later kings forgot their origins, abandoned the laws that the gods had given them and became excessively ambitious. They entered into coalitions with evil men and tried to attack and conquer Europe. At first they succeeded occupying territories whose population they turned into slaves but eventually were defeated by a coalition led by Athens. And that was not the end of their misfortunes. Some time later, as Plato says "…there occurred portentous earthquakes and floods, and one grievous day and night befell them, when the whole body of […] warriors was swallowed up by the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner was swallowed up by the sea and vanished; wherefore also the ocean at that spot has now become impassable and unsearchable..." (2).

If this was not enough and in case readers should have any doubt, Tolkien closes the Akallabêth giving the many names of his island:

"(...) Even the name of that land perished, and Men spoke thereafter not of Elenna, nor of Andor the Gift that was taken away, nor of Númenórë on the confines of the world; but the exiles on the shores of the sea, if they turned towards the West in the desire of their hearts, spoke of Mar-nu-Falmar that was whelmed in the waves, Akallabêth the Downfallen, Atalantë in the Eldarin tongue." (3)

Of course, Tolkien the linguist has a clear explanation for this "coincidence" which he gives in one of his letters:

"It is a curious chance that the stem talat used in Q[uenya] for 'slipping, sliding, falling down', of which atalantie is a normal (in Q) noun-formation, should so much resemble Atlantis" (4).

Works Cited

  1. Plato, Timaeus 24e–25a, R. G. Bury translation (Loeb Classical Library).
  2. Ibid., 25c–d.
  3. Tolkien J.R.R., The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth", p.338.
  4. Tolkien J.R.R, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, #257 to Christopher Bretherton, 16 July 1964.

(Return to Top)

Current Challenge

Fanon Inverted

"Fanon" is a detail or idea invented by fans of a work that is expressed so prevalently in the community that many consider it to be factual or even think it came from the texts themselves. Fanon is celebrated by some, scorned by others, proudly flaunted, sheepishly followed, and denied outright, yet as members of the Tolkien fan-writing or -art communities, fanon touches us all and, whether we like it or not (or even know that we're doing it!), shapes our works as well.

For this challenge, we will take a fanon about which we feel passionately--whether "passion" be best defined as love or loathing--and turn that fanon on its head, writing something that goes against the fanon norm in fandom.

Challenges Revisited: Akallabêth in August

Every August, we reopen 2006's Akallabêth in August challenge. Whether your fannish home is in view of Meneltarma or you're newly arrived to the Second Age, we invite you to try your hand at a Second-Age story this month, reread the Akallabêth, and of course, join us for our creative "retelling" of this book as part of the Akallabêth in August 2009 event!

This month, we focus on one of the most tumultuous times in Arda's history: the Second Age and the rise and fall of Númenor. But even as Númenor was the central player during these times, the whole of Arda was affected by the events that affected the prideful and unfortunates alike of this doomed island.

Any story that is or might conceivably be part of the Akallabêth is acceptable for this challenge. If it's been a while since you've read the tales of the Second Age of Arda, why not crack open this oft-neglected chapter and see if inspiration finds you? Here are a few plotbunnies that might find a home in this challenge:

Quote of the Month

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.


Want more challenges? Check out our complete challenge listing for more than three years' worth of challenges to inspire your writing!

Have an idea for a challenge? Some of our most popular challenges have been created by you, the members of SWG! If you have a plotbunny gnawing at your ankle, a favorite quote, or a favorite character that you think might inspire others as well, please send an email to and we'll try to include your challenge in our next newsletter!

(Return to Top)

Around the World and Web

Introducing a New Tolkien Archive: Many Paths to Tread!

The LotR Genfic Community is pleased to announce the debut of its new archive Many Paths to Tread! Many Paths to Tread is a general Tolkien archive that accepts stories based on all of Tolkien's books and the movies based off of his books. Currently, posting privileges are restricted to members of the LotR Genfic LiveJournal Community and LotR Genfic Yahoo! Group (membership is open at both sites), but the moderators expect to open the archive to the public for posting in early 2010.

In the meantime, stop by and check out one of more than one hundred stories that have been added to the archive. (Right this way to the Silmarillion section ...)

Many Paths to Tread

LotR Genfic Community: Some Like It Hot

The August Challenge will have the theme of "out on a limb". You may interpret the theme however you choose. Your element will be a particular tree.

Stories will be due the weekend of Friday, August 14, and will be revealed on Monday, August 17. To request your elements, please leave a comment the LotR Genfic LiveJournal Community.


At Teitho, the challenge for August is Elven Realms: For many of us, Tolkien's world is so fascinating because of the detailed geography and because of the fantastic creatures. In August, Teitho will focus on elves and their realms and kingdoms. This, of course, includes Rivendell, Mirkwood or Lothlorien. However, you could just as well write about Valinor, about Gondolin or about an elven civilization that was unknown until you discovered it! The deadline for this challenge is August 25th. If you want to know more and/or participate, please visit the website.

A Long-Expected Contest (ALEC)

August's theme for ALEC is But You're a Girl! The Tolkien Feminine Twist. Pick one of these three options:

  1. write a tale of the Fellowship but make one of the existing members of the fellowship a female (not a 10th walker, but replace one of the actual fellowship members)
  2. write a tale of the Sons of Feanor with the twist that there are SIX sons and ONE daughter
  3. pick another important male canon character and make them a female instead of a male - Eomer, Bilbo, Gloin, Fingon, Fingolfin, Beleg, Smaug, etc etc.

Stories will be due by 31 August. For more information on how to participate, see the ALEC LiveJournal community.

Middle-earth Fanfiction Awards

Important dates for the 2009 MEFAs are as follows:

31 July. Categorization is finalized
31 August. Reviewers should set their reviewing goal by 11:59 PM GMT
31 December. Voting ends at 11:59 PM

Geocities Free Web-Hosting Is Closing on 26 October 2009

Geocities has long provided free webhosting and has been a popular choice for fandom websites. Geocities has announced that it will be closing its doors on 26 October 2009. That means that any content left on Geocities after that date will be lost.

If you host (or know someone who hosts) with Geocites, it is recommended that you save copies of your site and move your content to a new host. If you frequent a site that is hosted through Geocities, and the owner does not plan to move the content (or perhaps has deserted the site altogether), it is recommended that you take screencaps of any content you wish to access after 26 October.

The Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) has announced its Geocites Rescue Project to provide support and resources for fannish sites currently hosted with Geocities. Information is available for relocating both fiction archives and fandom resource pages.

If you host a Tolkien fandom-related page through Geocities and need a temporary home for your content while you seek out other hosting options, please contact me at, and I might be able to help you find a place to temporarily host your site.

Around the World and Web is provided for our members to inform them of events in the larger Tolkien community. SWG is not affiliated with and does not endorse the groups that we feature in Around the World and Web, and we are not responsible for content on sites outside of our own. Please use discretion and caution when visiting unfamiliar sites on the Internet.

Would you like to see your group or event featured on Around the World and Web? See our Promotions Page for more details or email us at

(Return to Top)

View Newsletter Archive