TheSilmarillionWriters'Guild

Newsletter: August 2011

Table of Contents


SWG News

Akallabêth in August

August has always been our Númenórean month when we explore the Akallabêth. This month's newsletter has a list of all of the Second Age stories, poems, and essays on our archive, or explore 2009's Akallabêth in August event to read the always fascinating tales of the Second Age.

The Season of Writing Dangerously

The Season of Writing Dangerously is underway! It's not too late to join us if you want to make your summer a productive one! See our Season of Writing Dangerously page for information on how to get involved.

Site Redesign

We are still taking suggestions for the planned redesign of our site which will be undertaken during the summer. If you have any ideas, don’t hesitate to contact us at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org or leave a comment on our LJ entry about the site redesign.


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New at the Archive

Completed Works

A Lonely Bride by alquawende [General] † (1225 words)
Summary: Erendis reflects upon her life.

Little Golden Age by Agelast [General] (2624 words)
Summary: And what of Fingon's wife?

Melkor: Null and Void by Chilled in Hithlum [General] (2309 words)
Summary: This stand alone piece was inspired in part by my Website Colleague, Himring, insomuch that I wanted to write a single chapter story which delves into character and not just dialogue as spoken. I had great fun writing in prose as opposed to script, although I hope to be returning to my other stuff soon... As per usual I have opted for the grandiose and chosen as my subject the final moments of Melkor before he is cast into Timeless Void.

The Apple of His Eye by Russandol [Adult] † (10891 words)
Summary: In the year 2850 of the Third Age, two Elves from Mirkwood fall in the clutches of the Lord of Dol Guldur. Little do they suspect the true identity of the Necromancer, who demands their compliance to his twisted game of power and seduction.

Thoughts of a Dagger by wind rider [Teens] (1126 words)
Summary: I was forged for one single purpose, for one single person. But the world is wide, and the dangers aplenty, and one single purpose and one single person could turn into many.

Too Long a Winter by clotho123 [General] (3805 words)
Summary: Mid-winter at Himring was never going to be all peace and goodwill.

Works in Progress

Ambarussa by Silver Trails [Adult]
Summary: Did Amras really die when Fëanor and his sons burned the ships in Losgar?.
Chapters added this month: Chapter 18 and Chapter 19.

Carmina Brethilia by Robinka [Adult]
Summary: Or an account of the battle in the forest of Brethil as seen by Beleg Cúthalion, told in two parts..
Chapter added this month: A toast for the forest soldiers.

Chasing Mirages by Russandol [Adult] †
Summary: A 'what if' tale of darkness, light, love and betrayal over the Ages of Eä.
Chapters added this month: Intrigues and Mandos.

Elegy for Númenor - Volume 1: Journey to Umbar by elfscribe [Adult] †
Summary: Chronicles the last days of Númenor from the time Sauron "surrenders" to Ar-Pharazôn to the fall of the empire. Love, lust, greed, betrayal, fate, and heroism all combine into an epic story with many characters.
Chapter added this month: Chapter 26 - The Price.

Full of Wisdom and Perfect in Beauty by Gadira † [Adult]
Summary: The History of the Downfall, from Ar-Sakalthôr´s accession to Ar-Pharazôn´s Armada. Long saga. (Rating for possible future transgressions).
Chapters added this month: The Fall and Rebirth of the King .

In Darkness Bound by Fiondil [Teens]
Summary: In the aftermath of the Darkening, three kings search for meaning in the midst of tragedy. One seeks absolution; another, vengeance, while the third merely endeavors to salvage what he can from the disaster and protect his people from future harm. All may find what they are looking for, though not necessarily in the way they expect, for, as always, the Valar have their own agenda. 
Chapters added this month: Chapter 87: On the Road West, Chapter 88: Arafinwë at World’s End, Chapter 89: Unforging a Collar, Chapter 90: Repairing the Damage, Chapter 91: Noldóran, Chapter 92: Intarion and Lirulin in Tirion, Chapter 93: Four Nissi and a Nér, Chapter 94: Intarion Alone and Chapter 95: Ingaluarë Alone.

One Hundred Words About Maedhros by Himring [Teens]
Summary: Drabbles in my 'Doom' series. Not necessarily gloomy!
Chapter added this month: Chained.

Postcards from Arda by Elleth [General] (5817 words) Incomplete
Summary: A set of ficlets for B2MeM 2011.
Chapters added this month: By Any Other Name, The Araman Tower, Whatever Betide , Diplomacy Homeward and Gathering Strength

Spectrums by wind rider [General]
Summary: Trying to answer my own set of challenges; "100 Prompts." A collection of drabbles (from true drabbles to triple drabbles, according to MS Word) spanning the Beginning to the First Age, told through various scenes, in the point of viewof various characters – Elves, Men, Ainur, Dwarves, Ents, animals, and even orcs; not chronologically. Ratings may vary. Enjoy!
Chapter added this month: 1. Fire.

THE GREAT TALES OF BELERIAND vol 2 by Chilled in Hithlum [General]
Summary: I had some difficulty deciding where to end the first volume, but I had as a jumping off point the sojourn of Hurin and Huor in Gondolin and the knowledge that they acquired there regarding the lore of the Eldar. This presents an opporturnity to delve into the past, as it where, and look deeper at some of the main protagonists in the form of back-story. Although it is not my intention to completely slow down this tale with a SHADOW OF THE PAST volume and I still don't quite know yet how I can contrive this to the reader's and my own satisfaction. However, the main thrust of this volume that is set 'in the present' will follow the arc of Hurin coming into his inheritance as Lord of Dor-Lomin and other events beside (eg. The Fall of Barahir.)
Chapter added this month: Chapter 6.

Short Works

Arrows of Love by Erulisse [General] (107 words)
Summary: It is written that Fëanáro first met Nerdanel when working in the forge of her father, Mahtan, as an apprentice. Did she fall in love with him right away? Here is one possibility. Written for Tolkien Weekly prompt “archery”.

Changing Roles by Erulisse [General](102 words)
Summary: A long-time relationship of friendship, changes to a relationship of romance. Will the friendship survive the change? Written for TW Challenge Word: Running.

Chocolate by alquawende [General] (402 words)
Summary: Aegnor and Andreth share a moment by Tarn Aeluin.

His Baby Blues by Erulisse [General] (311 words)
Summary: The day after an unexpected event, Eilian (Helyanwë) reflects back over the event and her reaction.

Left Behind by alquawende [General] (869 words)
Summary: Amarie reminisces about Finrod and must make a difficult decision.

One Day by wind rider [Teens] (314 words)
Summary: A youth is a youth is a youth. What did Hathaldir think as he fought fknew he would never win? Was the last stand of Barahir and his men truly hopeless? – A triple drabble (exactly 300 words) as counted on MS Word. Never laugh on a youth’s earnest, innocent dream. It might just be true.

Paying the Price by Erulisse [Adult] (109 words)
Summary: A chilling look at the Kinslaying at Alqualondë and the relationships that ended in bloodshed at those piers. For TW Challenge – Swordplay or Defense.

Rowing Through Rough Waters by Erulisse [General] (114 words)
Summary: While taking refuge from politics by staying with relatives, Helyanwë discovers rough waters can exist in different forms.

Someone to Claim Us, Someone to Follow by Agelast [General] (272 words)
Summary: It's especially sad when a doomed man has a sense of humor.

The Sea and King Meet in Treachery by Adonnen Estenniel [General] (105 words)
Summary: 'Tis treachery, they told Ar-Pharazôn, 'tis foolish pride. Perhaps it was, perhaps. But still he set his course for the West.

Western Duty, Eastern Desire by Adonnen Estenniel [General] (239 words)
Summary: The impossible choice comes to all: a time when the balance of the scales depends upon whether or not one does the right thing. But the 'right thing' is often subjective, as two Istari must learn.

Poetry

Finarfin Regrets by Adonnen Estenniel [General] ( words)
Summary: When the time comes to choose, Finarfin weighs his options.

Library of Tirion

Epilogue - A Fairy Story by Lipstick [General]
Summary: Maedhros and Maglor reunite at the end of times - or almost.
First published: June 1, 2003.

Mother and Daughter by Deborah Judge [General] ( words)
Summary: On Elven gender, Maedhros, textual transmission, and the parentage of Gil-galad.
First published: July 24, 2002.

Quo Vadis? by Tehta [General]
Summary: As Gondolin burns, Salgant—ever an artist—chooses his fate.
First published: September 11, 2005.


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Akallabêth in August

Second Age Writing Archived on the SWG

We know that our Second Age writers sometimes fall in the shadow of the more popular First Age and Years of the Trees. Because of that, we like to devote the month of August to stories set in the Second Age. Of course, we encourage our members to try their hands at Second Age stories, even if they've never written about the Second Age before. But we also like to honor the existing Second Age stories on our archive and hope that readers will consider checking out a few of them! All links go to the story's table of contents, where you can learn more details about genre, ratings, and characters.

We try to do our best to assure that all Second Age work makes it onto the list, but in the midst of sorting through more than 1,100 stories, sometimes a few get left off. If you see a story that's missing from the list, please contact us and we'll add it! Stories marked with an asterisk were added or updated within the last year.

*Admission by SurgicalSteel
Zamîn and Nemir (two of my OCs) meet after the Last Alliance and discuss their losses.

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.

Anadûnai by darthfingon
163 years after their parting in Middle-earth, Elrond travels to Númenor to see his brother again.

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.

*The Axes of a Soul by wind rider
The last survivor of the drowning Númenor reflects on herself, her life and her decisions as she struggles to avoid certain death. What will she get in the end? Does she dare to face it like the proud daughter of the Island that she is?

The Ban of the Valar by Fiondil
The Valar meet to discuss how to prevent the Númenóreans from seeking the Undying Lands.

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

Bedtime Tales of the Sun by Dawn Felagund
A young daughter in the House of Anárion asks how the world came to be rounded.

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

Brothers by Dawn Felagund
Two brothers face their father's death and the differences that have arisen between them, for one is of the King's Men and the other of the Elf-friends.

*Burning Bright: The Road by Keiliss
The outbreak of war in Eregion and the hiding of the rings of power as experienced by a musician, a lord with an agenda set beyond the sea, an exiled Noldorin princess and an elf with an uneasy conscience.

Cameos by Durin the Deathless, Ereinion Gil-galad, Celebrimbor, and Annatar the Giver of not always welcome Gifts.

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.

*Chasing Mirages by Russandol
A tale of darkness, light, love and betrayal over the Ages of Eä.

"When Thangorodrim was broken and Morgoth overthrown, Sauron put on his fair hue again and did obeisance to Eönwë the herald of Manwë, and abjured all his evil deeds. And some hold that this was not at first falsely done, but that Sauron in truth repented, if only out of fear..." This is the story of Eönwë, Maia of Manwë, and Mairon Aulendil after the War of Wrath.

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.

Chronicles of the Fifth Voyage of the Númerrámar: The Loremaster Arrives by pandemonium_213
Before he became Tar-Aldarion, Anardil, Tar-Meneldur's heir, sailed far and wide on the great ship, the Númerrámar. Before Captain Anardil embarks on his seven year voyage, a young loremaster writes to him, eager to accompany captain and crew in search of strange flora and fauna. In letters exchanged prior to the voyage, Captain Anardil discovers that the loremaster has some unusual ideas.

Coda by Marta
After the fall of Numenor, Nienna ponders the nature of loss. (Also featuring Pengolodh.)

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?

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

The Day the Numenoreans Left by Aiwen
Pharazôn and Amandil's diplomatic mission to Middle-earth may do more harm than good ...

The Death of a Star by Encairion
Isildur got a little too much credit for Sauron's defeat. A look at Dagorlad from Gil-galad's POV.

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.

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.

Elfstone by Gandalfs apprentice
Celebrimbor creates the Elessar.

*The Embalmer's Apprentice by Lyra
Faced with the choice between execution or working on the preservation of dead people, young Azruhâr finds himself drawn into the increasingly political struggle between progress and tradition, science and superstition.

Eönwë Among the Edain by Fiondil
Eönwë has been chosen to teach the Edain who will go to Númenor what they need to know to succeed in their new life, but he’s not too happy about the assignment.

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.

Everlasting Darkness by Cirdan
A depressing tale. Celebrimbor ponders his life just before Sauron begins his attack on Eregion.

Every Wish by Independence1776
Mestië, a Faithful commoner, prepares for her wedding while dealing with Ar-Gimilzôr’s new laws forbidding the speaking of Elvish.

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

Falling Stars by Independence1776
Mestië and Alagos suffer the consequences of breaking Ar-Gimilzôr’s laws. Dark.

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.

Finrod's Rematch by Cirdan
Finrod shows up and challenges Sauron to a very different kind of rematch at the end of the Second Age.

Fire and Smoke by Marta
"Thereafter the fire and smoke went up without ceasing; for the power of Sauron daily increased, and in that temple, with spilling of blood and torment and great wickedness, men made sacrifice to Melkor." (Akallabeth)

*Five Things That Never Happened to Sauron by Russandol
Five short scenes with a twist, in five different locations. Each of them harder to write than the previous one!

*Folly by SurgicalSteel
Could the downfall of Númenor have been prevented had the Valar acted differently?

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.

*A Fragile Chalice by pandemonium_213
In spite of weariness and stress, Tyelperinquar (a.k.a. Celebrimbor) hosts a gathering in his home: a supper followed by what we might call a salon for the elite of Ost-in-Edhil. Musicians, rival poets, and lively conversation among the guests, which includes Erestor, the visiting emissary from Gil-galad's realm, provide the evening's entertainment. An elven poetry slam causes Tyelpo to become immersed in deep memories -- some poignant, some painful, and one dark and strange yet vaguely familiar.

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

A Game of Risk by Lyra
Isildur said no word, but went out by night and did a deed for which he was afterwards renowned.

Isildur discovers that heroic deeds are not nearly as simple as the poets make it sound.

The Hidden Lady by Rhapsody
Many scribes and bards have claimed that the Valar spared Elendil and his sons, but what is fact and what is myth?

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

His Own Dark Designs by Independence1776
Ar-Pharazôn begins to worship Morgoth. Drabble.

Hostage by SurgicalSteel
Ar-Pharazon takes Sauron as a hostage for the good behavior of his people.

How the East Was Won by pandemonium_213
During the earliest years of the Second Age, Melkor’s great lieutenant puts the destruction of Beleriand behind him and travels to the East...with a plan.

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

Into This Wild Abyss by pandemonium_213
A series of contributions for Akallabêth in August 2009 in response to the following prompts: 1) Sauron fortifies Mordor; 2) Sauron begins to afflict Númenórean settlements to the south; 3) Sauron convinces Ar-Pharazôn to break the Ban of the Valar; 4) storms from the West strike Númenor; and 5) Sauron returns to Middle-earth.

*The Jinn by pandemonium_213
While leading his tribe into the deep desert to escape the inevitable war between the Zigûr and the Sea-kings, Sharif finds a woman -- injured and unconscious -- among the rocks. He discovers this is not a mortal woman, but one of the pale-skinned immortal demons of the north. He is ready to kill her, but the tribe's priestess stays his hand, warning him that slaying the jinn would bring terrible misfortune to his tribe. His wives care for the jinn, who recovers and aids the tribe as they journey to the East in search of a mysterious land where they hope to find sanctuary, the jinn no less than Sharif and his tribe as she flees from the Zigûr.

Landfall by Keiliss
Aftermath.

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?

The Last Temptation by Fireworks
Sauron has been taken prisoner by Pharazôn but nurtures an ever-growing influence. In the midst of a Númenor increasingly divided, a young Anárion works quietly after rebellion, discovering both love and betrayal in its midst.

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 Man Who Grew Tomatoes by pandemonium_213
Navin, a young boy living in a mystical land in the East of Middle-earth, a civilization as rich in lore and magic as any in the West, visits family friends while his mother prepares to give birth to a new sister or brother. There in the hills, Navin helps his elderly friend in his garden and later, his friend -- a man from a distant land now gone -- tells Navin the story of how tomatoes came to Bharat.

Many Hands by Russandol
The story of a mighty weapon and heirloom, spanning the younger ages of the world.

*The Mariner's Wife by Odinsbard
The lament of Erendis, after Aldarion Prince of Numenor rideth hence from Erendis' country-home when returning from a long journey; and she realises what hath truly become of life. It is written in 1st person as Erendis speaking and thus neither of their names are actually mentioned.

Written in alliterative verse, after the style of the ancient Anglo-Saxon metres...

Mavoinë by Fiondil
On a lonely hill overlooking Andúnië, an Elf watches his mortal friend build a tower and is filled with grave misgivings as to its purpose.

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.

A Mighty Bridge Invisible by Noliel
A mariner finds himself, alone, on the Old Road to the West.

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.

Never Look Back by Independence1776
Elrond has difficulty coming to terms with Elros' choice and their impending seperation.

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.

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.

Penance by SurgicalSteel
Written in honor of Pandemonium's birthday - during the siege of Barad-dur, a surgeon deals with illness and injury from the various forces in place.

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.

*A Plain, Simple Love Story by Keiliss
The king and the archivist. Respect, friendship, misunderstanding, making up - a forever kind of love.

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

*Pyrrhic Wedding by Himring
The future of her ladies-in-waiting becomes a counter in the marital conflict between Tar-Ancalime and her estranged husband Hallacar. Hallacar shames Tar-Ancalime into permitting them to marry. We are allowed to assume that they all were unreservedly grateful for this opportunity. But were they?

*Reborn by Gadira
A conversation that will change the fate of Númenor forever. Written for B2MEM Day 14, "Armenelos", on the subject of religion. Based on my Full of Wisdom verse, though it can be read on its own.

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.

Sacrifice by SurgicalSteel
Not everyone involved with the sacrifices at Armenelos were believers.

*The Sea and King Meet in Treachery by Adonnen Estenniel
'Tis treachery, they told Ar-Pharazôn, 'tis foolish pride. Perhaps it was, perhaps. But still he set his course for the West.

Seek the Horizon, Númenor's Sons by Dawn Felagund
"Above all arts they nourished shipbuilding and sea-craft, and they became mariners whose like shall never be again since the world was diminished; and voyaging upon the wide seas was the chief feat and adventure of their hardy men in the gallant days of their youth"--a Númenórean mariners' chant.

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

Stars of Heaven's Dome by Cirdan
At the end of the Second Age, Elrond meets this long lost uncles, Elured and Elurin. They accompany him to see Oropher of Greenwood then decide to join in the War against Sauron.

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

Small Expectations by Noliel
On the eve of the Numenorean-landing at the shores of Aman, Mahtan comes to see Nerdanel in her home by the coast to persuade her to come with him to Valimar.

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.

A Struggle with Darkness by Fireworks
Construction has begun on Sauron's temple in Armenelos, but strange, dark afflictions are plaguing those who go near ...

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

Tenn' Ambar-Metta by Fiondil
Elrond receives a final letter from his brother.

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.

*Through Darkness Unescapable by Valiniel
The Alkallabeth was written as a history, but histories rarely reveal the whole truth. What was the truth behind the life of Tar Miriel, last queen of Numenor?

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

*Time of Trial by Lyra
Sauron has become Ar-Pharazôn's most trusted advisor, but it is not an easy job even for a cunning Maia. An unknown intruder in the palace gardens, however, enables him to set some of his more ambitious plans in motion...

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 Stand Fast Against the Night by Fiondil
Tar-Palantir makes a decision upon receiving the Sceptre of Númenor, a decision that does not meet with universal approval.

Touch of a Vanished Hand by elfscribe
When Elendil and his group of Númenóreans wash up on Lindon's shores, Elrond's past comes back to haunt him.

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.

*Volcano by SurgicalSteel
Late Second Age. Ar-Zimraphel struggles up the mountain.

Character death.

War Children by Fireworks
While the Númenóreans live in the height of their pride and folly, they leave darkness and ruin in their wake. A young woman in Middle-earth struggles with this legacy.

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.

*The Wisdom of Isildur by Marnie
After Gil-Galad's death, Elrond and Celeborn talk power, allegiances and rings.

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.

The Wrong Way to the Indies by Fireworks
After a world-changing discovery, a young cartographer in Middle-earth struggles with what he has to tell the world.

"Zimraphel" and "I who loved her" by Noliel and Dawn Felagund
Tar-Miriel faces the wave that will drown Númenor while, in the midst of the forbidden realm of Valinor, Ar-Pharazôn is granted sudden awareness of her fate.

Correction: Burning Bright: The Road and A Plain, Simple Love Story, both by Keiliss, were unintentionally left off the original list.


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Character of the Month Biography

Sauron

Marta


I.

At first glance Sauron does not appear to have much depth as a character. Fans of The Lord of the Rings are not treated to any touching stories of the young orphaned Tom Riddle, nor do we ever see the child who would become Darth Vader winning a pod race. He works rather well as a villain, but we are rarely given a reason to think of him as more than that.

Nor does he fare much better in The Silmarillion. To be sure, the reader gets hints to his backstory in the Valaquenta, making some sense of Elrond's statement that "nothing is evil in the beginning," (The Lord of the Rings, "The Council of Elrond"), but even this characterization does not raise the kind of issues that might entice a reader to think seriously about his motivation and character. What was he like before his association with Morgoth? Why did he rebel? What did Morgoth offer him that he wanted?

If this was all there was to him, I would have no interest in defending or even understanding him. He would function well as the evil overlord du jour, but I would expect nothing more from him. As with many of Tolkien's characters, however, they really come into their own in Tolkien's so-called minor works. In Tolkien's stories about the Second Age (Unfinished Tales, the Akallabêth, and Of the Rings of Power) we meet a Sauron with a good deal more depth than the one found in Tolkien's better-known tales.

II.

At the end of Valaquenta, Tolkien gives this description of Sauron:

In the beginning he was of the Maiar of Aulë, and he remained mighty in the lore of that people. In all the deeds of Melkor the Morgoth upon Arda, in his vast works and in the deceits of his cunning, Sauron had a part, and was only less evil than his master in that for long he served another and not himself. But in after years he rose like a shadow of Morgoth and a ghost of his malice, and walked behind him on the same ruinous path down into the Void.

He's not portrayed as a praiseworthy character here, or even a particularly interesting one. If anything, he is overshadowed by Morgoth. The only detail unique to him, that he was originally "of the Maiar of Aulë," does not tell us much other than give the vague impression that he was a craftsman or scientist.

In his letters J.R.R. Tolkien gives more information about Sauron's origins. Writing to Milton Waldman, Tolkien describes Sauron as "a being of Valinor perverted to the service of the Enemy" (Letter #131). That word, being, carries a particular philosophical association. A being is a thing with moral worth, a person rather than a non-human animal, and therefore possesses a certain dignity. At a minimum a being can make decisions and impact the world. Moreover, by saying he is "of Valinor," Tolkien connects him specifically to paradise. Being of a certain place is saying that you came from that group originally; it is a more intimate, immediate connection. Finally, Sauron's later form is a perversion, implying he turned away from something good to become something bad.

Ultimately, Sauron is perverted and he does follow Melkor into Middle-earth. He probably played a role in most of Morgoth's machinations throughout the First Age, though he is rarely mentioned by name in the Quenta Silmarillion. (One exception is the story of Beren and Lúthien, where Sauron captures Beren and Finrod for a time.) However, we learn in Of the Rings of Power that "[Sauron's] power had been great" under Morgoth. It seems unlikely that he didn't play a role in other events involving Morgoth.

After Morgoth's fall, Sauron approached the Valar's emissary Eönwë seeking a pardon. Eönwë cannot grant the pardon because he and Sauron are ontologically equals (so Eönwë is not in a position to pass judgment, as he was with the elves). Still, the mere fact that Sauron asks for pardon shows that he is capable of repentance at this point. He does not want to accept punishment because he is afraid he will receive "a sentence, it might be, of long servitude in good faith" – but at least he does not want to be opposed to the Valar, at this point in time.

Tolkien does not say where exactly Tolkien went after this meeting with Eönwë. The Akallabêth does tell us how many of the men who served Morgoth fled east and set themselves up as kings over the men native to that region, and that those Men had taken the "friends of Morgoth" to be their masters. It's possible that Sauron is included as one of these "friends of Morgoth." He certainly has fortified Barad-dûr by the reign of the Númenórean king Tar-Minastir (SA 1731-1869), and he was a political force in the lands the Númenóreans tried to colonize.

III.

Before Sauron becomes a great lord facing off against the Númenóreans, he deals with the Elves of Eregion in a rather different way. It's easy to think of Sauron only as an enemy general intent on dominating all the free peoples of Middle-earth. That model works well enough for his actions in the Third Age, but not for when he first meets Celebrimbor and Gil-galad.

Sauron first presented himself as an emissary of the Valar, not mentioning his specific identity, but Gil-galad and Elrond "doubted him and his fair-seeming, and though they knew not who in truth he was they would not admit him to that land" (The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power).They sent out messengers to all the elves of that region warning them about their suspicions, but few of their neighbors heeded the advice. Sauron found the elves of Eregion particularly willing to accept him as a friend.

Why were the elves of Eregion more open to Sauron than Gil-galad had been? Sauron's words to them are telling:

"But wherefore should Middle-earth remain for ever desolate and dark, whereas the Elves could make it as fair as Eressëa, nay even as Valinor? And since you have not returned thirther, as you might, I perceive that you love this Middle-earth, as do I. Is it not then our task to labour together for its enrichment, and for the raising of all the Elven-kindreds that wander here untaught to the height of that power and knowledge which those have who are beyond the Sea?"

If Sauron's words are disingenuous, he at least knows his audience. Lindon was one of the last remaining kingdoms from the First Age. Most of the survivors of the wars with Morgoth settled there after his fall, and it probably would have contained a good mixture of all the elves who fled to Balar as Morgoth gained control over Beleriand. Eregion, on the other hand, seems more purely connected with the Noldorin, and in particular with the Noldorin with a creative or scientific bent. Celebrimbor, the last remnant of Fëanor's line, was a lord among this folk, a character described in Unfinished Tales as having "an almost 'dwarvish' obsession with crafts." Whereas Lindon had a mix of all elvish races, Eriador is described as primarily (though not exclusively) Noldorin, and one of the main reasons it was founded was for elves who wanted to live close to the dwarves. I can well imagine it had the air of an artists' colony, people who were genuinely interested in discovery and invention. Sauron's promise of a land "as fair as Eressëa, nay even as Valinor" must have been enticing to this particular group of elves.

But should we assume Sauron was just telling this group of elves what they wanted to hear? He was a maia of Aulë, and it is entirely possible that being around so many of the Noldor reminded him of some experiences he had buried while serving Morgoth. It's possible, too, that he disagreed with the Valar's actions at the end of the First Age. They had left Middle-earth to Morgoth's domination back before the Elves' awakening, and the Akallabêth tells us that the Valar abandoned the men of Middle-earth once again, leaving Sauron and other servants of Morgoth to trouble those who chose to remain in Middle-earth. Sauron, if he had lived as a lord in the east, would have seen the practical consequence of that neglect, and he might have genuinely wanted to work with the elves to remedy it. If so, the elves of Eregion probably represented his best opportunity to do that.

In any event, the elves of Eregion do accept Sauron's friendship, for "they were not at peace in their hearts, since they had refused to return into the West, and they desired both to stay in Middle-earth, which indeed they loved, and yet to enjoy the bliss of those that had departed" (The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power). Sauron revealed his knowledge to them, and the Elves used it to master crafts that they did not yet know. The partnership was a success, and "in those days the smiths of Ost-in-Edhil surpassed all that they had contrived before; and they took thought, and they made Rings of Power."

Sauron formed a special friendship with Celebrimbor, who led a guild of smiths called the Gwaith-i-Mírdain. At the time Galadriel and Celeborn were the rulers of Eregion, but around 1350 Sauron "persuaded [the Gwaith-i-Mírdain] to revolt against Galadriel and Celeborn and to seize power in Eregion" (Unfinished Tales, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn). This incident shows that, even when Sauron's academic side was dominant, it was still well mixed with his drive for power. Tolkien tells us that Galadriel suspected he could not be trusted, and in a note Christopher Tolkien speculates that she guessed his true identity. And while Galadriel is around, Sauron does not seem to attempt any projects that might be too challenging to Galadriel's sensibilities. It is only when she and Celeborn are driven out of Eregion that the Gwaith-i-Mírdain begin the more radical work of creating rings of power.

For his part, Celebrimbor "was not corrupted in heart or faith, but had accepted Sauron as what he posed to be." When he discovered that Sauron was crafting a Ring that would rule the rings that he and the other Gwaith-i-Mírdain had made, he "revolted against Sauron" and, at the advice of Galadriel, sent the three elven-rings far from Eregion so they could be hidden from Sauron.

When he heard that the rings had been hidden Sauron made war against the war of Eregion. Celebrimbor fought against Sauron to keep him from entering Celebrimbor's home, but Sauron captured him, eventually torturing and killing him. Sauron found the nine rings he later gave to the Nazgûl in Celebrimbor's home, and Celebrimbor revealed the locations of the seven dwarven-rings while being tortured, but he never told where he and Galadriel had sent the three rings to. Then, "in black anger [Sauron] turned back to battle; and bearing as a banner Celebrimbor's body hung upon a pole, shot through with Orc-arrows, he turned upon the forces of Elrond."

This is a very different Sauron than the one who first enters Eregion, if the personality as I have portrayed it is genuine. (I believe it to be most likely, but the canonical texts certainly do not require that he have had those motives in mind.) Assuming he did have a bit of a revival on entering Eregion, it is plausible that Sauron would also have reacted so violently to something he considered a betrayal. He had been among the most powerful of Morgoth's lieutenants in the First Age, and among the men there probably would not have been anyone who was his equal. An elf was certainly no equal to a maia, but a descendant of Fëanor would have been masterful and intelligent. I can easily see Sauron treating him as an equal. The fact that Sauron gave him gifts and worked with the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, rather than overwhelming Eregion by force, suggests that Sauron would have interacted with Celebrimbor as an equal, a dynamic that involves a certain amount of vulnerability, and when Sauron was rejected precisely because Celebrimbor discovered who he really was, it is easy to see why Sauron would have reacted the way he did.

If Sauron's earlier, less perverted (to use Tolkien's word) character did re-emerge when he first entered Eregion, his older self reasserted itself quickly and thoroughly as his friendship with Celebrimbor fell apart:

Now Sauron's lust and pride increased, until he knew no bounds, and he determined to make himself master of all things in Middle-earth, and to destroy the Elves, and to compass, if he might, the downfall of Númenor. He brooked no freedom nor any rivalry, and he named himself Lord of the Earth. A mask he could still wear so that if he wished he might deceive the eyes of Men, seeming to them wise and fair. But he ruled rather by force and fear, [...] and he gathered again under his government all the evil things of the days of Morgoth that remained on earth or beneath it, and the Orcs were at his command and multiplied like flies.

Still, I believe this was a change from how Sauron was when first entered Eregion. The potential for rejuvenation both after Morgoth's fall and after encountering the elves of Eregion shows that Sauron was not so given over to the drive to drive to dominate others as we might at first assume. It is certainly a more genuine sharing of knowledge, a more equal partnership than he shows in the other foreign kingdom he enters into: Númenor.

IV.

Sauron drove the elves out of Eregion for a time, but his victory did not last. The elves who had been driven out allied themselves with Gil-galad's people and with the Númenóreans. After being driven out of Eregion, Sauron retreated into the east. This was around the time he fortified Barad-dûr in the reign of Tar-Calion, mentioned above. However, the Númenóreans did not leave him alone there and eventually Sauron allowed himself to be captured by Ar-Pharazôn. He "assented as one constrained, yet in his secret thought he received [the captivity] gladly" (The Silmarillion, Akallabêth).

He quickly rose through the ranks of Númenórean society so that "ere three years had passed he had become closest to the secret counsels of the King." This dynamic, though, was very different from the way he had related to Celebrimbor. With the Gwaith-i-Mírdain Sauron had taught the smiths how to do certain things. This was not just the communication of knowledge but the development of capacities, something that required practice and tutoring rather than simple transmission of information. With Pharazôn, however, the learning resembled a traditional student-teacher relationship more than it could have with Celebrimbor. Sauron had certain facts that Pharazôn wanted, and Sauron simply had to tell him what he knew.

In this way, Sauron "gainsaid all that the Valar had taught [the Númenóreans]; and he bade men think that in the world, in the east and even in the west, there lay yet many seas and many lands for their winning wherein was wealth uncounted." With Pharazôn, Sauron shared even more dangerous "knowledge." He told the King that the Valar had deceived the Númenóreans about Morgoth and that Morgoth was not actually an enemy of Ilúvatar. He instructed Pharazôn to call his former lord Melkor, and he told him that Melkor was "Lord of All, Giver of Freedom, and he shall make you stronger than [the Valar]." Sauron even tricked Pharazôn into believing there was no Ilúvatar; he claimed that the Valar had made him up so that their own pronouncements would seem unassailable.

Building on this theology, Pharazôn and Sauron set up a religion devoted to "worship of the Dark, and of Melkor the Lord thereof." As part of this worship, Sauron "caused to be built upon the hill in the midst of the city of the Númenóreans, Armenelos the golden, a great temple." Pharazôn had the White Tree of Númenor torn down, and its wood was burned on an altar in that temple. (Isildur had stolen some fruit from that tree, which was later replanted in Gondor.) From here, this "religion" devolved into a violent means to oppress the political and philosophical opponents of Sauron and Pharazôn.

Aside from the physical details (which are among the most graphic I have ever read in Tolkien), the details of how the victims were chosen is particularly heart-wrenching. They were never selected because "they would not worship Melkor, the Giver of Freedom, rather was cause sought against them that they hated the King and were his rebels, or that they plotted against their kin." But they most often were taken from the Faithful, so for their philosophical differences these men were also branded as criminals in the more common sense.

All of this was designed to make the Númenóreans fear death even more. By sacrificing people to Melkor "that he should release them from Death," Sauron ensured that their own impending death was always on the Númenóreans minds. Of course these sacrifices did not keep men from actually dying, so the followers of this new religion would feel even more powerless than they had felt beforehand. Sauron encouraged Pharazôn to build up weapons and navies, and Pharazôn – anxious about his own increasing age – did just that. He sent these new warships to Middle-earth where the Númenóreans came "no longer as bringers of gifts, nor even as rulers, but as fierce men of war," and "Pharazôn grew to the mightiest tyrant that had yet been in the world since the reign of Morgoth."

Eventually Sauron convinced Pharazôn that the key to immortality could be found in Valinor. There, Sauron said, "The Valar have possessed themselves of the land where there is no death." At last Pharazôn "hardened his heart" and decided to sail west "to wrest from them everlasting life within the Circles of the World." The Valar, fearing that the Númenóreans would spoil Valinor if they ever set foot on it, laid down their power and allowed Ilúvatar to remake the world, with horrific results. Númenor was swallowed up by the sea but only after its people were exposed to terrifying storms and earthquakes. Even Sauron was surprised by the severity of this reaction. Out of all the men of Númenor, only a portion of Elendil's household escaped.

Sauron himself was very nearly killed in this destruction. He "was not of mortal flesh," but he did lose his body and "could never again appear fair to the eyes of Men." His spirit escaped the downfall, though, and he traveled over the sea as "a black wind over the sea." At last he returned to Mordor where he fashioned for himself "an image of malice and hatred made visible" for a new body.

V.

From this point on, Sauron's story is the story of The Lord of the Rings. Elendil's company founded the realms of Gondor and Arnor and (together with Gil-galad's armies) they made war against Sauron. Sauron was defeated (temporarily) when Isildur cut the ring from his hand, but since the Ring survived so did Sauron. Eventually Sauron was destroyed when Frodo threw the Ring into the Crack of Mount Doom during the War of the Ring. Through all of these events Tolkien doesn't tell us anything more about Sauron's character. If the maia of Aulë still existed within him, he made no further appearance.

It is easy to hate Sauron, and easier still if we reduce him to the level of an orc, a villain with neither motivation nor reason. I am not sure that Sauron deserves our love, because some of his actions (especially those regarding Númenor) are morally indefensible. Even so, Sauron was not always the character we meet in the Lord of the Rings. Understanding how his character developed gives an interesting view on Tolkien's theme of the dangers of technology and creation. Agree or disagree with that position, Sauron's story is just the kind of situation where those issues become important, and so Sauron gives us more insight into why Tolkien approached this topic the way he did.

He's also a fascinating character with a fascinating backstory in his own right. It's well worth the effort to better acquaint ourselves with him.




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Current Challenge

The Exchange Student

If someone from our time were to be an exchange student somewhere in Middle-earth during the First Age, what would they learn and what would others learn from them? Or what if a student from some race, grouping or clan were sent to a different one for a cultural exchange? Would the student have ideas about what to expect that ended up differently? Would there be any cultural misunderstandings? Also, would the experience be different depending on who the student was because of their gender, race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, personality, etc?

Create a piece written from the exchange student's perspective. The person in question doesn't necessarily have to come from our time, but it could also be a Belegost dwarf sent to Lake Helevorn to learn more about Noldorin traditions, or a Numenorean scholar spending time at the court of Gil-Galad in Lindon, to learn more about Elven cultures.

This challenge has been suggested by Daewen. Thank you Daewen!

Challenges Revisited: Akallabêth in August

This month, we revisit 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

A portion of mankind take pride in their vices and pursue their purpose; many more waver between doing what is right and complying with what is wrong.
- Horace

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

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Around the World and Web

LotR Genfic Community: August Challenge and Big Bang Stories/Artwork Posted!

The August Challenge will have the theme "Nonfiction." You will not receive an element for this challenge; rather, we encourage all members to submit essays, research articles, and other nonfictional works related to Tolkien's mythos. The August challenge entries will be due Sunday, August 14. Please see this post for more information on how to sign up.

Stories and artwork for the group's first Big Bang challenge have also been posted at our archive Many Paths to Tread! Looking for something to read? Check out the complete list of Big Bang stories!

Teitho: August Challenge--Dreams

"A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities."
- J.R.R. Tolkien

Though we have passed the summer solstice, it is still the season (in the Northern Hemisphere at least!) to consider Mid-Summer Night's Dreams. Dreams are so potent, whether in the mundane world, or that of Tolkien, that it seemed fitting to make "Dreams" our August Teitho Challenge theme.

The deadline for this challenge is August 25th. The Teitho website has more information.

Middle-earth Fanfiction Awards

The MeFAs are underway! We'd like to congratulate all the authors whose stories have been nominated. From August 7th to December 31st members will be able to review stories and their reviews will be visible on the website. See the MEFA website to vote for your favorite stories and find more information on how to get involved.

Arda Reconstructed Available in Paperback!

Douglas Charles Kane's book Arda Reconstructed is now available in paperback! In this book, Kane looks at how Christopher Tolkien used his father's drafts and notes to construct the published Silmarillion: what went in, what was left out, and what was invented entirely.

New Tolkien Archive: Faerie

Check out the new Tolkien archive Faerie, which welcomes all genres, ratings, and pairings of stories, poetry, and non-fiction related to the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien!




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