Newsletter: December 2009

Table of Contents

SWG News

Back to Middle-earth Month 2010

Yes, we are really starting to talk about Back to Middle-earth Month (B2MeM) now! B2MeM is an annual "holiday" held in March that celebrates the Tolkien fandom. SWG has held various B2MeM events over the past few years, and we are entering the planning phases for this year's event.

This year, we will be running a team challenge in the form of a quest game, and we need volunteers to plan and help us run the game. If you think you might be interested in helping, please email us at for more information. You do not need to be an SWG member or have any experience running fandom events in order to volunteer.

As we did last year, this event will be open to all people and groups in the Tolkien fandom who wish to participate and will not just be limited to the characters, eras, and events covered in The Silmarillion. If your group would like to get on board for this year's B2MeM, please contact us at the address above so that we can begin sharing information.

More information will follow in the months to come!

SWG Terms of Service Now Available in Swedish

The Terms of Service (ToS) for our site are now available in Swedish! Many thanks to Malinorne for doing the translation!

We are always looking for our ToS and other site documents to be translated into languages other than English. If you'd like to help with a translation, please contact us at

Reference Library Upgrades Are Complete

Our Reference Library is now linked with our regular archive, which means that you can now locate References using the archive's Advanced Search or Browse features and can read and leave comments on Reference Library materials. Our Reference Library includes many excellent non-fiction pieces about a variety of subjects. Why not stop by and leave a comment on your favorite?

(Return to Top)

Character of the Month Biography


Darth Fingon

Gilfanon, a Noldorin Elf counted among the exiles, is a character appearing only in Tolkien's earliest stories found in the Book of Lost Tales. As a guest of Lindo and Vairë at the Cottage of Lost Play, he is introduced to the mariner Eriol as Gilfanon of Tavrobel who dwells in the House of the Hundred Chimneys. His history is briefly explained:

[L]ong had he dwelt away from the Noldoli, faring with Ilkorins in Hisilómë and Artanor, and thereto had he become as few Elves did a great friend and companion of the Children of Men of those days. To their legends and their memories he added his own knowledge, for he had been deep-versed in many lores and tongues once in the far days of Kôr, and experience had he beside of many very ancient deeds, being indeed one of the oldest of the fairies and the most aged that now dwelt in the isle[.] (1)

Continuing in that same passage, Lindo hints at Gilfanon's great wisdom and respected status when he suggests Eriol stay for a time with Gilfanon in Tavrobel in order to gain further understanding of the Elves.

In the first volume of Lost Tales, Gilfanon is present for the telling of three tales: The Tale of the Sun and Moon, during which he chides Lindo for making the story too long (2), The Hiding of Valinor, where he stays silent and is only mentioned in passing at the end, and Gilfanon's Tale, which is unfortunately incomplete. Gilfanon's Tale is meant to include The Travail of the Noldoli and the Coming of Mankind, but the completed narrative portion only covers a brief account of how a Dark Elf named Nuin discovered the sleeping Men far in the east (3). The remainder of Gilfanon's Tale exists only as a series of rough outlines. Had it been completed, Gilfanon would have been given the important role of relating to Eriol the entire history of the Noldor from their exile through to the fall of Gondolin, as well as the story of the awakening of Men and their coming into Beleriand.

The second Lost Tales volume does not contain the name Gilfanon in any finished narration. Instead, he appears as Ailios (4) , and as the narrator of only one tale: The Nauglafring (5). As Gilfanon, he shows up only in the rough outline for the end of the Tales:

Eriol ... [g]oes to Tavrobel to see Gilfanon, and sojourns in the house of a hundred chimneys - for this is a condition of his drinking limpë. Gilfanon bids him write down all he has heard before he drinks. Eriol drinks limpë. Gilfanon tells him of things to be; that in his mind ... he believes that Tol Eressëa will become a dwelling of Men. Gilfanon also prophesies concerning the Great End, and of the Wrack of Things, and of Fionwë, Tulkas, and Melko and the last fight on the plains of Valinor. (6)

After this, as is the case with many of the characters who populate the Lost Tales, Gilfanon of Tavrobel disappears. He is not seen in any of Tolkien's later writings. He does not, however, disappear entirely from the history of Arda. Following the Lost Tales, two important changes are made. First, the name Gilfanon is recycled for use by a Telerin Elf who briefly appears to challenge Fëanor at Alqualondë and is thrown into the sea (7). Second, some of his history and much of his purpose are rolled into the character of Pengolod (also: Pengolodh). In his notes on the Annals of Valinor, Christopher Tolkien is

much inclined to think that [Pengolod's] literary origin is to be found in Gilfanon of the Lost Tales, who also lived at Tavrobel (which now first emerges again); there Eriol stayed in his house ... and Gilfanon bade him write down all that he had heard (II. 283), while in the preamble to AV Eriol saw Pengolod's book at Tavrobel and translated it there. Moreover Gilfanon was of the Noldoli, and though in the Lost Tales he is not associated with Gondolin he was an Elf of Kôr ... while Pengolod was also an Elf whose life began in Valinor[.] (8)

In this way, through Pengolod, Gilfanon retains a critical role in the history of Arda even if his original incarnation has been lost.

Works Cited

  1. Book of Lost Tales vol. 1, p 175
  2. ibid. 88-89
  3. ibid. 231-233
  4. Whether Ailios was renamed Gilfanon or Gilfanon is meant to be a different character altogether replacing Ailios is unclear. In some of the notes it sounds as if Gilfanon replaces Ailios as a character; however, in the indices to both Lost Tales volumes, Ailios is listed as an earlier name for Gilfanon. See BoLT1 p 197 & BoLT2 p 69.
  5. Book of Lost Tales vol. 2, p 221
  6. ibid. 283
  7. Shaping of Middle-Earth, pp 9-10
  8. ibid. 274

Read comments on this essay | Leave a comment on this essay
(You must have an account on the SWG archive to comment on essays. Click here to register for an account.)

View past character profiles.
There are no archived stories yet for Gilfanon! Don't leave him unloved; create one here!

(Return to Top)


Gothmog and Draugluin


“Gothmog and Draugluin” follows the antics of two Tolkienian icons who were not all about smiting and devouring but had fun, too. Little Gothmog lives in Thangorodrim with his mom (Ulbandi Fluithuin) and dad (Melkor, Black Foe of the World). Melkor’s right-hand man and Gothmog’s babysitter -- Professor Thû ("I'm not a babysitter. I'm an observer!") -- makes appearances, too.

Gothmog and Draugluin also share this space with “Stinky Pete” Mêshûgganâscar, Maia of Mandos, and his pals.

Pandemonium_213 issues the standard disclaimer that Gothmog, Draugluin, Melkor, Ulbandi, Professor Thû, all the Elf dudes, Stinky Pete and his Maiarin pals, their Valarin bosses and whoever else shows up are the property of the Tolkien estate, and that this irreverent comic strip is drawn (badly) for fun and games but not for profit.

Gothmog and Draugluin by Pandemonium_213

Click to view full-sized.

(Return to Top)

Current Challenge

Lost Letters

Your character is going through paperwork, an old trunk, or the dusty shelves in an forgotten part of the library when she or he discovers a letter from someone no longer present. What does the letter say? What does your character do (or not do) as a result of it?

Challenges Revisited: A Gift of a Story

The winter holidays and the coming of a new year inspire in many of us the desire to reflect back on a year of accomplishments and give thanks to those who have helped us along the way. We first featured the Gift of a Story challenge in December 2007 and have continued it every year after. This December, we invite our authors to consider writing a story for those who have helped them this year past.

As the year draws to a close, many of our members have or are preparing to celebrate winter holidays of celebration and thanksgiving. 2007 is less than a month away, and we look back at another year of new experiences, new friends, and new stories. If you are at a loss for a new project for the month of December, then why not gift a story to a person who has helped and inspired you in the past year, based on his or her interests? Whether a beta-reader, reviewer, or just a good friend, drabbles, stories, and poems are a great way to show thanks and appreciation!

Quote of the Month

"Life's a voyage that's homeward bound."
-Herman Melville

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

The Second Age RPG BannerThe Second Age LJ RPG

Applications for The Second Age are now open for both canon characters and OCs.

We are a brand new Tolkien-based Livejournal RPG set in Eregion and hope to chart the rise and fall of the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, their work with Sauron in fair form leading up to the creation of the Rings of Power, and the various interconnected relationships, friendships and enmities both, between the Noldor of Eregion and the other Elven, Dwarven and Mortal kingdoms of the time.

My Slashy Valentine 2010

Have you always wanted to read a certain pairing or scenario, but couldn’t write it yourself? Have it written for you – specifically and especially for your own sweet self! And share your own fic gift in exchange - That’s right, it’s time for the The My Slashy Valentine Fic Exchange! brought to you by the same folks who sponsor the renowned Slashy Santa and Ardor in August Fiction Exchanges.

This exchange will focus solely on the Elves, Men, Valar and Maiar of J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium. Maybe it’s Gildor and Glorfindel you love, or perhaps Boromir-on-Theodred strikes your fancy... or maybe Manwë is your main man – from the First Age to the Fourth, from sultry tales of the Silmarillion to romances in the Ring Wars – spread the word, recruit your friends and fellow authors, and have some fun!

LotR Genfic Community: Potluck!

Once again we are having Potluck for the New Year! Behind the cut are the themes and unclaimed elements for ten months of 2009. (January and December are not included, as January is always "potluck" and December is always the Exchange). If you would like to participate in the January Challenge, look through the elements posted, and choose one. Comment to this post with the number of the prompt you have chosen, and I will strike it from the list. For June and July, you do not need to choose a prompt-- just follow the instructions for that month. This is your chance to take part in a challenge you missed. Also, if you claimed a prompt for any month last year and did not finish your story in time, you may enter that instead. (Please comment at the post linked on LiveJournal, and NOT to this email post, as that way you will be able to see which prompts have already been claimed.)

Stories will be due the weekend of January 15th, and will be revealed on Monday January 17th.


At Teitho, the challenge for December is Giving Gifts, Receiving Gifts: On which occasion would you get gifts in the different societies in Middle Earth? For your birthday? For solstice? Are there other special occasions? And what could you give the King of Gondor or Arnor? What present should you get an elf who has everything for his begetting day? Must a gift always be tangible? Besides the obvious book, swords or candlestick - what else could be considered a gift? What about love, friendship, loyalty, trust? The deadline for this challenge is December 27th. If you want to know more and/or participate, please visit the website.

The Golden Quill Awards

Voting ends in The Golden Quill Awards on December 12!

Middle-earth Fanfiction Awards

The MEFAs are underway, and it's voting season! To learn more about how you can vote in this year's MEFAs, please see the MEFA Voting FAQ.

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