February's Challenges

Sea Voyages

The sea is an important part of Tolkien's mythology, and changes are often signaled by sea voyages. For example, the fates of the Eldar changed when they sailed to Aman and again when Fëanor brought them back. Eärendil saved the people of Middle-earth from Morgoth, and it began with a sea journey; the defeat of Sauron began with the escape of Elendil and his sons by sea. Numerous also are the people who lived by the sea and, presumably, made sea journeys a part of their daily lives: the Teleri of Aman, the Elves of the Havens, and the Númenoreans name just three.

This month's challenge asks authors to create stories centered on or including sea voyages, whether one of the important journeys that shaped the fate of Arda or an everyday foray along the coast.

Quote of the Month

It is said that Amandil set sail in a small ship at night, and steered first eastward, and then went about and passed into the west. And he took with him three servants, dear to his heart, and never again were they heard of by word or sign in this world, nor is there any tale or guess of their fate.
-The Silmarillion, Akallabêth

Character of the Month: Haleth

There is much discussion over whether Tolkien’s women in general, among Elves and Men, get short shrift from the Professor in comparison to their husbands and brothers. However, if one were to compare the women of The Silmarillion to the women of The Lord of the Rings, one would have to admit that, with the exception of Éowyn and Galadriel (the latter whose history and motivation are rooted in The Silmarillion), all of the truly significant roles for women in Tolkien are to be found in The Silmarillion. First there are Miriel, the case study of extreme postpartum depression, and Indis, the other woman. But then, almost immediately, we read of Nerdanel, who comes off as considerably more interesting, highly skilled, creative, and wise--but there is no question that Fëanor gets all the good lines. From there forward, follow the stories of a series of women who are strong and outward-looking in comparison to the LotR women, including Aredhel, Galadriel, Lúthien, Elwing, Idril, and Morwen, just to name a few.

However, among the accounts of all of these women and others, the story of Haleth, daughter of Haldor, albeit short and not greatly developed, is the only one of a woman who is an acknowledged leader of a people. The Lady Haleth led the Second House of the Edain, whose people had been brought together by her father Haldad early in the First Age to withstand the increasing assaults by Morgoth’s minions. After the Second House of the Edain, which came to be called the Folk of Haleth, were first unified under Haldad, they were forced to defend themselves against an Orc-raid in a fortress they had constructed between the Ascar and Gelion Rivers in East Beleriand. Haldor was killed in that defense, along with Haleth’s twin brother Haldar. "Then Haleth held the people together, though they were without hope; and some cast themselves in the rivers and were drowned" (Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter 17, "Of the Coming of Men into the West"). With the loss of Haldor and the death of his son Haldar, who doubtlessly would have otherwise succeeded him, Haleth was chosen as the chieftain of Haldor's people because of her “great heart” and her recognized valor.

The version in The Silmarillion of the battle at the Ascar-Gelion Stockade tells of how Haleth was able to hold together the surviving Haladin for several days. "But seven days later, as the Orcs made their last assault and had already broken through the stockade, there came suddenly a music of trumpets, and Caranthir with his host came down from the north and drove the Orcs into the rivers."

Much is made in fanfiction over the possible nature of the relationship between Caranthir and Haleth. This, of course, is pure fanon. The only information that appears even implicitly in the text is that Caranthir held a high regard for Haleth and her people, and Haleth, although grateful for his timely intervention, valued her independence and that of her folk over the not inconsiderable assistance that the Elf lord offered to provide them. Haleth thanked Caranthir graciously, gathered the scattered remains of her people together, and moved onto Estolad (in eastern Beleriand, bear the borders of Doriath).

The Folk of Haleth did not remain in this area for long, but moved farther westward again. Encountering danger and peril, they were not able to find any respite until they finally reached the Forest of Brethil, between the Teiglin and Sirion Rivers to the west of Doriath, outside of the Girdle of Melian. Interestingly, when Haleth came to Brethil, which King Thingol considered to be part of his realm, he sought to drive them out, but was dissuaded by Finrod Felagund, who argued on their behalf. Thingol's condition for granting them permission to remain in Brethil was that they must guard the Crossings of the Teiglin against the enemy and allow no Orcs into the surrounding woods.

Haleth spoke up boldly in reaction to all of these negotiations with the words: “Where are Haldad my father, and Haldar my brother? If the King of Doriath fears a friendship between Haleth and those who have devoured her kin, then the thoughts of the Eldar are strange to Men.”

One of the interesting additions or variations upon the story Haleth and her people is contained within The Unfinished Tales, written later and not incorporated in the account given in The Silmarillion. There they are described as, "a small people, chiefly concerned to protect their own woodlands," who were said to excel in "forest warfare." It is said that even Orcs trained in this method of combat stayed away from their borders. But most fascinating to one studying the character of Haleth is the following passage:

One of the strange practices spoken of was that many of their warriors were women, though few of these went abroad to fight in the great battles. This custom was evidently ancient; for their chieftainess Haleth was a renowned Amazon with a picked bodyguard of women.

Haleth and her people were able to reach an agreement with Thingol and resided in Brethil for the remainder of her life. The Silmarillion states that, upon Haleth's death, “her people raised a green mound over her in the heights of the forest, Tûr Haretha, the Ladybarrow, Haudh-en-Arwen in the Sindarin tongue.”

Character profiles by Oshun.

View past character profiles.
Read archived stories about Haleth.

Want more challenges? Check out our complete challenge listing for more than two 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!

February's News

Back to Middle-earth Month: The Circles of the World

Why did you fall in love with Middle-earth?

Every March, we seek to answer that very question. March is Back to Middle-earth Month (B2MeM), a chance to remember what inspired us to become involved in this fandom in the first place. Whether a recent addition to our online community, one of the many who were compelled by Jackson's movies, or a fan of multiple decades, B2MeM gives fans a chance to rekindle those first heady months of fandom participation. At SWG, we have observed B2MeM for three years now as a testament for our enduring passion for creativity and scholarship inspired by the stories of J.R.R. Tolkien, particularly The Silmarillion and its related works.

So why did you fall in love with Tolkien's stories? Ask one thousand fans and you will get one thousand different answers. This year for B2MeM, we seek just a few of those answers, presented alongside the creative achievements that define our love for Tolkien's works.

This year's theme is The Circles of the World, and we look at our creative endeavors that explore beginnings and relationships, conflicts and endings, and, of course, fate. We need your help! We are seeking ficlets, poetry, artwork, and excerpts of longer stories that fit this year's themes. Submissions will be compiled into a project illustrating how these important themes in Tolkien's work have inspired us across the years.

For more information on the project, what we're looking for, and where to send your work, please check out our B2MeM page!

Yahoo! Group Going Public?

Last month, we introduced the idea of changing our message archives on the Yahoo! group to being publicly viewable. In order to allow both members and non-members to express their views on this change, we set up a poll on our website. The results indicate that most people are in favor of making the message archives public. We thank everyone who contributed to the discussion on the Yahoo! list and voted in the poll!

This is not a change that is going to happen instantaneously. Our moderators' time and attention is currently devoted to Back to Middle-earth Month, as well as the daily management of the site, and so we will not be making this change at least until B2MeM settles down a bit for us. We will alert people on the Yahoo! group as well as the website about when we expect to make the change to public archives. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about this change and what it will mean for us, please read our FAQ on the subject. If you have any questions or concerns, please direct them to our moderators at


Have you always wondered what RSS is? How to use it? Whether it's available on SWG?

These answers (and more!) are available in our new FAQ, all about RSS feeds.

Around the World and Web

One-Shot Review Exchange

Klose is hosting a One-Shot Review Exchange at our LiveJournal community. Do you have a one-shot story you'd like feedback on? Would you like to discover new stories and leave some helpful feedback? Here's a fun way to do so!

MEFA 2007 Results Announced

The results of the 2007 Middle-earth Fanfiction Awards have been announced. You can find them at our website. Just log in (or click "log in as guest" if you're not a member) and click on the first link, "2007 MEFA Story Results." Here you will find a listing of what stories won in what categories as well as links to the reviews our members have written about these stories as part of the competition.

We have begun our annual post-mortem to look at how we can improve the awards for next year. Feel free to join in at the Yahoo group mefa-discussions.

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