TheSilmarillionWriters'Guild

Newsletter: February 2015

Table of Contents


SWG News

International Day of Fanworks

February 15 has been declared the International Day of Fanworks by the Organization for Transformative Works and the SWG will be participating! Both writers and reviewers are welcome to join us in celebrating our contributions to this important form of creativity! Please review the guidelines below to learn more about how to get involved.

Guidelines for Writers
  1. In order to participate, comment with a request for a writer's prompt on our LiveJournal community, Dreamwidth community, send us an ask on Tumblr, or email us.) We will send you three randomly selected prompts from our list of challenges. Your task is to create a fanwork using all three of these challenges.
  2. You may replace one of your assigned challenges with the challenge of your choice. The complete list of SWG challenges can be found here.
  3. Your response should be based in The Silmarillion but may be any length, genre, form, and employ any characters, pairings, or interpretations that you choose. (See our definition of "Silmfic" here.) It is also up to you to determine if your response adequately meets your assigned challenges. Although our challenges are aimed at writers, if you can create another form of fanwork using your challenges, feel free to do so!
  4. Post your challenge here before February 15. Posting instructions for the community can be found here. The community has been temporarily been set to moderated status, and all challenge entries will be unlocked on February 15. Once your story has been unlocked, we encourage you to post it to the SWG archive and any other sites/archives you use!
Guidelines for Reviewers
  1. In order to participate, comment with a request on this post for a reviewer's prompt. (You can also comment on our Dreamwidth community, send us an ask on Tumblr, or email us.) We will send you three randomly selected challenges from our list of challenges with links to the stories that listed those challenges. Your task is to review at least one story created for each of the challenges.
  2. You may replace one of your assigned challenges with the challenge of your choice. The complete list of SWG challenges can be found here.
  3. Leave your reviews and comment here to let us know when you do!

SWG Archive: 2,000 Works Posted!

This month, the SWG archive passed an important milestone: We now have 2,000 stories, poems, and essays posted on the archive! Agelast's aptly titled Point of No Return was the 2,000th story posted. Here's to the next thousand stories in the SWG's ever-growing history!

Mythmoot III: The SWG Takes a Field Trip

Mythmoot III, the fantasy studies conference sponsored by the Mythgard Institute, was held on January 10-11 this year and we were there! SWG members Dawn Felagund, MithLuin, and Anuhealani were in attendance to discuss Tolkien and fantasy, hear some excellent presentations and talks on speculative fiction, and generally geek out over everything Silmarillion!

The conference opened with an exciting announcement for fans of The Silmarillion and especially creators of Silmarillion-based fanworks: Now that the Hobbit movie trilogy is at an end, the Mythgard Institute is looking for a new project to replace their Riddles in the Dark podcast series. Professor Corey Olsen, Mythgard's founder and fearless leader, announced just what that project would be: the Silmarillion Project, a collaborative attempt to create a (hypothetical!) Silmarillion movie or television series! The contributions of many types of fan creators--from writers and artists to musicians and costumers--was discussed. Full details will be forthcoming, and we will be sure to have announcements here when they do.

The keynote speaker of the conference this year was Chris Pierson, the "Chief Lore Monkey" for the Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) game. Chris's work developing quests and storylines for the game is a lot like what we do as the creators of Tolkien-based transformative works with better pay but also with the added headache of having to deal with upper management and their dreams of seeing a side quest featuring a love story between an Elf-maiden and a Balrog. His talks were an interesting look into what it's like to build creatively in Tolkien's world in a professional context.

The theme of Tolkien-based transformative works continued with Dawn's presentation on the Fantasy and Pop Culture panel of Transformative Works as a Means to Develop Critical Perspectives in the Tolkien Fan Community. Other presenters on the panel advocated similarly for the value of video games and Internet memes as vehicles by which people create and critique in the 21st century.

That night, the SWG was well-represented in the ridiculously hard pub trivia challenge. Although we couldn't all manage to get on the same team, the teams we represented placed first and second, allowing us to officially claim that the SWG has never had a member on a team that has placed lower than second in Mythmoot pub trivia (last year year, MithLuin and Dawn's team placed first)--certainly a cause for bragging rights, if ever there was one! The events of the 11th included more fascinating presentations and discussions, many of which will hopefully be available to read when the conference proceedings come out shortly. Watch this space for a link when they do!

SWG members, if you attend an event, convention, or conference related to Tolkien or fandom, be sure to let us know so that we can cover the highlights in our newsletter!

In Memory of Fiondil

This month we have sad news to share. Fiondil, a well-known and influential writer in the Tolkien fandom and a member of the SWG since 2009, passed away on January 28 in his sleep. He leaves behind a legacy of stories, in which he has shared his own vision of Tolkien's world and characters, and the knowledge about Tolkien's languages and world that he so enthusiastically shared with others. Fiondil was known and loved for his unfailing friendship and support of so many in the Tolkien fanfic community. We SWG mods give our sincere condolences to his friends and loved ones for their loss.

Fiondil's stories on the SWG can be found here. The complete collection of Fiondil's stories can be found on Stories of Arda. If you wish to contribute in Fiondil's memory, his family has requested donations to Habitat for Humanity and the National Braille Association.

Back to Middle-earth Month 2015

Back to Middle-earth Month is coming! This annual event runs every March and invites all creators of Tolkien fan fiction and art to participate. This year's event is currently in the works, and an announcement should be coming soon. To learn more or get involved, keep an eye on the B2MeM LiveJournal community for the announcement of this year's event and further details on how to participate.

Email Notification Problem Resolved

For the past month, we have been dealing intermittently with a problem on the archive where automated email notifications were not being received by the members who chose to receive them. Since many members depend on email notifications to let them know when they have new comments or when a favorite author updates, this problem was annoying to say the least. After much discussion and debate among the mods and much testing of the site, the problem was identified as belonging to our webhost. A support ticket was filed, but we might as well have cried to Elbereth in our need for all the good it did.

Long story short, our moderator Russandol was the hero of the day. She not only found but fixed the problem, all with zero help from the webhost. Many, many thanks to Russandol for restoring communications to our site! This problem should be finally and permanently resolved, but if you believe you should be receiving email notifications and you are not (or if you have any other problems using the site), please contact us immediately at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org. (Seriously, we'd rather receive one hundred emails about matters that turn out not to be problems than to remain uninformed about actual problems. Most of the time, we don't know something is wrong until someone tells us!)

Just a reminder: if you'd like to adjust your email notification settings, you can do so through the Account Info > Edit Preferences page.

Site Etiquette/Terms of Service Updated

We have added an item to our Author Etiquette stating that only one copy of each story should be added to the archive (item #4). We have also revised item #3 to bring it up to date with our current rating and warning policy. Item #3 of the Reviewer Etiquette has been updated to reflect the correct procedure for reporting a story that violates our rating/warning policy. The complete Site Etiquette/Terms of Service can be read here.

Welcome to Our New Members!

2015 has already brought us ten new members. Welcome to King Thorin II, Darth Maitimo, MaedhrosFeanorian, FFerret, AmaiAmai, Amarie Vanyarin, Marjolenna, aranrhodinhimring, wizzypigabeth, and mafiaprinceza.

We hope you have already made yourself comfortable and begun to read, to listen to our podcasts, and perhaps to post your own material. However, if you are stuck and need help, you can start by browsing our Frequently Asked Questions. If you can't find what you're looking for, or if you need assistance at any time, email us at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org.

We always like to hear about what brought our fellow Silmarillion fans to the fandom, and to our site, so perhaps you'd be willing to share a few facts about your fandom persona by creating a bio.


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New at the Archive

Completed Works

A Jug of Wine— And Thou by Agelast [Adult] (1793 words)
Summary: Fingon and Maedhros are young and in love -- with each other and with themselves. A gift for Oshun.

Hands Wide Open by Elleth [Teens] (3055 words)
Summary: A group of Easterlings, the rambunctious young High King of the Noldor, and Eglarest in winter may not make for quite as disastrous a day as Galdor of the Havens initially suspected.

Patience Enough by Elleth [Teens] (1775 words)
Summary: On Tol Eressëa, Celebrían recovers and remembers.

Point of No Return by Agelast [Teens] (2702 words)
Summary: Maedhros opened his eyes and saw a sky full of stars. [An AU ending to The Noon-tide Night.]

Sea and Sky by Independence1776 [General] (1240 words)
Summary: Elwing reminisces on the coast of Alqualondë.

The Bard by Amarie Vanyarin [Teens] (8581 words)
Summary: In the latter years of the First Age, Maglor takes on a new student. The shadow of the Oath looms over them.

The Life and Times of Maedhros by MaedhrosFeanorian [Teens] (2351 words)
Summary: This is a collection of prose by and about Maedhros during his life, highlighting some of the most pivotal moments in his story.

The Sharpest and Sweetest of Recollections by Dawn Felagund [Adult] (3881 words)
Summary: On the night of her betrothal party to Fingolfin, Anairë summons her dearest friend Eärwen to Tirion. Overwhelmed by the sense that she is losing control over her life and her longing for the love she once shared with Eärwen, Anairë wonders if she has made the right choice. A sequel to The Sailing Forth, written for Elleth. Anairë/Eärwen, Anairë/Fingolfin

Time to Uproot by StarSpray [Teens] (1764 words)
Summary: "...and the cruel servants of Celegorm seized his young sons and left them to starve in the forest. Of this Maedhros indeed repented, and sought for them long in the woods of Doriath; but his search was unavailing, and of the fate of Eluréd and Elurín no tale tells."

What's Real, What's Stranger by Elleth (2375 words)
Summary: Maglor has come to stay the winter with friends, but his reprieve from wandering allows uncomfortable questions to arise. Written for Indy at Fandom Stocking 2014.

Works in Progress

Atanatari: Of the Three Houses of the Edain by Himring [Author Chooses Not to Rate]
Summary: A collection for stories about the Edain. First story: Carved in the Mind (Turin tells Finduilas how he made friends with Sador).
Chapter added this month: Snowballs.

Avenger of Blood, Second Version by ElrondsScribe [General]
Summary: Cedric Diggory is dead. But does that mean his role in the Second Wizarding War is over? Who is this hooded Reaper, and what does he want? Bella Swan exists as a mere shell after being left by Edward Cullen. Can she find healing and newfound purpose in the most unliekly of places? And what does Leah Clearwater's phasing have to do with the whole business? And who are these tall, beautiful people who never seem to age? They're not quite wizards, but they sure know lots about magic.
Chapter added this month: Chapter 8.

Bringing Trouble to Barad-dur by Aiwen [Teens]
Summary: In the Halls of Mandos, Celebrimbor and Gil-galad receive a unique assignment: go as ghosts to Barad-dur and distract Sauron from his war against the free peoples of Middle-earth. MEFA 2010 Humor Incomplete 3rd place winner.
Chapters added this month: An Unexpected Assignment, Lost in Barad-dur and In the Den of the Enemy.

Harry Potter and the Noble Order of the Lion by ElrondsScribe [General]
Summary: Do not let the title of this story mislead you. This is just as much a Silmarillion story as anything else, or I wouldn't post it here.
Chapter added this month: Chapter 1

More about Maglor by Himring [Author Chooses Not to Rate]
Summary: Tales about Maglor.
Chapters added this month: Half-Elven (Maglor & Gilmith I) and A Distant Shore (Maglor and Gilmith II).

Mythmoot Mathoms by Dawn Felagund [Teens]
Summary: I hid a prize in my Mythmoot III presentation, and these ficlets were written for those who discovered it and sent me their request.
Chapters added this month: Love There Too and The Mystery of the Missing Medallion.

Of Oaths, Common Sense, and a Silmaril by Aiwen [General]
Summary: The third Kinslaying was a hideous self-inflicted wound for the elves of Beleriand. With a little common sense and pragmatism, could it have been averted? Or is that asking too much of all parties involved?
Chapter added this month: Maedhros' Response.

Our Share of Night to Bear by Elleth [Teens]
Summary: Aman lies in Darkness and the Noldor have been banished. The Rebellion has torn families apart and left children to fend for themselves in a darkened world with no one to rely on, while the leaders of the Noldor struggle to overcome their grief and rebuild order out of turmoil.
Chapters added this month: Chapter I: Steerless, Chapter II: Endurance, Chapter III: Plans and Chapter IV: The Letter.

Songs of Stone and Mountain by pandemonium_213 [Adult]
Summary: I have previously alluded to the deep friendship between Dísa, the noble Dwarf-woman of the House of Narvi, and Mélamírë, the Second Age elven-smith of Ost-in-Edhil, e.g., Chapter 28 of The Elendilmir and Chapter 4 of The Writhen Pool. This is a collection of stories about these two OFCs of the Pandë!verse. So. OFCs. Pandë!verse. That's fair warning. Probably of interest to a limited audience.
Chapters added this month: Chapter 1: Grave News, Chapter 2: Pall of Sorrow and Chapter 3: The Elf-child

Taking Readings by Himring [Author Chooses Not to Rate]
Summary: Archiving a couple of short, slightly experimental pieces together.
Chapter added this month: Voronwe comes to Nan-tathren a second time

The Book of Short Tales by Lyra [General]
Summary: A place to store short ficlets and challenge responses that don't really warrant being archived on their own.
Chapter added this month: Random - A Darker Shade of Black.

The Face on My Fëa by elletheril [General])
Summary: This story is inspired by a couple of passages in The Laws and Customs of the Eldar - "...Their families, or houses, were held together by love and a deep feeling of kinship in mind and body... Marriage, save for rare ill chances or strange fates, was the natural course of life for all the Eldar... Those who would afterwards become wedded might choose one another early in youth, even as children (and, indeed, this happened often in days of peace)..." These thoughts lead me to explore the possible consequences of a ‘rare ill chance' on the lives of those involved and also on the otherwise orderly society of the Elves. Please note that I am not a canonist (just an avid elf enthusiast really), so I offer my apologies now for anything that is truly amiss in the setting, circumstances or characters I've developed. I do hope you enjoy this opening chapter!
Chapter added this month: Chapter 1 - The Stranger

The Golden and the Black by Amarie Vanyarin [Teens]
Summary: Glorfindel is not the only one of the rebodied to be sent by the Valar back to Middle Earth. After being mired in the Halls of Mandos for six millenia, Maeglin is sent back as well, though it is uncertain how much he welcomes the move. Especially as Iluvatar has decreed that the dark soul of the traitor of Gondolin be rebodied as an elfmaid. A story of redemption and of love.
Chapters added this month: Chapter 1: Mandos, Chapter 2: Near the Forests of Orome, Chapter 3: An Autumn Tale, Chapter 4: Rebodied, Chapter 5: First Night at Imladris, Chapter 6: The Halls of Healing, Chapter 7: The Smithy, Chapter 8: Snow, Chapter 9: Spurned, Chapter 10: Dreams, Chapter 11: The Singer, Chapter 12: Playing With Fire, Chapter 13: Exposed, Chapter 14: A Question Answered, Chapter 15: The High Prince, Chapter 16: The Woodland King, Chapter 17: Homecoming , Chapter 18: The Gates of Summer, Chapter 19: Flight, Chapter 20: The Betrayal and Chapter 21: Bonded.

The Greenbook of Tuckborough by Chiara Cadrich [Teens]
Summary: A tribute to Tolkien, with most of the exercices in style we owe him, but contradicting none of his writings: an adventure starting on a porch in the Shire, hobbits, giants, dunedain, goblins, elves, ents, trolls, eagles…, a visite to Imladris, an epic story about duty and fate, riddles,… and a ring!
Chapters added this month: Gold and flames, Duel at the top, The fall, Flights ans aeries and An introduction to wizards.

Trinkets by Independence1776 [Teens]
Summary: A collection of drabbles and ficlets too short to post on their own. Each story has a separate rating.
Chapters added this month: Míriel/Indis epistolary ficlet and Maglor and Elrond ficlet.

Winterlights by Elleth [Teens]
Summary: A series of femslash drabbles based around the daily prompts of the 2013 Femslash Yuletide project. Some ficlets for the 2014 run have been added.
Chapters added this month: Turuhalmë Garland, Míriel's Song and Thaw.

Short Works

Maglor Dreams by MaedhrosFeanorian [Teens] (817 words)
Summary: Maglor dreams. He dreams about many things, but this night, he dreams of Nelyo. And of how he ended.

This Time... by Winterwitch [General](466 words)
Summary: Elrond meets someone from his past.

Poetry

The Dagor Dagorath by Marjolenna [General] (178 words)
Summary: A short poem and among the very first things I've ever written Tolkien-related. It isn't much, but I hope you enjoy it. Based on the original speculations and in-universe prophecies regarding the Dagor Dagorath, the Battle of All Battles.

The north-march by losselen [General] (208 words)
Summary: A poem for Andreth in Ladros, in the long years of the Siege of Angband.


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Character of the Month Biography

Carcharoth

Robinka


When I wondered how to start this essay in a way that would not sound too obvious, I received a text message on my cell phone. Why, you could ask, I mention it here; what is the purpose? The sound of a message arriving in my phone is a wolf's howl, and when a message arrives, I often catch myself thinking, "Hell, there must be something wrong!" instead of, "I got a message!" Need I mention that such a ringtone sometimes gives unsuspecting people quite a scare? Here is the purpose – a howling wolf is more often that not connoted with bad omen.

Fairy tales, legends, mythologies of various nations, linguistic and religious systems, culture and pop-culture, all of them frequently use a wolf as a symbol. From the Bible to proverbs to Walt Disney movies, the wolf symbolizes among other things: darkness, evil, Satan, fear, chaos, blood-lust, cruelty, war, aggression, hunger, power, and falsehood.1 Perfect predators, wolves have often been a subject of people's hatred and vengeance due to their actual and implied sins committed against the human race, and have been attacked and brought to the verge of extermination.

Wolf vs. werewolf

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion is inhabited by wolves and werewolves that, en masse and alongside other creatures, compose the forces of the Dark Lord. I have to admit that this distinction between wolf and werewolf in Tolkien's legendarium confuses me a little. Perhaps, it is because of the pop-culture image of a werewolf that we as readers and spectators witness in books, movies and other modern products of imagination, while Tolkien's werewolves do not seem man-wolf shapeshifters that change their physical forms during the full moon. As noted in The Grey Annals, they are wolf-shaped creatures:

. . . the evil creatures came even to Beleriand, over passes in the mountains, or up from the south through the dark forests. Wolves there were, or creatures that walked in wolf-shapes, and other fell beings of shadow.2

However, supposedly, they may have housed lesser spirits corrupted by the evil power of Morgoth and thus they seem more powerful than regular wolves, probably more sinister and ruthless. We can deduce that from this line taken from "Of Beren and Lúthien":

. . . and Sauron brought werewolves, fell beasts inhabited by dreadful spirits that he had imprisoned in their bodies.3

Whether we imagine them in more wolfish or more humanoid forms, werewolves remained the servants of Morgoth, and their master was, as said above, no other but Sauron himself.

But at length, after the fall of Fingolfin, Sauron, greatest and most terrible of the servants of Morgoth, who in the Sindarin tongue was named Gorthaur, came against Orodreth, the warden of the tower upon Tol Sirion. Sauron was become now a sorcerer of dreadful power, master of shadows and of phantoms, foul in wisdom, cruel in strength, misshaping what he touched, twisting what he ruled, lord of werewolves; his dominion was torment. He took Minas Tirith by assault, for a dark cloud of fear fell upon those that defended it; and Orodreth was driven out, and fled to Nargothrond. Then Sauron made it into a watchtower for Morgoth, a stronghold of evil, and a menace; and the fair isle of Tol Sirion became accursed, and it was called Tol-in-Gaurhoth, the Isle of Werewolves. No living creature could pass through that vale that Sauron did not espy from the tower where he sat.4

Into the pits of the tower upon Tol-in-Gauroth Sauron threw Finrod Felagund and Beren along with their companions, and there he sent out a werewolf to kill them one by one. In the below fragment of The Silmarillion, the terms wolf and werewolf are used interchangeably, adding to the aforementioned confusion and raising a question as to what exactly killed King Finrod Felagund in the dungeons of Sauron's stronghold in the Isle of Werewolves.

But when the wolf came for Beren, Felagund put forth all his power, and burst his bonds; and he wrestled with the werewolf, and slew it with his hands and teeth; yet he himself was wounded to the death. [Emphasis mine]5

Finrod proved his great courage, friendship with Beren, and his determination by killing the werewolf with his bare hands and teeth, but the struggle cost him his life. There was, however, a creature that killed werewolves seemingly effortlessly: Huan the Hound of Valinor. The tale of Beren and Lúthien brings us to the scene in which Huan slew the wolves one after another, until Sauron thought it best to send someone more powerful to combat Huan and to kill the noble hound.

Then Sauron sent Draugluin, a dread beast, old in evil lord and sire of the werewolves of Angband. His might was great; and the battle of Huan and Draugluin was long and fierce. Yet at length Draugluin escaped, and fleeing back into the tower he died before Sauron's feet; and as he died he told his master: 'Huan is there!' Now Sauron knew well, as did all in that land, the fate that was decreed for the hound of Valinor, and it came into his thought that he himself would accomplish it. Therefore he took upon himself the form of a werewolf, and made himself the mightiest that had yet walked the world; and he came forth to win the passage of the bridge.6

However, even Sauron in the shape of a great wolf could not defeat Huan. Only the greatest of the great wolves could do it, and the most powerful of them was Carcharoth.

The great wolf of Angband that bit off the hand of Beren bearing the Silmaril; slain by Huan in Doriath. The name is translated in the text as 'the Red Maw'. Called also Anfauglir (. . . ) translated in the text as 'Jaws of Thirst'.7

It is worth noting the earlier versions of his name. The great wolf appears in The Tale of Tinúviel in The Book of Lost Tales and The Lay of Leithian in The Lays of Beleriand. While the published Silmarillion names him Carcharoth, as seen above, which also appears in The Lay of Leithian, as cited below, The Earliest 'Silmarillion' names him Carcaras the Wolfward,8 and The Quenta names him Carcharas the Knife-fang, the mightiest of all wolves.9 The Quenta adds a description and mentions another name of the wolf:

Dire and dreadful was that beast; and songs have also named him Borosaith, Everhungry, and Anfauglin, Jaws of Thirst. [Emphasis mine]10

The Tale of Tinúviel presents a slightly different form, depicting the wolf as follows:

Was it not the great grey wolf Karkaras Knife-fang, father of wolves, who guarded the gates of Angamandi [Angband] in those days and long had done so?11

J.R.R. Tolkien in his letter to Peter Hastings called Carcharoth 'the Wolf-warden of the Gates of Hell'.12

The name has evolved, but in each and every form it connotes a wolf with either hunger or thirst (presumably the thirst for blood) or underscores his unnatural power by indicating the sharpness of his fangs and mighty jaw. It goes without question that the great wolf of Angband should be feared, and his name alone should evoke terror.

The idea of Carcharoth being the father of wolves seems to have been changed to favor Draugluin as the ascendant. In that regard, Carcharoth was the greatest, but may have also been the last wolf worth noting by name in the annals of Beleriand.

Bred with a purpose

Morgoth's plan was simple: he had to breed a monster wolf able to fulfill Huan's doom. Therefore, he chose a whelp from the pack he had in Angband, a descendant of Draugluin, and began 'training' him into the perfect beast. As such, Carcharoth had no other choice but to become a tool in his master's hands, a predator with one purpose in his life – to overthrow Huan, whom Morgoth hated.

Then Morgoth recalled the doom of Huan, and he chose one from among the whelps of the race of Draugluin; and he fed him with his own hand upon living flesh, and put his power upon him. Swiftly the wolf grew, until he could creep into no den, but lay huge and hungry before the feet of Morgoth. There the fire and anguish of hell entered into him, and he became filled with a devouring spirit, tormented, terrible, and strong. Carcharoth, the Red Maw, he is named in the tales of those days, and Anfauglir, the Jaws of Thirst. And Morgoth set him to lie unsleeping before the doors of Angband, lest Huan come. [Emphasis mine]13

The published Silmarillion seems vague as far as Carcharoth's training goes, pointing only the consumption of 'living flesh', yet The Lay of Leithian gives us more details that this included the 'fairest flesh of Elves and Men' permitted to Carcharoth by his dreadful master. There is, however, one tiny contradiction here, as noted below: namely the victims that Carcharoth was allowed to devour were already dead. In his texts, Tolkien pulled no punches as far as violent images were concerned, but this particular question fascinates me in a morbid way: whether Tolkien initially wanted Carcharoth to feed on corpses of Men and Elves, then dropped the idea because the concept of consuming human bodies seemed too horrible. Or did he make his original vision even worse, and its vagueness adds to the general impact? My vote is on the latter, because in this way Carcharoth seems even more horrifying. Besides, one cannot help but wonder whether that was one of the unnumbered ways to torture the prisoners in Angband. Were they thrown at the feet of Morgoth and he let his 'whelp' slay them at will? How many of them met such a horrible end since the wolf was ever hungry? That notion alone could make one's mind reel. No matter how terrible this conclusion may seem, I think it was a very possible outcome for many of those slaves kept in the dungeons beyond Thangorodrim.

Then Morgoth of Huan's fate bethought
long-rumoured, and in dark he wrought.
Fierce hunger-haunted packs he had
that in wolvish form and flesh were clad,
but demon spirits dire did hold;
and ever wild their voices rolled
in cave and mountain where they housed
and endless snarling echoes roused.
From these a whelp he chose and fed
with his own hand on bodies dead,
on fairest flesh of Elves and Men
,
till huge he grew and in his den
no more could creep, but by the chair
of Morgoth's self would lie and glare,
nor suffer Balrog, Orc, nor beast
to touch him. Many a ghastly feast
he held beneath that awful throne,
rending flesh and gnawing bone.
There deep enchantment on him fell,
the anguish and the power of hell;
more great and terrible he became
with fire-red eyes and jaws aflame,


with breath like vapours of the grave,
than any beast of wood or cave,
than any beast of earth or hell
that ever in any time befell,
surpassing all his race and kin,
the ghastly tribe of Draugluin.


Him Carcharoth, the Red Maw, name
the songs of Elves. Not yet he came
disastrous, ravening, from the gates
of Angband. There he sleepless waits;
where those great portals threatening loom
his red eyes smoulder in the gloom,
his teeth are bare, his jaws are wide;
and none may walk, nor creep, nor glide,
nor thrust with power his menace past
to enter Morgoth's dungeon vast.
[Emphasis mine]14

However, the above citations make me wonder to what extent Carcharoth himself was Morgoth's slave. His master 'put his power upon him' and 'fire and anguish of hell entered into him', as quoted above. These suggest that, as a young wolf, Carcharoth was not a corrupted, tormented spirit, but rather became one at the hands of Morgoth. Because Morgoth could not create, in a similar manner, he earlier wrought the race of Orcs out of the first Quendi, and as stated in The Silmarillion: by slow arts of cruelty [they] were corrupted and enslaved.15 Perhaps, Carcharoth would have remained an animal, had Morgoth not chosen him; perhaps he would have chased wildlife in the forests or plains of Beleriand. We cannot know that for sure, although we can assume that the abuse Carcharoth experienced in Morgoth's care twisted him so that he became something akin to a cyborg: sleepless and ever watchful.

On a side note, I recall that when I was a teenager, one of the most popular urban legends said that if you had a laboratory rat and started to feed it meat, the rat would become aggressive toward everyone and anything within his teeth's range. Was it true, I cannot say, because I have never had such a pet. But, as in every fairy tale, there is always a grain of truth, and perhaps killing and eating human beings of both races influenced Carcharoth forever and corrupted him beyond cure.

Of Wolf and Man16

As it is said in "Of Beren and Lúthien" in the published Silmarillion, which from now on is going to be in my main focus as far as the story of Carcharoth is concerned, the wolf lay sleepless at the gate of Angband due to Morgoth's order and guarded his master's domain in case Huan appeared. There, Beren and Lúthien arrived, both of them in disguise, in their quest to recover one of the Silmarils: Beren 'arrayed now in the hame of Draugluin, and she in the winged fell of Thuringwethil'.17 However, Carcharoth proved that he was not stupid, having recalled the news of his ascendant's demise in Tol-in-Gaurhoth, and he did not let them pass, only used his sense of smell. There, something was off with those two. In this moment, Lúthien came forth, cast back her disguise and, empowered by 'some power, descended from of old from divine race',18 she commanded him to sleep. It is possible that her Maiarin blood invoked the power older than Arda itself, so Lúthien, the daughter of Melian, could temporarily overpower Carcharoth.

Together, Beren and Lúthien went into Angband and 'wrought the greatest deed that has been dared by Elves and Men'19 – they retrieved a Silmaril from Morgoth's crown. However, on their way back they encountered Carcharoth, who had awoken in the meantime. Angered that someone managed to pass by him, Carcharoth stood at the gate and spotted the two before they were aware of him. Then, he attacked them. Lúthien was weak and could not conquer the wolf again, but this time round, Beren took this task upon himself and held the Silmaril in his hand, thrusting it before the eyes of the wolf and scaring him in the process. Carcharoth flinched, though only for a moment.

But Carcharoth looked upon that holy jewel and was not daunted, and the devouring spirit within him awoke to sudden fire; and gaping he took suddenly the hand within his jaws, and he bit it off at the wrist.20

Let us stop here for a moment, before we enter the woods of Doriath, and turn from the story of Carcharoth to the Norse mythology.

Wolf as a motif is present in various mythologies, and the Norse mythology draws my attention here in particular because of Fenrir, the monstrous wolf, the son of Loki and the father of the wolves Sköll and Hati Hróðvitnisson. Fenrir was foretold to kill the god Odin during the events of Ragnarök, but would in turn be killed by Odin's son Víðarr. Attested in both the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda, Fenrir grew up so fast that the gods started to fear him and decided to restrain him, but Fenrir could break each and every of the fetters they designed for him, until they put the fetter Gleipnir on him. To give the short of it, Fenrir realized it was a trap set for him and then he bit off the right hand of the god Týr at the wrist ('wolf-joint'). Sounds familiar, does it not?

Whether it was a courteous nod or a more unconscious sort of seeking inspiration – and I personally opt for the former – Tolkien is known for drawing a lot from the Norse mythology and remodelling those bits and pieces to fit the shape of his universe.

Hunted to death

Picking up when we left the stage at the gates of Angband, where Beren lay in a swoon, nearing death because Carcharoth's fangs were venomous, I have to say that this is another moment when I think of the Norse mythology.

Then swiftly all his inwards were filled with a flame of anguish, and the Silmaril seared his accursed flesh. Howling he led before them, and the walls of the valley of the Gate echoes with the clamour of his torment. So terrible did he become in his madness that all the creatures of Morgoth that abode in that valley, or were upon any of the roads that led thither, fled far away' for he slew all living things that stood in his path, and burst from the North with ruin upon the world. Of all the terrors that came ever into Beleriand ere Angband's fall the madness of Carcharoth was the most dreadful; for the power of the Silmaril was hidden within him.21

Carcharoth's killing spree brings to mind the barely controlled, trance-like fury of the berserkers, especially since they were said to wear the pelt of a wolf while in battle. Carcharoth was blinded by pain that the Silmaril caused in his gut, driven mad by it, and rampaged through Beleriand from the north, killing every being on his way and bringing devastation and terror. For certain, Morgoth should be proud and pleased, because the wolf warden of his gate destroyed the realm as would a sudden fire. Like the boar sent by the goddess Artemis to ravage the region of Calydon, Carcharoth, unstoppable, even by the magic Girdle of Melian, burst into Doriath, driven by fate. The news of the terrible onslaught was brought to King Thingol by his captain, Mablung of the Heavy Hand, whom Thingol had sent out with a mission to Himring. Mablung alone managed to escape the wolf.

Therefore, since daily Carcharoth drew nearer to Menegroth, they prepared the Hunting of the Wolf; of all pursuits of beasts whereof tales tell the most perilous. To that chase went Huan the Hound of Valinor, and Mablung of the Heavy Hand, and Beleg Strongbow, and Beren Erchamion, and Thingol King of Doriath.22

The greatest of ancient Sindarin heroes, one might say, were those who decided to go hunt Carcharoth. Not only the safety of the realm was on the scales, but also a more personal reason, because Beren wanted to finish his quest, and Thingol may have wanted to avenge his daughter's suffering, as well as aid his son-in-law, looking now at him with a kinder eye. Beleg and Mablung could not simply ignore such an important task to accomplish, being the captains of Thingol and renowned warriors at that.

The hunters found Carcharoth drinking the water from the Esgalduin to ease the thirst and pain caused by the Silmaril. At first he did not attack them, only lay hidden and waited. The hunters too waited, having set guards all over the place, but Huan felt impatient and he decided to lure Carcharoth out of the bushes. He succeeded, and the wolf attacked Thingol, but Beren strode before the king with a spear. The wolf brought him down and bit him in the chest, wounding him severely. In that moment, Huan leaped to attack.

The Silmarillion offers the following description of the battle:

. . . and no battle of wolf and hound has been like to it, for in the baying of Huan was heard the voice of the horns of Oromë and the wrath of the Valar, but in the howls of Carcharoth was the hate of Morgoth and malice crueller than teeth of steel.23

The symbolic figures that represent good and evil respectively fought to death, and in that hour Huan killed Carcharoth, the mightiest of Morgoth's wolves, and died as well, fulfilling his doom, because he was not impervious to the venom of Carcharoth's fangs.

Mablung retrieved the Silmaril from the wolf's belly and gave it to Beren, who accomplished his quest but was mortally wounded. The evil force was defeated, at least temporarily, but it seemed a Pyrrhic victory. Besides, I daresay Thingol should have left the Silmaril inside Carcharoth's belly and bury it with his carcass altogether. If only he had known.




Author's Note: A big, great, fat thank-you goes to Dawn Felagund for: accepting my idea, supporting it all along, discussing and beta'ing the bio, and her invaluable advice. Thank you!




Works Cited

  1. Władysław Kopaliński. "Wolf" in The Dictionary of Symbols. Warsaw 1990; p. 462. [Translation mine]
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien. The Grey Annals, The History of Middle-earth: The War of the Jewels. New York 1994. p. 12.
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien. "Of Beren and Lúthien," The Silmarillion. London 1999. p. 192.
  4. "Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin," The Silmarillion. p. 181.
  5. "Of Beren and Lúthien," The Silmarillion. p. 204.
  6. Ibid. p. 205.
  7. "The Index of Names," The Silmarillion. pp. 378, 385.
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien. The Earliest 'Silmarillion', The History of Middle-earth: The Shaping of Middle-earth. New York 1986. p. 27.
  9. The Quenta, The History of Middle-earth: The Shaping of Middle-earth. p. 135.
  10. Ibid. p. 139.
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien. The Tale of Tinúviel, The Book of Lost Tales II. New York 1984. p. 19.
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien. "153 To Peter Hastings (draft)," The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. New York 2000. p. 193.
  13. "Of Beren and Lúthien," The Silmarillion. p. 211.
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien. The Lay of Leithian, The History of Middle-earth: The Lays of Beleriand. New York 1985. p. 343.
  15. "Of Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor," The Silmarillion. p. 47.
  16. Song by Metallica: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and Kirk Hammet.
  17. "Of Beren and Lúthien," The Silmarillion. p. 212.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid. p. 214.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Ibid. p. 218.
  23. Ibid. p. 219.



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Current Challenge

First Lines

The first line of a story can be very important. It usually sets the tone or introduces you into a scene. With this challenge, we have made a list of story openers for you to use and to expand upon. If you take part in this challenge, your story must be written with one of the first lines provided below.

Can't find a first line that inspires you? Try these first line generators for some more inspiration: First line Generator at Writingexercises.co.uk or Story Starters at Writingfix.com. If you make use of one of these generators, mention it in the story!

Challenges Revisited: The Color of ...

Colors are often used in fiction as symbols or to achieve specific effectsor moods. This month's challenge asks you to write a piece of fiction that is built around a color or colors.

Naturally, there are a number of ways to approach this challenge. One could consider some of the colors specifically associated with events and characters in The Silmarillion:

And Fëanor made a secret forge, of which not even Melkor was aware; and there he tempered fell swords for himself and for his sons, and made tall helms with plumes of red.

-"Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor"
But as the host of Fingolfin marched into Mithrim the Sun rose flaming in the West; and Fingolfin unfurled his blue and silver banners, and blew his horns, and flowers sprang beneath his marching feet, and the ages of the stars were ended.

-"Of the Return of the Noldor"
There shining fountains played, and in the courts of Turgon stood images of the Trees of old, which Turgon himself wrought with elven-craft; and the Tree which he made of gold was named Glingal, and the Tree whose flowers he made of silver was named Belthil. But fairer than all the wonders of Gondolin was Idril, Turgon's daughter, she that was called Celebrindal, the Silver-foot, whose hair was as the gold of Laurelin before the coming of Melkor.

-"Of the Noldor in Beleriand"

Or color can take a more symbolic role, representing the banners, heraldry, and names (i.e., Green Elves) of various peoples and characters.

Here are some links that might provide ideas and inspiration:

Symbolism of Color. The various meanings that color takes in different cultures.
Color Meanings. How colors work together and create various emotional effects.
Symbolism of Heraldry. Colors and symbols, their use and meaning on coats of arms.
Heraldry of Arda. The emblems and heraldry that J.R.R. Tolkien designed for use in his world with explanations of their possible meanings.

Quote of the Month

"Let me, O let me bathe my soul in colours; let me swallow the sunset and drink the rainbow."

―Kahlil Gibran

Want more challenges? Check out our complete challenge listing for more than nine 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 moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org and we'll try to include your challenge in our next newsletter!


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Around the World and Web

Articles of Interest

Each month, the SWG newsletter features links to articles that our members might find interesting. Do you have something you'd like to suggest? An interesting essay or discussion going on in your journal or blog? Drop us a line at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org and we'll add your article, essay, or post to our next newsletter!

It should go without saying, but just in case it bears repeating, any opinions expressed in these links are not necessarily that of the SWG and its moderators.

"Transformative Works as a Means to Develop Critical Perspectives in the Tolkien Fan Community" by Dawn Felagund

Dawn Felagund, owner and founder of the SWG, presented her paper "Transformative Works as a Means to Develop Critical Perspectives in the Tolkien Fan Community" at the Mythmoot III in Baltimore on the 10th January 2015. In her words, "the paper covers the history of Tolkien fan fiction, the development of online communities, and the use of Tolkien fan fiction as a means for writers to not only learn more about the texts but to become more analytical and critical readers."

You can view Dawn's presentation video on YouTube, the handout for the presentation can be found here, and an audio-only version of the presentation has been posted as a podfic in SWG.

What was Tolkien fandom like BEFORE The Silmarillion was published?

Before online archives, before e-mail, before user forums, what did the fandom look like? If you are curious, browse through this collection of fandom references collated by Sumner Gary Hunnewell, which summarises the evolution of the fandom from 1959. Did you know that Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote a crossover story with Aragorn entering her own created world of Darkover? Some of the topics of discussion of the early fanzines were how to adapt The Lord of the Rings into a film, Tolkien and racism, mortal-Elf interbreeding, the possible homosexual overtones in The Lord of the Rings, and the origin of the Orcs.

"On Female Characters and Femslash in the Silmarillion Fandom" by Elleth

An essay by our SWG member and tumblr moderator, Elleth, in which she explores the treatment of female characters in our fandom and the dearth of works classed as "femslash". Despite a high proportion of female readers (and writers) who may wish to see themselves reflected in stories based on The Silmarillion, female characters are still a tiny minority, and "guyslash" is far more popular. Read Elleth's essay at her Tumblr account.

More on Women in Tolkien's Ardaverse and Tolkien Fandom on Tumblr

This month, many of our SWG members kept busy on Tumblr discussing the role of women in the Ardaverse and the fandom that has grown up around it. In her post Is Tolkien Sexist? Go Not to the Elves, Marta makes some compelling arguments that Tolkien is not as sexist as the prevailing fandom view makes him seem. Dawn wonders if women and men aren't treated differently in mainstream media discussions of fandom, using a recent Salon article about fan fiction as a jumping-off point. Pandemonium added comments that showed yet more proof of this possible trend. Periodicpumkin wonders if there isn't something amiss in the fanon that insists that Fëanor pressured Nerdanel into having seven children.

Gil-galad was an Elven King

Beyond that, certainty fades. Or perhaps it doesn't? In this article about Gil-galad, Michael Martinez highlights how, mostly due to haste and insufficient research, Christopher Tolkien dismissed his father's last (and definitive) thought about the parentage of this Elven King. Tolkien decided he was the son of Orodreth, son of Aegnor, but the published statement in The Silmarillion makes him son of Fingon, an idea that, according to J.R.R. Tolkien's son, was "ephemeral", no more than a pencilled note on a margin.

Continuation Novels: A Kind of Fan-fiction?

Why are continuation novels so popular? Continuation novels are those that elaborate on the future fate of beloved characters like Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Elizabeth Bennet or Hercule Poirot after their creators stop writing about them. Is it because all original stories have been told? Are they any different from fan fiction? Read more at The Palatine, Durham's University's Independent Student Newspaper.

Plan Your Next Trip To Mordor

Yet another great map of Middle-earth, but this time one you will find most familiar and might actually help you when planning your next foray into Mordor. Yes, even a walking route is provided, despite movie!Boromir's most stern disapproval. Have a look at this page in io9. Make sure you zoom in.

Announcements

Many Paths to Tread:: February Challenge: International Day of Fanworks

Our friends at MPTT/LotRGen are also joining this year's International Day of Fanworks with a special challenge for the occasion! Your challenge this month is to write a story about something that someone in Middle-earth might be a fan of. For example, does Maglor have a problem with fangirls? Does Aragorn have a weakness for First Age poetry? Do famous Hobbit cooks have a following? Do some people of Minas Tirith make up stories about the Royal Family? Or any other sort of fannish scenario you can think of. Prompts will be based on your source, so if you comment, please indicate if you are going to base the story in The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings or some other book by Tolkien, or an adaptation of his work such as the movies. Your prompt will be a character from that work; you do not need to feature the character in your story, but he/she should at least be mentioned. The February challenge stories will be due Thursday, February 12. See the LotRGen LiveJournal for full challenge guidlines and to request your prompt!

Rare Ship Swap

ShipSwap is an exchange dedicated to rare pairs. Each person makes a gift and gives a gift. Gifts can be a fanfic of 1000 words or greater or a complete original piece of fanart featuring at least one requested ship. Sign-ups close February 10. See the ShipSwap community for full details on how to participate.

Of Elves and Men: Needs Big Bang Artists!

The Of Elves and Men Big Bang is looking for artists! See this post for the Big Bang guidelines. See this post to sign up to create art for this year's Big Bang.

Hobbit Story 2.0 Big Bang

The Hobbit Story 2.0 Big Bang is now accepting signups for authors, podficcers, betas, and artists who want to create fanworks based on The Hobbit. See the Hobbit Story rules and FAQ for full details on how to participate.

Lord of the Rings Appendix A Read-Along

Tumblr's tolkienreadalong blog will be doing a casual read-along of Appendix A to kick off the new year. The schedule will run as follows:

Perilous and Fair: Women in the Works and Life of J. R. R. Tolkien

Since the earliest scholarship on The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, critics have discussed how the works of J. R. R. Tolkien seem either to ignore women or to place them on unattainable pedestals. To remedy such claims that Tolkien's fiction has nothing useful or modern to say about women, Perilous and Fair focuses critical attention on views that interpret women in Tolkien's works and life as enacting essential, rather than merely supportive roles. Perilous and Fair includes seven classic articles as well as seven new examinations of women in Tolkien's works and life. Find more about Perilous and Fair on Amazon or download the ebook.

Mythgard Institute: Lord of the Rings Movie Marathon

Any Tolkien fans in the Boston area, the Mythgard Institute is hosting a marathon viewing of all three LotR movies (extended editions, of course!), complete with food and a discussion led by Corey "The Tolkien Professor" Olsen. The date is February 28. See the Mythgard website for full details and to register!

Surveys Galore!

Want to help some academic researchers better understand Tolkien fandom in the 21st century? Two big survey projects are ongoing in an effort to collect data and learn more about our fandom. Dawn's Tolkien fan fiction survey collects data on the habits, beliefs, and preferences of Tolkien fans who participate in reading and/or writing fan fiction. The World Hobbit Project is run by a team of media studies researchers who hope to glean more information on how audiences perceived the recent Hobbit films. Each survey takes about 20 minutes to complete.

Odyssey Writers' Workshop: Now Accepting Applications for 2015 Session

Each summer, writers of the fantastic come from all over the world to attend the Odyssey Writing Workshop. Odyssey is one of the most highly respected programs for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Only fifteen are admitted. Fifty-nine percent of graduates go on to professional publication.

Odyssey is for developing writers whose work is approaching publication quality and for published writers who want to improve their work. The six-week program combines an advanced curriculum with extensive writing and in-depth feedback on student manuscripts. Top authors, editors, and agents have served as guest lecturers, including George R. R. Martin, Jane Yolen, Terry Brooks, Robert J. Sawyer, Ben Bova, Nancy Kress, Jeff VanderMeer, Holly Black, Catherynne M. Valente, and Dan Simmons. This summer's workshop runs from June 8 to July 17, 2015 on Saint Anselm College's beautiful campus in Manchester, NH. Application deadline is April 8. See the Odyssey Workshop website for full information.

Calls for Papers

Silver Leaves. Silver Leaves welcomes artwork submissions, and all academic, journalistic, reflective, and creative submissions pertaining to music in Middle-earth and fantasy music in general. There is also limited room for creative and non-fiction submissions relating to Tolkien's works, or to other fantasy works, which may fall outside of the theme of Issue 6. The deadline for all submissions is May 15, 2015. See the full Silver Leaves submission guidelines here.

The New York Tolkien Conference. The conference will be held on Saturday 13 June, 2015 at Baruch College, New York. The conference's theme is centered on Tolkien and they are open to discussions of Tolkien from the author's life to his works to his influences to the fandom surrounding his work. Accepted presentations range from 15 to 30 minutes in length. Deadline for Submissions April 7, 2015. See the New York Tolkien Conference website for full details.

Tolkien Society Seminar 2015. The 2015 Tolkien Society Seminar will be on the 4th July 2015 at the Hilton Hotel in Leeds. The theme of the seminar will be 'One Hundred Years of Middle-earth'. Proposals are invited on the broad subject of Tolkien's earliest works spanning the time period from his years at Oxford through to his First World War service. Papers should be between 15 and 30 minutes. The aim is to provide, 'Something for everyone', and papers from first time presenters are particularly welcome. Proposals are due by 14 February 2015. See the full call for papers for more information.




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