Newsletter: January 2011

Table of Contents

SWG News

Happy New Year, SWG!

Every year, when we enter the new year, we look back at the past year in the SWG and what we've accomplished, and we look forward to where we're going. This past year has been a busy year for us. We celebrated two milestones--our group's fifth birthday and the 1000th story posted to the archive--and hosted two events, Back to Middle-earth Month 2010 and our fifth birthday event, in addition to participating in Help Haiti, the International Day of Femslash, Akallabêth in August, and International Poetry Month and establishing the Library of Tirion. That such a niche community as ours is a part of such diverse activities is a credit to the enthusiasm and creative drive of the artists and authors who call the SWG one of their online homes.

As moderators, we hear a lot from people about our group. Two themes consistently emerge: that the SWG is one of the best places to go to find excellent stories to read, and that the SWG is a friendly and open-minded community with a culture that encourages authors and artists to take creative risks. As mods, we can plan events, host challenges, and push creators to share their work in our group. We can do the behind-the-scenes work needed to keep a group with an ambitious agenda running. What we can't do by ourselves is to create an atmosphere that makes creators want to share their work with us, excited to take new chances, and supportive of others who are doing the same.

That we have earned a reputation for the latter is to the credit of you, our members and supporters.

For that reason, although we've passed a five-year milestone, we feel in many ways that we've just begun. We mods always dream big; we have to, in order to keep up with the energy of our members. In the past few months, we've broadened the focus of our archive to include commemorating our fandom's history by archiving older stories that have had a strong positive impact on the fandom. We are hoping, in the next year, to broaden our horizons even further by adding a gallery where artists can share visual art about The Silmarillion and related works.

We hope that you, our members and supporters, will continue doing just as you've done these past five years. You've brought our little Tolkien fan community to where it is today, and we remain grateful to each author, artist, reviewer, reader, visitor, and volunteer who has made the SWG what it is today--thank you, and here's the another great year!

With best regards,

Dawn, Uli, Tárion, Rhapsody, and Angelica
the SWG moderators

Library of Tirion

The Library of Tirion has been launched! We posted the first story (Deborah Judge’s In the House of Feanor) on December 5th and we hope that every week one more story written before 2007 will be added to its catalogue. In addition to Deborah, you can find stories by Finch and Tehta and we have been able to get in touch with Nol, Lipstick and Lanyon who have agreed to collaborate with the project.

Where can you find these classics? You must have probably seen a new box in the Archive page where the new additions are announced together with the Most Recent list. You can also find the older stories looking up the series The Library of Tirion.

We also want to remind everybody that the box of suggestions for the Library of Tirion remains open and we welcome all ideas. You can either email us at or use the Library of Tirion request form.

New in References: "Chronology of the Silmarillion" by clotho123

We've added a new essay to our Reference library. Chronology of the Silmarillion by clotho123 compiles the various annals Tolkien created while working on the "Silmarillion" to create a single chronology with dates for many of the major events in the published Silmarillion. This essay is an excellent reference when getting an idea of the timeframes Tolkien was imagining when constructing the events in his stories.

This was put together as a potentially useful guide rather than a rigid framework and I would not regard anything here as set in stone. Tolkien did quite a bit of work on the legends after drawing up his final chronologies and might very well have changed many of the dates if he’d ever reached the point of publishing The Silmarillion. It was compiled from three of Tolkien’s chronological writings:

The Annals of Aman, published in The History of Middle-earth: Morgoth’s Ring, Part Two

The Grey Annals, published in The History of Middle-earth: The War of the Jewels, Part One with final section and revisions in Part Three, section I

The Tale of Years, published in The History of Middle-earth: The War of the Jewels, Part Three, section V

The Beginning of Time

These dates are from the Annals of Aman. How precisely you think they should be interpreted is up to the individual. They are all in Valian years, which according to Tolkien’s opening description, were each roughly equivalent to ten Sun years (strictly 9.582 Sun years, if you want to be exact). At other times he had other views on the relationship between elven years and mortal years, but I will not go into those here as he did not have them in mind when compiling the Annals.

Continue reading "Chronology of the Silmarillion" ...

Archive Software Update

Last month, Rhapsody upgraded the software on our archive to the newest version. While everything looks to be running as it should, if you notice anything that seems wrong, please do let us know. Little bugs usually slip into new versions of the software.

We did have one unusual thing happen immediately after the upgrade. While posting a test story this morning under our test account, Rhapsody noticed it didn't show up on the Most Recent list. Instead, it went into the "validation queue," which means that it was waiting for admin approval before showing up on the site. We do not require validation on the archive and never have. All of the settings are correct on our end, so we're not sure why this happened but will be looking into it if it happens again. It has not happened since that first story after the upgrade.

However, if you post a story and don't see it show up on the Most Recent list, this is likely what happened. Dawn will be making it part of her daily site chores to check the admin page for any stories that were incorrectly sent for validation. Please do feel free to drop us a note as well, if you notice this happens to your story, at (You can email any of us privately as well, but the mod account reaches multiple mods, so problems reported there tend to get handled fastest.)

In good news, it appears that a few pesky problems have been fixed. Problems reported with using the text editor with later editions of Microsoft Office seem to have been resolved. The subseries bug--not being allowed to add more than one subseries to a parent series--seems to have been resolved as well. If anyone continues to have problems with these things, just give us a shout.

One lingering harmless-but-annoying issue: When you preview a story, that story shows up as belonging to the last series added to the website. (Right now, that's Himring's "Doom, Gloom, and Maedhros.") The story is not actually added to that series. Go ahead and add the story, and the listing on the archive will display correctly. If you want to add the story to a series, you will need to go about it using the Manage Series page, like usual.

As always, if there are any questions or problems, just let us know!

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New at the Archive

Completed Works

Changes by Calliopes Stylus [General] (1063 words)
Summary: While searching for Eluréd and Elurín Maedhros ponders the way he and his brothers have changed. Not for the arachnophobic.

Copper by darthfingon [Teens] (10154 words)
Summary: In Valinor near the turn of the First Age, a young boy is tormented by a Maia of Makar.

Faithful Friend by lindahoyland [General] (1823 words)
Summary: Gondor's Steward has found all his heart desires. But when he risks losing much of what he had gained, help arrives from an unexpected source from the past.

Fëanor's Dream by WeStandVictorious [General] (1466 words)
Summary: A young Fëanor has an amazing dream...

Pillow Talk by Lyra [Teens] (2020 words)
Summary: Fëanor can't keep some heretical thoughts concerning certain customs of the Eldar to himself. His newly-wedded wife is less than amused... at first. Originally written for the SWG B2MeM project, for the "Great Sea" challenge: Create a story, poem, or artwork that responds to the following quote: "God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh." -- Voltaire

Too Long A Winter by clotho123 (3779 words)
Summary: Midwinter at Himring was never going to be all peace and goodwill.

Vignettes of the Blessed Realm - After The Sundering by anna_wing [General] (1354 words)
Summary: In which we look at the beginnings of the Istari, among other things.

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 3 and Chapter 4.

Burning Bright by by Keiliss [Adult]
Summary: 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 princess and an elf with an uneasy conscience. Cameos by Durin the Deathless and Annatar, the Giver of not always welcome Gifts.
Chapter added this month: Part 2/11.

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

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). RESUMED:Ar-Gimilzôr reaches a decision on Amandil, and Pharazôn makes a strange acquaintance in the gardens of the Western wing..
Chapters added this month: The Wolf´s Howl and Interlude IV: Doom and Choices.

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. 
Chapter added this month: Chapter 27: Recovery, Chapter 28: The Week Before the Wedding, Chapter 29: iVeryanwë Lirulin Intarionyë, Chapter 30: At the Wedding Feast, Chapter 31: Findaráto in Valmar, Chapter 32: Decisions, Chapter 33: Darkness Foreshadowed, Chapter 34: Darkness Rising, Chapter 35: Family Disputes and Chapter 36: Fateful Decisions.

In the House of Feanor by Aiwen [General]
Summary:Short stories containing members of House Feanor doing various interesting and strange things..
Chapter added this month: Before the Fall.

Rise Again From Ashes by Independence1776 [Teens]
Summary: After spending millennia wandering Middle-earth, Maglor returns to Valinor, where he attempts to adjust to both his Valar-imposed restrictions and living once more with the Eldar.
Chapter added this month: Chapter 21.

THE GREAT TALES OF BELERIAND by Chilled in Hithlum [General]
Summary: Ongoing Screenplays covering Professor Tolkien's epic tales
Chapters added this month: Chapter 9 and Chapter 10.

The Singer's Girl by Lady MSM [Teens]
Summary: Andril didn't mean to get involved in all this, really. Is it her fault that an exiled prince and his family are living two miles away from her village? And is it her fault she's got a weakness for talkative, musical boys? A sort of romantic dramedy..
Chapters added this month: Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and Chapter 3.

The Unspoken by Elfique [Teens]
Summary: Many things remain unspoken, the reason for Glorfindel's apparent batchelorhood being one of them. A five part series of vignettes that seeks to explore this.
Chapter added this month: Part 1.

Warping Arda by Clodia [General]
Summary: A collection of drabbles, mostly written for the LJ comm Tolkien_Weekly.
Chapter added this month: Eilinel.

Xenophobia in Beleriand by Aiwen [General]
Summary: In which everyone is prejudiced against everyone else.
Chapter added this month: The Dwarves.

You Live Your Life in the Shadow of the Mountain by darthfingon [Teens]
Summary: At the end of the First Age, religious feuds and civil unrest threaten Valmar and Tirion. A 'What-If' AU.
Chapter added this month: Witch-Finder.

Short Works

Father and Son by Silver Trails [Teens] (362 words)
Summary: Fëanor prepares to take his sons on a trip, after he and Fingolfin realize that Maedhros and Fingon are in love.

I Love You by Silver Trails [Teens] (351 words)
Summary: Amdir returns to Doriath.

In School by Silver Trails [General] (356 words)
Summary: Oropher meets Amdir while trying to escape from school.

The Knot by Himring [Teens] ( words)
Summary: Maedhros and Fingon alone together the last time before the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. Could be interpreted as my response to the "bodice ripper" and as such should perhaps be classified as Adult, except actually...Maedhros / Fingon, obviously.

The Pity of Living Things by Himring [Teens] (776 words)
Summary: Elros tells his grandson a story about Maedhros.

Vairë by Silver Trails [Teens] (589 words)
Summary: The day Serkiel and Larkiel were born.

Vignettes of the Blessed Realm - Of Mushrooms and Celebrimbor by anna_wing [General] (522 words)
Summary: In which we find out some of what Frodo did after leaving Middle-earth.

Library of Tirion

Beleg's Doom by Tehta [General] (3792 words)
Summary: It has been said that character is fate, and this certainly holds true for Beleg, whose single-minded focus leads him straight to his Doom.
First posted April 2004.

Bringing Gifts by Deborah Judge [General] ( words)
Summary: A Silmarillion-based Christmas story. Maglor gives a gift to the Child and receives something in return.
First posted December 2002.

Deep Waters by Finch [General] (1970 words)
Summary: Balan, leader of the first Men to enter Beleriand, asks Finrod Felagund some personal questions.

The House of Feanor by Deborah Judge [General](3252 words)
Summary: In Valinor, Nerdanel sculpts, Anaire teaches lore, Finarfin regrets, Idril claims her birthright, and the world changes.
First published June 20, 2005.

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Character of the Month Biography


Dawn Felagund

Like many of Tolkien's female characters, and especially the female Valar, Vána barely earns a mention in the published text, appearing on a bare four pages. From the published text, we learn that she is called the Ever-young, she is married to Oromë, and Yavanna is her sister. In learning of her role upon Arda, Tolkien tells us only that, "All flowers spring as she passes and open if she glances upon them; and all birds sing at her coming" (1).

Typical as well for the women of Arda, Vána's primary claim to fame comes from her associates rather than her own deeds. Aside from her illustrious sister and husband, two women who play defining roles in the mythology are named as her servants. Melian, the mother of Lúthien, is named as Vána's servant, as well as a servant of Estë, another female Vala who doesn't get much time in the published book (2). Likewise, Arien--who would pull the sun across the sky after the death of the Two Trees--is said to have tended the flowers in Vána's garden, watering them with the golden dew she collected from Laurelin in the eras before she was trusted to illuminate all of Arda (3). Indeed, the number of luminary characters associated with Vána belies the lack of importance suggested by her absence in the text and hints at a deeper, more profound history.

A Bright Beginning

The Book of Lost Tales represents Tolkien's oldest published works relating to the history and mythology of Arda. Begun in the 1910s while Tolkien was serving in World War I, this collection of stories, full of lavish mythological detail, forms the recognizable foundation of what would become The Silmarillion.

At this early juncture, Vána warranted quite a bit more attention than could be given on a mere four pages. In fact, perusing the index of The Book of Lost Tales 1 reveals page after page of entries concerning her. In this earliest version of the story, Vána played a formative role in the growth of Laurelin:

Then was the pit covered with rich earths that Palúrien [Yavanna] devised, and Vána came who loveth life and sunlight and at whose song the flowers arise and open, and the murmur of her maidens round her was like to the merry noise of the folk that stir abroad for the first time on a bright morning. There sang she the song of spring upon the mound, and danced about it, and watered it with great streams of that golden light that Ulmo had brought from the spilled lakes--yet was Kulullin almost o'erflowing at the end. (4)

Then Yavanna--called Palúrien in the early versions of the legends--performs enchantments that give rise to Laurelin, and "[t]hen did the Gods praise Vána and Palúrien and rejoice in the light" (5).

There are obvious parallels between the earliest myth and the version that would be published around 60 years later. Also similar between the two versions, in The Book of Lost Tales, one of Vána's maidens--called Urwen in the early version and Arien in the published book--is charged with tending Laurelin and, later, braves the heat of the Sun to draw the new lamp across the sky (6, 7). The chief change between the earliest and published versions: Vána's primary role in the generation of Laurelin is eliminated. Indeed, in the published version, it is Nienna who takes her place, watering the mound from which the tree would emerge with tears, replacing levity and sprightliness with sorrow (8).

In the early version, as well, Vána presents herself as a compelling and assertive woman. She is among the Valar who speak most vocally, first against Melkor, then in favor of bringing the Elves to Valinor, and finally in support of hiding Valinor after the Darkening. At the loss of the Two Trees, she at first falls into inconsolable grief, then attempts to gather what she can of the spilled light to rekindle the dead tree, along with Lórien. While Yavanna understands her failure to do so as an indication that the Valar should turn their attentions elsewhere--namely to reclaiming the world from Melkor--Vána can think only of her lost tree, an early example of the theme threaded throughout Tolkien's works of a creator's obsession with the work of her own hands blinding her to all else.

And like the later creators, Vána's flaw also leads to an unlooked-for blessing. As she clings to the dead trunk of Laurelin after all ministrations have failed to rekindle the tree, her tears coax forth a new golden shoot that bears the fruit from which the Valar construct the Sun that her maiden, Urwen (Arien), will lead across the sky. Vána, in repentance of her earlier doubts, cuts short her golden hair to weave the sails of the Sun-ship (9).

Dimming Prospects

In the next version of the story, The Quenta, published in The Shaping of Middle-earth, Vána begins to fade into the background of the story. As Tolkien pares down the legend of the Sun and Moon, Vána's pivotal role in the forging of the Sun disappears. She becomes the younger sister of Yavanna (and Varda as well, a detail that was not retained in the published version) and earns the title "Queen of Flowers," taking on her later role as a symbol of flowering and spring without the former command and power that she held in The Book of Lost Tales. (10)

What happened? Vána would never regain her primary role in the story; she would remain defined primarily by her associations: Yavanna, Oromë, Melian, and Arien. While Christopher Tolkien comments on the changing of roles between Vána and Nienna in germinating Laurelin, he gives no reason or even speculation about why his father chose to so suddenly and drastically reduce the role of a primary and intriguing character in the original legend (11).

Works Cited

  1. The Silmarillion, Valaquenta.
  2. Ibid.
  3. The Silmarillion, "Of the Sun and Moon."
  4. The Book of Lost Tales 1, Of the Coming of the Valar and the Building of Valinor.
  5. Ibid.
  6. The Book of Lost Tales 1, The Tale of the Sun and Moon.
  7. The Silmarillion, "Of the Sun and Moon."
  8. The Silmarillion, "Of the Beginning of Days."
  9. The Book of Lost Tales 1, The Tale of the Sun and Moon.
  10. The Shaping of Middle-earth, The Quenta.
  11. Ibid.

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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.

Read comments on this comic | Leave a comment on this comic
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Current Challenge

When the Storm breaks...

No matter where we turn to these days, a storm seems to have an impact on our lives. We either face it head on, or seek shelter until the worst has passed. The word storm can both be taken literally or figuratively, of course. As the writer, you can approach this from many angles.

There is a multitude of possibilities to explore, and we challenge you to find one.

Challenges Revisited: Parting's Sorrow

“Greater as is the skill of the Quendi to mould things to their will and delight, and to overcome the chances of Ea, yet they are not as the Valar, and with regard to the might of the World and its fate, they are but weak and small. Therefore to them also severance is severance, and friends and kin far away are far away." -HoMe 12, "Dangweth Pengolod"

J.R.R. Tolkien largely invented Arda as a place to experiment with his invented languages, and therefore, the movement of different peoples often results in a change in the way that they speak. In "Dangweth Pengolod," Pengolodh explains to the Anglo-Saxon explorer Ælfwine how the sundering and change of the speech of the Eldar occured.

However, from the modes of linguistic change come some of Tolkien's most poignant stories of families and loved ones parted. This challenge asks authors to consider the separation of friends and families across the history of Arda, whether by canonical events, such as Elves lost on the Great Journey or separated by exile, or through the normal courses of life: marriage, estrangement, birth, and death.

Quote of the Month

"You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here."

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!

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Around the World and Web

LotR Genfic Community

The January Challenge will once again be a potluck challenge: the chance to take on any of the challenges from 2010. Further details are forthcoming; watch the LotR Community LiveJournal community for more details.

A Long Expected Contest (ALEC)

The theme for January is “Stormy Days”: There are always those times that try the mettle of those involved. Perhaps what is to be endured is a spate of bad weather, perhaps it is a storm of the soul or the heart. January's challenge is to explore those times when the storms rage. Submission deadline: 11:59pm January 28. Please see the ALEC website for more information.

Middle-earth Fanfiction Awards

The 2010 MEFAs are complete. Congratulations to all SWG members who participated, whether as nominators, reviewers, authors, or volunteers!

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

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