TheSilmarillionWriters'Guild

Newsletter: July 2013

Table of Contents


SWG News

Season of Writing Dangerously

Starting on the Solstice, June the 21st, and running all through the Equinox on the 23rd of September, all Tolkien writers and artists are invited to participate in the Season of Writing Dangerously! We already have thirty-seven people who have signed up and there is no deadline for new sign-ups, so stop by the Season of Writing Dangerously sign-up page to join in.

The purpose of this event is to encourage authors and artists to tackle those pieces they’ve always wanted to write or finish. But there’s no pressure to make the goal: authors set their targets to make as much progress as they think they can handle. Remember word counts are not the only acceptable way to declare goals. It might be to finish a story or add a certain number of chapters, or write x number of stories. Any goal that is related to a Tolkien-related creative project is acceptable. Once the goal is set, we'll help cheer participants on and they will all receive a very special award at the end of the Season!

This year, we wanted to offer an extra-special prize to encourage our participants to make the dash to the finish line! On September 23, we will make a post for those of you who meet your goals to celebrate and, of course, download banners and icons to show off your success. At this time, winners will also be able to request a piece of artwork or a story to go with a project they worked on for the Season of Writing Dangerously. For example, if you finish that novel that is collecting dust, you might want an illustration of one of the scenes. If you make progress on a painting, you might want a story to go with it. During October, our volunteer writers and artists will work to make your visions come to life!

If you'd like to sign up for this year's Season of Writing Dangerously, please leave a comment at the sign-up page or email us at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org with your goal, if you are unable or prefer not to use LiveJournal. OpenID, anonymous comments, and logins from other sites LJ recognizes are all acceptable.

Banners and icons for use by our 2013 Season of Writing Dangerously participants can be found here, great for coaxing reluctant muses out from under the furniture. Stop by our LiveJournal community weekly for motivational posts and more goodies!

International Day of Femslash

July is the month when authors of all fandoms write femslash! This is the SWG's fifth year participating in this multi-fandom event. The intent of the project is to set aside a day each July for the celebration and appreciation of femslash. Participants are encouraged to post a femslash story on July 20th. If you’re interested and want to get your creative juices going, you can visit the International Day of Femslash website for more information.

A Special Congratulations to Oshun: Fifty Character Biographies and Counting!

One of the most popular and useful features on our site is the Character of the Month Biographies, which started back in 2007 as a way to encourage our members to explore writing about characters they don't ordinarily lend a second glance. While several writers have contributed to this project, the vast majority of the biographies have been written by Oshun, and this month, we publish her fiftieth biography, about Indis, on the site! This is a huge task to take on every month. In addition to perusing all of Tolkien's texts for every last tidbit of factual information on that character, Oshun taps into secondary sources and her extensive Tolkien community involvement to produce essays that enlighten their readers beyond the canonical facts they provide about the character. All of her work is exhaustively referenced so that readers interested in learning more about a character can easily do so.

We, the members and mods of the SWG, are extremely grateful to Oshun for the many, many hours of work she has put into our group as one of our longest-standing and most industrious volunteers! We have put together a virtual thank-you card. If you'd like to "sign" Oshun's card, simply drop us a line at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org, and we'll add your message.

Thank you, Oshun!!! :)

Welcome to Our New Members!

This month we have seven new members joining the Silmarillion Writers’ Guild. They are Elegaer, Fadesintothewest, Acharion, Khaosity, Furnace with wings, sly_hostetter and Elleabye. Welcome!

Why not tell us a little about your interest in The Silmarillion and maybe other facts on yourself by updating your bio? If you have any queries, you may wish to start by browsing our Frequently Asked Questions, but if you can’t find the answer or if you need any help at any time, do not hesitate to contact us at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org.


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New at the Archive

Completed Works

A Rare Gift by Elisif [Teens] (2293 words)
Summary: At the end of his life, Elros recieves an unexpected visitor.

Another Future by Keiliss [General] (7425 words)
Summary: A chance encounter at a ball leaves Glorfindel with a deeper understanding of himself and the world he lives in.

Brightest Flame by a7s4t6r5i6s [General](1026 words)
Summary: "What she wanted was the fire, and what she feared was being burned." Nerdanel/Fëanor. Oneshot.

Dual Number by Acharion [Teens] (4921 words)
Summary: We all know about the twins Elladan and Elrohir. But what about the other twins in Middle Earth? Erestor has encountered not one, but four sets of twins while serving the Noldor: The sons of Fëanor, Dior, Eärendil, and Elrond.

Faithful Son by a7s4t6r5i6s [General] (1563 words)
Summary: Celebrimbor's renunciation of Curufin and what follows.

Neighbourly Relations by Himring [Teens] (6249 words)
Summary: In Beleriand, the newly assigned territory of Angrod and Aegnor borders on the territory of the cousins who betrayed them. From the time of settlement to their death in battle, what were the relations between Angrod and Aegnor and their cousin Maedhros, son of Feanor?

Sea Song by Fadesintothewest [General] (2518 words)
Summary: The Feast of Reuniting finds the House of Fingolfin relaxing around a fire. Fingon is bold, Turgon is reserved, and Fingolfin loves his sons. A short character study that I hope to flesh out into a larger story, centering Fingon.

Thangorodrim by ford_of_bruinen [General] (4664 words)
Summary: Fingon rescuing Maedhros. Prequel to Vodka and Unhinged.

The Path Shrouded in Mist and Shadow by Meisiluosi [General] (5140 words)
Summary: The shadows are deepening in the East and two powerful chieftains, Ulfang and Bór, hold a meeting where much has to be decided and the future path for them and their people is to be set. That path, however, is uncertain, as their final decision has some rather complex and troubling implications.

The Piano by Elisif [General] (2036 words)
Summary: Maglor makes a surprising discovery and finds himself giving the twins their first music lesson. Fluff.

Then Eru Spoke by Taylor17387 [General] (1997 words)
Summary: After destroying the world, Morgoth reunites with Eru to have an enlightening conversation in the dark.

This Game We Play by theeventualwinner [Adult] (6575 words)
Summary: As the Siege of Angband takes hold, Mairon and Melkor must find ways to occupy their time. But how far does Mairon dare push his master, and will he like what he finds?

Twenty-Two Copies by Friendsheyho [General] (1064 words)
Summary: Elrond was determined that there was going to be a record of what it was like to love the sons of Fëanor.

Without the Walls by clotho123 [General] (2439 words)
Summary: In which Fingolfin makes a fresh start, and later discusses the First Age with his younger brother.

Works in Progress

Acquiescence by Elleth [Teens]
Summary: When Nelyafinwen Maitimë meets her cousin Findekániel Astaldë, they are drawn irrevocably toward each other, but will they overcome Maitimë's reservations and the strictures society imposes on them? (Not very serious Rule 63'd fluff with a mildly Austenite bend.)
Chapter added this month: Chapter 1.

Flawed, yet Precious by Khaosity [Adult]
Summary: The life story of a certain fallen Maia, told from his perspective. Dark, or rather will be.
Chapter added this month: Introduction.

Poetic History of Arda ( Part 1: The Music of the Ainur) by Furnace with wings [General]
Summary: An ongoing project to render the ENTIRE history of Arda (From the Music of the Ainur to the Fourth Age) into Verse.
Chapter added this month: Part 1.

Some Futile Hope by Friendsheyho [Teens]
Summary: It is the Second Age of Middle-earth. Sauron is regrouping, the Rings are being forged, the Numenorians are beginning their descent into madness, and Glorfindel has been sent back to Middle-earth for...for what? Only time will tell, and when it does, all of Middle-earth will rise up to fight.
Chapters added this month: Prologue, Part 1: Chapter 1, Part 1: Chapter 2 and Part 1: Chapter 3 .

Strange Fates by PerpetuaLilium [Teens]
Summary: Eregriel and Síreth are two young elves of Lothlórien in the later years of the Watchful Peace. They are in love and in fact betrothed, yet they have chosen to put their ceremonies off for many years, until they can come to some conclusion about what implications the unusual features of their union may have for its validity, in accordance with the local application of the Laws and Customs. Then, during a sudden spate of instability, Síreth, with Eregriel, is chosen to take part in Lórien's first extensive diplomatic interaction with the realms of Men in centuries. They must manage their relationship and cultural expectations across the years and leagues that follow.
Chapter added this month: Transverse Passage.

Sunday Scriberies by Elleth [Teens]
Summary: A collection of answers and essays originally written as guest contributions to Ask Middle-earth's Scribe Sunday project on tumblr. Will be updated bi-weekly.
Chapters added this month: Merpeople in Middle-earth and Elves and Horses.

Short Works

Ata by Almare † [Adult] (868 words)
Summary: Curufin/Finrod. PWP.

Ecstasy by Independence1776 [Adult] (100 words)
Summary: Varda/Yavanna femslash: photosynthesis as sex.

Fingon's Lament by Fadesintothewest [General] (589 words)
Summary: The lament at Fingon's incremation breaks Maedhros.

In School by Silver Trails [General] (356 words)
Summary: A young Oropher meets a dark-haired elfling

Stand before my eyes by Fadesintothewest [Adult] (860 words)
Summary: This is a follow up to Sea Song. He likes to watch. She can’t take it…

The Present Circumstance by LadyBrooke [Teens] (563 words)
Summary: Indis has been friends and sometimes lovers with Míriel and Finwë for a long time, from the forests of Middle-earth to the palaces of Valinor and in spite of deaths and family members. Eventual Finwë/Indis/Míriel threesome, in the course of the story every combination of two of those possible.

The Seeing by Levade [General](790 words)
Summary: Erestor has an unsettling encounter with Elwing not long after the fall of Doriath.

Unexpected Abilities by Silver Trails [General] (811 words)
Summary: Caranthir develops new abilities and connections

Unhinged by ford_of_bruinen [General] (711 words)
Summary: Sequel to Vodka. Another conversation between brothers (Maedhros and Maglor)

Poetry

Charged With Want by Erurainon [General] (78 words)
Summary: Maglor comes to terms with his curse and the dark glory of Middle Earth.

O Sollemn Rose by Erurainon [General] (75 words)
Summary: Feanor parts ways with his wife, reflecting on the nature of their love.

Without a War by Erurainon [General](108 words)
Summary: A man of Numenor meets a woman of the Faithful ere the deluge and reflects upon war and peace.

Podfic

Five Bells by Dawn Felagund, read by anuhealani [Teens]
Five Bells was originally published in August and was the Featured Podfic in the June 2013 newsletter. Click for a chapter listing with times and file sizes for each chapter.
Summary: The people of Tirion learn of Miriel's death. For the Five Things challenge for SWG's fifth birthday. 2011 MEFA nominee.


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Character of the Month Biography

Indis

Oshun


Indis of the Vanyar is the second wife of Finwë first King of the Noldor. The initial mention of Indis in the first published version of The Silmarillion focuses upon exactly that.

Finwë was King of the Noldor. The sons of Finwë were Fëanor, and Fingolfin, and Finarfin; but the mother of Fëanor was Míriel Þerindë, whereas the mother of Fingolfin and Finarfin was Indis of the Vanyar.1

In one version of the tales, Indis is said to be the sister of Ingwë (the King of the Vanyar and later High King of the Elves in Aman).2 In contradiction to that, The Shibboleth of Fëanor states that Indis is instead the niece of Ingwë. There is no dispute that Finwë, the man she would seek to marry, was close to her kinsman Ingwë. Finwë and Ingwë, along with Elwë (later known as Elu Thingol), were the three Elves taken to Aman by the Vala Oromë to try to convince the Quendi to leave the dark lands of Middle-earth and live under the protection of the Valar in Aman.

Indis was originally described as "of the kin of Ingwe", and this passage was altered to "sister of Ingwë" (Morgoth's Ring, p. 207). Eventually, in "The Shibboleth of Fëanor", Tolkien notes that "she is said to have been the daughter of King Ingwë's sister" (The Peoples of Middle-earth, p. 343).3

Whether as the sister or the niece of Ingwë, Indis had a long-standing acquaintance with Finwë.

Indis is remarkable in that, as far as is written in any of the published works of Tolkien, she is the only second wife named for any major figure within the Eldar. The story of how Finwë came to seek a second wife is central to Tolkien’s history of Middle-earth and the tale of role of the Elves within that legendarium. After giving birth to the illustrious Fëanor, “the mightiest in skill of word and of hand”4 of a mighty and skillful people,5 Finwë’s first wife Míriel Þerindë declares herself to be unable to go on living. Míriel claims that birthing the magnificent Fëanor, whose “spirit burned as a flame,”6 has robbed her of the last of her life energy.

. . . in the bearing of her son Míriel was consumed in spirit and body; and after his birth she yearned for release from the labours of living. And when she had named him, she said to Finwë: 'Never again shall I bear child; for strength that would have nourished the life of many has gone forth into Fëanor.'7

The principle problem with Míriel’s withdrawal from life is not only that she leaves a young son motherless, but also that she leaves behind her a spouse, to whom she has promised herself in union for all of the ages of Arda. Finwë is described as a vibrant and active ruler who wants both a wife and a consort and has long dreamed of fathering more children. In the beginning, Finwë mourns his beloved and waits, hoping for a change in her condition. One source of the much discussed mores or nature of marriage among the Eldar is based upon this statement from Laws and Customs among the Eldar.

The Eldar wedded once only in life, and for love or at least by free will upon either part. Even when in after days, as the histories reveal, many of the Eldar in Middle-earth became corrupted, and their hearts darkened by the shadow that lies upon Arda, seldom is any tale told of deeds of lust among them.8

The document itself never received Tolkien’s final approval and might be read, as many have noted, a bit like the Ten Commandments, the expression of a moral ideal, rather than the reflection of actual practice. But if there is any legitimacy to the document at all, living under the noses of the Valar, and as the king of one of the largest groupings within the Quendi, Finwë must be seen to have taken the proscription seriously.

What then is left to Finwë, who is not the sort of man to easily settle for living out all of the Ages of Arda alone, without love, and lacking the opportunity to raise a family and build a life for himself? Through great hardship and determination, Finwë leads his contentious people across the vast wilderness and over the mountains of Middle-earth to finally reach the sea. One might say steering the Noldor is a lot like herding cats. Even in starlit woodlands of Middle-earth, despite the ever-present threats and menaces created by Melkor stalking those ancient forests, fully half of the Avari or the Refusers, those who stayed behind and did not even begin the exodus, were made up of Tatyar, the original group whence came the Noldor.9

Long and slow was the march of the Eldar into the west, for the leagues of Middle-earth were uncounted, and weary and pathless. Nor did the Eldar desire to hasten, for they were filled with wonder at all that they saw, and by many lands and rivers they wished to abide; and though all were yet willing to wander, many feared rather their journey’s end than hoped for it.10

And yet, Finwë is able to lead what would become the Amanyarin Noldor successfully to the sea. Without a rival for the leadership of the Noldor, he finally brings them to the promised land of peace, plenty, and protection of the Valar, only to find after settling there and constructing their homes that the joy of that new world will be denied to him personally, with Míriel’s withdrawal from life, leaving him alone, with a young son.

Significantly, there is another who observes and feels heartsore for him at this prospect. Waiting in the wings is Indis of the Vanyar, who has long loved Finwë.

There was a fair lady of the Vanyar, Indis of the House of Ingwë. She had loved Finwë in her heart, ever since the days when the Vanyar and the Noldor lived close together. In one of his wanderings Finwë met her again upon the inner slopes of Oiolossë, the Mountain of Manwë and Varda; and her face was lit by the golden light of Laurelin that was shining in the plain of Ezellohar below. In that hour Finwë perceived in her eyes the love that had before been hidden from him.11

When Finwë learns of her love for him, he returns it: “In that hour Finwë perceived in her eyes the love that had before been hidden from him.” He then makes the decision to approach Manwë and ask his assistance, desiring, contrary to the precepts and customs handed down to the Eldar of Aman from the Valar, that he be free to renounce his first marriage and take Indis as his wife. The story of the dissolution of the marriage of Finwë and Míriel is recorded in detail within The Shibboleth of Fëanor.12

This is no simple dissolution of marriage that Indis’ desire for Finwë places before him. The Valar will exact a terrible sacrifice in exchange for Finwë’s freedom. The possibility of Míriel ever returning to life must be denied her.

It was judged that Finwë's bereavement was unjust, and by persisting in her refusal to return Míriel had forfeited all rights that she had in the case; for either she was now capable of accepting the healing of her body by the Valar, or else her fëa was mortally sick and beyond their power, and she was indeed 'dead', no longer capable of becoming again a living member of the kindred of the Eldar.

'So she must remain until the end of the world. For from the moment that Finwë and Indis are joined in marriage all future change and choice will be taken from her and she will never again be permitted to take bodily shape. Her present body will swiftly wither and pass away, and the Valar will not restore it. For none of the Eldar may have two wives both alive in the world.13

This is a grim basis upon which to build a new life with another. And Fëanor, Míriel’s grieving son, does not take the ruling well. In the form of passionate dislike, he chooses to transfer to Indis all of his grief and rage at his loss of hope that he would ever see or speak to his mother again in life. Despite this, Finwë agrees to accept the condition for the dissolution of his marriage. In the published Silmarillion, the contradiction is clearly stated:

‘…if Finwë had endured his loss and been content with the fathering of his mighty son, the courses of Fëanor would have been otherwise, and great evil might have been prevented; for the sorrow and the strife in the House of Finwë is graven in the memory of the Noldorin Elves.’

* * * *

But the children of Indis were great and glorious, and their children also; and if they had not lived the history of the Eldar would have been diminished.14

There we have the contradiction of fate or doom and free will. Finwë is forced to make a terrible choice in order to fulfill the fate of his people.

Now it came to pass that Finwë took as his second wife Indis the Fair. She was a Vanya, close kin of Ingwë the High King, golden-haired and tall, and in all ways unlike Míriel. Finwë loved her greatly, and was glad again. But the shadow of Míriel did not depart from the house of Finwë, nor from his heart; and of all whom he loved Fëanor had ever the chief share of his thought.15

However, without Finwë’s choice to marry Indis, we would not have even have a story--much less a story that included Fingolfin, Finarfin, and their illustrious offspring, not to mention that we would not have the daughters of Indis, Findis and Irimë (more below on Indis’ daughters), who did not make it into The Silmarillion as edited by Christopher Tolkien.

What can one know of Indis herself aside from her relationship to Finwë and the grand deeds of her progeny? Or the fact that she is fair and golden-haired? The few scattered implications one is able to draw from the surrounding texts indicate that Indis must have been a woman of great resilience and strength and not lacking in importance among her own people and later among her adopted kinsmen. She is said to be, in the citation from The Silmarillion quoted above, “in all ways unlike Míriel.”

Unlike Míriel, whose origins are left obscure in the stories, Indis is of much-vaunted royal blood. Tolkien presents the reader with kings and high kings in the history of his mighty Eldar, which inclines one to believe that governing principles of heredity rulership in our primary world must apply to his created universe. The Eldar are said in the Laws and Customs to marry “for love or at least by free will.”16 That does not necessarily rule out that some matches may be looked upon more favorably than others. Tolkien hints at a more egalitarian society than exists in his primary world, in terms of both gender and class, but does not always give us clear narrative evidence of its actuality. (Therein lies the material for an essay in and of itself.) The existence of Elven magic (art, craft, or skill, which one must presume results in a higher standard of living overall, particularly in Aman) coupled with the preternatural longevity of the Elves could reinforce the possibility of somewhat less rigid class divisions within society, top to bottom. But there is strong reason to believe that with a monarchy comes a hierarchical structure.

In Europe of the Middle Ages and in more prosperous periods and locations in the ancient world--imperfect models for the society of the Eldar, but models understood by both Tolkien and his readers--marriage was a means of joining disparate peoples and ethnicities one to another, of forming or cementing alliances.

Marital ties among the nobility were based on class, economic and political calculations. Marriage ties with the right family could lead to links between lineages and help to create alliances and agreements.17

The usual form of a noble marriage in fantasy or real life rarely reflects the same degree of freedom of choice that might exist within the common folk of a people. Despite all the talk of love, the idea of Indis, as a niece or sister of the High King Ingwë, marrying Finwë King of the Noldor, must seem like an excellent idea to the ruling classes of those peoples, near to one another, but separate, with shared interests and the wish to strengthen alliances. Incidentally, Tolkien presents us with another political-sounding marriage when he pairs Finwë’s third son Finarfin with Eärwen the daughter of the Telerin King Olwë. Indis’ grandson by Fingolfin, Turgon, also marries a Vanya.

(Parenthetically, Fëanor does not come anywhere close to any presumption of an arranged marriage, showing up after long travels with a fait accompli: a young wife, a craftsman herself and the daughter of a blacksmith. There is even their baby son Maedhros, with the father name of Nelyafinwë [Third Finwë], clearly chosen to ensure there will be no confusion about his place in the royal blood line of Finwë. [While this seems of dubious importance at that point in “deathless” Aman, history proves Fëanor to have reason for concern. Not only does Finwë lose his life in Aman, but Kings of the Noldor follow one another in fairly rapid succession in Middle-earth, slowing down only after the War of Wrath, with Gil-galad’s reign significantly out-lasting those of his predecessors.] Largely absent and pursuing his own interests, Fëanor, nonetheless, has no intention of being supplanted or allowing his heir to be displaced by any son or grandson of Indis. The diplomatic dance is never one that Fëanor cares to master.)

Returning to Indis’ qualifications as a consort of the King of the Noldor, one might speculate that lacking the arty and crafty skills of certain remarkable Noldorin women, Indis might have brought into the marriage her own set of competencies fostered by the unique cultural biases of the Vanyar. Perhaps she was musical (two of her grandsons, Finrod and Fingon, were). We do have indications that she took language questions seriously. (See notes below on the use of the thorn.) Coming from the family of the High King of the Vanyar, perhaps she possesses diplomatic and administrative skills, which could be of use to Finwë. (It might be hard for some, perhaps unfairly so, to imagine Míriel Þerindë abandoning an ambitious project to discuss dull details of Finwë’s less than inspiring day-to-day work with him or offer counsel.)

The modern reader might detect couched within that statement “unlike Míriel” both positive and negative ways in which they differ.

Unlike Míriel, Indis is a breeder—the foremost qualification for the wife and consort of a hereditary monarch. She is able to bear Finwë two sons, although neither may be compared to the inexplicable genius of the unmatchable Fëanor, who is described in terms that rival those bestowed upon heroes and demigods of the pagan mythologies with which Tolkien would have been familiar. On the other hand, Indis’ sons are not lacking Elven wisdom and, at least in the case of Finarfin, possess a more measured and moderate temperament. Indis gives birth to daughters as well as sons in some versions of the legendarium, although only Fingolfin and Finarfin are mentioned in the published Silmarillion. In The Shibboleth of Fëanor, Indis’ first child is called Findis, Fingolfin is next, then Irimë, and, last of all, Finarfin. The name Findis is described as a combination of the parents’ names. Findis stays with her mother, after Finwë is killed and they lived among the Vanyar, grief-stricken, “until such time as it seemed good to Manwë to restore Finwë to life.”18

The fate of her second daughter, named here Irien and in other places Îrimé, is more interesting:

His second daughter was named Irien and her mother-name was Lalwendë (laughing maiden). By this name, or in shortened form Lalwen, she was generally known. She went into exile with her brother Fingolfin, who was most dear to her of all her kin; but her name was not changed, since Lalwen fitted the style of Sindarin well enough.19

The idea of a lively, laughing daughter of Indis, fitting into the deeds of the Noldorin princes in the First Age is appealing. (She sounds like a good aunt for the irrepressible Fingon the Valiant.) Relating to the exact number and names of the daughters of Indis, a further footnote to The Shibboleth of Fëanor, appears to contain the final version:

In all these tables [Elvish genealogies] there are still three daughters of Finwë and Indis: Findis, Faniel, and Îrimé (see X.207, 238, and also X.262, where Finvain appears for Îrimé), and no correction was made. In the excursus Faniel has disappeared, and the younger daughter appears both as Îrimé and Irien.20

Thus, Indis succeeds in the biggest way that Míriel fails Finwë: she is able to give him the big family that he always wanted.

One is not able to draw any indication from the texts that Indis manifests any particular expertise in art or craft. One cannot help but think of the famed artists among the crafty Noldor closest to Finwë, like, for example, Míriel Þerindë before her, who is credited with

. . . a marvellous dexterity of hand. This she employed in embroidery, which though achieved in what even the Eldar thought a speed of haste was finer and more intricate than any that had before been seen.21

Nor does Indis resemble Nerdanel, the spouse of her stepson Fëanor, who was regarded as a uniquely noteworthy artist, even among the Noldor famous for their creative gifts.

Of Mahtan Nerdanel learned much of crafts that women of the Noldor seldom used: the making of things of metal and stone. She made images, some of the Valar in their forms visible, and many others of men and women of the Eldar, and these were so like that their friends, if they knew not her art, would speak to them; but many things she wrought also of her own thought in shapes strong and strange but beautiful.22

But Indis was a more than suitable queen and consort for Finwë. She bore him beautiful children who, along with their progeny, played a significant role in these epic tales. She apparently had the potential to smooth over relations between the Vanyar and the Noldor, not to mention to bring a certain piety lacking within her adopted people because of that particular native Noldorin pride, which tended to make them view themselves in a less than subservient role in relation to the Valar.

And, of great import, within Tolkien’s legendarium, she had golden hair. Tolkien scholar Verlyn Flieger speaks to Tolkien’s obsession with the Vanyar and their golden hair:

Their epithet, Fair Elves, refers to their golden hair, the only such coloring among the otherwise dark-haired Elves. The stem for this name is listed in “The Etymologies” under BAN–, while “Quendi and Eldar” cites Vanyar “from an adjectival derivative *wanja from the stem *WAN and notes that the name “was probably given to the First Clan by the Noldor” and that it referred to the color of their hair (War of the Jewels 382– 83). While as with Moriquendi, the name describes the perception of one group by another, it seems reasonable to suppose that both the epithet and the coloring are also meant to associate the Vanyar with the light and their readiness to seek it. Once in Valinor, these Elves never leave the light but dwell always near it and in it. Perhaps because of their implied spirituality, the Vanyar play little or no part in the subsequent turbulent history of the Elves. Excitement and tension, after all, come out of opposition, forces pushing against one another.23

The implications in the texts surrounding Indis are that she possessed the gifts of the Vanyar, yet had the courage and flexibility to embrace her husband’s people in her role as consort. She manifests this quality when she takes a position on the use or abandonment of the letter Þ in favor of the letter S. Fëanor chooses, while using linguistic arguments, to make the choice a sign of personal loyalty to him and respect for his mother Míriel Þerindë, whose name included it and had always used it during her lifetime. Interestingly, as a conservative and traditional spelling the Vanyar used the “thorn” or letter Þ. Aligning himself with the majority of his people, Finwë drops the “thorn” after the death of Míriel.24

Indis, as a show of support to her spouse and of her willing assimilation into the habits and customs of her adopted people, chooses to drop it as well, explaining, “I have joined the people of the Noldor, and I will speak as they do.” Fëanor, not surprisingly, adds Indis’ decision to his list of reasons for resentment.25

It appears that Tolkien would have sided with Fëanor here, unless politics overcame his linguistic sensitivities:

Into the strife and confusion of loyalties in that time this seemingly trivial matter, the change of Þ to s, was caught up to its embitterment, and to lasting detriment to the Quenya tongue. [Emphasis added.]26

Indis sincerely did, according to the texts, try to accommodate herself to and serve the Noldor and extend her personal love for Finwë to her fealty due her king. It is difficult to fault Indis for taking opportunistic advantage of Míriel’s recalcitrance and offering to love and cherish Finwë. She clearly is better wife material by most traditional standards.

Of course, there was nothing Indis could do to win the favor of Fëanor. It is fairly obvious, from all accounts, although one might imagine there were moments in time of greater and lesser stress, that Fëanor, who continued to come first with Finwë (“his eldest son remained nearest to Finwë's heart”27), never forgave Indis for replacing his mother.

At the pinnacle of Noldorin creativity and the golden age of Valinor, already the seeds for a great fall lie only temporarily dormant within in that society.

Now even while Fëanor and the craftsmen of the Noldor worked with delight, foreseeing no end to their labours, and while the sons of Indis grew to their full stature, the Noontide of Valinor was drawing to its close.28

One cannot blame Fëanor alone for his resentments either. The medieval method of declaring a uncomfortable royal marriage invalid (while perhaps obtaining a papal dispensation for remarriage) and banishing the first wife to a nunnery seems almost kind and gentle compared to the Valar declaring Míriel dead through the end of Arda and beyond, ostensibly to entertain the idea that Finwë wanted a new wife. Among these all-but-immortal Elves, there should be no death in Valinor and even in the dark forest of Middle-earth, when the spirit left the body of one of the Firstborn, they had learned from the Valar that there was a possibility of rebirth. It seems to many modern minds a harsh interpretation of marriage laws and/or an idealistic one of the lasting endurance of all marriage bonds.

Tolkien said quite clearly how he viewed this situation. Finwë’s choice not only threatened his new marriage, causing strife within his immediate family and extending that among his people. Melkor fanned the flames of discord between the supporters of Fëanor, the greatest of the Noldor, and those who might have looked to his brothers by his stepmother as a less arrogant and more moderate model, all the while hoping for guidance for their people from King Finwë.

When Fëanor threatened his brother Fingolfin with a deadly weapon, however, the Valar did not trust Finwë to restore the peace among the Noldor and intervened. The banishment of Fëanor was the death toll of the marriage of Indis and Finwë. Once again Finwë had a choice to make and this time he chose Fëanor over Indis. We are not told whether he asked Indis to accompany him into exile with Fëanor. In any case, she did not go.

With him into banishment went his seven sons, and northward in Valinor they made a strong place and treasury in the hills; and there at Formenos a multitude of gems were laid in hoard, and weapons also, and the Silmarils were shut in a chamber of iron. Thither also came Finwë the King, because of the love that he bore to Fëanor; and Fingolfin ruled the Noldor in Tirion.29

Perhaps Indis lived out those years of Finwë’s self-imposed exile in Formenos in the hope reconciliation at their end, despite his lifelong favoritism of Fëanor over her and the children she had borne him. If she was indeed waiting for him as some of the texts state, she was waiting in vain. It was in exile in Formenos, standing between his beloved son’s Silmarils and the Dark Vala, that Finwë met his death. In the darkness following the destruction of the Two Trees, Indis retired in grief to wait even longer. The last comfort to Indis is her eldest child.

She [Findis] did not go into exile, but went with her mother after the slaying of Finwë and they abode among the Vanyar in grief until such time as it seemed good to Manwë to restore Finwë to life.30

When ninety percent of the Noldor rise up to abandon Aman and return to Middle-earth,31 all of Indis’ grandchildren leave and, along with them, both of her sons and her youngest daughter. Finally, when Finarfin turns back and returns to Valinor, he finds that his mother and sister have already decided upon retirement in Valmar.

According to an after-the-Silmarillion version of the story of Indis and Finwë printed in the collection of documents in Morgoth’s Ring, Finwë is permitted to speak with Míriel in the halls of Mandos after his death. He discovers that she wishes to return to her body; overwhelmed with remorse and pity, he desires to help her. He asks Vairë to support him with his proposed solution, which is to offer himself to Mandos forever in exchange for Míriel.

'Dost thou hear the prayer and desire of Míriel? Why will Mandos refuse this redress of her griefs, that her being may not be void and without avail? Behold! I instead will abide with Mandos for ever, and so make amends. For surely, if I remain unhoused, and forgo life in Arda, then his Doom will be inviolate.'

'So thou may deem,' answered Vaire; 'yet Mandos is stern, and he will not readily permit a vow to be revoked. Also he will consider not only Míriel and thee, but Indis and thy children, whom thou seemest to forget, pitying now Míriel only.'

'Thou art unjust to me in thy thought,' said Finwë. 'It is unlawful to have two wives, but one may love two women, each differently, and without diminishing one love by another. Love of Indis did not drive out love of Míriel; so now pity for Míriel doth not lessen my heart's care for Indis. But Indis parted from me without death. I had not seen her for many years, and when the Marrer smote me I was alone. She hath dear children to comfort her, and her love, I deem, is now most for Ingoldo. His father she may miss; but not the father of Feanaro! But above all her heart now yearns for the halls of Ingwe and the peace of the Vanyar, far from the strife of the Noldor. Little comfort should I bring her, if I returned; and the lordship of the Noldor hath passed to my sons.'32

Finally, Finwë’s wish is granted. Míriel dwells in the House of Vairë, weaving and observing. Perhaps Indis dwells still in city of many bells at the feet of Manwë seeking peace and relief from the grief and disquiet she brought upon herself during her years of attempting to live as a Noldo.




Works Cited

  1. The Silmarillion, “Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië.”
  2. Morgoth’s Ring, The Statute of Finwë and Míriel.
  3. “It's all in the family: The Elweans and Ingweans,” by Michael Martinez, published on August 26, 2001; http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/841455/posts, 2 July 2013.
  4. The Silmarillion, “Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië.”
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. The Silmarillion, "Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor."
  8. Morgoth's Ring, Laws and Customs among the Eldar.
  9. The War of the Jewels, Quendi and Eldar.
  10. The Silmarillion, “Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor.”
  11. The Peoples of Middle-earth, The Shibboleth of Fëanor.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. The Silmarillion, “Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor.”
  15. Ibid.
  16. Morgoth's Ring, Of the Laws and Customs among the Eldar.
  17. Shulamith Shahar, The Fourth Estate: A History of Women in the Middle Ages, trans. Chaya Galai, Revised ed. (London: Routledge, 2003), 131.
  18. [Internal footnotes omitted.] The Peoples of Middle-earth, Shibboleth of Fëanor.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid.
  21. The Peoples of Middle-earth, Shibboleth of Fëanor.
  22. Morgoth's Ring, The Later Quenta Silmarillion.
  23. Flieger, Verlyn (2002-01-28). Splintered Light: Tolkien's World, Revised Edition. Kent State University Press.
  24. The Peoples of Middle-earth, Shibboleth of Fëanor.
  25. Ibid.
  26. Ibid.
  27. Ibid.
  28. The Silmarillion, "Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor."
  29. The Silmarillion, “Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor.”
  30. The Peoples of Middle-earth, Shibboleth of Fëanor.
  31. The Silmarillion, "Of the Flight of the Noldor."
  32. Morgoth's Ring, Of the Laws and Customs among the Eldar.



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Featured Podfic

Spring Cleaning

Russandol (Read by Dawn Felagund)

One day during the Noontide of the Blessed Realm, Manwë and Varda get ready for a celebration at Ilmarin, their halls upon the peak of Taniquetil. This hilarious tale of marital bliss and party preparations among the Valar won Second Place in the 2011 MEFAs.

Listen to or download "Spring Cleaning."



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The SWG Featured Podfic project presents a new recording of one of our archived stories each month. Have a favorite story that you'd like to hear? Recommend a story for the Featured Podfic project here. Visit our podfic page for more information on podfic, including how to get started with podficcing, add your own podfics to our archive, volunteer to read for the Featured Podfic project, or listen to and download other podfics on our site.


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Current Challenge

United They Stand

Throughout the books we see women like Haleth leading their people, or Lúthien doing deeds no other man dared to do. Dwarves meeting elves, or Oromë discovering the elves. Emancipation and equality can be found in the Professor's words, and we would like to challenge you to write about this process. To get you started, here are some ideas to explore:

Challenges Revisited: Untold History

The Silmarillion is a unique story in that it is not told by an omniscient, omnipresent narrator but by ordinary people, as fallible and prone to bias as you or I. This month, as we focus on the House of Fëanor, we consider also how their story might have been told--or not told--truthfully by the "authors" of The Silmarillion.

This challenge asks authors to take an event from the canon and rewrite it from the point-of-view of one of the characters disfavored in the history. The piece shouldn't seek to make excuses for a character's misdeeds but rather to address legitimate issues, perspectives, and interpretations that might have been lost or ignored as the histories were written. Behind each decision that seems terrible or puzzling to us lies difficult deliberation, reason, and regret, and this challenge seeks to address this.

While this month honors the Fëanorians--and they are perfect for this challenge--any typical "bad" character will work equally well. Authors could write about Thingol, Maeglin, Fëanor, or Melkor. "Good" characters who often come off negatively to readers are perfect for the challenge as well. For example, why did the Valar choose to pass judgment on Fëanor rather than leaving the decision to Finwë, his father and king? Why did Orodreth seem so incompetent in his handling of the affairs of Nargothrond? Why did Melian leave Doriath defenseless after her husband's death?

Quote of the Month

Trust in what you love, continue to do it, and it will take you where you need to go.

- Natalie Goldberg

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 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.

"On Characterization vs. Victimization" and "Mary Sue in Fantasyland" by Dawn Felagund

The SWG founder and owner has two new posts up at her Heretic Loremaster blog. The first one, on the topic of how some writers create excuses for characters who commit bad deeds; the second one, an exploration about the roots for the disdain against the Mary Sue figure.

National Geographic, on Languages and Tolkien

The National Geographic site features an article about how language influences culture and vice versa, and what the consequences are of the disappearance of a language. The article presents the example of Tolkien as a writer who created a world starting from its languages.

Hear about J.R.R. Tolkien's Childhood in a Birmingham Audio Walk

In Tolkien’s childhood town, an audio walk has recently become available to give us a glimpse of what might have influenced him in his early days. Though the landscape that inspired him is largely gone, a dramatisation takes us back in time to what it would have been like to walk in his footsteps.

What Was the Cause of Strife Between Elves and Dwarves?

Thorin and Thranduil lock horns in The Hobbit, and we all remember Legolas and Gimli in The Lord of the Rings. But what are the reasons for this grudge between these two races? Michael Martinez explains his theory in this article.

"Emblems and Heraldry" by Måns Björkman

Elves, Men, Dwarves, and even Maiar in Middle-earth are all known to have used emblems, arms, and heraldic devices of various kinds. These were used to distinguish kingdoms, groups of people, or individuals, much in the same way as in medieval Europe. This essay by Måns Björkman compiles information about those devices illustrated or described by Tolkien.

Announcements

LOTR Community July Challenge: Fixed-Length Ficlets "Time in a Bottle"

The July Challenge is our annual Fixed-Length-Ficlet Challenge, and will have the theme "Time in a Bottle", which means memories you would like to keep. The element will be a number between 101 and 400. Interested authors claim a number for the word count they would like to write. No one will be allowed to have a number previously claimed. Whatever number is chosen will be the word count for your ficlet-- if you choose 237 your story must have exactly 237 words! The July challenge stories will be due in the community queue Sunday, July 14th. See the LOTR Community for more information and to sign up for this challenge.

Teitho: July Challenge--Dialogue

This month we are offered a different type of challenge:

“Dialogue in fiction is a verbal exchange between two or more characters. It is important for a good story to have well-written dialogues. But we want you to do something more challenging. We want you to write the entire story in dialogue, so that it would consist ONLY of direct speech.”

The topic is up to you this time, you can write about anything you want, as far as Aragorn and/or Legolas are at least mentioned. They can be the speakers of the dialogue, but they can also be just mentioned in it. Artists must draw a picture, where two or more characters talk.

The deadline for this challenge (both art and stories) is July 25th. For instructions on how to submit your work and more information on the topic, visit the "Dialogue" challenge page at the Teitho website.

Call for Papers: Mythgard Institute’s Mythmoot II

"Mythmoot" is an annual celebration and conference of the Mythgard Institute and Signum University. "Mythmoot II" will feature a special viewing of the film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, as well as guest speakers, musicians, artists, a fantastic banquet, and fun and interactive sessions for fans and academics alike, as well as panel presentations on the fantasy genre. "Mythmoot II" is seeking proposals for 15-20 minute papers on Tolkien and other fantasy-related literature and media.

For more information, visit the Mythguard Institute website.

Journey Story 3.0

Journey Story is a multi-fandom Big Bang challenge where the characters have to go travelling – road trip, business trip, elopement, quest of doom, deep space exploration, that sort of thing. Journey Story 3.0 accepts fiction and podfic, with art created for the pieces at the end. Read the Journey Story 3.0 Rules for more information on how to get involved. The Journey Story community (also on Dreamwidth here) has schedules and sign-up pages.




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 moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org.


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