Newsletter: July 2015

Table of Contents

SWG News

The SWG Is Turning 10!

At the end of the month, on July 28, the SWG will celebrate its tenth birthday. We have been discussing and planning for months now how to celebrate our tenth birthday. In true Tolkienian fashion, we wanted it to be a way to give back to the members and friends who have shown this community so much love and support over the last decade. We have two gifts that we've put together and would like to share with the Tolkien fan community: a brand new shiny Silmfic prompt generator (and a writing contest with a drawing for prizes for anyone who wants to take it for a spin!) and a birthday card collection so that you can show love and appreciation for the people who make this fandom such a wonderful place.

Rules for the writing contest can be found here. More information on prizes will be available shortly.

Birthday cards can be sent by anyone to members of the SWG archive. Our birthday card form includes instructions and allows you to easily select what you'd like to send and to whom. The master list of birthday cards includes full-sized images of all the cards you can choose from. On August 1, we will begin compiling digital albums of cards for each recipient that they can enjoy and return to whenever they want.

As always, questions are welcome at We hope everyone enjoys our month-long birthday celebration! Here's to another ten years! <3

New York Tolkien Conference

On June 13, Oshun and Dawn represented the SWG at the New York Tolkien Conference, each presenting a paper. Dawn also brought five binders worth of fan fiction to share in the Iaurond Room, where it was perused by people relaxing and socializing between sessions. The Around the World and Web section includes links to Dawn's presentation, the keynote paper by Tolkien scholar Janet Brennan Croft, and a video of a session on arms and armor.

The conference organizers hope to run the conference again next year. See the conference wrap-up post for more on future plans and space for feedback. As usual, watch this space for announcements as plans develop and please keep us informed of conferences and other events in your area or any presentations that you do at Tolkien-related events.

July 18th Is the International Day of Femslash!

As we do every year, SWG encourages our writers and artists to produce femslash works in honor of the International Day of Femslash, an annual fandom holiday that seeks to promote the femslash genre by saturating fannish spaces for one day each year. This year's event will take place on July 18, and as always, we invite our members to write and share femslash on our archive on that day. (Art and other media are welcome on our LiveJournal and Dreamwidth communities.) Find out more at the Femslash Day website.

Welcome to Our New Members!

This month we welcome Elrond_Earendillion, Ondoladin, Tar-Atanamir, ESBonline, and bunn to the Silmarillion Writers' Guild.

We hope you enjoy reading the stories, poems, and reference material, and listening to the podcasts you can find in our site. If something moved you or gave you food for thought, write a review to let its author know. If you are a writer, we hope to see you posting soon.

What brought you to the Silmarillion fandom, and to the SWG? If you wish to share your Tolkien-related interests, or tell us a bit more about your fandom persona, go ahead and update your bio.

Our Frequently Asked Questions provide a lot of useful information about the archive, like challenges, reviews, ratings, our definition of "Silmfic", and much more, but if you can't find what you are after, do not hesitate to contact the SWG mods at

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New at the Archive

Completed Works

Flowers in Amber by IgnobleBard [Teens] (8240 words)
Summary: Elrond travels to Ost-in-Edhil to warn Celebrimbor to be wary of strangers bearing gifts.

Memories by Silver Trails [General] (1503 words)
Summary: Elladan visits his mother in Tirion.

Of Time and Trees by Huinare by Huinare [General] (1735 words)
Summary: Summer solstice after the fall of Sauron: wizards, one in Minas Tirith and one in Isengard, hatch tree-related schemes. Valinor, before the count of time: two Maiar speculate on the Valar's plans for the hill of Ezellohar.

Saving King Thràin by Chiara Cadrich [Teens] (7317 words)
Summary: Gandalf enters the fortress of the Necromancer.
Chapter added this month: The Necromancer.

Smoke and Mirrors by Makalaure [Teens] (3281 words)
Summary: Uldor never wanted this. Written for Easterlings Appreciation Week.

The Brightest of Us All by Ilye [General] (12569 words)
Summary: AU in which Fëanor survives the Battle Under the Stars, Maedhros still gets captured, Fingon still pulls his disappearing solo operatic stunt, Fingolfin is remarkably philosophical for someone who’s been exiled by accident, and everyone still speaks Quenya because Thingol hasn’t had time to ban it yet.

The intimate life of the Dwarves of Durin by Chiara Cadrich [Adult] (2154 words)
Summary: All you have always wanted to know about the dwarven intimate and love life !

The Last Hope of the Last Alliance by ESBonline [General] (5150 words)
Summary: If Sauron was more powerful at the end of the Second Age than was Morgoth at the end of the First, just how did the Last Alliance defeat him?

Visitation by Elleth [General] (1974 words)
Summary: After the Fellowship's departure from Lothlórien, Galadriel receives a nightly visit and a summons she has long hoped for.

Works in Progress

Assault to Abjury by Agelast [Teens]
Summary: Maedhros defied his father only once. AU.
Chapter added this month: Chapter 2

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.
Chapters added this month: Chapter 9, Chapter 10 and Chapter 11.

Bloody silmarils by Dilly [Teens]
Summary: In Gondolin, Turgon is depressed...
Chapters added this month: Marriage and The natives.

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.
Chapter added this month: More Writing on the Wall.

Fëanor's Autobiography by belegur [General]
Summary: Fëanor writes about himself in the style of Nikola Tesla's My Inventions.
Chapter added this month: About My Studies as a Young Man.

Finding Home by Independence1776 [Teens]
Summary: A loosely related collection of stories about Elrond and Celebrían in Aman. Chapter 1: Celebrían and Elrond discuss mourning for Arwen.
Chapter added this month: Chapter 1.

Footnotes by grey_gazania [General]
Summary: Short scenes set in my "Wrapped Up in Books" series.
Chapter added this month: Mushrooms.

Forgiveness by Silver Trails [General]
Summary: What happens after Morgoth dies and Feanor breaks the Silmarils?
Chapters added this month: Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Froth by maeglin [General]
Summary: A Ring-Wraith reflects.
Chapter added this month: Froth.

Jewels by Silver Trails [Teens]
Summary: This is a series of short stories about the making of the Silmarils and the effect this had on the members of the House of Finwë.
Chapters added this month: Chapter 8 and Chapter 9.

Maudits silmarils, livre 1 by Dilly [Teens]
Summary: A Gondolin, Turgon déprime... Une parodie crack du Silmarillion façon Kaamelott.
Chapters added this month: Elenwë and Episode bonus : L'intrus.

Of Rian by gamil-zirak [General]
Summary: This is a re-telling of Rian's story, from her pregnancy with Tuor to her death upon the Hill Of The Slain. Hope you enjoy it!
Chapter added this month: Of Darkness And Light.

Rain and Drought by Makalaure [Teens]
Summary: The ups and the downs, and the things that lie between. A series of drabbles.
Chapters added this month: Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and Chapter 3.

Short Tales of Arda by grey_gazania [General]
Summary: Various short pieces.
Chapters added this month: Light and White Light.

Strangers in a Strange Land by My blue rose [General]
Summary: “It is said that Amandil set sail in a small ship at night, and steered first eastward, and then went about and passed into the west. And he took with him three servants, dear to his heart, and never again were they heard of by word or sign in this world, nor is there any tale or guess of their fate.” This is the tale of what happen to Amandil’s embassy.
Chapters added this month: Chapter Three: Deliverance and Chapter Four: Deliberation.

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.
Chapter added this month: Chapter 35: A Traveller in the Woods.

The Master of Puppets by Makalaure [Teens]
Summary: Maglor finds himself in a difficult position at the Gap, and is forced to make decisions that will affect the lives of his people.
Chapter added this month: Chapter 1.

Unbroken by Olthaen [Teens]
Summary: Beleriand stands upon the edge of strife. After his home was razed, an elf finds himself entrusted with a secret that could destroy his family. Far away, another elf-maiden awoke after a massacre, challenged to overcome her fear and find herself. Set across the years of the First Age, the tale entwines the threads of courage, friendship and love.
Chapters added this month: Chapter 17, Chapter 18, Chapter 19, Chapter 20 and Chapter 21.

Short Works

Celebrimbor by Silver Trails [General] (767 words)
Summary: Celebrimbor comes out of the Halls at last

In the Shadows by Makalaure [General] (542 words)
Summary: Maedhros and Uldor meet in the Halls of Mandos.

Learning a Language by Silver Trails [General] (791 words)
Summary: Maedhros learns something new about Caranthir

Mul Haust by Writing Gecko [Teens] (734 words)
Summary: In Angband, Maeglin finds someone he thought to be dead. (warning for rape references and implied torture)

The Best Night of my Life by Ysilme [Teens] (454 words)
Summary: Thranduil is tipsy, Gildor is amused, and both are very much in love.

Tirion Flash Mob by Himring [General] (745 words)
Summary: Market day in Tirion--and a flash mob, with many of the usual suspects.

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Character of the Month Biography



"West, North, and South the children of Men spread and wandered, and their joy was the joy of the morning before the dew is dry, when every leaf is green."1

The story of Bëor, his House, and his posterity might be said to form the backbone of the general history of the early interactions of Men with the Eldar of Beleriand. Tolkien introduces mortal Men into his created world some three hundred years after the return of the exiled Noldor to Middle-earth.2 Bëor is noteworthy for being the first named mortal met by any of the Noldor in Beleriand.

His further claim to fame lies in the long list of his descendants who are born to play important roles in Tolkien's history, extending from that first meeting in the forest between Bëor and his followers with Finrod Felagund through the end of Tolkien's tales of Middle-earth. The role of Bëor's scions features in the significant events throughout the First Age in Beleriand, through the ascendance and fall of Númenor in the Second Age, and finally culminates in Aragorn's reunification of the Kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor in The Lord of the Rings.

First Contact

Finrod Felagund stumbles upon the first Men whom he or any of his compatriots have encountered in the deep woods of eastern Beleriand. Tiring of a hunting trip with his cousins Maedhros and Maglor, Felagund takes off into the wilderness in the northern part of Ossiriand on an exploratory trek of his own. Much to his surprise, he finds a tribe of beings--strange and fascinating to him--who, in many ways, resemble the Quendi but, in others, are obviously alien and different. This tribe or grouping of Men comes to be called the Folk of Bëor after their leader. They will be known as the Eldest or First House of the Edain3 (the Secondborn of Ilúvatar--the Elves being referred to as the Firstborn).

Now these were a part of the kindred and following of Bëor the Old, as he was afterwards called, a chieftain among Men. After many lives of wandering out of the East he had led them at last over the Blue Mountains, the first of the race of Men to enter Beleriand; and they sang because they were glad, and believed that they had escaped from all perils and had come at last to a land without fear.4

Apparently, Felagund becomes aware of movement and conversation discernible among the sounds of the forest and realizes that he is hearing some unfamiliar type of creatures going about their daily tasks. When he hears singing and music, it instantly inflates his perception of what kind of beings he might have found. Their use of language and the performance of music, however primitive their compositions and instruments might have been, would have elevated them from the merely sentient to the rational and creative in his consciousness.

Long Felagund watched them, and love for them stirred in his heart; but he remained hidden in the trees until they had all fallen asleep. Then he went among the sleeping people, and sat beside their dying fire where none kept watch; and he took up a rude harp which Bëor had laid aside, and he played music upon it such as the ears of Men had not heard; for they had as yet no teachers in the art, save only the Dark Elves in the wild lands.5

Felagund awakens them from sleep with a form of magic in the guise of Elven music (a favorite subject of Tolkien-inspired artists).

Now men awoke and listened to Felagund as he harped and sang, and each thought that he was in some fair dream, until he saw that his fellows were awake also beside him; but they did not speak or stir while Felagund still played, because of the beauty of the music and the wonder of the song. Wisdom was in the words of the Elven-king, and the hearts grew wiser that hearkened to him; for the things of which he sang, of the making of Arda, and the bliss of Aman beyond the shadows of the Sea, came as clear visions before their eyes, and his Elvish speech was interpreted in each mind according to its measure.6

Always a curious fellow and observant, Felagund questions Bëor about his people and their origins. Verlyn Flieger notes that they are able to "tell him very little, for, unlike Elves, Men have almost no memory of their beginnings or their early history."7 Felagund is drawn to these people, recognizing in them a capacity for reaching toward the good, no doubt with the potential of becoming allies with and learning also from the Eldar. Flieger describes an incandescent quality of these Men, one of the most profound ways in which they resemble the Firstborn, as one which causes them to reach for the light. She arrives that this conclusion from the text of The Silmarillion itself.

"A darkness lies behind us," says their leader, Bëor, "and we have turned our backs upon it, and we do not desire to return thither even in thought. Westwards our hearts have been turned, and we believe that there we shall find Light" (141). Without having known it, without any sure way to reach it, Men are seeking the light. Drawn toward it by some instinct beyond knowledge (Bëor’s statement that their hearts have been turned toward light is revealing), they are in the process of bringing themselves out of darkness. Unlike the Elves, they have not been summoned by some external power but are led by some force within themselves.8

The other side of the nature of Men that Tolkien often mentions is that they are more corruptible than Elves. Morgoth, who has already learned of the presence of Men before the Elves encounter them, hopes to use them against the Eldar. The dark Vala comes to realize

. . . that a darkness lay upon the hearts of Men (as the shadow of the Kinslaying and the Doom of Mandos lay upon the Noldor) they perceived clearly even in the people of the Elf-friends whom they first knew. To corrupt or destroy whatsoever arose new and fair was ever the chief desire of Morgoth; and doubtless he had this purpose also in his errand: by fear and lies to make Men the foes of the Eldar, and bring them up out of the east against Beleriand.9

As one learns later, Morgoth is to be only partially successful. One remembers the betrayal of the alliance of Maedhros by Ulfang's people during the Nirnaeth Arnoediad (Battle of Unnumbered Tears).10 On the other hand, although the House of Bëor suffered much under Morgoth in Beleriand, they remain in large part committed to cooperation with and as allies of the Noldor.

All these were caught in the net of the Doom of the Noldor; and they did great deeds which the Eldar remember still among the histories of the Kings of old. And in those days the strength of Men was added to the power of the Noldor, and their hope was high; and Morgoth was straitly enclosed . . . 11

Bëor, which means "vassal" in the language of his people, was not his original name. He was called Balan before he pledged fealty to Felagund and received the name Beor in acknowledgement of his commitment and loyalty to his sworn lord. Even the name he chooses to answer to refers back to his affection and enduring loyalty to Finrod.12

It was Bëor who first mentions that their people are not alone, but that to the east of them, others of their distinct characteristics (mortal, aging quickly, prone to infection and disease, while sharing with the Elves their big complex brains and an innate will to pursue the good) are on the move from the east into the forests of west Beleriand. Bëor explained that some of these Men were separated from them in language. These other groupings of Men who finally did arrive in Beleriand were composed of those who would comprise the other houses of the Edain and also find aid and protection and ally themselves with others of the Noldorin lords, including the sons of Fëanor and Fingolfin and Fingon.

‘Others of my own kin have crossed the Mountains,’ he said, ‘and they are wandering not far away; and the Haladin, a people from whom we are sundered in speech, are still in the valleys on the eastern slopes, awaiting tidings before they venture further. There are yet other Men, whose tongue is more like to ours, with whom we have had dealings at times. They were before us on the westward march, but we passed them; for they are a numerous people, and yet keep together and move slowly, being all ruled by one chieftain whom they call Marach.’13

These others, together with the House of Bëor, make up the three Houses of the Edain: 1) Bëor’s people, 2) the Second House, those known as the Haladin or the House of Haleth, and 3) the House of Marach, later known as the House of Hador.

On behalf of these newly arrived peoples, Felagund petitions Thingol for land where they may settle. The Sindarin king, whose immediate reaction is mistrustful and hostile, forbids them entry into the areas that he controls and assigns them territory to the north, defended and administered by the Houses of Finrod, Maedhros, and Fingolfin.14

After the other groups of Men have arrived, Felagund continues to hold the people of Bëor in exceptional esteem as much as they continue to revere him: ". . . Felagund dwelt among them and taught them true knowledge, and they loved him, and took him for their lord, and were ever after loyal to the house of Finarfin."15

But not all of these new Children of Ilúvatar venture as far into Beleriand or form as close of relations with the Eldar. Those who hold back, of course, remain more vulnerable to Morgoth.

Nonetheless the Edain of old learned swiftly of the Eldar all such art and knowledge as they could receive, and their sons increased in wisdom and skill, until they far surpassed all others of Mankind, who dwelt still east of the mountains and had not seen the Eldar, nor looked upon the faces that had beheld the Light of Valinor.16

The Bloodline of Bëor's People and Their Fabled Descendants

Also, in the chapter "Of Men" in The Silmarillion, Tolkien describes differences of appearance and temperament or inclination among these peoples. While the House of Bëor is said to have resembled physically the Noldor--tall and strong of build, dark-haired and light-eyed--the peoples of the House of Hador are described as more like the Vanyar: blond and tall also. Those who will become Haleth’s people are darker still and shorter.

2 In The Silmarillion Bëor described the Haladin (afterwards called the People or Folk of Haleth) to Felagund as ‘a people from whom we are sundered in speech’ (p. 142). It is said also that ‘they remained a people apart’ (p. 146), and that they were of smaller stature than the men of the House of Bëor; ‘they used few words, and did not love great concourse of men; and many among them delighted in solitude, wandering free in the greenwoods while the wonder of the lands of the Eldar was new upon them’ (p. 148).17

The people of the House of Hador, who eventually became closely allied with Fingolfin and Fingon, from time to time operated jointly and in close alliance with those of the House of Bëor, including intermarriages (more on significant ones of those below).

Interesting physical descriptions of the People of Bëor are found in generalizations about the "look" of certain of his Bëor's descendants. Morwen, the mother of Túrin Turambar, is often described as ranking among the most beautiful of women--mortal or immortal--among the cast of characters of The Silmarillion.

Húrin wedded Morwen, the daughter of Baragund son of Bregolas of the House of Bëor; and she was thus of close kin to Beren One-hand. Morwen was dark-haired and tall, and for the light of her glance and the beauty of her face men called her Eledhwen, the elven-fair. . . .18

Another beautiful woman said to reflect the physical type of the People of Bëor is Erendis of Númenor, who is described in the tale of Erendis: The Mariner’s Wife.

To the feasting in Armenelos came one Beregar from his dwelling in the west of the Isle, and with him came Erendis his daughter. There Almarian the Queen observed her beauty, of a kind seldom seen in Númenor; for Beregar came of the House of Bëor by ancient descent, though not of the royal line of Elros, and Erendis was dark-haired and of slender grace, with the clear grey eyes of her kin.19

And, finally, one finds a description of a handsome man, of the physical type of his ancestor Bëor: Túrin Turambar.

[H]e was in truth the son of Morwen Eledhwen to look upon: dark-haired and pale-skinned, with grey eyes, and his face more beautiful than any other among mortal Men, in the Elder Days. His speech and bearing were that of the ancient kingdom of Doriath, and even among the Elves he might be taken for one from the great houses of the Noldor; therefore many called him Adanedhel, the Elf-Man.20

There is an interesting scene between Finduilas and Túrin in the Narn i Hîn Húrin where he tells her she is beautiful and she responds, basically telling him that he resembles a handsome, valiant Elf-lord:

‘But you are kingly,’ said she, ‘even as the lords of the people of Fingolfin; I would I had a brother so valiant. And I do not think that Agarwaen is your true name, nor is it fit for you, Adanedhel. I call you Thurin, the Secret.’ At this Túrin started, but he said: ‘That is not my name; and I am not a king, for our kings are of the Eldar, as I am not.’21

The point being that this prime example of a nice-looking Bëorian male recalls for her the stereotypical image of Noldorin nobility.

As mentioned in the beginning of this essay, the descendants of Bëor play major roles in Tolkien's legendarium.22 Some of them are famous and others more obscure, but the line runs from the First Age of Middle-earth through the aftermath of the tale told in The Lord of the Rings.

Most readers of The Silmarillion are aware of the story of Barahir and Finrod's serpent ring with the green stone . Barahir, Bëor's grandson many times over and the leader of his House, saves the life of Finrod Felagund in battle following the Dagor Bragollach. In gratitude, Finrod presents Barahir with the gift of his ring, swearing "an oath of abiding friendship and aid in every need to Barahir and all his kin."23 His son Beren shows up in Nargothrond some years later and presents his father's ring to Finrod, in need of help in stealing a Silmaril from Morgoth's crown and requesting that Finrod's oath made upon the ring be fulfilled. The outcome of that story is that, faithful to Barahir as his old friend had been to him, Felagund follows Beren on what seems a suicidal quest. And, indeed, Finrod meets his death fulfilling that oath to the House of Bëor.

After Bëor himself, his descendant whose life will most affect the narrative of Tolkien’s of Arda is Beren, who woos and weds Lúthien, daughter of King Thingol of Doriath. Their progeny play an extensive role throughout the remainder of the legendarium.

The son of Boromir was Bregor, whose sons were Bregolas and Barahir; and the sons of Bregolas were Baragund and Belegund. The daughter of Baragund was Morwen, the mother of Túrin, and the daughter of Belegund was Rían, the mother of Tuor. But the son of Barahir was Beren One-hand, who won the love of Lúthien Thingol’s daughter, and returned from the Dead; from them came Elwing the wife of Eärendil, and all the Kings of Númenor after.24

Included among those early descendants of the House of Bëor are Elros and Elrond; in between, we find all of the Kings of Númenor and the noble Elf-friends who survive its destruction and establish their kingdoms in Middle-earth, and at the end of the long history we come to the tale of Aragorn and Arwen, both of them descendants of Bëor, friend and vassal of Finrod Felagund and first of the Edain.


Bëor lived out the last years of his life, long for a Man of his generation, at Nargothrond serving his beloved lord Finrod Felagund.

. . . at last Bëor the Old died when he had lived three and ninety years, for four and forty of which he had served King Felagund. And when he lay dead, of no wound or grief, but stricken by age, the Eldar saw for the first time the swift waning of the life of Men, and the death of weariness which they knew not in themselves; and they grieved greatly for the loss of their friends. But Bëor at the last had relinquished his life willingly and passed in peace; and the Eldar wondered much at the strange fate of Men, for in all their lore there was no account of it, and its end was hidden from them.25

Works Cited

  1. The Silmarillion, "Of Men."
  2. The Silmarillion, "Of the Coming of Men into the West."
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Flieger, Verlyn. Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World. Kent, Ohio: Kent State UP, 2003. Kindle Edition.
  8. Ibid.
  9. The Silmarillion, "Of the Coming of Men into the West."
  10. The Silmarillion, "Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad."
  11. The Silmarillion, "Of the Coming of Men into the West."
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Unfinished Tales, Part Four, "The Drúedain."
  18. Unfinished Tales, Narn i Hîn Húrin, "The Childhood of Túrin."
  19. Unfinished Tales, Erendis: The Mariner’s Wife.
  20. The Silmarillion, "Of Túrin Turambar."
  21. Unfinished Tales, Narn i Hîn Húrin, Appendix.
  22. The War of the Jewels, The Later Quenta Silmarillion, "Of the Coming of Men into the West," (i) The House of Bëor.
  23. The Silmarillion, "Of Beren and Lúthien."
  24. The Silmarillion, "Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin."
  25. The Silmarillion, "Of the Coming of Men into the West."

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View all archived stories about Bëor.

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Current Challenge

Of Stories Left Untold

A story must be told or there'll be no story, yet it is the untold stories that are most moving.
Letter to his son Christopher (30 January 1945) - in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1981), p. 110

In The Silmarillion, many things get a slight mention but are never properly explored. We challenge you to create a gap-filler where you explore an event, a character, or perhaps an item that The Silmarillion makes clear must have existed but where the full story is never told. Think about an adult character's childhood, for example, or how a famous weapon or treasure came into the hands that won it renown. All art forms are welcomed.

Challenges Revisited: Holidays in Arda

July is the month where much of the world travels on holidays, seeking reprieve from their daily routine. Whether you will enjoy such an opportunity or not, this challenge asks you to take a mental reprieve by visiting your favorite place on Arda for a fictional "holiday."

The aim of this challenge is to set a story in a place that you would like to visit, whether a city, region, island, or body of water. Through the eyes of your character(s), take your readers to your haven and show why it appeals to you, whether visiting for the first time or returning as an old friend.

If you are fortunate enough to be one of the millions who will be traveling away from home this July, don't forget to take the opportunity to learn from your new surroundings. Places unfamiliar to us--whether seashores, mountains, or bustling cities--can inspire stories or hone our descriptions when we visit similar places in our tales. Perhaps shape your experiences to Middle-earth and use them to write this challenge.

Quote of the Month

"I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship."

- Mary Louise Alcott

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

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 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.

Christopher Lee Journeys into the West

He never had the opportunity to play the excellent Melkor he certainly would have played, but Christopher Lee made an unforgettable impression on the Tolkien fandom with his portrayal of Saruman in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, just a small part of his storied movie career. We bid a sad farewell to the talented actor who played a huge part in bringing Middle-earth to life for a new generation of fans. Read Christopher Lee's obituary in The Guardian here.

"The Loremasters of Fëanor: Historical Bias in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Transformative Works" by Dawn "Felagund" Walls-Thumma

Dawn's presentation from the New York Tolkien Conference, The Loremasters of Fëanor: Historical Bias in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Transformative Works, is available on her blog The Heretic Loremaster and includes a video of the talk and a detailed synopsis and visuals from the presentation. This paper considers how Tolkien's use of in-universe narrators creates historical bias in the texts and how this bias is very often used by writers of Tolkien-based fan fiction when creating fanworks.

"History & Technique: Sourcing the Arms, Armor and Fighting Techniques of Middle-earth" by Rebecca Glass and Kat Fanning

Tolkien’s universe is filled with example of special arms and armor that possess special importance, from Frodo’s mithril shirt to Anduril and Glamdring. But what is the historical basis for these examples of arms and armor? How did they impact the fighting techniques of the time? What sources do we have that describe the way people fought in the late Middle Ages? Watch the New York Tolkien Conference presentation History & Technique: Sourcing the Arms, Armor and Fighting Techniques of Middle-earth by Rebecca Glass and Kat Fanning to learn some answers to these questions.

Niënor, Túrin, and Agency: An Essay by Allalpha

"But despite the fact that Túrin is obviously the protagonist of the story, it’s titled as though he and Niënor are both equal figures. This may seem like a silly thing to fixate on, but I think it’s demonstrative of a disturbing trend both in-universe (as all of Tolkien stories have internal authors) and in the real world, in which women’s passivity is normalized." Allalpha's essay discusses Niënor's lack of agency compared to Túrin in The Children of Húrin.

Graphics of the Battles of the First Age and Earlier

This quick visual reference from Ask Middle-earth covers the six major battles fought by Elves and Men in the First Age and earlier, each with a color-coded map from Karen Wynn Fonstad's Atlas of Middle-earth.

"The Most Metal Deaths in Middle-earth, Ranked" by Austin Gilkeson

Not surprisingly, it's mostly First Age characters who make this hilarious ranking of which of Tolkien's characters have the most hardcore, badass deaths. See how your favorite character's death ranks in the listing of Middle-earth's most metal deaths.

"Barrel-Rides and She-Elves: Audience and Anticipation in Peter Jackson's Hobbit Trilogy" by Janet Brennan Croft

The keynote presentation at the New York Tolkien Conference, Barrel-Rides and She-Elves: Audience and Anticipation in Peter Jackson's Hobbit Trilogy by Tolkien scholar Janet Brennan Croft, explores "audience expectations, the difficulties of filming a “prequel” after a “sequel,” and issues of “anticipation” in relation to character development."


Library of Moria: International Day of Femslash and International Day of Slash

The Library of Moria will be celebrating the International Day of Slash with a challenge for fic, art or other media. The theme is Tarot - we will give you three cards for you to chose one or more as inspiration for your work. Please check the details at The International Day of Slash 2015 - Tarot challenge.

The Library of Moria will be celebrating the International Day of Femslash with a challenge for fic, art or other media. The challenge will be an Alphabet Soup. For each letter there will be a character, a place and a flower. Pick your letter and use one or more of the prompts as inspiration for your work. Please check the details at International Day of Femslash 2015 - Alphabet Soup challenge.

A New Tolkien Book The Story of Kullervo to Be Published!

In August, HarperCollins will publish another of Tolkien's unfinished scholarly endeavors: The Story of Kullervo, the dark tale from the Finnish Kalevala that deeply inspired the tale of Túrin Turambar. Tolkien's love for the Finnish languages also influenced his development of Quenya. OrissaPost has the full story on the forthcoming Story of Kullervo here.

Mythgard Institute: SilmFilm Project

The Mythgard Institute will be hosting a collaborative project to plan a (purely hypothetical!) Silmarillion film. The first four planning sessions have been scheduled via webinar, and rumor has it that there will be a discussion forum for those who can't make the live sessions. The first session is Friday, June 5, 2015 at 9:30 PM EDT; the subsequent three sessions will be held on June 19, and July 17 at 10:00 AM EDT. If you'd like to attend, you can join the SilmFilm Season 0 webinar series here. Visit the SilmFilm forum for more information and to get involved.

Free Lectures: "Tolkien as Early Environmentalist" by Matthew Dickerson and "Can Science Fiction Change the World?" by David Brin

If you missed the free Mythgard Academy lecture "Tolkien as Early Environmentalist" by Middlebury College professor Matthew Dickerson, you can now download the audio and the video from Mythgard's website. Download "Tolkien as Early Environmentalist" video. Download "Tolkien as Early Environmentalist" audio. Registration is now open for David Brin's free lecture Can Science Fiction Change the World? on July 25, 2015 at 6:00 pm ET.

Middle-earth News' Summer Camp

Celebrate with Middle-earth News the first annual Midsummer Moot! From July 17th until July 19th, Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, and Men come together to celebrate and engage in friendly competition! In the upcoming weeks, Middle-earth News will provide you with information on how you’ll be able to join Midsummer Moot. So gather your friends, bring out your walking stick, and make sure to follow us on social media with the hashtag #MidsummerMoot for more information!

Surveys Galore!

Want to help some academic researchers better understand Tolkien fandom in the 21st century? Several 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. Finally, fandom researcher KBS is requesting femslash fans to help out with a briefsurvey about femslash and fandom.

Calls for Papers

Tolkien Studies at Kalamazoo. The Tolkien at Kalamazoo group has been approved for three paper sessions at the International Medieval Congress held at Kalamazoo, Michigan in May 2016. 2016 Tolkien Studies sessions at Kalamazoo can be found here. Also see the CFP for the Asterisk Tolkien session seeking "papers which will further explore the continuum between philology and creation."

Verlyn Flieger Festschrit. Papers are being accepted for a collection in honor of Tolkien scholar Verlyn Flieger's three decades of work in Tolkien studies. Paper proposals are due September 1, 2015, with final papers due March 1, 2016. See the Verlyn Flieger Festschrit for suggested topics, contact information, and more details.

Tolkien Studies at Popular Culture/American Culture Association. The Tolkien Studies Area welcome proposals on any area of Tolkien Studies (the Legendarium, adaptations, reader reception and fan studies, media and marketing, pedagogy, medieval, modern, postmodern, etc.) from any disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspective. Proposals are due October 1, 2015. See the Call for Papers for full details.

On the Footsteps of Dwarves: Different Readings of a Mythical Figure in Popular Culture. Chapters may explore different media (literature, movies, art, video games, comics, visual arts, television, etc.) and address topics on dwarves. Proposals are due October 15, 2015. See the post about the theme for complete details.

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