Newsletter: July 2016

Table of Contents

SWG News

In July we are doing a survey…

The Silmarillion Writers' Guild moderation team has been discussing improvements for our site and our group that we hope to undertake in the months to come. In keeping with our mission, we want to direct our efforts in the way that best benefits the Tolkien fan fiction community of which we are part. We have put together a survey to get a sense of how best to meet that goal.

We appreciate the input of anyone interested in Tolkien fan fiction and references/resources related to the legendarium. You do not need to be a member or user of the SWG or a writer of Silmfic to participate.

The survey takes between 5 and 15 minutes depending on the level of detail of your responses. We’ll leave the survey open for about a month and will collect responses during the first week of August.

Please feel free to signal boost this on other groups where this is acceptable. Thank you in advance to all who share their opinions and ideas with us.

… and also playing Femslash bingo!

As part of our Tolkien Femslash Week project, the SWG together with will be playing a femslash bingo! This event is open to creators of fanworks for all of Tolkien's books and films so everybody interested is welcome to participate with their Tolkien-related femslash.

The bingo will run between July 15th and July 24th and responses can be posted to SWG, tumblr, AO3 or any other archive the participants may use. Silmarillion based fanworks (What is Silmfic?) ) are welcome on the SWG archive and all of its satellite groups; fanworks for Tolkien's other books are welcome on the silmladylove tumblr (tagged be #tolkien femslash week). Additionally, there will be an opt-in option for inclusion in the August newsletter for offsite content.

Check out further information that will be posted soon in the SWG or!

Welcome to Our New Members!

This mont we welcome simaetha, Nuredhel, Lotrfan, Lady_Katana4544, and Calendille as new members of the Silmarillion Writers' Guild.

We hope you're already reading and enjoying the stories, poems and reference material, listening to the podcasts in our site, and perhaps posting your own material. However, if you need help you can start by browsing our Frequently Asked Questions. This page contains information about the archive, challenges, reviews, ratings, our definition of "Silmfic", and much more. If you can't find what you are after, or if you need assistance for any other reason, do not hesitate to contact the SWG mods at

We would love to know what brought you to the SWG, how you got to be a fan of Tolkien and The Silmarillion, or other details about your fandom persona that you would like to share, so why not update your bio?

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New at the Archive

Completed Works

A troubling epiphany by Harnatano [General] (5426 words)
Summary: Curufin joins Celegorm for a hunt in Oromë's woods and will be touched by a sudden realization regarding the situation of the Noldor in Aman. It takes place not long after the creation of the Silmarils, Celebrimbor is still a child and the feud with Fingolfin hasn't reached its peak yet, but Melkor's twisted murmurs have started to burn in the hearts of the Noldor.

Add Salt to the Sea by Zdenka [Adult] (3061 words)
Summary: Míriel has always loved the Sea. After the Downfall of Númenor, the Lady of the Seas offers her refuge and comfort. (Tar-Míriel/Uinen)

Hammer and anvil by Nuredhel [Adult] (4205 words)
Summary: Young Fëanor is working in his masters forge when he gets an unexpexted visitor, with a very naughty idea. Now how is he to prevent Mahtan from discovering that his daughter loved to play with the apprentice's...hammer.

Hope For No Safety by Zdenka [Teens] (1048 words)
Summary: Elwing's defiance at the Havens of Sirion.

I Will Sleep No More But Arise by Amy Fortuna † [Adult] (2609 words)
Summary: Nolofinwë goes to Formenos in an effort to repair things with his half-brother.

Let Them Sing Our Praises When We've Gone by Zdenka [Teens] (2474 words)
Summary: Barahir and Emeldir try to hold their ground against the encroaching darkness from the North. (Barahir/Emeldir)

Naurthoniel and the Heroism of Housekeeping in Mithrim by Himring [Teens] (5255 words)
Summary: The Feanorians are camped on one side of the lake of Mithrim, the Fingolfinians on the other. Many of the Feanorians would welcome the Fingolfinians, but do not dare--what action then might they take? The back-story of Maedhros's housekeeper. Bonus chapter added: Feanorian Housekeeping (three drabbles)

Sleeping I Dreamed Love, Dreamed Love Of Thee by Amy Fortuna † [Adult] (1704 words)
Summary: Nolofinwë is dreaming. This must be a dream. If so, it is a very good dream.

Song of Myself by Beansidhe [Teens] (5393 words)
Summary: How did Maglor pass Age after Age, never returning to the Elves or coming to their attention? My own musings on what might have happened.....

The Hidden City by Lady MSM [General] (5267 words)
Summary: A kid from nowhere seeks out an old family friend...and that's when things get interesting. A retelling of the Fall of Gondolin set in the 1920s.

The hunter's heart, the hunter's mouth by Urloth [Teens] (10823 words)
Summary: There was a wound in his heart. Ingwion felt it tear; tear up his eyes and drench his mind in dark resignation and despair. Belatedly he realised the wound had been there an achingly long time and by forcibly involving himself in this he was reopening it. Or widening it.

the quality of mercy by simaetha [Teens] † (3170 words)
Summary: Celebrimbor makes one last attempt to reach out to his friend.

The Snaring of Gorlim by Zdenka [Teens] (1367 words)
Summary: Gorlim searches for Eilinel.

though it may look (write it) like disaster by simaetha [General] (2699 words)
Summary: Some of Elrond's relatives in Valinor are more unexpected than others.

Threads of Gold by Zdenka [Teens] (2753 words)
Summary: Finduilas, recovering from her wound among the folk of Brethil, finds a young woman on Haleth's grave-mound, and fate is changed. (Finduilas/Nienor; canon divergence AU.)

Walk No More in Shadow by Zdenka [Teens] (1287 words)
Summary: After her death, Nienor is found by the ghost of Finduilas, who has been watching over Brethil, and offered a new existence. (I tagged for suicide and character death to be safe, but the character deaths are all canonical and take place before the beginning of the story.)

Works in Progress

50 Prompts: AU Silmarillion by Urloth [Adult]
Summary: 50 Prompts resulting in 50 AU Silmarillion based or related drabbles or ficlets.
Chapters added this month: Prompt: Avian (Tar-Miriel and OC), Prompt: Shroud (Fëanáro and Míriel), Prompt: Tears (OC. Melkor. Elu. Luthien. Beren. Dior. Elwing. Manwe.), Prompt: Motivation (Tatie. OC.) and Prompt: Mess (Feanor. Fingolfin.).

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: A New Hope.

Drabbles: The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales by Zdenka [Teens]
Summary: Drabbles set during the First and Second Ages of Middle-earth. (Exactly 100 words as counted by MS Word.) Please see table of contents for individual summaries and warnings.
Chapter added this month: Dark Mirror.

Golden Days by Lyra [Teens]
Summary: Nerdanel recounts the development of her relationship with Fëanor - from the earliest days to the estrangement. Pride and Prejudice in Valinor, really, with perhaps a helping of Much Ado About Nothing.
Chapters added this month: Chapter 21, Chapter 22 and Chapter 23.

Rainbow of Hope by Silver Trails [Teens]
Summary: Maglor meets Daeron again during the Second Age
Chapters added this month: Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and Chapter 3

The Last Temptation (Rewritten, Again) by Fireworks [Teens]
Summary: This story first appeared in The Silmarillion Writer's Guild's Akâllabeth in August. Summary, from the Akâllabeth in August page: Sauron has been taken prisoner by Pharazôn but nurtures an ever-growing influence. In the midst of a Númenor increasingly divided, a young Anárion works quietly after rebellion, discovering both love and betrayal in its midst.
Chapter added this month: Chapter 6.

Taking Readings by Himring [Author Chooses Not to Rate]
Summary: Very short pieces set in Beleriand or Valinor, some of which are slightly experimental.
Chapter added this month: Across the Wide Seas of Time.

The steel of their will by Harnatano [General]
Summary: After their flight from Himlad, until their flight from Nargothrond, Celegorm and Curufin will have to face the abyss of their defeat, the bitterness of their broken pride, and the tempting shadows of greed. Through envy, frustration, pain and resentment, they will have to choose which path to follow, unaware that their choices will affect all the people of Beleriand. Written from Curufin's pov. Canon based, more like a personal combination between the different versions given in HoME and the Silmarillion.
Chapter added this month: Facing defeat.

Young Bucks of Cuiviénen by heget [General]
Summary: Side Stories from Of Ingwë Ingwerion - anything that did not fit into the main tale but worked as supplemential material. More world-building and character studies or a switch in point of view or timeline. Most are set during the period between the Awakening of the Elves and the Great Journey.
Chapter added this month: Making Friends.

Short Works

A Song in the Darkness by Zdenka [General] (681 words)
Summary: Maglor still makes music, and Maedhros listens, when it is all they have left.

A Theoretical Impossibility by Zdenka [General] (543 words)
Summary: The learned scholar Rúmil of Tirion meets a Hobbit and shares his opinion about Dwarves.

Bright Things by Zdenka [Teens] (927 words)
Summary: Newly arrived at the Havens of Sirion, the child Elwing tries to comfort herself with memories.

Distractions by Zdenka [Teens] (247 words)
Summary: Lalwen pays Elemmírë a sudden visit, trying to escape the growing divisions among the Noldor and her family. (250-word fixed-length ficlet.)

Grief of Cold by StarSpray [Teens] (922 words)
Summary: and now there was nothing left except Elwing, and Vingilot, and his mariners, and the Silmaril, and one last wild, desperate chance.

Lost and Found by Zdenka [Teens] (670 words)
Summary: With the Silmaril lost, Maglor is driven by Elwing’s words to look for her children.

Morwen and Gilraen by Zdenka [General] (100 words)
Summary: Two women in mourning and defiance. (Two half-drabbles.)

Night Oft Brings News to Near Kindred by Zdenka [General] (484 words)
Summary: Celebrimbor sees his father for the last time.

Nox est Perpetua by Zdenka [Teens] (376 words)
Summary: Morgoth's victory approaches, but Arien will still choose her own fate. (Arien/Ungoliant)

River Calls Me Home by Zdenka [General] (200 words)
Summary: Bits of memory from Elrond's early childhood. (Double drabble.)

Star-queen's Servant by Zdenka [General] (709 words)
Summary: Three times that Ilmarë fulfilled her duties to Varda.

Tale of the Phantom Ship by Zdenka [General] (577 words)
Summary: The women of Erendis's household tell each other stories on a rainy day. (Or, a tale from New England retold in Númenor.)

Thaw by swampdiamonds [General] (499 words)
Summary: Gwindor and Túrin on the shores of Ivrin. Things lost, things found, and some basic math.

The Flame of Swords by Zdenka [Teens] (299 words)
Summary: A conversation with Thorin Oakenshield; Glorfindel knows more of Orcrist's history than he wishes to tell. (Triple drabble.)

Trust Not Blindly by Zdenka [Teens] (993 words)
Summary: Idril has a troubling encounter with her cousin Maeglin on the morning of her betrothal to Tuor.


How Far Away by Zdenka [Teens] (244 words)
Summary: Fingon and Maedhros try to overcome what separates them, even death.

Song of the Laughing Maiden by Zdenka [Teens] (544 words)
Summary: The Aldudénië was Elemmírë's formal, public lament after the Darkening of Valinor, but she also had private feelings which she put into her poetry. (Three poems by Elemmírë about the Darkening, the First Kinslaying, the Flight of the Noldor, and above all, her love for Lalwen.)

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Character of the Month Biography



Thorondor, called the Lord of the Eagles, is the mightiest among the feathered messengers and guardians who served Manwë in Middle-earth. In a note in The Annals of Aman, Christopher Tolkien identifies Manwë's Eagles as Maiar: "Manwë however sent Maia spirits in Eagle form to dwell near Thangorodrim and keep watch on all that Melkor did and assist the Noldor in extreme cases."1 Thorondor is described as having a wingspan of thirty fathoms,2 which is almost unfathomable . That would be 180 feet or nearly fifty-five meters.3 Carrying Fingon and Maedhros would have been a piece of cake for that creature.

The Doom of Mandos delivered to the rebellious Noldor as they left Aman promised no aid from the Valar in their endeavors: "Tears unnumbered ye shall shed; and the Valar will fence Valinor against you, and shut you out, so that not even the echo of your lamentation shall pass over the mountains."4 However, Manwë Súlimo, "highest and holiest of the Valar,"5 did not entirely lose track of the deeds of the sometimes glorious and often infamous Noldor in their fight against Morgoth, vengeance for the murder of their king, and quest for the Silmarils.

The King of the Valar, also called Lord of the Breath of Arda,6did hear prayers from Middle-earth and did send selective aid. Manwë had his own spirits who served him "in the shape of hawks and eagles,"7 who flew back and forth from his halls on Taniquetil and reported to him of the events in Middle-earth. It is said that "their eyes could see to the depths of the seas, and pierce the hidden caverns beneath the world."8 These servants of Manwë did not only serve as scouts and messengers, but they intervened, not constantly but strategically, into the lives of both the First and Secondborn in Middle-earth. Manwë's servants did not confine themselves to the Sindar either, but provided succor to the cursed Noldor as well.

When Fingon found Maedhros hanging out of reach by one arm from the cliffs of Thangorodrim, his plea reached Manwë: "O King to whom all birds are dear, speed now this feathered shaft, and recall some pity for the Noldor in their need!"9 Fingon's prayer was not a request for direct assistance, but more an exhortation for a blessing upon his desperate attempt to end the suffering of Maedhros when he believed he was utterly unable to rescue him.

Now, even as Fingon bent his bow, there flew down from the high airs Thorondor, King of Eagles, mightiest of all birds that have ever been, whose outstretched wings spanned thirty fathoms; and staying Fingon's hand he took him up, and bore him to the face of the rock where Maedhros hung.10

Thorondor did indeed rescue them and took them out of harm's way, returning both Fingon and Maedhros to the area of Lake Mithrim to rejoin their fellow Noldor.11 It is noteworthy that Maedhros was the living leader of the cursed Fëanorians, while Fingon was party to those who joined the forces of Fëanor in the first Kinslaying at Alqualondë. One might ask how Manwë looked upon these individual princes of the Noldor. Did he judge their deeds as murder or as political acts? Or perhaps he determined that the fate of Middle-earth could only run its course if the two of them survived to hold the line against Melkor for as long as it was possible and protect the peoples of Middle-earth from the dark reign of Morgoth.

In the aftermath of the breaking of the Siege of Angband, when Fingolfin "High King of the Noldor, most proud and valiant of the Elven-kings of old"12 died in single combat with Morgoth, Thorondor honored his heroism by rushing to the scene of their encounter. The great Eagle

stooped upon Morgoth and marred his face. The rushing of the wings of Thorondor was like the noise of the winds of Manwë, and he seized the body in his mighty talons, and soaring suddenly above the darts of the Orcs he bore the King away. And he laid him upon a mountain-top that looked from the north upon the hidden valley of Gondolin; and Turgon coming built a high cairn over his father.13

At the time of the Dagor Bragollach, the Battle of Sudden Flame, Húrin and Huor, the young sons of Galdor, Lord of Dor-lómin, were lost in the wilderness, cut off from their companions after an Orc battle: "There Thorondor espied them, and he sent two of his eagles to their aid; and the eagles bore them up and brought them beyond the Encircling Mountains to the secret vale of Tumladen and the hidden city of Gondolin."14 After dwelling in Gondolin under the protection of Turgon for a year, the two young Edain "desired to return to their own people and share in the wars and griefs that now beset them."15 Turgon agreed that they might depart from Gondolin under the condition that they leave "[b]y the way that you came . . . if Thorondor is willing. I grieve at this parting; yet in a little while, as the Eldar account it, we may meet again."16 The great Eagle was willing and returned the boys to their kinsmen. Again the Lord of the Eagles provided assistance which would affect the course of the history of the First Age in Middle-earth; these two youngsters would become the fathers of Túrin Turumbar and Tuor, who respectively were to play crucial roles in future events.

The reader next encounters Thorondor in the pages of The Silmarillion when the Lord of the Eagle's timely intervention saves Beren and Lúthien as their quest for a Silmaril is on the verge of falling into "ruin and despair."17 In the aftermath of stealing a Silmaril from Morgoth's crown, the lovers' escape from the halls of Thangorodrim is blocked by the monstrous wolf Carcharoth. Lúthien, weakened from her enchantment of Morgoth, is unable to defend herself. Beren confronts the wolf without her assistance and Carcharoth bites off his hand and swallows it along with the stone. Debilitated and exhausted, with Beren mortally wounded, Lúthien further taxes her remaining strength in an attempt to heal him by sucking poison from his terrible wound. They would have died there in the Valley of the Gate of Angband had not Thorondor and two other great Eagles come to their rescue.18

Then they lifted up Lúthien and Beren from the earth, and bore them aloft into the clouds. Below them suddenly thunder rolled, lightnings leaped upward, and the mountains quaked. . . . they passed swiftly over Dor-nu-Fauglith, and over Taur-nu-Fuin, and came above the hidden valley of Tumladen. No cloud nor mist lay there, and looking down Lúthien saw far below, as a white light starting from a green jewel, the radiance of Gondolin the fair where Turgon dwelt. But she wept, for she thought that Beren would surely die; he spoke no word, nor opened his eyes, and knew thereafter nothing of his flight. And at the last the eagles set them down upon the borders of Doriath.19

Throughout the latter part of the First Age, Thorondor maintained relations with Turgon in Gondolin,20 bringing him news and preventing any unwanted visitors or threats from approaching the hidden city. It is said that "no spy or creature out of Angband could come there because of the vigilance of the eagles."21 Turgon also learned of the fall of Nargothrond from Manwë's messengers. And finally when Gondolin is attacked, Thorondor and his mighty birds assist Tuor and Idril, along with the heroic Glorfindel and others, in leading the survivors out of the city.22

There was a dreadful pass, Cirith Thoronath it was named, the Eagles' Cleft, where beneath the shadow of the highest peaks a narrow path wound its way; on the right hand it was walled by a precipice, and on the left a dreadful fall leapt into emptiness. Along that narrow way their march was strung, when they were ambushed by Orcs, for Morgoth had set watchers all about the encircling hills; and a Balrog was with them. Then dreadful was their plight, and hardly would they have been saved by the valour of yellow-haired Glorfindel, chief of the House of the Golden Flower of Gondolin, had not Thorondor come timely to their aid.23

They are unable to save the life of Glorfindel but are able to protect the other refugees and drive back their attackers.

But the eagles coming stooped upon the Orcs, and drove them shrieking back; and all were slain or cast into the deeps, so that rumour of the escape from Gondolin came not until long after to Morgoth's ears. Then Thorondor bore up Glorfindel's body out of the abyss, and they buried him in a mound of stones beside the pass; and a green turf came there, and yellow flowers bloomed upon it amid the barrenness of stone, until the world was changed.24

The final involvement of Thorondor in the events of the First Age, and far from the least important, is how he and his great birds joined in the battle in the sky at the side of Eärendil in the decisive military engagement of the War of Wrath.25

But Eärendil came, shining with white flame, and about Vingilot were gathered all the great birds of heaven and Thorondor was their captain, and there was battle in the air all the day and through a dark night of doubt. Before the rising of the sun Eärendil slew Ancalagon the Black, the mightiest of the dragon-host, and cast him from the sky; and he fell upon the towers of Thangorodrim, and they were broken in his ruin. Then the sun rose, and the host of the Valar prevailed, and well-nigh all the dragons were destroyed. and all the pits of Morgoth were broken and unroofed, and the might of the Valar descended into the deeps of the earth.26

Myth and Legend: Giant Birds in Tolkien's Work and Elsewhere

Whether huge and gruesome like various mythic monsters or big, powerful, benevolent and on the side of the good like Thorondor, giant intelligent birds are not limited to Tolkien's legendarium. In an online article, 6 Mythical Monsters, Evan Andrews writes that stories of "flying behemoths most likely originated in the Middle East, but they later became a popular motif in ancient Greek literature."27

In 2007, the American Museum of Natural History curated an exhibition entitled Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids.28 I was fortune enough to visit that exhibition (not once but three times). One of the most memorable sections of the experience for me was the segment called "Air - Creatures of the Sky."

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to fly? The smallest bird has powers we will never share. But mythic creatures of the air have even greater powers. Imagine a bird so huge it blocks out the sky, or stirs up storms with its wings. In myths and stories, winged horses, dragons, and even people all have the power of flight. These stories help express the wonder and awe inspired by looking up at the sky.29

Therein I encountered a model which, in my mind, I immediately tagged as "Thorondor." The giant model of a bird loomed above the visitor. He appeared to be an eagle. His wingspan was said to be 20 feet and his length 11 feet.30 When I returned home and checked my texts I discovered he was considerably smaller than Thorondor. But he was magnificent and convincing. The placard labeled him as a roc. A New York Times reviewer of the exhibition wrote that, "Some of these creatures are famous, like the giant roc that captured Sinbad."31 Another writer identifies the "'roc' or rukh" as "a huge mythical bird of ancient Persian folklore (it is mentioned in the Jatakas, a collection of Indian folklore dating from the fourth century BC), capable of carrying in its talons creatures the size of an elephant with ease."32

Another compelling giant bird with its origins in Native American religions is the Thunderbird, a "personification of the power of the storm."33 He is, much like Manwë's eagles, either benevolent or, depending upon the encounter, neutral, only menacing on rare occasions or when the threat is deserved or predictable. He is often called the lord of the storm among indigenous people of North America.34 In many traditions the Thunderbird is considered a sacred force of nature and in others a simple beast but possessing extraordinary physical characteristics. The most common description of the Thunderbird approaches Thorondor in size or surpasses him. The "Thunderbird is described as an enormous bird (according to many Northwestern tribes, large enough to carry a killer whale in its talons as an eagle carries a fish) who is responsible for the sound of thunder."35 Stories of the Thunderbird are part of the traditional belief systems and legends of numerous North American indigenous peoples, including the Sioux, Arapaho, Wichita, Ojibwe, Salish, and others:36

The mythological collections are replete with the stories of the eternal struggle between the Thunderbird of the sky realm and the Great Serpent of the beneath realm, as well as tales of encounters between humans and the Thunderbirds. That familiar figure, however, does not appear in the Southeastern myths. Not as the Thunderbird, at any rate.37

Thorondor's master Manwë also might be compared to both Odin and Zeus. Manwë is wise among the gods and their recognized leader. Like Odin and Zeus he is associated with the air. So the fact that his close collaborators, messengers, and servants are creatures of the air is not surprising.

Thinking of Zeus, a random comparison occurred to me, perhaps more appropriate to after-midnight Tumblr rambling than this bio. (But why should Tumblrites get to have all the fun?) Consider for a moment that Ganymede, the Trojan prince made cup-bearer of the gods, the ancient Greeks' mythological model of homosexual love, is carried off to Mount Olympus by Zeus in the form of an eagle. Thorondor Lord of the Eagles, Manwë's representative in Middle-earth, assists Fingon in the rescue Maedhros—a deed that is all but synonymous for male/male love for a large proportion of readers and writers of Silmarillion fanfic. Not arguing canon here, just making an observation.

In a more serious vein, relating to the ways in which Tolkien's eagles are reminiscent of Odin and his feathered friends, Tolkien scholar Marjorie Burns notes that

just as the eagles suggest the influence of Odin in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, eagles in the History books are a primary indication of Odin's presence in Tolkien's world. In their role as bearers of news, Odin's birds are representative of shamanistic transference; they are a means of Odin reaching outward in spirit form to other distant realms.38


The final reference to Thorondor by name in Tolkien's history of Arda falls near the end of The Lord of the Rings. These same birds of Manwë are found to be playing an active role in Middle-earth at the conclusion of the Third Age of Arda. They arrive at the Battle of the Black Gate bringing hope to the Army of the West (the famous scene of "The Eagles are coming! The Eagles are coming!"39)

There came Gwaihir the Windlord, and Landroval his brother, greatest of all the Eagles of the North, mightiest of the descendants of old Thorondor, who built his eyries in the inaccessible peaks of the Encircling Mountains when Middle-earth was young.40

Their appearance is greeted by the army of the free people of Middle-earth with cries of joy and with terror and confusion by Sauron's troops. Gandalf announces that Frodo has destroyed the Ring and then, at his urging, the Eagles take him with them and leave the battleground to rescue the Hobbits Frodo and Sam from the fires of Mount Doom.

Works Cited

  1. The History of Middle-earth: Morgoth's Ring, The Annals of Aman, Notes.
  2. The History of Middle-earth: The Shaping of Middle-earth, The Quenta.
  3. The Oxford English Dictionary states that a fathom is 6 feet (1.8288 meters).
  4. The Silmarillion, "Of the Flight of the Noldor."
  5. The Silmarillion, "Of the Beginning of Days."
  6. The Silmarillion, Valaquenta.
  7. The Silmarillion, "Of the Beginning of Days."
  8. Ibid.
  9. The Silmarillion, "Of the Flight of the Noldor."
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. The Silmarillion, "Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin."
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid.
  17. The Silmarillion, "Of Beren and Lúthien."
  18. Ibid.
  19. The Silmarillion, "Of Beren and Lúthien."
  20. The Silmarillion, "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin."
  21. Ibid.
  22. Ibid.
  23. Ibid.
  24. Ibid.
  25. The Silmarillion, "Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath."
  26. Ibid.
  27. Andrews, Evan. "6 Mythical Monsters." 18 February 2014. Accessed 30 June 2016. .
  28. Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids, "Air – Creatures of the Sky." American Museum of Natural History.. Accessed 2 July 2016. .
  29. Ibid.
  30. Ibid.
  31. Rothstein, Edward. "'Mythic Creatures': Exploring the Nature of the Unnatural." New York Times. 25 May 2007.Accessed 1 July 2016. .
  32. McMillan, Douglas J. "The Roc," Mythical and Fabulous Creatures: A Source Book and Research Guide. Ed. Malcolm South. New York: Greenwood Press, 1987. 75-83.
  33. Carmody, John Tully and Denise Lardner Carmody. Native American Religions: An Introduction. New York: Paulist Press, 1993.
  34. Lankford, George E. Looking for Lost Lore: Studies in Folklore, Ethnology, and Iconography. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2008. 155.
  35. "Legendary Native American Figures: Thunderbird." Native Languages of the Americas. Accessed 3 July 2016. .
  36. Ibid.
  37. Lankford, 155.
  38. Burns, Marjorie. "Gandalf and Odin," Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on the History of Middle-Earth. Ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl E. Hostetter. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000, 225.
  39. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, "The Field of Cormallen."
  40. Ibid.

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Current Challenge

Around the Fire

"Tell me a story. Be my storyteller."
―Arzum Uzun

Be it midst of winter or summer, this is the time to gather around the fire together. Whether for warmth, companionship or simply to pass time, there is no better place to share stories together. This quarter, we are sharing stories at the fireside, and we invite you to request a story and/or write a request for someone else. If you'd like to request a story, you can do so here at our LiveJournal community (you do not need an account to participate). If you want to write a request, you do not need to sign up but simply leave a link to your story in the comment to that request once your story is finished. You are welcome to post your story to our archive or at our LiveJournal community. If you chose to post it somewhere else, please put up a valid link for the person who requested your story.

Challenges Revisited: Wish upon a Star

Stars are vital to the mythology presented in The Silmarillion. The Eldar awakened under--and were named after--the stars. Varda multiplied the stars to give light to the Elves and serve as a warning to Melkor. Later, Eärendil, bearing a Silmaril, was hailed as a new star and a sign of hope to all upon Arda. To the people of Arda, the stars are a sign of hope, a light in the dark.

This month's challenge asks authors to reach for the stars ... or at least have their characters make a wish upon them. Write a story, drabble, or poem where a character is wishing upon or musing on the stars. What does the character hope for? Does she or he believe that it will come to pass from so simple an action as wishing upon so meaningful a symbol? Does the character's wish come true, or does wishing upon stars prove to be the stuff of childhood fancy?

Wish upon a star and find out ...

(For more information on the astronomy of Tolkien's world, we recommend The Astronomy of Middle-earth by Dr. Kristine Larsen, an astronomer and Tolkien scholar.)

Quote of the Month

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
~ T. S. Eliot

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.

Centenary of the Battle of the Somme

July 1st marked the centenary of the inception of the Battle of the Somme, the largest battle of World War I on the Western Front, and one that had a profound influence on J.R.R. Tolkien's life and work. The NY Times examines How J.R.R. Tolkien Found Mordor on the Western Front, the Tolkien Society pays tribute to Tolkien's friend group, the T.C.B.S, all but one of whom were dead by 1918, and the German Tolkien Society developed an interactive project on Tolkien in the Great War. A Staffordshire exhibition also reveals the influence of Tolkien's war experiences. Finally, in literary news, Tolkien scholar Janet Brennan Croft explores The Birth of the Modern British Fantastic in World War I, and J.R.R. Tolkien's grandson Simon Tolkien published a novel inspired by his grandfather's experiences. No Man's Land offers a fictionalized account of Tolkien's life on the eve of the Great War.

The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun To Be Published

J.R.R. Tolkien's interests and influences famously included stories from several European mythological and folkloristic traditions. The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun follows the tradition of Breton Lays and grapples with the conflict between pagan, heroic and Christian values, and follows a childless lord striking a deal with a witch that he is unwilling to honour. The Lay is set to be published in early November.

Researching Tolkien's Secret Vice

Dr Dimitra Fimi, one of the editors of Tolkien's Secret Vice wrote a series of blog posts "to reflect on the book, the research process, as well as the book’s reception out there, [...] sketch some of the ‘highlights’ of researching the book and [..] create a record (mainly for myself) of how the book has fared so far in reviews, social media, etc."

How to Tell You're in a J.R.R. Tolkien Book - The Toast

Continuing The Toast's series of How to tell you're in …, here is an invaluable checklist to determine whether or not you have transcended fannishness and found yourself in the predicament of many a fan-created character who fell out of real life and into Middle-earth. ;)

Tolkien Fan Fiction Survey: Tolkien Fan Fiction Community Demographics: New Posts

Continuing the number crunching from Dawn's Fan Fiction Survey, Dawn has posted new statistics: Writing and Reading Habits Related to Fan Fiction Genre, Portrait of the Slash Author as a Young Man? Tolkien Fanfic Genre and Writer Demographics and Tolkien Fan Fiction Genre and Attitudes Toward Fan Fiction.

Women Find a Room of Their Own in Tolkien Fanfiction

The SWG's J. McCullough John published her article on women writing Tolkien fanfiction: "This is an examination of how women in particular use Tolkien-inspired fanfiction as a specific medium for responding both critically and creatively to the work of the beloved author. The article posits that such transformative works represent a legitimate and time-honored form of storytelling." It can be

The Legendarium Podcast

The Legendarium Podcast expands the definition of legendarium to include all fantasy and scifi, though their roots are firmly planted in Middle-earth. It is primarily a book-club-style podcast, intentionally staying out of the reeds of academic minutiae and concentrating on the experience of reading stories as a newcomer. (At least one panelist on every episode is reading for the first time.) As Tolkien (probably) would have wanted, this podcast is all about "applicability." They are currently jumping around in the Silmarillion, and most recently read Akallabêth.

The Futility of Canon

Nolondil considers different concepts of canon as the apply to the Tolkien fandom and other franchises, Christopher Tolkien's editorial efforts in his father's posthumous works and the conflicting versions of the Legendarium as put forth by the History of Middle-earth, Tolkien's own rewriting of The Hobbit and other conflicts that stand in the way of a "canonized" version, stressing instead "the magnitude of Tolkien's accomplishment" through a lifetime of work. Read the post here.

Species Concepts in Arda

Wandering Through Books on tumblr tackles the tricky question of species concepts in Arda and evaluates the applicability of biological, phylogenetic and general lineage species concepts to Elves and Men.

Writing Women Characters Into Epic Fantasy Without Quotas

For writers looking to include more female characters into their works,'s Kate Elliott makes a powerful case that it is possible to do so interestingly and effectively without falling prey to the usual ideas of limits and constraints that are considered "realistic" for the genre.Writing Women Characters into Epic Fantasy without Quotas also offers a case study of the variety of the lives of women of the past.


The 2016 New York Tolkien Conference

The New York Tolkien Conference is taking place on Saturday July 16, 2016 around the topic of The Inklings and Science as well as Tolkien-related miscellanea. A tentative schedule has been posted, and online registration is available.

The Faerie Archive has moved!

After some trouble with the old hoster, the Faerie Archive has moved and can now be found at!

Tolkien Big Bang

The Tolkien Big Bang at Livejournal invites you to join in as a writer, artist, cheerleader or beta reader, and start writing. Minimums are 10,000 words for the Big Bang, and 5,000 for the Mini Bang. Artists will be able to claim a story once rough drafts are due. All Tolkien books and movies are eligible for writing about.

International Day of Slash at Library of Moria

From July 1 - July 31, the Library of Moria invites all willing participants for Revisiting, from leaving reviews on that special slash fic you still remember to making characters revisit "a place, a memory, a person, and let them reminisce or see where they go from there." Find the complete announcement at the LoM LJ Community.

Fancake Rec Community: Book Fandoms

Fancake is a thematic fanwork recommendation community, where all members are welcome to post recs and fanworks of all shapes and sizes are accepted. Round 68 asks for Book Fandom-based recommendations, so why not head over and promote your favourite Tolkien fics?

Multifandom Gen Exchange

GenEx is an exchange for '&' relationships (i.e. gen relationships) in fanfiction and fanart. Romantic or sexual relationships should not be the main focus of the work. Find the rules and FAQ here. Nominations are open until July 11th, and sign-ups begin on July 15th.

Camp NaNoWriMo

July marks another month of Camp NaNoWriMo! If you're looking to write a lot this month, finish projects, or simply want an incentive to keep going, pick your word-count goal and find yourself a cabin at this virtual writers' hideaway.

Femslash Drabbletag

Femslash Drabbletag invites you to come play. Pick a prompt you’d like to write, drabble, post it to the community and leave prompts of your own. Drabble Tag 7 will continue on for the rest of 2016 with an end date of Saturday, December 21st.

Season of Kink: The 2016 Round

Season of Kink is a fic and art bingo challenge that accepts all types of pairings - slash, yaoi, yuri or het. Any and all fandoms are welcome. here and will run until the end of September when the challenge officially ends. Rules are here!

Calls for Papers

Mythgard Midatlantic Speculative Fiction Symposium

The Mythgard Institute at Signum University is pleased to announce the third annual Mythgard Midatlantic Speculative Fiction Symposium (known affectionately as MidMoot III) on September 24-25, 2016 at the University of Maryland at College Park. We are accepting proposals now for short presentations intended to foster discussion. Presentation topics are welcome in the following areas: Speculative Fiction, History of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Critical Approaches to Science Fiction and Fantasy, The Inklings, Contemporary Speculative Fiction Authors, The Interplay between Speculative Fiction and Other Literary Genres, The Future of Speculative Fiction. To propose a paper, please submit a 100 to 200-word abstract that includes your name, email address, and academic affiliation (if any), along with the title of your presentation. Individual presentations should be around 15 minutes long, leaving an additional 15 minutes for discussion. so please plan accordingly. Abstracts should be sent to by July 31, 2016. Acceptances will be sent by August 15. We look forward to hearing from you and hope you can enjoy the symposium with us! So far the response to the call for papers has been underwhelming, and the event is in jeopardy of cancellation; Dawn Felagund shares her experiences presenting at MidMoot here and urges you to consider presenting.

Tolkien at Kalamazoo Call for Papers

The Tolkien at Kalamazoo group has been approved for 2 paper sessions at the International Medieval Congress to be held at Kalamazoo, Michigan in May 2017. The paper sessions are: 1. Tolkien and languages This session will explore Tolkien's contributions as a philologist of both early languages as well as the creation of his own languages. 2. Asterisk Tolkien: This session will examine various threads and tangents related to Tolkien studies and research. This may include papers on influences, lacunae, and other related topics important to the field. The deadline for submission of proposals is September 1, 2016 to Dr. Brad Eden at The conference website on submissions offers further information.

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.

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