TheSilmarillionWriters'Guild

Newsletter: June 2015

Table of Contents


SWG News

The SWG Is Turning 10!

July 28 is drawing near and the preparations for our 10th birthday celebration are moving ahead. One of the first special projects that we have launched is to prepare to offer birthday cards that will recognize the many ways that people participate in the Tolkien fan fiction community. We are still looking for volunteers in the following areas:

Watch this space for more announcements as our birthday approaches, including our special gift to the Silmarillion fandom in honor of our 10th birthday!

New York Tolkien Conference

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The New York Tolkien Conference will take place on June 13 and the SWG will be represented not only by Dawn and Oshun, who will be among the presenters, but also by several members who will be in attendance. Attendees can view the finalized conference schedule here. Additionally, our group will have space in the Iaurond Room with an open mic for sharing stories and other writing. In order to introduce participants to the range and diversity of the work in our community, Dawn is planning to take a collection of fanworks, each with a QR code that attendees can scan with their phones/tablets to continue viewing later. This LJ post has more information on the fan fiction collection for the New York Tolkien Conference. All Tolkien-based fanworks from all Tolkien fans (not just SWG members) are welcome. If you want your work to be included there, comment on the post linked above or email us at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org.

The conference is also looking for volunteers and sponsors willing to donate to help keep the conference free and help produce the proceedings. As fans and academics alike can attest, conferences and conventions often come with a steep price tag, and it is admirable that the New York Tolkien Conference is keeping the conference free to make it accessible to as many people as possible. They are estimating their costs this year to be $3500, so if you can donate time or money to help keep the conference free and begin an annual tradition, check out the links above.

SWG Authors Pandemonium and Elfscribe Mentioned in USA Today

Our very own Pandemonium and Elfscribe received a mention in USA Today, where their stories were included among a list of the Must-read fanfic for 'Lord of the Rings,' 'Scandal,' 'BtVS'. Pandë's Downfallen and Elfscribe's Elegy for Númenor, Volume 1: Journey to Umbar were the stories recommended. This is very well-deserved recognition for both authors, and we congratulat them!

Welcome to Our New Members!

This month we welcome KhamulsBurntFalafel, MithrandirOlorin, Zangjiao, and Finarphin 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 moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org.


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New at the Archive

Completed Works

A King's Visit by King Naugladur [General] (1060 words)
Summary: Azaghal of Gabilgathol, aka Belegost, persuades Naugladur of Tumunzahar, aka Nogrod, to fight for the Free Peoples at the Nirnaeth Arnoediad.

In You Everything Sank by Agelast [Adult] (3278 words)
Summary: Aerin meets Morwen Eledhwen, and that changes her life forever.

Maryame crosses the Marches to see Vanimo by Himring [Teens] (1053 words)
Summary: Despite her physical disability, a woman crosses Beleriand to assist a fellow victim. She has help on the way.

Speak No Sorrow by Elleth [Teens](3321 words)
Summary: Young Morwen in Brethil, from refugee to leader.

The Family We Choose by Ilye [General] (7175 words)
Summary: As the Exiles return to Valinor after the War of Wrath, Anairë discovers that you can choose your family as well as your friends.

the springtime of lovers by Agelast [Adult] (3333 words)
Summary: Fingon's ill-fated foray into Yavanna's secret garden. (Stop sniggering back there.)[PWP, sex pollen, Fingon/Maedhros/Maglor.]

Works in Progress

Bloody silmarils by Dilly [Teens]
Summary: In Gondolin, Turgon is depressed...
Chapter added this month: Epic poetry.

Fëanor's Autobiography by belegur [General]
Summary: Fëanor writes about himself in the style of Nikola Tesla's My Inventions.
Chapter added this month: On writing and invention.

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 6 and Chapter 7.

Maedhros of Bergerac by Dilly [General]
Summary: Maedhros tells Maglor his secret... Based off the work of Edmond Rostand. (translation by Scythe_Lyfe)
Chapter added this month: Maedhros of Bergerac.

Numenor That Was by Himring [Author Chooses Not to Rate]
Summary: A new anthology for stories set in Numenor or involving Numenoreans
Chapters added this month: A Missed Catch and What She Said.

One Star in the Sky by VCalien2015 [Teens]
Summary: The Dagor Dagorath approaches, and nearly all of those slain in the wars of the past Ages have been reborn to prepare themselves for the Last Battle. Among them is Curufinwë Fëanáro, last to leave the Halls of Mandos and tasked with earning his redemption. Fëanáro and his kin begin together the days which will lead them to the End, the guilt of the past mingling with joy long-lost, recalling at last what it is to truly live.
Chapter added this month: Formenos - Part IV.

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

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.
Chapter added this month: Part Two: Chapter Ten.

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.
Chapter added this month: Chapter Two: Destination.

The Brightest of Us All by Ilye [General]
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.
Chapters added this month: Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

The Exiles by Silver Trails [General]
Summary: Círdan and Eonwë return to Middle-earth in search of the Elves and Maiar that remain there. This is the third fic in my AU arc: The Straight Road
Chapter added this month: Chapter 2.

The Golden and the Black by Amarie Vanyarin [Teens]
Summary: Glorfindel is not the only one of the rebodied to be sent by the Valar back to Middle Earth. After being mired in the Halls of Mandos for six millenia, Maeglin is sent back as well, though it is uncertain how much he welcomes the move. Especially as Iluvatar has decreed that the dark soul of the traitor of Gondolin be rebodied as an elfmaid. A story of redemption and of love.
Chapters added this month: Chapter 32: Interlude, Chapter 33: Arrival at Avallonë and Chapter 34: Sea and Star.

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 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15 and Chapter 16.

Whom Thou Namest Friend, Part One by ElrondsScribe [General]
Summary: I'm a bit embarrassed by this story now, but I thought I'd share it with you all anyway. I only got three chapters into it, but I don't think I'm likely to update it. It crosses over with Narnia, and follows Omega. You really have to read Omega before starting this one.
Chapters added this month: Chapter 1 and Chapter 2: Of Toddlers and Parents.

Where the Ocean Meets the Sky and the Land by StarSpray [Teens]
Summary: Eärendil has gone sailing again--the time through the skies--and Elwing is left to find a place for herself in Valinor, while the Valar prepare for war.
Chapter added this month: Chapter 2.

Short Works

"A Song About Kingfishers" & "Kingfisher in Flight" by Himring [General] (960 words)
Summary: Young Maedhros, baby Maglor and a drawing. Now added: a sequel about Nerdanel, her elder son and the lost drawing (Kingfisher in Flight)

Coming Home by Silver Trails [General] (762 words)
Summary: Maglor finally returns to Tirion

Disruption by Winterwitch [General] (476 words)
Summary: Elrond is not the only one who is disrupted by his visitor.

The Fire in his Eyes by Silver Trails [General] (474 words)
Summary: Aulë looks at Fëanáro in the Máhanaxar after Manwë's sentence is pronounced

"The Glory in 'Glorious'" and "Singer of Praises" by Himring [Teens] (892 words)
Summary: After the early victory against Morgoth called the "Glorious Battle" (Dagor Aglareb): I. The Fingolfinians and the Feanorians first encounter each other after their shared victory. II. Later, at the victory celebrations, Fingon misses his cousin Maglor and seeks him out.

The Lord of Gifts by Dilly [General] (856 words)
Summary: Maedhros, Fingon... and gifts. Based on details from Tolkien's Unfinished Tales and Histories of Middle Earth. Translation by Scythe_Lyfe.

The Slave by belegur [General] (477 words)
Summary: A labourer in Angband reccounts his obsessions and perceptions.


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Character of the Month Biography

Aerin

Himring


Aerin is a character who features in the story of The Children of Húrin. Her character goes back to the earliest version of that story and, although in the relevant chapter of the published Silmarillion1 her part is reduced to two brief mentions, she receives fuller treatment in The Children of Húrin,2 which is closely based here on the relevant chapter in the Unfinished Tales.3 Aerin's role can be interpreted both as a stereotypical female victim of male violence and as one of a number of examples of unusual female agency in Tolkien's Legendarium; she is also, at least in the fuller versions of the story, given the opportunity to express her point of view in direct speech. These things make her interesting. She is nevertheless a minor character in the story in which Morwen and Túrin are the protagonists, so the details of what we are told about her are determined by their storyline and some of her personal background can only be guessed at.

The earliest version of The Children of Húrin4 assigns Aerin a role that is significantly different in some ways. As it is not compatible with the later revised storyline as a whole, the following discussion will be based mostly on the version found in the Unfinished Tales (and also in The Children of Húrin) and will return to the differences in the earlier version only toward the end.

Aerin was the daughter of Indor.5 We don't know anything about Indor, but it is probable that both he and Aerin are intended to be of the House of Hador--at any rate Aerin is said to be Húrin's kinswoman6 and, given the predominantly patrilinear take on kinship in these tales, it is less likely that she was related to him on the mother's side. If this interpretation is correct, that tells us something about the environment Aerin grew up in.

The House of Hador was the hereditary ruling family of the Third House of the Edain. The family had a personal bond with the High Kings of the Noldor (Fingolfin and, after him, Fingon) that went back to the time their ancestor Hador Lórindol dwelled in Barad Eithel as Fingolfin's retainer. This bond was also reflected in their language; unlike most of their people, they were apparently brought up bilingually, speaking one of the Elven languages, Sindarin, at home and the precursor of Adunaic (probably to be identified with Taliska7 ) with the people they ruled. The House of Hador had received Fingon's own fief of Dor-lómin, the south-western part of Hithlum, in return for loyal service and had ruled it for several generations, developing a strong attachment with the land they now called their home.8

Already by the time of Aerin's youth, the House of Hador were well aware that all this came at a price. The war with Morgoth and Angband had in theory been looming over them ever since they entered Beleriand, before they settled in Dor-lómin, but it had become an ever-present actuality. Members of two generations of the men of Dor-lómin had fallen in defence of the borders of Hithlum since the onset of the Battle of Sudden Flame, alongside their lords Hador and Galdor of Dor-lómin, as is implied in the accounts of those battles. Dor-lómin was harbouring survivors of the House of Bëor, Morwen and Rían and others, a visible reminder that the First House of Edain had already been almost completely destroyed in these wars. But Dor-lómin was in the safest part of Hithlum and, although Fingon had nearly lost a battle to the north, near the Firth of Drengist, it is likely that Aerin's homeland itself was not directly affected--that is, had not been the actual site of warfare. Moreover, it had been the current lord, Húrin, who had had an instrumental role in winning the latest phase of the war. This is likely to have boosted the confidence of the House of Hador and it is possible that Húrin's relatives shared the confidence of Húrin himself that the war against Morgoth would ultimately be won.9 Aerin may have been brought up in a proud tradition of heroic service, possibly qualified by expectations associated with her female gender.

We do not know when Aerin was born. In fan fiction, she is often assumed to be significantly younger than Morwen. The main argument in favour of this seems to be that, unlike Morwen, she appears to have been unmarried at the time of the Battle of Unnumbered Tears (Nirnaeth Arnoediad), although even that conclusion is an extrapolation, based only on what we are not told. By the end of their respective lives, Aerin and Morwen are both described as visibly aged,10 but there are hints that both of them aged prematurely due to their experiences, so it is not easy to base a clinching argument on this, either.

It is not clear how long before the Nirnaeth Aerin had known Morwen, Húrin's wife, or how well, although their later fates are so strongly linked. It is reasonable to assume that she must have encountered her at the wedding of Húrin and Morwen, at the latest, but Aerin is not mentioned in the narrative of Túrin's early childhood, in the account of Morwen's loss of her daughter Lalaith to the Black Breath, the plague sent by Morgoth. However, a later reference by Túrin suggests that he may have known her then (if his observation about Aerin's attitude to dogs refers to this period11 ) and she must have been old enough by then to experience the plague and the deaths of many young children consciously.

Aerin was almost certainly, like a typical scion of the third House of the Edain, golden-haired, probably also tall and blue-eyed.12 Otherwise, the only individual detail of physical description given for her dates back to the earliest version, in which she had a by-name "of the long hair" or "long-tressed."13 It is not clear whether this still applied later but there seems to be no reason why it could not have.

A disastrous upheaval in Aerin's life—as for all other women of Dor-lómin at the time--was occasioned by the loss of the Battle of the Unnumbered Tears. Most men of Dor-lómin had fallen at the last stand in the Fens of Serech.14 Aerin's father Indor may have fallen there as well. It is likely that from this point on Aerin's closest surviving male relatives were Húrin, imprisoned in Angband, and Túrin, a young boy in constant danger of his life.

Dor-lómin became occupied territory. The occupiers were Easterlings, survivors of Ulfang's tribe who had betrayed the Sons of Fëanor to Morgoth during the battle. It is worth noting that—treachery or no—these Easterlings were not in Dor-lómin by their own design. They had expected to be rewarded for their role with access to "the rich lands of Beleriand which they coveted."15 Instead they found themselves confined by Morgoth to Dor-lómin; they were also bereft of their original leaders, because Ulfang and his sons had fallen in the battle as well. Although it arose out of the situation rather than as the result of previous planning by the Easterlings, the consequent oppression of the Edain by the Easterlings is described by Tolkien in stark terms of thraldom and slavery.

In the light of the later description of the Númenóreans during their age of empire, conquering and enslaving inhabitants of foreign lands,16 it is interesting to consider that many of their ancestors themselves had been enslaved by the Easterlings in the First Age—although it is not clear whether Tolkien himself makes the connection. He would certainly have been aware as a scholar of Anglo-Saxon that, despite the later parole "Britons never will be slaves,"17 there had been a period when Anglo-Saxon slaves were widely bought and sold in European markets. History shows clearly enough that there is no intrinsic connection between slavery and race. But Aerin escaped the fate of enslavement shared by many of her people, although she might perhaps have preferred it.

Brodda, the Easterling leader most closely involved with Morwen, Aerin, and Túrin, is described as essentially an upstart, not one of the surviving established Easterling leaders. These apparently preferred not to tackle the estate of Húrin in south Dor-lómin near Nen Lalaith where the most resistance could be expected. Brodda was ambitious enough to undertake it, despite a superstitious fear of Elves, which also entailed a fear of Morwen. He had courage of a kind: Tolkien describes him as "bold."18 Also, despite Brodda's negative characteristics, he appears largely motivated by his own interests; he does not act directly as minion of Morgoth, although his fear of Elves is presumably ultimately conditioned by that allegiance.

Brodda stole Húrin's goods, enslaved Húrin's people, and took Aerin to wife by force. This last was evidently a move in his bid for rise to power in Dor-lómin —marrying a close relative of Húrin would be a way of laying claim to Húrin's estates as well as to the lordship of Dor-lómin, if Brodda could gain enough influence to back the wider claim. There are enough parallels in history and legend for such strategies. Tolkien does not quite spell it out, but that must be what is implied in "he [i.e. Brodda] hoped to make himself a lordship in that country."19 Brodda's hopes for an heir are also mentioned, but Tolkien has dodged the further implications of this. Apparently, he was not prepared to deal with the complications a son of Aerin and Brodda would have posed—or with the idea that Aerin had practised some kind of contraception to prevent such a son being born.

Tolkien has also added a problematic comment here: "there were few women amongst his own [i.e. Brodda's] following, and none to compare with the daughters of the Edain."20 Perhaps this comment could be taken as a reflection of Brodda's original low status—and scarcity of women might perhaps also be explained by the forcible removal of the Easterlings to Dor-lómin by Morgoth. However, it would also be possible to interpret this in the light of a negative comment about Easterling women that occurs as a stray footnote to the story of Tuor, in which it is said that he experienced Easterling women as "proud and barbaric" as well as cruel.21 But Brodda could not be expected to share Tuor's views, unless Tolkien is imputing to him a kind of cultural cringe. The various descriptions of the Easterlings—although driven by plot and partly reflecting Tolkien's source material—are among the most troubling, when one considers the impact of racist clichés on the Legendarium. We can in any case assume that Aerin could have well done without this dubious compliment, if one is concealed in this statement.

The violence in the marriage between Brodda and Aerin was not confined to its beginning; later we are told that he often beat her.22 Aerin's feelings about Brodda are largely expressed indirectly in the later versions of the Narn i Hîn Húrin and not until later in the story. This is in fact the point at which she first appears as a named character in the narrative and is introduced simultaneously as a victim and an agent, for paradoxically, in this situation of general disempowerment, the enforced marriage with Brodda empowered her to a degree. We are told that she was able to support Morwen, stealing back for her some of the goods that Brodda had robbed her of. This she seems partly to have done with the help of slaves who were able to escape from Brodda's badly guarded stockade.23 In fact, the relationship between Aerin and Morwen seems relatively distant at this our first glimpse of it—Aerin apparently sends the provisions through others, Morwen rather grudgingly accepts them, because anything that even remotely resembles charity hurts her pride. It is only later that we learn that Aerin had Morwen's confidence, which seems to imply close personal contact, whether she had already had it at this point or gained it during the following years.24 (I'm looking at this from a text-internal point of view within the Narn here—in terms of the overall development of the Legendarium it is the closeness between Aerin and Morwen that is original and this relative distance that developed later, as we shall see.)

Because shortly after this Túrin leaves Dor-lómin and the focus of the story shifts with him, we lose sight of Aerin again almost immediately. But when Morwen eventually left Dor-lómin with her daughter Nienor to try and find Túrin in Doriath, she told Aerin where she was going and why.

One year and three months later Túrin returned to Dor-lómin himself, on his deluded quest after the fall of Nargothrond to find his mother and sister. This was more than twenty-one years after he had left Dor-lómin and last seen his mother (and, of course, he had not seen Aerin in that time either), but that also means that, by then, Aerin had been married to Brodda for even longer than that. Although her situation was little short of intolerable, she had been living with it for over two decades.

Túrin returns to his native land as a stranger and an outsider. A certain amount of haste and jumping to conclusions seems to be part of Túrin's character. At this stage, this natural tendency of his seems to have been reinforced by a spell of Glaurung's lies that lay heavy on him.

We learn, immediately when she is mentioned again, that Aerin exerts sufficient influence on Brodda to keep a house more open for destitute wanderers and dependants than elsewhere in Dor-lómin, although she does so at constant risk of punishment by her husband. Although Túrin is warned by Sador, his informant, to be cautious, for Aerin's sake and his own, he is at once provoked into confronting Brodda.

While Brodda shows signs of intemperance and a violent and dangerous temper and is very free with insults to the Edain of Dor-lómin, there is a certain irony in that, like a good husband, he rushes to defend Aerin's honour when a stranger (Túrin) accuses her of lying (even though she is in fact prevaricating).

Túrin lays claim to kinship with Aerin, who visibly reacts with great fear. This fear is clearly fear of her husband, but perhaps also of the whole situation in general and not necessarily fear only for herself—she almost certainly realizes immediately who Túrin is, possibly even detects a family resemblance with Morwen. When Túrin takes a further step and claims her allegiance as Lord of Dor-lómin, she acknowledges her loyalty to him immediately—probably to him both as Lord of Dor-lómin and head of her house.

The irony of what she has to tell him about Morwen, without her foreknowledge or intention, inflicts great pain on Túrin and provokes an uncontrolled outburst, as he now recognizes that Glaurung has deceived him into neglecting his obligations to Finduilas and Nargothrond. It may, however, perhaps not make so very much difference at this point that he loses control in this way, as an Easterling is apparently about to assail him, although he is holding Brodda as hostage. The situation by then may already be irretrievable, in any case. However, fighting breaks out in the hall. The aged dependants and servants of Morwen that Aerin had previously been protecting and supporting take part in the fighting and die—that is, Sador does and among the others who die in the fighting the number of the aged and badly equipped would have been high.

Thus it is in a hall littered with the corpses of Edain as well as Easterlings that, despite her earlier acknowledgement of loyalty, Aerin speaks sharp words to Túrin, as his uncontrolled rage is dying down and seems about to be succeeded by depression. She accuses him of childish rashness and says that, although her life had been harsh before, she now expects that she will be killed by the Easterlings in revenge--as well as any others who were involved. She expresses neither grief nor relief at the death of Brodda himself--it is Túrin who suggests earlier that she could not possibly care for his fate, because he mistreated her. While in one way this seems an instance of Túrin's high-handedness, it is remarkable also because in an earlier version Aerin did say this herself, with less cause (see below). Maybe to Tolkien it later seemed inappropriate for her to do so.

It is at this point that it appears that Túrin and Aerin knew each other well when Túrin was a child, but the reminiscences lead to an exchange of insults, not to familial bonding. (In fact, Túrin's attitude to Aerin throughout seems to be a somewhat unbalanced mixture of showy and possibly exaggerated courtesy and aggressive rudeness.) Although Túrin once called Aerin aunt, he says, he accuses her of always having always been a coward, even in the matter of aggressive dogs. His comment that Aerin was "made for a kinder world"25 reminds the reader of a similar comment made earlier about Morwen's cousin Rían.26 The gentle and feminine has no place in this doomed, heroic world—or so it is implied. But Aerin, it turns out, is perhaps not quite as gentle and feminine as all that.

Aerin rejects Túrin's offer to rescue her and take her away out of Dor-lómin to Morwen. She is too old, she says, and would die on the journey through the rigours of winter. Her reference to her white hair is rhetorical, but would not be effective if her hair were not, in fact, white. The rigours of the journey are real enough; they are described elsewhere in the Narn27 and also in the Tale of Tuor.28 Aerin sends Túrin (who leaves together with anyone who might have the strength to defend her) away.

It is also during this conversation that Aerin's previously asserted bond to Morwen comes through most strongly in her own words: "Go first to Morwen and comfort her, or I will find all the wrack you have wrought here hard to forgive" (Túrin, of course, does not do this—he has a habit of ignoring good advice) and "Go! To stay will make all the worse and rob Morwen to no purpose."29 She is perhaps also saying that in her eyes Túrin has just failed as Lord of Dor-lómin, but he had better not fail his family obligations to Morwen as well.

It is a bitter farewell, although Túrin gives her a low bow, and it is a very final one. Not only does Túrin never see this relative of his again—when he and his companions look back, they see that the hall has been fired30 and Asgon explains to Túrin that he has essentially misunderstood Aerin all along and that it was probably she who fired the hall: "Many a man of arms misreads patience and quiet. She did much good among us at much cost. Her heart was not faint, and patience will break at the last."31

Because of the point of view adopted by the narrative, we cannot know for a fact that Aerin died at this point and that she burnt herself alive with the hall, but it does seem to be implied. Aerin, who in life fought for her people by non-violent methods and in ways that the Legendarium associates with the feminine gender, dies a death that is in some ways reminiscent of Denethor's in The Lord of the Rings, both in its heroic status and in its despair.

The world of the Narn is a darker one than that of The Lord of the Rings. Aerin is poignantly contrasted with Túrin. While he has pursued battle against Morgoth at all costs as his chief duty to his heritage, she has been taking care of Túrin's people as best she could. But it is by no means only Túrin's fault that he could not undertake this part of his duties or even that his return to Dor-lómin only causes destruction and essentially ruins Aerin's life's work. In the end both fail, Aerin and Túrin, before the malignity of fate that prevails in post-Nirnaeth Beleriand.

To return briefly to the different role of Aerin in the earliest version of Túrin Turambar's tale: it has already been hinted that the version in Book of Lost Tales II32 shows a number of differences from the later versions. Aerin (earlier: Airin) was originally the relative and also friend of Morwen, rather than of Húrin. Brodda, her husband, was originally not envisaged as an Easterling and, in fact, Morwen (earlier: Mavwin) trusted him sufficiently to leave her goods in his care, when she left to go looking for Túrin. Brodda, however, embezzled her possessions. Túrin, having learnt this, attacked him and killed him in his hall and in the uproar also killed a relative of his own, Orlin, as well. Airin was not present, but arrived later to pronounce justice in the matter. While she had apparently not been wed by force in this version, she had been mistreated by Brodda and avoided him for his boorish behaviour. As a figure of authority, with considerable skill of diplomacy, but also a good deal of frankness with regard to the unhappiness of her marriage, she managed to pacify those baying for Túrin's blood and extricate him from this dangerous situation, while reproving him from his rashness and temper.

This is a less tragic and a very interesting version of Aerin. I cannot think of any scene quite like this in the later Legendarium. However, this version of Aerin is clearly incompatible both with Tolkien's later development of Túrin's--and above all Morwen's--character and with his later version of the political situation in Dor-lómin, so it is not surprising that it was abandoned early in favour of the later development that we see in the Unfinished Tales and the published Silmarillion.




Works Cited

  1. The Silmarillion, "Of Túrin Turambar."
  2. The Children of Húrin, especially Chapter XII ("The Return of Túrin to Dor-lómin").
  3. Unfinished Tales, Narn I Hin Hurin, especially the section "The Return of Túrin to Dor-lómin."
  4. The Book of Lost Tales II, Turambar and the Foalókë.
  5. He seems to be mentioned only once, when Túrin calls her "Aerin Indor's daughter" (Unfinished Tales, "The Return of Túrin to Dor-lómin"). Tolkien used the name Indor elsewhere, so we know for certain that it is a man's name.
  6. Unfinished Tales, Narn i Hîn Húrin, "The Departure of Túrin."
  7. "Taliska" as a name for a language of the Edain apparently changed its reference in the writing of the Legendarium. The name is not used in the published Silmarillion.
  8. The Silmarillion, "Of the Coming of Men Into the West."
  9. The Silmarillion, "Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin." Compare the reminiscences of Sador in Unfinished Tales, Narn i Hîn Húrin, "The Childhood of Túrin."
  10. The Silmarillion, "Of the Ruin of Doriath": "Grey she [i.e. Morwen] was and old." For a discussion of Aerin's white hair, see below.
  11. Unfinished Tales, Narn i Hîn Húrin, "The Return of Túrin to Dor-lómin."
  12. The Silmarillion, "Of the Coming of Men Into the West." It is the blonde hair that is most significant in this context, because the Brodda and his Easterlings called the Edain of Dor-lómin "Strawheads" (Unfinished Tales, Narn i Hîn Húrin, "The Departure of Túrin ").
  13. Book of Lost Tales II, Turambar and the Foalókë.
  14. The Silmarillion, "Of the Fifth Battle". Compare also The Children of Húrin, Chapter II, "The Battle of Unnumbered Tears."
  15. The Silmarillion, "Of the Fifth Battle."
  16. The Silmarillion, Akallabêth.
  17. Refrain of the song "Rule Britannia."
  18. Unfinished Tales, Narn i Hîn Húrin, "The Departure of Túrin."
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Unfinished Tales, Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin, footnote 31.
  22. Sador says so (Unfinished Tales, Narn i Hîn Húrin, "The Return of Túrin to Dor-lómin").
  23. Unfinished Tales, Narn i Hîn Húrin, "The Departure of Túrin." It is not explicitly stated that the escaping slaves and Aerin were cooperating, but I think it is implied.
  24. "She knew all the counsel of your mother", says Sador (Unfinished Tales, Narn i Hîn Húrin, "The Departure of Túrin").
  25. Unfinished Tales, Narn i Hîn Húrin, "The Return of Túrin to Dor-lómin."
  26. The Unfinished Tales, Narn i Hîn Húrin, "The Childhood of Túrin."
  27. Túrin almost dies on the winter journey to Doriath (Unfinished Tales, Narn i Hîn Húrin, "The Departure of Túrin").
  28. Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin".
  29. Unfinished Tales, Narn i Hîn Húrin, "The Return of Túrin to Dor-lómin".
  30. This is the new hall built by Brodda mentioned in Unfinished Tales, Narn i Hîn Húrin, "The Departure of Túrin." So for Aerin it is a symbol of her marriage and of Easterling oppression, not an ancestral home.
  31. Ibid.
  32. The Book of Lost Tales II, Turambar and the Foalókë.



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Current Challenge

Crime and Punishment

Throughout The Silmarillion, we see glimpses of justice, crime, and punishment in action. This challenge asks writers to tackle these topics head-on. Perhaps you want to write about a canonical incident that involves topics related to crime and justice: the imprisonment of Melkor, the exile of Fëanor, or the murder of Saeros. You could also approach the challenge by exploring how a group or culture handled crime and punishment. This challenge also begs for mystery fiction, in which characters investigate and solve a crime.

Challenges Revisited: Sibling Rivalry

Because the month of June falls partly under the sign of Gemini, this lighter challenge poses an AU question: If you could "fall" into Middle-earth, who would you choose as your sibling? Write an AU story where an original character--you!--tries to influence his or her canon sibling in some way or in which you choose a sibling to influence you. For example:

Quote of the Month

"Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery."

―Malcolm X

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.

"Fan Fiction as Criticism" by Renee Vink

Tolkien scholar and fanfic writer Renee Vink's Fan Fiction as Criticism was published in the 10th issue of Hither Shore. The essay "[d]iscusses the possibilities of Tolkien-based fan fiction to analyse and criticise his Middle-earth works, using several examples from 'canonical' to 'subversive'." And a few familiar names appear among the works she discusses!

"Tolkien would have wanted his works to inspire Fan Fiction" by MithrandirOlorin

A perennial topic of discussion in the Tolkien fanfic community is how Tolkien would have responded to the thousands of fanworks created based on his Ardaverse and whether fans have a moral responsibility to take this into account when using his work. SWG member MithrandirOlorin's essay Tolkien would have wanted his works to inspire Fan Fiction tackles this question head-on. There's some interesting discussion in the comments as well.

"Science's Love Affair with The Lord of the Rings" by Julie Beck

Beck made the case in The Atlantic last month that Tolkien has influenced science like no other author. But aren't science and fantasy inherently at odds with each other? Beck Science's Love Affair with The Lord of the Rings seeks the connection between these seemly disparate endeavors in an article teeming with links to more great reads on the connection between Tolkien and science.

"The Royal Line of Numenor" by enanoakd

From Elros to the founding of Arnor and Gondor, enanoakd's beautifully illustrated "Royal Line of Numenor" is an invaluable reference to keep Illustrated Royal Line of Numenor: http://enanoakd.deviantart.com/art/The-Royal-Line-of-Numenor-469688939 on-hand.

"It’s-A Me, Mary Sue: Why She’s An Important Figure For Fanfic And Fangirls" by Sam Maggs

Magg's post about why Fandom should stop hating on Mary Sue proposes that this character is a normal developmental stage as new writers learn to create strong female characters. "Because the Sue is always 'perfect,' what exactly makes us hate her so much?" asks Maggs. "Is it that she doesn’t have any flaws? Or that she has the wrong kinds of flaws? Or too many flaws? That she cries all the time and needs to be comforted? That she’s incredibly-powerful and no one can defy her? Is it that she’s way too nice to everyone? Or she’s the most anti-establishment of all the angsty girls on the scene? I’ve seen Sues dismissed for all of these reasons, which honestly makes it seem like we’re just dismissing all original female characters outright."

"Silly little girls: Slash Fanfiction and Female Sexuality" by Teresa

Slash continues to be one of the most analyzed genres of fan fiction. Why write it? Why read it? How do we explain its enormous popularity and appeal across fandoms? Teresa's essay explores why slash remains such a popular fanfic genre.

Announcements

June, 2015 Is "We’re Sorry, Celebrimbor" Month

If you’ve written about or drawn Celebrimbor, you likely know how it goes: Before you is an innocent blank page, and, next thing you know, terrible atrocities are befalling Celebrimbor. Sure, we can fault the Professor for depicting Celebrimbor during the final unhappy phase of his life and thus egging us all on. But really, it’s time to stop passing the buck. It’s time to apologize to Celebrimbor for all that we have done.

How does one apologize to Celebrimbor, you ask? So many options. Write a story or create fanart where not-bad things are happening to him! Make a craft he would like to wear, or prepare a meal he would like to eat, and upload photos of it! Make a fanmix or a filk! The possibilities for not treating Celebrimbor with heinous cruelty are extensive. Ask questions here, at the "We're Sorry, Celebrimbor" Month post.

Easterlings Appreciation Week: June 1 through 7

Easterlings Appreciation Week will be from the 1st-7th of June. EAW will be an opportunity for people to engage in fannish activities that involve the Easterlings, who deserve more exposure in fandom. The activities include writing fic, sharing headcanons, creating art, playlists, gifsets, etc. No need to sign up, or ask permission, or anything of the sort. You can just dive right in, and put in as much or as little fannish labour as you wish. If you’re taking part on Tumblr, please tag your posts with easterlings appreciation week.

Rare Pair Exchange

For the purpose of this fest, a rare pair will be defined as a pairing that has less than 250 COMPLETED works of 1000 words or greater on AO3. Fandoms of any size are welcome. Pairings can also include threesomes/moresomes. (Note that this probably includes most Silmarillion pairings!) Pairings can be nominated June 1 through 15; the Rare Pair nomination post is here. Sign-ups will run June 17 through 28. See the Rare Pair rules and FAQ for more details.

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, July 3, and July 17 at 10:00 AM EDT. If you'd like to attend, you can join the SilmFilm Season 0 webinar series here.

Free Lecture: "Tolkien and Environmentalism" by Matthew Dickerson

Matthew Dickerson is a professor at Middlebury College in Vermont and has written several books on Tolkien and fantasy studies, particularly how these intersect with environmentalism. He will be giving a free guest lecture, "Tolkien and Environmentalism," through the Mythgard Academy guest lecture series. The online lecture will be held on June 17, 2015, at 5:30 PM EDT. Although the lecture is free, registration to attend the online webinar is required and space is limited. Register for the "Tolkien and Environmentalism" lecture here. Can’t make it to the live lecture? Mythgard posts the video and audio for all of their guest lectures afterward, so watch this space, and we’ll let you know as soon as the files are available.

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

Journal of Tolkien Research. The Journal of Tolkien Research, a peer-reviewed, open-access journal, will be publishing a themed issue, Authorizing Tolkien: Questions of Adaptation, Control, Dissemination, and Transformation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Works. Proposals are due July 1, 2015, and the first draft will be due December 10, 2015. See the post about the theme for complete details.

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.




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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