TheSilmarillionWriters'Guild

Newsletter: March 2012

Table of Contents


SWG News

Back to Middle-earth Month 2012: Bingo Baggins’ BINGO Bash

By now, mostly everybody has heard about Back to Middle-earth Month 2012: Bingo Baggins’ Bingo Bash. We have 105 cards with prompts spanning all ages, cultures, and topics, as well as about 90 participants (and they keep coming!). It’s not too late to get involved! Our B2MeM 2012 page has information on how to get started and the B2MeM community on LiveJournal is where the action is happening.

As always, this is an event for the entire Tolkien fandom. Writers, artists and reviewers are all welcome, as are creative works about all the ages and peoples of Arda! (Only Silmarillion-based pieces on the SWG archive though please!) Join us in the fun!

Welcome to Our New Moderator, Russandol!

We want to announce that the SWG Moderators’ team is getting bigger: Russandol has agreed to join Dawn, Rhapsody, Uli, Tarion and Angelica in running the site. Russandol has been involved in numerous projects as a volunteer during her time with the SWG and brings experience with the software we use to keep the site running. She's already jumped in with both feet as one of our principal volunteers for this year's B2MeM event! Welcome, Russandol, to the mod team!


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New at the Archive

Completed Works

A Vision of Hope by Olorime [Adult] † (5979 words)
Summary: Set during Elros and Elrond's youth as foster sons of Maglor and Maedhros. Elrond and Elros react to the knowledge of the past deeds of their foster parents and the foresight of their future.

And All Our Wounds Forgiven by Marchwriter [Adult] (8696 words)
Summary: The Oath of Fëanor sleeps. The Enemy does not. And Finrod Felagund finds himself battling against the currents of fate and desire when two of the sons of Fëanor seek succor in his realm.

Blessing of the Spirit by Iavalir [General] (3489 words)
Summary: For many years Maglor suffered alone in the sea, singing his lament, till the day he heard Beleg’s song.

Hospitality by Russandol [Teens] ( words)
Summary: A man with a perilous mission arrives at the shores of Númenor, where he meets two strangers. A (most likely AU) crossover between my own Chasing Mirages and elfscribe's novel Elegy for Númenor.

Renacimiento by oshun [Adult] (8268 words)
Summary: Elrond is a charming flirt with a massive crush who is saving himself for a special first time.

Righteous Deeds by Gwenniel [General] (5121 words)
Summary: Banished from Nargothrond: the story of Curufin and Celegorm as they arrive to Himring and face the matter of telling the truth behind Finrod's death to their elder brothers. However, the death of Finrod is not the only issue - it is a many-layered problem concerning righteousness and loyalty.

The Begetting Day Gift by Gwenniel [General] (2167 words)
Summary: Fingolfin persuades Feanor to make something nice for Finarfin's begetting day. Feanor, the mastermind, is devious and poor Finarfin is in for a nasty surprise...

Two Small Pieces of Glass by Ellynn [General] (1461 words)
Summary: One day, while working in her studio, an elleth discovers something extraordinary and invents one very special device.

Works in Progress

Almaren by Silver Trails [Adult]
Summary: The events after the Spring of Arda, seen through the eyes of three Valar and an Oarni
Chapter added this month: Chapter 6 and Chapter 6.

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

Justice and Death by Gwenniel [General]
Summary: There are Oaths that need to be fulfilled, there are quests that cannot be avoided. Caranthir knows that a sooner or later he and his brothers have to go to Doriath to regain the Silmaril.
Chapter added this month: Chapter 1

Mereth Aderthadby Oshun [Adult]
Summary:The story of the events of the Feast of Reuniting. A continuation of my interpretation of the tales of the Noldor in the First Age, focusing principally, but not solely upon Fingon and Maedhros.
Chapter added this month: Secrets.

Of Draugluin by Huinare [General]
Summary: Wherein a denizen of Utumno is roped into a peculiar project, the repercussions of which are inescapable.
Chapter added this month: Roimë

One Hundred Words About Maedhros by Himring [Teens]
Summary: Drabbles in my 'Doom' series. Not necessarily gloomy!
Chapter added this month: Fingon on Greed.

Taking Readings by Himring [General]
Summary: Archiving a couple of short, slightly experimental pieces together.
Chapters added this month: Nan Elmoth and In Defence of Vana, the Ever-Young.

The Book of Short Tales by Lyra [General]
Summary: A place to store short ficlets and challenge responses that don't really warrant being archived on their own.
Chapter added this month: B2MeM '12 - I18 - Birth

The Fall of Doriath by gamil-zirak [General]
Summary:This is an attempt at writing an account of the destruction of Doriath by the Sons of Feanor. It shall include the battle and aftermath. Hope you enjoy it..
Chapter added this month: Amon Ereb.

The Great Tales of Beleriand: Definitive Edition by Chilled in Hithlum [General]
Summary: This is a complete re-working of my original two volumes. I have revised the story from the start for reasons of own satisfaction and I apologise in advance to all those that have already read the previous incarnations; indeed I would not expect any of you to start again, I must also thank those that have reviewed previously, your comments have been most insightful and encouraging. Thanks must go here to moderator Dawn Felagund who has transferred my old reviews to this new work; so now therefore in the interests of reader clarity I have deleted my original posts. That said, this story follows much the same arc as the last and is inspired by the turning-point chapter (18. Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin) where so much happens and in which so much goes unexpanded. Of course by the time this chapter takes place so much has already happened, and there are allusions to past events as published in The Silmarillion and other works.
Chapters added this month: Part Five: The Waiting and Part Six: The Instruments of Ulmo.

The Starlit Sky by Maglor Makalaure [General]
Summary: The story of the sons of Elwing, from the time they were captured to the time they were released. Told from Elrond's point of view.
Chapter added this month: Chapter one and Chapter two.

The Swan's Song by Kimberleighe [General]
Summary: In which the tale of Thorondun and Alphiril is told.
Chapters added this month: Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

The Tempered Steel by Lyra [Adult]
Summary: Yes, it's yet another variation on the good old "Maedhros in Angband and what happened afterwards" theme! Because the Silmarillion is so brief about it that fleshed-out retellings never get old..
Chapter added this month: Part III, Chapter II.

Short Works

A Thief in Valinor? by Iavalir [General] (99 words)
Summary: Is there a thief in Valinor?

Busted! by Gwenniel [General] (776 words)
Summary: Teenage Fëanor seems to find the perfect opportunity to get Fingolfin into trouble. But Fingolfin is all too cute...

Can Heart Do That Too? by wind rider [Teens] (850 words)
Summary: They were a pair of Half-Elven twins, indeed, but Elros had always been more Mannish than his younger half. And in Secondborn blood, everything did burn quicker, brighter, keener – including grief and vengeance.

Exploring by Gwenniel [General] (867 words)
Summary: Young Curufinwë is adventurous and takes a sneak peak into his father's study. "Ooh! What s that...?" Fëanorian fluff.

Lord of Gifts by lindahoyland [General] (455 words)
Summary: Sauron has plans for the future.

My Life by Silver Trails [Adult] (376 words)
Summary: Maglor speaks about his life to different companions.

The Noldolante by Elvewen [General] (773 words)
Summary: Maglor's thoughts as he played the Noldolante for the first time.


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Character of the Month Biography

Gandalf (Olórin)--Part 1

Oshun (Illustrated by Pandemonium_213)


Whether in the guise of Gandalf the Grey or Gandalf the White, Tolkien’s most famous wizard plays the role of the nearly perfect guide, instigator, and mentor for the heroes of both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. He steps into the fray as an active combatant as well, e.g., Gandalf is not simply an armchair general. Tolkien devoted an entire essay to his Wizards, emissaries from the Valar sent to level the playing field in the struggle against the dark Maia Sauron by the free peoples of Middle-earth: the Elves, Men, Dwarves, and Hobbits. “The Istari” in Unfinished Tales was written in 1954, late enough to be considered one of the more authoritative texts, provides an excellent source for everything one might have wanted to know about the Wizards.

The majority of readers first encounter Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring in the form of an elderly bearded man. "An old man was driving it [a horse cart] all alone. He wore a tall pointed blue hat, a long grey cloak, and a silver scarf. He had a long white beard and bushy eyebrows that stuck out beyond the brim of this hat."1 One quickly learns that he is a friend of Hobbits, Men and Elves, wise and somewhat mysterious. A significant number of readers will have already met Gandalf in The Hobbit, wherein he is described almost word-for-word as he is in The Fellowship of the Ring: the same pointed blue hat, long grey cloak and silver scarf, beard and bushy eyebrows.2 The narrator of the opening pages of The Hobbit, however, emphasizes of mystery which surrounds Gandalf in his introduction of this important character.

Gandalf! If you had heard only a quarter of what I have heard about him, and I have only heard very little of all there is to hear, you would be prepared for any sort of remarkable tale. Tales and adventures sprouted up all over the place wherever he went, in the most extraordinary fashion.3

Gandalf appears in The Hobbit as the wise and mysterious wanderer, a wizard no less, who first proposes an adventure to Bilbo Baggins who is surprised and appalled at the very idea. Disappearing in and out of the story, as Gandalf is wont to do, he charges Bilbo with a seemingly nearly impossible task. He changes the conservative Hobbit forever by placing him in the middle of an adventure of a lifetime and simultaneously draws the reader into the marvelous world of Middle-earth.

Gandalf also appears in the published version of The Silmarillion in a markedly different aspect: that of a semi-divine Maia hidden within the guise of an old man, whom we met in The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. Tolkien introduces him in The Silmarillion as the Maia Olórin. "Wisest of the Maiar was Olórin. He too dwelt in Lórien, but his ways took him often to the house of Nienna, and of her he learned pity and patience."4 [More will be added later on the significance of Gandalf’s residence in the gardens of Irmo in Lórien, place of dreams and consolation, so different from the strife and hardship in Middle-earth.]

Olorin comic by pandemonium_213

One may find in the Unfinished Tales article a precise and comprehensive explanation of whom and what Gandalf actually is. Christopher Tolkien confirms that Gandalf is one of the Istari, who are of the Maiar. “It appears indeed from the mention of Olórin in the Valaquenta (The Silmarillion pp. 30 –1) that the Istari were Maiar; for Olórin was Gandalf.”5 It goes on to explain that

". . . though he loved the Elves, he walked among them unseen, or in form as one of them, and they did not know whence came the fair visions or the promptings of wisdom that he put into their hearts. In later days he was the friend of all the Children of Ilúvatar, and took pity on their sorrows; and those who listened to him awoke from despair and put away the imaginations of darkness.6

Gandalf bears a proliferation of names, as do most of the major characters in Tolkien’s legendarium. The name by which he is known as a Maia of Aman is Olórin. In The Two Towers, Faramir lists several of Gandalf’s names,

'Mithrandir we called him in elf-fashion,' said Faramir, 'and he was content. Many are my names in many countries, he said. Mithrandir among the Elves, Tharkûn to the Dwarves; Olórin I was in my youth in the West that is forgotten, in the South Incánus, in the North Gandalf; to the East I go not.'7

Gandalf fascinates and attracts the reader because he fundamentally satisfies a need. Literary archetypes exist because they appeal to certain universal desires to look to a guide, guardian, protector, mentor, or adviser who knows more than the struggling protagonist. He represents the Other, the supernatural or unknowable, coming from outside of the ordinary world of the protagonists. Tolkien himself has referred to Gandalf as angelic.

he was an incarnate 'angel'– strictly an ἄγγελος,8 that is, with the other Istari, wizards, 'those who know', an emissary from the Lords of the West, sent to Middle-earth, as the great crisis of Sauron loomed on the horizon. By 'incarnate' I mean they were embodied in physical bodies capable of pain, and weariness, and of afflicting the spirit with physical fear, and of being 'killed', though supported by the angelic spirit they might endure long, and only show slowly the wearing of care and labour.9

The archetypes that Gandalf epitomizes include those of the wizard or magician, the wise old man who acts as a teacher and/or manipulator and whose principle role is to see that the major actors complete their quest and achieve their goals. This figure necessarily possesses the attribute of wisdom and also certain magical powers or qualities. Gandalf has been compared to the wizard Merlin, who is most often in modern interpretations of Arthurian legend as a wizard and senior advisor to Arthur.

[Gandalf’s] function as a 'wizard' is an angelos or messenger from the Valar or Rulers: to assist the rational creatures of Middle-earth to resist Sauron, a power too great for them unaided. But since in the view of this tale & mythology Power – when it dominates or seeks to dominate other wills and minds (except by the assent of their reason) – is evil, these 'wizards' were incarnated in the life-forms of Middle-earth, and so suffered the pains both of mind and body.10

Some of the popular interpretations of the story of Merlin, in which one might say he bears more than a passing resemblance to Tolkien’s Gandalf, include T.H. White’s The Once and Future King and Mary Stuart’s Arthurian series which begins with The Crystal Cave. Those writers came after Tolkien and retold the tales of the most famous of wizards written about in English with a conscious look back at the legendarium, beginning largely with Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae and Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. If anything, Tolkien would have consciously avoided mirroring too closely those sources that prominently included the figure of the elder wizard or magical adviser. The traditional figure of Merlin, like Gandalf, is of uncertain, mysterious, and not entirely natural origins. Yet, like Gandalf, he can still suffer human distress and must struggle to achieve his purpose, sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing.

They were also, for the same reason, thus involved in the peril of the incarnate: the possibility of 'fall', of sin, if you will. The chief form this would take with them would be impatience, leading to the desire to force others to their own good ends, and so inevitably at last to mere desire to make their own wills effective by any means. To this evil Saruman succumbed. Gandalf did not. But the situation became so much the worse by the fall of Saruman, that the 'good' were obliged to greater effort and sacrifice. Thus Gandalf faced and suffered death; and came back or was sent back, as he says, with enhanced power.11

In Rohan, when he approaches King Theoden’s court, the reader is given pictures of both Gandalf the mundane and Gandalf the extraordinary in the space of a few lines.

Old and weary you seem now, and yet you are fell and grim beneath, I deem. [The guard at the gates of Edoras says addressing Gandalf]

Suddenly he threw back his grey cloak, and cast aside his hat, and leaped to horseback. He wore no helm nor mail. His snowy hair flew free in the wind, his white robes shone dazzling in the sun.12

Others have analyzed in some detail the similarities of Tolkien’s Gandalf to the Scandinavian deity Odin in his earthy more humble form. Tolkien scholar Marjorie Burns, in her article “Gandalf and Odin,”13 notes the similarity in physical description of Gandalf to Odin, not to mention his habits, characteristics and reasons for his earthly wanderings.

. . . it was specific attributes that Gandalf and Odin share that suggested a link between the wizard and the god. They saw that the most distinctive features of Gandalf -- his hat, beard, staff, and penchant for wandering -- were, as well, the key characteristics that Odin displays when he leaves Asgard and travels in disguise through the plane of human existence, the middle-earth of Norse mythology. During these earthly journeys, Odin does not appear as a stern and forbidding deity or a bloodthirsty god of battle -- but rather as a grey-bearded old man who carries a staff and wears a hood or a cloak (usually blue) and a wide-brimmed, floppy hat.14

She continues to cite one of the most prolific of academics currently publishing in Tolkien studies, Verlyn Flieger, who she quotes as saying, “she noted that both Merlin and Odin play a part in Gandalf's character, though the connection Flieger recognized between Odin and Gandalf was not so much their appearance as their shared ability to lead. ‘A kind of Odin-figure,’ she calls Gandalf, ‘mustering troops and bringing them to battle’."15

A magnificent description of Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring, paints him as a true mixture of the near godlike and the humble:

Gandalf was shorter in stature than the other two; but his long white hair, his sweeping silver beard, and his broad shoulders, made him look like some wise king of ancient legend. In his aged face under great snowy brows his eyes were set like coals that could suddenly burst into fire.16

In The Lord of the Rings Gandalf acts as counselor and wise confidant of the remaining High Elves in Middle-earth, like Galadriel and Elrond. He is the trusted friend of the secretive Dwarves, a champion of the Hobbits and a teacher and support to the leaders among the Men of Middle-earth.

For with the consent of Eru they sent members of their own high order, but clad in bodies as of Men, real and not feigned, but subject to the fears and pains and weariness of earth, able to hunger and thirst and be slain; though because of their noble spirits they did not die, and aged only by the cares and labours of many long years. And this the Valar did, desiring to amend the errors of old, especially that they had attempted to guard and seclude the Eldar by their own might and glory fully revealed; whereas now their emissaries were forbidden to reveal themselves in forms of majesty, or to seek to rule the wills of Men or Elves by open display of power, but coming in shapes weak and humble were bidden to advise and persuade Men and Elves to good, and to seek to unite in love and understanding all those whom Sauron, should he come again, would endeavour to dominate and corrupt.17

Continued in Part 2.




Works Cited

  1. The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, “A Long-Expected Party.”
  2. The Hobbit, “An Unexpected Party.”
  3. Ibid.
  4. The Silmarillion, Valaquenta, “Of the Maiar.”
  5. Unfinished Tales, “The Istari.”
  6. Ibid.
  7. The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers.
  8. Greek: ággelos = a messenger or a delegate, could indicate either human or celestial.
  9. The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, 156 To Robert Murray, SJ (draft).
  10. The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, 181.
  11. Ibid.
  12. The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, “The King of the Golden Hall.”
  13. Verlyn Flieger, and Carl E. Hostetter, eds., Tolkien's Legendarium Essays on the History of Middle-Earth (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000) 220, Questia, Web, 2 Mar. 2012.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Ibid.
  16. The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Many Meetings."
  17. Unfinished Tales, “The Istari.”



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Funnies

Gothmog and Draugluin

Pandemonium_213

“Gothmog and Draugluin” follows the antics of two Tolkienian icons who were not all about smiting and devouring but had fun, too. Little Gothmog lives in Thangorodrim with his mom (Ulbandi Fluithuin) and dad (Melkor, Black Foe of the World). Melkor’s right-hand man and Gothmog’s babysitter -- Professor Thû ("I'm not a babysitter. I'm an observer!") -- makes appearances, too.

Gothmog and Draugluin also share this space with “Stinky Pete” Mêshûgganâscar, Maia of Mandos, and his pals.

Pandemonium_213 issues the standard disclaimer that Gothmog, Draugluin, Melkor, Ulbandi, Professor Thû, all the Elf dudes, Stinky Pete and his Maiarin pals, their Valarin bosses and whoever else shows up are the property of the Tolkien estate, and that this irreverent comic strip is drawn (badly) for fun and games but not for profit.

Gothmog and Draugluin by Pandemonium_213

Click to view full-sized.




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Current Challenge

It's All in the Numbers

Now that we all have entered the New Year and have to get used to writing 2012, we would love to issue a challenge regarding numbers. Numbers are all around us--be it in math, counting how much you have, or how many are surrounding you--numbers are a significant part of our lives. Numbers have a rich and diverse history in our own world: They have been used for many centuries, and ancient civilations had their own numbering systems.

Now take a step back and think about numbers in the world of Tolkien. From where did numbers in Arda originate? Who of the Elves might have come up with it? Did the Valar teach them or did they come up with a system in Cuiviénen? How about Men and Dwarves--from who did they gain this particular knowledge? Who of the Valar would have sung numbers into the Music of the Ainur?

You might also explore how an individual character would deal with numbers. Is she or he good at it, or who taught her to use numbers, or how important are numbers in his life?

Challenges Revisited: Journey Bread

Lembas has always had a special place in Tolkien's mythology and in the stories written by fans of his world. Often, lembas is used as a detail to make a story sound more authentic, but looking at Pengolodh's short essay "Of Lembas," from The History of Middle-earth, Volume Twelve: The Peoples of Middle-earth, this item is also worthy of starring in its own story.

This month, we offer a challenge to write a story about how lembas is cultivated, made, or used. "Of Lembas" might be a good start, but the following passages might inspire those without access to the essay:

Quote of the Month

A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
- Oscar Wilde

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

LotR Genfic Community: February Challenge--Eye of the Beholder

The March Challenge will have the theme Spring/Green with a quote from Bilbo's Song just for inspiration! (The quote does NOT have to be included in your story): "In every wood in every Spring there is a different green." Prompts will be different shades of green. If you would like to participate, please see this post. Stories will be due in the queue on March 14th with a reveal date of March 16th. Late stories are always welcome!

The LotR Genfic Community also has an art challenge for March. The March Art Challenge theme is "A different green". Any media is welcome!

The following quotation is the inspiration for this month's challenge:

"I sit beside the fire and think
of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring
that I shall ever see.

For still there are so many things
that I have never seen;
in every wood in every spring
there is a different green"

All art must be rated G or PG. Visit this post for more information.

Teitho: March Challenge--Stories and Pictures

Did you know that the Sindarin word "teitho" deasn't mean only "write", but "draw" as well? That's right, and Teitho is entering a new phase, which we would like to proudly announce. It is a phase of collaboration between writers and artists, where we would like to see both stories and pictures as a response to our challenges.

To celebrate this new phase of Teitho, the theme for March is Stories and Pictures. Now you can write a story about a picture, or paint a picture about a story, if you wish so...

You only need to answer one part of the challenge, although you can include both in your entry. The deadline of this theme is March 25th.

For writers: send your stories to teitho.contest@gmail.com. As usually, the contest is anonymous and the story can't be published publicly until the results of the challenge are posted.

For artists: Submit your picture into the Teitho gallery folder of Arda-Inspired The picture should be new, drawn specifically for the challenge. State that you are submitting it to the contest in the artist's comments.

The Teitho website has more information.

Inklings Podcast: Participants Needed!

We are trying to establish a Silmarillion-centric podcast, and we need participants! There will be two formats for the podcast. One will discuss chapters of The Silmarillion, while the other format will include a reading of and discussion of a Silmarillion-based fanwork. Dawn has more details about the project on her LiveJournal. Never podcasted before? Don't worry--it's easy! All you'll need to get started is a computer capable of playing sound, a microphone, and a free Skype account.

Project moderators so far are Erurainon, Abby, and Dawn Felagund. While the project is still in its formative stages, we are hoping to record our first podcast in the New Year and are interested in finding out who is interested so that we can collect email addresses and Skype numbers and plan the first podcast! Please comment on Dawn's podcast post or drop her a line at DawnFelagund@gmail.com if you're interested in participating or have any questions.




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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