Newsletter: October 2011

Table of Contents

SWG News

Season of Writing Dangerously

On September 23rd we closed this Season of Writing Dangerously. We congratulate and thank all of our participants and hope that you will keep writing (as dangerously as you can!).

All participants and cheerleaders are welcome to commemorate their participation by choosing a banner or icon. Banners and icons are available on our Season of Writing Dangerously page.

Special congratulations to Erulisse, Linda, Dawn, Grey Gazania, Ellie, Alasse Mirimiel, and Robinka for making their goals! If you have not already, please report your success on our LiveJournal community, if you wish to do so.

Keeping Up with New Stories on the Archive

Our archive has been hopping during the past few months, with new stories added or existing stories updated frequently--sometimes several each day. Although we love to see the archive active, frequent updates can also be frustrating for readers, who often rely on the Most Recent box on the archive homepage to see what's new. And authors, of course, love to see their work on the front page and may worry that their work will get overlooked when the archive is particularly busy. Luckily, there are multiple ways to keep up with what's new on our archive, without relying solely on the Most Recent box.

Most Recent Page. Unlike the Most Recent box on the homepage, this page lists all stories added or updated within the last week. You can find the link to this page in the menu at the top of all archive pages.

Titles Page. What if you haven't been able to stop by for a month? Also on the top menu on the archive, you will find a link to Titles. If you choose "Most Recent" from the drop-down at the top of the page, you will see every story on the archive listed in chronological order.

RSS Feed. You can also subscribe to an RSS feed of the archive and receive a message in your feed reader whenever a new story is added or a work-in-progress is updated. Not sure what RSS is or how to use it? Rhapsody's excellent tutorial on RSS can help you get started!

LiveJournal RSS Feed. If you are a member of LiveJournal, you can also receive RSS feed updates right on your friends page. Simply add swg_archive, just like you'd add a friend or community.

Favorite Stories and Authors. Maybe you're following a particular story or want to know whenever a favorite author posts something new. From your Preferences page, you can choose to receive notifications whenever one of your favorite stories or authors is updated. Check off "Contact when favorites are updated" to receive email notifications.

Newsletter. Every month, Rhapsody collects links to and information on all of the stories that were added to or updated on the archive during that month. We list these stories in the newsletter, making it easy to see what's been going on if you haven't been able to stop by the archive in a while.

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New at the Archive

Completed Works

A madness most discreet by Agelast [Teens] (5355 words)
Summary: In fair Tirion upon Túna, where we lay our scene, young Fingon must learn that if you want something, you must first ask for it. But asking, alas, isn't getting.

Amdir's Education by Silver Trails [Teens] (1093 words)
Summary: Amdir asks King Thingol his leave to stay in Menegroth.

Brothers by Maglor Makalaure [General] ( words)
Summary: Maedhros is tired of not being able to talk with Maglor.

Cold Fame by Agelast [General] (1310 words)
Summary: Fingon crosses the Grinding Ice. He has company on the way.

Onlooker by Himring [General] (1053 words)
Summary: A short time after Fingon has handed over his realm of Dor-lomin to Hador Lorindol of the Edain, there is a gathering of Noldorin princes in Barad Eithel, the dwelling of Fingolfin and his son Fingon. Fingon's cousin Maedhros attends the gathering.

The Candle in the Wind by Maglor Makalaure [General] (2047 words)
Summary: With his father dead and his older brother held captive at Thangorodrim, Maglor finds himself in a situation he would much rather avoid. .

The Parentage of Gil-Galad by avi17 [General] (1614 words)
Summary: Ereinion learns the shocking truth of his lineage from an unexpected source. (Total crack.)

Works in Progress

Another Man's Cage by Dawn Felagund [Adult]
Summary: In the Time of the Trees, during the Bliss of Valinor, the young family of Fëanor experience the everyday triumphs and tragedies of life in paradise. But as Fëanor's genius blossoms and his sons grow into their roles in Tirion society, tensions build that will sunder the House of Finwë and drive the House of Fëanor to open rebellion.
Chapters added this month: Chapter 1: Tyelkormo, Chapter 2: Tyelkormo, Chapter 3: Tyelkormo, Chapter 4: Carnistir and Chapter 5: Carnistir .

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

Fly Away by Michiru [Teens]
Summary: When the death of his father goes unpunished, Fëanáro takes matters into his own hands and establishes his own dynasty. His half-brothers' children, determined to oppose him, are drawn into a dangerous realm of intrigue as they work to bring his rule to an end. AU..
Chapter added this month: Neldë.

Full of Wisdom and Perfect in Beauty by Gadira † [Adult]
Summary: The History of the Downfall, from Ar-Sakalthôr´s accession to Ar-Pharazôn´s Armada. Long saga. (Rating for possible future transgressions).
Chapter added this month: Beneath the Trees.

In Darkness Bound by Fiondil [Teens]
Summary: In the aftermath of the Darkening, three kings search for meaning in the midst of tragedy. One seeks absolution; another, vengeance, while the third merely endeavors to salvage what he can from the disaster and protect his people from future harm. All may find what they are looking for, though not necessarily in the way they expect, for, as always, the Valar have their own agenda. 
Chapters added this month: Chapter 105: Preparations for the Hunt, Chapter 106: The Hunt Begins, Chapter 107: To Rescue a King, Chapter 108: The High King Recovers, Chapter 109: Before the Tomb of Finwë, Chapter 110: What the Storm Revealed, Chapter 111: Confrontation, Chapter 112: The High King Returns and Chapter 113: Gathering Storm.

Lessons from the Mountain by MithLuin [General]
Summary:What happened to the spirit of Maedhros when he died?
Chapter added this month: Chapter 14: A Cage of His Own Making.

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: Utumno

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

Peculiar by Ada Kensington [General]
Summary: Finwë is worried about Fëanor, and enlists the help of a scholar, Rúmil, to help him understand his son.
Chapter added this month: Wine and Words.

The Line of Kings by Michiru [Teens]
Summary: Exploring the lives of the Noldorin princes who would eventually produce the final king of the Noldor in Middle-earth.
Chapter added this month: Her Love a Shield.

Short Works

A Promise Fulfilled by Erulisse [General] (299 words)
Summary: Glorfindel left the West at the request of the Valar to help fight evil in Middle Earth. As he finally returns, will happiness be waiting for him on the shores of Valinor?

Broken Bond by avi17 [General] (223 words)
Summary: In Aman, Anairë feels the death of her husband..

Dancing to the Fall by LadyBrooke [General] (357 words) †
Summary: It's the end of the world, and Celebrian waits.

Interlude by Silver Trails [Teens] (516 words)
Summary: Helwanar and Amras cannot remember each other.

Just a Dream by Maglor Makalaure [General] (761 words)
Summary: Young Maglor has nightmares.

Love is not consolation, it is light. by Agelast [Teens] (604 words)
Summary: Keep a light on those you love..

Mending by Himring [Teens] (896 words)
Summary: Maedhros's first conversation with Idril in Mithrim. Originally written as a get-well-soon present for Erulisse.

Mommy? by LadyBrooke [Teens] (337 words)
Summary: Feanor can see her, so why don't they believe him?

The Moon by Silver Trails [General](745 words)
Summary: Fingolfin reflects about Arakáno's death and Fëanaro's betrayal, under the new light in the sky.

Ski Gondolin by Erulisse [General](109 words)
Summary: There’s a mountain, there’s snow…there must be skiing. Come visit the newest winter resort in Middle Earth – Gondolin (chalets are in the process of renting now…reserve yours while there are still some available).

Talking it Out with Galadriel by Agelast [General] (805 words)
Summary: Galadriel hosts a relationship-advice talk-show, Fingon and Maedhros are her guests.

The Invisible Man by Erulisse [General](469 words)
Summary: The relationship between Maeglin and Idril is complex. His feelings for her were obsessive, and finally led to the betrayal and destruction of Gondolin and death of 1000’s.

The Ultimate Gift by Erulisse [Teens] (138 words)
Summary: The measure of a man can be done in many ways, one of which is by what he gives. Glorfindel gave the ultimate gift when he fought the Balrog. Some thoughts…

Twins by Burning Nightingale [General](395 words)
Summary: Fëanáro is not quite sure how he feels about being the father of seven children...

Library of Tirion

Interview with a Kinslayer by Lipstick [General] (1558 words)
Summary: Maedhros and Maglor receive unexpected visitors.
First published: May 3, 2004.

The Advancement of Learning by Cloaked Eagle [General] (4292 words)
Summary: Some twelve thousand years after the War of Wrath, a Vanyarin scholar is researching Finrod Felagund, and meets someone she did not expect.
First published: October 9, 2004.

The Dying Fire by Vasiliki [General] (2593 words)
Summary: Andreth's last night.
First published: June 2, 2002.

The Follower by Ivanneth [General] (14216 words, incomplete)
Summary: The story of Fingon
First published: December 18, 2003.

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Character of the Month Biography



Among the many evocative and fascinating of Tolkien’s characters, the Vala Oromë uniquely tempts one to note the resemblances between the Professor’s invented mythology and real world myth and legend. Autumn is a season when ancient folk myths assert that the veil separating the spirit world from the everyday world grows thin, even penetrable. Whether one is speaking of Halloween, Samhain, or the Day of the Dead, the traditional legends and observances of this season focus on bringing together familiar things of the natural world and the mysterious and unknowable of a realm beyond.

Oromë the Great Huntsman of the Valar is most frequently pictorially represented in the period shortly after the awakening of the Quendi at Cuiviénen, blowing on his great horn Valaróma while riding his steed Nahar through the virgin forests and under the starlit skies of Middle-earth. This visual image calls to mind traditional stories of forest gods, great hunters, and Wild Hunts. One might even expect to catch a glimpse of Cernunnos through a thicket of nearly impenetrable trees.

In the Index of names in the published Silmarillion, Oromë is described as

A Vala, one of the Aratar [the eight most important of the Valar]; the great hunter, leader of the Elves from Cuiviénen, spouse of Vána. The name [Oromë] means 'Horn-blowing' or 'Sound of Horns', cf. Valaróma; in The Lord of the Rings it appears in the Sindarin form Araw.1

Tolkien scholar Michael Drout refers to him as "Oromë, the great hunter god of Middle-earth." 2 As one of the chief among the Valar he is encouraged by Eru to participate in creating the great music of creation and the shaping of their world, the "... unfolding a history whose vastness and majesty had never been equalled ..." 3 Oromë is ranked fourth in the published Silmarillion among his brethren.

The names of the Lords in due order are: Manwë, Ulmo, Aulë, Oromë, Mandos, Lórien, and Tulkas; and the names of the Queens are: Varda, Yavanna, Nienna, Estë, Vairë, Vána, and Nessa. Melkor is counted no longer among the Valar, and his name is not spoken upon Earth.

* * * *

Oromë loved the lands of Middle-earth, and he left them unwillingly and came last to Valinor; and often of old he passed back east over the mountains and returned with his host to the hills and the plains. He is a hunter of monsters and fell beasts, and he delights in horses and in hounds; and all trees he loves, for which reason he is called Aldaron, and by the Sindar Tauron, the Lord of Forests. Nahar is the name of his horse, white in the sun, and shining silver at night. The Valaróma is the name of his great horn, the sound of which is like the upgoing of the Sun in scarlet, or the sheer lightning cleaving the clouds. Above all the horns of his host it was heard in the woods that Yavanna brought forth in Valinor; for there Oromë would train his folk and his beasts for the pursuit of the evil creatures of Melkor. The spouse of Oromë is Vána, the Ever-young; she is the younger sister of Yavanna. 4

It is not surprising, inspired as Tolkien was to create a native mythology for the English people, that the history of his Elves begins in the forests and that it is the great woodsman of the Valar Oromë who first happens upon them there. Tolkien thus pays tribute to the one of the most traditional sources of English folklore by embedding the origin of his Eldar within Arda’s deep and mysterious woodlands.

Forests once covered nearly all Britain, even the wetlands, in an opulent tide of green, brown, flickering shadows, scattered gold. We share this forest legacy, and therefore our animal species, with the rest of Northern Europe. The ancient forests of Northern Europe were the crucible of folk tale. 5

The legends of the British Isles are wound inseparably throughout those trees and the deep woods: "Through their branches and their roots-systems which mirror each other in aspect, trees both reach up into the heavens and down into the underworld; they therefore provide ideal bridges between the worlds of the gods, the living, and the dead." 6

Tolkien’s world picks up those themes and develops them with the tale of the awakening of his Elves into a vast sunless and moonless forest where only the dimmest starlight illuminates their steps. Threats and their frequent unexplained disappearances are part of their earliest experiences. Oromë as a benevolent forest god is introduced in an attempt to protect them. The Quendi hear and catch glimpses of Oromë even before he comes upon them. And they fear him, confusing him with Melkor’s evil minions who also stalk those dark primeval woodlands.

. . .if any of the Elves strayed far abroad, alone or few together, they would often vanish, and never return and the Quendi said that the Hunter had caught them, and they were afraid. And indeed the most ancient songs of the Elves, of which echoes are remembered still in the West, tell of the shadow-shapes that walked in the hills above Cuiviénen, or would pass suddenly over the stars; and of the dark Rider upon his wild horse that pursued those that wandered to take them and devour them. Now Melkor greatly hated and feared the riding of Oromë, and either he sent indeed his dark servants as riders, or he set lying whispers abroad, for the purpose that the Quendi should shun Oromë, if ever they should meet. 7

It is Oromë who approaches these fearful Elves and tells them of the Valar and the bright land across the sea, where he would transport them to protect them from "the shadow of great trees . . . the valleys of the night-clad hills [where] there were dark creatures old and strong."8

When Oromë discovers the Firstborn, he is immediately enamored with them and fearful for them. The description of his first sighting of the Elves ranks among Tolkien’s most lyrical prose.

And on a time it chanced that Oromë rode eastward in his hunting, and he turned north by the shores of Helcar and passed under the shadows of the Orocarni, the Mountains of the East. Then on a sudden Nahar set up a great neighing, and stood still. And Oromë wondered and sat silent, and it seemed to him that in the quiet of the land under the stars he heard afar off many voices singing.

Thus it was that the Valar found at last, as it were by chance, those whom they had so long awaited. And Oromë looking upon the Elves was filled with wonder, as though they were beings sudden and marvellous and unforeseen; for so it shall ever be with the Valar.9

Parenthetically, the language of the above passage might lead one to believe that the Elves are to the Valar as mysteriously Other and, therefore, incomprehensible as the Valar are to the Elves. Therein may lie some of the basis for the misunderstandings which result in the failure of the Noldor to adapt to Aman and the Valar’s inability to predict or discern the nature of their mutual apparent incompatibility.

Oromë attempts to waylay the reluctance of the Quendi to leave all that they have known and resettle in a strange land beyond their comprehension of distance and geography. (Certain fantastical elements surrounding the transference of the original Eldarin émigrés from Middle-earth to Aman will not be pursued or developed in this essay. If one wishes to read of the various permutations and details later altered, such as magical bridges from Middle-earth to Aman, those may be found in "The Hiding of Valinor" of The Book of Lost Tales.10)

Oromë tarried a while among the Quendi, and then swiftly he rode back over land and sea to Valinor and brought the tidings to Valmar; and he spoke of the shadows that troubled Cuiviénen. Then the Valar rejoiced, and yet they were in doubt amid their joy; and they debated long what counsel it were best to take for the guarding of the Quendi from the shadow of Melkor. But Oromë returned at once to Middle-earth and abode with the Elves. 11

Neither are all of the Valar in accord concerning the idea of transporting the Eldar to Aman, nor are all of the Quendi willing to leave their homeland. After discussion, both sides agree that leaders of the three main peoples of the Quendi shall travel to the Blessed Lands and return to tell their people what they have seen there.

And coming they were filled with awe by the glory and majesty of the Valar, and desired greatly the light and splendour of the Trees. Then Oromë brought them back to Cuiviénen, and they spoke before their people, and counselled them to heed the summons of the Valar and remove into the West. 12

Finally, the majority begin the long trek west to the sea under the sporadic guidance of Oromë.

It is told that when the hosts of the Eldalië departed from Cuiviénen Oromë rode at their head upon Nahar, his white horse shod with gold; and passing northward about the Sea of Helcar they turned towards the west. Before them great clouds hung still black in the North above the ruins of war, and the stars in that region were hidden. Then not a few grew afraid and repented, and turned back, and are forgotten.

Long and slow was the march of the Eldar into the west, for the leagues of Middle-earth were uncounted, and weary and pathless. Nor did the Eldar desire to hasten, for they were filled with wonder at all that they saw, and by many lands and rivers they wished to abide; and though all were yet willing to wander, many feared rather their journey's end than hoped for it. Therefore whenever Oromë departed, having at times other matters to heed, they halted and went forward no more, until he returned to guide them. 13

Aspects of the Wild Hunt in the Story of Oromë

In the legends of the Wild Hunt, the description of the Lord of the Hunters or forest god figure represents a vision which in certain limited aspects is not unlike that of Oromë.

. . .the Wild Hunt, appears in the greatest variety of detail, though the central idea is always the same. It is the apparition of a hunter with a crowd of huntsmen, horses, and dogs, crossing the sky at night. Stories of this kind go back to classical antiquity, and they appear nearly all over Europe. The huntsman himself, and sometimes his companions, are identified with historic characters, sometimes even with one of the gods. 14

Some of the menacing character of the participants of the Wild Hunt might more readily call to mind the companions of Melkor than Oromë, although there is a benevolent aspect of the hunter god in certain versions also, wherein he rewards the individual who will face him with courage. The tale of Sir Orpheo, translated below by Tolkien himself, includes not only a sighting of the Wild Hunt, but also the theme of kidnapping into the land of Faerie.

There often by him would he see,
when noon was hot on leaf and tree,
the king of Faërie with his rout
came hunting in the woods about
with blowing far and crying dim,
and barking hounds that were with him. 15

Tolkien, of course, must have noted the similarities between the encounter of his Elves with Oromë, a god of the forest, and his subsequent persuasion of them to withdraw into a halcyon land, with the legends of human interactions with woodland deities and visits to Elfland. Or, perhaps, he would argue that the differences between his created legendarium and the naturally evolved folk traditions are so distant from one another as to be of no significance.

Regardless of their regional names, all Hunts seem to share several common features wherever they appear: a spectral leader, a following train, announcement by a great baying of hounds, crashes of lightning, and loud hoofbeats along with the Huntsman's shouts of ‘Halloo!’16

The associations between healing, hunting, and death in Celtic belief allow the Wild Hunt to act as a bridge to the Otherworld.17 In the lore of Arda, Oromë the Vala serves the purpose of a direct bridge between the Quendi, newly awakened on the banks of Cuiviénen, and the Valar across the western seas in their otherworldly paradise, the Blessed Lands of Aman. As noted above, Oromë encounters the Quendi under the starlit skies of Middle-earth, shares this information with his brethren Valar on the peaks of Taniquetil, argues to remove the newly awakened children of Eru from their home, and transfers them to the protected realm of the Valar.

One familiar with the folklore of the British Isles and Western Europe cannot but make the comparison between Oromë’s desire to escort the Quendi to Elvenhome and the multiplicity of legends around the seduction of lesser beings into a magical Elfland, removed from all of the stresses of day-to-day life, but accompanied by a loss of freedom.

Many traditional folk songs and tales (such as that of Tam Lin or Thomas the Rhymer) concern the transfer of a mortal into the land of faerie (or in Tolkien’s version the immigration of the Quendi from Middle-earth to the Elvenhome or Eldamar of the Valar). The similarity of the mythos is perhaps unintentional, as the lesson to be drawn from it may be as well. In leaving their original homeland to enter a paradisiacal Elvenhome, there are those among the Quendi who find that life there feels strangely flat and constricting, an experience almost identical to that in folktales of the mortal visitor in Elfland. In each case, if one finds one’s way back into the earthly realm one may forever long for Elvenhome. In Tolkien’s legendarium this could be likened to the longing for Aman by the exiled Noldor. The much discussed sea-longing of the Elves who never saw Eldamar is a subtly different and unique compulsion.

The above comparison and extrapolation, however, are more likely than not concepts which would have Tolkien tossing in his grave or frowning from on high were he to read them. He did not lightly accept associations of his work with pre-existing mythology, folklore or fairy tales. When asked if there are influences or parallels his responses usually read something like this one:

My tale is not consciously based on any other book — save one, and that is unpublished: the 'Silmarillion', a history of the Elves, to which frequent allusion is made. I had not thought of the future researchers; and as there is only one manuscript there seems at the moment small chance of this reference proving useful.18

Oromë and Amazing Beasts

Oromë is also one of the few Valar remembered by the Men of Middle-earth down through the Ages of Arda. He is referred to as Béma in "the tongue of Rohan (Tolkien was inspired by the Old English word béme ‘trumpet’)."19 The Rohirrim claimed that their preternaturally gifted horses called Mearas had been brought by Béma from the West over the Sea to the lands of Middle-earth.20

In addition to the association of Oromë with his great steed and the lord of horses Nahar, his relationship to nature connects him to other beasts as well. Boromir’s famed horn in The Lord of the Rings is linked to Oromë through a breed of mythical beasts, the Kine of Araw.

The wild kine that were still to be found near the Sea of Rhûn were said in legend to be descended from the Kine of Araw, the huntsman of the Valar, who alone of the Valar came often to Middle-earth in the Elder Days. Oromë is the High-elven form of his name.21

Boromir’s great horn, passed down through the eldest sons of the Stewards of Gondor throughout the Third Age, is made of the horn of that mythical beast. "In an unpublished manuscript held at the Bodleian Library, the Wild Kine were likened by Tolkien to aurochs [large wild cattle, now extinct, which were found throughout Europe, Asia and North Africa]."22

In Valinor Fëanor’s son Celegorm is said to have been befriended by Oromë, who taught him wood lore and other things relating to birds and animals and gifted him with the famous hound Huan. While Fëanor and his other sons were often found in the company of Aulë, "Celegorm went rather to the house of Oromë, and there he got great knowledge of birds and beasts, and all their tongues he knew."23

Now the chief of the wolf hounds that followed Celegorm was named Huan. He was not born in Middle-earth, but came from the Blessed Realm; for Oromë had given him to Celegorm long ago in Valinor, and there he had followed the horn of his master, before evil came. Huan followed Celegorm into exile, and was faithful; and thus he too came under the doom of woe set upon the Noldor, and it was decreed that he should meet death, but not until he encountered the mightiest wolf that would ever walk the world.24

(If one wants to know more about Huan and his relationship to Oromë and Celegorm and his significant role in the history of Middle-earth, Huan has his own biography here.)

Oromë, the Lord of Trees, Lord of Forests, Hunting Lord and Lord of Hunters, seems singularly among Tolkien’s demi-gods, the Valar, to be an especially English mythical figure. He, therefore, succeeds in the role he plays in the legendary of the Elves and their origins in helping Tolkien create the English mythology that was his goal.

Works Cited

  1. The Silmarillion, "Index of Names."
  2. Michael D. C. Drout, J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment, Routlege, October 2006.
  3. The Silmarillion, Ainulindalë: The Music of the Ainur.
  4. The Silmarillion, Valaquenta: Of the Valar.
  5. Ruth Padel, "Into the Woods: On British Forests, Myth and Now," Journal of Mythic Arts,
  6. Christopher R. Fee, and David A. Leeming, Gods, Heroes and Kings: The Battle for Mythic Britain. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 109.
  7. The Silmarillion, "Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor."
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  10. The Book of Lost Tales 1, The Hiding of Valinor.
  11. The Silmarillion, "Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor."
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Stith Thompson, The Folktale. New York: Dryden Press, 1946, p. 257.
  15. Tolkien, J.R.R. and Hostetter, C. F. (1975) Sir Orpheo, A Middle English Version. Trans. J.R.R. Tolkien. Ballantine: New York. Also appears in Tolkien Studies 1.1, 2004, pp. 85-123.
  16. Ari Berk and William Spytma, "Penance, Power, and Pursuit: On the Trail of the Wild Hunt," 1996, Journal of Mythic Arts,
  17. Christopher R. Fee, and David A. Leeming, Gods, Heroes and Kings: The Battle for Mythic Britain. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 109.
  18. The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, 25 to the Editor of the Observer.
  19. The Silmarillion, "Index of Names."
  20. The Return of the King, Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The Realms in Exile."
  21. Ibid.
  22. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 265.
  23. The Silmarillion, "Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië."
  24. The Silmarillion, "Of Beren and Lúthien."

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Current Challenge

The Storyteller

'Each of us has been designed for one of two immortal functions, as either a storyteller or as a cross-legged listener to tales of wonder, love and daring. When we cease to tell or listen, then we no longer exist as a people. Dead men tell no tales.'
-- Bryce Courtenay

We have all come across them: storytellers. You know the kind. You're at a party, bored out of your mind ... until Uncle Saul walks in. Before you know it, you are engrossed in another of his wild and crazy stories.

Storytelling is an interactive art, using words and actions to bring a story to life while encouraging the listener’s imagination. In many cultures, storytelling is much more than entertainment: it is a way to pass on history and cultural traditions. Even in modern times, storytellers still hold a special rank amongst their people, from Naghāls to Bards.

This challenge is all about storytellers in the Silmarillion tapestry: maybe someone like Finrod Felagund enchanting men or long-lost elves who can treat passersby to songs and tales of old? What epic do they pass on and to whom? How does the crowd interact with the speaker and help him or her to embellish the tale? What is their way of life? What status do they have within their community? Are they a wiseman of the Edain or a wanderer hoping to earn some coin on the road? What drives them and what have they experienced?

It is up to you to tell their tale.

Challenges Revisited: A History of Tradition

This month, many around the world will celebrate Halloween, and groups throughout the Tolkien community will encourage writers to come up with something spooky in honor of it. Halloween--like many modern festivals and observances with roots in ancient celebrations--began in Ireland as the Celtic festival Samhain. Tolkien wrote his stories in hopes that they would represent a mythological history of our world, so, within his mythological framework, one can imagine that modern festivals stretch back even deeper into time than the Samhain festival that evolved into Halloween.

For this month's challenge, authors should choose a festival or tradition observed in the modern world and write a story that includes that festival or tradition as it might have been celebrated in Tolkien's mythological world. The holiday you choose may be as specific as Samhain or as general as a birthday celebration; it may be as serious as certain Christmas traditions or as silly as National One Hit Wonder Day (September 25). The holiday you write about may be part of Tolkien's canon--such as the Gates of Summer--or may be of your own invention.

Do you need to find a holiday? A complete listing of daily holidays can be found on Holidays on the Net. For more information on the history of popular holidays, check out's History of the Holidays. The Thain's Book includes a referenced list of Middle-earth holidays if you'd like to explore some of the canonical festivities Tolkien imagined.

Quote of the Month

All men are children, and of one family. The same tale sends them all to bed, and wakes them in the morning.
- Henry David Thoreau

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

LotR Genfic Community: October Challenge--Think Outside the Box

The October Challenge will have the theme "Think Outside the Box!" Your story for this challenge should be "against your type": if you normally write fluff, write angst; if you normally write Hobbits, try Elves or Dwarves. Or, if you write mostly dialogue, write an entirely descriptive piece. Elements for the challenge will be three random words to be included in the story. The October challenge stories will be due Friday, October 14th, and will be revealed on Sunday, October 16th. Please see this post for more information on how to sign up.

Of Elves and Men Big Bang: Beta and Artist Sign-ups Open

As of the start of October, beta readers can sign-up for the OEAM Big Bang. If you would like to help out a fellow author by beta reading for the Big Bang, please sign up here. We have several writers who are in need of a beta and the moderators need to be able to match them up as soon as possible.

If you know others who might like to beta, please have them sign up also. If you are an artist and would like to illustrate a story, please visit the art sign ups on the OEAM Big Bang community and do not forget to join the community!

Teitho: October Challenge--Music

Our theme for October is Music. Write a story about the power of music, about favourite songs, music instruments, learning to sing or play one, use musical terminology in a story, let the music sound! Just remember Aragorn and/or Legolas must be mentioned in the story. The deadline for this challenge is October 25th. The Teitho website has more information.

A Long Expected Contest (ALEC): October Challenge--Boo!

All of us have experienced those singular moments in time when something springs out at us unexpectedly, startling us or frightening us badly – or even turning our world upside-down. This month's challenge is to discover those moments that jolt, jar, disrupt, disconcert, startle, frighten, or terrify folks in Middle-earth. Entries are due October 25. Please see the ALEC website for more information.

The Inklings' Podcast

A new Tolkien-related podcast is now being produced and available to download and subscribe to for free! Find The Inkling's Podcast on iTunes!

Middle-earth Fanfiction Awards

The MEFAs are underway! We'd like to congratulate all the authors whose stories have been nominated. From August 7th to December 31st members will be able to review stories and their reviews will be visible on the website. See the MEFA website to vote for your favorite stories and find more information on how to get involved.

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

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