Posted 54 seconds ago
Isn't the simplistic interpretation of societal factors just a feature of Tolkien's writing? All the Gondorians are noble EXCEPT Denethor, all the Rohirrim are brave EXCEPT Grima, etc. Maybe Eol's people were like that because that's who he surrounded himself with. If we're talking about Amanyar historians then we may as well talk about Bilbo who translated the Silm from Elvish in Rivendell. And what's "the inhumane no-emigration policy"? Nobody was held against their will in Aman except Melkor
Anonymous asked


I would guess that in later drafts, Tolkien had changed his mind about the Valar not giving permission to leave. 

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I think I completely agree with you on the facts of the situation and just am slightly less okay with them. Book of Lost Tales is a very early draft, and Tolkien definitely changed a lot to make the Valar more sympathetic in later versions. Clearly, prior to the rounding of the world, Valinor was not intended to be the absolute and strictly-enforced one-way journey it became later. We know this, in addition to the reasons you mentioned, because when Earendil and Elwing are forbidden from ever returning it’s framed as a punishment for their specific sins (…of being part-mortal. what. but that’s a different story) and not as a universal fact of life for anyone who arrives in Valinor. The brunt of my critique of Valinor’s exit policies is aimed at the post-Akallabeth period.

That said, while they don’t outright forbid the Noldor from departing, I feel very strongly that they didn’t fulfill their obligations. Creating an environment where there’s no safe way for the Noldor to depart, in the hopes that they’ll decide it isn’t worth risking their lives, isn’t okay. 

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Posted 2 hours ago
Isn't the simplistic interpretation of societal factors just a feature of Tolkien's writing? All the Gondorians are noble EXCEPT Denethor, all the Rohirrim are brave EXCEPT Grima, etc. Maybe Eol's people were like that because that's who he surrounded himself with. If we're talking about Amanyar historians then we may as well talk about Bilbo who translated the Silm from Elvish in Rivendell. And what's "the inhumane no-emigration policy"? Nobody was held against their will in Aman except Melkor
Anonymous asked

Mmm, I don’t think so (though, if it were, that wouldn’t mean we couldn’t critique it.) There’s a lot of complex Gondor internal politics passing under the radar in Return of the King - remind me to write a post or two about Arvedui and the late relationship between Gondor and Arnor, the attitude in Gondor toward a reunited kingdom, and what we can infer about Gondor’s politics by the symbolic absent monarch thing. And another post or two about coastal/capital divisions and how remarkably lucky Gondor was to have Imrahil as Prince of Dol Amroth. And another post or two about how Aragorn would not easily have claimed the mantle of power if Denethor hadn’t been dead and Faramir hospitalized when the moment came. 

…in short, I think Tolkien had fairly nuanced understandings of the politics happening within his fantasy kingdoms, and chose not to make it the emphasis of the story because it didn’t fit with his themes. He also chose to make his narrators Hobbits to whom these nuances would be hard to grasp (though even the Shire has its greedy sorts, its brusque-but-decent sorts, its remarkably charitable and open-minded types, harmless gossips and malicious gossips). 

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Posted 7 hours ago
It wasn't Fëanor's "impulsive desire for revenge", it was the *outrage* of an entire people at the death of their king and the darkening of their land; many calmed down about it and desisted, but you CAN'T tell me the exile was just Fëanor's temper tantrum. And I kinda think Morgoth IS to blame for 99% of the Noldor's misgivings, after sowing discord and second-hand mistrust for 500 years at least. And Eol was a rapist and a warlord... Did we even read the same books I wonder???
Anonymous asked

Hey, anon, slow down, I think we agree on more than you realize. There’s a really important distinction between ‘how I think about the Exile’ and ‘how I think the Exile was conceptualized by Amanyar historians’ and my most recent post was all about the latter.

I think the departure of many of the Noldor was more-or-less inevitable even without Finwe’s murder, given their curiosity, the inhumane no-emigration policy, the fact half their host had remained in Middle-earth in the first place, and the very ad-hoc way the Valar approached complainants. After Finwe’s murder and the destruction of the Trees, it really was inevitable. Their king had been murdered, the main reason the Elves came to Valinor in the first place (the Trees) were dead, and Morgoth was still loose to kill innocent people, including their relatives. Nations have done far, far more evil to avenge far, far less. If Feanor’d run into the darkness on learning of his father’s death and never returned, I think the events afterwards would have played out almost exactly the same (though maybe slower, and maybe the first person to talk to Olwe would have been less rude.)

don’t think that’s how anyone in Valinor saw it. I think that, for better or worse, the desire of the Noldor to leave was totally incomprehensible to the other peoples of Aman. I think that before the Darkening it was laughed at and after the Darkening it was attributed to Morgoth.

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Posted 18 hours ago

Gandalf is a Feanor Fanboy and I Am Not Okay With This

Even now my heart desires to test my will upon it, to see if I could not wrench it from him and turn it where I would – to look across the wide seas of water and of time to Tirion the Fair, and perceive the unimaginable hand and mind of Feanor at their work, while both the White Tree and the Golden were in flower!’ He sighed and fell silent.

The Two Towers

Generally speaking, reading Lord of the Rings after you’ve read the Silmarillion is a very comforting experience. All the references make sense and the songs make you weep and the history lends the story depth instead of (I’ll admit I didn’t like LotR too much on my first read) weighing it down.

But then there are a few moments like this, which leave you wondering if Tolkien and I read the same Silmarillion.

When I think about Fëanor’s legacy in Valinor, I tend to imagine he was hated, mistrusted, maybe grieved for, probably avoided in polite conversation. I tend to assume it would be a little taboo to express a longing to return to the world he lived in, or a willingness to sacrifice anything to see him at work once more. I’m guessing sentences like ‘the unimaginable hand and mind of Fëanor at their work’, followed by longing sighs, were right out.

Part of the dissonance is just that we’re never given the chance to see, in canon, the Fëanor who was inspiring and admired, the Fëanor Manwë wept for, the Fëanor who created and distributed and shared and enhanced the Ñoldorin understanding of the world. We’re told secondhand that he existed, but by the time we see him he’s entirely absorbed in political intrigue, and that makes his admirableness something of an informed characteristic. It’s understandable that, for most readers of the Silmarillion, a throwaway reference to Fëanor’s great achievements leaves a weak impression and a detailed description of horrifying violence that results from his decisions leaves a very, very strong one.

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Posted 1 day ago

Glass Castles


Between the Dagor Aglareb and the Dagor Bragollach, Fingolfin attempted to organize another assault on Angband. His plans failed, due in large part to the reluctance of the sons of Fëanor.

Curufin carefully locks the door to his chambers, sets his forehead against the wall, and breathes. The outer walls of Himring were built to contain a small town, the fortress can, at need, house an even larger army. Of the immediate family, only five are present. Maglor had refused Maedhros’s summons in an elegant letter pleading the importance of his post, recent troubles with orcs, the necessity of his continued presence. Celegorm couldn’t be bothered to feign respect. “It’s not as though you’d listen to me if I went,” he’d said, Huan lolling at his side. Then he’d paused, scratched the dog’s head, and continued. “I’m useless at that sort of politics, Curvo. Leave me be.” The keep is honeycombed with empty rooms. 

It should be easier, then, to avoid Golfin’s messengers.

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Wow. This is one of the first fics I’ve read that sketches out a convincing and realistic and unapologetic explanation for the Feanorian refusal to join Fingolfin’s proposed fight. And Curufin’s voice here is excellent. 

Posted 1 week ago



Coming very late but hopefully not too late, the result of a collab between the amazing alackofghosts and yours truly, featuring artwork of Morwen and Aerin after the Nirnaeth Arnoediad and a ficlet to go with the scene. 

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Posted 1 week ago

I was trying to explain the Silmarillion to someone and I mentioned that in the early years Melkor took physical form as a volcano. and they said “oh my god, is he mount doom?” and ever since I’ve been trying to figure out a way to make that happen

Posted 1 week ago
Ok so Hogwarts has talking portraits but what about talking fanart. Talking Silmarillion fanart. A student doodling Fëanor on one margin and Fingolfin on the other and coming back to see that they're in a swordfight across their transfiguration homework.
silmariien asked


I tried to download a gif making program purely so I could make this happen. Didn’t go so well. This is a public appeal.

…so anyone who’s been following me for more than five seconds knows I can’t art. At all. But I had to try this. (If the result doesn’t play for you above, view it here.)

Posted 2 weeks ago
What do you think about Sauron/Lúthien ship? What could Morgoth and dragons think about it?
Anonymous asked

NOTP, anon, sorry.

(mild ship-bashing beneath the cut)

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Posted 2 weeks ago
But those of the Noldoli whom Aule had most deeply taught laboured in secret unceasingly, and of Aule they had wealth of metals and of stones and marbles, and of the leave of the Valar much store too was granted to them of the radiance of Kulullin and of Telimpe held in hidden bowls. Starlight they had of Varda and strands of the bluest ilwe Manwe gave them; water of the most limpid pools in that creek of Kor, and crystal drops from all the sparkling founts in the courts of Valmar. Dews did they gather in the woods of Orome, and flower-petals of all hues and honeys in Yavanna’s gardens, and they chased the-beams of Laurelin and Silpion amongst the leaves. But when all this wealth of fair and radiant things was gathered, they got of the Solosimpi many shells white and pink, and purest foam, and lastly some few pearls. These pearls were their model, and the lore of Aule and the magic of the Valar were their tools, and all the most lovely things of the substance of the Earth the matters of their craft — and therefrom did the Noldoli with great labour invent and fashion the first gems. Crystals did they make of the waters of the springs shot with the lights of Silpion; amber and chrysoprase and topaz glowed beneath their hands, and garnets and rubies they wrought, making their glassy substance as Aule had taught them but dyeing them with the juices of roses and red flowers, and to each they gave a heart of fire. Emeralds some made of the water of the creek of Kor and glints among the grassy glades of Valinor, and sapphires did they fashion in great profusion, tingeing them with the airs of Manwe; amethysts there were and moonstones, beryls and onyx, agates of blended marbles and many lesser stones, and their hearts were very glad, nor were they content with a few but made them jewels in immeasurable number till all the fair substances were well nigh exhausted and the great piles of those gems might not be concealed but blazed in the light like beds of brilliant flowers. Then took they those pearls that had and some of well nigh all their jewels and made a new gem of a milky pallor shot with gleams like echoes of all other stones, and this they thought very fair, and they were opals; but still some laboured on, and of starlight and the purest water-drops, of the dew of Silpion, and the thinnest air, they made diamonds, and challenged any to make fairer.

Book of Lost Tales, JRR Tolkien


Now, this is from the old, superseded version of events in which the Noldoli/Noldor actually invented gemstones, as opposed to learning to work with them, but I still like it. It seems to be textual evidence for my own rather inchoate feelings about Noldor and the concept of “wealth.”

What is the common element in all of this? Color. Light. Nature’s abundance. They used flowers, and dew, and leaves, and sea-foam, and above all else, light to craft their gems. They used all of those things which were the transient wealth of of the world around them and then fixed them into a lasting form. 

And they made so many of them that there were great heaps of them like flowers in beds, and they were made glad thereby. This is not the action of a culture which is greedy for anything so base as currency; this is a culture which values, above all else, beauty.

Indeed, the passage goes on, later, to say:

Now Kor is lit with this wealth of gems and sparkles most marvellously, and all the kindred of the Eldalie am made rich in their loveliness by the generosity of the Noldoli, and the Gods’ desire of their beauty is sated to the full.

They lit up Kor (Tirion) with the wealth of gems, they did not keep them hoarded and locked away, did not value personal wealth over community enjoyment. All the kindred of the Eldalie were made rich, it is specified, even though only the Noldoli actually made the gems. Even the Gods valued the beauty of the stones. 

And the Gnomes and Solosimpi (Teleri) strewed diamonds and crystals and pearls “in prodigality” into the pools and it was “the fairest of all shores.” Again, beauty, and the liberal use of gems for public enjoyment rather than personal enrichment.

Even in later versions, wherein the elves did not “invent” gems but merely learned to work with them, would their motivations really be so different? This is not a human culture, and we are wrong to impute human motivations therein. Beauty, light, color. Not some concept of personal economic wealth. Nothing so base as that.

Really, as far as I can tell, there is absolutely no indication that the elves used anything like currency or money amongst themselves. The word “tax” only occurs in the entirety of HoME in its sense of “a strain or heavy demand,” not in any economic context.  And the word “money” only occurs in HoME when referring to the ways of Hobbits. (I did a keyword search on a complete .PDF)  The word “wealth” is used in HoME as often to describe “a wealth of flowers” as it is to describe gems or gold, which to me tends to put them on the same footing in Tolkien’s mind.

If the elves of Tirion can be said to have an economy, wouldn’t it be more likely to be based upon the things they are in fact shown to value? Skills, crafts, art itself!  Sing me the new song you wrote, and I will fashion new strings for your lute! Make for me a chair carved with flowering vines, and I will give you a new set of forged carving tools! That kind of exchange, value for value. Barter of art, barter of skill and of craft. Not money.

(via quicktoanger)

Posted 2 weeks ago

Independence Day - Hour 7 - Argon

For Ñoldor Independence Day I will be releasing 12 short pieces, one every two hours, about the people who chose to leave Valinor and why they did it. 

“Never put much stock in it, honestly,” Arakáno told Léraser, wondering if he was trying too hard to keep a casual lilt to his voice.

They’d done exactly what they were doing now – snuck up the Mindon late at night to sit on the edge of the window and run their hands across Ingwe’s peculiar golden decorations – at least once a week for the last few years. But the Darkening had changed even things far more innocent than these late-night meetings. Once they’d been courting trouble. Now sitting on the edge of this tower felt like outright courting death.

“Me either,” Léraser said casually. Imitating Arakáno’s forced calm near-perfectly. It had been obviously fake, then. “Mortals and conspiracies and foreign kingdoms… if you were Melkor, and you wanted to cook up a lie that would inflame the passions of a Ñoldo kingdom top-heavy with princes, isn’t it exactly what you would come up with?” 

“We are not top-heavy with princes,” Arakáno protested. “But yes, that’s exactly what I mean.

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Posted 2 weeks ago

Independence Day - Hour 5 - Lalwen

For Ñoldor Independence Day I will be releasing 12 short pieces, one every two hours, about the people who chose to leave Valinor and why they did it. 

The public admiration felt a little insulting, particularly since no one congratulated Ñolofinwë on doing precisely the same things. (She’d first noticed that particular pattern when she’d been a small child, and it had barely changed in the intervening centuries).

And yet the admiration of the masses was the mortar holding this messy and panicked society together. And if there was one thing they’d all learned from their mother, it was this – play to the crowd.

She dips her head and smiles and says ‘in these times we have to take up duties we never thought we’d bear,” and they retreat, appeased and admiring, and she hurries back to the palace to tell Nolofinwë that orders for redistribution of goods and production of weapons were reasonably well received in the northern quadrant.

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Posted 2 weeks ago

Independence Day - Hour 3 - Angrod

For Ñoldor Independence Day I will be releasing 12 short pieces, one every two hours, about the people who chose to leave Valinor and why they did it. 

The first step to take, upon returning to Tirion, was obviously to send ambassadors to Alqualondë, to ensure their neighbors had survived Melkor’s devastation and to share what little news was known. 

When after three days Nolofinwë still had not given the order, Angaráto and Eldalótë had decided to leave anyway.

There was no reason to expect the trip would be dangerous, but he tracked down everyone to tell them he loved them before he left. They’d parted with Grandfather on bad terms, and now it’d be Ages before there was a chance to set that right. 

The thought made his heart jump uncomfortably. He loosened the collar of his robes and Eldalótë smiled at him as if – as usual – she’d read his mind. 

“Go say your goodbyes,” she said. “Alone. If I step into the vortex of Finwean family politics I’ll be too tired for travel and you’ll have to convince me all over again that the fools are worth aiding.

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Posted 2 weeks ago

Independence Day - Hour 1 - Elenwë

For Ñoldor Independence Day I will be releasing 12 short pieces, one every two hours, about the people who chose to leave Valinor and why they did it. 

They’re living in the palace now.

It has eight times as many people as it had in Finwë’s time, and twice as many as Nolofinwë ever entertained before the Darkening, but it feels empty. 

Elenwë suspects at first that she has it worst of all, because it is all unfamiliar to her. Nolofinwë and his children were practically raised here, and their minds can fill in the empty spaces. She looks up at the pitch-black sky and it is hard to remember that the building has a roof at all, that she’s not staring open-mouthed into the Void itself. 

But maybe it is harder on them to race through the silent hallways of a building they remember from better times. Maybe it’d be even more painful to walk these paths while her mind supplied memories of glowing, dancing stone suffused by light. 

“It’s just an instance of the general question,” she said to Turukáno dully one night. There were people shouting and screaming and crying in the streets, and they’d blocked out the sounds by drawing the shutters and closing the curtains and stuffing the cracks with fabric. It had been a mistake. The silence left when the sounds were shut out was even worse than the screaming. 

Now they were halfheartedly trying to fill it with conversation. 

“What general question?” he asked.

“Would we be better equipped to face the darkness if we’d never seen the light at all?”

“Of course we would,” he said, “and I don’t think that’s the question on everyone’s minds, not really. The question they are all asking themselves is ‘was it worth it?’ and-”

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Posted 3 weeks ago



Ahhh! This is so cool!

An author was writing historical fiction, and decided (in hopes of escaping anachronistic language) to only use the vocabulary that Jane Austen used. They made a custom dictionary of all the words Jane Austen used in all of her books, and used that to spell check, so it flagged modern words and phrases that she would have totally overlooked otherwise.

I’m thinking it would be incredibly easy to do the same thing for fanfiction, especially book-based - compile a dictionary of, say, all the words GRRM used in ASOIAF, and use that as a spell check dictionary so it would flag any words GRRM did not use…

Or a particular TV show character’s dialogue, though that would involve much more manual effort…

edit: apparently, some historical fiction authors use old dictionaries (circa: 1700-1800s) as their custom dictionaries, even when writing about much earlier time periods. This helps them escape writing with modern-sounding anachronisms that throw modern readers out of the story, but also allows them to use language that a modern reader can understand when writing about time periods where characters should be speaking, say, Old English.

friendly reminder that such a thing has been developed for the les mis fandom 

This seems like something that’d be useful for the Tolkien fandom too. It’s not exactly historical fiction, but I know a lot of people who have headaches trying to avoid anachronistic language in fic.

So I went ahead and made it. 

Here are all the words used in the Silmarillion, the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, and here’s a download link (.txt).

In addition to helping you spot language Tolkien wouldn’t have used, installing this as your custom dictionary in Microsoft Word/Open Office will mean that the spellchecker recognizes names and places, which is pretty convenient. 

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