Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Maedhros Maitimo, Foe of Morgoth and Doomed Hero


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Elf holding a jewel in the midst of flames

In this biweekly series, we’re exploring the evolution of both major and minor figures in Tolkien’s legendarium, tracing the transformations of these characters through drafts and early manuscripts through to the finished work. This installment looks at the development and ultimate fate of Maedhros, eldest son of Fëanor—one-time high king of the Noldor, and foe of Morgoth.

The tale of Maedhros is one of the more tragic histories that Tolkien ever penned. Tolkien repeatedly emphasizes the elf’s potential to become a great leader and a spiritual warrior, a hero of great renown fit to stand alongside Beren, Lúthien, Glorfindel, and others. And yet, time and again, Maedhros’s heroic and self-sacrificing impulses break through the gloom of the first ages of Middle-earth only to be quashed and denied by the destructive power of the infamous Oath. Maedhros is an elf doomed from the first; his heroic actions and potential are ...

Eight elves standing together with swords

Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Legolas, a Radical Warrior


This post is by Megan N. Fontenot from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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An elf and dwarf sitting in a tree, talking to an ent

In this biweekly series, we’re exploring the evolution of both major and minor figures in Tolkien’s legendarium, tracing the transformations of these characters through drafts and early manuscripts through to the finished work. This is the second of a two-part series dealing with Legolas Greenleaf, son of Thranduil and prince of Mirkwood. The first section looked at the evolution of the character over numerous drafts and tales; this, the second, looks at Legolas’s role in the published Lord of the Rings.

Last time we looked at the transformation of the character(s) called “Legolas Greenleaf” throughout some of Tolkien’s major drafts and stories. Here’s a quick recap: in The Fall of Gondolin, Legolas Greenleaf is a night-sighted elf of the House of Galdor who leads the refugees from the sack of Gondolin to safety through the mountains. He’s so familiar with the terrain that the text says he knew ...

Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood and Environmental Intercessor


This post is by Megan N. Fontenot from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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a sketch of an elf holding a long bow

In this biweekly series, we’re exploring the evolution of both major and minor figures in Tolkien’s legendarium, tracing the transformations of these characters through drafts and early manuscripts through to the finished work. This is the first of a two-part series dealing with Legolas Greenleaf, son of Thranduil and prince of Mirkwood. This first section looks at the evolution of the character over numerous drafts and tales; the second will look at Legolas’s role in the published Lord of the Rings.

Legolas is one of the more popular characters to come out of The Lord of the Rings. We can, I think, attribute much of his fame to the success of Peter Jackson’s film franchise and Orlando Bloom’s performance in the role of the immortal warrior-prince. (In fact, it’s surprisingly difficult to find fan art that isn’t either based on or influenced by Bloom’s Legolas.) But for many ...

Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Sauron—Craftsman, Ring-giver, and Dark Lord


This post is by Megan N. Fontenot from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




In this biweekly series, we’re exploring the evolution of both major and minor figures in Tolkien’s legendarium, tracing the transformations of these characters through drafts and early manuscripts through to the finished work.

Sauron is one of Tolkien’s best-known and most terrifying villains. Fire and demons, darkness inescapable, and the pull of the Ring of Power surround him; he is often visualized (if incorrectly) as a great flaming Eye and, as a Lord of Middle-earth, stretches his power across the lands seeking again the One Ring. Many names are his, and yet he is the Nameless One. He is called Annatar, Zigūr, Thû, Gorthû, the Necromancer, Wizard, Magician, lieutenant of Morgoth, Lord of Wolves, King of Kings, Lord of the World. He is one of only a small handful of characters to play a significant part in tales of Arda from the creation of the universe through to the ...

Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Haleth, Tolkien’s “Renowned Amazon”


This post is by Megan N. Fontenot from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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picture of a woman in warrior garb

In this biweekly series, we’re exploring the evolution of both major and minor figures in Tolkien’s legendarium, tracing the transformations of these characters through drafts and early manuscripts through to the finished work. This week, by special request, we’re looking at Haleth, one of the great heroes of Middle-earth’s early days. She rallied her father’s people on the brink of destruction and later became one of the only recorded chieftainesses of the Edain, and a powerful advocate for the women of her people.

In the beginning, Haleth was a male character, one of the three Fathers of Men who came into Beleriand after Bëor (The Shaping of Middle-earth, hereafter SM, 211). His people were the last of the Elf-friends to remain in that area, and perhaps, Tolkien at one time suggested, were protected by the magic of Melian (SM 152). The People of Haleth were ...

Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Melian, Divine Enchantress and Deathless Queen


This post is by Megan N. Fontenot from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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drawing of a divine woman in a gown

In this biweekly series, we’re exploring the evolution of both major and minor figures in Tolkien’s legendarium, tracing the transformations of these characters through drafts and early manuscripts through to the finished work. This week, by special request, we’re looking at Melian, the incarnated Maia whose power, wisdom, and beauty were renowned in the First Age of Arda and who becomes the foremother of some of Middle-earth’s greatest heroes.

“In the gardens of Lórien she dwelt, and among all his fair folk none were there that surpassed her beauty, nor none more wise, nor none more skilled in magical and enchanting song. It is told that the Gods would leave their business, and the birds of Valinor their mirth, that Valmar’s bells were silent, and the fountains ceased to flow, when at the mingling of the light Melian sang in the garden of the God of Dreams” —The ...

Elvish man and woman sitting together

Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Glorfindel, Resurrected Hero and Spiritual Warrior


This post is by Megan N. Fontenot from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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Picture of a golden-haired warrior

In this biweekly series, we’re exploring the evolution of both major and minor figures in Tolkien’s legendarium, tracing the transformations of these characters through drafts and early manuscripts through to the finished work. This week’s installment focuses on Glorfindel, an Elf-lord with only a few appearances, who channels the divine power of the Other-world and whose presence in Middle-earth twice assures the survival of—well, basically everything.

Glorfindel has the double distinction of being, first of all, an elf whose name was so unique that Tolkien felt like it couldn’t be used again for anyone else; and second of all, an elf whose power was so great that he was specifically sent back to Middle-earth by the Valar to aid Elrond and Gandalf in the fight against Sauron. But his fame doesn’t end there: the tale of this particular character is also what drove Tolkien to almost tirelessly revise his ...

Exploring the Peoples of Middle-earth: Éowyn, Shieldmaiden of Rohan


This post is by Megan N. Fontenot from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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In this biweekly series, we’ll be exploring the evolution of both major and minor figures in Tolkien’s legendarium, tracing the transformations of these characters through drafts and early manuscripts through to the finished work. This installment walks us through the development of Éowyn, the fierce and tragic woman of Rohan who defeats the Lord of the Nazgûl in The Lord of the Rings.

Éowyn of Rohan is one of Tolkien’s most beloved characters—especially, perhaps, by women and girls, many of whom see in her something to be admired, emulated, and loved. Few can forget that stirring moment in which the stern shieldmaiden casts off her helm, her hair like fire in the dim light, and declares with a laugh in the very face of a demon: “no living man am I! You look upon a woman.” But this scene didn’t emerge without hesitation and alterations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given ...

Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Míriel, Historian of the Noldor (Part 2)


This post is by Megan N. Fontenot from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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In this biweekly series, we’ll be exploring the evolution of both major and minor figures in Tolkien’s legendarium, tracing the transformations of these characters through drafts and early manuscripts through to the finished work. This installment is the second of a two-part exploration of the Noldorin weaver and historian, Míriel. Feel free to request characters in the comments below!

It would be nice if the story ended where we left it last time. There’s resolution of sorts, and the threads appear to be neatly tied together. Míriel gets her corporeal form back; Finwë is reunited (more or less) with his first love; Míriel graciously accepts Finwë’s choice of Indis and even praises her and her sons for the ways in which they’ll eventually redress Fëanor’s wrongs. Míriel then becomes a sort of family historian whose tapestries are so intricate and vibrant that they look alive. She’s able to recognize ...

Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Míriel, Historian of the Noldor (Part 1)


This post is by Megan N. Fontenot from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




In this new biweekly series, we’ll be exploring the evolution of both major and minor figures in Tolkien’s legendarium, tracing the transformations of these characters through drafts and early manuscripts through to the finished work. This installment is the first of a two-part look at the Noldorin weaver and historian, Míriel.

Míriel is probably best known as the mother of that most infamous of the Noldor—Fëanor, whose rash mistakes pretty much ruined Middle-earth for… well, everyone. But who was she? What role did she play in the fashioning of Arda and the troubled history of the First Age?

The Silmarillion records only the barest details about Míriel. One early mention casts her as simply “the mother of Fëanor” (60). A few pages later, the narrator points out in passing that “Fëanor” was the mother-name (63), the name Míriel gave him, before we even get a proper introduction.

She’s called ...

Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Nerdanel, Called the Wise


This post is by Megan N. Fontenot from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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In this new biweekly series, we’ll be exploring the evolution of both major and minor figures in Tolkien’s legendarium, tracing the transformations of these characters through drafts and early manuscripts through to the finished work. In this first installment, we’ll focus on Nerdanel, the Noldorin sculptor, wife of Fëanor, and mother of seven strapping sons.

In the published Silmarillion, Nerdanel exists as little more than a background figure. We’re told that she is “the daughter of a great smith named Mahtan,” and that she, like her husband Fëanor, is “firm of will.” For a while, Fëanor is content to seek her counsel, though he isolates himself in all other respects (58), but as she is “more patient than Fëanor, desiring to understand minds rather than to control them,” they soon become estranged. Fëanor’s “later deeds grieved her.” Though she gives him seven sons, and some of them ...