Silmaril Award Ceremony Presentation: Most Silver Tongue! (2019)

There was quite a stir in the Shire when just three days before the long-expected Most Silver Tongue Silmaril Award presentation was to be held, its presenter, Bilbo Baggins of the Bagginses of Bag End, disappeared at his birthday party of the 22nd of September.

Fortunately, it was not for long. A notice was found tacked to the gate at Bag End:

Interested parties (unexpected or otherwise) please find Silmaril Awards ceremony presentation now held at Rivendell!

(By all accounts—mostly through Frodo and Merry—Bilbo was rather proud of his joke.)

It was quite an inconvenience for the proceedings to move all the way from the cozy Shire setting to some far-away Last Homely House, inhabited by Elves of all people—and with only three days’ notice. It was just the sort of adventure that rarely happened in the Shire. Perhaps Bilbo had been taking lessons from a certain grey-bearded wizard.

What was to be done about it? people and Hobbits alike wondered.

But, again fortunately, there appeared around that time a tall, ominous-looking black castle with four tall, thin turrets, and it seemed to be moving gently across the fields around Hobbiton. A certain other wizard (not grey-bearded at all) had appeared in those parts since he was a previous winner of the award and had come to attend this year’s ceremony. This castle of his formed the perfect way for those who had already gathered in the Shire to make it to Rivendell on time, since the door opened on more than one place—and one of those places, for the moment, was Rivendell.

“This way, please. Thank you,” Frodo said.

“Don’t mind the fire giving you looks on your way—he’s quite harmless,” added Merry.

“I am not,” said the fireplace grumpily. “I’m quite a menace.”

Frodo and Merry (since Pippin and Sam were busy off presenting awards of their own) organized the flow of people making their way into the moving castle. A polite brown-haired apprentice boy and rather flustered-looking young woman with red-gold hair shooed the people back out through the door after twisting the knob over it—and the door opened onto the stunning valley of Rivendell.

“Only if you’re burning the bacon,” the young woman panted in reply. “There are rather a lot of people, aren’t there? There has got to be a spell to make this faster.”

“Howl could do it,” the apprentice said.

She snorted. “Of course he could—if he wasn’t off leaving us to do all the work, as usual. I’ve half a mind to stick a hat-pin in him. Silver Tongue, indeed! I don’t know what they were thinking giving him that title last year. Where is he, Calcifer?”

“How should I know?” the fire grumbled. “There’d probably be green slime if we tried to make him help, and then we’d never get everyone through here.”

“Oh, just let him try the green slime!” she said with a gleam in her eye.

The various Hobbits and visitors from other lands (since their portals had opened to near the Party Tree and they now had to transfer to Rivendell) tried not to listen to this slightly ominous conversation. Though some of the Hobbits couldn’t help thinking of second breakfast, what with the bacon and everything.

In this way, all the guests made it from the Shire to the new place of the ceremony, just in time.

Meanwhile, nobody had seen Bilbo for days. A sign was posted on the door of his room in Rivendell which read “No admittance except on Silmaril business.” Mutterings and scribblings and humming were to be heard from within.

And so at last, the day arrived.


Elegant streamers, tapestries, pillars, and strings of lights surrounded the place of the ceremony, which the Elves had merrily set up, with quite a lot of patience and efficiency, considering their short notice.

The crowd gathered with excited murmurs into the seats facing a stage and the pedestal at its center.

A hush fell as a small Hobbit in a fabulous red waistcoat pattered barefoot across the stage. Bilbo stepped up onto the pedestal and bowed as the audience applauded. Then he spoke.

“My dear Narnians and Earthans (Middle or otherwise), Prydain folks and people of Aerwiar, Goldstone Wood dwellers, and all the rest from lands near and far.”

“And the Wood Between!” shouted somebody in the front row.

Bilbo waved him off and continued. “Today is the presentation of the Most Silver Tongue Silmaril Award!”

Cheers erupted from the crowd.

“I don’t know half of you half as well as—well, I don’t know half of you!”

The crowd laughed.

“But thank you all for coming,” Bilbo went on. “I know it was a little unexpected to move the ceremony’s location. But what’s life without a little adventure, eh? So here we are. I thought it was fitting to hold this award here in Imladris, haven of song and lore and Elves, a place where beauty and tales and silver-tongued speech in which to tell them is much valued.

“And now, to start things off, here’s a little something I wrote for the occasion:

“The Silmaril Awards go on
The fourth year since they did begin.
The gem I bring with gold light shone
And who can say who it shall win?

“Presenting it with eager hands,
Award for tongue of silver wrought,
I welcome those of foreign lands,
Whose songs and words have wisdom brought.

“Tongues that ballads fair have sung,
And melodies like gold did trill,
Now gather here: a silver tongue
Shall bring home this year’s Silmaril . . .”

A hush fell briefly, before applause filled the air.

“And now!” Bilbo clapped his hands. “I’d like to invite the previous winners of the Silver Tongue Silmaril, as well as this year’s five nominees from whom will be selected the new winner, up on the stage! Come along, then.”

Two of the three winners stepped up first—a dark-haired man who was rather absorbed reading a large book (he promptly sat down on a ledge behind Bilbo and kept reading), and a rather battered, pointed hat with a rip near its top. An Elf helpfully set the hat on a small round stool near Bilbo before gliding back into the crowd.

Bilbo looked around for the third previous winner but no one appeared, so he cleared his throat. “Yes. Well. Thank you for coming, Mo—er, Silvertongue—and Sorting Hat. And now . . . the nominees!”

Five figures made their way onto the stage. There were three men—one barefoot and carrying a whistleharp; one with a harp over his shoulder, riding an enormous cat; and one dressed in flamboyant red, with a red blindfold over his eyes. Joining them was a beautiful lady with golden hair and a green dress, and a boy swinging a miner’s mattock over one shoulder and whistling cheerfully.

“Ladies, gentlemen, Hobbits, Elves, and sundry magical creatures,” Bilbo continued, “I give you this year’s nominees for the illustrious title of Most Silver Tongue!”

The crowd applauded, each one cheering for their favorites.

“Only one can win the Silmaril this year, but I hope we can appreciate their way with words which has brought them all here today. And now—”

At this point another figure stepped on stage briefly—a tall young man with elaborate blond hair—but he was quickly yanked out of sight by one trailing blue and silver sleeve. A muffled argument followed from behind a nearby pillar.

There you are. What were you up to, Howl?”

There was a sort of half-pleading laugh. “Sophie! I think that look turned me to stone. Why all the suspicion? I was only running an errand—”

“D’oh! Don’t give me that smile. Go. You’re late. Go on!”

Howl was promptly shooed out onto the stage where he adjusted his beautiful blue and silver suit and smiled benignly at the crowd.

“Ah, yes, Wizard Howl—the winner of last year’s Silver Tongue award,” Bilbo said. “Thank you for coming—though you are a bit late.”

Howl shot him a dazzling smile. “My mistake. Though I’ve heard”—he looked off past the crowd with a charming, noble look—“that a wizard is never late.”

Laughter rocked through the audience. Bilbo chuckled. A certain other wizard in the crowd, leaning on a gnarled staff, muttered something about everyone taking that out of context. But he was smiling beneath his bushy eyebrows anyway.

“And now—for the votes.” Bilbo cleared his throat and pulled a parchment from an inside coat-pocket. He made a great show of unrolling it slowly and then peering at the words inside.

In the background, the hat on the stool seemed to be muttering in rhyme and sorting the various contestants and previous winners on the stage into Hogwarts Houses, apparently having a hard time with at least one or two of them.

“Aha!” said Bilbo, and the crowd jumped. “In fourth place, with eighteen votes (ten percent), we have . . . Curdie!”

Applause and scattered cheers rang out across the crowd.

“I hear you used poetry to fight off goblins in a mountain—things I know rather a bit about myself,” Bilbo said. “Even if the goblins I knew didn’t fear rhyming, unfortunately, and made quite a bit of awful poetry themselves. Well done, my boy!”

The boy named Curdie, still a bit taller than Bilbo, came over and shook Bilbo’s hand, grinning a little, then moved to stand on the other side of the stage.

Tying for third place—well, well, you two were quite neck and neck, weren’t you?—with twenty-three votes (thirteen-ish percent) each, are two much-beloved bards known for their songs and tales . . . Fflewddur Fflam of Prydain and Armulyn the Bard from Aerwiar!”

A double set of applause and cheering and a few whoops greeted these two minstrels.

Armulyn stepped forward, whistleharp under one arm, and gave a polite bow. “My thanks.”

Bilbo bowed back and nodded rather approvingly at the man’s bare feet.

Fflewdur slid off his enormous cat, who hissed slightly at all the noise. “Easy there, Llyan, girl,” Fflewdur murmured, patting her, before striding across the stage on his long shanks, his head of shaggy, spiky blond hair in disarray. He shook Bilbo’s hand. “Of course, I knew all along I wouldn’t win this Silmaril. I’m not disappointed in the least—” Twang! A harp string snapped and two others tightened threateningly. Fflewddur cast a hasty look at the instrument over his shoulder and was quick to add, “Er . . . that is . . . I confess to being a bit crestfallen. But a Fflam is understanding! Being in the top five is rather a feat which I didn’t expect in the first place—er—third place, that is to say.”

A smile crossed Armulyn’s weathered face and he murmured something into the other bard’s ear. Fflewdur’s expression lit up and the two moved off, deep in conversation, to stand with Curdie farther down the stage. The huge cat padded behind and tilted her head slightly with a puzzled look as she passed the flamboyant man in red.

“Next,” Bilbo proclaimed, “in second place, with forty-one votes (twenty-four percent) we have . . .”

The crowd held its breath.

“Sir Eanrin, Bard of Rudiobus!”

The audience nearly exploded and positively roared with applause, screaming, cheers, and whistles, hoots, and hollers.

The scarlet-clothed young man stepped forward and swept his elaborate red hat with the plumy feather off his head in a dashing bow to the audience, his blond hair as dazzling above his scarlet blindfold as his gleaming, almost-feline smile was below it.

“Congratulations for making second place this year, Sir Eanrin,” Bilbo said, shaking his hand as the fae man turned toward him. “I’m sure we all find your ballads to be the beautiful work of a silver tongue.”

“Not all of us!” shouted somebody in the front row in jester’s garb.

Eanrin pointedly ignored him, and merely said charmingly, “Not as beautiful as Lady Gleamdren.”

Sitting beside the jester, a black-haired young woman, with a white flower tucked behind one ear, face-palmed.

The crowd laughed as Eanrin swept his hat back onto his head and moved toward the other end of the stage. If anyone had a moment to spare from looking breathlessly at Bilbo, awaiting the winner, they might have noticed that the scarlet figure was no longer there. Instead, a large ginger cat perched on the ledge near Mo (who was still reading), studiously cleaning one paw while Llyan looked on suspiciously.

“And last, but of course first—as ladies should be,” Bilbo went on, “with sixty-six votes (thirty-eight percent), in first place, we have

THE WINNER of the 2019 Most Silver Tongue Silmaril!

I present to you all . . . the Lady of the Green Kirtle!”

The applause was deafening as the audience surged to their feet with cheers and shouts and hurrahs.

The beautiful woman in the fluttering dress of a dazzling emerald-green color swept forward with a smile.

“SLYTHERIN!” the Sorting Hat announced in the background.

Bilbo held up a glimmering gem whose golden light spilled across the stage, an echo of the splendour of Valinor.

Bilbo bowed and held the Silmaril out on its golden ribbon toward the Lady of the Green Kirtle.

She laughed a silvery laugh and trilled her R’s as she replied. “What a pretty t-r-r-inket! I thank you, my good little Hobbit. Of course it should be mine.”

The Lady seized the gem, but recoiled slightly and hissed as if it burned her hand. (For of course, nothing of evil will, no matter the seeming fairness it is cloaked in, could touch a Silmaril without being scorched by its pure light.) She quickly shifted it to grasp it by the ribbon in her other hand, and put on a victorious smile.

Bilbo gave an awkward cough. “Sorry about that—I think that little problem was overlooked when we arranged this whole thing . . . But you know, I hear that for those like, er, you, who don’t like to hold a Silmaril, that iron crowns make a good place to keep one—if you don’t have any enemies named Beren or Luthien.” He chuckled.

A certain ranger in the back row murmured, “If he has the cheek to make jokes about that in the house of Elrond, that’s his affair.”

“Congratulations, my lady,” Bilbo went on. “Do you have any words, silver or otherwise, to share with us tonight?”

“But of course!” the fair Emerald Witch said. “I should like you all to know that you are invited to visit my lovely r-r-realm which I’ll be off to now.”

Bilbo blinked. “You’re not staying for cake?”

“There isn’t any cake,” said her honey-sweet voice.

Bilbo coughed and tugged at his collar uncomfortably, glancing around. “How did you know—? That is— Don’t worry, friends!” he added to the crowd. “There was a bit of a mishap with the deserts for the feast—I think someone let the Mischievous Imps in from a different ceremony, and we all know what happened after that—but I’m assured that the Elves of Rivendell are seeing to it and that this alarming lack of cake will be remedied by the time everyone has eaten!”

The Queen trilled a laugh. “There never was a cake. Or a place called—what was it?—Rivendell. Which is why you should all come with me to live in my land under the ground—the only real place.” She tossed up a handful of green powder and a sweet, drowsy scent filled the air.

Nobody was quite sure why, but she suddenly seemed to have quite good sense in what she said. Some of the audience even began standing up, ready to follow her.

But one member of the crowd—a tall, reedy Marsh-wiggle—stood up in a middle row, for quite a different reason. “One word, Ma’am. Suppose things like Rivendell and cake don’t exist and your underground kingdom is all that’s real. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than your real ones. I’m going to believe in Rivendell and cake, even if there isn’t any Rivendell. Or cake. (I shouldn’t wonder if it is gone, and even if it isn’t we’ll all have collywobbles in our tummies if we eat it, I shouldn’t wonder . . . Do you think it might rain a little later?)”

The down-to-earth sense of this brave Marsh-wiggle, mixed with the Elven properties of the air in Imladris, cleared away the hypnotizing enchantment so that everyone suddenly remembered themselves and wondered why they had been entertaining notions of running off to some underground kingdom with this silver-tongued lady. The audience hastily sat down again.

“Good old Puddleglum!” a boy and girl nearby shouted.

Bilbo sensed all of this was getting a little off track, so he quickly said, “Well, congratulations again! Let’s hear it for the Lady of the Green Kirtle!”

The audience joined in with another round of applause and a little nervous laughter—especially from those whose nerves hadn’t quite recovered from the last two, more villainous, award presentation ceremonies.

The Emerald Witch merely laughed and moved off the stage toward the exit, Silmaril dangling from its ribbon, and calling back in a sweet, silver voice, “And r-r-remember, there’s no such thing as lions, either!”

But with two creatures who at least looked partly-related to lions currently occupying the stage, and the green dust mostly dispersed, there was no danger of anyone taking any heed of her puzzling parting shot.

At least three Elves—in fact, it looked like Glorfindel and the sons of Elrond—made sure to escort the Emerald Lady, to be sure that she was safely off the premises without anything more untoward happening.

Bilbo sneezed as the last of the green dust tickled his nose. “Thag you very buch for coming—” He blew his nose with his pocket handkerchief. “Ah. That’s better. You know, I always make sure to bring my handkerchief along after that one time in my adventures when I forgot to—well, you don’t want to hear about that right now. As I was saying, thank you all for coming, and you’re welcome to head that direction for the feast! And as I said, the cake situation—”

“Oh, that,” Howl put in. “No need to worry. I stopped in at Cesari’s and had them make the grandest cream cake that’s been seen in all of Ingary, Middle-earth, or Wales. It’s waiting in the hall now if you’d care to check.”

This news left Bilbo speechless for the first time.

The crowd wasn’t. They cheered loudly, more than ready to celebrate.

“So that’s what you were doing,” Sophie said, coming up on stage. “And of course Twinkle had nothing to do with the other cakes disappearing.”

Howl placed one dramatic hand on his chest. “You wound me.”

“Well at least you fixed it.”

“I only did it out of the blackness of my heart.”

“Liar,” Sophie said, linking arms with him, and they followed the rest of the crowd which had surged to their feet to taste the Elven cooking and the famed cream cake from Cesari’s.

“Even if there aren’t eleventy-one candles on it,” Bilbo muttered. “Ah. Yes. Talking of which, I have things to do . . .” He reached one hand into his pocket . . .

But nobody noticed him disappear. An explosion of gorgeous fireworks went off overhead at that exact moment.

Because, of course, a wizard is never late.

Everyone laughed and applauded the firework display. Then, in a hum of contented chattering, they went on to the feast—while somewhere quiet by a fireplace, Bilbo settled down to finish his book, and outside, Gandalf’s fireworks hung in the twilight all evening, silver like the stars.

Silver for a silver tongue.


Results

38.6% (66 votes) — The Lady of the Green Kirtle (The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis)
24% (41 votes) — Sir Eanrin (The Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl)
13.5% (23 votes) — Armulyn the Bard (The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson)
13.5% (23 votes) — Fflewddur Fflam (The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander)
10.5% (18 votes) — Curdie (The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald)


I hope you enjoyed this presentation of the Silmaril for Most Silver Tongue!

Thank you so much for visiting!

Make sure to drop by the other Silmaril Award Ceremonies!

Yesterday the Most Nefarious Villain award was presented, and tomorrow will be the Most Faithful Friend, with Most Epic Hero coming the next day, last of all, to wrap up these delightful awards for another year.

The other ceremonies can be found here:

Thanks for reading!

Silmaril Awards Voting + Top 5 Silver Tongue Nominees! (2019)

Welcome to the second round of the 2019 Silmaril Awards! It’s time to vote on the top nominees which y’all nominated and seconded last week!

There were 45 nominees for Most Silver Tongue (Wow! Thanks, guys!) and the top five most-seconded nominees are moving on to the voting round!

They are . . .

*drumroll*

Nominees for the Most Silver Tongue Silmaril Award

Sir Eanrin (Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl)

Poet for King Iubdan, Chief Bard of Rudiobus, Knight of Farthestshore, and — oh yes — a faerie and sometimes a cat. His poetry and songs are famed across both worlds and the Wood Between, with many ballads of love, particularly for the Lady Gleamdren. His tongue is slick in other ways since he’s quite well-versed in snark as well. 😉 If he’s not moonlighting as a ginger cat you can usually find him wearing a fabulous scarlet outfit — and don’t forget the hat!

Curdie (The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald)

Young Curdie’s skill in coming up with rhymes is a weapon against the goblins in the mountain, literally. They can’t abide rhymes, since they can’t make their own, and Curdie’s poetry prowess often saves himself and the princess Irene. A brave little miner, you’ll often see him carrying his mattock and using his poetry, bravery, and cleverness, and store of unexpected wisdom for one his age. He definitely has a silver tongue.

The Lady of the Green Kirtle (The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis)

The Lady of the Green Kirtle (also known as the Emerald Witch) is lady of the Underworld realm and a very devious person who hides her serpent-like poison behind honey-sweet words. She has been known to play a mandolin and to speak sweetly in a near-hypnotizing way — and a seeming-silver tongue is not the only thing of silver in her possession, since she has a certain sinister silver chair…

Fflewddur Fflam (The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander)

A flamboyant, lanky fellow, with long spindly arms and legs, and bright yellow spiky hair that sticks up all over his head. Despite having a small kingdom of his own, he prefers traveling across the land of Prydain with his beautiful harp — which almost plays itself, and has one apparent flaw: the fact that its strings are prone to snapping when he, shall we say, “colors the facts,” which he is extremely prone to doing, adding a little fiction to much of his life. While he may not be the most conventional bard, he’s a staunch friend and often has an unexpected wise word to give, and his harp, despite broken strings, shares the sweetest music.

Armulyn the Bard (The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson)

Famed across all of Aerwiar, Armulyn the Bard is said to have visited the Shining Isle of Anniera, and is also said to travel in regal garb on a majestic horse. That last is not true, since he travels barefoot, with his worn whistleharp, but though weathered and battered he may seem, his tales of great deeds and legends and music on his whistleharp are as brilliant as the shining jewels of Anniera. His words definitely enthrall and it would seem he’s highly worthy of the title Silver Tongue.

How Voting Works

Voting starts today (Mon., Sept. 9) and ends at 11:59 pm Central Time, Friday, September 13. (Friday the 13th, at midnight, if that helps. ;))

You vote for all of the categories in a single form, which I’ll link below.

But you can also visit the other blogs to read more about the five characters in each category — and some of the posts might be fun, so be sure to check them out!

The winners will be presented September 16 – 27, one per day on each of the host blogs. (Check back here on the 25th for the Most Silver Tongue awards presentation ceremony!)

Vote

===> Vote HERE! <===

The other posts

Other Helpful Links

And that’s all you need to know for this round. May the best (or, in the case of the villain categories, worst…?) characters win!

Other Silver Tongue characters

For those curious, I thought it would be fun to share the other nominees, who did not make it to the second round, in one handy list — so you can go check out their books if you would like to read about beloved silver-tongued characters in fantasy fiction! (These top few came pretty close!)

  • Child Lionheart of the Lightning Tongue (Tales of Goldstone Wood – Anne Elisabeth Stengl)
  • Sage (The False Prince – Jennifer A. Nielsen)
  • Arbrook Huxley (The Electrical Menagerie – Mollie E. Reeder)
  • The Florid Sword (The Wingfeather Saga – Andrew Peterson)
  • Molly Beaumont (Beaumont and Beasley – Kyle Robert Shultz)
  • Hoid/Wit (Cosmere – Brandon Sanderson)
  • Leeli (The Wingfeather Saga – Andrew Peterson)
  • Chrestomanci (Chrestomanci series – Diana Wynne Jones)
  • Percy Jackson (Percy Jackson and the Olympians series – Rick Riordan)
  • Timothy Silvar/Carliss (Ilyon Chronicles – Jaye L. Knight)
  • Tanwen (The Story Peddler – Lindsay A. Franklin)
  • Hal (Paper Crowns Mirriam – Neal)
  • Kiernan Kane (The Minstrel’s Song series – Jennelle Leanne Schmidt)
  • Nagan (The Last Motley – DJ Edwardson)
  • Moist von Lipwig (Discworld series – Terry Pratchett)
  • Jackaby (Jackaby – William Ritter)
  • Rin (The Books of Bayern – Shannon Hale)
  • Ailith (Sounds of Deceit – Hannah Heath)
  • Lini Eltring (The Wheel of Time – Robert Jordan)
  • Lockwood (Lockwood and Co. – Jonathan Stroud)
  • Migdon (Songkeeper Chronicles – Gillian Bronte Adams)
  • Kaz (Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo)
  • Eugenides (The Queen’s Thief series – Megan Whalen Turner)
  • Reynie Muldoon (The Mysterious Benedict Society – Trenton Lee Stewart)
  • Idris (The Fairest Son – Hannah Williams)
  • The Lion Prince (A Branch of Silver, A Branch of Gold – Anne Elisabeth Stengl)
  • Amber (Lady Dragon, Tela Du – Kendra E. Ardnek)
  • Cazien de Pollis (The Sunken Realm – Serena Chase)
  • Keefe Sencen (Keeper of the Lost Cities – Shannon Messenger)
  • Kvothe (Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss)
  • Vikram (A Crown of Wishes – Roshani Chokshi)
  • Lazlo Strange (Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor)
  • Lord Silver (Invisible Library series – Genevieve Cogman)
  • Kell (A Darker Shade of Magic – Victoria Schwab)
  • Athelas (The City Between series – W.R. Gingell)
  • Cedric (Winter Cursed – Nicki Chapelway)
  • Nikolai Lantsov (The Grisha Trilogy – Leigh Bardugo)
  • Kelsier (Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson)
  • Kadin (The Stolen Kingdom)
  • Fin (The Map to Everywhere)

Make sure you go and vote! Who are you rooting for — or who do you think will win? Predictions? Excitements? Let me know your thoughts below! Thanks, everyone!

Wisest Counselor Presentation Ceremony (Silmaril Awards 2018)

The White City of Gondor is packed.

Everyone has gathered in Minas Tirith, from all across Middle-earth and other lands far beyond, for the third annual presentation of the Wisest Counselor Silmaril Award.

The sable curtains, bearing the image of the white tree of Gondor, part and draw back. I stand in the center of the stage and wave at the expectant audience.

“Welcome, everyone!” I call. “Thank you for coming to the Award Ceremony to present the winner of the 2018 Silmaril Award for Wisest Counselor!”

The crowd cheers, and some hobbit near the back, who is a little confused about what the reason for the gathering is, raises a mug and calls, “Happy birthday!”

There is laughter.

I smile and carry on. “In previous years, as winners of this award, we’ve had Aslan himself from Narnia—not sure where he is today; not a tame lion, you understand—as well as Professor Hamilton from Dragons in Our Midst, who is visiting.” I wave toward the back of the stage where the grey-haired professor stands, smiling.

The audience applauds.

“And now, to present this year’s nominees and the winner, I’d like to welcome Gandalf onto the stage. Mithrandir, as some of you know him, is one of the wisest counselors in all of Middle-earth—even in all of Arda—and therefore highly qualified to present this award. Friends, I give you . . . Gandalf!”

I gesture to the right of the stage. Nothing happens. I wait several long, awkward moments, and laugh nervously. “Sorry, folks, looks like Gandalf is a little late this evening.”

“A wizard is never late, my dear blogger,” says a voice. The crowd laughs and applauds as Gandalf himself steps onto the stage, sweeping across it in his long grey robes and silver scarf and grey pointy hat. “I arrived precisely when I meant to.”

“Of course, of course. Well, I’m sure you were busy with something important, as always.”

Gandalf furrows his bushy eyebrows and looks mysterious, but I suspect he’s hiding a smile in his long grey beard.

“Thanks for coming, Gandalf. I’ll turn things over to you.” I nod to him and slip off the stage, finding a place in the front row where the applause for Professor Hamilton had been loudest, between a teenage boy and a girl with—wings? I spin back to look at her again—oh, she’s only wearing a backpack. Must have been my imagination . . .

I settle in with the rest of the excited audience to watch the following proceedings on stage.

The Nominees

“Welcome, Elves, Men, Hobbits, Dwarves, and . . . others,” Gandalf says. “Allow me to present the nominees of this year’s award.”

The audience’s murmur hushes in anticipation, and then they applaud as each name is announced.

Rayad of Arcacia from the land of Ilyon.”

A somewhat grizzled man in a simple tunic steps onto the stage, bows, and then smiles and nods toward two members of the crowd near the end of the front row—a teenage girl holding hands with a young man whose black hair falls over his ears, a black wolf lying at their feet. The young man nods back to Rayad, quiet and unobtrusive but proud.

Professor Digory Kirke of Narnia, come all the way from England via wardrobe.” Gandalf glances toward the ornate wooden wardrobe near the back of the stage.

An old man with shaggy white hair and equally shaggy beard comes into view and waves at the audience. There are cheers—particularly from the very middle of the front row, where four children—two boys and two girls, one of whom is a familiar face from last year—sit together and are heard to say things like “Hurrah for the Professor!” and “Good old Prof!”

Puddleglum of Narnia.”

A tall, thin Marshwiggle steps forward on webbed feet, shaking his head with the pointy hat rather like Gandalf’s, and muttering, “I don’t see why I’m always being called to these things. A mistake, through and through, I shouldn’t wonder . . .” A girl and a boy in the front row, between a fair-haired prince and a large white owl perched on an empty chair, applaud and grin, shaking their heads.

“Ranger Halt,” Gandalf continues, before pausing and looking around.

The audience scans the stage in search of Halt, and for a moment nobody sees him.

“Wizards may not be late, but perhaps Rangers are—though not a certain other Ranger I know,” Gandalf mutters.

But just then, a shadow moves away from the dark curtain, revealing Halt himself, camouflaged in his long grey mottled cloak. “I’ve been here all along,” he says dryly, stepping forward.

“A fellow grey wanderer. I can approve.” Gandalf nods.

A rather small but wiry boy in the audience applauds loudest, between a girl and a hulking young knight-to-be. There’s a sturdy pony next to them where a chair used to be. I’ve no idea how they got it inside . . . Stealthy Rangers.

“And Prince Aethelbald of Farthestshore,” Gandalf finishes, ending the list of nominees.

An unassuming young man with a quiet, thoughtful face and deep, kind eyes, wearing fine clothes and a simple golden circlet, bows from the stage. A young woman in a white gown seated in the front row—with a smug-looking fluffy orange cat on her lap—smiles.

And the Winner Is . . .

“And now,” Gandalf says, “here at last, on this stage in Minas Tirith, comes an end to the voting and anticipation. May I present the winner of this award, a very remarkable man, and one whom I am glad to call a friend . . . Professor Digory Kirke!”

Cheering fills the air. A massive silver firework explodes overhead (no doubt why Gandalf was . . . erm . . . that is . . . not late). There are gasps and laughs of surprise, and a few more cheers. Gandalf chuckles.

Professor Kirke joins Gandalf in the center of the stage. “How did you manage to set that off while you were on stage?” the Professor asks. “Logically, somebody must have . . .”

“I may have had an assistant,” Gandalf says noncommittally.

“I love Minas Tirith!” yells a small, rather sooty hobbit figure before disappearing into the crowd.

Everyone laughs and I shake my head.

So does Gandalf, muttering, “Fool of a Took.” He clears his throat and turns to Prof. Kirke. “In recognition of your wisdom and guidance of certain young charges, Professor, I present you with this Silmaril.” Gandalf holds up a glowing golden sphere on a ribbon.

A hush falls across everyone as the gem shines out like the sun—or like an echo of the glimmer of the golden tree Laurelin from the land beyond the western seas many an age past.

Gandalf drapes it around Professor Kirke’s neck. “Bear it well, my friend.”

“Thank you, Gandalf, and thank you, everyone.” He turns to the crowd. “I’m quite at your disposal, I’m sure, and I’m honored that in your very careful consideration you should think me worthy of such an award.”

The Professor bows to the audience, to the sound of thunderous applause. Then he turns and steps past Gandalf to where last year’s winner, Professor Hamilton, stands. The two shake hands and smile.

Professor Kirke glances beyond him to where a great golden Lion, who was not there a minute before, sits quiet but majestic in one corner of the stage, his golden eyes laughing but wise—the ultimate Wise Counselor and the winner of the award two years past. A look passes between them, and Professor Kirke, feeling more like a young boy named Digory every moment, bows to the lion—who the next moment is no longer there.

“One last announcement,” Gandalf calls. “To the feast! There are a few hobbits here, who can be quite fearsome eaters in a pinch—or, well, at any time. If you want anything to eat, you had better get going before they eat everything—even though it is the finest feast King Aragorn could provide.”

There is laughter as everybody follows Gandalf toward the feast hall and its delicious aromas.

Well, almost everybody.

Halt and Rayad are on their way down the street toward a tavern to chat over mugs of ale.

Puddleglum is already planning on going back to fishing, muttering about coming rain.

Aslan is still nowhere to be seen (well, he’s not a tame lion), and nobody knows where the Prince of Farthestshore has gotten to.

Professor Kirke and Professor Hamilton are headed off in another direction for a quiet cup of tea, deep in conversation—discussing their adventures, their young charges, and (probably) logic.

“Yes, and after all of that, with the dragon slayer and everything, I was quite done with teaching there,” Professor Hamilton is saying.

And Professor Kirke’s voice floats back as they walk out of sight together: “My dear chap, of course you were. Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools?”

Fin

Thanks for joining us for the awards presentation ceremony of the Wisest Counselor Silmaril Award!

You can find the rest of the winners here (some are still to be announced in the coming days).

For those curious, here are the final results:

  1. Professor Digory Kirke (The Chronicles of Narnia) 86 votes / 43%
  2. Halt (The Ranger’s Apprentice series) 39 votes / 20%
  3. Puddleglum (The Silver Chair) 30 votes / 15%
  4. Rayad (The Ilyon Chronicles) 22 votes / 11%
  5. Prince Aethelbald (Tales of Goldstone Wood) 21 votes / 11%

As always, thanks for being a part of this fun fantasy character awards! What did you think of the ceremony? Who were you hoping would win? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for coming! ❤

When Writing Doesn’t Happen

When writing doesn’t happen, because life is happening and you can’t stop to write . . . it’s okay.

When writing doesn’t happen, because the worlds are alive in your head but they won’t go on the page yet . . . it’s okay.

When writing doesn’t happen, even though we’re halfway into the first month of that year you were really going to start working toward those writing dreams . . . it’s okay.

When writing a blog post hasn’t happened, because it’s late and your brain doesn’t function and your week has been too busy to allow time for writing a post . . . it’s okay.

It’s okay
because plans go amiss
and life goes awry
and all those dreams don’t always work out
but sometimes they work out better than you planned
because off the beaten path
and off the line on the map you’ve drawn
may be better than anything
you could have wished for.

It’s okay
because if the worlds are alive in your head
there’s no need to fear (like you are secretly fearing)
that they will never be caught on the page again
because that will only happen if you are afraid.
But there’s no need to fear.
Remember?

It’s okay
because two weeks is not make-it-or-break-it
especially when life is busy
and not having started toward that dream
doesn’t mean you’ve failed.

It’s okay
because if you don’t post on your blog one week
nobody will notice or care or be upset at you
and the world will not end.

When writing doesn’t happen . . .

. . . it’s okay.

I promise.

Because you can always try again.

Because the negative space of “I haven’t…” is not stronger than the positive space of “I have.”

And between the two is “I will” — a dream, and a promise, and a hope for the future.

So we’ll write when we can. And when we can’t . . . it’s okay.

When the busy week is up, or when the worlds are bursting to come forth onto the page, or when the new year calms down and you stop worrying about how much you’re getting done (or not getting done), or when the blog inspiration is there . . . then you will write.

The words will be there. Later. When they’re ready.

These are things I’m trying to learn, so I thought I would share them, in case they help you too.

Sometimes you need to try. But other times . . . you need to let the road surprise you, and relax on the journey.

Sometimes you find Narnia when you’re not looking for it.

And sometimes, just sometimes, when you’re not trying . . . is when you succeed.

And oh, look, I have a blog post after all. 🙂

Most Epic Heroine Silmaril Award Presentation #SilmAwards2017

The time has come at last, and you’re so excited to be attending the Most Epic Heroine Award Ceremony. You hurry to a door and knock quickly, hoping you’re not too late; the woods of Ithilien left you a little lost and you had to ask the way from a Gondorian guard.

The sun has just set, leaving the world in a twilight of stars, which is when the award presentation was supposed to take place. Hopefully you’re not going to miss it!

Light floods outside across you as the door is pulled open by a tall man with raven hair and keen grey eyes in a kind face.

“Am I on time?” you ask anxiously.

The man smiles. “We were only now about to begin. Enter, friend, and be welcome.”

He guides you into a courtyard edged with pillars of white stone, full of flowering trees and shrubs and many herbs, a breathtaking haven of a garden, lit with many bright lanterns as though the stars themselves were hung in the trees.

The courtyard is currently filled with a crowd of eager people staring at a dais at one end of the open, tree-filled place. You sigh in relief that you’re not late, and join the crowd, waiting expectantly.

The man who let you in mounts the steps to the well-lit dais and stands by a pedestal hung with a black cloth with a silver tree on it, which has an object sitting atop, covered by a gold-embroidered green cloth. A small mound of flowers lies over all.

“Welcome to our home in Ithilien,” the dark-haired man says, smiling. (You suddenly realize that it’s Faramir—the Steward of Gondor himself let you into his house!) “I will be brief, as this is not my day, but another’s. May I present the White Lady of Rohan, Princess of Ithilien, the shieldmaiden and healer Eowyn, who will be presenting today’s Most Epic Heroine award—and I, for one, believe her to be quite qualified to do so,” he adds with a quirking of the corner of his mouth.

The crowd laughs.

Faramir steps down from the dais to join the rest of the people, and smiles as he passes the lady mounting the steps, who goes to stand by a pedestal on the platform.

Eowyn turns. She is fair of face as she smiles down at the audience; her hair is like a river of gold, and she is clad in white, with a midnight-blue cloak with stars around the hem and neck. The audience applauds.

“Greetings, fair friends,” Eowyn begins, as the crowd falls silent in a hush of intent listening. “I bid you all welcome to the Award Presentation for the Most Epic Heroine Silmaril, which I am here to present. I do not know if I am qualified as such, although certain biased parties might say otherwise . . .”

The audience laughs again, applauding.

Eowyn laughs then too, merrily, like a tinkling waterfall. Then she continues. “But someone must, so I will gladly do this duty. I have here with me five heroines.” Eowyn gestures to one end of the dais-stage, where five figures stand among the pillars and trees to one side. “All of them are doubtless worthy heroines, but today, one of them will be announced as the most worthy of receiving this honor, as chosen by the will of the people here gathered.”

Eowyn turns toward the five heroines and beckons one forward. “In third place we have Cress of The Lunar Chronicles.”

Cress, a short, spunky young woman with an unruly mess of wavy blonde hair and a dash of freckles across her face, moves to the center of the platform. Eowyn takes a bouquet of white flowers from the pedestal and hands them to her. Cress accepts them, waves half shyly, half cheerily at the crowd (from which there are some cheers and a spattering of applause) and troops across the stage to the other side.

“Tying for second place,” Eowyn continues, “we have three heroines: Kyrin of The Ilyon Chronicles, Cinder of The Lunar Chronicles again, and Rose Red of The Tales of Goldstone Wood.”

At her name, Kyrin, a tall young woman with brown hair and grey-blue eyes, comes forward and takes her flowers. She smiles her thanks at Eowyn and at the applauding audience, her gaze sweeping each as if storing them away in her memory, and returns to her former place by the side pillars.

Next, Cinder, a thin, casually dressed young woman with straight brown hair pulled back in a messy ponytail, who may or may not be holding a wrench, crosses the stage, takes the flowers with awkward thanks, to the sound of clapping, and quickly crosses to the other side of the platform to stand by Cress. They put their heads together, chatting quietly.

There seems to be some difficulty with the fourth person, who has a slight frame all covered in somewhat dirty white veils so that not an inch of her can be seen. She seems reluctant to come out of the shadows, and appears to be having a hushed argument with the goat calmly chewing its cud next to her.

“I don’t want to be goin’ out there in front of so many people. I cain’t—” the girl in veils says.

There seems to be another voice—from the goat? But that couldn’t be . . . “Of course you can, child. Go on out just for a moment and have done with it.”

The veiled girl, Rose Red, crosses the stage and Eowyn hands her a bunch of red roses like her name. There is a lot of applause. Rosie mumbles her thanks to Eowyn and returns to her place by the pillars with Kyrin and the goat. The goat starts chewing on the roses.

“Don’t, Beana, you’ll be sick,” Rosie is heard to mutter.

“Bah,” scoffs the goat.

“And now,” Eowyn announces in a clear ringing tone, “last of all, in first place, we have the long-awaited winner of the Most Epic Heroine Silmaril. May I present:

Lucy Pevensie, Queen Lucy the Valiant, of the land of Narnia.”

The courtyard erupts into thunderous applause and cheering as a girl comes laughing out of the shadows and crosses on light feet to the center of the platform.

She is merry of face, a light of joy about her as she seems to be drinking in the beauty of the place, of the garden courtyard under the stars. From her shoulder is slung a bottle that looks like it is made of diamond, and at her side is a gleaming dagger. She moves to stand by Eowyn.

“Welcome, Queen Lucy,” Eowyn says. “I am told that you too are a healer and shieldmaiden as the circumstances require; that you are brave and kind, valiant and loving, and have the heart of a lion. May I present to you the title of Most Epic Heroine and this Silmaril.”

Eowyn sweeps aside the green and gold cloth and holds up the Silmaril for a moment for the gasping crowd to see, its beauty breathtaking, the lavender glow shining brilliantly across the fair faces and hair of both heroines on the dais.

Eowyn passes it to Lucy.

“Oh, thank you!” Lucy says. “It’s a great honor, I’m sure, though I don’t deserve it really; I’m sure there are others who should deserve it more, and I only did what I had to do . . .”

Eowyn smiles and says, “As a wise Lion once said: if you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been proof that you were not.”

“I suppose that has to be true, when He said it; it’s just hard to apply it to oneself, you know . . .” Lucy says. “Well, thank you—all of you,” she adds, bowing a little to the audience. “I’ll try to be worthy of the title, and I’m very grateful I’m sure.” She smiles and waves. “I hope you’ll all try to be heroes and heroines too.”

The applause is deafening.

“Thank you all for coming,” Eowyn says when it dies away a little. “And now, friends, the hour has come—away! To the feast in the hall which is awaiting us during this time of celebration. Queen Lucy, if you will lead the way?”

The crowd cheers and streams under the stars after Eowyn and the laughing Lucy who goes first, shining the glow of her Silmaril to light the way.

POSTSCRIPT:
A NOTE FROM DEBORAH

There you have it, everyone! Congratulations to Lucy, and thanks very much to Eowyn for presenting. 🙂

For those curious, here are the results:

Lucy Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia 54%
Kyrin Altair from The Ilyon Chronicles 14%
Cinder from The Lunar Chronicles 14%
Rose Red from The Tales of Goldstone Wood 14%
Cress from The Lunar Chronicles 4%

Next up will be the Most Mischievous Imp Silmaril over at E. E. Rawls—I’m excited to find out the winner of that and the remaining awards!

And if you come back here on July 29, I have a special post about fantasy literature I can’t wait to share with you all. ^_^

Thanks so much for reading, everyone, and for being a part of the Silmarillion Awards! 🙂