Christopher Tolkien: A Tribute (#FantasyMonth)

It’s Fantasy Month, which seems a good time to talk about the most important fantasy tales in my life.

J. R. R. Tolkien’s works have enriched my life, but I also owe a great debt to his son, Christopher Tolkien; I was saddened to hear he passed on from this world earlier this year.

I love The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. They’re some of my favorite books of all time. But I lived in The Silmarillion.

And The Silmarillion, although it was not in the form J. R. R. Tolkien would have wished, would never have become the land of my youth were it not for Christopher Tolkien editing and publishing it and so many of his father’s other writings and drafts.

The Silmarillion wouldn’t have got far without Christopher. At least, not to us readers.

I breathed the air and walked the lands of Beleriand and Valinor and beyond, alongside the Elves and Men and other heroes. And it shaped me in many ways. I am incredibly grateful to Christopher for sharing these worlds with us.

Backing up slightly. It began with the forging of the great Rings . . . or rather, not unnaturally, it began when I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I remember listening to The Lord of the Rings for the first time, on audiobook, when I was ten years old (having read The Hobbit sometime before), and I was enchanted.

Which is why, soon after, I got The Silmarillion, for Christmas I think, and so my further immersion in Tolkien’s rich world began. I read and re-read The Silmarillion (and the other books), and I was utterly captivated.

I had lived in and loved other fantasy before, including The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, and the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander, and others. But here in the land of Arda (which means Earth and includes Middle-earth, Valinor/the Undying Lands, Beleriand, and other regions of The Silmarillion), I found a land which was to be my own for years, and still is — more my own than any others save those which I’ve discovered and written about in my own fiction (and books about old Ireland, I suppose).

I read the Silmarillion stories again and again.

I pored over maps and knew every hill and river, forest, mountain, fortress, and their names — the city of Gondolin, Nargothrond, the Forest of Brethil, Ossiriand, Mithrim, Sirion the great river, the dread forest of Taur-nu-Fuin, Thangorodrim, Doriath . . . These were places I visited and loved (okay, maybe not the scarier places).

I studied genealogical charts of the heroes who inhabited these places, and drew my own.

I learned small smatterings of Elvish words and invented secret Elvish names I still carry with me to this day.

I learned to write Tengwar, the Elvish alphabet, and would scribble my name and poetry and random writing in it, both in simple pencil and in calligraphy — I learned to use calligraphy pens for this purpose. Tengwar was such fun! I had gone through a code-and-cipher obsession when I was a bit younger, even inventing a cipher alphabet of my own. So discovering Tengwar, which was like that but elegant and a part of this wonderful world I loved, was fantastic.

I had to pull out some of my old Tengwar and notes and books, just to share them in this post. It’s been awhile, but even looking at these again makes me happy.

And all of that aside from simply how the world and the writing and imagery, and the tales, and above all the characters, of The Silmarillion made their way into my inner soul and became mine. I always feel at home there.

I was friends with Finrod Felagund, Beren and Luthien, Beleg Strongbow, Fingolfin, and all the rest. (I even had the cheek to add Tinuviel, one of Luthien’s names, to my own rather-long sign-off penname in some letters I wrote at the time; a name which also included names of other heroines I admired from other fantasy works).

All of this went on for years and was a part of my childhood and teenage years.

Aside from The Silmarillion, I also started reading others of J. R. R. Tolkien’s works, published posthumously by Christopher Tolkien.

I started reading through Christopher Tolkien’s History of Middle-earth series (which I still need to finish), delighting in the old drafts and beginnings of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers . . . I had been writing for a little while myself, and so reading these beginnings and seeing the stories change and build, captivated me. It was fascinating to see earlier versions of my favorite books of all time, including learning about Aragorn’s earliest beginnings in the story as a mysterious Hobbit named Trotter!

And the unpublished Epilogue to The Lord of the Rings (found in Sauron Defeated or in The End of the Third Age) is fabulous and in my opinion makes the trilogy end less sadly. I wish it had been included in the original book.

I got those History of Middle-earth books about The Lord of the Rings for another Christmas, and it was shortly afterward (February) when I began putting dates on my own fiction writings, which at that time I wrote in notebooks and binders.

You see, a continued lamentation of Christopher Tolkien’s, as he carefully, painstakingly reconstructed the progression of his father’s stories, was that J. R. R. Tolkien rarely wrote dates on his writings. Christopher had often to rely on vague references in dated letters, or the fact that something was scribbled on the back of a term paper or something, or on changes to the text through various drafts with only one dated, etc.

It made me want to write down the date when I wrote my own drafts and plot notes, and so I did. Which is why I know the exact date (March 1, 2007) when I decided I was going to rewrite and finish the draft of my main story at the time, and that I was going to be a writer. Written on that printout which I was marking with a pencil at Barnes & Noble is the date and my own name written in Elvish Tengwar. Both of them because of J. R. R. and Christopher Tolkien.

I’m a very calendar- and date-obsessed person, and it very likely got its main beginnings with The Lord of the Rings and The History of Middle-earth. I keep track of dates when I write. I love journals. I get really into calendars. I delight in knowing that on a certain day (March 1, for example, is Aragorn’s birthday), certain events in Lord of the Rings happened. I keep track of real-life anniversaries/important days in my life, and from history, too, and I love keeping track of the birthdays of friends and favorite authors. (I always celebrate J. R. R. Tolkien’s on January 3!)

And because I track my writing days, I know special days to celebrate, like the first time I finished writing a novel (August 31), the day I started this blog (September 9), the day I started writing Tare’s series (April 5) — which at the time I had no idea was anything like so important to me as it would become — and so on.

And all of this started probably because I used to read through the Tale of Years in the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings, full of delightful dates and years that I enjoyed puzzling out (ah, that’s exactly how much older that character is than the other character — ah, Faramir and Sam were born in the exact same year — ah, look how old that character is; it’s so delightful to know exactly! — ah, that’s the day when they left Rivendell, how smashing!), and because of Christopher Tolkien mentioning how difficult it was to track the progression of ideas in writings when they were not dated.

I own more books by J. R. R. Tolkien and about him and his writings than I do about any other author, and many of these were books which Christopher Tolkien carefully set out to share with us, for which I am eternally grateful.

While The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit would definitely have been a large part of my life and childhood and forming years, regardless, yet all the other books which Christopher edited and published — from The Silmarillion in 1977 to The Fall of Gondolin, his last, in 2018 (having completed his task to share the Great Tales, as far as they had come, with the world) — have formed an incredible part of my life. I’m so glad that he was able to share the wealth of his father’s work with us and his own contributions to it.

From the beginning, when J. R. R. Tolkien told The Hobbit to Christopher and his other children, as a bedtime story; through the chapters of The Lord of the Rings which he sent to Christopher, who was in the RAF in World War II; to Christopher drawing a version of the famous map of Middle-earth that we all know; and all through collecting and publishing so many hidden gems of his father’s writings, Christopher Tolkien has had nearly as large an impact on we who love Middle-earth and the other realms of this world, as J. R. R. Tolkien himself did.

Namárië, Christopher Reuel Tolkien.

The Tolkien legacy is a rich treasure to which you added immeasurably.

From myself, and those others who grew up breathing the air of The Silmarillion and walking its lands, you have my far-reaching and unfathomable thanks.

One day, perhaps, I’ll meet you in that far green country, on white shores, under a swift sunrise.

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!

#WIPobsessed & Middle-earth Day!

G’day, my Roadlings!

Today there are two exciting things going on!

MIDDLE-EARTH DAY

March 25th has been dubbed Middle-earth Day and Tolkien Reading Day, in celebration of the day the Ring was destroyed. (It’s also more or less New Year’s Day due to that, as decreed by Aragorn, so . . . let’s brush up some new New-Year’s-Resolutions, shall we?)

Here’s a huzzah for all things Lord of the Rings and Tolkien!

(I’ll be celebrating by smiling over the two Tolkien books I’ve read so far this year and crying over how I haven’t been keeping up with my History of Middle-earth book-per-month personal challenge. 😛 *cough*)

Anyway, I had to mention because I’ll never not celebrate a Middle-earthean holiday! 😉

CALLING ALL WRITERS

The other thing is actually a three-day-long thing:

#WIPobsessed, an online writers’ retreat hosted by Liv K. Fisher!

It runs March 25-27, and the idea is to pick a goal and work on some writing during these three days, and share your progress and updates with the #WIPobsessed hashtag on whichever social media you prefer!

(Here’s the info on Liv’s Instagram, and on her blog.)

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been far too busy all month to do much of anything remotely writing-related and it’s been devastating. So even though Camp NaNo is around the corner, I thought this would be the perfect excuse to push me into at least dipping my toe back into the writing waters. I can make time on three days to write, right?

Since I’m also terribly busy this week, and my saner half (sorry, my saner 3/8ths) says I have no business even thinking about writing, I’m going to set a low but hopefully achievable goal of one hour per day for a total of 3 hours of writing. Maybe that will add up to 3K words. We can hope!

I’m setting a secondary goal, if I pass the first, of finishing writing KW2 during #WIPobsessed (which I calculate, or rather hope, has about 5K left).

So there!

I’m announcing this which means I have to work toward it and at least try to set aside this time, even during an insane week, to do a little writing.

I hereby give myself permission to write for an hour each day for three days. Because that’s the only way writing is going to happen.

(Isn’t it dreadful it has to come to this? XD)

And besides, it’ll be good practice for Camp NaNo starting in exactly one week. 😉 (Please tell me I’m not the only one who is TERRIBLY PLEASED that April is starting on a Monday! XD)

SO WHO’S WITH ME? Why don’t you commit to writing even ten minutes or 100 words per day for the next three days? Join in the glorious swirling of creativity/mutual support!

It’s not like it’s a month-long challenge like NaNo. Just three days. Because every day counts!

I’m not sure how much I’ll be sharing or where, during these three days, but hopefully at least an update or two over on my Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

Go forth and join in, and get #WIPobsessed! May the words be ever in your favor!

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! ❤

Silmaril Awards 2018: Nominations! (Wisest Counselor)

It’s that time again! Welcome to the third annual Silmaril Awards! They have returned, and this week is the time to get in your nominations!

This year, I’m hosting the Wisest Counselor award, for our favorite mentors and wise characters from works of fantasy fiction! I’m excited. 😀 (I mean, I do seem to have been talking about mentors a lot this year… like hereand here…)

Not sure what these awards are? They’re a just-for-fun fan-voted award for the best characters from fantasy books! Sort of an Oscars-type event for fantasy characters.

Since characters from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings are the gold-standard, they will be the ones “presenting” the awards (called “Silmarils” in honor of the jewels from Tolkien’s The Silmarillion) to the winners, who YOU get to nominate and vote for!

You can find out more about the awards and visit the hall of fame to see previous winners at www.silmarilawards.com, with links to the awards ceremonies, details about the hosts, etc. 🙂

How it Works

Round 1: Nominations (Sept 3 – 7)

You nominate a character by going to the category’s blog post (there are ten of us hosting these) and leaving a comment there. (Nominees for Wisest Counselor are to be left in a comment on this post; other character categories can be found in a list below.)

You can also SECOND (or third/fourth/etc.) someone else’s nomination by replying to the comment and saying that you second that nomination.

You may nominate as many characters as you like, and you may second as many characters as you like.

Round 2: Voting (Sept 10 – 14)

For the voting round, the top FIVE characters in each category (the ones with the most seconds) will be moved to the second round and you may vote for one favorite character in each category on a voting form which we will link to.

Round 3: Awards Presentations

The final part of the awards runs from September 17 – 28, and will be the announcements of the winner of each category, on each of the 10 Silmaril Awards host blogs. There will be one post per day, with award presentation ceremonies, featuring Lord of the Rings characters presenting the awards to the winners, chosen by your votes in the second round.

A few rules

  1. Authors may not nominate their own characters (but, of course, are more than welcome to tell their fans about the awards).
  2. You may also second as many characters nominated by others as you choose. The more “seconds” a character receives, the more likely that character will move on to the VOTING round, which will be the top five most nominated characters from any given category.
  3. Nominations are allowed for FANTASY BOOK characters only! (Movie characters are not allowed, unless the BOOK came FIRST). If you aren’t sure if a book qualifies as “fantasy” you can leave a comment and ask, and we’ll get back to you on that.
  4. Characters who have already won a Silmaril in previous years are part of the “lifetime” Hall of Fame for that award and may not be nominated for an award they have already won (though they may win other awards).
  5. Tolkien’s characters may also not be nominated, since, as mentioned, they are already the standard for fantasy characters, and we want to give other character a chance to earn their due. 🙂

So what are you waiting for? Nominate away!

Awards list and participating blogs (visit each of them to nominate more characters!)

You can also visit this page on the official site.

Nominate your favorite Wisest Counselor characters by leaving a comment below!

(Not eligible for this award: Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis [2016 winner], Professor Charles Hamilton from the Dragons in Our Midst series by Bryan Davis [2017 winner], and Gandalf, etc. from The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s works.)

Also, feel free to spread the word about these awards with any of these graphics, the official www.silmarilawards.com link, and/or #SilmAwards2018 on social media!

Who is your favorite mentor-type character or “Wisest Counselor” from fantasy fiction? Share in the comments!

EDIT: Nominations are now closed. Voting on the next level will open on September 10!