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.

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! 🙂

#SilmAwards2017 Award Presentations Begin This Week!

Just a very small, quick announcement-y post today . . .

The votes are counted, the results are in, and now it’s time for the winners of the best fantasy book characters in the Second Annual Silmarillion Awards to be presented!

(Never gets old. XD)

Here’s the schedule and the links of where to go to “attend” the 2017 Award Presentations for each Silmaril! So they will all be coming soon, and I can’t wait! 😀

Award Presentation Schedule / Participating Blogs

I only know the winner of the award I’m hosting on my blog, so I’m just as much on the edge of my seat to find out the other winners as you all are! Thanks to everyone who voted, and I hope you’ll all enjoy celebrating the winners, whoever they may be! 😀

Be sure to come back here next Monday, July 24, when a brave heroine of Middle-earth will be presenting the Most Epic Heroine Silmaril to the most-voted fantasy heroine, here on The Road of a Writer . . .

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a post of my own to write for July 29th about my love for Tolkien’s works and other beloved fantasy literature, not to mention that I also have characters to manage for said Award Presentation Ceremony which must be prepared for all you readers next week, and the clock is definitely ticking . . .

So I will bid you Namárië for now, and I hope you enjoy the Silmarillion Award presentation posts throughout the next couple weeks!

Which award are you most excited about finding out the winner? Have you enjoyed the #SilmAwards2017 so far? Thanks for reading! 🙂

Most Epic Heroine Nominations! #SilmAwards2017

And so it begins, my friends!

The Second Annual Silmarillion Awards start today, so it’s time to nominate your favorite fantasy characters!

(Plus, don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of this post!)

The Silmarillion Awards are a just-for-fun “Fantasy Oscars” blog event to recognize our favorite characters from fantasy literature by awarding them “Silmaril” awards for best-in-category — more about it here, if you’re new.

We (myself and 9 other awesome bloggers, not to mention all you fantasy fans out there!) hold it in July to coincide with the anniversary of the publication of The Lord of the Rings. This is the perfect year, too — did you know Tolkien’s earliest pennings of the tales of The Silmarillion can be found in notebooks dating as far back as 1917? That’s 100 years ago, people! :O

The Silmarillion Awards is one of my favorite times of year — a time to celebrate all things Tolkien and fantasy, particularly the beloved inhabitants of our favorite fantasy books!

Here on this blog, I’m hosting . . .

The “Most Epic Heroine” Silmaril

The Most Epic Heroine Silmaril should go to a character who is a truly great heroine: she can be intelligent, brave, loving, with an inner or outer grace that defines her as a most epic heroine, willing to fight (either physically or with her intellect) against all odds for what she loves — a heroine beloved by other characters and readers alike; whether quiet or spirited, she should exemplify the spark of higher qualities which the great heroes and heroines of fantasy fiction hold.

This Silmaril will be presented by a certain shieldmaiden from the home of the horse-lords, famed for her heroism, strong will, persistence in the face of danger, and defeating a foe no man could slay, eventually finding her true place as a fair lady of healing; a graceful and truly most epic heroine.

And now, my fabulous fantasy friends, this is where you come in. These awards are fan-voted, which means you!

Nominate your favorite heroines here!

This post is the place to nominate your favorite epic heroines from fantasy, which you can do by commenting below! (Please mention the book the character is from, as well!)

If someone has already nominated a character you wanted to nominate, you can “second” (or “third”, “fourth”, “fifth” etc.) their nomination by replying to that comment.

The top five characters in each category with the most seconds/nominations will go to the next round of voting (beginning July 10).

A few guidelines…
  • When nominating, please mention which book the character is from!
  • You can nominate or second as many characters as you like!
  • Nominations are only open to fantasy characters, as these are “Fantasy” awards (hence, things like The Hunger Games don’t apply — since that’s Dystopian, for example).
  • Don’t nominate Tolkien’s characters (they’re already the standard for these categories!).
  • Don’t nominate a character you wrote (though your fans are welcome to!).
  • As lifetime awards, the characters who won last year aren’t eligible (though “Most Epic Heroine” is a new award this year, so there’s no one off-limits on that count for this one!).
  • Spread the word on social media using #SilmAwards2017
  • If you have questions that I did not answer, feel free to ask!
  • Have fun!

These awards are just for fun, so enjoy yourself and have a blast celebrating all things fantasy and applauding your favorite characters (including heroines! ;)) from fantasy literature! 🙂

Timeline

Nominations are open July 3 – 7, so nominate away! 🙂

  • July 10-14: Second Round Voting
  • July 17-28: Awards Presented
  • July 29: Fantasy Celebration

The Other Awards

Don’t forget to drop by the other blogs to see the other categories and nominate (or second) characters for those as well! (The other hosting bloggers have more fantasy giveaways too, so be sure to enter those!)

(FYI: You can get this gorgeous graphic by DJ Edwardson on a commemorative t-shirt or mug this year! For 10% off, use coupon code: TOLKIEN2017 [Proceeds go to support future Silmarillion Awards events.])

Giveaway

Speaking of epic fantasy heroines… I’m so excited to share a delightful giveaway with you here on my blog today!

Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win one of two epic fantasy-themed prizes, featuring great heroines as well. 😉

One winner will receive:

Firethorn Chronicles Prize Pack (Kindle copy of The Firethorn Crown, paperback copy of Midsummer Captives, dragon wing necklace, bookmark), provided by fantasy author Lea Doué.

I’ve read and enjoyed The Firethorn Crown, and as a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, it definitely has several great fantasy heroines! 😉

A second winner will receive:

A paperback copy of Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal, provided by yours truly.

Paper Crowns is one of my top favorite fantasy books of all time, and also features one of my favorite heroines ever. 🙂 So it seemed like the perfect thing to give away! (Plus, everyone needs to read it. XD)

Enter the giveaway HERE via the Rafflecopter

(Giveaway is open for residents of US and Canada, running through July 3 – 9, and winners will be announced sometime thereafter. :))


So what are you waiting for?

Nominate away, my fabulous fantasy friends! Who will you nominate (or second!) for Most Epic Fantasy Heroine? Comment below through July 7th and celebrate your favorite heroines! I can’t wait to see everyone’s nominations! 🙂

NOMINATIONS ARE CLOSED; VOTING BEGINS JULY 10.