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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Modified M-Word Thing from Oshun! Fandom Characters

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet




"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Modified M-Word Thing from Oshun! Fandom Characters

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feanorians
I say "modified" because I want to do this, but as many of you know, I'm a one-fandom girl, so there's no point in asking you to ask me about my fandoms. There's only one! I could maybe answer most of these for True Blood, despite never participating in the online fandom, because Bobby and I constitute a fandom-of-two in our house, and I do occasionally talk with some of y'all too about it. But the only fandom I really deeply know is the Tolkien fandom, focusing on The Silmarillion. So here goes!

1. The character I first fell in love with

Maedhros Maedhros Maedhros. In a truly Tolkienish twist, I was fascinated by the look and sound of his name first.1 That made me pay attention to him foremost among the stew of characters that overwhelmed my first reading of The Silmarillion. The Thangorodrim rescue story compelled me, and the trajectory of his life tickled my imagination. I started writing AMC to counter the notion that Maedhros (and his family generally, but mostly Maedhros, which is why his character is central to that story even though people tend to prefer other characters) was an evil character, a villain.

1: How I ended up a Felagund, too, incidentally, as I thought being a lord of caves sounded hella cool--I wanted to be a lord of caves, so I adopted the name.

2. The character I never expected to love as much as I do now

Probably Finarfin, even though he's my namesake's dad, so he should have been on my radar, one would think. He was a non-entity to me through my first readings of the Silm. It was not until I began to write Silmfic--and my focus tended toward Aman rather than Beleriand--that I began to appreciate Finarfin as more than a foil to his brothers in both the positive and negative sense (pacific where they were warmongers; a tool to the Valar where they were fiercely independent). I came to see Finarfin's unique forms of courage and strength, and through exploring these topics in writing, I came to two other characters I now adore in Eärwen and Anairë. Finarfin is one of my favorite characters to write now.

3. The character everyone else loves that I don’t

Hmm. I don't think I dislike anyone who's a fandom favorite. There are some, like Glorfindel, who get a lot of press but whom I don't often write, but that's not because I don't like the character but mainly because the chance hasn't yet arisen to write that character, or I feel that other writers have done so well with that character that I'd prefer to focus elsewhere. Beren and Lúthien come first to mind but, as I just noted to Oshun, I don't think they get a lot of love in the fandom communities I run around with, so they're not a fully suitable answer. As far as Silm characters go, they all offer opportunity to explore in a deeper sense, which is what I love about the book.

4. The character I love that everyone else hates

I'm going to reach back to when I first entered the fandom and Celegorm, Caranthir, and Curufin were the Convenient VillainsTM to many writers, even those who depicted others of the Fëanorians positively. My approach then wasn't "*relief* I have bad guys for my story" but to wonder why they made the disastrous choices that they did later in their lives. Tolkien gave us tantalizing glimpses of potential good in all of them: Celegorm's allegiance with Huan and Oromë, Caranthir's aid to Haleth's people, Curufin's lengthy relationship with his son. Two of them are married, so someone saw enough good in them to pledge to love them forever. They're clearly more--much more--than convenient villains. Exploring this idea has resulted in some of my most rewarding writing about the Fëanorians.

Outside of my insular little Silmfic world, I realize that the Fëanorians are detested by many Tolkien fans. I do feel like these people don't really get it. Sweeping them into the bad guys' camp misses a major point of the story, imo. From a narrative standpoint, the Fëanorians succeed because they feel so human.

5. The character I used to love but don’t any longer

I don't think I've fallen out of love with any characters. Not totally. I'd say that the LotR characters that first intrigued me have been replaced by Silm characters. I love Sam's character in LotR, and I was once fascinated by the Nâzgul. But I loved none of them deeply enough to write about them, which is why they sort of pale in my mind now, as I've spent many years now thinking and writing about certain Silm characters.

6. The character I would totally smooch

Maedhros! No surprise there. ;)

7. The character I’d want to be like

It's kinda funny because I chose to identify as a Felagund before I even finished the book once, half as a joke, based on the sound of the name and the title "lord of caves," but once I made it through the book twice and began to distinguish between the various Fins, I came to realize that I do actually admire Finrod Felagund the most of the characters. He is at once strong, courageous, clearly one of the best of the Noldorin leaders, skilled, and thoughtful. He is open-minded and chooses to find common cause with people unlike him. He is noble and does what he thinks is right rather than what is most expedient. These are all things I aspire to.

8. The character I’d slap

Dior and Elwing. I've never understood how these characters plop their respective people directly in harm's way out of lust for the Silmaril and end up being treated like saints. Elwing especially deserted her children to almost certain harm to keep the Silmaril from the Fëanorians. To me, that sounds like the same pathological obsession that led to their downfall; they are vilified and she is written as a hero. I guess the difference is throwing yourself into a fiery chasm versus being invited to live in a white tower in Aman.

9. A pairing that I love

I love writing all of Finwë's sons with their wives. Fëanor/Nerdanel would probably be my favorite because so many dimensions of that story appeal to me: their deep philosophical differences, their professional and creative commonalities, her obvious strength, his obvious respect for her strength, the strong implication that theirs was a marriage based in love and perhaps at least somewhat in defiance of expectation, the fact that we witness the tragedy of their demise as a couple (versus mere implication of the same). She humanizes Fëanor and remains one of Tolkien's most fully drawn women (largely absent from the published text due to Christopher's edits, not JRRT's, unfortunately).

As far as non-canon couples, my favorite of my personal canon is Caranthir/Taryindë for many of the same reasons as Nerdanel/Fëanor. And both of them are nucking futs, so they're fun to write. Even though I don't write them much, I absolutely adore reading Maedhros/Fingon and wish there was more Maedhros/Finrod.

10. A pairing that I despise

I think "despise" is a bit too strong. Beren/Lúthien is not particularly satisfying to me because the story, as a whole, feels too mythic for me to connect to it. Tolkien's attachment to this particular pairing always comes across too strongly to me, in that it seems to distort that section of the story: The tone is completely different, and after the strife and struggle for every meager success in the book to that point, that chapter feels too ... easy. I realize that is part of the point; it just doesn't work for me, particularly, as a reader because I feel that chapter and pairing loses the human dimension that makes the Silm such a rewarding work to think and write about.



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/309797.html
  • Your responses deeply resonate with me, but I guess you probably would have guessed that.

    I do not share your fondness for Finarfin. I have almost gotten to the point where I am willing to forgive him for disloyalty. I was born and raised a rebel and a dissident, so he can never quite be a hero to me; like I said, working on forgiving him. I loved him in AMC and he and his wife were a fun couple there.

    I wanna slap Dior and Elwing also!

    The LotR characters I loved paled for me after I read The Silmarillion. Faramir I loved probably the most (book!Faramir!!) is a little like Felagund, only small by comparison. The women in LotR cannot hold a candle to the Silmarillion kick-ass women.



    • I was born and raised a rebel and a dissident, so he can never quite be a hero to me

      But he was! He was with his brothers until the kinslaying, when he decided that their ... ummm ... approach wasn't one he could support. I think it probably took more courage to turn his back on Feanor than Manwe! ;) As a nonviolent person myself, his choice to not participate in a movement with no compunctions against wanton violence resonates with me.

      I do wish he'd had an alternative rather than going back to Valinor. Although his kingship also fascinates me and how Noldorin relationships with the Valar might have been shaped going forward.

      The women in LotR cannot hold a candle to the Silmarillion kick-ass women.

      Yes. I feel like Tolkien never fully got the opportunity to erase the relative bad-assness of the Silm women that he created in his youth.
  • She humanizes Fëanor and remains one of Tolkien's most fully drawn women (largely absent from the published text due to Christopher's edits, not JRRT's, unfortunately).

    So where does one find the unpublished bits?
    • In the HoME. The particular bit I was thinking of here comes from Morgoth's Ring:

      While still in early youth Feanor wedded Nerdanel, a maiden of the Noldor; at which many wondered, for she was not among the fairest of her people. But she was strong, and free of mind, and filled with the desire of knowledge. In her youth she loved to wander far from the dwellings of the Noldor, either beside the long shores of the Sea or in the hills; and thus she and Feanor had met and were companions in many journeys. Her father, Mahtan, was a great smith, and among those of the Noldor most dear to the heart of Aule. Of Mahtan Nerdanel learned much of crafts that women of the Noldor seldom used: the making of things of metal and stone. She made images, some of the Valar in their forms visible, and many others of men and women of the Eldar, and these were so like that their friends, if they knew not her art, would speak to them; but many things she wrought also of her own thought in shapes strong and strange but beautiful.

      She also was firm of will, but she was slower and more patient than Feanor, desiring to understand minds rather than to master them. When in company with others she would often sit still listening to their words, and watching their gestures and the movements of their faces. Her mood she bequeathed in part to some of her sons, but not to all. Seven sons she bore to Feanor, and it is not recorded in the histories of old that any others of the Eldar had so many children. With her wisdom at first she restrained Feanor when the fire of his heart burned too hot; but his later deeds grieved her and they became estranged.


      While I was aware of the existence of that passage, I never knew the reason it wasn't included in the published book until Kane's Arda Reconstructed came out; he documents how Christopher, on several occasions, removed material about female characters in the Silm that did much to develop them, as Nerdanel is developed in the MR passage. I'm definitely not one to jump on the Tolkien-wasn't-a-sexist! bandwagon--even with the omitted passages left in, the Silm certainly doesn't give equal or fair treatment to woman characters--but in this case, he did do more for some of his woman characters than the published book gives him credit for.
  • The character I love that everyone else hates

    Caranthir! \o/

    That is all.

    A pairing that I despise

    Would you believe... I actually decided Beren & Luthien were sweet on my last reread? ME! O.o Hell is freezing...

    But, this was purely the romance. A thing outside the history of the Silm. The rest of it...I'm with you. Tolkien's love for them comes across too much. (On a similar note, it also seemed he disliked Orodreth...) It's like he had the story written where Morgoth held the silmarils, and wanted to throw in another kinslaying or two, and bridged those two sections of story with Beren and Luthien. Inadequately. As I said to Oshun in her post, it would have been more believable if Luthien had defeated Sauron by punching him in the balls! XD

    The rest sounds pretty familiar. ;)
  • I've never understood how these characters plop their respective people directly in harm's way out of lust for the Silmaril and end up being treated like saints. Elwing especially deserted her children to almost certain harm to keep the Silmaril from the Fëanorians. To me, that sounds like the same pathological obsession that led to their downfall; they are vilified and she is written as a hero. I guess the difference is throwing yourself into a fiery chasm versus being invited to live in a white tower in Aman.

    Agreed. I decided that Elwing had to have been had Silmaril 'addiction' for her to choose it over her sons, as I couldn't imagine any mother putting any-one or anything over her children. I had to write that part, but I couldn't summon any sympathy for her. It all went to her children.
    • I decided that Elwing had to have been had Silmaril 'addiction' for her to choose it over her sons, as I couldn't imagine any mother putting any-one or anything over her children.

      I've recently come to terms with Elwing exactly for that reason. I think it's interesting that in a world so steeped in patriarchy, and with so many female characters following the author's very Catholic ideas, there's a woman who does exactly the opposite of what society (even our modern one, even from the side of us feminist fangirls!) would expect of her... and yet, she's not the least bit vilified in the books. She abandons her children for a cause she considers higher which many consider an absolute no-go for a woman (What about Eärendil? What about his duties as a dad, damnit?)... yet she is clearly a heroine. (Though I assume she faced many of the reservations we have from other characters in Aman. Or that's how I write it.)
      So that fascinates me. (It also fascinates me that so many feminist fangirls absolutely hate her for not putting her children first...)

      Of course, considering what a woobie I am about children and harm these days, I'm sure this only works for me because I know the children are safe. If they had ended dying helplessly in the woods like Elwing's brothers, or even if I believed the Fëanorians had treated them cruelly, I'd probably hate Elwing, too.
      [/ramble]
    • (no subject) - dawn_felagund - Expand
  • 1. *chortle* No surprise here! For me, it was Fëanor first, then Maedhros, but after that I became really fickle and started loving them all one by one. ;)
    2. For me it's Ecthelion. Lately I've been rereading The Fall of Gondolin and it makes me wish that Tolkien had not died when he did and could have finished (or at least written more inThe Silm.) Alas. :(
    3. Yes, it's hard, isn't it? I have to jump on the Beren/Luthien bandwagon although I hate to do so in part because I believe that if Tolkien had had a chance at a 'do-over' he may have written their story a little differently (and better). I think the story suffered in that it was too personal for him and he put his Luthien on a pedestal.
    4. Totally, TOTALLY agree here. These three are such fascinating subjects because of this!
    5. Yeah, this was a tough one to make a choice on.
    6. No, no surprise there. ;)
    (I'm so fickle I have soooooo many....) But I've recently fallen for Maglor again, so it's him.
    7. Good choice! But I'd choose Maglor for his survival skills. I'm all into that.
    8. Oh, good choice! I never thought of it that way! (I chose Celegorm to slap and I'd stick by that because of the wasted potential.)
    9. Maedhros/Fingon. TEH OTP. ;P
    10. You are so right on! :)

    • But I've recently fallen for Maglor again, so it's him.

      Maglor had almost no appeal to me until I started writing AMC! The reason, actually, it takes so long for him to have a PoV chapter in that story is that I felt utterly uninspired by him. I blame fanfic for this, actually: Most of the stories I was reading about him at the time overused the wimpy!Maglor trope (one of those fanons that makes me introduce my head to hard objects like desktops and walls ;). Once I began actually reading what the Silm says about him, of course, I found him much more intriguing. I enjoy writing him now, and of course, I know authors who write him as a much more complex character also.
  • I still like Elwing, strangely enough - I don't want to excuse her actions, but maybe it is the way her chapter is written and framed, which is to say that yes, there is some narrative bias, but (I think) not nearly as much as there could have been. It would have been easy to demonize the opposing party, but even the Fëanorians are written as tragic there, and rather than chalking up the blame to either them or Elwing entirely, the text goes out of its way to mention the confusion of that battle and fighters switching sides - and even states that Elrond and Elros grew to love their new foster-fathers... which is decidedly grey-morality territory to me.

    None of that excuses Elwing's actions of abandoning her children, or putting her people's lives on the line, but - she has Lúthien's legacy to defend (and the obsession with her Silmaril to combat), and the Fëanorians have the Oath, which (imho) doesn't excuse the their actions either. So she could have acted more prudently, definitely, but I don't think she deserves the bad rep. (And of course Tolkien has a tendency to put many of his female characters on pedestals rather than make them people with motivations and failures to their name - which I think is to blame here too - she fails and gets rewarded nonetheless, the whole 'fate of the world' thing aside - and that annoys me to no end.)

    Tolkien's most fully drawn women (largely absent from the published text due to Christopher's edits, not JRRT's, unfortunately).

    Oooooh? Is this the HoMe vs. Silm treatment, or Arda Reconstructed vs. HoMe? You know I love Nerdanel, so I'm itching for an answer here. ;) I've been wanting to get that book anyway, and this would be a good incentive if there ever was one. XD
    • I just commented to Spiced Wine and Lyra above that I can find far more sympathy for Elwing (and Dior) when considering the Silmaril as having properties that tend to diminish a person's capability for rational thinking. As I think about it more, it's not even Elwing's actions during the kinslaying so much that bother me as it is the deliberate choice to put her people into harm's way. She shares this with Dior, but unlike Dior, she'd survived an experience that should have driven home the point that the Feanorians would attack civilians, including children.

      It just occurred to me too, inspired by your comment, that I think some of the upset over Elwing's abandonment of her children has a fanon origin. As you note, there was great confusion, yet I've seen numerous fanworks that show Elwing, Elrond, and Elros together in the same place when Elwing decides to take her dive. That is, admittedly, harder to accept, but I don't see any textual evidence for that. The order of events isn't even described (and would it be trustworthy even if it were?); we don't know that E&E weren't captured before Elwing took her dive. Certainly, Elwing seems to know of their captivity when she arrives at Vingilot.

      Now I feel a Heretic Loremaster post coming on, and I really need to focus on the research paper for my History of Religion class! Grr! ;)

      Earendil factors into it too, of course, although I didn't mention him specifically because he didn't make the decision to choose the "healing and blessing" of the Silmaril over almost certain slaughter of his people by the Feanorians. Nonetheless, he is absent and therefore negligent of his responsibilities, and Elwing's reply to the Feanorians that she will not relinquish the jewel while he is away makes me wonder if she was even invested with the power to make these kinds of decisions (or if this is just an excuse to buy more time).
  • I'd definitely love to hear your thoughts about the characters True Blood some time :) I think I'm gonna do the meme.
    • Okay, here goes! See how little persuading I required ... ;)

      1. The character I first fell in love with

      Probably Tara. She was ballsy and, even in the first episodes, had hints of complexity that I didn't find in the other characters. (I didn't like TB at all until about episode 4 and quickly got hooked after that.) My eventual favorite character, of course, wasn't really playing much of a role at that point. ;)

      I felt like they put Tara too often in the victim role in later seasons, which I didn't like.

      2. The character I never expected to love as much as I do now

      Pam. I loved the development of her character in the later seasons. I squeed massively when she and Tara got together. I adore her obvious love and loyalty for Eric (and clearly non-sexual, which must be ... difficult ;) and her willingness to sacrifice herself for him and for Tara, all behind that flinty veneer. And she has some of the best one-liners in the show.

      3. The character everyone else loves that I don’t

      Jason Stackhouse. I despised him in the early seasons and was actively rooting for him to be offed. My negative feelings toward him have cooled a bit, but I really dislike how he is lusted after by women who really should be strong enough to know better, like Tara and Jessica. He's not even handsome to me, so it can't even be his good looks; it sure as hell ain't what's between his ears! He looks [and thinks] like GW Bush.

      4. The character I love that everyone else hates

      I really like Sookie, and I know she gets a lot of hate. I love that she is feminine, sometimes very vulnerable, and yet she quite often gets to rescue the men in her life who should be quite competent enough to get themselves out of situations! Yet they need her. I have seen her put down for her willingness to rush headlong into obvious danger, but to me, she seems a clever revision of the knight-in-shining-armor trope; if she was a man rushing to rescue a woman under the same circumstances, she'd be an obvious hero, so that's how I prefer to see her.

      5. The character I used to love but don’t any longer

      I used to like Sam a lot more than I do now, but his involvement in subplots I could do without have cooled me toward him somewhat. First it was his long-lost brother Tommy, now the kid-in-peril!trope with Luna and her daughter, which has long been one of my least favorite plot devices evah. My biggest complaint with TB is that it creates subplots that just one day up and end (werepanthers?? *groan*) as though they never existed in the first place, and Sam seems to be involved in those to a pretty heavy degree.
    • (no subject) - dawn_felagund - Expand
  • Dior and Elwing. I've never understood how these characters plop their respective people directly in harm's way out of lust for the Silmaril and end up being treated like saints. (...) To me, that sounds like the same pathological obsession that led to their downfall; they are vilified and she is written as a hero.

    Because there's a difference between putting your people in harm's way as a reaction to aggression and actively going to attack other people. Elwing put her own people into danger, the sons of Fëanor put his own people in harm's way by leading them to war, and harmed a lot of people who had done nothing to harm them.
    Besides, irrational as Elwing's actions may have been, I have a lot more sympathy for her being irrational and hating the Fëanorians as a result of having her family slaughtered (and her grandparents and grand-greatparents threatened) by them than I have for the Fëanorians being that way as a result of, basically, other people having something that they want.
    • This, yes.

      Now I've started writing about her, I've wondered how I would have reacted in Elwing's position. She was a child when she and the Silmaril were brought to Sirion - it was always there, and she would have been raised to think of it as her family's heirloom, which she would have taken into her marriage, making it perhaps as much Earendil's as hers. Then the people who had destroyed her first home, killed her parents and left her brothers to starve to death started threatening her people, and her husband, the person whose judgement she perhaps relied on a little too much, was away at sea.... Considering how the attack on Doriath must have traumatized her as a child, she would have been terrified, and terrified people do things that might not make sense looked at from the outside.

      Edited at 2013-01-26 06:53 pm (UTC)
    • (no subject) - dawn_felagund - Expand
  • Awww the three C's are getting some lurv together!

    Ah and Elwing... yes. Hmm, so much has been said about her, the possible influence of the jewel (which could have been corrupted as well). The past two years I have enjoyed Keiliss Solstice stories which features a young and fragile Elwing & Gil Galad. The way Kei approaches her and her background, makes it a wee bit more plausible as to why she made her decisions later in life. Just a discreet rec as it were.
    • Pretty much everything Kei has written that I haven't read yet is on my radar for when I have reading time again. ;) Her explanation of Elwing's decision in the comments above makes a lot of sense to me; I just dug out my consolidated timelines, and Elwing was very young with Sirion was attacked. Now I'm looking sternly at Earendil. ;)
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