The Circles of Power

A series of original fan fiction novels set in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth.
Celebrating Sixteen Years
November 14, 2004 - November 14, 2020
He may have passed beyond the Circles of the World,
but his memory lives on through his writings.

n an alternative universe set in the Third Age of Arda, the West was defeated at the Battle of Pelennor Fields and the war swept over Southern Gondor. To the dismay of all the Free People of Middle-earth, the Dark Lord Sauron regained the One Ring, His rising power threatening to plunge the world into a Second Darkness.

In the midst of this, two young maidens, twins Elfhild and Elffled, are captured by orcs in a preliminary raid against Rohan. Their world destroyed, their fate uncertain, they face the bleak prospects of slavery at the hands of cruel masters.

The Witch-king of Angmar and his fellows struggle and suffer to serve a mad God who both loves them and seeks to destroy them. In truth, they are no more fortunate than the lowly thralls of Mordor, for they, too, are in bondage, locked in a silent war for the freedom to live and love as they see fit.

The Dark Lord Sauron, a victim of His own lusts, wishes to possess Arda and encompass it in His twisted love. Obsessively, He craves the worship and adoration of all mankind, but His thirst for total dominion of mind and soul twists and perverts all His designs. His spirit weighed down with the frustrations of the ages, still He strives against the Valar to possess the world that He loves.

A tale of peasants and Powers; of masters and slaves; freedom and bondage; of adventure, mystery and intrigue; of wars and bloodshed; of love and loss; of spirits and magic and the unquiet dead.

Come journey to the exotic lands of the East and South - Khand, Harad, Nurn, Rhun and Umbar... and beyond.

October 10, 2021

Chapter 12, "The Oasis of the Solitary Cedar," has just been added to Book Seven. Shakh Zarkfir and his brothers return to their village, where they are met by their father, the chieftain of the Dolrujâtar tribe.

If you'd like to get in touch with the author of "The Circles," leave a comment in the discussion forum, or write directly to Elfhild.


October 3, 2021

Chapter 11, "Shakhs of the Desert," has just been added to Book Seven. After wandering through the desert for a night and two days, Elfhild and Özlem are captured by Dolrujâtar tribesmen.

Angmar originally imagined the Southern Gorgoroth nomads as speaking Haradric and having little love for Sauron. However, upon further reflection, I do not think this would be the case. These people live in Mordor, and it is logical that they would speak Black Speech as well as worship Sauron. These are indigenous people, possibly living in Mordor since the First Age. Their ancestors would have spoken an Eastern tongue, probably some form of proto-Khandian. A KHANDIAN based language would be more logical than HARADRIC, for it would be easier for nomadic tribesmen to migrate into Mordor from Khand than it would be for tribesmen from Harad to journey over the mountains into Mordor.

Sauron made his home in Mordor in the Second Age. He probably would have come to the indigenous peoples in a fair form, with a great show of power and generous offers to teach them. The God of the Fire and the Forge, with hair of flame and eyes like molten amber, bearing gifts of knowledge and ensorcelled jewelry...... Most likely the tribesmen would have worshipped him as a god, especially after he showed them that he could control Orodruin.

I do not know at what point Sauron developed Black Speech, but the peoples of Southern Gorgoroth would probably have adopted the language over time. By the Third Age, they might have their own unique dialect of Black Speech, neither the High Black Speech of the Nazgul nor the Low Black Speech of the orcs. Possibly they might even speak a creole language that mixes Khandian and Black Speech.

To make things simple, I have written that the tribesmen are speaking in Black Speech, and left this matter vague for the time. Some would also know Westron, and even Haradric, from interacting with caravans passing through Gorgoroth.

I have done much debating upon this matter and hesitated to make these changes because it slightly alters the identity of the tribe. However, I feel these changes are more in keeping with what feels logical. In Book 8, Angmar wrote about another nomadic tribe in Mordor, and depicted them as speaking Black Speech and worshipping Sauron. So it only seems fitting that this tribe in Southern Gorgoroth would be similar to their neighbors in northern Nurn.

When we first started writing "The Circles," Angmar frequently wrote Sauron's subjects and allies as hating and fearing the Dark Lord. He also initially depicted Sauron more like Melkor, driven to the point of madness by endless frustrations and thwarted plans. There was a reason for this which was not entirely based in canon. The mid-2000's American Tolkien fandom was VERY DIFFERENT from what it is today, and if you wrote about the forces of Sauron or Melkor in a positive light, PEOPLE WOULD DAMN YOU. There were very few positive portrayals of these characters in American fanfiction, and there were bullies who would harass you if you strayed from the norm. For this reason, Angmar felt compelled to make Sauron a villain even to his allies, because he believed that was what Tolkien fans expected. If he had not been worried about being met with hatred and vitriol from outraged fans, I believe that he would have written the story somewhat differently.

Now I will say that "The Circles" was never meant to be a complete reimaging of Tolkien's Middle-earth which transforms Sauron from villian into hero. I also believe that Angmar had another reason for emphasizing that not everyone in the South and East worships Sauron with undying adoration. However, this would tie into Angmar's grand scheme for the ultimate ending of "The Circles." I do not know if he was still operating with this goal towards the end of his life, because he first came up with these particular concepts in 2004 when working on the Second Darkness RPG. However, if I can, I will eventually incorporate these concepts into "The Circles," perhaps as an epilogue after the last book is written.

If you'd like to get in touch with the author of "The Circles," leave a comment in the discussion forum, or write directly to Elfhild.


September 22, 2021


Unfortunately, in The Circles, Frodo is most likely enjoying his birthday in the Dark Tower. Perhaps Sauron will throw him a party and give him a gift. After all, the Dark Lord is quite famous for his gifts.........

Chapter 10, "The Noble Art of Kinslaying," has been added to Book Seven. Wishing to rekindle felicitous relations with his estranged son, King Thaguzgoth seeks an audience with Prince Ashpar in his private chambers.

I have also added a section about Aziru practicing haruspicy in Chapter 30 of Book 6. This section, written by Angmar, had originally been in Chapter 32, "A Night in the Shakh's Tent." However, its placement broke up the tension in the scene between Elfhild and Esarhaddon, and the uruk raid upon Esarhaddon's tent, so I removed it in the 2020 revisions and saved it for later. (There were a lot of pacing issues at the end of Book 6 which I tried to amend in the revisions.)

Since Chapter 10 of Book 7 refers to the majestic looking goat whom Aziru believes possesses a bezoar stone in its stomach, I felt that I should return the scene concerning Aziru's magic ritual to Book 6. It's not EXACTLY in chronological order, as the ritual scene takes place that night shortly before the uruk mutiny, and the next chapter takes place earlier in the evening. (However, the scene about the goat in Book 7, Chapter 10, is set in August, and Chapter 11 is set on July 13, so apparently this goat is SO MAGICAL that the bezoar stone in its guts affects time itself.)

In Book 6's ritual scene, Angmar was trying to build up some tension before the uruk raid; plus he also really liked to write about haruspicy because of his interest in Roman and ancient history. The ruckus caused by the uruks at the end of the scene is NOT the naughty shenanigans of amourous uruks, as Aziru assumes, but the uruks getting pumped up for their planned mutiny.

If you'd like to get in touch with the author of "The Circles," leave a comment in the discussion forum, or write directly to Elfhild.


September 12, 2021

Chapter 9, "Severing of Acquaintances," has been added to Book Seven. The treacherous Prince Ashpar delivers his brother's murderers over to his father, hiding the fact that he was the one who arranged the assassination.

I might update more slowly this month. There are some worldbuilding details in Book 7 that I am still not 100% sure about. I don't want to give away spoilers, but it is a language issue that affects how a new set of characters are named.

There is also the matter of how Sauron is perceived by various peoples throughout Middle-earth. In the Circles Universe, Sauron has only been the official ruler of Mordor for the past 68 years. Prior to that, the Nazgul had been the rulers of Mordor and Nurn for almost a thousand years. Now, of course, the Nazgul publicly endorsed and encouraged the worship of Sauron during that time. However, many people resent the Dark Lord for ending the thousand-year reign of the Nazgul and imposing new laws, tribute requirements, purges, etc.

So these are all things I have to consider when going forward.

If you'd like to get in touch with the author of "The Circles," leave a comment in the discussion forum, or write directly to Elfhild.


September 4, 2021

The month of September marks the one-year anniversary of my return to The Circles. In September of 2020, my heart was heavy with the recent loss of Angmar, and I was deep in mourning. The world was shut down due to the plague, and with no place to go and nothing to do, there was little relief to be found.

"He felt empty and desolate; his heart was broken and it would never be whole again. There was no one to whom he could turn for comfort, no one who could ever understand the depth of the sorrow that dragged his soul into the despondent abyss. He was utterly alone in a world lost to chaos and confusion."
--A Sorrow More Deep And Profound Than The Night (link below)

It had been Angmar's request that I finish "The Circles," but I had not felt much like writing. But when September rolled around, my thoughts returned to Middle-earth, and I decided to pick up the pen once again. Since I had not written on the story since the spring of 2019, I decided to start from the very beginning, with Book One. I decided to remove a minor plotline that had caused Angmar and I a lot of grief, and this made the story flow so much smoother. Now I am currently editing Book 9, which is a very slow process due to the fact that it introduces a new location, a new culture, and a cast of new characters.

It is frustating at times, especially since I want to forge on ahead, but I need to make sure everything makes sense.

Now on to updates and gossip... There is a LOT this time around!


Chapter 8, "To Kill a King," has been added to Book Seven.
Lurking in the shadows, the assassins await their chance to claim the life of King Thaguzgoth.


I have a Tumblr blog now, in case anyone wants to follow me. I don't really care for the site's interface and find it to be confusing, but I miss the bustling Tolkien fandom scene of the mid to late 2000's, when there was constant chatter on fanfiction archives, message boards and mailing lists.


My heart has been filled with gloom of late. Sometimes the grief hits harder than at other times, plus I've been feeling frustrated with the slow progress of editing Book 9. So I decided to turn my sufferings into art.

A Sorrow More Deep And Profound Than The Night
After the defeat of Morgoth, Sauron suffers from intense grief and an existential crisis which leaves him a shell of his former self. As a divine being created to serve a higher power, what purpose does he have now, masterless and alone?


I purchased a copy of the newest Tolkien book, The Nature of Middle-earth by Carl F. Hostetter! This book is going to drop a BOMB on many fans' heads!

Aragorn, Boromir, Faramir, Denethor, and Imrahil DO NOT HAVE BEARDS.

"I replied that I myself imagined Aragorn, Denethor, Imrahil, Boromir, Faramir as beardless. Thus, I said, I supposed not to be due to any custom of shaving, but a racial characteristic. None of the Eldar had any beards, and this was a general racial characteristic of all Elves in my 'world.' Any element of an Elvish strain in human ancestry was very dominant and lasting (receding only slowly – as might be seen in Númenóreans of royal descent, in the matter of longevity also). The tribes of Men from whom the Númenóreans were descended were normal, and hence the majority of them would have beard. But the royal house was half-elven, having two strains of Elvish race in their ancestry through Luthien of Doriath (royal Sindarin) and Idril of Gondolin (royal Noldorin) The effects were long-lasting: e. g. in a tendency to a stature a little above the average, to a greater (though steadily decreasing) longevity, and probably most lastingly in beardlessness. Thus none of the Númenóreans chieftains of descent from Elros (whether kings or not) would be bearded. It is stated that Elendil was descended from Silmariën, a royal princess. Hence Aragorn and all his ancestors were beardless."
The Nature of Middle-earth, p. 187-88

I’m sorry. :(

Remember, though, you can choose the canon that makes you happy! If you like these characters with beards, there is absolutely nothing in The Lord of the Rings which states that they are clean-shaven, bearded, or genetically beardless. Perhaps that is why Tolkien was so vague with his character descriptions: he wanted the reader to use their own imagination to bring color and life to his world.

HOWEVER, the information contained within the “Beards” section of The Nature of Middle-earth will at last solve a sixteen-year dilemma that Angmar and I had concerning the Witch-king. Angmar imagined the Witch-king as being a younger version of the king in the movies: a dark-haired, bearded man. However, Gordis (a fellow Tolkien scholar) believed that the Witch-king would be beardless, as most likely he was one of the three Númenóreans. Gordis theorized that Númenórean men would be beardless because of their elvish ancestry, and if they did have beards, there might be a style of being clean-shaven as an homage to their elven ancestry. Angmar wasn’t certain how he felt about a beardless Witch-king, so we left the description of the Lord of the Nazgul’s face purposely vague until he could come to a decision.

The information within The Nature of Middle-earth means that the Witch-king of “The Circles,” as well as Udukhaturz and Rutfiimurz (Seventh and Sixth Nazgul), are beardless.

Sadly, there isn't much information on the Nazgul in The Nature of Middle-earth, although there is a short section which fits into the "Hunt for the Ring" texts from Unfinished Tales. Since the Nazgul only have limited information on the Ringbearer, Khamul believes that he is "some mighty man, strong and swift," and doesn't want to tangle with him, at least in the daylight (374-5).

This statement makes me wonder if maybe Tolkien conceived Khamul as physically smaller or weaker than the other wraiths. In Unfinished Tales, Tolkien wrote that Khamul is "the one whose power was the most confused and diminished by daylight." Angmar had a theory that Khamul was visually impaired before Sauron gave him a Ring of Power, and the Ring only made things worse.

The other section in The Nature of Middle-earth about the Nazgul pertains to Pauline Bayne's map of Middle-earth. There is a drawing of the Nazgul at the bottom of the original illustration, and the Nazgul are depicted as wearing Three Musketeer-style hats with floppy brims and large feather plumes, black cloaks in green relief, and skeletal hands. Tolkien was not overly fond of the feathered hats, the Nazgul wearing "elvish" green, or the fact that their arms were depicted as being "thin and emaciated" (196).


Now Tolkien DID say that the Nazgul have "haggard hands" (FOTR, 208). Now, "haggard" can mean gaunt, careworn, or unwell, but it can also mean wild and feral. The original 1560's meaning of "haggard" meant "wild, unruly," originally pertaining to hawks. By the 1690's, the word had the additional meaning of a "hunted and wild expression." It was not until the mid-19th Century that the word was first associated with being "careworn." (Online Etymology Dictionary) Fellow Tolkien scholar Gordis believed that in the case of the Nazgul, "haggard" meant that they had a wild and fell appearance when going after Frodo on Weathertop.

Angmar and I had to fight tooth and nail with movie fans who believed that the Nazgul looked EXACTLY like their movie appearances. We had to fight with people who were convinced the wraiths had no physical forms, and that they existed as some sort of gaseous vapor which was contained within their clothing. Our roleplaying and stories were damned and reviled, because our interpretation of Middle-earth was different than theirs. Because we wrote about characters who preferred the ruinous path to the Void, as opposed to the light of Valinor.

While Tolkien’s own conception of the Nazgul changed over time, the final forms of the wraiths in the books are definitely not “thin and emaciated.” Their bodies faded to invisibility, like those of ancient elves, but they still very much occupied a place in the physical realm. It is obvious that they were physically strong, their strength probably even magically enhanced. However, only those who could see into the spirit world could see what they actually looked like.

As for Tolkien's chagrin over the plumed hats... I will say that I can TOTALLY see Udukhaturz and Rutfimuriz (Seventh and Sixth Nazgul) wearing plumed hats. Now I want to write a scene where they are wearing the most ridiculous hats ever, while being drunk out of their minds and singing Numenorean sea shanties.

Also, "Circles" Nazgul occasionally wear other colors than black.

Tolkien wrote that the drawing of Minas Morgul on Pauline Bayne's map was in keeping with his own visions of Middle-earth. I will say I am somewhat disappointed about this, as I feel Minas Morgul should be bigger, as it is meant to be a mirror of Minas Tirith. However, this drawing is very similiar to Ted Nasmith's "Tower of the Moon," which was one of Angmar's favorite paintings of Minas Morgul.

Angmar and I were never certain exactly how Minas Morgul should be laid out. Angmar's original idea was more in keeping with the Baynes/Nasmith versions, but we later decided to make the city more like Minas Tirith, with concentric semicircles built into the mountainside. This decision was most likely inspired by the MERP map of Minas Ithil, which depicts a multi-layered city like Minas Tirith, except with nine levels instead of seven.

We decided to give Minas Morgul nine levels as well, so each of the Nazgul had a level of their own. However, these levels would probably be much, much smaller in scale than Minas Tirith, as there is not a lot of building room in the Morgul Vale.

After playing the Minas Morgul expansion of Lord of the Rings Online, I felt that Standing Stone Games' layout of the city felt more realistic than the MERP version, given the narrowness of the valley. (I did not care for the actual appearance of the city, for it felt too much like the movie version.) LOTRO's Minas Morgul features four semicircular levels leading up to a central citadel, which makes sense, given that Minas Morgul would be smaller than Minas Tirith.

Unfortunately, Angmar never lived to see LOTRO's Minas Morgul. We had planned on exploring the city together, but that was when his health took a turn for the worse.

If I ever decided to change Minas Morgul's layout, I think that a three level city would work nicely given the available space. A trio of Nazgul would call each level their own (most likely based upon their personal allegiances - WK/Udu/Rut; Khamul/Krith/Zag; Gothmog/Krak/Skri). Possibly there could be four levels, with the WK calling the top one his own.

Minas Morgul in The Circles is HEAVILY enchanted, and it can be assumed all descriptions of the city and surrounding landscape are to be taken with a grain of salt. People see what they want to see in the valley... or perhaps they see what the valley wants them to see. To one person, the city is a place of beauty, and to another person, it is a place of nightmares...


I have updated the Library of Minas Morgul with quotes about the Nazgul from "The Nature of Middle-earth." Updated sections are "Nazgul Descriptions," "Strengths and Weaknesses," and "Descriptions of Minas Morgul" (a brand new section).

Nazgul Quotes and Information

If you'd like to get in touch with the author of "The Circles," leave a comment in the discussion forum, or write directly to Elfhild.

The Triumph of The Shadow

The West loses the War of the Ring and the proud city of Minas Tirith falls to the forces of the Dark Lord. In these days of darkness and fear, two young maidens, twins Elfhild and Elffled, are captured by orcs in a preliminary raid against Rohan. Herded off with other captives, the sisters know little of their destination, only that they are being driven ever East towards Mordor, the dreadful land of horror and shadows. Their world destroyed, their fate uncertain, they face the bleak prospects of slavery at the hands of their enemies.

The armies of Mordor, driven ceaselessly by their masters, march ever onward towards the West. The Dark Lord Sauron sits upon his black throne, eagerly anticipating the final victory as he watches history unfold through the palantír.

With Gondor fallen, will Rohan be conquered at last... and then the rest of Middle-earth?

Some chapters may have violent and/or sexual themes. For mature readers only.

Click Here to Read Book One

Journey of Sorrow

After arriving at the ruins of Minas Tirith, the captives are handed over to a group of Haradric slavers, led by Esarhaddon uHuzziya, one of the owners of a slave trading business in Nurn. A man of might and mastery, this handsome, rakish Southron symbolizes everything that the Rohirric women dread.

Orphaned, their land destroyed, Elfhild and Elffled struggle to remain defiant against their foes, even when faced with ghastly reminders of the enemy's might. Goldwyn, stern and proud, refuses to surrender to despair like so many others have done.

Each step on this journey of sorrow takes the Rohirric captives closer to Mordor, the Land of Shadows from which there is no return. Is there any hope of escape, or is slavery to be their doom?

Some chapters may have violent and/or sexual themes. For mature readers only.

Click Here to Read Book Two

To Escape a Dark Destiny

Driven by her pursuers into an old crypt in Osgiliath, Goldwyn finds herself trapped in a nightmare from which there is no awakening. But are the horrors real, or only figments of her guilt-tormented mind?

Having successfully evaded the orcs, Frodwine, Frumgar and Fritha, the three sons of Goldwyn, embark on a quest to return to Rohan. However, this is not some childish adventure - it is a matter of life and death.

Journeying through the wasteland of Anorien, Elfhild and Elffled desperately try to keep one step ahead of the slavers. But perhaps there are others who are far more intimidating than the Haradrim...

Can any of them escape the evil destiny which the enemy has planned for them, or is to attempt to do so utterly useless?

Some chapters may have violent and/or sexual themes. For mature readers only.

Click Here to Read Book Three

Paths Both East and West

As the last wain in the slaver's caravan crosses the Anduin, the fate of the captives is sealed. At the mercy of her enemies and the delusions of her own mind, Goldwyn resolves to kindle her hatred into a burning passion, even if it means spurning those who might truly care for her.

Meanwhile, twins Elfhild and Elffled and the three sons of Goldwyn - Frodwine, Frumgar and Fritha - journey through Anorien, though the courses which they take vary greatly. Danger lies everywhere, but what about friends unlooked-for?

Some chapters may have violent and/or sexual themes. For mature readers only.

Click Here to Read Book Four

Through the Valley of Death

Book Five of The Circles - Through the Valley of Death

Recaptured by the Haradric slave traders, Elfhild and Elffled once again find themselves forced to resume their journey to the Dark Land of Mordor. Once they pass over the Anduin, all hope of escape is lost, and each mile that passes brings them ever closer to the culmination of their fears. Home is behind them; slavery lies ahead. Torn between loyalties and tormented by grief and guilt, the twin sisters struggle to accept the fate which seems to await them at the journey's end.

Before the twins and their captors ever reach Mordor, however, they must pass through the ethereal mists of the Morgul Vale, a place so terrifying that even the minds of brave men succumb to madness. In this realm of mists and shadows, nothing is as it seems, and the boundaries between reality and illusion are blurred to obscurity. What strange sights and experiences await them in the treacherous Morgul Pass?

Some chapters may have violent and/or sexual themes. For mature readers only.

Click Here to Read Book Five

Across the Wide Hamada

Book Six of The Circles - Across the Wide Hamada

After being freed from the dungeons of Cirith Ungol, twin sisters Elfhild and Elffled come at last to the Plateau of Gorgoroth, where they are reunited with the rest of the Rohirric captives. The tumultuous heart of Sauron's realm, the desolate, rolling hamada is a land of feral beauty, where the ground trembles with the Dark Lord's might, and mountains spew forth fire.

While the captives are lost to all hope, far away in their war-torn homeland, the forces of the West steadily drive the hordes of Mordor back towards the Mering Stream. In the Throne Room of the Eye, the Dark Lord stares into the Palantír and witnesses one defeat after another, and the Mountain of Doom churns with the fury of His wrath...

Some chapters may have violent and/or sexual themes. For mature readers only.

Click Here to Read Book Six

Land of Treachery

Book Seven of the Circles - Land of Treachery

Southern Gorgoroth is a harsh and unforgiving land, yet various tribes of Men and Orcs call the rock-strewn desert their home.

The greed of King Thaguzgoth, chieftain of the Kafakudraûg Clan of the Sand Orcs, knows no bounds, and not even Sauron's caravans are safe from his goblin raiders. However, the King would be wise to look to his own household, for there are those who would plot his downfall. When a band of Uruk-hai mercenaries arrive at Kafakudraûg Cavern, this simmering cauldron of intrigue comes to a roiling boil.

The Dolrujâtar are a tribe of nomadic sheep and goat herders who dwell at the Oasis of the Solitary Cedar. A people as stern and unyielding as the desert, they are distrusting of outsiders and prefer their own ways to those of the outside world. Pressured by his family to take a wife, Prince Zarkfir struggles to abide by tradition and follow the desires of his heart.

A tale of adventure set in dungeons deep and sweltering deserts beneath the Sun... in the Land of Treachery.

Some chapters may have violent and/or sexual themes. For mature readers only.

Click Here to Read Book Seven

The Circles on Other Archives

The Circles on
The Circles on Archive of Our Own

Elfhild's Stories and Art

Elfhild's Stories on
Elfhild's Stories on Archive of Our Own
Elfhild's DeviantArt Gallery
The Morgul Scribe - Elfhild's Tumblr Blog

The Library of Minas Morgul

Delve into the history of the Nazgul...
Learn to speak Black Speech...
Peruse yellowed pages of dusty tomes penned in ages past...
Who knows what you will find in the Library?

Visit the Library of Minas Morgul

All original characters and their names copyright their creators and may not be used in other stories. All Tolkien characters copyright J.R.R. Tolkien. This fan fiction series by Angmar and Elfhild was inspired in part by Tolkien's collective writings: The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales and the History of Middle-earth series. We derive no profit from this venture, and write these stories out of our love for Middle-earth.

Visitors since May 2, 2005:

Web Analytics Made Easy -