The Circles of Power

A series of original fan fiction novels set in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth.
Celebrating Nineteen Years
November 14, 2004 - November 14, 2023
***
IN MEMORY OF ANGMAR
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.

June 2, 2024

Chapter 3, "New Friends, New Knowledge," has been added to Book 9. Although their lessons in the School of Industry have not officially started yet, Elfhild and Elffled are already learning much about life in Nurn, from extracurricular sports practiced by their fellow students, to the political situation of the distant region of Rhûn, to the bathing practices of the lands of the south.

Because so much of the series has focused on the journey to Mordor, we have never really gotten to see what abilities that Elfhild and Elffled possess. They could be amazing jugglers and acrobats (they're not), but the reader would never know it because there was no logical place to showcase these abilities during the journey. In a school setting, however, the twins will have plenty of opportunities to explore their talents and learn new skills.

In the 2006 version of the story, Rufina was one of many servants living at Esarhaddon's villa, and one of the first characters to befriend the twins. Angmar always wanted Rufina to become an important character in the story, but she didn't have much personality development in the original drafts. In the 2013 rewrites, Angmar tried to develop Rufina's character by expanding upon her background as a potter's daughter and making her a new slave who arrived at the School of Industry at the same time as the twins. In my opinion, depicting Rufina as a new student took away from the twins' experience of being outsiders, so I changed Rufina's backstory to make her a student who had been living at the school for a year. That way, she can serve as an occasional guide to the twins, even though the customs of Nurn are still strange and unfamiliar to her. Nurma is another character who serves as a mentor of sorts to new students. Having been born in Nurn, she is very knowledgeable about the intricacies of life in Mordor. She also possesses more than one sort of knowledge, as will be revealed in future chapters.

I have added the following articles to Elfhild's Essays:

After the fall of Angmar, did the Witch-king return to a Nazgul-less Mordor, or did he meet up with the other Nazgul there?
Mordorian Obsidian and Other Igneous Rocks of Power
Gift Giving Customs in Mordor and Nurn
His Name is Not REALLY Sauron, but no one really knows what to call him either
Faking Your Own Death in Middle-earth
Cosmic Love, or Solar Eclipses in Tolkien
Sauron and Colonialism
The Topography of Second Age Arda (Before the World Was Made Round)

If you'd like to get in touch with the author of "The Circles," write to Elfhild.

***

April 21, 2024

Chapter 2, "The Lady's Chambers," has just been posted to Book Nine! A bird in a gilded cage is still a bird in a cage – and despite the beauty and luxury of Goldwyn's new home, she still feels like a prisoner in a cell.

I have been thinking a lot about the course that the story will take over the next few books. When Angmar's health worsened in 2019, we had completed ten books, and were working on finishing the eleventh book in the series. I am considering that it might be prudent to work on the last three books simultaneously, as opposed to finishing the revisions on one book and then moving on to the next. This way I can incorporate foreshadowing for future events, and build up skills that will be used by characters in the future. I am also considering having Book 11 as a stand-alone spin-off that would take place during the last half of Book 9. This particular book is told from the perspective of Daungha, the Khandian calvaryman from Book 1, making it somewhat different from the rest of the series as Elfhild and Elffled are not featured in the story at all. This book was one of the first ones written, and it's possible that Angmar might have been considering having some of the books feature different narrators. If he had been playing around with this idea, he obviously shelved it at some point.

If Book 11 becomes a stand-alone spin-off, I'm not sure how the posting schedule would work. I might end up posting parts of two books at the same time, with the spin-off being updated more sporadically. Since Angmar and I never finished this book, it will be more difficult to edit because I have to invent an ending, and possibly change the locations and geography for easier/more logical writing.

If you'd like to get in touch with the author of "The Circles," write to Elfhild.

***

March 25, 2024

HAPPY RING DAY!!!

The first chapter of Book 9, "Beneath the Nurnian Sky," has been posted!

Chapter 1, "A New Home" - After months of marching, Elfhild and Elffled at last arrive at their new home. What knowledge might the twins gain whilst residing at a Mordorian academy?

While it is the ninth book in the series, "Beneath the Nurnian Sky" was actually written between 2005-2006, with parts of the story being written simultaneously with parts of Books 1 and 2. At that time, "Beneath the Nurnian Sky" was meant to be the third book in the series, with the second book covering the twins' journey to Mordor.

During this period, Angmar and I were transitioning from writing for the Second Darkness RPG to writing Tolkien inspired fanfiction. After Second Darkness ended, Angmar still had hopes of starting up a new RPG, and at one point had considered making The Circles a multi-author writing project. However, by 2006, he had abandoned this idea, and began to revise the first drafts of Book 2. One of the new storylines which he created during this revision was Goldwyn urging the Rohirric captives to make one last desperate escape attempt before the slave caravan crossed the River Anduin.

From that point onward, the story became more about the journey to Nurn rather than life in Nurn. In the original drafts from 2005-2006, the journey was a relatively brief and uneventful affair, with the only major stopping point and side story being the cruel shenanigans of General Favarti at the Fortress of the Setting Sun. However, revisions to the story introduced new characters, new plotlines, and new books. Angmar and I tried to splice the old material in with the new as best as we could, sometimes with grace, sometimes with clumsiness.

Work on the section of the story set in Nurn ceased, and was not picked up again until some time later. By the time that Angmar and I got around to revising the material which would ultimately become Book 9, it was 2013. Angmar felt self-conscious about his earlier work, and decided to make some major changes.

In the original version of "Beneath the Nurnian Sky," Esarhaddon occasionally selected promising slaves to be trained at his villa, where they would receive an education from the same tutors that taught his sons. The plot of the book revolved around Elfhild and Elffled living in Esarhaddon's household and interacting with various characters who also dwelt there. In the 2013 revision, Angmar expanded upon this idea by creating the School of Industry, an elite training academy for female servants. Instead of the focus being solely upon Esarhaddon's household, attention was divided between the slaver's family and the school. In the most recent revisions to the story, I have continued to emphasize this division. Instead of having the school located in a wing of Esarhaddon's sprawling manor house, the school now has its own complex which is separated from the manor by a large garden. While Angmar and I created some floor plans for Esarhaddon's villa, we kept the details purposefully vague so that we would have more leeway while writing. However, now that the story is approaching its final form, I felt that it was time to set the architectural details in stone (pun intended).

One of the most difficult parts of editing the beginning of Book 9 has been with the timeline. In the original 2005-2006 draft, Elfhild and Elffled arrive at Esarhaddon's villa by late afternoon. However, in the 2013 rewrite, Angmar changed this and had them arriving shortly after midnight. In retrospect, I felt that the original scenario was better, for a number of reasons too complicated to discuss here. So I decided to do some major chapter juggling and rearrange the order of events that transpire during the twins' first two days at the School of Industry. This was a monumental undertaking at times, but I feel that these changes have helped establish the setting and characters in a more dynamic and efficient manner.

There is a lot of worldbuilding in the first few chapters of "Beneath the Nurnian Sky," and I am still working on smoothing out the rough edges.

It boggles my mind sometimes when I consider how much progress I have made with the story since Angmar's passing in 2020. When Angmar's health began to deteriorate, he withdrew from interacting with the fandom and posting chapters online. We continued to write in private, however, and Angmar expressed a desire to create a large backlog of chapters which could be posted after his death. Among the last words that he told me was the request to finish The Circles, and I have been striving for the last four years to complete this goal. The story might not be exactly what Angmar imagined, but he was always rewriting his own stories because he was never satisfied with his original work. If he were still alive today, he might even take the story in an entirely different direction.

I would like to thank the readers who have kept up with The Circles over the years. The journey is far from being over, and there are more adventures to come.

If you'd like to get in touch with the author of "The Circles," write to Elfhild.

BOOK ONE OF THE CIRCLES
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

BOOK TWO OF THE CIRCLES
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

BOOK THREE OF THE CIRCLES
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

BOOK FOUR OF THE CIRCLES
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

BOOK FIVE OF THE CIRCLES
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

BOOK SIX OF THE CIRCLES
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

BOOK SEVEN OF THE CIRCLES
Land of Treachery

Book Seven of the Circles - Land of Treachery

Southern Gorgoroth can be a harsh and unforgiving land, yet both Men and Orcs call this region 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.

One day, Prince Zarkfir will become the chieftain of the Dolrujâtar, a tribe of nomadic sheep and goat herders who dwell upon the plains of Lithlad. Pressured by his family to take a wife, the prince struggles to abide by tradition and follow the desires of his heart. Will he find happiness after a chance meeting with a stranger in the desert?

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

BOOK EIGHT OF THE CIRCLES
A Mordorian Bestiary

A collection of tales set in Mordor, many of which feature various creatures that dwell within that dreadful land.

Forced to flee Mordor so they can be together, young lovers Inbir and Aeffe take sanctuary in the Mountains of Shadow, where they find a mysterious valley inhabited by giant cats and fell beasts.

The commander of the Fortress of the Setting Sun is an eccentric man with a streak of cruelty, a twisted sense of humor, and a deep and abiding love for ferrets.

Imprisoned in the Houses of Lamentation, the Witch-king of Angmar befriends a lowly rat named Murg, inspiring him to lead a revolution against the cats of Barad-dûr.

Descended from the Mearas, the black horses of Mordor are famous for many things - intelligence, loyalty, an intuitive knowledge of what their riders expect of them, and speed which surpasses that of most other horses in Middle-earth. They can also speak, although there are few who understand what they say.

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

Click Here to Read Book Eight

BOOK NINE OF THE CIRCLES
Beneath the Nurnian Sky

Nurn: A land of pastoral beauty, of lush vineyards, fields of plenty, and a majestic sea of deepest azure. However, despite its fair climate and idyllic countryside, a sense of dark evil permeates the realm, sometimes barely noticeable, other times palpably oppressive.

Elfhild and Elffled are new students at the School of Industry, an elite academy dedicated to training female servants of Mordor. The school seems an unexpected boon to them, for they have been given an opportunity to receive an education, something which they never would have had in Rohan. Few things are free in the Land of Gifts, however, and this education comes at a price.

When Goldwyn finds herself the concubine of a wealthy slave trader whom she loathes, she laments her miserable existence. Her disdain for her unwanted husband carries over to every member of his household, from his other two wives to the lowliest servant of the house. However, could she find allies where she least expects them?

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

Click Here to Read Book Nine

The Circles Discussion Forum

The Morgul Scribe - Elfhild's Tumblr Blog

The Circles on Other Archives

The Circles on Archive of Our Own
The Circles on Fanfiction.net

Elfhild's Stories

Elfhild's Stories on Archive of Our Own
Elfhild's Stories on Fanfiction.net

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 -
StatCounter