The Circles of Power

A series of original fan fiction novels set in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth.
Celebrating Seventeen Years
November 14, 2004 - November 14, 2021
***
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.

November 14, 2021

Today marks the 17th anniversary of The Circles!

It was a cold, overcast day in November when Angmar and I began working on a new campaign for the "Second Darkness" roleplaying game. The sounds of "Minas Morgul" by Summoning were playing in the background, which was quite appropriate given the fact that the story was set in the City of the Wraiths...

In this update, I have added Chapter 15, "The Goblin Vizier," to Book 7. Esarhaddon, still recovering from the grievous wounds he received in the fight with the uruks, receives tidings from a very unlikely source - an exiled goblin vizier.

Minor revisions were made to Chapter 5: a paragraph explaining how the caravan is able to obtain water and supplies during its long delay in Southern Gorgoroth after Esarhaddon was greviously wounded. Angmar had originally explained this in an aside in Chapter 22, but I thought it would be better to explain it sooner.

I had originally planned to put up three chapters to commemorate the 17th anniversary of The Circles, but I simply could not make my goal. I am still struggling with the issues with distance in this book. The exact locations of Kafakudraûg Cavern and the Oasis of the Solitary Cedar in relationship to Esarhaddon's camp were not firmly established in the original rough drafts. Because of this, milage, dates, and travel times are really off in places. To make matters worse, some of the original text is rather vague, causing me even more confusion.

I will continue to investigate time and distance in this section until everything works out. The Map of Mordor will also be updated once everything is finalized.

I recently signed up with Artbreeder, a site that uses artificial intelligence to create composite images of landscape and people. It's somewhat difficult to get good people pictures, as you have to have photos with a specific pose (subject looking directly into camera, no glasses, nothing on head, etc). The site seems to be made for strictly human pictures as well. I tried to import photos of uruks and orcs from the movies, and it either made them look more human or like the stuff of nightmares. Seriously, don't play with this site when you're getting ready to go to bed.

I created this poster for Book 7! None of the models are real; they are all composite images made through Artbreeder.

As for the character designs themselves....

I never considered the shape of Elfhild's lips, so seeing her with these full, lush lips came as a surprise... but I like it. Her hair is a bit more cool-toned than I had imagined it; I always saw her as having golden highlights. Also, at this point in the story, her skin would be suntanned with prominent freckles, and the lingering redness of sunburn on her cheeks and nose. This is more of a winter depiction of Elfhild than a summer depiction.

The rendition of Zarkfir is fairly true to how I had imagined him, although I had pictured him as having somewhat darker skin, tanned a deep tawny by the desert sun. However, whenever I tried to darken his skin, Artbreeder kept putting purple eyeshadow and frosty lipstick on his face! While Zarkfir wears kohl to protect his eyes from the sun, he wouldn't be caught dead with a face full of makeup.

I liked the appearance Artbreeder gave Khaldun. I wanted to show that he has dreadlocks, because that is how I always imagined him. I did picture him with slightly darker, cooler toned skin, but I do like this look.

Angmar never went into detail concerning Ulimaghûlb's description, although he did state that the goblin vizier has a "pudgy" belly. I wasn't sure what skin tone to make him, so I gave him greenish gray skin like other orcs in The Circles. Ulimaghûlb isn't a young goblin, but he isn't an old one either. Most likely he is of middle years. Because Artbreeder is for humanoid characters only, I had to do extensive Photoshop work on Ulimaghûlb's picture. He originally looked like Hannibal Lecter with pointy ears!

Özlem is just as beautiful as I imagined her. I have absolutely no complaints with her depiction.

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.

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 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 Fanfiction.net
The Circles on Archive of Our Own

Elfhild's Stories and Art

Elfhild's Stories on Fanfiction.net
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.

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