~ Leighton, Fredric - Fisherman and the Siren, 1858, detail.
(Looking for some het Frodo, Undine decided to go right to the source....)
Because a decent answer to a fellow-LJ'er's question about where to talk about Frodo. I had mentioned "The Harem," so she wanted to know a little more about that. She also wanted to know where to find fic about Frodo -- het fic. My reply turned out to be so huge, I decided to make it into an LJ entry, so that it would all fit in one place ( -- and I could find it again; I would like to have an easy place to go to find these links again myself).
Notice: To anyone who happens to read this and knows other good rec sources, or feels there are things I didn’t present properly that I should correct, please let me know in the Comments section. Thanks!
About Frodo’s Harem….
“Frodo’s Harem.” Is there another such thread? I don’t know of one. People who have a long history in this thread say that its hey-day, as with most Tolkien messageboards, was around 2002, before and after the release of The Fellowship of the Ring, while fans were waiting for the release of The Two Towers. It sounds as though it must have been thrilling and stupendously fun to have been on the boards in those days, but I didn’t come to the Harem until last summer, in 2004, after the last film, The Return of the King had long been out of theatres.
The Harem is a messageboard thread, not an LJ, so it has a very different feel from LJ. LJ posts go up; people say a few things, and the moment is left behind. What was just said is pretty much erased by the coming of the next new entry. Messageboard thread discussions can go on and on. You never have to worry if you’ve missed anything on a messageboard thread, because a sub-discussion went on further back, going off an interesting tangent or developing a further point, long after you stopped checking. The messageboard thread is like a train, with one thought-car following another. There is only one on-going conversation until the thread simply peters out and dies. The talk on a thread is often much more wide-ranging than on LJ; the sense of it is that it is a public space, not a cosy nook or salon. Many more voices usually contribute to a messageboard thread than to the comments for an LJ entry, and the group's discussion can go on and on and become very in-depth, since there is only one thread that keeps getting added to.
The Harem has had its pithy moments; its flights of beautiful fancy, but it is humorous more often than anything else. At least, it has since I’ve been there (*looks around shiftily*).
If you want to check the Harem out, here’s a link to what I hope will open to p. 16 (around Sept. 22, Frodo’s birthday) of the previous volume of it. Threads now are closed and archived in “The Barrow Downs” after 500 posts, because of how much bandwidth long threads can take up on a site’s server. Otherwise, the active thread is in K-D's “Community Café” forum.
Here a link to p. 16 of the last installment of the thread, New Frodo’s Harem, #3, at Khazad-dum (K-D):
Here’s a link to the beginning of the current New Frodo’s Harem, #4 (it’s still only 3 pages long):
As you will see from cruising the posts in just the first link, there is a great deal of saucy comedy in the thread. It is a running gag there that Frodo is a gorgeous, happy, perpetually abashed but deeply amorous hobbit playing host to a bevy of swooning women. And he looks like film-Frodo to an uncanny degree. This assumption underlies all the humour, vignettes and so on. It goes back to a sort of "Harem AU," which developed in the midst of the group of fans who formed the thread: an idea that the Valar gave Frodo a special boon after arriving in Tol Eressea. Seeing that he was pining for hobbit company beyond what Bilbo and, later, Samwise could provide, the Valar allowed hobbit lasses to sail the Straight Road to Tol Eressea, to reside there with Frodo, “the Squire,” at “BEWTE” (Bag End West, Tol Eressea), a replica of the Hobbiton home, specially constructed for Frodo and Bilbo by the Elves. The Valar felt that Frodo could do with some of the loving female attention that he had never got to enjoy properly in Middle-earth. In this way they meant to provide him with the opportunities he had missed.
Recently we have been amusing ourselves talking about Frodo and art. You will notice, too, that there has been an impromptu “role-play” going on. It has developed from a reference to a poster known in the thread for her lusty ways, (who writes intelligent, explicit and often very funny fanfic, het and slash), about ripping Frodo’s clothes off. This led to the creation of the mysterious “Ripper,” who is stalking Frodo, keen to denude him and have her way with him. It is still in progress, as you will see if you read that far. There are many digressions, of course.
There are times when the thread gets dull and listless from lack of input, but, so far it keeps reviving. When it is in full-swing, it is a place that is jumping with energy: intellectual, aesthetic, emotional, sexual and sometimes even spiritual. I have really loved it there, even if I did not arrive until its “glory days” had passed.
I should tell you that the foundational “Harem myth” informs almost all the humour in the thread, as well as its particular erotic flavour. This is a one-male set-up (very male, and very set-up). The One Male is surrounded by a bevy of adoring females. In this shared AU, the “lasses” all have their opportunities to offer Frodo *comfort*. There even is an appointment book somewhere to help him keep his favours more “spread around.”
It is all very tongue in cheek, but, there is a sense in which it is quite serious. The people who post there really do love this character, however mercilessly they tease Mr. Baggins. And, in a way that has really impressed me, they seem able to see themselves as sisters, not rivals in their love for him, even though their love is an erotically charged one.
Special note: As prevalent as it is in Frodo fandom, the slash premise does not seem to enter into the Harem AU world. Sometimes there is an off-hand reference to it, but that is all. This does not mean, however, that posters in the Harem have no taste for slash. By no means. Some have no love for slash at all, it is true, but many not only read it (like me), they also write it (unlike me). One can’t tell this, though, from reading the thread, since it revels so unabashedly, and whole-heartedly, in male-female sexuality. I just didn’t want you to get the idea that no one on the thread cares for slash, lest you make the wrong assumption reading and posting, should you join in (which would be great!). There are several Haremites who now write slash who used to write Harem het.
Where to look for het Frodo fanfiction.
Het and gen Tolkien-based stories are hosted at several sites, but only Frodo-centric stories appear in Frodo’s Harem Fanfiction Archives. Necessarily, it is not a huge archive, but it has some gems if you are looking for het or gen Frodo. The fics there are subdivided between those written in Tolkien’s canon world, and those which are written in the “Harem canon” AU world. (This is the archive where you are currently reading “Threshold.”) These categories are further sub-divided by their ratings. The site is hosted by the Harem’s Ariel.
Frodo’s Harem Fanfiction Archive:
Note on “Harem canon”.
If you want to just browse for het Frodo stories, Frodo’s Harem is a great archive for that. The Harem Archives has allowed anyone who is a Harem thread poster to post a fic at the site, the only qualifications being that the story must prominently feature Frodo and it can’t be slash.
I was a little leery of reading “Harem canon” fics, at first (see above re: "Harem AU"), thinking the AU probably only produced silly stuff. Some of it is silly. A few I have read have been hobbit bodice-rippers, others have been modest and sweet. Many are wryly observed, or, out-and-out hilarious. What really has surprised me has been to find that some are the most beautiful Frodo stories I’ve read, stories which really “catch” the heart and soul (and libido) of Frodo.
Who would have thought it? I would not have, but it is so. I certainly can tell you ones that I have particularly enjoyed so far – and I have only scratched the surface of what's archived in there. The Harem AU shouldn’t work, but it does. By assuming this fanciful AU, "Harem canon" writers seem to be able to allow themselves an awful lot of imaginative freedom, while managing to keep Frodo’s basic, book-like,“honourable gentle-hobbit” character in tact. Because of the license given by the AU, and the beautiful, magical atmosphere of Tol Eressea (so near to Aman, and full of Elvishness), and the lack of any social restraints that might discourage Frodo from having a different lass every night -- and morning and afternoon -- Frodo can be placed into what amount to one-time trysts, which somehow end up carrying as much weight as relationships of many years ... trysts of sheer delight, or ones that are tinged by bitter-sweetness and melancholy.
I suppose the Harem AU is able to accomplish what the slash AU can. Many versions of the "Slash Shire" also envision a world in which there are myriad possible, luscious partners -- and virtually no societal taboos to prevent Frodo from having as much sex as he wants (and fanfic Frodo wants to have sex a lot ). I should note that I don’t include OTP (“one true pairing”) slash in this, since in that sort of slash story the two hobbit lovers only snog each other. OTP slash writers could set their stories right in a canon Shire, really (as long as the lovers are discreet and don’t flaunt a Tolkien-Shire’s rules and expectations). There is no need to set the usual slash Shire at all. For my purposes, I am thinking more of the sort of premise that produces the slashy romps, and ones in which Frodo has lovers other than Sam.
Here are some other fanfiction archives you might be interested in.
Open Scrolls Archives:
This site accepts any Middle-earth based fanfic (not just hobbits), gen or het, up to NC-17, but no slash. (“Threshold” is posted there, too, but I hate their format -- white text on a black background -- and don’t like to read things there for that reason. I hear it’s got some great stuff, though.)
Stories of Arda:
This is another Tolkien-only fanfic archive, for gen and het, no slash, but only up to an R rating. (“Threshold” is not posted there, obviously.)
West of the Moon:
This is the most famous site for stories that must prominently feature hobbits. It was the only archive I even knew about, back when I first started reading and writing fic. Submissions must be read and judged acceptable before they are posted there. For that reason, stories posted there are usually well-written, even if this or that fic might not be up your alley. They have two major categories when you enter, gen and slash. However, they have no separate category for het. It gets put in with gen. Subsequently, it is hard to find, since there is quite a lot of gen, but not much het, it would seem. There is a plenty of hobbit slash, should you change your mind.
This is another site that hosts Tolkien-only fic, but they accept slash, too. There are a lot of stories here. Works in progress are posted in Gen (part of “Threshold” is there, but I had a computer snag recently and can’t seem to download chapters in there anymore); finished work that has been evaluated by nine readers and deemed acceptable goes into their Archive section. The search tool is good there, since you can look for stories by major character(s), genre, and rating. Of course, in all archives ratings are not fool-proof in looking for "Frodo het." High ratings can be given for violence, not just sex (imagine!). I can't remember if there is something to click to designate only slash or only het.
Individual writer's LJ's:
A lot of fic is now posted by the author's themselves on their LJ's, bypassing archives. I don't yet know of a place that lists these stories in any way, or offers leads for finding titles.
Sources for het recs.
If you want recs to het, I can give you some I really have liked, certainly. But you have said you don't care to see Frod raped or tortured, so that cuts out quite a few *wink* (I'm teasing; as you know from my own fic my desire to write a disturbed-and-dangerous Shire is minimal, although I have enjoyed reading the heavy angst of other writers).
Seriously, some fics do present a violent, dark sort of Shire, and some depict Frodo having a very miserable time of things. I am afraid fans do love to see him suffer and struggle, he does it so well. Yet there are some very good longer stories, which, although they do have some chapters that are painful or brutal, really dark stuff is only one component of their larger story. In some multi-chapter stories in which a wide variety of things happen, the author sometimes will post warnings at the start, letting sensitive readers know which chapters to skip. One of the long fics I am reading right now is the frequently-recommended het tale, Before I Go to Sleep, by Cuthalion (aka Belegcuthalion). For her especially violent chapter, she not only provided a warning, she gave a little tidied-up summary at the start of the chapter following, should anyone wish to skip the sordid details, yet know the gist of what happened.
A great source for het recs is Ariel, a writer of [primarily] Frodo-centric gen and het fanfic. You’ll find her link in my “Friends” list and she is co-administrator with Aratlithiel of the LJ community, “hobbit_het.” You have it on your “friends” list. She is pretty busy so may not be available in a personal way, but she is always looking for new het, since there isn’t that much, really, compared to gen and slash.
Hobbit_het, the het fic LJ community Ariel co-administers with Aratlithiel (who writes everything: slash, het and gen), unfortunately doesn’t seem to have an efficient way of looking for a rec among the entries and comments. I have tried clicking on old calendars but that is time-consuming. Hobbit_het folks: is there some other way to search such an LJ? I am not good enough at LJ to offer any suggestions on this. But browsing can produce some results. Note: the stories recommended are not just Frodo stories.
Better for het Frodo recs is Ariel’s Bag End West, her own fanfic web page, I am not sure she’s updated her rec page recently, however. It contains gen and het recs, mixed together but identified by rating. Here's a link to her rec page:
Ariel has been reading and writing fanfic for a long time, in fandoms before LotR. I think she's a great source for het recs simply because she’s probably read every bit of Frodo het out there. Otherwise she wouldn't be bemoaning the fact that there just isn’t enough, LOL. She frequently says she loves stories with lashings of angst, herself, but she would be able to give a rec that wasn’t in that genre, if that’s what you wanted. She herself has written a ton of good Frodo stuff, varying in tone and theme. I haven’t even read a third of her fic, but some of her things are among my very favourite.
Oh. There is also another LJ community I've recently been browsing that has a section for fanfic recs, LotR Fic Recs. I had thought it was related to, or under the umbrella of Middle-Earth News, but apparently it is a separate entity....
The community accept recs for all Tolkien-based stories, slash and het. I have not yet found out how to use this resource well. It’s not organized in a way I quite understand, if I were trying to look up a certain author or title, or something like that. Still, it’s a neat idea for a way to gather recs, soliciting them from various readers and writers of fanfics, then making them available in one place.
I will also throw in a link to a page of LotR fanfic recommendations from Teasel. She’s a well-known hobbit slash writer, who now writes Harry Potter fic (and I forget what else). She has her recs divided up into slash, gen and het, as well as a few sub-genres. I include this because Teasel's rec page is well-organized and easy to use:
Sorry this was so long, but it was a lot to relate to you!
Do any of the rest of you have some places you think are useful for finding these sorts of recs?
I didn’t include the K-D Fanfiction thread, even though it has some helpful recs, because I didn’t see how one could search it easily for a particular title, author or genre. Is there a way? I am not that good using the site’s “search” function. It would be a good source, if there were a way to find things in it other than just scrolling through the whole thing.