E is for Elves #atozchallenge

Posted April 5, 2013 in A-Z Challenge / 6 Comments

[Dovahkiin 1 modelled by Mirish on DA,
photography by Magda Lindblom]

Today I’m continuing with the Blogging from A-Z Challenge hosted by Arlee Bird and his team of awesome bloggers. My theme is: Elements and features of speculative fiction and entertainment. So throughout April I will be blogging about characters, objects and themes that appear in sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian series. Today’s post is all about Elves.

Elves are mythical creatures that come from Germanic and Norse mythology. The word ‘elf’ comes from the Old English ‘ælf”, a short word for ‘nightmare’ or ‘hiccup’ (both were thought to be caused by elves).  In the past they have been portrayed as sinister in nature, often playing tricks on humans or assisting dark forces. But since Tolkien’s days they’ve usually been depicted as peaceful, intelligent beings, possessing great magical powers. They’re often associated with other magical creatures such as fairies.

Lord of the Rings

  • The Elves are the oldest race, the first children of Eru, the One.
  • They are almost immortal as they are not vulnerable to disease or physical ageing. But they can be killed by violence or can die from losing the will to live.  When they die they pass to the Halls of Mandos in Valinor, where they await the end of time.
  • Elves invented poetry and music.
  • They speak their own language-Elvish, of which there are several variations.
  • They are usually very handsome, tall and slender, with better vision and hearing than humans. They have greater skills and abilities and perception as well. They can travel long distances without leaving tracks and are very light on their feet.
  • Galadriel is one of the mightiest and fairest of all the elves, and she is known as ‘Lórien, Lady of Light’. She was the bearer of Nenya, one of the three Elven rings.


  • Elves are good magical beings that live in the Enchanted Forest. She was depicted with pointed ears and bright green eyes.
  • Only one Elf was ever seen in the series-the Elf Nanny.
  • They possess magical abilities such as fading (teleporting themselves through a fading green light), apportation (teleporting objects) and sensing the locations and status of other beings. 

Harry Potter

  • In Harry Potter, traditional elves aren’t mentioned, but creatures known as ‘house-elves’ play a big part in the series. They are very different from the usual depiction of elves as highly-intelligent and beautiful creatures. They are two to three feet tall, with spindly arms and legs and over-sized heads and eyes. They have pointed, bat-like ears and high, squeaky voices.
  • House-elves are servants to rich wizarding families. They dress very poorly, in filthy clothes such as old rags or pillow cases. This is because the only way they can be freed from servitude is if their masters present them with an item of clothing.
  • They were treated very brutally by their owners in the past and have no rights of their own. They are still ofen treated poorly, but some are genuinely loved and cared for.
  • All house-elves have magic powers, allowing them to perform domestic tasks and to apparate where where witches and wizards cannot, for example. However, they lack wands, so their magic is limited.
  • They must obey any commands given to them by their masters, which are the ‘house’elf’s highest law’. However, they sometimes find loopholes within the wording of their master’s commands. For example, when Sirius told Kreacher to ‘get out’ (meaning out of the kitchen), the elf was able to interpret this as a command to leave the house.
  • House-elves are intensely loyal to their masters and their families. Despite their horrible lifestyles, most seem to actually enjoy being enslaved and are insulted by offers of payment. They were even resistant to Hermione’s attempts to improve their welfare, by setting up the protest group SPEW (Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare). The main exception is Dobby, who becomes a ‘free elf’ after being freed and treated with respect by Harry.

Recommended Reads:

Who is your favourite fictional elf and how do you imagine them?


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    6 responses to “E is for Elves #atozchallenge

    1. Fallen is my favorite elf, but she is an elf in the sense of the Sidhe being the angels who were undecided in the War of Question versus Answer … and she is my creation. Prejudiced, right? 🙂

    2. Legolas and his like get all the props (I guess because they were cast with fantastically beautiful actors), but i've always been more a fan of the Dobby-like elves.

    3. @Roland- Fallen is such a perfect name for an elf!

      @Daniel-yeah house-elves may not be smart or glamorous but they are loyal and pure little souls.

      @Michelle-yeah I am having difficulty keeping my posts short lol. Glad you enjoyed it, though.

      @Susan-ooh, you have elves in your novels too? I must check them out.

      @Stratoz-oh yes that would be handy. I would be overjoyed to find a house-elf had done all the chores for me.

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