- Glorfindel was tall and straight; his hair was of shining gold, his face fair and young and fearless and full of joy; his eyes were bright and keen, and his voice like music; on his brow sat wisdom, and in his hand was strength.
- — 'Many Meetings', The Fellowship of the Ring
Glorfindel is an Elf from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. He meets Aragorn and the Hobbits as they are fleeing from the Nazgûl, and takes the critically wounded Frodo to Elrond at Rivendell. He rides a white horse named Asfaloth. Like most elves, he appears to be wise and compassionate and is described as tireless. He is 'an Elf-lord, of a house of princes' and has power against both the Seen and the Unseen, which he uses to intimidate the Nazgûl at the Bruinen. When this happens, Frodo sees him as a shining white figure; he is later told by Gandalf, 'You saw him for a moment as he is upon the other side.'
In the Movies his role (and horse) was given to Arwen. This caused... displeasure... to many members of the Tolkien Fandom. In the horrendous Ralph Bakshi rotoscoped cartoon adaptation, his role (and horse) were given to... Legolas. This perhaps explains why he is the founder of the Society for SICTNITM (Still Important Characters Though Not In The Movies).
A Glorfindel is known to have slain a Balrog centuries before the events of The Lord of the Rings. Whether or not it is the same Glorfindel is not known, as Tolkien himself never said anything definitive on the subject. As with Legolas, it may have started as a case of re-using names from The Lost Tales/Silmarillion in Lord of the Rings, and then having to retcon backstory to explain the names.
This results in two versions within fandom:
- The 'One Glorfindel' theory, where Glorfindel of Gondolin is rehoused by the Valar and returns to Middle-earth as a special agent of the Valar; Tolkien himself speculated about this as a theory, noting that it would have to occur in the Second Age and was perhaps like an early version of sending the Istari in the Third Age.
- The 'Two Glorfindels' theory, where Glorfindel of Rivendell is simply named after Glorfindel of Gondolin.
As with the 'Do Balrogs Have Wings?' debate, we presumably shall never know, unless Christopher Tolkien unearths an unseen manuscript settling the question. This, however, is unlikely.
In Badfic Edit
Glorfindel appears much more frequently in bad slash than Suefics. When slashed, he is usually paired with either Elrond or Erestor, depending on whether or not the author knows about Erestor. He is also known to have been paired with Legolas.