You step carefully over a roughly stacked pile of tattered books, into this small but densely packed alcove. Seated on a rickety stool, you begin browsing through the lists and references to sites dealing with fantasy fiction and other literature. You try not to choke on the dust stirred every time you turn a new leaf.
The Tavern is a fantasy fan site with a slight Eddings emphasis. It is centred around its forum system, a very well structured collection of rooms for socialisation and discussion. The community is friendly, the social life engaging, the fantasy forums are numerous, the role play rooms addictive. The site is unmissable. (Now operating under different admin on a new server, while Hroljen takes a well-earned sabbatical. Some of the old fantasy and role play forums haven't been reestablished yet, but it's still the Tavern.)
This is quite simply the definitive online resource for matters concerning J.R.R. Tolkien's world of Middle-Earth and its universe (Arda). Comprehensive, thorough and true to the text, it even has a summary of the infamous debate on the wings of Balrogs. The best reference to the most immersive universe in publication.
Touted as the ultimate Lord of the Rings site, this sprawling mix isn't far short of the mark. It boasts a blend of material relating to the original books, the recent films and everything between, and has the odd reference to Tolkien's other works. The Quotes section is particularly handy - very thin in places, but particularly good on those taken from Tolkien's letters. The format could be less cluttered, but given the sheer quantity of material in these pages, it's forgivable. It's just a pity that so often, you'll read a series of members' comments and find they're all the same, and very disconnected from each other. Thousands of members (so we're told) and no sense of community.
Oddly named? Yes. But don't let that put you off, this site is a must-see for any Tolkien fan with a warped sense of humour. The heart of the site is the absolutely legendary Tolkien Sarcasm page, a collection of the best Tolkien humour ever to hit Usenet or the net at large.
Falcon Reach (FR) is a small story-telling role-play hosted on Yahoo! Groups. It combines familiar RP elements (elves, dragons, quests) with a detailed and original world. New characters are quickly accommodated, and though the story tends to lapse at times, there is usually plenty happening to get it moving again.
The Gambling Table is a very large, very active story-telling role-playing forum in the Mallorean Tavern. Set in the world of David Eddings' Belgariad, the GT has been running for years. This large history can make it a little difficult for newcomers to follow the story and start out a new character, but the players are friendly and helpful.
This is a solid reference site for English literature. Its Encyclopaedia contains biographical essays on many greater and lesser figures dating back at least as far as Chaucer, though neglecting many popular contemporary authors. The Literary Dictionary is an authoritative and reasonably comprehensive collection of literary terms.
One of the best uses of the Internet's vast potential for information exchange. PG publishes plain-text files of out-of-copyright literature to the Internet, where you can download it for free. This means practically any major pre-20th century work could be available, free of charge (though reading at your computer can be a pain). And please consider making a donation to help keep them going.
Any site which can generate references in media ranging from online comics to computing magazines has attained true legend status. This list is one such. Ripping off just about every cliché ever employed by an "Evil Overlord" villain, the list doubles as a reference for budding writers who don't want carbon-copy antagonists. Peter Anspach, you are a legend. Read the Top 100, the Cellblocks A and B (the next 131), and have a browse around the rest of the site while you're at it.