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Unfinished Tales by J. R. R. Tolkien
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Unfinished Tales (original 1980; edition 1998)

by J. R. R. Tolkien

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7,58536743 (3.8)58
A collection of Tolkien's unpublished manuscripts dealing with events from the Elder Days of Middle-earth to the end of the War of the Rings.
Member:konallis
Title:Unfinished Tales
Authors:J. R. R. Tolkien
Info:HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (1998), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 592 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:fantasy, Arda, short stories

Work details

Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth by J. R. R. Tolkien (Author) (1980)

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Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
The legendarium of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth is vast and not everything was fully written out, however that doesn’t mean the incomplete material isn’t interesting. Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth is a complication various stories begun and partially revised by J.R.R. Tolkien then edited into a somewhat readable fashion, along with alternate versions, by his son Christopher that reveal backstories from all Ages of Tolkien’s world.

The first two-thirds of the book covers the First and Second Ages with focuses in the former on Tuor journey to Gondolin and more details to the Children of Hurin while the latter focused on various elements of Numenorian history and the history of Galadriel and Celeborn. The last third of the book focuses on the Third Age with background stories and histories to various events and people that feature in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings from the disaster at Gladden Field when Isildur dies and the One Ring is lost to the foundation of the friendship of Gondor and Rohan to the Battles of the Fords of Isen and Gandalf’s view of the Quest of Erebor and the Nazgul’s hunt for the One Ring. And on top of those backstories are histories on various people and items featured in the four books, namely the order of the Wizards.

Unlike The Silmarillion in which Christopher Tolkien edited his father’s writing into narrative chronicle, he left his father’s work unfinished and supplemented them with alternative versions that his father hadn’t rejected. This decision made the first two-thirds of the book a chore to get through or simple something to skim, however in the last third of the book the tales and histories were essentially complete with only some details not decided upon by the elder Tolkien before his death thus making for a better read. Frankly it’s this final third which is the highlight of the book especially anything related to the elder Tolkien’s most famous works, in particular is “The Quest of Erebor” that connects The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings together than just the One Ring.

Like The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales is for hardcore Tolkien enthusiasts that want every detail they can get from J.R.R. Tolkien. Though the final third of the book has material that general readers might enjoy if they loved the author’s two well-known books, it might not be worth the money to buy this book new for it. ( )
  mattries37315 | Oct 15, 2019 |
Found in a B&B and read desultorily. The main connected story is the doomed romance of Aldarion and Erendis. Tellingly, my sympathy was most evoked for Aldarion's father.

This reminds me of the superiority of Tolkein's narrative style to his un-mixed legendary style.
  ben_a | Aug 11, 2019 |
Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth by J.R.R. Tolkien is a collection of stories that further relate to the events in The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings and tells more about the Elder Days of Middle-earth to the end of the War of the Ring.

I loved reading Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth as I hadn't read this book before. It added to the stories that I am already familiar with. This is a great addition for collector's of Tolkien's work. ( )
  feeroberts64 | Feb 8, 2019 |
(Original Review, 1980-10-13)

The new Tolkien book is out. While I haven't read even half of it, I think I've read enough to produce a helpful review, so here goes. This book ("Unfinished Tales" by JRR Tolkien, $15 from Houghton Mifflin) is definitely not a book for a general readership, nor even for the mass Tolkien consumer, who thinks that Lord of the Rings is a swell story, but all that linguistic and historical stuff is just a lot of window-dressing. Rather than a narrative, it's really a sort of organized memory dump of Tolkien's filing cabinet [2018 EDIT: “filing cabinet” indeed!!!]. It includes a much longer version of the tale of Turin, a large fragment of the story of Tuor, substantial information on Numenor and the line of kings, various versions of the history of Galadriel and Celeborn, some fascinating fragementary material on the Five Wizards, and jillions of footnotes and appendices to all, which describe variant versions, point out apparent contradictions, and provide fascinating supplementary information. Because of its fragmentary nature, you can pretty much start anywhere in the book, which has its advantages.

For the true Tolkien fanatic, the sort of person who wants the names for the other two Istari, who is fascinated by the explanation of the Teleri dialect of Elvish, or who was curious as to just why the cats of Queen Beruthiel were proverbial, this book is an absolute gold mine, even more "fun" in its way than the Silmarillion. For the reader interested in a dramatic narrative, "Unfinished Tales" will be somewhat of a disappointment (although what narrative there is quite good). The $15 tag will probably deter all but the hard-core anyway, however.

"Unfinished Tales" is for those who have not yet sufficiently explored Middle-Earth -- its languages, its legends, its politics, and its kings. Here are narratives ranging in time from the Elder Days of Middle-earth to the end of the War of the Rings [2018 EDIT: sic; LMAO] and comprising such various elements as Gandalf's lively account of how it was that he came to send the Dwarves to the celebrated party at Bag-End. The book contains the only story that survived from the long ages of Numenor before its downfall and all that is known of such matters as the Five Wizards, the Palantiri, and the legend of Amroth.

The collection has been edited by Christopher Tolkien, who explains in his introduction the variety of treatments these writings have demanded and has provided a commentary on each of the tales. He has redrawn the map accompanying "The Lord of the Rings" on a larger scale and with the addition of new features and names and has reproduced the only map of Numenor J.R.R. Tolkien ever made.

CHRISTOPHER TOLKIEN has, like his father, taught at Oxford and now devotes himself full time to editing the papers of J.R.R Tolkien.

[2018 EDIT: This review was written at the time as I was running my own personal BBS server. Much of the language of this and other reviews written in 1980 reflect a very particular kind of language: what I call now in retrospect a “BBS language”.] ( )
  antao | Nov 9, 2018 |
I have so enjoyed finishing these Unfinished Tales with my chapter a day group. Tolkien was a great, and immensely nuanced storyteller, his son Christopher a devoted son and detailed story archiver, whose life work allowed us to see the depth of creativity and true craft his father put into all his tales. I’ve truly enjoyed the surface tale, as well as the the deeper tale behind its creation and evolution. ( )
  RivetedReaderMelissa | Mar 22, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tolkien, J. R. R.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tolkien, ChristopherEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Adlerberth, RolandTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howe, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juva, KerstiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pekkanen, PanuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saba Sardi, FrancescoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Rían, wife of Huor, dwelt with the people of the House of Hador; but when rumour came to Dor-lómin of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, and yet she could hear no news of her lord, she became distraught and wandered forth into the wild alone.
The problems that confront one given responsibility for the writings of a dead author are hard to resolve. (Introduction)
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Do not combine this work with The Hobbit, this is a Japanese edition of the Unfinished Tales
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