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Morgoth's ring : The later silmarillon [i.e.…

Morgoth's ring : The later silmarillon [i.e. silmarillion] part one, the… (original 1994; edition 2002)

by J. R. R. Tolkien

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Title:Morgoth's ring : The later silmarillon [i.e. silmarillion] part one, the legends of Aman
Authors:J. R. R. Tolkien
Info:London : HarperCollins, 2002, c1994. xii, 470 p. ; ill. ; 20 cm.
Collections:Your library

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Morgoth's Ring: The Later Silmarillion, Part One by J. R. R. Tolkien (1994)

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When I started [b:Morgoth's Ring|18963|Morgoth's Ring The Later Silmarillion, Part One The Legends of Aman (The History of Middle-earth #10)|J.R.R. Tolkien|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388188489s/18963.jpg|4992849], I thought it was going to be one of the dullest and least interesting of the History of Middle-Earth series. But by the time I finished it, I regarded it as one of the most fascinating volumes yet--one of my favorites in the series. The opening section of the book concerns times and dates, and while it's tangentially interesting, I struggled to do more than skim it. Though [a:Tolkien|9533|Christopher Tolkien|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1235772383p2/9533.jpg] was jubilant about the significant changes his father was introducing, I honestly couldn't see huge significance in many of them. This was also true of many of the changes and minutiae discussed in the following section, from "the later Silmarillion."But then came the story of the debate of Finrod and Andreth. Wow. This was one of the most interesting sections yet presented in the History series. I loved reading [a:Tolkien|656983|J.R.R. Tolkien|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1383526938p2/656983.jpg]'s working out of the philosophy and structure of the mythology that he had spent most of his life creating. The very Christian ideas that are starting to come to the surface were fascinating, as Tolkien delved further into his idea of Elvish immortality and Eru's "gift" to men of short lives in this world but no-one-in-Arda-knows what part in the next world. And there is a poignance to Tolkien's reflections, as he wrestles with issues of life and death. I enjoyed this section more now that I'm entering mid-life myself than I would have when I was younger. The fears and doubts Tolkien expresses resonate with anyone who is looking at half (or less) of life in this world yet to live.Two major themes emerge from this volume. One is the conflict between the perfect, unfallen world ("Arda Unmarred") and the world as it now is ("Arda Marred")--with the possibility that the end of time will see not a simple return to Arda Unmarred, but a new, third kind of Arda of perfection. The words of Manwë, in the decision about the remarriage of Finwë, are especially powerful: 'In this matter you must not forget that you deal with Arda Marred--out of which ye brought the Eldar. Neither must ye forget that in Arda Marred Justice is not Healing. Healing cometh only by suffering and patience, and maketh no demand, not even for Justice. Justice worketh only within the bonds of things as they are, accepting the marring of Arda, and therefore though Justice is itself good and desireth no further evil, it can but perpetuate the evil that was, and doth not prevent it from the bearing of fruit in sorrow.' (239) The second theme of the writings in this book is the idea that Morgoth's power is an inseparable part of the material fabric of Middle Earth. The extent of his evil taint on the world is beginning to seem overwhelming. In the later Silmarillion, Tolkien writes: [The Valar] perceived now more clearly how great was the hurt that Melkor of old had done to the substance of Arda, so that all those who were incarnate and drew the sustenance of their bodies from Arda Marred, must ever be liable to grief, to do or to suffer things unnatural in Arda Marred. And this marring could not now be wholly undone, not even by Melkor repentant; for power had gone forth from him and could not be recalled, but would continue to work according to the will that had set it in motion. And with this thought a shadow passed over the hearts of the Valar, presage of the sorrows which the Children should bring into the world." (258-59)And so Tolkien supposes that all of Arda is like "Morgoth's ring," the location of his evil power, in the same way that Sauron's ring contained Sauron's (lesser) power in one specific location. The inevitability of evil and hurt as long as the world endures is a burden that weighs down the thoughts and conversations in a number of the stories and writings in Morgoth's Ring.The final section of writings in this book continue to look at these issues, as well as the origin of the orcs (which Tolkien is clearly struggling with--what are they and where did they come from? Every possible answer carries a number of difficult implications) and the physical origins of Arda. It's interesting to see Tolkien struggling to figure out if his mythology should continue with its first origin stories, or if he should re-work the creation account to be more in line with scientific observation of our own world. This especially raises problems for the beginning of the Sun and Moon. I understand Tolkien's doubts, but it made me sad to think he would try to fit his mythology into the real-world cosmology. And having completed this volume, I now have only two more to go in the History of Middle-Earth! It's quite a journey, and I'm enjoying almost every part. Side note: Christopher Tolkien is a very capable academic writer, so it's rare to catch a typo in his books. That made this little one all the more enjoyable: ". . . and some sentences do not seems to be correct" (350). ( )
  ethnosax | Aug 8, 2014 |
I haven't read the whole of this -- no time -- but I think it's worthy of noting because of the discussion between Finrod and Andreth about the nature of death in Middle-earth, and the matter of hope. I think it's one of the most obvious allegorical Christian moments in Tolkien's work, when Andreth speaks of the hope that Eru will come among men to heal Arda... isn't that Christ?

One day, I shall get round to reading all of these properly, but I know they're daunting for a lot of people because they contain a lot of repetitive information and unpolished drafts, etc. So, yeah, this one is worth it for the Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth, which seems to be a complete text which J.R.R. Tolkien referred to elsewhere. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |

Having moved through the process of revisiting the compilation of The Lord of the Rings, the History of Middle-Earth now starts into Tolkien's later working through of his mythology. I found a lot of this material very interesting and it is a shame that more of it did not find its way into the published Silmarillion, particularly the "Annals of Aman" which brings much more detail to the early days of relations between the Valar and the Elves. Tolkien also gave a lot of thought to the question of Elvish death and immortality; there's a series of reworkings of what happened to Finwë's first wife Míriel, and also a long dialogue between Finrod and an early wise-woman, Andreth (Beren's great-aunt), about these issues. There's also the series of hints about Elvish sexuality, and some interesting speculation about the origin of Orcs. Binding the whole thing together is the question of Morgoth/Melkor's means and motivation; the title Morgoth's Ring is supplied by Christopher Tolkien, basically to suggest that the impact Morgoth's creative power had on Middle-Earth was similar to that of Sauron on the Rings of Power - Middle-Earth itself is therefore Morgoth's Ring in a way.

It is unusual that one could say this of the tenth book in a series of twelve, but I think I would actually recommend Morgoth's Ring rather strongly to Tolkien fans who have not tried any of the History of Middle-Earth series and are interested in giving one of the volumes a try. ( )
1 vote nwhyte | Aug 25, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0395680921, Hardcover)

In Morgoth's Ring, the tenth volume of The History of Middle-earth and the first of two companion volumes, Christopher Tolkien describes and documents the legends of the Elder Days, as they were evolved and transformed by his father in the years before he completed The Lord of the Rings. The text of the Annals of Aman, the "Blessed Land" in the far West, is given in full. And in writings never before published, we can see the nature of the problems that J.R.R. Tolkien explored in his later years as new and radical ideas, portending upheaval in the heart of the mythology. At this time Tokien sought to redefine the old legends, and wrote of the nature and destiny of Elves, the idea of Elvish rebirth, the origins of the Orcs, and the Fall of Men. His meditation of mortality and immortality as represented in the lives of Men and Elves led to another major writing at this time, the "Debate of Finrod and Andreth," which is reproduced here in full. "Above all," Christopher Tolkien writes in his foreward, "the power and significance of Melkor-Morgoth...was enlarged to become the ground and source of the corruption of Arda." This book indeed is all about Morgoth. Incomparably greater than the power of Sauron, concentrated in the One Ring, Morgoth's power (Tolkien wrote) was dispersed into the very matter of Arda: "The whole of Middle-earth was Morgoth's Ring."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:57:16 -0400)

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Describes and documents the myths and legends of the Elder Days, as they were evolved and transformed by Tolkien and includes previously unpublished documents in which the author struggles to examine the nature and destiny of his characters.

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