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The Book of Lost Tales, Part 1 by J. R. R.…

The Book of Lost Tales, Part 1

by J. R. R. Tolkien

Other authors: Christopher Tolkien (Editor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The History of Middle-Earth (1)

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4,370181,729 (3.64)53
A two-volume set delving into the imaginary setting of Middle Earth and the struggles that the characters face to save their land.

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English (17)  Swedish (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Overall I liked this one, lots depth and inside backstory into the development of, and earlier discarded versions of, what would eventually become the Silmarillion, all researched and expertly presented by Christopher Tolkien, and as always great history into Middle Earth, but even more so into the writing process and the writer’s working evolution as they craft their unique story. ( )
1 vote RivetedReaderMelissa | Mar 22, 2018 |
For serious Tolkien fans, this is a must-read. For those who only liked the movies, this is not the book for you! Christopher Tolkien's scholarly approach is sometimes meticulous to the point of tedious, but I'm sure we all appreciate his care to present his father's work accurately and in context. I was left in even greater awe of Tolkien's genius and immediately began reading The Book of Lost Tales Vol. II. ( )
  aurelas | Dec 23, 2016 |
It is a monumental effort to have begun this work, and Christopher Tolkien is to be commended on his persistence with this look at his father's earliest notes.

For Tolkien fans it is fascinating to see how these tales emerge. For a writer who is interested in world-building, it is a good way to see how the process works and how many, many versions a tale has to take before it is considered "complete." And yes, I know that these are chapters that Tolkien never completed in his lifetime, but they became [The Silmarillion]. Many of them are more detailed than what was eventually published, and I think the best example of this expansion is Chapter VIII, "The Tale of the Sun and the Moon." It is so much more fleshed out and more detailed and described than what came into "Silmarillion" and I just totally loved it. ( )
1 vote threadnsong | Jun 18, 2016 |
What IS The Book of Lost Tales? It’s a collection of Tolkien’s unpublished and unfinished writings, brought together and annotated by his son Christopher Tolkien. It includes rejected ideas, drafts, outlines, and variations as well as comparisons and notes on the evolution of the texts. Ever wanted to know how Tolkien developed his iconic elves, what Melian was originally named, or a more detailed account of Gondolin? BoLT is your book. No idea what I’m talking about? Read The Lord of the Rings and Silmarillion first.

The BoLT blew my mind, especially Part I. These are Tolkien’s very early writings, before his concept of the world was fully developed. And wow, I’m very glad that he did develop it further. His elves were once decidedly closer to fairies and gnomes. He had an entirely different framework for telling these tales, one which he eventually (and in my opinion, rightly) discarded. Some of the concepts and ideas were very whimsical and childish (like “the cottage of lost play”) and don’t seem to fit Tolkien’s high-fantasy world.

Part II and the later sections of Part I are much closer to Tolkien’s finalized world. There are all sorts of familiar stories, not always “accurate” to published canon, but often with much more detail; most of these stories were revised and shortened before being added to the Silmarillion. The tales were not yet sewn together by the story of the Silmarils; the jewels were a side-story at best, and the Sons of Fëanor were not fully realized. I don’t think I appreciated how intricately Tolkien wove the Silmarillion together until I read BoLT.

Favorites: Glorfindel! He’s a side character at best, but one of my favorites. The BoLT contains the full narrative of the Fall of Gondolin, which is only summarized in the Silmarillion. Gondolin itself, while not a “character,” is one of my favorite sections, especially Tuor and Idril. I won’t lie; I broke out the sticky notes to mark Gondolin sections. The detailed variations on the creation story, the sun and moon, the trees, etc., were also wonderful. It was fascinating to watch the Silmaril narrative develop.

Least favorites: Oh god, Ælfwine. The original framework was the story of Ælfwine, an Englishman who journeys to an elven land and hears tales of elvish history. It ties the story together and embeds it into English history… but the entire thing is just too whimsical and fairytale-like. I love the sort of nonsense whimsy you find in children’s bedtime stories, but it just isn’t right for Tolkien’s world.

Writing style: Tolkien paints a wonderfully full, detailed, high-fantasy world, full of fantastic characters and beautiful scenery. Lots of repeated themes: betrayal, greed, love, oaths, etc. Many of the stories seemed darker than in the Silmarillion, which I very much appreciated.

I recently had a friend (a reader and a fantasy fan) complain that Tolkien “interrupts” his story too often. I can see where she’s coming from; but to insist that side stories like the Entwives were interruptions and just bad writing, not world-building? This is what happens when you speed read through everything, children. ಠ_ಠ

Finally, you can’t tackle BoLT without warning: CHRISTOPHER TOLKIEN IS SUPER PEDANTIC. No criticism is intended; it’s just that he has taken great pains to present and interpret his father’s drafts, notes, corrections, re-writes, name changes, etc. etc. as accurately as possible. So be prepared to read (or skip through) his analysis and explanations for every section. ( )
3 vote Andibook | Jun 14, 2016 |
These Lost Tales are part of the "History of Middle-Earth," i.e. Christopher Tolkien's exhaustive multivolume autopsy of his father's creative process in generating the mythology that underlies the world of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The contents of this book were recovered from old manuscript notebooks, and mostly constitute variant tellings of episodes later reworked in The Silmarillion, concerning the doings of gods and elves prior to the "awakening of men." They are set in a frame-story according to which various elves of the Lonely Island (Tol Eressea) recount these legends to a human traveler Eriol.

Although the tales themselves are buttressed with copious notes on the source texts and their relationships to the Middle-Earth Tolkien canon, I admit I read little of that material. Instead, I offered the stories themselves aloud to my Other Reader as occasional bedtime reading. We both found the book enjoyable and satisfying that way. (On points where I had particular curiosity, I did read in the editorial apparatus that constitutes nearly half of the book.)

The content and imagery of these stories is very Dunsanian, reminiscent of stories like "The Fortress Unvanquishable Save for Sacnoth" and The King of Elfland's Daughter. But instead of Dunsany's lucid-if-ornate prose, we get the affected archaicisms of the aspiring English philologist. That certainly made this material a challenge to read aloud, but it was fun nevertheless. (I'm sure it didn't hurt that I've studied Middle English verse and enjoyed reading those texts aloud.) Reading this material as its own story, rather than a draft of what Tolkien was later to produce, is a pleasant enough experience. It may even be better than reading it with the hope of profound insights into the secrets of The Lord of the Rings, despite all of the younger Tolkien's efforts to facilitate such discoveries.
7 vote paradoxosalpha | Jun 16, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tolkien, J. R. R.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tolkien, ChristopherEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adlerberth, RolandTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howe, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pieruccini, CinziaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tolkien, AdamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On the cover of one of the now very battered 'High School Exercise Books' in which some of the Lost Tales were composed my father wrote: The Cottage of Lost Play, which introduceth [the] Book of Lost Tales; an on the cover is written, in my mother's hand, her initials,l E.M.T., and a date, Feb. 12th 1917.
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The Book of Lost Tales was the first major work of imagination by J.R.R. Tolkien, begun in 1916-17 when he was twenty-five years old and left incomplete several years later. It stands at the beginning of the entire conception of Middle-earth and Valinor, for these tales were the first form of the myths and legends that came to be called The Silmarillion. Embedded in English legend, they are set in the narrative frame of a great westward voyage over the Ocean by a mariner named Eriol (or AElfwine) to Tol Eressea, the Lonely Isle, where elves dwelt; from him they learned their true history, the Lost Tales of Elfinesse. In these Tales are found the earliest accounts and original ideas of Gods and Elves, Dwarves, Balrogs, and Orcs; of the Silmarils and the Two Trees of Valinor; of Nargothrond and Gondolin; of the geography and cosmology of Middle-earth. Volume One contains the tales of The Music of the Ainur, The Building of valinor, The Chaining of Melko, The coming of the Elves and The Flight of the Noldoli, among others. Each tale is followed by a short essay by Christopher Tolkien, the author's son and literary executor.
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