Book Review: Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth

Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth
By J.R.R. Tolkien
Edited by Christopher Tolkien

Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth is the first book in a study of the many fragments of Tolkien’s writing on his legendarium. Tolkien’s son Christopher collects several lengthy fragments stretching from the First Age of Middle-earth to the beginning of the Fourth Age, expanding upon material previously found only in the appendices to The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. The younger Tolkien also includes copious notes, both by his father and himself, which further expand upon the fragments in this volume.

The book is divided into four parts; the first three each containing legends and essays relating to the first three ages of Middle-earth, with the fourth containing three essays on specific topics: the Drúedain, the Istari, and the Palantíri. Between The Silmarillion and the recently published The Children of Húrin, much of the material in Part One is covered extensively elsewhere in finished form. Of the most interest to me was the tale of “Aldarion and Erendis,” from the Second Age, and the tale of “Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan,” from the Third Age.

Whether a true Tolkien addict (like myself) or a casual fan of Tolkien’s writing, this book has a little something for everyone. The extensive footnotes and research makes this book a must-read for those fascinated by the intricate world only glimpsed at through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, while those wishing a less-immersive experience can skip the essays and read only the stories. This book left me wanting to read the rest of my Tolkien collection again, which to me is always a sign of a good book. I would highly recommend Unfinished Tales to all fans of fantasy literature, especially those with a deep love of Tolkien’s writing.

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