Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle Earth / J.R.R. Tolkien -- Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1980

After the publication of The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien's son, Christopher, released Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle Earth.  It was a testament to his confidence in the importance of his father's work as The Silmarillion did not meet the expectations of Tolkien's fans.  As it happened, Unfinished Tales fared no better.  That's a shame as both posthumous works are great achievements despite being unfinished by the author.  Unfinished Tales contains stories from each of the three ages of Middle Earth.  The First Age is primarily the history of the elves.  In Unfinished Tales we can read about Tuor, a human raised by elves and his coming to the hidden elf kingdom of Gondolin.  We also can read about the fate of the children of Hurin, Turin and Nienor, both ill-fated by a curse placed on their father.  From the Second Age, we have stories of the men of Numenor, blessed by the god-like Valar, but virtually destroyed by the seduction of Sauron.  We also find a history of Galadriel and her husband Celeborn, elves of the noblest rank.  Told of the Third Age, the age in which the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place, are accounts of the loss of the Ring of Power, relations between Gondor and Rohan, and stories filling in a few gaps in the account given in The Lord of the Rings. Finally, there are three short accounts of the Wild Men of the Druedain, the five wizards, and the palantiri.

By and large the prose of Unfinished Tales is out of keeping with the novelistic form of Tolkien's more popular works and more akin to The Silmarillion, but there is enough connection to the popular works to make it somewhat more engaging to the casual Tolkien fan than was The Silmarillion.  Most certainly, the stories chosen by Christopher Tolkien to include in this volume are among the most important for gaining a deep understanding of Tolkien's larger vision of Middle Earth.

No comments:

Post a Comment