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Unfinished Tales Paperback – 9 Feb 2001 by J.R.R. Tolkien

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The popular paperback edition of this fascinating collection of stories, which continue the tales of The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion and contains an alternative version of The Children of Hurin. Unfinished Tales is a collection of narratives ranging in time from the Elder Days of Middle-earth to the end of the War of the Ring, and provides those who have read Th The popular paperback edition of this fascinating collection of stories, which continue the tales of The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion and contains an alternative version of The Children of Hurin. Unfinished Tales is a collection of narratives ranging in time from the Elder Days of Middle-earth to the end of the War of the Ring, and provides those who have read The Lord of the Rings with a whole collection of background and new stories from the twentieth century's most acclaimed popular author. The book concentrates on the realm of Middle-earth and comprises such 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 emergence of the sea-god Ulmo before the eyes of Tuor on the coast of Beleriand, and an exact description of the military organization of the Riders of Rohan. Unfinished Tales also contains the only story about the long ages of Numenor before its downfall, and all that is known about such matters as the Five Wizards, the Palantiri and the legend of Amroth. The tales were collated and edited by JRR Tolkien's son and literary heir, Christopher Tolkien, who provides a short commentary on each story, helping the reader to fill in the gaps and put each story into the context of the rest of his father's writings.


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The popular paperback edition of this fascinating collection of stories, which continue the tales of The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion and contains an alternative version of The Children of Hurin. Unfinished Tales is a collection of narratives ranging in time from the Elder Days of Middle-earth to the end of the War of the Ring, and provides those who have read Th The popular paperback edition of this fascinating collection of stories, which continue the tales of The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion and contains an alternative version of The Children of Hurin. Unfinished Tales is a collection of narratives ranging in time from the Elder Days of Middle-earth to the end of the War of the Ring, and provides those who have read The Lord of the Rings with a whole collection of background and new stories from the twentieth century's most acclaimed popular author. The book concentrates on the realm of Middle-earth and comprises such 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 emergence of the sea-god Ulmo before the eyes of Tuor on the coast of Beleriand, and an exact description of the military organization of the Riders of Rohan. Unfinished Tales also contains the only story about the long ages of Numenor before its downfall, and all that is known about such matters as the Five Wizards, the Palantiri and the legend of Amroth. The tales were collated and edited by JRR Tolkien's son and literary heir, Christopher Tolkien, who provides a short commentary on each story, helping the reader to fill in the gaps and put each story into the context of the rest of his father's writings.

30 review for Unfinished Tales Paperback – 9 Feb 2001 by J.R.R. Tolkien

  1. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    This is the first work that showed us how Tolkien's obsessive perfectionism was a double-edged sword. On the one hand it gave us the wonderfully deep world and implied distances of The Lord of the Rings; and on the other hand it left us with a jumble of tales in various states of revision and development that had to be compiled by Tolkien's son Christopher into some form as The Silmarillion...a jumble of tales that, if they had been finished, would have given us a truly staggering body of work. This is the first work that showed us how Tolkien's obsessive perfectionism was a double-edged sword. On the one hand it gave us the wonderfully deep world and implied distances of The Lord of the Rings; and on the other hand it left us with a jumble of tales in various states of revision and development that had to be compiled by Tolkien's son Christopher into some form as The Silmarillion...a jumble of tales that, if they had been finished, would have given us a truly staggering body of work. Just reading the fragment that makes up the entirety of "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin" makes me weep for what might have been. Given the chance to expand even half of the partial tales from _The Silmarillion_ into something equating the full treatment of the LotR would have been a wonder indeed. Even given the incomplete nature of the works herein, the reader is greatly repaid the effort of reading them even though many tantalizing questions are left unanswered. We get perhaps the only significant view of the land of Numenor in the Second Age; intriguing glimpses into the nature of the Istari, the Woodwoses, and the Palantiri; and expansions on the background of the Third Age and the events that led up to both The Hobbit and the LotR. A really amazing work and enjoyable read if you're a die-hard Tolkien fan.

  2. 4 out of 5

    leynes

    I am fairly new to Tolkien as I have only gotten into his work at the end of 2015 by reading, and after some initial problems, loving The Hobbit. I buddy-read The Lord of the Rings over the course of 2016 and was quite overwhelmed with Tolkien’s dense writing style and complex world building; there were too many names of people, places and events to remember, I felt inept. Nonetheless, I admired his work and marvelled at his craft. I was especially enamoured by Tolkien’s linguistic interest and I am fairly new to Tolkien as I have only gotten into his work at the end of 2015 by reading, and after some initial problems, loving The Hobbit. I buddy-read The Lord of the Rings over the course of 2016 and was quite overwhelmed with Tolkien’s dense writing style and complex world building; there were too many names of people, places and events to remember, I felt inept. Nonetheless, I admired his work and marvelled at his craft. I was especially enamoured by Tolkien’s linguistic interest and his rational for his invented languages and names. In September 2016, I read The Silmarillion—that was the time I became totally electrified. The Silmarillion is still my absolute favorite work of his, even though it was just as overwhelming in regards to being exposed to all sorts of different people and their backstories, the tales, however, had a certain charm and brilliancy to them, I grew to love so many characters (Fëanor, Túrin Turambar and Lúthien), I needed to know more about them. That’s why I decided to jump into The Children of Húrin in April 2017. Upon finishing it, I cried and cried. Tolkien showed that he cannot only write epic high fantasy well, but also the most heart-shattering tragedies. Húrin and Morwen deserved better! In the second half of 2017 I got into his works that aren’t related to Middle-Earth: Tales from the Perilous Realm and Roverandom. These reads solidified Tolkien as one of my absolute favorite authors. No matter which endeavour this man took upon, he handled it with great care and detail. The whimsical nature of these stories reminded me of The Hobbit, and the long journey I had personally made alongside Tolkien and his work. In April 2018, Christmas and winter long past us, I read Letters from Father Christmas because why the heck not? It was the second time I bawled my eyes out reading his work. It is by far his most personal work (naturally, given its nonfictional nature); to glimpse at the man behind his writing—to see the kind of father he was—was fascinating and warmed my heart. His love, not only for his children but for storytelling, is so apparent throughout all of these Christmas letters. And this leads us, finally, to my read of his Unfinished Tales. I bough it almost a year ago but was too intimidated by it, having just read and loved The Silmarillion, to pick it up immediately. This week prove to be the perfect time to take upon this new adventure. Exploring the world of Númenor and Middle-Earth never gets old. Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales weren’t difficult to read at all. They are definitely not for newbies and people unfamiliar with his work, but if you have read The Silmarillion, you should be fine. It provides more detailed information about characters, events and places mentioned only briefly in The Lord of the Rings. Versions of such tales include the origins of Gandalf and the other Istari, the death of Isildur and the loss of the One Ring in the Gladden Fields, and the founding of the kingdom of Rohan. My favourite tales were definitely "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin", "Narn i Hîn Húrin", "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife" and "The Quest of Erebor". The reason for that is probably the fact that these were the most complete. These narratives were very endearing, suspenseful and well-written. The notes and appendices definitely heightened my understanding of them and helped me expand my knowledge of Middle-Earth. I thought it was very clever of Christopher Tolkien to put all of the tales and essays in chronological order, the first three parts aligning with the timeline of Arda by being split into the three ages of the world. The fourth part was a collection of short essays concerning the Drúedain, the Istari and the Palantíri. Of course, it is kind of unsatisfying (and in some places even frustrating) that the tales and essays are incomplete and sometimes even contradictory, e.g. "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin" cuts off at the most interesting part: when Tuor eventually reached Gondolin and was admitted by Turgon. What happened after that, i.e. the fact that Turgon did not hearken the council of Ulmo, and the ensuing fall of Gondolin, is, unfortunately, not included. Nonetheless, I think that Christopher Tolkien did a fantastic job of curating his father’s writings and putting them into an intelligent form and order. Reading Unfinished Tales made me even more curious about Middle-Earth and what lay beyond, especially the First Age is of great interest to me. I’m still trying to figure out what to think of Galadriel, I want to know more about the downfall of Númenor and Gondolin … I am consoled only by the fact that Beren and Lúthien and The Fall of Gondolin have yet to be read by me. As soon as they’re available in my preferred editions I shall devour them.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Numenor: Unfinished Tales" by J. R. R. Tolkien (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 If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Numenor: Unfinished Tales" by J. R. R. Tolkien (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!!!].

  4. 5 out of 5

    Psychophant

    This is simply a moneymaking scheme. After the success of the Silmarillion, the Tolkien state has published all notes that were in a more or less readable state. This is the only one I bought (besides Chidren of Hurin, which probably has much in common with the bigger part of this book). I do not think Professor Tolkien would have liked to have these drafts and notes published. Many of them are even obsolete, as he built up and discarded elements in his mythic construct. There are some great story This is simply a moneymaking scheme. After the success of the Silmarillion, the Tolkien state has published all notes that were in a more or less readable state. This is the only one I bought (besides Chidren of Hurin, which probably has much in common with the bigger part of this book). I do not think Professor Tolkien would have liked to have these drafts and notes published. Many of them are even obsolete, as he built up and discarded elements in his mythic construct. There are some great storytelling moments (specially in the tales about Hurin and his children), but mostly it is not so interesting, except in an academic way, to see how Tolkien constructed and evolved his stories.

  5. 4 out of 5

    daisy

    The 'Tolkien kick' continues. 4-4.5 stars after a little more thought. I feel like this is definitely gonna be a book that I need to re-read every year to try and get as much as I can out of it. Same with The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings tbh. I love Middle-earth so much.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chris Hall

    This is a hard book to rate, because it's sort of like rating a compilation album of Led Zeppelin studio out-takes. If you love Led Zeppelin, you would undoubtedly want to listen to pretty much anything they did. On the other hand, objectively speaking, it's probably not their best work, and if you trust them as artists, you know why they left that material on the cutting room floor. And, indeed, this book is a collection of scrapings, random essays and bits of narrative illuminating obscure cor This is a hard book to rate, because it's sort of like rating a compilation album of Led Zeppelin studio out-takes. If you love Led Zeppelin, you would undoubtedly want to listen to pretty much anything they did. On the other hand, objectively speaking, it's probably not their best work, and if you trust them as artists, you know why they left that material on the cutting room floor. And, indeed, this book is a collection of scrapings, random essays and bits of narrative illuminating obscure corners of Middle Earth. I will say, though, that Christopher Tolkien deserves some credit for being a very conscientious offspring. Most children either end up hating their parents or thinking of them as basically foolish. JRR Tolkien's son, though is extraordinarily careful to give the exact providence and goes into excruciating detail as to the provenance of every piece of writing in Unfinished Tales. Never does he indulge himself in the slightest bit of irony at the expense of his father, or even hint at any frustration that, just maybe, he could have made his marginal annotations in more legible handwriting. The subtext of the father-son relationship, or lack thereof, might make this an interesting read... unless it actually doesn't. Really, for LotR/Middle Earth obsessives only.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Liam

    Thoroughly enjoyed this, it was just so great to learn more about both old and new characters!! Tolkien's middle earth is so rich and beautiful and it was amazing to be able to delve even deeper into it!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    The name says it all -- these are stories primarily of the First and Second Age of Middle-earth that had never quite reached completion, even in draft form; some predate the writing of Lord of the Rings by decades but most come after, and the book includes some of Tolkien's last writings about Middle-earth. The stories are presented by his son Christopher who, presumably, selected the pieces that were nearest to completion and likeliest to be of interest to Middle-earth aficionados. The pieces a The name says it all -- these are stories primarily of the First and Second Age of Middle-earth that had never quite reached completion, even in draft form; some predate the writing of Lord of the Rings by decades but most come after, and the book includes some of Tolkien's last writings about Middle-earth. The stories are presented by his son Christopher who, presumably, selected the pieces that were nearest to completion and likeliest to be of interest to Middle-earth aficionados. The pieces are presented with introductions, footnotes, endnotes and editorial insertions, of which more anon. Several of the pieces are familiar, being expanded (albeit partial) versions of, e.g., the tales of Tuor and Túrin that were presented in brief form in The Silmarillion. Others provide glimpses of events leading up to, and that took place offstage during, the War of the Ring, beginning with the death of Isildur and the loss of the One Ring and continuing to include battles that were taking place "offstage" during the events of The Two Towers and The Return of the King. The book closes with essays about the Druedain (the Pukel-men), the Istari (the Wizards) and the Palantiri. Fascinating stuff, if you don't mind its incomplete and sometimes contradictory nature. Unfortunately I'm not sure if I can recommend the electronic version (which is what I read this time; previously, I was reading a print copy). The textual situation for many of the pieces is complex -- as mentioned above, there are footnotes and endnotes (some added by J.R.R. Tolkien during his drafting process and some added by Christopher Tolkien when assembling the pieces for publication) and editorial notes and changes of voice between the text and the commentary on the text. In the physical book this is handled by various combinations of font size and indentation; all of this formatting is lost in the electronic version, making it sometimes hard to distinguish the tales from the commentary. Footnotes and endnotes are better handled (on the Kindle you can hyperlink from the text to the associated note) but it's still less convenient than just flipping back and forth in a physical book. And finally, there were many more typos in the eBook than I'm comfortable with -- mostly things like missing spaces, hyphens dropped (or inappropriately retained) and the like. Nothing that rendered the text unreadable, but it still seemed to indicate a lack of editorial oversight on the eBook conversion process.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    This collection of Unfinished Tales is difficult to get to grips with, because Christopher Tolkien had the sense not to mess with them too much. He didn't correct inconsistencies or do too much to the material, and that's for the best: J.R.R.'s intent and the breadth of his world are best experienced this way, I think. I don't think this is one for the casual reader, but for someone interested in Tolkien and his creation of a secondary world, and in the details of Middle-earth, it's a good one. E This collection of Unfinished Tales is difficult to get to grips with, because Christopher Tolkien had the sense not to mess with them too much. He didn't correct inconsistencies or do too much to the material, and that's for the best: J.R.R.'s intent and the breadth of his world are best experienced this way, I think. I don't think this is one for the casual reader, but for someone interested in Tolkien and his creation of a secondary world, and in the details of Middle-earth, it's a good one. Even more casual readers might like to dip into it for extra details about Gandalf, of course, but for the most part, if you didn't get into The Silmarillion, then don't bother with this. But if you've ever thought, if only Tolkien could've lived forever -- or at least much longer -- so that we could know more about Middle-earth, then yes, give it a try. Now if Christopher Tolkien would just let go of J.R.R.'s Arthurian poem, I'd be very grateful...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bojana

    If you are not huge Tolkien fan or you haven't read Silmarillion yet, I suggest you to to skip this book. For Tolkien fans (as I am), who read Silmarillion, this will be nice and informative read. I must admit that I was a bit bored in some parts, but overall impression is more than good. Also, during this read I realized how slow I am when reading Tolkien. I suppose there are books (or even writers) that I have to savor: I need to read them very slowly, so I can taste each word or phrase, to let them pas If you are not huge Tolkien fan or you haven't read Silmarillion yet, I suggest you to to skip this book. For Tolkien fans (as I am), who read Silmarillion, this will be nice and informative read. I must admit that I was a bit bored in some parts, but overall impression is more than good. Also, during this read I realized how slow I am when reading Tolkien. I suppose there are books (or even writers) that I have to savor: I need to read them very slowly, so I can taste each word or phrase, to let them pass over my tongue.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lydia Redwine

    Since I found some of these stories quite interesting and a couple others utterly boring, I've brought my rating to 4 stars. I will say that it isn't a good idea to go into this book unless you are already an avid Tolkien fan. This book is a collection of unfinished pieces (I mean, the title?) from LOTR, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion and other like books. If reading notes upon notes of what certain things could have meant etc. bores you to death, this book is not for you lol. I did find it all ve Since I found some of these stories quite interesting and a couple others utterly boring, I've brought my rating to 4 stars. I will say that it isn't a good idea to go into this book unless you are already an avid Tolkien fan. This book is a collection of unfinished pieces (I mean, the title?) from LOTR, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion and other like books. If reading notes upon notes of what certain things could have meant etc. bores you to death, this book is not for you lol. I did find it all very interesting, however, since it gave me insight into Tolkien's writing process (I mean he started writing The Silmarillion during WWI surrounded by gramophones to distract himself from the war itself.) I'm also a huge geek for history in general whether that be history of the real world or of fictional worlds. The parts I enjoyed most were ones that directly filled gaps and/or answered questions arisen while reading The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Such as...Gandalf's reasons for helping Thorin Oakensheild defeat Smaug and take back his home and involving Bilbo in the whole affair directly from his own words. Further history on Galadriel is explored and because she is far more intriguing than she appears in Lord of the Rings, I loved it. Remember that rather confusing part in Fellowship of the Ring where she gets all creepy when Frodo offers her the ring but then says that she passed a test? Yeah, that's all explained among many other things. There are also included whole sections that speak of the hunt for the ring in LOTR but from the perspective of Sauron in a way and the Nazgul. Another part I heavily enjoyed was that of Haleth and her people who were mentioned in The Silmarillion. I mentioned in that review how much I loved and appreciated her character. More is revealed about their people and culture in this book which honestly bumped up the rating one star even if that section was brief. A few other stories were also very interesting to me. They were all like stories out of a collection of myths. Overall, I recommended this to anyone who loves Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and those who have already read The Silmarillion. It is an excellent edition in terms of better understanding the world in history. Almost every so called "plot hole" that people talk about is explained in this book as well as in others. Tolkien, who was such a perfectionist when it came to writing, would not leave so many plot holes as some people think there to be. Of course, Tolkien's main work can be enjoyed without reading this. Also, I think Christopher Tolkien should be given a lot of credit for his likewise carefulness, abundance of notes, and respect for his father's work and the effect it has had on the world of literature.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Trautner

    I can't believe I've never read this before! I would recommend this to anyone who's read the Silmarillion and is interested in more history of Middle-Earth. I say the Silmarillion because there's a lot of assumptions that the reader is familiar with the Valar, the Blessed Realm, and the general events of the First Age. You don't need to remember the details, but at least the basic narrative. Alternatively, if you just want more info on events of the Third Age, which is when the Lord of the Rings I can't believe I've never read this before! I would recommend this to anyone who's read the Silmarillion and is interested in more history of Middle-Earth. I say the Silmarillion because there's a lot of assumptions that the reader is familiar with the Valar, the Blessed Realm, and the general events of the First Age. You don't need to remember the details, but at least the basic narrative. Alternatively, if you just want more info on events of the Third Age, which is when the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit take place, you could skip the first two sections and just read the third and I don't think you'd feel lost. This book is divided into three sections. Each one covers an age in Middle-Earth. The First Age only has two stories, the first of which is definitely "unfinished." It's about Tuor, an Elf-friend (and grandfather to Elrond, FYI) and the fall of Gondolin, the hidden Elvish kingdom. It's a great story that is told in brief in the Silmarillion. Here, it goes into much greater detail... but also stops before Tuor ever made it to Gondolin! Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien's son and editor of this book, only supplies what his father wrote. He adds footnotes and fragments that he can find, but it's definitely unfinished. As it was the first story in this book, I got worried that all of them would be like that: a structured narrative working to an exciting climax only to abruptly end. Luckily, that was only the case a few times. The only other story from the First Age is the tale of the children of Hurin, also told more briefly in the Silmarillion, but also recently it received its own standalone book treatment, so it hardly belongs in here. However, Christopher Tolkien offers lots of versions of different parts of the text, so you really learn a lot about the evolution of the story, which is focused on Turin (Tuor's cousin!) and his doom. It's a sad story. The second section is about the Second Age and focuses on Numenor, the island where come the Kings of Gondor and the Dunedain. The main story also ends somewhat abruptly and is sad in nature, but again, Christopher Tolkien outlines how it may have ended. There's also a lot of contradictory writings about Galadriel and Celeborn, and it seems Tolkien never made up his mind on what their history definitively was. The Third Age has a lot of interesting stories, including the history or Rohan and their friendship with Gondor, details of battles only briefly mentioned in the Lord of the Rings, the powers of the Nazgul, the five wizards and their origins, details about the palantirs, and more. These felt more complete, maybe because they weren't plot driven, but just interesting info. Loved it and will reread it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    For the April 13th gathering of the Tolkien Society of Kansas City, we will finish our reading of Unfinished Tales and letters 131 through 146 in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Friday, April 13, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library. I'm also concurrently listening to the related Mythgard Academy podcasts: https://mythgard.org/academy/unfinished-tales/

  14. 5 out of 5

    Evan Edinger

    It took me ages to read, but it was wholly fascinating how much detail lies behind every individual action in Middle Earth. It has inspired me to reread The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings again. I feel like everything will make so much more sense!

  15. 5 out of 5

    E.F.B.

    Wow, that was a long one. It’s Tolkien though, so I was expecting that. 😉 What I wasn’t quite sure about was what was meant by these being “Unfinished Tales”. Turns out unfinished means exactly that. The stories featured here are ones that J.R.R. Tolkien never finished for one reason or another. Some are more complete than others, and Christopher Tolkien pieced together what he could from his father’s notes to try to figure out where the stories might have been going, and how they were connected Wow, that was a long one. It’s Tolkien though, so I was expecting that. 😉 What I wasn’t quite sure about was what was meant by these being “Unfinished Tales”. Turns out unfinished means exactly that. The stories featured here are ones that J.R.R. Tolkien never finished for one reason or another. Some are more complete than others, and Christopher Tolkien pieced together what he could from his father’s notes to try to figure out where the stories might have been going, and how they were connected to the wider world of Middle-earth and, but they still are just plain not finished. I appreciated that Christopher seemed just as sad as I was that some of the stories were never finished because quite of few of them were very interesting and enjoyable. To name a few, my favorites were definitely “Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin,” “A Description of the Island of Numenor,” “The History of Galadriel and Celeborn,” “The Quest for Erebor,” “The Hunt for the Ring,” and the majority of Part Four, especially, “The Druedain”. In spite of the lack of endings, I’m glad Christopher was able to piece together as much as he did because they really do add depth to his father’s (sub)creation. The man had an amazing imagination. I’m technically giving this book 4.5 stars just because there were sections of some stories that I skimmed because they weren’t quite interesting enough to hold my attention. With the exception of “Narn I Hin Hurin” which I’ve already read in its separate book form, “The Children of Hurin” and therefore didn’t feel a particular need to read again, there weren’t any stories that I skipped entirely, though. Each story held something of interest, it was just that some stories had parts that were over-descriptive in the scenery department, or sometimes were just things I already knew, so I skimmed them. One story, “Aldarion and Erendis” was a bit like watching a train wreck, only the train was the titular characters and the wreck was their relationship with each other. I just reached a point where all I could think was, “Okay, I get it, you’re both selfish jerks who have no business even considering marriage. Since I can’t reach through the page and smack sense into both of you, I must move on.” :P However, I do feel the story had value as a part of the history of Numenor and held some interesting glimpses at its culture, so at the very least, I’m glad it was included for that. People who enjoy angsty relationship drama would probably like it more than I did. :P Other than that one story, though, I can say I at least liked if not loved the rest of the stories and am very glad to have finally gotten around to reading Unfinished Tales. I’ve had it for nearly two years, it was just so thick I was a little intimidated by it. There was no need for intimidation, though. Just patience and a steady speed of reading. 😉 Content Advisory: I am usually as detailed as possible with the content advisories I include with my reviews, however, if you’re thinking about reading this book, more likely than not you are a steadfast fan of Tolkien and have read enough of his works to know his style. (If you haven’t, you should probably stop here and go read The Hobbit, LOTR, and The Silmarillion before attempting Unfinished Tales because several stories in it require at least some knowledge of those books to be fully appreciated.) Violent things occur in his books, and some of acts committed by evil creatures/characters are especially terrible, but Tolkien remains ever consistent in that he never describes the violence in a way that is gory or gross, though blood is briefly mentioned on rare occasion. The only story that some readers may want to warned about is “Nar I Hin Hurin” (aka The Children of Hurin.) If you haven’t read that story before, it is a tragedy through and through. Readers who are easily depressed may want to skip it entirely or wait to read it at a time when you are feeling emotionally able to handle the sadness. Be aware either way that two characters in that story commit suicide: One via throwing themselves into a river and one via sword. This is not any more graphic than any other violence in Tolkien’s works, but could still be disturbing to some nevertheless.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kevis Hendrickson

    J.R.R. Tolkien's Unfinished Tales is a terrific book for diehard Tolkien fans, in particular, fans of The Lord of the Rings who have not yet read The Silmarillion. Ever wondered what were the exact events that caused Isildur to lose the One Ring? Or the origins of Wizards? Or what Middle-Earth was like during its First Age? Unfinished Tales helps to shed light on the complex creation of Middle-Earth and the many tales and legends that relate the events in its long and largely tumultuous history. J.R.R. Tolkien's Unfinished Tales is a terrific book for diehard Tolkien fans, in particular, fans of The Lord of the Rings who have not yet read The Silmarillion. Ever wondered what were the exact events that caused Isildur to lose the One Ring? Or the origins of Wizards? Or what Middle-Earth was like during its First Age? Unfinished Tales helps to shed light on the complex creation of Middle-Earth and the many tales and legends that relate the events in its long and largely tumultuous history. I found this book to be very interesting with a number of wonderful never before told tales from Tolkien's furiously hoarded safe box of writings such as "Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin", "The Disaster of The Gladden Fields" and my personal favorite "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife". Even in their sometimes incomplete state, the archaic nature of the tales contained in this book add to the mystique that Tolkien discovered a trove of ancient manuscripts in some dark and remote cave recounting a lost and forgotten age of our world rather than merely conjuring it up out of his vast and unfettered imagination. My only complaint about Unfinished Tales is that like the other history of Middle-Earth books, Tolkien's son and literary executor Christopher is too enamored of trivial events in his father's creation of Middle-Earth and seems too driven to point out every single nuance (and sometimes meaningless facts) about the many versions of the tales his father wrote before they came to their final, but incomplete forms. This makes for some rather unnecessarily confusing, if not, at times, dull reading. Even so, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about how Tolkien created the world behind The Lord of the Rings and the many wondrous and previously unpublished tales that we could only guess had existed.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    A fascinating look at many of the stories that did not make it into Professor Tolkien's primary works. This is probably one of my favorite books of this well-known mythology. (view spoiler)[I think my favorite part of this book is the chapter concerning the history of Galadriel and Celeborn. Tolkien clearly had many different ideas for their origins, and it's utterly fascinating to see those ideas laid out. It also makes a person wonder what he ultimately would have laid down for them. The Silmar A fascinating look at many of the stories that did not make it into Professor Tolkien's primary works. This is probably one of my favorite books of this well-known mythology. (view spoiler)[I think my favorite part of this book is the chapter concerning the history of Galadriel and Celeborn. Tolkien clearly had many different ideas for their origins, and it's utterly fascinating to see those ideas laid out. It also makes a person wonder what he ultimately would have laid down for them. The Silmarillion gives us one version, but it seems that it was by no means meant to be the final word. Additionally, I greatly enjoyed the chapters that focused on Numenor and its inhabitants. The story of Aldarion and Erendis is so tragic, and the descriptions of their daughter Ancalimë remind me a great deal of Elizabeth I. Given how well-versed Tolkien was in history, I doubt that resemblance was coincidental. (hide spoiler)] Definitely worth the time of any fan of Lord of the Rings and its world.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    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.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Curtis

    I've read quite a few parts of this previously, either due to individual curiosity about specific topics (such as the Quest of Erebor, Istari, Palantiri) or as part of other works (Narn i Hin Hurin – most of which is incorporated in The Children of Hurin), but I had not until now sat down and read all the various tales in order. Already a big fan of Tolkien, as a whole I quite enjoyed the collection, especially since Christopher Tolkien's notes and analysis are kept at a minimum compared when co I've read quite a few parts of this previously, either due to individual curiosity about specific topics (such as the Quest of Erebor, Istari, Palantiri) or as part of other works (Narn i Hin Hurin – most of which is incorporated in The Children of Hurin), but I had not until now sat down and read all the various tales in order. Already a big fan of Tolkien, as a whole I quite enjoyed the collection, especially since Christopher Tolkien's notes and analysis are kept at a minimum compared when compared with the various volumes of HoME. Of the tales I had not read previously, I most enjoyed that of Aldarion and Erendis, as well as brief story of the Druedain, perhaps because I knew the least about them already. Highly recommended for anyone who has already read The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chelseabelle

    This book is for the nerdiest of Tolkien nerds. I enjoyed it. There were some chapters that I skipped over because I had no interest in them.. I don't really care about Eorl and I don't really care about the fields of Celebrant, but almost everything else was fantastic. The most dissappointing chapter that I read was "Galadriel and Celeborn," and that's only because it was one of the least finished by Tolkien. Some poeple say this book was put out there for money, but I disagree. There are a LOT This book is for the nerdiest of Tolkien nerds. I enjoyed it. There were some chapters that I skipped over because I had no interest in them.. I don't really care about Eorl and I don't really care about the fields of Celebrant, but almost everything else was fantastic. The most dissappointing chapter that I read was "Galadriel and Celeborn," and that's only because it was one of the least finished by Tolkien. Some poeple say this book was put out there for money, but I disagree. There are a LOT of tiny little details in these unfinished tails that are really good to know if you're the type of person to re-read LOTR and The Silmarillian every year. It's also nice to read some of the notes that JRR wrote about his essays in this book, because he often says things like, "I don't know what happened," to a certain character. He speaks of his own made up world as if it truly was real and physical. It's pretty cool. The only reason I give it a 3 is because in comparison to The Silmarillian, and LOTR it gives you much less to think about as a whole. It's really a suppliment to Tolkien's other narratives, not a piece of writing unto itself.

  21. 4 out of 5

    DMae

    I bought this book at a used book store in Rome. I read it in the evenings right before bed and on long train trips. When I was leaving Rome for the last time, I had no room in my suitcase, so I sacrificed that book and left it at the hotel. The cover I selected is the one I left behind. My current copy, also used, is a different edition. Most books I found in that hotel were old guide books. I always wondered if someone found it curious that there was a Tolkien book on the shelf! This book is a I bought this book at a used book store in Rome. I read it in the evenings right before bed and on long train trips. When I was leaving Rome for the last time, I had no room in my suitcase, so I sacrificed that book and left it at the hotel. The cover I selected is the one I left behind. My current copy, also used, is a different edition. Most books I found in that hotel were old guide books. I always wondered if someone found it curious that there was a Tolkien book on the shelf! This book is a must for any Tolkien fan. I liked getting a glimpse into the author's ideas and excluded scenes. My favorite sections were on 'The History of Galadriel and Celeborn,' 'Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan' (Loved learning about this phase of Middle-earth), 'The Quest of Erebor,' and 'The Istari.'

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Tough read but a pleasure. Learn the details behind the trilogy, concerning Gandalf and Sarumans kind, Galadriel and Celeborn's history, stories of Elendil, and older legends in this realm. The greatest about this, to me: seeing behind the scenes at Tolkien' s creative process. It inspires me to sit down, for pleasure, and create/ build my own world 20 minutes at a time, and use this as a canvas to paint short stories and go from there. Love Tolkien. Plans change, especially mine, but I plan to Tough read but a pleasure. Learn the details behind the trilogy, concerning Gandalf and Sarumans kind, Galadriel and Celeborn's history, stories of Elendil, and older legends in this realm. The greatest about this, to me: seeing behind the scenes at Tolkien' s creative process. It inspires me to sit down, for pleasure, and create/ build my own world 20 minutes at a time, and use this as a canvas to paint short stories and go from there. Love Tolkien. Plans change, especially mine, but I plan to read my top three authors in depth this year including their bibliographies and auto/ biographies. Tolkien, Kafka and Poe. Also plan to seek one new favorite this year, specifically Charles Dickens and David Copperfield. Will see how that goes.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Fee Roberts

    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.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Strömquist

    In retrospect I'm amazed that I ever managed to drudge through this collection of unfinished and/or abandoned stories from middle earth. But then again, I did once pull myself through the insomnia obliteration that is The Silmarillion. "Rings" fans will not think twice about reading this of course (and will certainly not weigh in my input), but for the rest of us, the original trilogy and The Hobbit goes a very long way.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    Discussion on the blog! http://booksandbeverages.org/2016/08/...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emilia Bennett

    This book has several different tales in it (as you'd expect) but here are my top three: 1. Aldarion and Erendis: this entire section was a case study in why you don't date people only for looks, and it was so entertaining to read. It also contextualises a lot of what happens in Akallabeth and lets you look much deeper into Numenorian culture than in the Silmarillion. Also, poor Ancalime. 2. The Druedain/The Istari: I have to put these as a tie, because they were both so good. I felt like I was r This book has several different tales in it (as you'd expect) but here are my top three: 1. Aldarion and Erendis: this entire section was a case study in why you don't date people only for looks, and it was so entertaining to read. It also contextualises a lot of what happens in Akallabeth and lets you look much deeper into Numenorian culture than in the Silmarillion. Also, poor Ancalime. 2. The Druedain/The Istari: I have to put these as a tie, because they were both so good. I felt like I was reading real folklore with the Druedain, and the council on the Istari was one of the most unintentionally hilarious part of the book, which I appreciate, even if it wasn't Jirt's intention. 3. Tuor's journey to Gondolin: really, I'm just biased with this because I love Tuor and all of the other characters that crop up here, but this really felt like the start of another Children of Hurin style deal and it's such a shame that Tolkien was never able to continue it, since it was absolutely the best. Overall, really great reading for those of us that are perhaps already in a little to deep to Tolkien, and just want to get deeper.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    It’s always great to uncover more of Middle-Earth and beyond. This is like a collection of short stories (though “Aldarion and Erendis” seems novella-like in length and development) that fills in gaps and adds to what’s presented in The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings. The scope is on par with The Silmarillion and covers stories from the First, Second, and Third Ages. Because of that, I was able to appreciate even more the ridiculous depth of Tolkien’s universe and the evolution of his co It’s always great to uncover more of Middle-Earth and beyond. This is like a collection of short stories (though “Aldarion and Erendis” seems novella-like in length and development) that fills in gaps and adds to what’s presented in The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings. The scope is on par with The Silmarillion and covers stories from the First, Second, and Third Ages. Because of that, I was able to appreciate even more the ridiculous depth of Tolkien’s universe and the evolution of his composition. CT’s insertions, explanations, interjections, endnotes, and appendices seem to take more of a backseat to Tolkien’s own writing overall, even when only fragments are given. I find the overall balance here between original text and commentary to be much more enjoyable compared to the recently published Beren and Lúthien (which will probably also be the case with the forthcoming Fall of Gondolin). Some chapters were pretty dull to me, even when action-packed (I have “Cirion and Eorl” and “The Battles of the Fords of Isen” particularly in mind). I especially enjoyed reading about Númenor, Galadriel’s origins, and the Istari (even though it was scandalously brief—why did the blue wizards even exist?!). The maps of Númenor and Middle-Earth given here are tattoo-worthy. I’ll definitely be returning to this in the future, probably to pick and choose individual chapters to reread rather than a cover-to-cover reading as I did this time.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Pieri

    Delivers what it promises , finishes tales and might even introduce some more for some. Especially good are the tales of Turin and the Mariner's Wife.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    3.5. I definitely prefer reading about the Third Age, as I feel way more attached to those characters. Did love the bit about Galadriel though in the Second Age, and didn’t hate Turin’s story from the First Age as much as I thought I would (after thinking he was the worst in the Silmarillion).

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I put off reading UNFINISHED TALES mostly because I feared it would try my patience the way that THE SILMARILLION did. I appreciated the latter, but between J.R.R. Tolkien’s exposition-heavy style and stretching the reading over 3 months, I didn't love it. So, the fact that I had a much smoother and more positive time with UNFINISHED TALES was a huge surprise. UNFINISHED TALES OF NÚMENOR AND MIDDLE-EARTH is a collection of stories and essays that Tolkien never completed before his death in 1973. I put off reading UNFINISHED TALES mostly because I feared it would try my patience the way that THE SILMARILLION did. I appreciated the latter, but between J.R.R. Tolkien’s exposition-heavy style and stretching the reading over 3 months, I didn't love it. So, the fact that I had a much smoother and more positive time with UNFINISHED TALES was a huge surprise. UNFINISHED TALES OF NÚMENOR AND MIDDLE-EARTH is a collection of stories and essays that Tolkien never completed before his death in 1973. (His son and literary executor Christopher Tolkien compiled the materials that make up this volume.) It’s not like THE SILMARILLION, which Christopher edited so it would be a cohesive narrative. Instead, it presents the unfinished works as they are, with extensive footnotes and appendices that explain any gaps or inconsistencies. Some readers might find certain entries confusing as a result, but it’s important to know what UNFINISHED TALES’ structure is like before you dive into it. One reason why I enjoyed UNFINISHED TALES was its new angles on Middle-Earth tales that I already know well. We learn more about the wizard Gandalf’s dealings with Thorin Oakenshield before the quest for Erebor (and what a thorn Thorin was in Gandalf’s side). We also get glimpses into Isildur’s final battle after claiming The One Ring and his resulting death, the origin stories of the palantíri (seeing stones) and the wizards, and Saruman’s machinations to thwart Sauron’s other servants for his own agenda. Much of this material either was left out of the final versions of THE HOBBIT and LORD OF THE RINGS or evolved into the stories we know now, but many of the character portrayals were consistent. Thorin was still stubborn and irascible, Gandalf wise and gracious, Saruman ambitious and deceptive. UNFINISHED TALES also features an astonishing amount of new material on Middle-Earth. Three entries are devoted to the island of Númenor, from its geography and culture to the heart-breaking “Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner’s Wife.” That story in particular, especially Aldarion’s wanderlust and emotional isolation due to his unhappy marriage, struck a unexpected chord in me. “The History of Galadriel and Celeborn” was fascinating for the information it reveals about Galadriel, and how Tolkien wrote different accounts of how she met Celeborn and came to Middle-Earth. It was also interesting to see early versions of “Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin” and “The Children of Húrin,” the latter of which has haunted every time I’ve read it. My main takeaway from UNFINISHED TALES, though? I have a better understanding of how challenging it’s been for Christopher Tolkien to edit his father’s unpublished writings. He’s had to work through half-finished drafts, gaps of information, and conflicting details; and I can’t imagine having to make some of the difficult editorial choices he’s has to make. So, in my opinion, he’s done an admirable job of combing through his father’s writings and making the final products coherent and easy for readers to follow. The only critique I have for UNFINISHED TALES is on Tolkien’s dry, expository style. I’ve made the same comment on his other books; and while I accept it as his way of writing, I preferred the short stories (which featured dialogue and character interactions) than the essays or historical accounts of events. That said, UNFINISHED TALES is illuminating and impressive for its scope and expansion of one of literature’s most beloved fictional worlds. A must-have for Tolkien fans, though best appreciated after reading his more well-known works.

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