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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
History of Middle Earth (12 Volumes)


Nov 11 2012, 11:28pm

Post #1 of 6 (2285 views)
History of Middle Earth (12 Volumes) Can't Post

Has anyone read the twelve volume history of Middle-Earth? If so, is it worth purchasing the entire set? I am very interested in reading A New Shadow, and I am a big fan of The Hobbit, The Silmarillion and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (as well as the films), as well as a fan of Tolkien in general, so is there any insight that my fellow fans can offer into this set?

Aunt Dora Baggins

Nov 11 2012, 11:43pm

Post #2 of 6 (1165 views)
I have about half of them. [In reply to] Can't Post

But I've never felt like buying the others. You might want to check them out of the library first. I really enjoyed Book of Lost Tales I and II, Unfinished Tales (not sure if that's part of the set) and the four volumes that are the rough draft of LotR: Return of the Shadow, Treason of Isengard, War of the Ring, and Sauron Defeated. But some of the others were too dry for me. I think I attempted the Lays of Beleriand and never got very far into it.

"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com


Nov 12 2012, 7:06am

Post #3 of 6 (1136 views)
I like the ones she mentions, plus... [In reply to] Can't Post

Vol. X, Morgoth's Ring, which has some really great "behind the scenes" essays on Elvish life and culture, "the meaning of life", and other deep issues inherent in these books.

Personally, I wouldn't run right out and buy the whole series, and "History of Middle Earth" is a very misleading title. It is a sort of history of Tolkien's works, some of which have been assembled and publised, others not. But don't look for a continuing narrative.

Join us NOW in the Reading Room for detailed discussions of The Hobbit, July 9-Nov. 18!

Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


Nov 13 2012, 12:29pm

Post #4 of 6 (1111 views)
Is it worth purchasing the entire set?-Yes and No [In reply to] Can't Post

I purchased the entire set about 6 months ago, and haven't yet finished an entire volume (mind you I'm reading quite a few other things as well)-that's not to say its terrible or boring reading, just haven't found the time to do it, I probabaly won't for several years. They are normally quite expensive, and often quite difficult books to read (the earlyier volumes you can't really dip and out off), and I suggest you borrow a volume or two from your local libary before you rush out and buy any. They really are books for massively dedicated fans, and reading the 'behind the scenes' process of writing,and numerous slightly differnt drafts isn't always as fun as it sounds,That said if you consider a hardcore fan they are defintely worth reading.

I don't really think of the HOME as fiction, more as as 'literacy archaeology'-that is like Unfinshed Tales, a continuation, and exploration of Tolkien's writing, but not necessarily canon. It's certainly interesting to see the process Tolkien took whilst writing LOTR, and the New Shadow I personally found fascinating (if a little short), but for me personally I found the essays on Dwarven and Elvish culture (Particulary 'Laws and Customs' and 'Cirdan') and languages the most interesting.

I myself asked your question a few months ago, and whilst in the end I took the plunge and purchased the set, you may want to check out the thread before you make a desision:


If that dosen't work search for 'What is the History of Middle Earth Like to Read?' in the Reading Room Archives.

Hope that Helped


‘As they came to the gates Cirdan the Shipwright came forth to greet them. Very tall he was, and his beard was long, and we was grey and old, save that his eyes were keen as stars; and he looked at them and bowed, and said ‘All is now ready.’

Perhaps the most fascinating Individual in Middle Earth


Nov 13 2012, 5:13pm

Post #5 of 6 (1109 views)
I have them all [In reply to] Can't Post

And they are all absolutely worth the read.

It follows the evolution of Tolkien's Middle-earth writings from approximately 1916 to the end of his life. As with all writings, there are many conflicting manuscripts and changes from one revision to another.

Much of it is inconsistent with what he later wrote, but there is still much that isn't. In fact, much of the material at the end of the Silmarillion comes from the older stories because Tolkien never significantly rewrote them or revised them.

My two favorite volumes are X & XI (Morgoth's Ring & The War of the Jewels). They follow the expansion and revision of the Silmarillion material after the completion of LOTR and are fascinating. Much of it was used in the compiling of the published Silmarillion, but not all. There is a wealth of untold stories, many of which are better than their "canonical" counterparts.

Laws and Customs among the Eldar is a fascinating look into Tolkien's vision about the Elves, and The Shibboleth of Feanor is a marvelous look at languages and how they influence the world.

If any of this sounds the least bit interesting to you, I'd suggest you look into them. As others have said, they are rather expensive (especially since there are 12 volumes), but I find them to be invaluable.

"...and his first memory of Middle-earth was the green stone above her breast as she sang above his cradle while Gondolin was still in flower." -Unfinished Tales

Aunt Dora Baggins

Nov 13 2012, 8:41pm

Post #6 of 6 (1878 views)
They're not impossibly expensive in paperback, or used. [In reply to] Can't Post

I got most of my volumes in hardback, used, and have picked up a few others in paperback. But I also checked several of them out of the library first before I bought any. I really recommend going that route to see if you like them.

"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com


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