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New book: "The Nature of Middle-earth" by Carl Hostetter (?)


Jun 21, 10:50pm

Post #1 of 12 (708 views)
New book: "The Nature of Middle-earth" by Carl Hostetter (?) Can't Post

So, apparently Chris Tolkien gave his blessing to this, and it's being published as a tie-in to the Amazon series. Anyway, I saw this on Reddit. Another link here thetolkienguide.com.

Unofficial fourteenth volume of The History of Middle-earth.

The first ever publication of J. R. R. Tolkien’s final writings on Middle-earth, covering a wide-range of subjects, and the perfect next read for those who have enjoyed Unfinished Tales and the History of Middle-earth series and are hungry for more.

The Nature of Middle-earth will comprise numerous late (c. 1959-73) and previously unpublished writings by J.R.R. Tolkien on the “nature” of Middle-earth, in both chief senses of that word: both metaphysical and natural/historical.

For Tolkien fans, readers, and scholars interested in learning more about Tolkien’s own views on Middle-earth. It will appeal in particular to those readers who enjoyed Unfinished Tales, and some of the later volumes of the History of Middle-earth. Indeed, many of the texts to be included are closely associated with materials published in those places, and were sent to Hostetter, specifically, in photocopy by Christopher Tolkien for potential publication.

Much as Unfinished Tales forms an unofficial thirteenth volume of the History of Middle-earth, this new book will sit very nicely alongside as an unofficial 14th volume. Of particular note, given the impending Amazon series, are several texts detailing the lands, flora, and fauna of Númenor, and the lives of Númenóreans.

Imprint: HarperFiction
Editor: Chris Smith
Publication: 27 May 2021
Format: Hardback
Extent: 400pp


Jun 22, 12:41am

Post #2 of 12 (660 views)
Very interesting [In reply to] Can't Post

How many boxes of manuscripts were in that damn garage? What's left after this one?

If I remember, Christopher Tolkien omits or excerpts numerous papers in History of Middle-earth, on grounds of space or of insufficient interest, relative to the already-published material.

I wonder if the pressure to keep publishing books by Tolkien, in the Estate's never-ending battle with the world of film and TV, will finally lead to a book full of all the manuscripts that CT decided weren't interesting enough. Kind of a History of The History of Middle-earth, vols. 1-20, publ. 2023-45.

squire online:
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N.E. Brigand

Jun 22, 7:43pm

Post #3 of 12 (606 views)
Will this be something like Tolkien's "Fate and Free Will", also edited by Hostetter? [In reply to] Can't Post

Will the new book include that very essay, which was published more than a decade ago in Tolkien Studies? Will it include Tolkien's work previously published in issues of the two linguistic series Vinyar Tengwar and Parma Eldalamberon, for which Hostetter is a co-editor? Doing so would make some Middle-earth "lore" more accessible to a wider audience who find diphthong discussions dreary.

Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.

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Jun 22, 9:01pm

Post #4 of 12 (580 views)
Hence the "?" in the OP. This book raises lots of questions. // [In reply to] Can't Post



Jun 23, 11:57am

Post #5 of 12 (502 views)
Subject [In reply to] Can't Post

This is all previously unpublished material, dating from Tolkien's last years (1959-73), stuff that didn't quite make the cut for the later volumes of HME (which were size-limited). All of it was provided to CFH in photocopy by Christopher Tolkien, who approved his editing them for publication before his passing.


Jun 24, 1:39pm

Post #6 of 12 (435 views)
Amazon [In reply to] Can't Post

Given that Numenor is explicitly mentioned, I wonder whether Amazon might have seen this or has rights to use it?


Jun 24, 2:06pm

Post #7 of 12 (431 views)
Editor Chris Smith [In reply to] Can't Post

How much would you like to bet that the editor is the same Chris Smith who authored The Lord of the RIngs: Weapons and Warfare that looked at the weapons, armors and battles of the films? It is the only book I own about the making of the LotR films (and it also includes a foreword by Christopher Lee).



Jun 24, 3:40pm

Post #8 of 12 (417 views)
That's my hunch [In reply to] Can't Post

Amazon is looking at people who watched LOTR and The Hobbit and is thinking, "how do we draw those people into a series without hobbits or Legolas or a dragon or...?" So maybe they want this book as a sort of primer for the Second Age.

The flaw in my hunch is that this will be non-fiction, which people won't flock to read. But we don't know everything in their marketing plan to prime the masses. Maybe they'll find a way to publish some fiction, either text or graphic novel, to spike interest and introduce characters, places, etc.

(This post was edited by CuriousG on Jun 24, 3:41pm)


Jun 24, 8:15pm

Post #9 of 12 (400 views)
Tolkien Gateway says it is the same man [In reply to] Can't Post

But it's hard to find confirmation, as the name is a common one.

The closest I could come was a Goodreads review of the 'Weapons and Warfare' book that listed Smith as "editor" rather than "author". But the reviews in the book pointed out that the editing was quite sloppy, with the writer of the film-oriented articles on the weaponry and props seemingly knowing little about the Tolkien books.

Since the Chris Smith at HarperCollins, who is editing Hostetter's scholarly book "The Nature of Middle-earth", has been editing Christopher Tolkien's books since 1999, one would assume that he would not make sloppy mistakes when writing, or editing, a spin-off book about the Tolkien films.

I haven't read the 'W & W' book myself, so I can't really comment on whether it is edited as badly as the reviews suggest.

squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Jun 24, 8:23pm

Post #10 of 12 (398 views)
Author and Editor? [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, I can't say what's up with the credits provided by Goodreads, but Chris Smith is credited in the book itself as the author, and he is credited with the copyright to the text. The focus is squarely on the films by intention, so I'm not sure its fair to criticize the book for not being the book that someone else wanted it to be.



Jun 24, 9:30pm

Post #11 of 12 (391 views)
From David Bratman's blog [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien scholar (and co-editor of Tolkien Studies) has this to say:

"A few of the contents have already appeared in obscure scholarly sources, so I can say that, like much of the later History of Middle-earth volumes, this volume will delve into the very roots of the mountain, the basic concepts (or "nature") of Middle-earth itself. For the editing of the world-creation, this should be very cool."


I'm fairly confident that David would not say that if he didn't know that it was true

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire

Thor 'n' Oakenshield

Jun 28, 3:31pm

Post #12 of 12 (165 views)
Fascinating! [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll be sure to keep an eye out for this.

"Good-bye, my dear Bilbo! Until our next meeting."
- Gandalf


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