The Book of Lost Tales


The Book of Lost Tales, Part One (History of Middle-Earth 1) by [J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien]

Title: The Book of Lost Tales
Series: History of Middle-Earth
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: 
February 15, 2012
Genre: Epic Fantasy

The Book of Lost Tales was the first major work of imagination by J.R.R. Tolkien, begun in 1916-17 when he was twenty-five years old and left incomplete several years later. It stands at the beginning of the entire conception of Middle-earth and Valinor, for these tales were the first form of the myths and legends that came to be called The Silmarillion. Embedded in English legend, they are set in the narrative frame of a great westward voyage over the Ocean by a mariner named Eriol (or AElfwine) to Tol Eressea, the Lonely Isle, where elves dwelt; from him they learned their true history, the Lost Tales of Elfinesse. In these Tales are found the earliest accounts and original ideas of Gods and Elves, Dwarves, Balrogs, and Orcs; of the Silmarils and the Two Trees of Valinor; of Nargothrond and Gondolin; of the geography and cosmology of Middle-earth. Volume One contains the tales of The Music of the Ainur, The Building of valinor, The Chaining of Melko, The coming of the Elves and The Flight of the Noldoli, among others. Each tale is followed by a short essay by Christopher Tolkien, the author’s son and literary executor.

Book Review:

A collection of stories set in the world of Middle-Earth, The Book of  Lost Tales contains stories from the history of the land and its people. They are beautiful tales, with a mix of mythology and magic. It was never finished by Tolkein, but was compiled and reorganized by his son. The stories are connected by its introductions, the story of a man hearing these tales from a nearly forgotten place. 

It was really cool to delve into some of the stories and mythos of Middle-Earth. I read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series, but never considered myself much of a fan. Those were the only books I read, though I also enjoyed the movies. Before this book, that was the extent of my LotR investment. I had not looked into the history or backstory, but this was so fun! Though there were some parts that felt a bit wordy, overall it was very interesting. I have always enjoyed mythology and folklore, and I used to check out books on them from the library. It was interesting to see a fantasy version of it. It is not for the light reader, with the multitude of characters whose names sound awfully similar and the notes referencing other events and characters. It is always cool to see the themes that nearly always appear in the mythology of every culture through a new story.

There are 10 tales, each full of magic and beauty. They span a long period of time with the characters of gods, elves, dwarves, gnomes all appearing. I would definitely recommend this for any LotR fan or those who like high fantasy. Be ready to be flipping back and forth from the story and the annotations for clarity. It is deep mythology with beautiful imagery. There is some mention of war and death, however overall it is pretty clean.


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