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VINE VOICEon November 7, 2001
. . .plus cultural information!
This book, the first of two in the "History of Middle-Earth" series dealing with later textual developments in "The Silmarillion" provides a great deal of information on how Tolkien's philosophical and theological development influenced the later aspects of this work. (As the reader should remember, Tolkien worked on these legends for more than 50 years.)
However, one of my greatest delights in "Morgoth's Ring" was a lengthy essay detailing aspects of Elven culture, including information on courting, betrothal, marriage, and child-rearing. Also included is a discussion of the judgement of the Valar concerning the remarriage of Finwe of the Noldor.
Throughout, the volume demonstrates that Tolkien wished to truly create a complete culture, not merely a history.
A worthy addition to this series.
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on December 13, 2000
The most important part of this book is the section titled "Laws and Customs of the Eldar". For the only time in his long career of writing essays and opinions essentially intended only for himself the author of The Lord of the Rings set aside story and drama to explore the social and cultural heritage of the Noldor and the Eldar in general.
All the other works in this book fall into place only if the reader understands the peculiar outlook that Tolkien envisioned for the Elves. They were not truly deathless, but recognized many forms of death. And for the Elves the union of spirit and body was as intrinsic as breathing and life. All their griefs therefore proceeded from the disruption of these fundamental precepts in Aman, where such disruption should never have occurred.
Though people speak highly of "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" it really has no meaning without the context provided by "Laws and Customs". A great many questions are answered in very matter-of-fact fashion by the author, often as asides.
The last section, "Myths Transformed", actually leaps ahead to a period late in Tolkien's life when he began to unravel all the tales and mysteries and design a completely different cosmology. Had he finished this later work, Tolkien would have rewritten his Silmarillion completely and in doing so would have destroyed some of the most beautiful myths of our time.
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on June 25, 2001
This is the tenth volume of a detailed study about the Silmarillion- era (Pre- Lord of the rings). No question from the silmarillion, is left unanswered after you've read this hyper-detailed book about the fallen ainur, Melkor, most known under the name Morgoth meaning "the enemy of the world". Here is described the rise of Arda, the assignments given by Eru, the lord of all, to the ainur (or the Valar in their earthly presence), AND how Melkor (who was Eru's favorite and most skilled of all) fell from grace and lusted to control the earth and everything in it. In this book , you will find how immensely great was Morgoth's power and how he could even distort Eru's very designs in the birth of the universe. It also includes detailed information about particular elven kings, half elven and men, who had a particularly important role in the history and shaping of Beleriand and Middle-earth. a lot of readers of the silmarillion felt that many details werent sufficiently explored and found the story hard to follow. Morgoth's Ring provides the 'in depth' look required to further appreciate the silmarillion. All fans of middle-earth and fantasy are urged to get this superb annal of the history of middle-earth and dive once more into the realm of the tree-light gems...
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on January 15, 1999
Of all of the books concerning the development of the Silmarillion, I've found that Morgoth's Ring is the most compelling. The dialog between Finrod and Andreth has such depth and feeling. Never before in his writings has dialog and character development been so rich. The meaning of life/love and the despair that is underlying the story is heart rending. Her last words to Finrod about asking Aegnor to be careful just wrung my heart. I loved how she expressed the depth of her love: "I would give everything for just a year, a day, an hour of the Flame" (something close to that I think) A reader cannot understand Arwen's last words to Aragorn without reading this story or Luthien's love for Beren and its implications.
One more thing, has anyone thought to reconstructing the Silmarillion and including all these stories. If I had only the time and money...
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on March 29, 2004
This is the good stuff...my favorite volume of the whole series. The centerpiece, in my mind, is the debate of Finrod and Andreth, which through alternate existing versions and Christopher Tolkien's editorials, we can piece together the REAL origins of the Edain in Tolkien's universe. I don't want to give it away, but it will absolutely shock even those who are extremely familiar with the Silmarillion and Lost Tales of Numenor and Middle Earth. The other groundbreaking info is JRR's decision to go back and re-write a lot of what would become the Silmarillion...he was considering such plot elements as placing the sun and moon before the Two Trees, which would radically alter the entire universe as we know it.
I was hoping to find as much of interest in the companion Volume 11 but was disappointed...this, #12 (Peoples of Middle Earth), #9 (End of the Third Age) and #5 (Lost Road and Other Writings) should be the next steps for the Tolkien diehard who wants to go even further than the Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle Earth have taken them.
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'Morgoth's Ring' and 'The War of the Jewels' are both collections of draft material which would become the postumously published 'The Silmarillion'. In that sense, they stand in the same relation to 'The Silmarillion' as Volumes VI through IX of 'The History of Middle Earth' stand to 'The Lord of the Rings'. The difference is that while Tolkien senior himself published LotR, 'The Silmarillion' was incomplete at the time of Tolkien's death, so these are commentaries on an imcomplete work. If, like me, you compulsively buy everything with Tolkien's name on it, this will make no differnce. But, if, like me, you find the story of the Valar and the origins of the elves in general to be the most interesting part of 'The Silmarillion, then you will find 'Morgoth's Ring' the more interesting of the two volumes. In the end, both volumes add more pieces to that great, but slightly ephemeral quality of deep historicity which makes LoTR and 'The Hobbit' stand head, shoulders, and chest above virtually every other fantasy fiction ever written.
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on March 13, 2006
Part 1 starts out with another version of the Ainulindale. Tolkien would always be revising his stories and the reason for it could be many things. In the Ainulindale he rewrote it to make radical changes to the cosmology. It is very easy to see why most of his writings were never finished, every little change he made would throw off the entire Middle-Earth world from what it was before.

Part 2 has the Annals of Aman. Since changes were always being made, Tolkien always made new annals of his earliest stories. The problem here is that he go from making brief descriptions to giving full writings. Every time he rewrote something, it would get longer.

The biggest chunk of the book is part 3 which goes over a later version of the Silmarillion and that piece of work really started coming together at this point. It clearly had no chance of ever getting finished, but it is fun to see how many changes were made every time it was rewritten.

Part 4 is one of the writings that Tolkien seems to have written solely to help explain Middle-Earth to himself. It is a fascinating conversation between an male elf and a woman talking about where their souls go after they die. It also talks about the dark origins of man which are only briefly mentioned in all other works by Tolkien.

Part 5 is called 'Myths Transformed' and gives a good idea about how crazy Tolkien became with his work and why the Silmarillion was never finished. One of the many things he had a problem with was the trees of Valinor, and how they came to be. He thought if a fruit of the tree became the Sun, how would a whole tree not burn the land around it? It is amazing that something like this could halt him for so long. I think any Tolkien fan would be able overlook something small like the trees of Valinor if the Silmarillion could have just been completed.

Overall another book packed full of great Middle-Earth information.
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on December 5, 1998
Wow! Lots of detail on the inner motivations of both Dark Lords. A brilliant piece on the relationship between Elves and the secret past of men. You'd better get the hardcover. My softcovers already falling apart from so much reading.
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on June 22, 2007
This book is for serious Tolkien scholars, not the casual Lord of The Rings fan. Christopher Tolkien's analysis can be mind numbing, so if you're not looking for that kind of depth, stick to The Silmarillion.
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on October 9, 1998
"The whole of Middle Earth was Morgoth's Ring."- JRR Tolkien. In the tenth volume of The History of Middle Earth the Silmarillion as we know it finally started to come into focus. Most importantly, the role of Melkor as the main source of corruption in Arda was created. I found this book easily worth the price for two chapters alone. One tells of the laws and customs of the Eldar and the other is a story called "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth", a story telling of the spirit and "death" of elves. I would recommend this to all Tolkien fans. It is the second best volume of The History of Middle Earth, next to only the final volume.
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