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on May 29, 2000
When JRR Tolkien died, he left a massive amount of material that, for various reasons, had not been published. Some of this material was sufficiently comprehensive and consistant with published materials that Tolkien's son, Christopher, was able to compile it into 'The Silmarillion'.
But there were also several stories, polished, but not quite complete, which pertained to the events in 'The Lord of the Rings' -- things like the story of how Isildur lost the One Ring; like what, exactly, were the Wizards: who sent them and why? Questions like 'How did Galadriel and Celeborn come to rule Lorien?' and 'Just what happened at the Fords of Isen when Saruman attacked Rohan and Theoden's son, Theodred, was slain?'
All these questions and many more are addressed in the many unfinished tales that are to be found in this book: tales from all three of the ages of Middle-earth; from heroes such as Tuor and Turin in the First Age, to Bilbo and Gandalf in the Third. Almost every tale is told in a different style, but each is satisfying, up to the point where it breaks off: then frustration and speculation set in, but also a deep appreciation for the scope and grandeur of Middle-earth and the man who created it.
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on October 21, 2002
This collection of stories is just what the name implies--unfinished tales from both the continent of Middle-Earth and the island of Numenor. These tales are great and rich in detail, but one should be warned that they are not your everyday fantasy story. Both The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion are complicated and not casually understood, but this book tops both of them in terms of complexity.
The story of the compilation of the book is this: Tolkien's son Christopher collected a mass of writings of his father--notes scrawled on scraps of paper, unpublished essays, even letters dealing with Middle-Earth. He edited and organized them, and prepared them for publication, and the result is this book. Because of this, many of the stories are missing detail and have some speculation, and all of them relate to other events related in Tolkien's other works.
Because of the relation to Tolkien's other work, this book should be read AFTER The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion, and should only be approached by those who want to seriously study and learn all there is to know of the world Tolkien created. For the casual reader this compilation may be somewhat tedious, for there is much detail lacking and it is assumed that you already have a knowledge of the history of Middle-Earth as outlined in Tolkien's other books.
For those who are serious about study, though, this book is a great addition to the already extensive world of JRR Tolkien. Ever wonder where Gandalf and the other wizards came from? Why Bilbo was chosen to accompany the Dwarves in The Hobbit? What the palantiri stones do, and where they came from? If so, then this is the book for you. You will find a collection of stories that will greatly enrich the lore of Middle-Earth (and Numenor).
For serious readers of Tolkien, this book is highly recommended. No one does fantasy like he does, and even these scattered fragments of narrative are enough to leave you begging for more.
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on December 13, 2000
The Silmarillion raised so many questions that Tolkien fans almost felt cheated when the book came out in 1977. Fortunately, Christopher Tolkien foresaw the readers' hunger for more material about Middle-earth would not be quenched and he promised in the foreword to publish some related material when time permitted.
What came next was Unfinished Tales, a less-than-satisfying collection of stories and notes about the heroes and kings of the three Ages. But the disappointment didn't lay in the quality of the stories. Rather, it was only their various states of incompleteness, even though some tales (like "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields") were truly fully formed.
The book is most valuable to people who want to know more about the histories and heroes of Middle-earth. People looking for Hobbit-lore will be disappointed. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien reveals more about Hobbits than Unfinished Tales. But there are exciting moments and awesome scenes, such as when Ulmo rises out of the sea before Tuor, and when Isildur realizes that the One Ring has betrayed him to his doom, which stand alongside the most memorable passages of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.
Unfinished Tales shows us Tolkien at his best when he was doing nothing more than just writing out his thoughts concerning various peoples and events only mentioned in The Lord of the Rings.
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on November 6, 2003
Though Unfinished Tales cannot be read as a book in its own right, any one who comes to it after reading The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion will indubitably find it interesting, as the book gives various nuggets of information about characters, events and places that are only hinted at in the other two books; e.g. the chapter on the Istari. 'Old' legends or myths of Middle-Earth, like the actual story of Isildur's fall in the Gladden Fields, are given in their 'authoritative' versions. A number of other tales, like the history of Galadriel and Celeborn or the Black Riders' hunt for Frodo and the Ring, are told in different versions or from differing perspectives.
A particular gem is the story of Aldarion and Erendis, the only story of Numenor before its fall. Through it, Numenor becomes a living place, not just a name from legends.
A map of Numenor is also included in the book.
A lovely book - no other words for it.
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on September 25, 1998
In this "follow-up" to The Silmarillion and LOTR you find a literal treasure chest of knowledge concerning tales of Middle Earth. The Tale of the Children of Hurin is one of the best stories I have ever read, the essays on the Istari and the Druidain reveal two of the mysteries in LOTR, and The Battle of the Fords of Isen and Cirion and Eorl will give you good insight on the troubles of Gondor and Rohan in the Third Age. It also contains two rarely mentioned parts of LOTR; one being Aldarion and Erendis, a tale concerning a King of Numenor, and the other tells of the entire hunt for the Ring as seen by the enemy. I recommend this book to any Tolkien fan. You will read this book time and time again and simply revel in the quantity of information it gives you.
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on November 7, 2002
As with all of Tolkiens books, this is one book that any devoted fan must read! Not only will it answer many quetions (although they are relatively simple ones for us lore masters) but it contains, many stories that are in a relatively coplete narrative form.
The first of these, is the tale of Tuor's coming to Gondolin. This is a much longer account of the six page one given in the Silmarillion, and unfortunately stops quite suddenly (however, the rest of the story can be found in the second book of Lost Tales and The Silmarillion).
The second story, in my opinion, should be a book it's self. It is in complete narrative form, from beginning to end (except for one part which, disapointingly, is found only in a more condensed form in the Silmarillion). This is the Narn i hin Hurin, or the Tale of the Children of Hurin (Of Turin Turambar in the Silmarillion). This major portion of the book includes, as do most of the tales, an informative appendix. This is one of my favorite, if not my very favorite tale by Tolkien (Yes, even before Lord of the Rings).
After this, much information considering the Second-Age of Middle-earth is given, including a beautiful tale (Whi about a Numenorean King and his wife, Aldarion and Erendis. Following this, is the history of Galadriel and Celeborn, which includes the trajic yet beautiful tale of Amroth and Nimrodel (Legolas sings a part of this tale in The Fellowship of the Ring). This section also includes the tale of the Disaster on the Gladden Fields and Isildur's death.
Following thit are the tales from the third age which were not included in the Lord of the Rings (or perhaps in less detail). These are mostly just very short stories and notes, yet still they feed your knowledge, and leave it begging for more (and yes, more is available). They include The Oath of Cirion and Eorl (Steward of Gondor and first king of Rohan), Gandalf's account of how he sent the dwarves to Bag End, The Hunt for the Ring (telling of the journey of the Nazgul while they hunted Frodo) and The Battles of the Fords of Isen, telling of the battles of Rohan with the forces of Saruman during the War of the Ring.
The fourth part includes three essays, The Druedain, giving much information on the "Wild men of the Woods", such as the people of Haleth and the men of Ghan-buri-ghan. The Istari, giving very interesting information on the backround of the five wizards, and how it came to be that they were sent to Middle-earth. The third is several notes and short writings about The Palantiri, the seeing-stones.
Having given this book so much praise, I know would say that it should only be read by the serious Tolkien fan, because this is not your ordinary fantasy book, it's a history. Not only that, but it's written in such a way that anyone who has not read The Silmarillion, the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, would be quite confused.
I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to feed their knowledge of Middle-earth.
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on January 8, 2002
Let's clear the air: I am a huge Tolkien fan and I have loved this book for years. But this edition (Houghton Mifflin hardcover) is just a jewel. Nansmith's cover art of Túrin and Mîm the Dwarf is stunning.
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are famous, and justly so, for they are the only novels that Tolkien ever completed. He was a real perfectionist. So if you really want to witness the full genius of Tolkien you have to tap into a vast series of works, each individually "unfinished" but altogether forming a very satisfying completeness. The Silmarillion is a key and a summary of the vasy mythology--it really is required reading--but once that is behind you Unfinished Tales is your first stop to experience the greatness that is Middle-earth. And, despite its name, the writings collected in this volume are for the most part fairly complete.
The highlight of Unfinished Tales is the Tale of the Children of Húrin (Narn i Hîn Húrin), itself a short novel over 100 pages in length--thirteen chapters plus Appendix. This is an incredible epic story set in the First Age, written in full narrative form. The great human hero Húrin of the North is captured alive after slaying seventy trolls in the great War of the Jewels, and brought before the throne of Morgoth, god of evil (Sauron's ancient master). When Húrin refuses to serve him, he casts a great curse on all his kin. We then follow the fate of Húrin's son Túrin--his fostering by the Elvenking Thingol; his adventures as an outlaw; his friendship with Beleg the Bowman and Mîm the Dwarf; of the nation they founded and their war with the Orcs; of Túrin's capture ... and most importantly of his feud and battles with Glaurung, Father of Dragons. This is one of my favorite stories of all time, and I highly recommend it. The sequel is The Wanderings of Húrin, published in The War of the Jewels--which follows the father Húrin's actions after he is finally released from prison. Also an intriguing read.
Unfinished Tales also includes a ton of short works dealing with the First Age, the Second Age, and the Third Age--there are fourteen pieces together. Many of these are tales directly relating to The Lord of the Rings--the tale of Isildur, for example; The Hobbit told from Gandalf's point of view; and The Fellowship of the Ring told from the point of view of the Ringwraiths. But my favorite is a section called 'The Istari'.
'The Istari' (the order of Wizards) is extremely important. It includes several essays on the Five Wizards: their names, their nature, their origin, their powers, and their mission. This is the central, underlying subtext of The Lord of the Rings which is never really explained until you read this. Learn of the mission of Radagast the Brown. Learn of the ancient rivalry between Saruman the White and Gandalf the Grey. Learn the names and the fate of the two remaining wizards, the Blue Wizards.
It must be pretty clear that I wholeheartedly recommend this book, but that I only recommend it after The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. But if you qualify, you are in for a treat, my friend.
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on June 26, 2006
found Unfinished Tales to be a pretty good book. It is more piecemeal than the completed novels, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, which was in progress when J.R.R. Tolkien died. The Silmarillion was pulled together and edited by his son Christopher.

The book is separated into four sections. The first section is the First Age and contains stories on the coming of Tuor to Gondolin and the tale of Hurin's Children. The Tale of Hurin's children in touched on in the Silmarillion but this story is much more in-depth and while fans of the Tolkien mythologies know is a tragic tale this version is most complete.

The second section of the book is the Second Age and focuses much on the Numenor. There is a description of the island of Numenor. This section contains the tale of the Mariner's Wife, which is another great and tragic story among the tales of Middle-Earth. There is a section on various kings of Numenor and a History of Galadriel and Celeborn. I found the history of Galadriel very interesting, and full of information that made events in later tales more meaningful

The third section of Unfinished Tales is the Third Age. This portion of the book contains: The Disaster on the Gladden Fields, a history on the relationship between Gondor and Rohan, The Quest for Erebor, a portion on the hunt for the One Ring, And the Battles of the Rods of Isen, which ultimately lead to the death of Theodred, the son of King Thoden. This section of the book had lots of additional information for fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbits to consume and make their enjoyment of the stories that much fuller.

The fourth and final section of the book contains sections on the Druedain (or Wild Men), the Istari (or Wizards) and the palantiri (or seeing stones). This section was also very valuable in adding information to the Lord of the Rings. I was very fond of the story The Faithful Stone and found the history of the Wild Men more colorful than expected. My suspicions about the origin of the Istari were validated in this section of the book as well. And my understanding of the palantiri went up substantially from near zero.

Overall I would suggest this book to any Tolkien fan after reading at least the Lord of the Rings but better to have read the Hobbit and Silmarillion to get the most out of the tales and told in Unfinished Tales. Unfortunately, the stories are unfinished and in a few cases I found myself really wanting more but that's just the way it goes.
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on April 2, 2005
I found Unfinished Tales to be a pretty good book. It is more piecemeal than the completed novels, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, which was in progress when J.R.R. Tolkien died. The Silmarillion was pulled together and edited by his son Christopher.

The book is separated into four sections. The first section is the First Age and contains stories on the coming of Tuor to Gondolin and the tale of Hurin's Children. The Tale of Hurin's children in touched on in the Silmarillion but this story is much more in-depth and while fans of the Tolkien mythologies know is a tragic tale this version is most complete.

The second section of the book is the Second Age and focuses much on the Numenor. There is a description of the island of Numenor. This section contains the tale of the Mariner's Wife, which is another great and tragic story among the tales of Middle-Earth. There is a section on various kings of Numenor and a History of Galadriel and Celeborn. I found the history of Galadriel very interesting, and full of information that made events in later tales more meaningful

The third section of Unfinished Tales is the Third Age. This portion of the book contains: The Disaster on the Gladden Fields, a history on the relationship between Gondor and Rohan, The Quest for Erebor, a portion on the hunt for the One Ring, And the Battles of the Rods of Isen, which ultimately lead to the death of Theodred, the son of King Thoden. This section of the book had lots of additional information for fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbits to consume and make their enjoyment of the stories that much fuller.

The fourth and final section of the book contains sections on the Druedain (or Wild Men), the Istari (or Wizards) and the palantiri (or seeing stones). This section was also very valuable in adding information to the Lord of the Rings. I was very fond of the story The Faithful Stone and found the history of the Wild Men more colorful than expected. My suspicions about the origin of the Istari were validated in this section of the book as well. And my understanding of the palantiri went up substantially from near zero.

Overall I would suggest this book to any Tolkien fan after reading at least the Lord of the Rings but better to have read the Hobbit and Silmarillion to get the most out of the tales and told in Unfinished Tales. Unfortunately, the stories are unfinished and in a few cases I found myself really wanting more but that's just the way it goes.
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on January 20, 2003
Unfinished Tales is some of Tolkien's unpublished writings. These writings includes the stories of Tour, Turin, Galadriel, the Stewards, Eorl and Rohan, the wizards and other aspects of middle earth. Christopher Tolkien also provides many footnotes that go into detail about the languages used by Tolkien. I have read six novels by Tolkien, and consider this to be weakest, but I still gave it five stars. Unfinished Tales contains information that could not included in the Silmarillion. Many of the stories add detail to those began in the Silmarillion.
If you are considering buying this book, you should know this is not like Tolkien's other books about middle earth. This is a collection of many stories and legends that do not neccessarily involve each other. In this work, there is no overall plot. If you, as I, love Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and Silmarillion, then Unfinished Tales provides more information and depth. If you are looking for a novel about another period in middle earth, then you might be disappointed. Additionally, the second story concerning Turin requires that you have read the Silmarillion.
However, this novel gives fans of Tolkien another chance to marvel in his genius and be amazed at his vast creation. I have just finished reading Unfinished Tales for a third time, and encourage anyone who enjoyed the Silmarillion to buy this book because more likely than not, you will also read it again.
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