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Unfinished Tales Paperback – January 3, 1998

248 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

As the title indicates, this is a collection of odds and ends from different ages of Middle-earth ranging from the First Age until Sauron's defeat. For diehards only.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'Moments of mythic grandeur' Sunday Times 'Another monument to the incredible imagination of Tolkien' Sunday Telegraph

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (January 3, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0261103628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0261103627
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 1.7 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (248 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,890,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892.1973), beloved throughout the world as the creator of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, a fellow of Pembroke College, and a fellow of Merton College until his retirement in 1959. His chief interest was the linguistic aspects of the early English written tradition, but even as he studied these classics he was creating a set of his own.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

518 of 522 people found the following review helpful By Tuor on May 29, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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330 of 334 people found the following review helpful By bixodoido on October 21, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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).
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113 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Michael Martinez on December 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
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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106 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Mitali on November 6, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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