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This review is from: Unfinished Tales: The Lost Lore of Middle-earth (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book is this: Tolkien's son Christopher collected a mass of writings of his father--notes scrawled on scraps of paper, unpublished essays, even letters dealing with Middle-Earth.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).
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.