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The Return of the Shadow: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part One (The History of Middle-Earth, Vol. 6) Paperback – October 10, 1994
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From Library Journal
Collectively, these volumes are marketed as "The History of The Lord of the Rings" and tell alternate stories of the siege of Middle-earth and Sauron's defeat.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
J.R.R.Tolkien (1892-1973) was a distinguished academic, though he is best known for writing The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, plus other stories and essays. His books have been translated into over 30 languages and have sold many millions of copies worldwide
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Tolkien did not know at the outset what his story would be, but just began writing. Although he made numerous revisions to people and events, he stayed within the same framework rather than create something entirely new. Hence, the protagonists remained hobbits, the story opened with the birthday party, the hobbits leave the Shire, they arrive in Bree and meet a helpful stranger, they are pursued, and arrive in Rivendell. Tolkien foresaw the journey to Orodruin, that Gollum would play a role, and that the Shire would suffer, but did not yet Lothlorien, Saruman, Rohan or Gondor. Treebeard was originally envisaged as an enemy and the character who would become Strider/Aragorn as a hobbit ranger named Trotter.
The bulk of Return of the Shadow follows the rewrites of various events from the Birthday party to the arrival in Rivendell. Some of the differences are minor, others more significant. The final two chapters focus on the failed attempt to cross the mountains and the entry into Moria. At this point, the party consisted of Gandalf, the shire hobbits, Trotter, and Boromir, although we see that Tolkien considered adding a dwarf and elf.
Throughout the book, Christopher Tolkien adds his comments about the drafts and the story. It’s amazing enough that Tolkien saved his original material, even those scribbled on scraps of paper, but Christopher’s painstaking work organizing the versions, trying to figure out the order of writing, and deciphering script that was barely legible (in some cases, pencil with a different version overwritten in ink) is truly herculean. He notes discrepancies in maps and chronology, clarifies statements and passages, even admits when he doesn’t know what his father was thinking. What he does not do is describe any philosophical outlook or response to life events that influenced his tale or Middle Earth. You will need to look elsewhere for such an analysis.
Parts of the book can be tedious if you’re not particularly interested in maps, coordinating dates, or reading three versions of a scene in a row. But if you are keen to observe the process of creation that resulted in Lord of the Rings, you will find this book fascinating.
What is happening here is that JRR Tolkiens son Christopher went through all his Dads old papers to put these books together to show how JRR went about the process of writing Lord of the Rings. This volume and the next deal with Fellowship of the Ring. The story line you read sticks to the Fellowship line but it's different. This book shows the steps of character development. Ideas coming and going. Editing and rewrites. In short, to some folks this would be intensely boring. But I liked this book and I'm about half way through the next one, The Treason of Isengard. It's the same thing, the Fellowship story. Parts of what you read go from ideas that appeared in the Silmarillion to the end of tale of the Rings. Christopher Tolkien must have loved his father very much because he's put together an analytical series of books that leaves no comment untold, no idea unrevealed.