J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings on the Second Age of Middle-earth, collected for the first time in one volume complete with new illustrations in watercolor and pencil by renowned artist Alan Lee.
J.R.R. Tolkien famously described the Second Age of Middle-earth as a “dark age, and not very much of its history is (or need be) told.” And for many years readers would need to be content with the tantalizing glimpses of it found within the pages of The Lord of the Rings and its appendices, including the forging of the Rings of Power, the building of the Barad-dûr and the rise of Sauron.
It was not until Christopher Tolkien published The Silmarillion after his father’s death that a fuller story could be told. Although much of the book’s content concerned the First Age of Middle-earth, there were at its close two key works that revealed the tumultuous events concerning the rise and fall of the island of Númenor. Raised out of the Great Sea and gifted to the Men of Middle-earth as a reward for aiding the angelic Valar and the Elves in the defeat and capture of the Dark Lord Morgoth, the kingdom became a seat of influence and wealth; but as the Númenóreans’ power increased, the seed of their downfall would inevitably be sown, culminating in the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.
Even greater insight into the Second Age would be revealed in subsequent publications, first in Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, then expanded upon in Christopher Tolkien’s magisterial twelve-volume The History of Middle-earth, in which he presented and discussed a wealth of further tales written by his father, many in draft form.
Now, adhering to the timeline of “The Tale of Years” in the appendices to The Lord of the Rings, editor Brian Sibley has assembled into one comprehensive volume a new chronicle of the Second Age of Middle-earth, told substantially in the words of Tolkien from the various published texts, with new illustrations in watercolor and pencil by the doyen of Tolkien art, Alan Lee.
I can’t believe that this story came out of Tolkien having a recurring dream, and then his desires to retell the Atlantis story. And then so much grew out of it as it became part of the Middle-earth legendarium.
I believe this is one of the first books released in the same style as the Christopher Tolkien ones post his death. Which of course, still features massive contributions from his life’s work.
In the same vein as Christopher’s work, this sets out to give a straight-forward linear storyline for the falling of Númenor. It also does a really good job taking the reader through the early history of Sauron. It does not seek to overwrite, or undo previous works. As with the other works taken from The Silmarillion and Appendices, it does read similarly to a textbook in places, but doing audio from Brian Sibley and Samuel West made it very digestible. Personally for me, hearing pieces from each that are featured elsewhere just really helps my understanding, as it can be really dense.
This has a beautiful wrapped artwork for the dust jacket (Alan Lee of course), a ribbon bookmark, beautiful interior artwork as well as some nice smaller chapter headers and footers. It has a great quality naked hardcover wrap too, a fantastic edition for a Tolkien collector. Super glad this one’s on the shelf.
One thing I’d love to highlight is how perfectly this cover matches the depiction shown in The Rings of Power show…I mean spot on. Obviously it comes from the text itself anyway, but when so much else gets changed…it’s just cool. The storyline really goes to show just how much they could do with the show itself. There’s so much going on in the appendices and this edition is the proof.