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End of the Third Age (The history of Middle-Earth) Paperback – 5 Oct 1998

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Product details

  • Paperback: 159 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (5 Oct. 1998)
  • ISBN-10: 0261103806
  • ISBN-13: 978-0261103801
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,134,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael W. Perry on 6 Dec. 2008
Format: Paperback
Collections of an author's work are often confusing, particularly when what the author has created is as complex as Tolkien's writings. Here's an overview of the twelve-volume History of Middle-earth, which was edited by his son Christopher Tolkien. Hopefully, it will help you select which book or books to buy.

Keep something in mind. In the U.S. Houghton Mifflin publishes Tolkien's authorized works in hardback and trade paperback editions, while Ballantine Books publishes them as cheaper mass-market paperbacks. For some reason, Ballantine doesn't always make it clear that some of their titles are part of the same History of Middle-earth series as those published by Houghton Mifflin. If the title is the same, the content is the same. Which you buy depends on your taste in books and finances. I have copies of both.


These five volumes deal primarily with Tolkien's writings before the publication of The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-55). In them, Tolkien was struggling as a still unknown author to create his first history of Middle-earth.

Vol 1 & 2, The Book of Lost Tales Part 1 ( 1983) & 2 (1984). The Book of Lost Tales was written during the 1910s and 1920s. Wikipedia describes it this way: "The framework for the book is that a mortal Man visits the Isle of Tol Eressëa where the Elves live. In the earlier versions of the `Lost Tales' this man is named Eriol, of some vague north European origin, but in later versions he becomes Ælfwine, an Englishman of the Middle-ages."

Vol. 3, The Lays of Beleriand (1985). These are collections of poems, many of them incomplete, written between the 1920s and the late 1940s.

Vol 4, The Shaping of Middle-earth (1986).
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By "thomasberger19" on 4 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
I am a Tolkien fan for 15 years now. I have read the Lord of the rings both in english and german many times. It was always a pleasure to go through the book and think about the hard work Tolkien had for many years in writing it. So it was time to know more about this long hours of thinking, about the different ways his story develops. These books offer a unique opportunity to follow Tolkien on his journey from "The Shire" to "Rivendell" and to "Mordor". The fascinating point is, that it is possible to join him in developing the storyline, reading different versions of the same chapter and see how his world changes and evolves in this versions. Although some might say it is boring to read 5 different versions of Bilbos farewell party it gives you a marvellous insight in the mind of a brilliant author.
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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mark Jones on 8 Dec. 2001
Format: Paperback
End of the Third Age is the 4th book in the "History of Lord of the Rings" series. In it Tolkien revisits previous battles and meetings that took place in the original Lord of the Rings storyline and describes them and related events in more detail.
If you are a fan of Lord of the Rings than this book is well worth buying.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 11 reviews
97 of 99 people found the following review helpful
A Fair Warning 11 Nov. 2000
By "y-welis" - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you already have the 9th volume in the 'History of Middle-earth' (H.O.M.E), 'Sauron Defeated' (published in 1992), you DO NOT need to buy this book, 'The End of the Third Age': It contain less then half the material that already appered in volume 9 (i.e pages 3-141 of the main text & 441-457 of the index). The soul purpose of this book is to complement the newly-packeged 'mini series' 'The History of the Lord of the Rings', which is made up from volumes 6, 7, 8 & this first half of volume 9 of the H.O.M.E. series. The current book DOES NOT CONTAIN ANY NEW MATERIAL.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Essential for an understanding of LOTR's creation 9 May 2004
By Eric San Juan - Published on
Format: Paperback
"The End of the Third Age" is the last of four volumes dealing with the history of the writing of "The Lord of the Rings."
It is also, buyers should know, an independently published portion of the previously published book called "Sauron Defeated," not a wholly new entry into the "History of Middle Earth" series, the larger, 12-part History that takes a close look at the creation of Tolkien's greatest achievement - Middle Earth itself - through early drafts, unpublished texts, and dead end writings. If you already have "Sauron Defeated," you will find no new text here.
If you're not a Tolkien fan, you need not apply. These incomplete and unfinished texts of early LOTR drafts, all explained, footnoted, annotated and expounded upon by his son, Christopher Tolkien, will only bore you. But if you're interested in seeing how the Professor developed the rich creation of Middle Earth, warts and all, this is a treasure trove of material. Christopher Tolkien goes to great lengths to examine each text, putting them in the context of the larger puzzle of his father's writings.
Most fascinating, and making this arguably the most essential entry to purchase for fans of the famous "trilogy," is the previously unpublished Epilogue featuring Sam speaking to his children. It was originally intended to be the book's final chapter, but was ultimately cut. It makes for interesting reading.
Again, take note: readers who can track down "Sauron Defeated" will get the entire text of this volume in that book, plus a wealth of other material not directly related to "The Lord of the Rings."
For casual fans, this is text better left unread. This is, after all, a series of unfinished draft chapters and essays. I enjoyed it, but many won't. Seek elsewhere if you are looking for more tales in the way of "The Lord of the Rings."
For ardent Tolkien readers, the series is a fascinating look at one of the great literary creations of the 20th Century, full of writings never before seen and stories only now being told. The exploration of how "The Lord of the Rings" came about is fantastic for those interested. Christopher Tolkien's work here is appreciated. Snatch this up.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Among the last scraps 19 Mar. 2004
By E. A Solinas - Published on
Format: Paperback
His notes. His rewrites. His discarded scribbles. His shopping lists. Just about every word J.R.R. Tolkien ever wrote has been carefully scrutinized and compiled into the "History" series. The finale of the series, "The End of the Third Age," is a prized curiosity for fans.
It contains Tolkien's (sometimes garbled) notes and drafts of "Return of the King." Different lines, altered characterizations, changed scenes, and a radically different Scouring of the Shire appear in these drafts. (Frodo killed "Sharkey" in earlier drafts) Christopher Tolkien provides plenty of explanation between nuggets of text about "my father's" writings. And the crowning touch is a couple drafts of the unused epilogue, in which we see Sam talking with his family.
People who aren't devoted fans of the "Lord of the Rings" books may be completely befuddled by "End of the Third Age." It's a fangeek thing, but it also serves as a literary curiosity. How did the story evolve, and how it was originally different? Well, this is part of what Tolkien wrote before the story was finished and published.
Tolkien's outstanding writing is hinted at even in the roughest, most incomplete fragments. And what makes this of special interest is not what was unfinished, but what was finished and not included. The epilogues (which were unfortunately not used) are beautiful, sweet and touching, and show Tolkien's love of family. They also serve as a better wrap-up to the trilogy.
The sweet epilogues lift "End of the Third Age" from a fan curiosity to a sort of "director's cut" book. For die-hard fans, it's a must-have. For casual fans, it's certainly something to check out.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The final volume in the history of the LOTR's genesis 1 Jun. 2004
By John Kwok - Published on
Format: Paperback
Christopher Tolkien's final entry in his history of the writing of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy is an abbreviated version of his "Sauron Defeated" coupled with some miscellaneous scraps, most notably the possible epilogue which Tolkien wrote, but discarded, later, regarding Sam's forthcoming final meeting with King Elessar of Gondor. It also includes information on The One Ring's destruction at Mount Doom, and the subsequent parting of the surviving Fellowship of the Ring. This slender volume with be of interest to diehard Tolkien fans and literary scholars alike.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The End of the HoME Series 22 May 2003
By Lampwick of Beeswax - Published on
Format: Paperback
It had to come to this. Every scrap of paper, memo, hankerchief and paper airplane that ever passed through JRR Tolkien's field of vision has been plundered of its commercial potential. The product is a mass of marginally legible notes which appeal to diehard fans (like me), but will have little appeal for the casual Tolkien afficienado. For the latter, purchase at your own risk.
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