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4.6 out of 5 stars116
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 28 March 2012
"Unfinished Tales" now represents something of a publishing problem, since the centrepiece of the book, the broken sequence of fragments and drafts from the projected 'great tale' of the children of Húrin (told only in abbreviated form in "The Silmarillion"), has now been superseded by a separate book, "The Children of Húrin" (see The Children of Húrin). With new manuscript discoveries and a reconsideration of the relationship between the fragments it was possible to form a complete narrative, and one which differs in many details from that in "Unfinished Tales". The rest of the book contains much that is fascinating, but it is just too thin in quality, or too 'technical', to sustain the book on its own. There is only one piece that matches 'The Children of Húrin' in stature, and that is the shorter fragment 'Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin', being what survives of a final, mature attempt to tell this story in a full form - another of the three 'great tales' Tolkien planned to produce. (As a narrative it is perhaps rather static, but for me it is the most haunting work in the book.)

For a new reader it could hardly be recommended to ignore the new work and just read 'The Children of Húrin' in its 'Unfinished Tales' form (the cat's out of the bag). But the other material in the book still needs to be preserved, and shown off to best advantage, as it was originally by association with the two fragmentary 'great tales'. Perhaps there is more high quality material that could be rescued from the massive "History of Middle Earth" and promoted to "Unfinished Tales"? After all, this book is by default a kind of highlights volume.

Or maybe there IS still a place for a REVISED version of the more technical style of presentation of 'The Children of Húrin' used in "Unfinished Tales", to complement the new book - with the new fragments added, as well as the new ideas for how they fit together. Certainly it's hard to imagine the book without this work at its heart. (And I must say that on balance I prefer the more 'honest' "Unfinished Tales" mode. Maybe because that's how I first read it! But the new book's illusion of a finished work sometimes clashes with passages that lack final polish.)

A new edition would also be handy for some of the technical pieces in the book. The 'Hunt for the Ring' chapter, in particular, seems to need heavy revision in the light of new discoveries.
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on 28 January 2015
It's a great piece of reading for the LotR enthusiast. I've read it over (and over) through the years as a book and wanted to try the Kindle edition. My only gripe is the number of spelling errors. I assume this has been OCR scanned from a printed source (I guess it could have been copy typed but the errors don't feel like that....) and that's probably where the issues have crept in, which seems a shame.

If you know the book quite well and just need a copy for reading in doctors waiting rooms (like me) then you'll be able to scratch your head and get past the odd typo. If it's your only copy, be a little cautious
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on 10 February 2007
Best included as an element in a complete read of all Tolkien's Middle-earth writings but if nothing else is worth the money simply for the tale of 'The Faithful Stone' which is perhaps the lovliest and most moving piece JRRT ever wrote.
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on 26 July 2010
I have just re-read this (apart from the The Children of Húrin bit because I've got the full edited version).

I had forgotten how much better this is than all of the "Lost Tales" type of books largely because these are (nearly) complete stories and they reflect the primary published works more closely - especially the Third Age bits which add to the Lord of the Rings.

The story of Tuor is here told in full up to the point which he reaches Gondolin but no further. I remember this as one of the better parts of the Book of Lost Tales but not so gripping in the Silmarillion, which is a shame.

The Description of Numenor is only marginally interesting and is eclipsed by Aldarion and Erendis, which is an unusual story set in the same location, completely at odds with the usual material on Numenor which always seems a bit Chronicle styled - turgid lists of facts and events. The tale only lacks a likable protagonist - neither Aldarion or Erendis do anything particularly to make you understand them, although you get a hint of what Aldarion is hoping to achieve in the letter from Gilgalad and Erendis does have a point about her husband being married to the sea. Only when you read the lives of the various kings and queens that follow do you learn the upheaval caused by these two flawed individuals. I'm sure Hollywood would engineer a happy ending to this tragedy, but Tolkein was never a big fan of Romance.

I remember reading the Hunt for the Ring quite some time after the BBC produced their 26 part radio series of the LOTR and discovered that the bits they had "made up" were in fact taken from Unfinished Tales, which made me like them even more.

Learning that Saruman had collected various items which must have been on the body of Isildur (Disaster of the Gladden Fields) makes you realise just how fortunate for the fate of Middle Earth it was that a hobbit-like creature called Deagol spotted something shiny in the river mud, even if it did prove rather tragic for him!
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on 13 February 2014
This was quite pricey but I was happy to buy it because Tolkien is my favourite author and Middle-earth my favourite fantasy world of all time. The delivery was excellent and the book oozes quality - from the slip case, engraving on the front and the paper quality. As for the book, the stories border of mythical grandeur matched only by The Silmarillion. A favourite read of mine.
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on 6 February 2002
Unlike the Silmarillion, this book is just a collection of notes by Tolkien - as suggested by his son, those who are expecting another story akin to LOTR should look elsewhere.
Just as others have said, if you have ever wanted to know more about what was behind the thinking of LOTR, then this is what you need. Gandalf, why he 'organised' the journey in the Hobbit, characters from the Silmarillion, etc. Tolkien's imagination is laid out before you...
As Morpheus says in the Matrix...
"You stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes..."
I enjoyed it. Fantastic!
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on 16 February 2013
I would recommend this book to anyone who is wanting to supplement their knowledge from The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings.

It can be read from cover to cover but i find as they are not full tales but as the title says - unfinished it is perfectly fine to drop in and out. This is especially true when reading the Akallabeth chapter in The Silmarillion - due to the chapters present in this book on the Second Age.

I think if someone is looking for this book then most likely they already know they will like it. If however you have stumbled upon this page having never read, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings or The Silmarillion then i would suggest reading all or some of those first as this book supplements the stories in their rather than being full blown stories in their own right.
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on 5 May 2013
Have had this, along with most of the rest of
the Tolkien books, for ages in paperback. I
recently decided to replace them with Hard-
cover copies. This also meant I could pass
the paperbacks on to someone else to enjoy.
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on 7 January 2016
A series of tales of Middle Earth, mainly from before the Lord of the Rings. Its not a quick or easy read but neither is it dry. They are great and moving tales in their own right but what is particularly stunning is how they form an intricate and internally consistent history of vast swathes of Middle Earth over much of its history With footnotes from the author reading like those of a historian piecing together the evidence, and footnotes from Christopher Tolkein, who compiled the book, explaining what he thought his father may have meant or been meaning to do, and giving context to the disparate tales. You get completely lost in it - its not a work of fiction, its a history. And for that it deserves 5 stars.
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on 20 January 2014
A Few stories into the background of middle earth and its past events including numenor. and the comming of the Istari.
A Bit difficult to follow like the silmarillion is but a fantastic read once you get into it.
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