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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing insight in the early wold of JRR Tolkien
Christopher Tolkien give a splendid recount on his fathers' early editions of the days in Beleriand, and shows the promise of The Silmarillion in greater depth as Tolkien develops the imagination of the Fall of Gondolin and other histories of middle earth. Read about the power that elves. man and dwarf all faced together, the power of the dark vesus the light with...
Published on 3 Oct 2000 by torquayfan@hotmail.com

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Self obsessed but interesting book
This book continues straight on from the first volume of early versions of the Silmarillion stories.
While the first volume was mostly concerned with the gods of Valinor, here the emphasis is on a more human scale with tales of Turamber, the fall of Gondolin etc… Unfortunately this book is if anything even more inaccessible than its predecessor, due to the...
Published on 23 May 2003 by Jane Aland


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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Self obsessed but interesting book, 23 May 2003
By 
Jane Aland (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This book continues straight on from the first volume of early versions of the Silmarillion stories.
While the first volume was mostly concerned with the gods of Valinor, here the emphasis is on a more human scale with tales of Turamber, the fall of Gondolin etc… Unfortunately this book is if anything even more inaccessible than its predecessor, due to the increasingly fractured nature of the surviving material (the last two of which consist of little more than fragments) and the editors increasing obsession with the minutiae of these drafts. There really is no need to be informed of every single deviation between drafts unless it is a change of substance – (for example, what benefit is it for us to know that the phrase “ man of greater stature” was originally “a man of great size”?) – and this slows the books reading down to a crawl.
Despite this there is still some very illuminating material here that was greatly compressed in the Silmarillion, so despite the stilted tone this is still worth wading through.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing insight in the early wold of JRR Tolkien, 3 Oct 2000
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Christopher Tolkien give a splendid recount on his fathers' early editions of the days in Beleriand, and shows the promise of The Silmarillion in greater depth as Tolkien develops the imagination of the Fall of Gondolin and other histories of middle earth. Read about the power that elves. man and dwarf all faced together, the power of the dark vesus the light with adversity all around.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tolkienian Archaeology, 10 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The Book of Lost Tales 2 (The History of Middle-earth, Book 2): Pt. 2 (Kindle Edition)
2nd volume of two 'archaeological' exploration of JRRT's mythology, conducted by his son and literary executor Christopher Tolkien.
For the hard core Tolkienian this and its companion volume are ESSENTIAL reading. They give an insight unavailable elsewhere into the early prehistory of what would become the published Tolkien mythos, and an insight that is nothing short of riveting into the evolution of a 'sub-creative' imagination like no other.
Here, you will find early versions of stories later published in almost unrecognisably different forms; nomenclature abandoned by JRRT long before any of his works saw the light of day, yet which gives vital clues to the genesis of the world of Arda and Valinor; and clues to the evolution of his Elvish languages - not originally Quenya and Sindarin, but Qenya and ... Gnomish.
Yes, the Noldor were Gnomes once. Perhaps it is as well that JRRT abandoned this term, but the Noldor remained spirits of Earth, manipulators of the physical elements, in the published works, so it is not irrelevant even to one who is only interested in the later redaction.
Readers who have only encountered the original five volumes (Hobbit - LOTR - Silmarillion) may be in for some shocks, and may even be distressed by some elements. For instance, it's evident from material in the Books of Lost Tales that Tolkien did not merely dislike cats, he really did hate them; the prototype of Sauron was a cat-lord. He came distressingly close to calling the Queen of Doriath 'Wendolene', before deciding that her name was in fact Melian. And, perhaps most disturbing of all (to me), Eriador used to be called Aryador.
Think about it.
But in making such comments, one has to remember that most of these tales were written, in the forms they take in these volumes, during and not long after the First World War. Tolkien was a very young man; some of these sketches might indeed be designated 'juvenilia'. But all are fascinating, essential components of his development as a writer and a 'sub-creator'.
If you are prepared to discover just how jejune Tolkien could be in his early years, and to regard these volumes as what they are meant to be, explorations of the development of a writer's mind, then please, please buy them. The insight they provide into the background to the Tolkien Mythos is unparalleled. If you'd rather restrict yourself to the output of the mature Tolkien (and *certainly*, if you expect these volumes to be some kind of continuation or expansion of the 5 major Middle-Earth related works), then please, please look elsewhere. That is not what the Books of Lost Tales are about.

5 stars for sheer interest and Tolkien-nerd satisfaction; if I was judging this simply on literary merit it would be about 2 1/2, but as stated, that is not what these volumes are about.

A note: I bought the Kindle edition, and am glad I did, it meets my needs and was inexpensive. I also hoped to be able to buy Kindle editions of other volumes of the History of Middle-Earth series - but for some incomprehensible reason most of them (other exceptions are Unfinished Tales and the Narn i Hin Hurin) are flagged as being available for Kindle in ... 2019! So be warned. If you really want to read all 12 volumes of the Christopher Tolkien edited History, and you will only buy Kindle editions, you are going to have to wait.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overview of The History of Middle-earth Series, 6 Dec 2008
By 
Michael W. Perry (Seattle, WA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.

GROUP ONE, VOLUMES I - V, EARLY TALES

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 EressŽa 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 ∆lfwine, 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). As you might guess by the title, in this book Christopher describes how his father shaped his vision of Middle-earth from the primitive The Book of Lost Tales to early versions of The Silmarillion. This theme is taken up again in volumes 10 and 11.

Vol 5. The Lost Road and Other Writings (1987). Along with other writings this volume includes Tolkien's drafts of a tale about time travel. Wikipedia describes it this way: "The Lost Road itself is a fragmentary beginning of a tale, including a rough structure and several intiguing chunks of narrative, including four entire chapters dealing with modern England and Numenor, from which the entire story as it should have been can be glimpsed. The scheme was of time-travel by means of 'vision' or being mentally inserted into what had been, so as to actually re-experience that which had happened. In this way the tale links first to Saxon England of Alfred the Great, then to the Lombard Alboin of St. Benedict's time, the Baltic Sea in Old Norse days, Ireland at the time of the Tuatha's coming (600 years after the Flood), prehistoric North in the Ice Age, a 'Galdor story' of Third-Age Middle-Earth, and finally the Fall of Gil-Galad, before recounting the prime legend of the Downfall of Numenor/Atlantis and the Bending of the World. It harps on the theme of a 'straight road' into the West, now only in memory because the world is round."

GROUP TWO, VOLUMES VI - IX, LORD OF THE RINGS

If you or the friend you're buying for is primarily interested in the LOTR, then these four volumes are the books to have. Just keep in mind that you'll find in them many unfinished plots that may or may not fit well into LOTR. Tolkien was a perfectionist, always trying to improve plots and fill in details. These are his drafts.

Vol. 6, The Return of the Shadow (The History of The Lord of the Rings v. 1, 1988). Describes the initial stages of writing LOTR and covers the first three-fourths of The Fellowship of the Ring (until the Mines of Moria).

Vol. 7, The Treason of Isengard (The History of The Lord of the Rings, v. 2, 1989). Covers from the Mines of Moria until Gandalf meets Théoden about one-fourth of the way into The Two Towers.

Vol. 8, The War of the Ring (The History of The Lord of the Rings, v. 3, 1990). Continues the tale up to the opening of the Black Gate not quite three-quarters of the way through The Two Towers.

Vol. 9, Sauron Defeated (The History of The Lord of the Rings, v. 4, 1992). Completes the tale and includes an alternate ending in which Sam answers questions from his children. There is also a much shortened version of Vol. 9 called The End of the Third Age, which leaves out material that isn't related to LOTR.

GROUP THREE, VOLUMES X - XI, THE SILMARILLION

Just as The Hobbit created a public demand for more tales about hobbits, The Lord of the Rings created a demand for more tales about Middle-earth. To meet that demand, Tolkien struggled to reconcile and adapt many of his earlier tales to the historical framework made well-known by his two published works. He never completed those labors, so it was left after his death to his son Christopher to do so in The Silmarillion (1977). If you or a friend is interested in knowing more about The Silmarillion, these two volumes may be of interest.

Vol 10, Morgoth's Ring (The Later Silmarillion, v. 1, 1993). Contains material from earlier (1951 and later) drafts of The Silmarillion. Wikipedia notes that: "The title of this volume comes from a statement from one of the essays: 'Just as Sauron concentrated his power in the One Ring, Morgoth dispersed his power into the very matter of Arda, thus the whole of Middle-earth was Morgoth's Ring.'"

Vol. 11, The War of the Jewels (The Later Silmarillion v. 2, 1994). Addition material about the earlier drafts of The Silmarillion. Includes information about the origin of the Ents and Great Eagles.

GROUP FOUR, VOLUME XII AND INDEX, WRAP-UP

Vol. 12, The People's of Middle-earth (1996). Contains material that did not fit into the other volumes. The most interesting include additional appendices like those at the back of LOTR, essays on the races of Middle-earth, and about 30 pages of a sequel to the LOTR called The New Shadow. It was set a century after the LOTR. Tolkien abandoned the tale as too "sinister and depressing."

The History of Middle-earth Index (2002) is an index of all twelve volumes.

******

Keep in mind that books in The History of Middle-earth are nothing like reading The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings. What J. R. R. Tolkien wrote is often fragmentary and unpolished rough drafts, while what Christopher wrote is literary scholarship, concerned more with sources and texts than plots. If you or the friend you are buying for is more interested in understanding LOTR better, you might be happier with a reference works such as:

Karen Fonstad's The Atlas of Middle-Earth (Revised Edition)

Robert Foster's The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth

Or my own detailed, day-by-day chronology Untangling Tolkien: A Chronology and Commentary for The Lord of the Rings

All three will give you a richer, deeper understanding of LOTR.

******

If you're interested in reading books with the same flavor as Tolkien, you might consider reading William Morris, a once well-known writer who influenced Tolkien. For tales like the warriors of Rohan, see his The House of the Wolfings and The Roots of the Mountains. For arduous quest journeys much like Frodo and Sam's quest to be rid of the Ring, read his The Wood Beyond the World and The Well at the World's End. The four tales have been collected into two inexpensive volumes:

More to William Morris: Two Books that Inspired J. R. R. Tolkien-The House of the Wolfings and The Roots of the Mountains

On the Lines of Morris' Romances: Two Books That Inspired J. R. R. Tolkien-The Wood Beyond the World and the Well at the World's End

******

I hope this helps you to select wisely based on your own interests. You can save some money by buying collections of The History of Middle-earth in multi-volume sets. You can also save by buying the Ballantine mass-market paperback instead of the Houghton Mifflin trade paperback edition, although the former may have smaller type and you may need to use both hands to keep it open while you read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Book of Lost Tales 2 (The History of Middle-earth, Book 2), 9 April 2013
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Bought this book as a Christmas present for my son in law, he loved it, and the price was right too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great series of books to collect and read, 5 Mar 2013
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i bought these books as abirthday gift for a friend who wanted to collect the whole series- they were thrilled with them
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