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The Book of Lost Tales Part One: 1 (History of Middle-Earth) Hardcover – 22 Feb 1984

4.7 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 22 Feb 1984
£40.90 £0.75
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH); Book Club (BCE/BOMC) edition (22 Feb. 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395354390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395354391
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 14.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,339,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


‘Christopher Tolkien shows himself to be his father’s son… Tolkien devotees will rejoice’ The New York Times Book Review

‘In these Lost Tales we have the scholar joyously gambolling in the thicket of his imagination… a Commentary and Notes greatly enrich the quest’ Daily Telegraph

‘The Tales will be appreciated by those who have read The Silmarillion andwish to examine how Tolkien improved his story and style from their original form, and how weventually The Lord of the Rings came to stand independently with only a few hints from the early mythology’ British Book News

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

THE BOOK OF LOST TALES, I, stands at the beginning of the entire conception of Middle-earth and Valinor. Here is the whole, glorious history of Middle-earth that J.R.R. Tolkien brought to mythic and dramatic life with his classic fantasy novels of the Ring Cycle. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
In real mythologies the tales change and develop over time: names, times and places change with the constant retelling and embellishing by the story-tellers. In real mythologies, accounts often become fragmented and there may be several differing accounts of a single event. It's the same with the mythology of Middle Earth and Valinor. The way Tolkien develops the stories over the course of his life-time is analogous to the way real heroic events become legend and the legends become myths and all sorts of changes reshape them. Real life examples would be 1) the story of Beowulf who may have been a real but mortal hero of his people, but in the telling and retelling of the tale over the centuries, he was able to swim for 2 weeks in the freezing seas of Northern Europe wearing mail and he was able to do battle under water; 2) the Arthurian legends where the hero has been claimed to have lived and had his court at a dozen or more locations in Britain; 3) the Merlin legends where Merlin may or may not have been associated with Arthur 4) The Robin Hood legends where again, Robin has been claimed to have been based at various locations. And so on.
Lost Tales Part 1 is a collection of accounts of the origins of the world of Middle Earth and Valinor, concentrating mainly on the gods and the elves. The stories overlap those in Silmarillion but differ in many instances. Names, characters and places had been changed by the time Tolkien finalised the material that went into The Silmarillion. It's fascinating to see the character and story development with notes and commentary from Christopher Tolkien drawing attention to the changes and stating (where the reasons were known to him) and providing convincing speculations (where specific information was not known) why these changes were made.
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Format: Paperback
This book is really great. It has some stories which don't appear in the sillmarillion yet are really interesting if you have read the silmarillion. You have to concentrate quite hard to understand it all but it is worth it, some of the stories are fantastic. I would recommend this to anyone who has read the silmarillion and wants get deeper into the tolkien mythology. Christopher Tolkien does a superb job of making it all understandable, by linking the stories and refering to the silmarillion.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm sure that there are many, like me, who eagerly devoured all the Middle Earth material available to them, graduating from the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings to the Silmarillion and the fragmented Unfinished Tales, and yet still wanted more. Sure, too, that there are students of writing, of linguistics and of mythology who have wondered how such a triumph of the imagination as the aforementioned works came together.

Luckily, J.R.R. Tolkein was in the habit of keeping his early drafts, his notes and his prototype story. And due to the hard work and dedication of his son Christopher, we can take a journey into the mind of the great man as, over the course of his life, he developed the classic stories we know and love.

This initial volume collects the very earliest work on the world of Arda, and those readers who have enjoyed the Silmarillion will find much of it familiar; here are the prototype tales for the first half of that book, although some names and events vary considerably. At this early stage, Tolkein was intending a mythological history for the British Isles, so the stories are framed with a narrative device involving a travelling sailor visiting the elves and hearing of their travails. Also thrown in are works of verse that tie in to a certain extent with this period.

Each segment of fiction is followed with an explanatory section by Christopher Tolkein, explaining further how these ideas developed, and more about his father's life and franme of mind as he wrote them.

While not one for the casual Middle-Earth reader, for serious lovers of the world, and particularly students of literature, this is a fascinating and well put-together exploration of the birth of a modern mythology.
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