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on 8 December 2016
I'm a great fan of the Silmarillion and the Unfinished Tales and now I am in the end of The Book of Lost Tales part 1. This book is one of a kind, yet unfortunately it is a very specialised book. Only people who are already introduced to Prof. Tolkien's universe will understand what this book is about. The Book of Lost Tales, similarly to The Unfinished Tales, has two perspectives: the analytical, external observer's perspective, and the story itself. Here we have a details insight of how Prof. Tolkien conceived the whole world he invented, from it's most primitive origins in the form of poetry regarding dreams and fairies, through the evolving perspective of elven immortality and their tragic estrangement and fall from grace, to the first conception of the silmarils and the characters that take part and shape the stories we know from the Silmarillion.

The original drafts of what would become the Silmarillion unfold the stories as a device of another story: a sailor with apparent ancient saxon roots named Eriol finds himself in an Island called Tol Eressëa (an alternate Britain), where he meets the exiled fairies (later transformed into the elves) known as the Noldoli (early version of the Noldor). There he learns about their history and how they left the immortal lands of Valinor only to find themselves trapped in their bittersweet destiny in Middle Earth.

The stories in this book are well different in many aspects, yet the main motifs are the same, and they are very detailed, as unfortunately they never made into the Silmarillion. There is, for example, a detailed description of how were the silmarils created and how were the houses of the Valar, the position of the Trees of Valinor and a description of the Solosimpi (Teleri) havens when the Noldoli/Noldor left.

If you are a fan of The Silmarillion, definitely give this book a try. Courtesy of Christopher Tolkien, I think a massive amount of effort was put into this book, first of a large collection. I will surely read the others.
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on 27 December 2012
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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on 10 December 2012
1st 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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on 14 November 2014
This is a must for those of us who are looking to delve deeper into Middle Earth than the 3rd Age. I enjoyed all of these tales, it is frustrating none of them were ever finished. Imagine what a cannon would have been left by Tolkien if he had. That said these tales elaborate on this mentioned off hand in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings and give the reader a much more rounded picture and understanding of all three ages of middle earth.

Thank goodness his son published these for us all to enjoy.

The writing style is like a Norse saga and can be heavy going until one adjusts to it but persevere as delights await those who do.
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on 31 March 2018
Absolute nonsense. The 'tongue' he writes in strains the grammar structure in my head. And who needs a 50 page foreward? God I got bored.
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on 13 April 2015
I haven't read it all but it is the imagination and knowledge of JRR Tolkien. What is not to like? The Cottage of Lost Play is a wonderful first chapter and such a beautiful idea it made me cry! Everything you need to know about the origins of Middle Earth is all here. It is a commitment though. The style is more Silmarillion than Lord Of The Rings, and this is just book one of the three books that make up the History Of Middle Earth. There is a lot of accompanying explanatory text from Christopher Tolkien which is very illuminating also. If you can't get enough Tolkien there is plenty here to immerse yourself in. Astonishing that all of this came out of the brain of one man.
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on 27 September 2014
If you know & are enthral led by 'Lord of the Rings' you will develop a thirst for more detail & background. Here it is skilfully worked up by JRR's son Christopher. Read the Rings first, then tackle 'Silmarillion' & Morgoth's Ring. We need more like this.
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on 27 January 2015
I bought this book for my son for Christmas. It was on his wish list as he is a big JRR Tolkien fan. He was delighted with it. The packaging was very appropriate and despatch was prompt. Complete satisfaction with this purchase.
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on 5 January 2018
One for the LOR fans
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on 30 October 2015
Arrived quickly, excellent quality
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