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Customer Review

on 5 September 2002
With this mammoth release, we get the literary backstory, so to say, of J. R. R. Tolkien's turmoil and travails of the composition of one of the most complex fantasies every constructed. Gather all twelve previously published volumes into three huge books, these tell the final story of Tolkien's world, in all its grandeur and heart breaking beauty. The hefty price tag that is attached is to be expected, seeing it covers twelve expensive single volumes. The first two volumes deal with the earliest form of THE SILMARILLION, the next are the epic LAYS that were never completed, and showing Tolkien was a poet of very accomplished calibre. THE SHAPING deals with the geography and physical history, while THE LOST ROAD shows us an unfinished novel and several other unearthed treasures. The real meat, to literary historians who are not specialized in Tolkien and to the causal fan, is the volumes VI-IX, which deal with the creation of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, one of the most significant volumes ever released the world, online with Homer, Virgil, and Dante. This is a graduate level look at what goes in the making of a literary masterpiece. The last of the volumes deal with Tolkien's attempt to recast THE SILMARILLION in sometimes radical departures from the accepted structure. The last volume is THE PEOPLES OF MIDDLE-EARTH, which are the appendices of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, and several interesting tidbits, included a Numenor story and THE NEW SHADOW, the aborted sequel to THE LORD OF THE RINGS.
This publication is for the serious student and lover of J. R. R. Tolkien's work. The causal fan will find this much too expensive and much too expansive. For those only marginally interested the volumes dealing with THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy novel should be looked at. But those who love Middle-earth and want to marvel at Tolkien's work, this is a must-have purchase. It's a very rare opportunity to see the creation of a work of such massive import to our international societies. Tolkien's commitment to this birthing process of a beautiful work of art truly stands out as one of the great efforts of Man to give homage to his God, as Tolkien saw it (read his essay on Faerie Stories), and I see it as well. Get it and become immersed – though beware this detailing the construction of this elaborate universe, which means these are rough drafts and various other things that didn't make it into publication in Tolkien's time, adding a huge amount of material to Tolkien's fandom to consider. Christopher's editorial notes are a must have. Thanks to the Tolkien family and to Christopher for their support of their father (who died in 1973) and of his son for the publication of this work. A very unique moment in literary history indeed.
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