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The Book of Lost Tales, Part One (The History of Middle-Earth #1)

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  8,705 ratings  ·  187 reviews
The Book of Lost Tales stands at the beginning of the entire conception of Middle-earth and Valinor, for the Tales were the first form of the myths and legends that came to be called The Simarillion. Complete with commentary and notes.
Hardcover, 345 pages
Published April 1st 1992 by Perfection Learning (first published January 1st 1983)
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3.5 stars

My first attempt to read _The Book of Lost Tales_ was made way too early in my life and made certain that my response was to put it on the shelf and decide that all of this background stuff, especially taken from this early phase in Tolkien’s life as a writer, was way too different from the Middle-Earth stories that I loved for me to waste any time on it. Looking at where the book mark from my first attempt still sat when I picked it up again, I noticed that I didn’t even get much beyon
Ted Wolf
STOP: Ask yourself if you read and enjoyed The Silmarillion?

If the answer is 'yes', then you might like this book.
If the answer is 'no, I haven't read The Silmarillion', then read that before this book.
If the answer is 'no, I don't like like The Silmarillion', then you won't like this book.

This book will give you insight into the early thoughts and ideas that eventually became the Silmarillion. If you are or want to be a hardcore Tolkien fan then this book is a must, but for most casual fans of
Having read The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion many times since I was a teen, as well as Tolkien's papers, letters, and biographies, I decided it was time to go the last mile and read his son Christopher's annotated compilation of the Professor's earlier drafts. BoLT/I is the first of the five-volume collection. It covers topics familiar to anyone who has read The Silmarillion--the creation of the world, the making of Valinor, the Valars' conflict with Melkor, the Awakening ...more
This will be my 12-volume write-up of the entire series "The History of Middle Earth".

This series is ONLY for the hardcore Tolkien fanatic. Predominantly written by
JRR's son, based on JRR's notes on the creation of The Silmarilion and
The Lord of the Rings (much less on The Hobbit). It is somewhat interesting to
see the evolution of the story (for example, "Strider" was originally conceived as
a Hobbit (one of tho
"A story must be told or there'll be no story, yet it is the untold stories that are most moving. I think you are moved by Celebrimbor because it conveys a sudden sense of endless untold stories: Mountains seen far away, never to be climbed, distant trees never to be approached - or if so only to become near trees..."
Artnoose Noose
Sep 24, 2011 Artnoose Noose rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: die-hard Tolkein fans
I had thought that this book was a bunch of stories in the Tolkien mythology that had never been published. It was only after picking this book up at the library that I discovered what it actually is. After his father died, Christopher Tolkien first compiled, edited, and published The Silmarillion and then later made this twelve volume (yes, twelve!) set of what is essentially all of his father's unpublished and generally unfinished writings.

This first book is what eventually was rewritten as T
Steve Cran
The History of the Middle Earth was put together by Christopher Tolkien, JRR's son. The effort involved sifting through his fathers notes and organizing them, which in itself is a difficult task. Oft time names were changed from story to story and Christopher had to decipher outlines and light pencil markings. In many a case we have just outlines and scant poems thrown around. But this is the backstory to the Simarrilion. This is where Middle Earth according to Tolkien was created. The story lin ...more
Nicholas Whyte

The Book of Lost Tales was published in 1983, interpreted from a series of longhand notebooks started by J.R.R. Tolkien in 1917, as later interpreted by his son Christopher. Tolkien's series of linked short stories were written in his spare time from his academic career and family obligations; once he decided to abandon the Lost Tales and start over, he probably did not expect that they would ever see the light of day - this is essentially a private set
Dave Mosher
Don't pick this up unless you were very bummed about finishing the Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, the Silmarillion, and other greats -- and are craving more. So much that you're willing to essentially sit back in a college-level literary analysis course.

The stories are magical, and definitely "Tolkienesque", but at times it can be a tough read.

That's primarily because most of what Christopher Tolkien (J.R.R.'s son) used to put this -- not to mention the rest of the History of Middle-Earth series
This is the first of a 12-book series written by JRR Tolkien's son, Christopher Tolkien. After his father died, his son collected and studied both his father's published and unpublished works, and decided to organize them into a readable collection, complete with explanations and footnotes. For anyone who loved the Lord of the Rings and hungers for more; also for anyone who is curious about how Tolkien developed his imagined world in the first place.
If you are even a little bit curious about the history of Middle Earth, this is an essential volume. This, along with part 2, elucidate some of the more obscure mythological beginnings of Arda. The commentary section at the end of each 'chapter' is very enlightening both linguistically and in terms of the development of certain motifs that crop up in Tolkien's works.
I would suggest reading this after The Silmarillion (which is considered the polished product of the tales in these volumes). It ma
Dave Maddock
I feel bad criticizing Tolkien for something published posthumously that he may not have considered worthy of publication in the state it is in. That's not going to stop me from doing it however. It is as if Tolkien went out of his way to ruin good ideas with bad execution. His prose style is turgid, tedious, and unconscionably self-indulgent. Thankfully, he refined the worst excesses in future reformulations and The Silmarillion became acceptably turgid. Occasionally, Tolkien stops tripping ove ...more
Legolas Greenleaf
Jun 12, 2012 Legolas Greenleaf rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tolkien fans
If you wanted to know how things came about in Middle Earth and the Undying Lands, this is a wonderful book to have for informational reference. From tales about the chaining of Melko ('Melko' was the original name, but it seems few people know that - perhaps they didn't read the book ;) ), to the coming of the Eldar, and the awakening of Men, the stories in this book are essential to fully understand the beginnings of Tolkien's world.
This book drove me crazy. I started it/restarted it/restarted it many times over several years, and recently determined to finish what was a very difficult, unwieldy and in some ways unpalatable chore. This is the edited recounting, by J.R.R.'s son, Christopher Tolkien of his father's notebooks, printed first in rough hand in pencil then laboriously erased and copied over in pen, with additions sent to his wife from trenches of France during WWI. This is the history of how J.R.R. invented a crea ...more
Not for casual Tolkien readers, this is more like a "making of" documentary, presenting previous drafts of stories eventually published in final versions in The Silmarillion.

There are some lovely gems of poetry previously unseen interspersed here, The Song of Aryador being one that is quite haunting, set in the time of darkness before the creation of the Sun and the Moon. An excerpt:
"In the mountains by the shore
In forgotten Aryador
There was dancing and was ringing;
There were shadow-people sin
RE de Leon
Jan 05, 2011 RE de Leon rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: only the hardcore Tolkienite.
The degree to which you enjoy this book will depend on exactly how much you like Tolkien. Unlike The Silmarillion, this piece, as with the rest of the books in these series, is comprised of fragments of text cobbled together by JRR Tolkien's son Christopher, with Christopher's notes on the evolution of the material. It will give you insight into Tolkien's process of writing. And it will show you the various directions Tolkien was headed in whilst writing the Silmarillion. And yes, there is great ...more
Jan 25, 2008 Patrick rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Serious Tolkien fans only
It's really impossible to rate this book. If you are a hardcore Tolkien fan, I think you'll love it. If you thought The Silmarillion was a difficult read, you'll probably want to skip this one.

Basically, this book is a printing of Tolkein's early drafts of tales that eventually came to comprise the Silmarillion, along with his son Christopher's commentary. Much of this material was ultimately rejected in the final versions, and there were some major changes to much of the material.

So, if you are
Tommy Grooms
An invaluable look into the early shape of Tolkien's legendarium, the stories (and the framing device) that existed long before "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." Christopher Tolkien is a great editor, although his use of endnotes rather than footnotes is a choice of endless consternation for someone who owns all 12 volumes of the History of Middle-earth.

In many ways the stories in this volume look very different from those in the published Silmarillion, but they are nevertheless fu
I've only read one other History of Middle-earth volume, although the set has been on my "to read" list for decades. I finally read The Book of Lost Tales part 1. It provides background on the tales that went on to become the Simarillion. I am not a fan of the Silmarillion; I agree with the person who said it's like reading a phone book written in Elvish. Although I was not bored by the background, I was not fascinated either. I'm one of those readers (obviously) who is happy to enjoy the brilli ...more
I'm still reading this book. In some ways, I like it much better than the 3 star rating would indicate. Still, the book has a lot of 1st draft qualities, and feels artificial, especially compared with LOTR, and even the Silmarillion.

What makes it fascinating is to see the textual variants, and the way that Tolkien was constructing his languages and names even as he wrote his books.

It's work keeping track of the names, some change between the Lost Tales and the Silmarillion, and there are also na
Azariah Alfante
I must say this book was both interesting and challenging to read. The myriad of elegant names led me to do a lot of page turning and going back a couple of chapters to remind myself of figures I'd already forgotten. This first book of the Middle Earth history series is a comprehensive volume. Each chapter/story has a commentary and notes by JRR Tolkien's son, Christopher Tolkien. It’s fascinating to read the author’s notes surrounding the original versions and various revisions of Tolkien’s tal ...more
Did I enjoy reading The Book of Lost Tales, Part One? Yes and no. I'll try my best to explain why. First, The Book of Lost Tales traces Tolkien's writings about Middle Earth from the very beginnings. Many of these stories and poems (yes, poems) date from around the first World War. Tolkien sets up a framework for his fantasy stories. A man, Eriol, stumbles across The Cottage of Lost Play, and, meets a bunch of storytellers essentially. Tolkien's mythology is at its earliest and in some ways its ...more
I don't envy Christopher Tolkien his position. He seems to be caught in an unfortunate catch 22 wherein every time he edits and releases works from the Tolkien estate, he catches endless ire of fans who believe he's an incompetent out for the money. Yet, were he to withhold Tolkien's unpublished work, he'd be a miser, a selfish child keeping the great man's work hidden out of spite.

I find his editorial voice to be able and competent, and appreciate the in depth and scholarly look into the very e
Barely worth reading, even if I did struggle through this and part 2. Too much Tolkien Jnr., who in my not so very humble opinion couldn't write himself out of a box, and not enough Tolkien Snr., who could.

I went no further in the books cobbled together by Tolkien Jnr. after volume 2 of The Book of Lost Tales. I never intend to do so. Save your money.

If you must read them either borrow them or steal them.
Stephen Poltz
This was the title given by JRR Tolkien for a collection of stories he wrote in the latter half of the 1910s. His original idea was to create a mythology for England. It included elves which he sometimes called faeries and gnomes, humans, gods, and other assorted beings. He framed it in a larger story of the first human coming to Tol Eressea which is inhabited by elves. Previously, only children came in their dreams. They tell him their history and he is overcome with wanting to be an elf himsel ...more
As expected after reading The Silmarillion and the foreword to this book, it is not an easy read. For those whom have loved The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings especially for their amazing story-telling, this book is not for them.

However, if you remain interested in the "making-of" of the mythology of Arda beyond The Silmarillion, then this book is an excellent first read in the series The History of Middle-earth.
The different tales are presented clearly and, even though they are not in their
Wes Holton
The Book of Lost Tales is an interesting read as it gives you a glimpse into J.R.R. Tolkien's creative process from when he began to create the world, people, languages, etc of Middle-Earth. I would recommend reading The Silmarillion prior to reading this so that you can appreciate the changes and the process behind it. Some of Tolkien's earliest prose and poetry is contained in this volume.

The style differs from The Silmarillion as it reads more like a history or mythology overview than the alm
Chris Mccreary
First of all, if you read or attempted to read the Silmarillion and had trouble slogging through an endless slough of names and locations, stop right here. The Book of Lost Tales and the History of Middle-Earth as a whole is more of the same on a much vaster scale.

tBoLT features some of Tolkien's earliest writings (As far back as 1917....well before The Hobbit) and was his attempt to write a mythology for England. It is NOT the Silmarillion, but it does contain common stories that Tolkien later
Scott Lee
This is a fascinating read, and as an academic I found even the parts not written by J.R.R. Tolkien worth the time. I think Christopher Tolkien--the editor/co-author of the text--does about as good a job as could be done with a hybrid text like this. The stories certainly stand front and center, and the texts are worth the reading, but part of the point, part of the interest of this type of text is the context in which the various texts were developed. It is, after all, as the series title indic ...more
Nov 12, 2014 Curtis rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tolkien scholars with lots of time and immunity against boredom
Rating this a 3 primarily so as not to invoke Dave's ire. He's right that the tales are "turgid, tedious, and unconscionably self-indulgent." But then, he also uses "belike" in a nonsensical way.

Where I differ from him is in trying to imagine what the reviews would be in a world that didn't contain Tolkien's other published works. First of all, I shudder to think of such a world. Secondly, we don't live in that world, so what's the point in rating a book from that subjunctive point of view? Such
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  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo
  • The History of the Hobbit, Part Two: Return to Bag-End
  • The Tolkien Companion
  • The Atlas of Middle-Earth
  • The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-Earth
  • J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century
  • A Tolkien Bestiary
  • The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World
  • Tales Before Tolkien: The Roots of Modern Fantasy
  • A Gateway to Sindarin: A Grammar of an Elvish Language from JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
  • Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit
  • The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary
  • J.R.R. Tolkien: Architect of Middle Earth
  • Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth
  • Tolkien: A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings
  • There and Back Again: The Map of the Hobbit
  • The Origins of Tolkien's Middle-Earth for Dummies
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE, was an English writer, poet, WWI veteran (a First Lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers, British Army), philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the high fantasy classic works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings .

Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford from 1925 to 1945, and Merton Professor of English lan
More about J.R.R. Tolkien...

Other Books in the Series

The History of Middle-Earth (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two (The History of Middle-Earth, #2)
  • The Lays of Beleriand (The History of Middle-earth, #3)
  • The Shaping of Middle-Earth (The History of Middle-earth, #4)
  • The Lost Road and Other Writings (The History of Middle-Earth, #5)
  • The Return of the Shadow: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part One (The History of Middle-Earth, #6)
  • The Treason of Isengard: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part Two (The History of Middle-earth, #7)
  • The War of the Ring: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part Three (The History of Middle-earth, #8)
  • Sauron Defeated: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part Four (The History of Middle-Earth, #9)
  • Morgoth's Ring (The History of Middle-earth, #10)
  • The War of the Jewels (The History of Middle-earth, #11)
The Hobbit (Middle-Earth Universe) The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1) The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3) The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2) The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings, #1-3)

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“Then said Iluvatar: “Mighty are the Ainur, and glorious, and among them is Melko the most powerful in knowledge; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Iluvatar, those things that ye have sung and played, lo! I have caused to be – not in the musics that ye make in the heavenly regions, as a joy to me and a play unto yourselves, alone, but rather to have shape and reality even as have ye Ainur, whom I have made to share in the reality of Iluvatar myself. Maybe I shall love these things that come of my song even as I love the Ainur who are of my thought, and maybe more. Thou Melko shalt see that no theme can be played save it come in the end of Iluvatar’s self, nor can any alter the music in Iluvatar’s despite. He that attempts this finds himself in the end but aiding me in devising a thing of still greater grandeur and more complex wonder: – for lo! through Melko have terror as fire, and sorrow like dark waters, wrath like thunder, and evil as far from my light as the depths of the uttermost dark places, come into the design that I laid before you. Through him has pain and misery been made in the clash of overwhelming musics; and with confusion of sound have cruelty, and ravening, and darkness, loathly mire and all putrescence of thought or thing, foul mists and violent flame, cold without mercy, been born, and death without hope. Yet is this through him and not by him; and he shall see, and ye all likewise, and even shall those beings, who must now dwell among his evil and endure through Melko misery and sorrow, terror and wickedness, declare in the end that it redoundeth only to my greater glory, and doth but make the theme more worth the hearing, Life more worth the living, and the World so much more the wonderful and marvellous, that of all the deeds of Iluvatar it shall be called his mightiest and his loveliest.” 2 likes
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