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The Shaping of Middle-Earth (The History of Middle-Earth #4)

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  2,241 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
The fourth volume that contains the early myths and legends which led to the writing of Tolkien's epic tale of war, The Silmarillion.
Paperback, 400 pages
Published June 5th 2002 by Houghton Mifflin Company (first published August 21st 1986)
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On to volume 4 of the History of Middle-earth series and we are now starting to come to something that appears, in both form and content, much closer to what we ended up receiving as the published Silmarillion. In the first two volumes we were given Tolkien’s earliest drafts of the tales that would (albeit in an often much transformed manner) ultimately become the main stories of the First Age of Middle-earth all joined together by a narrative framing conceit that tied it in explicitly to our ow ...more
Jul 11, 2012 Dru rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Dec 14, 2007 X rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tolkienites
This made the overall history of Middle-Earth clearer than the previous volumes of The Histories of Middle-Earth, though that may have been in part because this is essentially the third time I've read the stories in their various incarnations. Tolkien's writing is beautiful even in its unfinished form, and Christopher Tolkien's comments are insightful and explanatory as in the previous books. The maps were delightful, drawn by the Professor himself, and even if they were not entirely accurate f ...more
Nov 15, 2012 Kana marked it as to-read
Shelves: tolkien
My goal for 2013 is to finish the Middle-Earth Universe of books. While doing so I will be following The Tolkien Professor Lectures.
Steve Cran
Oct 13, 2013 Steve Cran rated it it was amazing
Once again I feel like I am rereading part of JRR Tolkien’s Silmarrillion for the umpteenth time. I read these books to get some stories that somehow never made it to publication. What I get are differing versions of the same stories sometimes with similar event and at other times with different event. Though the names may change the song remains the same.
In this volume Christopher gives us a tales from the Early Silmarilion, the Quenta, Ambarkanta, Earliest annals of Valinor and the Earliest An
Oct 23, 2007 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tolkien Fans
Shelves: fantasy
The Shaping of Middle-Earth is second only to the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien for the purpose of explaining the science (social, political, psychological) behind the evolution of Tolkien's ficticious world.
It also contains flat out statements by Tolkien as to much of his imagery, statements which quickly end the majority of ill-conceived concepts proposed by armchair philosopher's.
Ahmad Sharabiani
Nov 12, 2015 Ahmad Sharabiani marked it as to-read
The Shaping of Middle-Earth (The History of Middle-Earth #4), J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (Editor)
Jul 25, 2011 Breana rated it liked it
Good like the others but since I'm marathoning these this one felt repetitive and didn't deliever as much on geography as I had hoped it would.
Jan 11, 2017 PWRL marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-new
Jan 04, 2017 Jeremy rated it it was ok
So this is one of the least useful of the 12 vol History of Middle Earths. Least enjoyable as well. If you have read the silmarillion, you have already read much of what is in here. What comes through is how many times Tolkien wrote the central myths, over and over, refining, altering, and so on. But honestly, most of the changes that happened since these early texts made the work MUCH better. So what is new to the reader isn't very good, and what is good isn't very new.
Tommy Grooms
May 24, 2013 Tommy Grooms rated it it was amazing
Thus far, this volume is more for the hardcore fanatic than any of them. The title is apt: this is the first time we're really able to see the history of Middle-earth in its full scope (minus the Third Age, of course), and we're able to look at the only version of the Silmarillion Tolkien himself wrote to completion. It wasn't nearly as fun of a read as the Book of Lost Tales' rawness or the Lays of Beleriand's poetry; it truly is a "shaping", the jumping-off point for this subcreation as a comp ...more
Stephen Poltz
Apr 11, 2016 Stephen Poltz rated it really liked it
This is the fourth book in the History of Middle Earth series. This book gives us the early development of Tolkien’s thoughts on The Silmarillion. At this point in time, Tolkien was moving away from the framework he used in The Lost Tales. It still contains the same mythology but is being constructed and rewritten differently. Once again, I followed along with The Tolkien Professor’s analysis to help me understand the text and commentary. As I progress through the series, the stories are becomin ...more
Nicholas Whyte
Aug 06, 2011 Nicholas Whyte rated it it was ok

Yet more refinement of the events of the Silmarillion, in various different formats; I'm rather glad that the next volume in this series takes us to Númenor and away from Beleriand. The most interesting thing in this volume (though unfortunately also the least readable) is Tolkien's casting of the Annals of Beleriand into Anglo-Saxon, a very visible piece of his commitment to reshaping English mythology by giving it new roots as invented by himself, though
Jan 13, 2008 St-Michel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, own
Well, finally after 10 years, I've finished this. Ok, it hasn't really taken me 10 years, but I did start reading this about 10 years ago or thereabouts. But then, those crappy movies came out and I wanted nothing to do with anything Tolkien and back on the shelf it went having only read maybe 80 pages. Oh well....

So I picked it back up a few weeks ago, now that the stupid movie hype is pretty much dead and gone (besides, it's been an unfinished book cluttering up my shelf), and finally finished
Michael Davis
Jan 22, 2011 Michael Davis rated it really liked it
A little harder than the previous three to get into- more scholarly, more piecemeal. Reading the 5th volume now, and it's a little more engaging so far. Still learned tons of stuff about Tolkien's foundational works, and how they changed over the years, but not one of the best so far.

I wrote about the experience of reading all 12 of these volumes here: (part 1) and here: (part 2). Much more detail about the series
Sep 23, 2009 Sofia rated it really liked it
"The History of Middle-Earth" is for the ultimate Tolkien geek.
These books, written by Christopher Tolkien (Tolkien's son), comprise of basically two things:
1. a succession of most of Tolkien's manuscripts that later became his great life's work (LOTR), showing how the writting of this masterpiece evolved.
2. different versions and new texts that were not included in the Silmarillion (written by Tolkien but edited by Christopher after his father's death).
It's an amazing work but extremely difficu
Michael Ramey
Apr 21, 2014 Michael Ramey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the 1st age of Middle-Earth
All in all I must say that I really liked this book. It starts off with a sketch or summary of the history and shaping of Middle-Earth which was a fun read. However, the part that I mostly enjoyed was reading the Quenta portion of the book. The reason I give this book a 3 out of 5 is simply because the story begins to seem repetitive after reading books 1-3 of the history of Middle-Earth. So it is no surprise that the story would remain mostly familiar. But overall, Tolkien's ability to imagine ...more
Jul 20, 2011 Tori added it
Out of the 12-volume History of Middle Earth, this is one for the truly dedicated. I had a had time staying immersed in this one and eventually put it back on the shelf. This has to do with the actual geography of Middle Earth (which is interesting in its own right) and of the peoples which populated certain area, but the lack of visual representations like maps made it hard to understand where things were actually located.
Not exactly for the light reader, but very interesting if you are into T
In this volume of the earlier writings of JRR Tolkien, we get insight into the further development of the legends of the First Age, with chronologies, maps, and two detailed summaries by Tolkien of how his thoughts are moving forward.

He sure did love elven names starting with F.

I am continuing to enjoy my deep dive into the world of Tolkien... This is a fine book to read in this series, but I do recommend reading these in order, so that you can get an appreciation of the development of Tolkien's
Artnoose Noose
Aug 07, 2012 Artnoose Noose rated it liked it
This is the fourth part of the scholarly series that Christopher Tolkien published about his father's writings, and some have said that he published all of these as a response for criticisms about how he had edited the Silmarillion.

I found this part to be more readable than some of the earlier parts, despite the fact that there are multiple versions of the Silmarillion in succession OR that there are entire pages written in Middle English. There is also a long section about the maps that JRR To
Jan 01, 2015 Nonabgo rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The Shaping of Middle-Earth takes us - again - at the beginning of things, with Ambarkanta and the earliest versions of Silmarillion and the Annals. It's one more proof of the complexity and the immense work behind Tolkien's mythology, from the exile of the Noldoli until Melkor's overthrow.
At times, the story gets confusing due to the countless name changing, so it's not an easy read. But I would recommend it to the Tolkien geeks who want to keep track of the chronology of the earliest events a
Aug 29, 2010 Matthew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
This is for the most hardcore of Tolkien readers. Those who are looking to get an analytical or descriptive background to teh characters and settings of Middle of Earth before the Lord of the Rings Series. In many respects this is a history book, providing a synopsis of the The Silmarillion.

There isn't much actual story here as much of it is expose by J.R.R. Tolkien's newphew.
Mass-market paperbacks in this series are less useful than the hardbacks: internal page references are just fine, but whenever a later volume refers to a previous volume, the page references to previous volumes are to the original hardback editions. The pagination is sufficiently different that finding any given reference is exceedingly difficult, though the extensive index does help, so it's not impossible. But if you really want to geek-out on the research with ease, you want the hardbacks.
Jan 25, 2014 Larry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Heavy going. This might be just the book for you if you're writing
your thesis on Tolkien, but it's not that great as far as just reading
it for entertainment. Christopher Tolkien continues to present early
drafts of his father's stories of the first age of Middle Earth, with
commentary and footnotes. The material approaches the form it will
eventually take in The Silmarillion.
Aug 17, 2008 Desclian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great collection of work from Tolkien, but at times it became really repetitive. I love Tolkien's developing tales, but the changes he made (and which are in this book) were changes anyone would make when developing any story. Also, Christopher Tolkien's commentary fell into simply repeating what his father had written and, at times, weren't very interesting.
Jan 06, 2012 Nikki rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, for-class
Again, haven't read the whole thing cover to cover, but this one's worth mentioning because of "Dagor Dagorath", which sounds pretty close to the Old Norse Ragnarøkkr. It'd be the version with renewal, of course, not the posited version in which there's Ragnarøkkr and that's that, but still...

Interesting that he takes so much from pagan sources, given the Christian slant of the rest.
Feb 20, 2014 Andre rated it it was ok
While this is an impressive work of presenting and analyzing the notes of Tolkien's and presenting them in a coherent manner and it sheds some light into the creation process, it's a research document and not a pleasant read (and I do not read old english so I did not read it all). As with the others in this series, for Tolkien die-hard, core fans only (IMHO).
Aug 19, 2008 Ian rated it really liked it
Few people have ever been able to tell a tale as elegantly and beautifully as Tolkien has. Having dedicated so much of his life to his literary work shines through in his writtings. Its a tragedy that there aren't more completed works, but perhaps thats part or the magic of it all.
Eric Hunter
If you loved the Lord of the Rings movies, but never read the books, this is NOT for you. On the other hand, if you read and loved The Silmarillion, and you enjoy DVD commentaries, this book will be right up your alley.
Martin Hernandez
Sólo para los muy interesados en desmenuzar todos los detalles del "Señor de los Anillos", y que ademas tengan una enorme dosis de paciencia para ir tras una y otra versión inacabada de los diferentes escritos de TOLKIEN
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How are the maps? 1 1 Mar 01, 2017 09:56AM  
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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 One (The History of Middle-Earth, #1)
  • The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two (The History of Middle-Earth, #2)
  • The Lays of Beleriand (The History of Middle-earth, #3)
  • 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)

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“The Silmarils are Eorclanstánas (also treated as an Old English noun with plural Silmarillas). There are several different forms of this Old English word: eorclan-, eorcnan-, and eorcan- from which is derived the 'Arkenstone' of the Lonely Mountain. The first element may be related to Gothic airkns, 'holy'. With middangeard line 37 cf. my father's note in Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings, in A Tolkien Compass, p. 189: 'The sense is ''the inhabited lands of (Elves and) Men'', envisaged as lying between the Western Sea and that of the Far East (only known in the West by rumour). Middle-Earth is a modern alteration of medieval middel-erde from Old English middan-geard'.” 0 likes
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