Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Return of the Shadow: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part One (The History of Middle-Earth, #6)” as Want to Read:
The Return of the Shadow: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part One (The History of Middle-Earth, #6)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Return of the Shadow: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part One

(The History of Middle-Earth #6)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  2,471 ratings  ·  91 reviews
In this sixth volume of The History of Middle-earth the story reaches The Lord of the Rings. In The Return of the Shadow (an abandoned title for the first volume) Christopher Tolkien describes, with full citation of the earliest notes, outline plans, and narrative drafts, the intricate evolution of The Fellowship of the Ring and the gradual emergence of the conceptions tha ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published September 1st 2000 by Houghton Mifflin (first published August 25th 1988)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Return of the Shadow, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Return of the Shadow

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Terry
Oct 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Let me admit first off that _The Return of the Shadow_ (book 6 in the History of Middle-earth series) is exactly what I didn’t want to read when I first heard that Christopher Tolkien was putting out a series of books of his father’s unpublished writings. As far as I was concerned we already had what Tolkien was willing and able to publish in The Hobbit and LoTR (and even something he hadn’t yet been able to publish in his lifetime in the form of The Silmarillion) so the appeal for me of seeing ...more
James Swenson
I don't think I can give this a star rating. I don't know if I've ever read anything that's simultaneously more boring and more fascinating than this set of books. [Here I'll review the whole History of the Lord of the Rings together: [book:The Return of the Shadow], The Treason of Isengard, The War of the Ring, and The End of the Third Age.]

Christopher Tolkien, son of a famous father, has edited the rough drafts of The Lord of the Rings and presents (in every possible detail) the history of the
...more
Luka Novak
Mar 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
First of all you need to know what this book actually is. It's not explanation of Middle-earth history and it's not expanded universe either. This book deals with Tolkien's manuscripts and shows how LOTR was written.

This book (#6) covers part from beginning of LOTR to Mines of Moria, when Company discovers Balin's tomb, though there are glimpses of future events such as siege of Minas Tirith and destruction of the Ring.

Throughout the book you can see two processes working. One is evolution of ch
...more
Manuel Alfonseca
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it
ENGLISH: The problem with this book is that it is very difficult to follow, for it tells about many different versions of the first 16 chapters of "The Fellowship of the King" that J.R.R.Tolkien wrote in 1938-40. Not only are there up to six different versions of the first chapters, but each version is corrected once and again with ink of different colors, and Christopher tells us all about it, muddling the issue:-)
Although I have always read "The Lord of the Rings" in English, I have read this
...more
Phillip
Reading "The History of Middle-earth" books make me think of the commentary and 'special features' on DVD movies. The difference is that the writer/director/producer is dead and so it is all hosted by his son Christopher Tolkien.

"The Return of the Shadow" is so much fun. It contains descriptions of the way Tolkien fumbled his way along as he wrote LTRs. We get to see characters drawn differently, some with different names [So very, very many differnt names]. We see Tolkien discover the story tha
...more
Sarah
Jan 11, 2010 rated it liked it
So for the longest time I thought these books were just more Middle Earth mythology and/or Christopher Tolkien pimping out his father's name to try to make money off people who will buy anything associated with good ole JRR. But not so! Okay, maybe the part about people who will buy anything associated with Tolkien. But actually this book is awesome. True, it goes into some minutia that not everyone is interested in, but what it's actually about is the writing of Lord of the Rings. For example, ...more
Dr. Andrew Higgins
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Re-read this for the brilliant Signum University Mythgard Academy Return of the Shadow course with Professor Corey Olsen. Gained so many insights from this close re-read on Tolkien's development of his new Hobbit - including the persistent character of Odo, the fact that Aragorn was first supposed to be the name of a horse and Tolkien originally planned to have a Black Rider not a Balrog fight Gandalf in Moria. Most interesting, which was a brilliant part of the course, was charting how Tolkien ...more
Thomas
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Exactly what it purports to be - an account of the development of the story that became The Lord of the Rings (going from the early, tentative attempts to create the desired sequel to The Hobbit to the discovery of Balin's tomb in Moria), with early drafts of chapters and fragmented notes. Is it the most fascinating thing ever published? No, but it's not for the general readership, it's for huge Tolkien nerds and scholars, and these people will find it worthwhile. It's fun to see how the story d ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Nov 12, 2015 marked it as to-read
The Return of the Shadow: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part One (The History of Middle-Earth #6), J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (Editor)
Santiago
Jul 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Super interesante y muy recomendable para los frikis de la Tierra Media!!!
El Review viene más adelante...
Neil R. Coulter
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the development of the Lord of the Rings

“Make return of ring a motive." (41)

The Return of the Shadow, the first volume of Christopher Tolkien's History of the Lord of the Rings series, tells the story of the early development of The Lord of the Rings, taking the narrative from the beginning up to the Mines of Moria. I love how the little penciled note above shows just how uncertain the beginning of The Lord of the Rings was. The story might have gone anywhere, no matter how inevitable it now seems. This is what makes The Fellowship

...more
Anna C
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tolkien
This book is not for everyone. You have to be a Next Level Tolkien Geek to tackle the 12-volume History of Middle Earth. But if you can enjoy seven pages of Christopher Tolkien trying to determine the exact angle of the Loudwater river as it bends toward Rivendell, this is the book for you. And for people who can get past the lore, this is actually a fascinating look at the creative process. It isn't often you get to read the earliest drafts and manuscripts of your favorite books. Going over scr ...more
Erik Waiss
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
to be honest, this entire series starting with this book is no doubt going to be rather dry for someone who does not Relish in rereading the Lord of the Rings over and over again. however, Christopher Tolkien does a good job of going through his father's notes and outlining a literary history as it were. I feel like I've earned quite a bit of nerd cred at this point, and I shall continue the series. I am interested to see how the story itself, one which I am so lovingly familiar with, evolved fr ...more
Neil Ottenstein
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you like behind the scenes information and DVD extras, etc. and love the Lord of the Rings, then this book is for you. It is fascinating, but with all the notes and such it is a long read. This is the first of the History of Middle-Earth books that I've actually made it all the way through. On to the Treason of Isengard.
Jon
@TolkienKC group read concurrently with The Fellowship of the Ring and using the @tolkienprof seminar as a study aid. Join the group discussion online.
Emily
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I started reading this back in 2012 but stopped because I discovered my copy had a good-sized chunk of pages missing in the middle. I just recently got around to writing the publisher to see if they would send me a correct version (thank you, Houghton Mifflin!), so now I'm starting it over.

I am listening to the audiobook at the same time, and it is fascinating comparing the final version to the story development.
Brian
Dec 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
A complicated title and I suppose a rather complicated little series of books. This is the first book of "the writing" of the lord of the rings that Christopher Tolkien published. To elaborate on the severely complicated writing process which occured in developing the lord of the rings "trilogy" Christopher put together this ensemble of drafts that his father wrote.

Here you get all the different drafts that Tolkien wrote in chronological order of their development with commentary by Christopher
...more
Ben De Bono
Jul 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, reference
Tolkien fanatics and/or would be novelists will loves this. Everyone else will probably be bored silly.

Even for a Tolkien fanatic like me, the book does get a little dense in places (Middle-Earth geography, dates, some of the footnotes) but those sections are very easy to skip over if you start losing interest.

One interesting side note: the four titles that make up The History of The Lord of the Rings (Return of the Shadow, The Treason of Isengard, The War of the Ring and The End of the Third
...more
Julie
Jan 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Yes. I am a nerd. This is the first in a series of books that chapter-by-chapter painstakingly details Tolkien's writing of LOTR. It has drafts of the chapters, edits, shows when names were changed, etc., etc. It is Hard. Core. And I love it.
George
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
With 86 reviews in place as of this writing, you don't need another one. Well, just one sentence: It takes an English major to really enjoy this stuff--and it doesn't hurt if he's got an M.A. in linguistics!

The real reason I'm writing this is to point out a coincidence. In a rejected genealogy reproduced in this volume, Bilbo has a first cousin named Vigo.* And as all the world knows, in Jackson's film trilogy there is an actor named Viggo. Not an unbelievable coincidence--Tolkien drew many othe
...more
Susan
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is definitely a book for serious Tolkien nerds, but surprisingly it ends up being inspiring to all aspiring writers. Though one can be overwhelmed and humbled by the vastness of Tolkien's creation, it helps to realize that it evolved, over not one or two or five revisions, but many, and was years in the writing. And it's the writing that matters - the love of words, the never ending quest for the right word, the most fitting name. The more I learn about Tolkien, the more I admire his genius ...more
Rachel Draper
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you've ever wondered what Tolkien's thought process was when he was writing The Lord of the Rings this is the book for you. Christopher Tolkien has compiled many of his father's early manuscripts into a sequential order. He has also included valuable commentary on the various drafts and additions to each draft. If nothing else you gain a greater appreciation for the thought that went into the writing of The Lord of the Rings.

This book is a book of manuscripts so if you are looking for someth
...more
Marten
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best reads of my life. I feel privileged that Christopher took so much care to piece this book together. While reading it I find myself engrossed in the creative process almost no writer ever allows you to be a part of. And the fact that it’s of such an esteemed classic just makes it all the more sweet. While I at times just want to yell at Tolkien to hurry up and create all my favorite characters and give them their proper names, watching him create this word is incredible. And he ge ...more
Michael Reilly
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An impressively fascinating, in-depth volume following Tolkien's writing of TLotR. So much to discover here – of which a lot is rather surprising and of great interest. The changing characters (and numerous naming alterations), expanding storyline and increased depth of history and importance in the shaping of Middle-earth makes for a great read. Will continue on with the other three volumes to learn all about the unfolding creative process.
Gerardo B.
Es super interesante recorrer los primeros borradores de Tolkien. Cualquier tolkiendili va a disfrutar de algo así; cualquier escritor que quiera ver de cerca lo que es trabajar por capas y el resultado que se obtiene, se va a beneficiar de algo así.
Jessy
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tolkien
me encanta leer las diferentes versiones :3
Star
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tolkien
Bingo. Trotter. Boromir!
Raechel
Feb 23, 2018 rated it liked it
proof that every Tolkien novel isn't good...
there was little actual point to this book as a whole. the interesting parts were drowned out by monotonous scribblings of idle ponderings.
Jeffrey Gerhart
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
The story was good, it was basically the story of "Fellowship of the Ring" with different characters. It was interesting to see the rough drafts of the story unfold into what it eventually became. Overall a pretty good read.
Garrett Robinson
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: awesome, fantasy
There's nothing better than watching the process by which Tolkien created the greatest fantasy work of all time.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The History of the Hobbit, Part Two: Return to Bag-End
  • Interrupted Music: The Making of Tolkien's Mythology
  • Journeys of Frodo: An Atlas of J.R.R.Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings"
  • The Map of Tolkien's Middle-Earth
  • J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century
  • A Gateway to Sindarin: A Grammar of an Elvish Language from JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
  • The Atlas of Middle-Earth
  • J.R.R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-Earth
  • Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit
  • The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary
  • The Origins of Tolkien's Middle-Earth for Dummies
  • The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-Earth
  • Meditations on Middle-Earth
  • The Tolkien Companion
  • The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth
  • The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • A Tolkien Bestiary
  • The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind the Lord of the Rings
52,022 followers
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 lang
...more

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 Shaping of Middle-Earth (The History of Middle-Earth, #4)
  • The Lost Road and Other Writings (The History of Middle-Earth, #5)
  • 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 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)