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The Book of Lost Tales, Part One

(The History of Middle-Earth #1)

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3.83  ·  Rating details ·  12,458 ratings  ·  305 reviews
The Book of Lost Tales 1 stands at the beginning of the entire conception of Middle-earth and Valinor. Embedded in English legend and English association, they were set in the narratve frame of a great westward voyage over the Ocean by a mariner named Eriol (or Ælfwine) to Tol Eressëa, the Lonely Isle, where Elves dwelt; from them he learned their true story, the Lost ...more
Mass Market Paperback, First Ballantine Books Edition, 367 pages
Published June 1st 1992 by Del Rey/Ballantine Books (first published 1984)
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Jeffrey In some ways. You certainly can read them out of order, because each book is a collection of writings and not a single narrative. You will lose some…moreIn some ways. You certainly can read them out of order, because each book is a collection of writings and not a single narrative. You will lose some of the references if you read later books first, as the order of books is more to do with the chronological order of J. R. R. Tolkien's writing.(less)

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Ahmad Sharabiani
The Book of Lost Tales, Part One (The History of Middle-Earth #1), J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (Editor)
The History of Middle-earth is a 12-volume series of books published between 1983 and 1996 that collect and analyse material relating to the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, compiled and edited by his son, Christopher Tolkien. The series shows the development over time of Tolkien's conception of Middle-earth as a fictional place with its own peoples, languages, and history, from his
...more
Terry
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
...more
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
...more
Brian
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Tolkienphiles
These stories contain Tolkien’s first conceptions of Middle Earth, written in notebooks, the first of which he started in high school. These don’t look like ramblings of a young man, but rather, a learned adult of deep, profound intelligence. It appears obvious Tolkien read a mass amount of mythology and fell in love with it in childhood and in his young-adult years. The skill of his storytelling overwhelms me.

Eriol, a mortal man visits Tol Eressia (an ancient Elvish city of Middle Earth) and
...more
Jay
Jul 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Melda
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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..."
Dru
Jul 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This will be my 12-volume write-up of the entire series "The History of Middle Earth".
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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
...more
Artnoose McMoose
Sep 17, 2011 rated it liked it
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
...more
Dave Mosher
Jan 13, 2008 rated it liked it
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
...more
Marko Vasić
In one sentence - I'm fascinated. This book is real gem and beacon to all blurred and unclear parts in the final version of The Silmarillion. This book is missing link to onset of Tolkien's creation of his own mythology. It's all about Valar and their deeds in creation of Arda. Also, Valar and their traits are much more developed than in The Silmarillion (but many details from The Silmarillion are unmentioned or were unknown then). Special part is devoted to Sun and Moon creation, after ...more
Alaina
Ever since I started reading J.R.R. Tolkiens books this month I had this strong urge to read the short stories and learn more about the "middle-earth." Now, I haven't officially read all of his books or the different series he has written that are set in the middle-earth but I still found these stories highly entertaining. I really liked how Christopher took his dads work and made it into the book of lost tales. And now after reading these I'm even more pumped to read the rest of J.R.R's books. ...more
Steve Cran
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Melissa
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018
Overall I liked this one, lots depth and inside backstory into the development of, and earlier discarded versions of, what would eventually become the Silmarillion, all researched and expertly presented by Christopher Tolkien, and as always great history into Middle Earth, but even more so into the writing process and the writer’s working evolution as they craft their unique story.
Nicholas Whyte
Dec 18, 2010 rated it liked it
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1581275.html

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
...more
Sam
This is the first volume of Tolkien's short stories that I've read and although I enjoyed the stories themselves I did miss his usual epic endings (many of the stories here are incomplete hints at greatness) and I wasn't so keen on the lengthy notes and commentary. I think I would've preferred something more concise with each tale and longer notes to the back where I could refer to them if I wanted to. That's just my preference though and I'm sure many will love the length and detail of these. ...more
Tori
Jul 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Michael
May 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Legolas Greenleaf
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Booky_Wookiee
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Oh Tolkien! This book was about the beginning of Middle Earth (even though it is not called that yet) all these stories Tolkien wrote when he was young...all these poems I had never read before. There were times I would just stop and re-read something because it was so beautiful. The first story was my favorite, "The Cottage of Lost Play." It was beautiful!
The description of the tree Laurelin in "The Coming of the Valor,"..."Behold from that place that had been watered from Kulullin rose a
...more
Wendelle So
Early version of the Silmarillion, the focus being the episodes regarding the Valar and Valinor. Covers the story of creation, the fiefdoms of the Valar, the arrival of the Eldar and the flight of the Noldor, and ends with the discovery of Men. Corresponds well with the Silmarillion's version except for extraneous details. Prodigious pages are notes by Christopher Tolkien. Plot events are moving, dramatic or humorous at turns but are swaddled by thick swatches of setting descriptions or ...more
Steven Tryon
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
A decade ago I made my way through the entire ten volumes of The History of Middle Earth and was greatly confused by much of it. It is not an easy read. A reference to Tintang Warbler sent back to volume one, The Book of Lost Tales, Part One.

This time I found this early version of what eventually became The Silmarillion fascinating, seeing both the continuity and the vast differences between Tolkien's early and more developed conception of the origin of Middle Earth and the tragic history of the
...more
Patricia
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned, fantasy
Bless Christopher (and Edith) because I would have gone crazy
Lisa
Jul 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Book of Lost Tales contains the very earliest writings by Tolkien on the mythology that would eventually make up The Silmarillion and the glimpses of the history of Middle-earth seen in Lord of the Rings. As such, the story and characters are familiar yet also completely alien, and the writing style is more archaic.

Part One details the very beginnings of Middle-earth: the music of Ainur, the coming of the Valar, the creation and loss of the Two Trees, the waking of the Elves and their revolt
...more
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 ...more
Kurt Pankau
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
BoLTp1 is the first half of an early attempt at what would eventually become The Silmarillian, supplied with notes and commentary by Christopher Tolkien, the author's son. Compiled from notes and drafts from a number of hand-written notebooks, BoLTp1 follows the vein of Unfinished Tales and kicks off the twelve-volume history of Middle-Earth in which Tolkien the younger explores his fathers vast and slowly-developing legendarium.

I actually liked this a lot better than Unfinished Tales. It's
...more
Tom
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
People who have enjoyed The Lord of the Rings often stumble when they turn to The Silmarillion, since the two works are so different in tone and perspective. The books in The History of Middle-Earth series are different again. They contain sixty years of stories we've never seen before because Tolkien abandoned them completely, as well as abandoned, early versions of the stories we have met elsewhere. These books are the archaeology of Tolkien's subcreation of Middle-Earth. Through alternating ...more
Regitze
I've been wanting to start this massive series, The History of Middle-Earth, for a long, long time. Because as anyone knows, I bloody love Tolkien and Middle-Earth.

However, it took me a while to start, mostly because I don't have more than the first two books yet and I have a feeling that I'll be wanting to read book 3 right after I finish book 1.

Now, book 1.

If you have read The Silmarillion, you'll know that it is largely the story of the elves, their origins and such. Way, way before the
...more
Sooperk
Sep 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Love this book. It is only for the die hard Tolkienite however. Also if you have the desire to get yourself into this book it is a good idea to read the Silmarillion at least twice. C. Tolkien did an absolutely amazing job with all 12 volumes. The way he organizes the books and his commentaries are exquisite. The level of detail he goes into explaining the evolution of the history of his fathers world is breath taking. For me, there was never a dull moment of reading this book, every page there ...more
Danny
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 ...more
Annette
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
...more
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55,534 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
...more

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 Middle-Earth, #5
  • 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)
“Melko shalt see that no theme can be played save it come in the end of Ilúvatar’s self, nor can any alter the music in Ilúvatar’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 the light as the depths of the uttermost of the 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 great glory, and doth but make the theme more worth the hearing, Life more worth the living, and the World so much the more wonderful and marvellous, that of all the deeds of Ilúvatar it shall be called his mightiest and his loveliest.” 0 likes
“The Silmarillion’ was intended to move the heart and the imagination, directly, and without peculiar effort or the possession of unusual faculties; but its mode is inherent, and it may be doubted whether any ‘approach’ to it can greatly aid those who find it unapproachable.” 0 likes
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