J.R.R. Tolkien discussion

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Middle-earth Generally > reading Tolkien - in which order?

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message 1: by Norbert (new)

Norbert (norbertbook) | 11 comments Hi everybody
I would like to know which is, according to your opinion, the correct order in which to read Tolkien's works, and why would you sugest such an order.

I read Hobbit/lord/Silmarillion/Unfinisched/HoME - and years after, when they were published, Children of Hurin.

In my opinion, a good order could be
-the Hobbit, tLotR, the Children of Hurin (for they are stories by Tolkien with no/small editing by his son Christopher)
- The Silmarillion (because it gives all the background)
- Unfinished Tales (the firs one with many notes)
- the History of Middle Earth


message 2: by L (new)

L | 132 comments I read 'The Lord of the Rings' first when i was very young, and not suprisingly did not understand half of it! I then subsequently read The Hobbit, which i have re-read (like all of Tolkien's other works) time and time again, including once again before seeing the recent film adaptation. Then i read the Silmarillion, the Children of Hurin & all his other works, with the history of middle-earth last.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

hobbit,lotr trilogy,hurin,silmarillion,unfinished tales. I haven't read HoME, but I think that should be first.


message 4: by Nesrine (new)

Nesrine Muhammad (ness_muhammad) | 2 comments I think The Silmarillion comes first because it gives the whole background of the world, second comes The Hobbit then the LoTR trilogy. after that it won't really matter.


message 5: by Joanne (new)

Joanne | 79 comments I don't think SHOULD anything---read whichever appeals to you at whatever time of life you happen to be---these books are for the joy of it not the duty---


message 6: by Kevis (last edited Dec 21, 2012 05:39PM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 20 comments I would never recommend someone unfamiliar with his work to read Tolkien's books in chronological order, in particular, because I'm not sure Tolkien himself wanted people to read them in chronological order. He died before The Silmarillion ever saw the light of day. But even he acknowledged it wasn't ready for publication, in spite of his son's Herculean efforts to posthumously bring order to the book.

As much as it hurts me to say it, considering it's my all-time favorite book, starting with The Silmarillion would only discourage most readers from reading Tolkien. Personally, I think Rings is the place to start because it's the most accessible book for an adult reader. On the other hand, if you really want to read them in order, then start with The Hobbit. The Silmarillion is just too dense and mythic in structure to introduce a new reader to Middle Earth.


message 7: by Erin (new)

Erin Kahn | 36 comments Kevis wrote: "I would never recommend someone unfamiliar with his work to read Tolkien's books in chronological order, in particular, because I'm not sure Tolkien himself wanted people to read them in chronologi..."

I agree. I wouldn't suggest that someone read the Silmarillion first; it would be better to read the Hobbit first and then the Lord of the Rings. The Silmarillion is difficult to get through. (Although I enjoyed it.)


message 8: by Jacquel (new)

Jacquel (clairevioletthorpe) | 10 comments I think it's best to start off reading the Hobbit, then Lord of the Rings. Only read the Silmarillion if you have time and patience.


message 9: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Rockefeller (laurelarockefeller) Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings. Read them a few times, including the appendices. Then and only then dive into the prequels. You really need to be familiar with Middle Earth before you tackle any of the others!


message 10: by Paul (new)

Paul | 16 comments I'd *suggest* order of publication is the way to go. The Silmarillion can be a hard slog even for dedicated Tolkien fans and History of Middle-earth is pointless unless you've read the published novels already. And especially since HoME is 13 volumes (14 if you bought the index volume) that's something only a die-hard fan gets into.


message 11: by Elisabeth (new)

Elisabeth | 1 comments I am an avid Tolkien reader myself, I think that The Hobbit should be read either first or only after the first book in the LOTR trilogy. Because if it is read first then you'll know who and what went before Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin etc. The relationship between Gandalf and Bilbo as well can be revealed. If it is read after The Fellowship(first book in LOTR)then you will understand the back story to Gollum and the ring and how Bilbo pertains to him. I would agree with everyone about the Silmarillion,I tried to read it before The Hobbit and had to abandon it and postpone it for another time, after the LOTR. Order doesn't matter in terms of the Silmarillion, but Hobbit first is the way to go. :)


message 12: by Katherine (new)

Katherine | 15 comments I think you should read them Hobbit, LotR(including appendices), Silmarillion. After that I would definitely read the histories but as that can take a while and be hard to get through there are others that can be read in between. The Children of Hurin can really be read at any time although I suggest reading it immediately before or after the Silmarillion.


message 13: by Philip (new)

Philip Dodd (philipdodd) | 84 comments I think that it might be best to read first the books J.R.R. Tolkien published and therefore approved of within his own lifetime, beginning with The Hobbit, then onto The Lord of the Rings, followed by Farmer Giles of Ham, Smith of Wootton Major, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Tree and Leaf. Then go on to read those books published after his death, edited by his son, Christopher Tolkien, beginning with The Silmarillion, then onto Unfinished Tales, The Children of Hurin, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun and some, if not all, of the books that make up The History of Middle Earth. Mr Bliss, Roverandom, The Monsters and the Critics, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Fall of Arthur are also well worth reading and could come at the end of the list.


message 14: by Kevis (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 20 comments You can't go wrong with Philip's list. Excellent reading order. The one thing I'll add is that The Silmarillion begs to be read aloud. It actually makes reading it easier, assuming you can pronounce the Middle-Earth languages.


message 15: by Aaron (new)

Aaron Meyer (loptsson) I just found a site tonight which could help on the chronology. You will be reading seven books at one time but, hey for me that is normal. The site is http://www.chronology.org/tolkien/ Once you plug in which editions you have it generates a list order which you then write in the margins of your books. When you come to the end of a paragraph with the notation by it you skip to the next section in proper order whether it is the same book or another of the seven and keep doing that until you reach the end. I just finished notating all my books and am looking forward to trying it out myself after I finish a couple other books.


message 16: by Stefan (new)

Stefan Yates (stefan31) | 127 comments Mod
Wow, Aaron. This looks like something that I might have some fun with sometime. Thanks for sharing!


message 17: by Assaad (new)

Assaad Youssef (assaadar) | 1 comments I suggest the following:
- Roverandom (this should give you a glance about Tolkien's style in writing)
- Tales from Perilous Realm
- The Silmarillion
- Unfinished Tales
- The Hobbit
- The Lord of the Rings trilogy
- The History of Middle Earth


message 18: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaeldiack) | 13 comments I certainly agree with reading the History of Middle-earth last, I'm 300 pages through volume 1 and as a hardcore Tolkien fan, it's massively enjoyable, but there is no denying it is a hard read.


message 19: by Rodrigo (new)

Rodrigo  | 2 comments I can't see a scenario where reading Silmarillion first would make the person like Tolkien... I guess that's just for people that already love Tolkien. I think people should start with the popular books, like the hobbit and LOTR. You won't understand everything but you will still have fun, and you can always go back to them after reading other stuff.

Silmarillion first is a good choice for re-reading, I guess...


message 20: by Paul (new)

Paul Ashwell | 15 comments Came across this very useful link on reddit:

http://www.reddit.com/r/lotr/comments...


message 21: by Christine (new)

Christine (christine01) | 18 comments I am glad I came across this post I was wondering where to start first with my Tolkien Adventures =)


message 22: by Anne (new)

Anne Gazzolo | 390 comments Mod
John wrote: "I've yet to read anything by Tolkien, but I've just recently started with The Silmarillion. My thinking was that I wanted to understand the history and mythology of the world before getting into th..."

Glad you are enjoying it, John!

Namarie, God bless, Anne Marie :)


message 23: by J.Richardson (new)

J.Richardson | 1 comments What is the best Middle-earth reading order?... That is a complicated question, one that I have been working out the answer to for a long time, and maybe this answer is TOO specific, but I AM one of those die-hard fanatics who own the entire HoME set. (I'm sorry, there is no simple answer, and it would take a lenghty discussion to justify my conclusions.)

------------------------------------------------------
(Part I) (optional)

THE BOOK OF LOST TALES (v.1&2)

Appendices
PROSE FRAGMENTS FOLLOWING THE LOST TALES (v.4)

------------------------------------------------------
(Part II)

AINULINDALE

VALAQUENTA

"MORGOTH'S RING" QUENTA SILMARILLION Chapters I - XI The Legends of Aman

Appendices
Laws and Coustoms of the Eldar (v.10)

The Story of Finwë and Miriel (v.10)

Anthrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth (v.10)

'The Converse of Manwë and Eru' and later conceptions of Elvish reincarnation (v.10)

MYTHS TRANSFORMED (v.10)

THE FLIGHT OF THE NOLDOLI (v.3)

------------------------------------------------------
(Part III)

"THE WAR OF THE JEWELS" QUENTA SILMARILLION Chapters XII - XXIV The Legends of Beleriand

Appendices
THE CHILDREN OF HURIN

THE WANDERINGS OF HURIN (v.11)

OF TUOR AND HIS COMING TO GONDOLIN (U)

THE LAY OF LETHIEN (v.3)

THE LAY OF THE CHILDREN OF HURIN (v.3)

Fragment of an alliterative LAY OF EÄRENDEL (v.3)

THE LAY OF THE FALL OF GONDOLIN (v.3)

THE HORNS OF YLMIR (v.4)

------------------------------------------------------
(Part IV)

AKALLABETH

Appendices
A DESCRIPTION OF THE ISLAND OF NUMENOR (U)

ALDARION AND ERENDIS: The Mariner's Wife (U)

THE LINE OF ELROS: KINGS OF NUMENOR (U)

THE HISTORY OF GALADRIEL AND CELEBORN (U)
and of Amroth King of Lorien

Appendices (Appendix A, The Silvan Elves and their Speech; Appendix B, The Sindarin Princes of the Silvan Elves; Appendix C, The Boundaries of Lorien; Appendix D,The Port of Lond Daer; Appendix E, The Names of Celeborn and Galadriel) (U)

TAL-ELMAR (v.12)

THE NUMENORIAN CHAPTERS (v.5)

THE LOST ROAD (v.5)

------------------------------------------------------
(Part V)

OF THE RINGS OF POWER AND THE THIRD AGE

Appendices
THE DISASTER OF THE GLADDEN FIELDS (U)

Appendix (Numenorian Linear Measures) (U)

CIRION AND EORL AND THE FRIENDSHIP
OF GONDOR AND ROHAN (U)
(i) The Northmen and the Wainriders
(ii) The Ride of Eorl
(iii) Cirion and Eorl
(iv) The Tradition of Isildur

THE DRUEDAIN (U)

THE ISTARI (U)

THE PALANTIRI (U)

------------------------------------------------------
(Part VI)

THE HOBBIT

THE LORD OF THE RINGS

Appendices
THE QUEST FOR EREBOR (U)
Appendix (Note on the texts, and extracts from the ealier version)

THE HUNT FOR THE RING (U)
(i) Of the Journey of the Black Riders according to the account that Gandalf gave to Frodo
(ii) Other Versions of the Story
(iii) Concerning Gandalf, Saruman and the Shire

THE BATTLES OF THE FORDS OF ISEN (U)

THE EPILOGUE (v.9)

THE ADVENTURES OF TOM BOMBADIL and other verses from The Red Book

------------------------------------------------------
(Part VII)

THE NEW SHADOW (v. 12)

THE NOTION CLUB PAPERS (v. 12)


message 24: by Anne (new)

Anne Gazzolo | 390 comments Mod
I am taking a class from the Mythgard Institute and in our discussion group we just addressed this - The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, HoME was offered as the order. I agree with that. I haven't read much of HoME yet but have read the others.

Namarie, God bless, Anne Marie :)


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