The History of Middle-Earth is the compilation of J.R. Tolkien’s writing process and is a 12-volume series edited by Christopher Tolkien. Christopher Tolkien, son of J.R. Tolkien, edited The History of Middle-Earth, which encompasses the collection of Tolkien’s legendarium in chronology and shows how the setting evolved alongside the story development. The series lays out in detail the conception of Middle-Earth and how it evolves through time as a fictitious place with peoples, languages, history, socio-cultural, and geographical changes over the impacts of story development. It is a journey from the mythological past to the changes of Middle English where changes overturned gradually from feudal England to a new Age. Tolkien, with his mastery, shows the deep-rooted changes from the old world to a new world of hope from desperation, from rigid and orthodox authority to a system led by the general people. Tolkien uses Middle-Earth as a transition point where changes happen amid the utmost uncertainty and when things fall on the verge of time to change and regenerate for a better outcome. Published between 1983 to 1996, the History of Middle-Earth is a 12-volume series that depicts the earliest notions of “mythological England,” brings in the perspectives of conflicts of races for supremacy, and the creative process or journey of Tolkien’s legendary and imaginary new world.
The History of Middle-Earth:
- The Book of Lost Tales, Part I (1983)
- The Book of Lost Tales, Part II (1984)
- The Lays of Beleriand (1985)
- The Shaping of Middle-Earth (1986)
- The Lost Road and Other Writings (1987)
The History of The Lord of the Rings:
-  The Return of the Shadow (1988)
-  The Treason of Isengard (1989)
-  The War of the Ring (1990)
-  Sauron Defeated (1992)
The Later Silmarillion:
-  Morgoth’s Ring (1993)
-  The War of the Jewels (1994)
- The Peoples of Middle-Earth (1996)
About the Author
About the Author J.R. Tolkien is the beloved author of high fantasy novels with an exceptionally orchestrated vision about a new imaginary world about the early ages in the history of humans. A vision that has symbolic resemblance to the perspectives of the world order and conflicts after World War II and the Great Depression. Tolkien is the Father of modern fantasy literature that offers a priceless experience about a wide range of personal reading experience about philology, mythology, conflicts during the World Wars, and humanity’s resurgence.
Tolkien imagined a mythological past with a twist of English History during his time with greater artistry, surrealistic narrative, and intricate details to portray a fantasy world of Middle-Earth in the reader’s mind vividly. With his artistic flair, Tolkien plays the reader’s imagination to visualize and believe Middle-Earth as existent between the heaven above and the combustible underworld beneath.
Now, let’s discuss each book in the series:
The History of Middle-Earth
“The Book of Lost Tales Volume I and II” introduces the concepts of Tolkien’s legendarium about the exuberant Middle-Earth with its rich history, geographical landscapes, imagery, and symbolic interpretation about the coherence of nature and its inhabitants’ activity.
“The Lays of Beleriand, Volume Three,” is composed of long poems about the Lúthien and Túrin stories. It uncovers Tolkien’s philological mastery and precision in heroic lyric poetry about Beren and Lúthien with alliteration and couplets.
“The Shaping of Middle-Earth, Volume Four,” features the geography of Arda, maps, and diagrams during the Anglo-Saxon period. It depicts the chronological transition from the mythological past in transition.
“The Lost Road and Other Writings” is about a time travel story about the Downfall of Númenor story featuring industrialized warfare and Elven linguistic traces in Quenta Silmarillion. It’s about the language and legend before “The Lord of the Rings.”
The History of The Lord of the Rings
“The Return of the Shadow,” “The Treason of Isengard,” “The War of the Ring,” and “Sauron Defeated” trace back to the development of “The Lord of the Rings” with melancholy and bizarre settings. These contain the unpublished parts and versions of “The Lord of the Rings” in the chronology of the journey of Hobbit who found the Ring, the return of Gandalf while hobbits meeting riders of the Rohan, Battle of Aragorn, the destruction of the One Ring, and Sauron. These collections are marked from volume 6 to volume 9 of the 12 Books for the history of Middle Earth.
The Later Silmarillion
“Morgoth’s Ring” is Tolkien’s breathtaking attempt to depart from existing myths to a new world standard. It also revealed Tolkien’s expressions over the origin of the Orcs, etc., together with Laws and Customs of the Eldar.
“The War of the Jewels” is a colossal delineation of the story of Húrin.
“The Peoples of Middle-Earth” is a must-read volume for the Tolkien geeks to explore the abandoned sequel of “The Lord of the Rings,” enthralling facts about the dwarves and elves, and about Tal-Elmar the Númenorean imperialism from the perspective of the surviving natives.
Opinion about the Series:
Tolkien imagined a mythological past with a twist of English History during his time with greater artistry, surrealistic narrative, and intricate details to portray a fantasy world of Middle-Earth in the reader’s mind vividly. With his artistic flair, Tolkien plays the reader’s imagination to visualize and believe Middle-Earth as existent between the heaven above and the combustible underworld beneath. Middle-Earth is positioned in the middling point, and it’s a point of transition. This is the melting pot for different races to come together in harmony to save, survive, and sustain the world with adherence to the natural world. Diverse races, vivid classification, cultural and linguistic differences fade away to survive in a falling world. To survive and to live meaningfully, powers must give way to all to share peace and harmony. Nature’s law is broken and burned down with the greed of power to rule. Tolkien shows how nature changes; the formative differences of the earth’s structure are the result of its inhabitants. Nature has its plan, and harmony is the key. Middle-Earth is detailed with exuberant and intricate imagery to bring unity in the diversity of the creation and to transform the world into a better version during the transition.
Apart from The History of Middle-Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien’s other notable works include:
- “The Hobbit” (1937) by J.R.R. Tolkien
- “Farmer Giles of Ham” (1949) by J.R.R. Tolkien
- “The Fellowship of the Ring” (1954) by J.R.R. Tolkien
- “The Two Towers” (1954) by J.R.R. Tolkien
- “The Return of the King” (1955) by J.R.R. Tolkien
- “The Lord of the Rings” (Published as a trilogy from 1954 to 1955) by J.R.R. Tolkien
published posthumously after J.R.R. Tolkien’s passing:
- “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book” (1962) by J.R.R. Tolkien
- “Smith of Wootton Major” (1967) by J.R.R. Tolkien
- “Tree and Leaf” (1964) by J.R.R. Tolkien
- “The Silmarillion” (1977) by J.R.R. Tolkien
- “The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún” (2009) by J.R.R. Tolkien
Books Similar to The History of Middle-Earth
If you loved reading The History of Middle-Earth, you should look into the following books:
- “A Song of Ice and Fire” series by George R.R. Martin
- “The Wheel of Time” series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
- “The Chronicles of Narnia” series by C.S. Lewis
- “The Inheritance Cycle” series by Christopher Paolini
- “The Kingkiller Chronicle” series by Patrick Rothfuss
- “Mistborn” series by Brandon Sanderson
- “The Sword of Shannara” series by Terry Brooks
- “The Earthsea Cycle” series by Ursula K. Le Guin
- “The Malazan Book of the Fallen” series by Steven Erikson