Sunday, February 13, 2011

Unfinished Tales (book review)

The History :When Tolkien died in September 1973, his son Christopher inherited all of his late fathers literary responsibility. That meant sorting through box file after box file of notes and stories, most of which were never intended to be published, but existed for the sole enjoyment of the author. The scale of the legend of Arda, Middle Earth's history is due to the countless hours John Ronald spent in his study building and creating that world. He would not only build the tales but also draw on maps & calendars (some of which date as far back as the first world war) and dates, lunar patterns, and languages.
The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales are part of those stories. The Ages of the world are filled with death, wars of the Gods in the East and the rise of the Elves, Men, Dwarfish folk, and many creatures that would fill Middle Earth as we know it today.
Tolkien did intend to finish the work but as old age happened he found the task rather difficult.Christopher said his dad was still making revisions and re-writing one month before his death. Though Tolkien had major success with the Lord of the Rings I somehow feel,that he would of felt like he hadn't proven himself yet until he got the Silmarillion published. After Edith died in 1971, Tolkien moved into a smaller flat provided by Oxford. Writing became less frequent. In his younger days he could of been seen writing until 2am. Because of  his declining health Tolkien had to leave it all to his Literary heir to finish on his behalf.

The Book Review:

Unfinished Tales is in 4 parts.

The first part :is dated rather early in Middle Earth. Two tales are given here. Of Tuor and his coming to Gondolin. And Narn I Hin Hurin ( Children of Hurin). Both tales are linked by blood, but both stories are different from one another,The Children of Hurin is a tragic tale of a family cursed by the Dark Lord Morgoth. The Father Hurin is seated on a chair unable to die and must watch from afar as his family is brought to ruin. His son, Turin, grows up to be feared by his enemies and separated from his sister and mother at a young age is raised with the Elven folk until he is betrayed by one of them. He runs away and teams up with a group of thieves in the woods. Meets a Dwarf named Mim, and eventually moves to a village and marries a woman (Unknown to both they are brother and sister, she had her mind washed by a Dragon of Morgoth named Glaurung) and eventually slays the great lizard but at the price of losing his life.

The 2nd part: is dedicated to Numenor and what little was ever written about the Island and its people. The second chapter deals with Aldarion and Erendis, a story of a prince of Numenor in love with the sea. He was the first Numenorian to make settlements on the shores of Middle Earth.

And the history of Galadriel and Celeborn. How they came to meet, moved from the undying lands to Middle Earth and how they gained Lothlorien and the making of the rings of power.

The 3rd part: This was the best part of the book. It gave allot of insight on some behind the scenes of the Hobbit story and what happened between the hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

Cirion and Eorl and the friendship of Gondor and Rohan...Good, but really dry. I kept wondering off while reading this.
Quest for Erebor was really good. Allot of how Gandalf got involved with Thorin Oakenshield's quest to regain the throne of Erebor and defeat Smaug. And how he chose Bilbo to be the thief is in this section. It gives answers to some questions from the Hobbit.

The Hunt for the Ring Another insightful look at how Aragorn captured Gollum and how Gollum's release from Sauron was all part of Sauron's plan.Until Aragorn brought him to the Elves.
The battles of the fords of Isen  Another behind the scenes of what was going on in Rohan while Saruman declared war on the West fold.

Part four: The Druedain the ancient people, called "wild men" in Lotr, and what info there is to know of them.
The Istari is about the Order of the Wizards. How they came from across the sea by the Valar to aid Middle Earth at the first signs of Sauron's return. Allot is written on Saruman's hatred of Gandalf. And about the two "blue" wizards who disapeared in the east, Radaghast became enamored with birds and beasts and didn't take any cares in the war of the rings.
The Panantiri , is about the lost seeing stones. And how they played a major part in the war of the ring.

This book isn't a easy read. Much like the Silamrillion its got dry sections that make you want to skip entire sections at a time. I would recommend it though for any fans of Tolkien who wish to know more about the history of Middle Earth.