J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien: Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth


Unfinished Tales is a collection of narratives ranging in time from the Elder Days of Middle-earth to the end of the War of the Ring and provides those who have read The Lord of the Rings with a whole collection of background and new stories from the 20th century’s most acclaimed popular author.

The book concentrates on the realm of Middle-earth and comprises such elements as Gandalf’s lively account of how it was that he came to send the Dwarves to the celebrated party at Bag-End, the emergence of the sea-god Ulmo before the eyes of Tuor on the coast of Beleriand and an exact description of the military organisation of the Riders of Rohan.

Unfinished Tales also contains the only story about the long ages of Numenor before its downfall and all that is known about such matters as the Five Wizards, the Palantíri and the legend of Amroth. The tales were collated and edited by JRR Tolkien’s son and literary heir, Christopher Tolkien, who provides a short commentary on each story, helping the reader to fill in the gaps and put each story into the context of the rest of his father’s writings.


Part One: The First Age:
“Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin”
“Narn i Hîn Húrin (The Tale of the Children of Húrin)”

Part Two: The Second Age:
“A Description of the Island of Númenor”
“Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner’s Wife”
“The Line of Elros: Kings of Númenor”
“The History of Galadriel and Celeborn”

Part Three: The Third Age:
“The Disaster of the Gladden Fields”
“Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan”
“The Quest of Erebor”
“The Hunt for the Ring”
“The Battles of the Fords of Isen”

Part Four
“The Drúedain”
“The Istari”
“The Palantíri”


The First Age

Karen Wynn Fonstad: Arda with Aman and Middle-earth in the First Age

The Realms of the Ñoldor and the Sindar and their rulers (map by Sirielle)

Ted Nasmith: Morgoth and Húrin — Eric Verhagen: Glaurung and Nienor — John Howe: Túrin kills Glaurung — Elena Kukanova: Nienor and Túrin — Alan Lee: Túrin wearing his dragon helm

John Howe: Ulmo and Tuor — Alan Lee: Gondolin — Tuor’s arms (source) — Ted Nasmith: Tuor — Steamey: Tuor and Voronwë
— Ted Nasmith: Tuor reaches the Hidden City Gondolin

Karen Wynn Fonstad: Gondolin

Middle-earth before and after the War of Wrath (source)



The Second Age

Karen Wynn Fonstad: Arda with Valinor, Númenor and Middle-earth

Karen Wynn Fonstad: Númenor


Númenor: White ships from Valinor near Andúnië (art by Ted Nasmith)
— Rómenna (art by MatejCadil) — Armenelos the Golden (art by Ralph Damiani)

Left: Númenórians (source) — Ar-Pharazôn (art by Steamey) — Elros Tar-Minyatur (art by MellorianJ) — Númenorian ships in harbor (art by Emilio Rodríguez)  — Giovanni Calore: Secret Harbor — Rómenna (source); 
Right: The White Tree and Forest of Mallorn Trees (both by Ted Nasmith) — Arrival of Ar-Pharazôn in Umbar (art by ivanalekseich) — Isildur and Nimloth (source) — Ar-Pharazôn’s armada (source) — Ted Nasmith: The Ships of the Faithful — Darrell Sweet: The Fall of Númenor

Galadriel and Celeborn

Karen Wynn Fonstad: Caras Galadon / Lothlórien

Karen Wynn Fonstad: Coming of the Dark Years

Karen Wynn Fonstad: Voyages of the Númenóreans



Rulers of Númenor and major developments in Númenor and in Middle-earth:

For a more elaborate timeline of the Second Age see HERE.


The Third Age

Karen Wynn Fonstad: Circles of the World before and after the change from flat to round Earth

Source: Wikipedia

Karen Wynn Fonstad: Middle-earth in the early Third Age

The topography of Middle-earth (source)

Karen Wynn Fonstad: The Misty Mountains; excerpt showing the location of the Gladden Fields (but think “Amon Lanc” in lieu of “Dol Guldur” in the context of events in TA 2)

Isildur and the One Ring

Left: Karen Wynn Fonstad: Battle of Celebrant; right: The Field of Celebrant, as shown in The Lord of the Rings Online (source)

Tapestry showing the Oath of Cirion and Eorl (source)

Christopher Tolkien (1954): Thrór’s Map of the Lonely Mountain
(N.B.: While most of the maps shown in this post give the four directions — North, South, West, and East — the way “our” maps do, this Dwarven map places “East” at the top.  Thus, to reflect “our” perspective, this map must be imagined as turned clockwise by a 90° angle.) (Source)

Left: image source; right: John Howe: Sauron’s Eye and the Ring of Power

Middle-earth in the time of the War of the Rings
Upper map by Pauline Baynes (1970); source of lower map here

Karen Wynn Fonstad: The War of the Rings – The Stage Is Set

The First Battle of the Fords of Isen:
(1) Leaving the eastern approach to the Fords defended, Théodred (white) rides north to meet an oncoming army from Isengard (black).  (2) Saruman sends a second force down the eastern side of the river; seeing this, Théodred disengages and rides south again to defend the Fords.  (3) The defenders of the Fords are assaulted from both west and east; Théodred himself takes a position on the central eyot.  (4) The defenders on the west bank of Isen are swept southward along the river.  (5) His defence all but gone, Théodred is driven to the peak of the eyot and mortally wounded.  (6) A force of Rohirrim under Elfhelm, having encountered outriders of the eastern Isengarders, charges the Fords from the east.  (7) Elfhelm drives off the eastern Isengarders and relieves the defenders, but Théodred dies soon afterward.  (8) Returning to their position, the western defenders find that their pursuers have withdrawn, leaving the Fords temporarily in the hands of the Rohirrim.  (Source)

The Fords of Isen (source)

Guillaume Tholly: The Charge of the Rohirrim — Battling an Orc (source) — Cristi Balanescu: Attack of the Dunlendings
— After the battle


The Third Age, up to the events in The Hobbit:


The Timeline of The One Ring

Source: http://lotrproject.com/blog/2013/01/20/visual-timeline-of-the-one-ring/


Part 4



The Istari and the White Council
(top row: left image:
source; center, top image: The Blue Wizards, art by Giuliano Bròcani)

The palantiri
(Palantír of Barad-dûr, center row right: art by Stirzocular)

The palantíri of Gondor: Osgiliath-stone (source) — Ithil-stone (source) — Minas Anor/ Minas Tirith (source)
— Orthanc (art by John Howe)

The Palantíri of Arnor: Amon Sûl (art by Donato Giancola) — Stone of Elendil (source) — Annúminas-stone (art by Jeff Reitz)


An exchange elsewhere on the audiobook edition of the Unfinished Tales (in lieu of a full-text review):


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