Read The Return of the Shadow: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part One by J.R.R. Tolkien Christopher Tolkien Online

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In this sixth volume of The History of Middle-earth the story reaches The Lord of the Rings. In The Return of the Shadow (an abandoned title for the first volume) Christopher Tolkien describes, with full citation of the earliest notes, outline plans, and narrative drafts, the intricate evolution of The Fellowship of the Ring and the gradual emergence of the conceptions thaIn this sixth volume of The History of Middle-earth the story reaches The Lord of the Rings. In The Return of the Shadow (an abandoned title for the first volume) Christopher Tolkien describes, with full citation of the earliest notes, outline plans, and narrative drafts, the intricate evolution of The Fellowship of the Ring and the gradual emergence of the conceptions that transformed what J.R.R. Tolkien for long believed would be a far shorter book, 'a sequel to The Hobbit'. The enlargement of Bilbo's 'magic ring' into the supremely potent and dangerous Ruling Ring of the Dark Lord is traced and the precise moment is seen when, in an astonishing and unforeseen leap in the earliest narrative, a Black Rider first rode into the Shire, his significance still unknown. The character of the hobbit called Trotter (afterwards Strider or Aragorn) is developed while his indentity remains an absolute puzzle, and the suspicion only very slowly becomes certainty that he must after all be a Man. The hobbits, Frodo's companions, undergo intricate permutations of name and personality, and other major figures appear in strange modes: a sinister Treebeard, in league with the Enemy, a ferocious and malevolent Farmer Maggot. The story in this book ends at the point where J.R.R. Tolkien halted in the story for a long time, as the Company of the Ring, still lacking Legolas and Gimli, stood before the tomb of Balin in the Mines of Moria. The Return of the Shadow is illustrated with reproductions of the first maps and notable pages from the earliest manuscripts....

Title : The Return of the Shadow: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part One
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ISBN : 9780618083572
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 512 Pages
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The Return of the Shadow: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part One Reviews

  • Terry
    2018-11-28 16:05

    Let me admit first off that _The Return of the Shadow_ (book 6 in the History of Middle-earth series) is exactly what I didn’t want to read when I first heard that Christopher Tolkien was putting out a series of books of his father’s unpublished writings. As far as I was concerned we already had what Tolkien was willing and able to publish in The Hobbit and LoTR (and even something he hadn’t yet been able to publish in his lifetime in the form of The Silmarillion) so the appeal for me of seeing early drafts and material that the author himself had either superseded or conceivably felt was unpublishable didn’t seem like an appealing prospect. Why examine the dross when we already had the gold on display? Well, my foray into the other volumes of the series which detailed his monumental work in building the world, languages, and stories of what would become the First Age of Middle-earth in the Silmarillion material really opened my eyes to what a treasure trove there was and only added to my appreciation of what had previously been published. I saw that this was not simply a collection of discarded notes, imperfect drafts, and unpublishable material, but an expanded glimpse at the world Tolkien was creating. The sheer variety in both content and form meant that I was able to see much fuller versions of some stories that were only hinted at or told in precis in the published Silmarillion, and even the tales I was familiar with were often told in much more expanded, or even more impressive and enjoyable ways in some of these earlier documents.So much for the Silmarillion material. Approaching the next ‘phase’ in the History of Middle-earth wherein Christopher tackles the early drafts of The Lord of the Rings seemed much more akin to what I had expected from the other volumes: early drafts and rejected material that would not deepen my appreciation of the published work except inasmuch as I would see how far superior it was to any early, and ultimately rejected, work. What little I knew of it seemed likely to hold up to that assumption: Aragorn originally conceived as a Hobbit with the unlikely (or at least unheroic) name of ‘Trotter’ who wore wooden shoes?! A version of the tale that was seen as little more than an unexpected (and even deemed by the author unnecessary) sequel to _The Hobbit_ that was primarily desired by the publisher to cash in on the success of the earlier children’s book? Why read a possibly twee early version of the epic fantasy that ended up creating (or at least validating) an entire genre of literature in its finally published form? It seemed like nothing so much as an exercise in disappointment.The tipping point for me proved to be listening to Corey Olsen’s (aka the Tolkien Professor) podcasts for the HoME series. While listening to the episodes covering the Silmarillion material I began to see how unique a place LoTR held in Tolkien’s work. It is often assumed that the LoTR was the centre of the professor’s literary work, that _The Hobbit_ was always an early prequel to it, and that _The Silmarillion_ was a collection of early and/or unfinished material thrown together after the success of LoTR in the hopes of cashing in on that success. What emerges from reading the HoME series, however, is a very different picture. First of all it is obvious that the Silmarillion material was at the core of Tolkien’s mythology and represented perhaps the most important and meaningful literary work he did. It wasn’t simply the after-hours hobby of a bored professor of philology, but actually managed to marry his personal and professional interests in a unique way. The linguistic elements of the Silmarillion material are truly integral to the development of the stories and characters that came to embody his mythology and it would not be an overstatement to say that many of Tolkien’s own personal theories on linguistic and historical development of real world languages became hidden elements of his developing sub-created world. _The Hobbit_, by contrast, was initially conceived as having nothing to do with the Silmarillion mythology. True, there was some cross-fertilization mostly in regards to names used (Elrond, Gondolin, etc.), but Olsen (and the HoME material itself) make a strong case for the idea that this was merely Tolkien following a consistent pattern of re-using material in new contexts. He was ultimately making use of names and story elements that he quite frankly thought would never see the light of day otherwise and there existed between the two works a very real ‘firewall’ (as Olsen calls it) in regards to the worlds they inhabited. I would even go so far as to say that I think Tolkien started developing a fair bit of antipathy for _The Hobbit_: a children’s book he wrote on something of a whim that captured the imaginations of his publishers, and the reading public in general, but that led not to his desired goal of being able to publish the Silmarillion material that was so near and dear to his heart (his publishers went out of their way to, kindly and gently, nix that possibility), but instead led to a clamor for a sequel. ‘More about hobbits’ was the demand when Tolkien was hoping to publish something about the much higher and stranger matter of the Elves, their battle against the ultimate evil of Melkor, and their final decline. The LoTR thus started out very much as a direct sequel to _The Hobbit_, unrelated in all but some superficialities to his older and deeper material. It quickly gained something of a life of its own, however, growing into something that truly married the Hobbit material to the older mythology of the Silmarillion and resulted in the creation of something altogether new (not to mention something that transformed subsequent editions of _The Hobbit_ until it truly became what it is seen as today: the prequel to the LoTR more or less fully joined in a continuum to the Silmarillion material).I was somewhat crestfallen upon reading the first few pages of _The Return of the Shadow_. My expectations were apparently being met as the story certainly started out in a less than impressive manner, especially when compared against the finished product. It was definitely much more twee and the main character being named ‘Bingo’ didn’t help. You can almost see Tolkien flailing around to find a story and some way to hang it onto a group of hobbits. There is perhaps a little too much of what Tolkien called ‘hobbit humour’ and an almost excessive concentration on hobbit family genealogies (something that still survived into the appendices of LoTR) and other minutiae. As a side note: at this point the somewhat strange figure of Tom Bombadil perhaps makes a bit more sense given the nature of the story as one geared towards children. The story did start to markedly improve as time went on, however, and it gained in depth and seriousness as was perhaps to be expected given the fact that Tolkien latched onto the obvious plot element from _The Hobbit_ upon which to tie a sequel: Bilbo’s magic ring. The meaning and significance of the ring began to grow and it was soon much more than merely a convenient tool for disappearing from inconvenient situations once it was tied in to the other remaining mystery from its parent volume: the shadowy figure of the Necromancer. These two elements coinciding led Tolkien to bring in some of the material from his later Silmarillion work (namely the existence of Thu/Sauron as a remnant of Melkor’s evil) and to expand on this with the creation of his role as the ‘Lord of the Ring’ in his bid for dominance over Middle-earth. In essence this transformed the story into something that adopted Tolkien’s Silmarillion material in a much more fundamental way. This was no longer simply a mere sharing of names, the connections started to grow deeper and the firewall was starting to crumble. Things certainly improved (in my opinion at least) at an accelerated rate. Even the introduction of Trotter proved to be less twee than I thought it would be. A wooden-shoe-wearing hobbit-ranger certainly seems odd on the face of it, but while definitely an inferior character when compared to Aragorn, the story that Tolkien started to develop for Trotter, with the hints of both a connection to Gandalf and Bilbo and a dark and dangerous past, were actually somewhat intriguing. It is also surprising to note, as Christopher does, how close to the finished text (at least in terms of general story elements and overall plot) many sections of even the earliest drafts are once things apparently started gelling for Tolkien and the idea that this was ‘merely’ a children’s book sequel were more or less quashed. There were still many changes (especially in regards to the number of hobbits involved in the story, their names and relationships, and the ultimate make-up of the fellowship of the ring itself, not to mention the introduction of the character and storyline of Aragorn) and much of the text would still be further refined, but one can definitely see something very much recognizable as ‘the Lord of the Rings’ even in these early drafts.I won’t go into any further detail, but while this may not have been my favourite volume in the HoME series it definitely was worth reading and proved to be much more intriguing than I at first expected. I’ll definitely keep on reading and would once again recommend it to any of Tolkien’s die-hard fans out there.

  • James Swenson
    2018-11-16 18:13

    I don't think I can give this a star rating. I don't know if I've ever read anything that's simultaneously more boring and more fascinating than this set of books. [Here I'll review the whole History of the Lord of the Rings together: [book:The Return of the Shadow], The Treason of Isengard, The War of the Ring, and The End of the Third Age.]Christopher Tolkien, son of a famous father, has edited the rough drafts of The Lord of the Rings and presents (in every possible detail) the history of the composition. Fragments of the drafts, heavily footnoted, are interspersed with Christopher's analysis of how the story took shape in J.R.R's imagination. The work is astonishingly thorough: you can see little details (the phase of the moon in a given passage being changed to correspond to a new chronology of events) and major upheavals pressing themselves upon the author. [A couple of examples: Frodo was originally named Bingo; there was no Sam Gamgee until quite far into the drafting of [book:The Fellowship of the Ring|34]; Treebeard, the ent, is originally a monster and he, not Saruman, is the one who imprisons Gandalf; Aragorn, the king who returns in The Return of the King, was originally a hobbit in wooden shoes, called not Strider but Trotter until the trilogy was almost entirely complete.]The effect is unlike anything I've ever read -- like watching over a shoulder as the author crosses out a paragraph, muttering to himself. Moment by moment, though, it can be amazingly dull to read.From p. 262 of The War of the Ring:The next two outlines (`V' and `VI') were developed from III, and are very closely related: they were certainly written at the same time. From the rejected sentence in VI `He has a secret' it is seen that my father had IV in front of him, for in that text appears `He has a secret letter from Faramir'. [punctuation sic] The rejected reference in V to `Dunharrow under the Halifirien' relates this outline to the note on Dunharrow in II (see p. 257). There is thus good reason to think that V and VI derive from 1944 rather than 1946....But mixed with this we get flashes of insight. From p. 147 of The War of the Ring:My father wrote in his letter of 6 May 1944, "A new character has come on the scene (I am sure I did not invent him, I did not even want him, though I like him, but there he came walking into the woods of Ithilien): Faramir, the brother of Boromir ..."Surely this series could be found readable only by people who are to some degree obsessed with The Lord of the Rings and who have a fairly strong interest in scholarly things. Thus I can't really recommend it. It is nevertheless a unique and remarkable work.

  • Luka Novak
    2018-11-29 18:09

    First of all you need to know what this book actually is. It's not explanation of Middle-earth history and it's not expanded universe either. This book deals with Tolkien's manuscripts and shows how LOTR was written.This book (#6) covers part from beginning of LOTR to Mines of Moria, when Company discovers Balin's tomb, though there are glimpses of future events such as siege of Minas Tirith and destruction of the Ring.Throughout the book you can see two processes working. One is evolution of characters, something that can be expected in any book. It shows how Hobbits changed names and character, what they said when and to whom etc. Other, IMO far more important, is how LOTR evolved from "The Hobbit" sequel to work we know today. We see how The Ring evolved from simple magic ring Bilbo found in "The Hobbit" to all-powerfull ring of LOTR. We also see how initial characters were slowly molded into characters that fit into broader Tolkien's world and how LOTR slowly began to take place in Tolkien's world, something Tolkien didn't plan in the beginning. This is shown mostly in evolution of elf characters, though Aragorn still doesn't exist (Strider was first called Trotter and was a hobbit).Another interesting thing about these initial manuscripts is that some parts of them that were later rejected or changed were used in making of LOTR movies (e.g. farmer Maggot being angry and not helpful as in final LOTR version).Overall, an interesting book if you are interested in thought process that went into writting of LOTR.

  • Phillip
    2018-12-12 19:17

    Reading "The History of Middle-earth" books make me think of the commentary and 'special features' on DVD movies. The difference is that the writer/director/producer is dead and so it is all hosted by his son Christopher Tolkien."The Return of the Shadow" is so much fun. It contains descriptions of the way Tolkien fumbled his way along as he wrote LTRs. We get to see characters drawn differently, some with different names [So very, very many differnt names]. We see Tolkien discover the story that is so beloved by millions to be probed and uncovered from his designed intention to write a children's book that would be a follow up to "The Hobbit".Extending the comparison to movie 'special features' a bit further, Christopher Tolkien provides extended cuts and deleted scenes to all of his father's popular published work. To read multiple volumes of Christopher Tolkien's "History" has had a cumulative effect on this reader. At first, I just wanted to see what was there and I was interested because I have read and reread JRR Tolkien's principle works so many times that I was finally ready to give the "History" a try. I came to appreciate the various versions of stories and poems on their own merit.Finally, the on going commentary to show the evolution of JRR Tolkien's work has grown on me. Christopher Tolkien has a lot to offer in his description of the various papers he has available to tell his story. He also has personal experiences and memories of living in the household where the papers were written. Sometimes he helped his father with drawing maps or making fair copies of manuscripts or begging his father to keep characters that Tolkien planned to alter or eliminate. Christopher Tolkien stayed in touch with his father's progress even when C. was away fighting in WWII. My point is that Christopher Tolkien has been engaged with his father's work throughout his life in a way that has positioned him to share the story of the evolution of his father's work in a unique way that gives depth to the reader's understanding of all of Tolkien's work.If you have been rereading "The Lord of the Rings" multiple times then you might want to give this a try for variety.

  • Dr. Andrew Higgins
    2018-11-25 19:17

    Re-read this for the brilliant Signum University Mythgard Academy Return of the Shadow course with Professor Corey Olsen. Gained so many insights from this close re-read on Tolkien's development of his new Hobbit - including the persistent character of Odo, the fact that Aragorn was first supposed to be the name of a horse and Tolkien originally planned to have a Black Rider not a Balrog fight Gandalf in Moria. Most interesting, which was a brilliant part of the course, was charting how Tolkien slowly started bringing in his unique mythology into this new narrative to create historic depth and rootedness. Looking forward to exploration of the new volume The Treason of Isengard later this summer.

  • Manuel Alfonseca
    2018-12-12 18:49

    ENGLISH: The problem with this book is that it is very difficult to follow, for it tells about many different versions of the first 16 chapters of "The Fellowship of the King" that J.R.R.Tolkien wrote in 1938-40. Not only are there up to six different versions of the first chapters, but each version is corrected once and again with ink of different colors, and Christopher tells us all about it, muddling the issue:-)Although I have always read "The Lord of the Rings" in English, I have read this book by Christopher in its Spanish translation, and found out that I don't like the names used by the translators in these two books, both for people and for places. For instance: what is the justification of translating "Woodhall" (a city of the hobbits) as "Casa del Bosque"? If Oxford would appear in a book, would any translator into Spanish convert it into "Vado el Buey"? Not even Google Translator does that :-)Another example: "Treebeard" has been translated as "Bárbol". I think "Barbárbol" would have been much better, for it keeps the structure of the English name, which "Bárbol" does not.===========SPANISH: El problema con este libro es que es muy difícil de seguir, ya que se refiere a muchas versiones diferentes de los primeros 16 capítulos de "The Fellowship of the King", que J.R.R.Tolkien escribió en 1938-40. No sólo hay hasta seis versiones diferentes de los primeros capítulos, sino que cada versión se corrige una y otra vez con tinta de diferentes colores, y Christopher nos lo cuenta todo, haciendo su texto confuso :-)Aunque siempre he leído "El Señor de los Anillos" en inglés, he leído este libro de Christopher en su traducción al español, y descubrí que no me gustan los nombres usados por los traductores de estos dos libros, tanto para las personas como para los lugares. Por ejemplo: ¿cómo se justifica traducir "Woodhall" (una ciudad de hobbits) como "Casa del Bosque"? Si Oxford apareciera en un libro, ¿qué traductor en español lo convertiría en "Vado el Buey"? Ni siquiera Google Translator lo hace :-)Otro ejemplo: "Treebeard" ha sido traducido como "Bárbol". Creo que "Barbárbol" habría sido mucho mejor, ya que mantiene la estructura del nombre inglés, cosa que "Bárbol" no consigue.

  • Thomas
    2018-12-07 14:55

    Exactly what it purports to be - an account of the development of the story that became The Lord of the Rings (going from the early, tentative attempts to create the desired sequel to The Hobbit to the discovery of Balin's tomb in Moria), with early drafts of chapters and fragmented notes. Is it the most fascinating thing ever published? No, but it's not for the general readership, it's for huge Tolkien nerds and scholars, and these people will find it worthwhile. It's fun to see how the story developed, what elements changed and what were present from the very beginning. The only stuff I found boring was the material on the evolution of maps and geography (that has always been a part of Tolkien's work I took less interest in), yet I realize it's an important part of what he was doing.

  • Sarah
    2018-12-11 16:17

    So for the longest time I thought these books were just more Middle Earth mythology and/or Christopher Tolkien pimping out his father's name to try to make money off people who will buy anything associated with good ole JRR. But not so! Okay, maybe the part about people who will buy anything associated with Tolkien. But actually this book is awesome. True, it goes into some minutia that not everyone is interested in, but what it's actually about is the writing of Lord of the Rings. For example, it includes the factoid that Aragorn was originally a hobbit named Trotter. And that Frodo was originally named Bingo and Merry was named Marmaduke. The mind boggles. Can you imagine reading about the adventures of Bingo, Marmaduke and Trotter? Because I can't. It sounds like Bored of the Rings (which is bad, by the way, in case you're thinking about reading it). In any case, this book is nice enough but, in my opinion, could use some editing down to a nice one volume summary of interesting points, instead of 4 tomes of laboriously rewritten drafts. Four tomes of laboriously rewritten drafts that I am nonetheless going to read every word of, however.

  • Santiago
    2018-12-01 13:57

    Super interesante y muy recomendable para los frikis de la Tierra Media!!!El Review viene más adelante...

  • Neil Coulter
    2018-11-27 17:01

    “Make return of ring a motive." (41)The Return of the Shadow, the first volume of Christopher Tolkien's History of the Lord of the Rings series, tells the story of the early development of The Lord of the Rings, taking the narrative from the beginning up to the Mines of Moria. I love how the little penciled note above shows just how uncertain the beginning of The Lord of the Rings was. The story might have gone anywhere, no matter how inevitable it now seems. This is what makes The Fellowship of the Ring my favorite of the three books: the time available for whimsical wanderings, little adventures and events and details that don't really seem connected directly to the big story that emerges. Now I see that this meandering opening is partly a reflection of J.R.R. Tolkien's own gradual realization of where the story was going. It's wonderful.In hindsight it's also fascinating to see Tolkien struggling with The Lord of the Rings as a sequel to The Hobbit. We're now used to thinking of The Lord of the Rings as the main story, for which The Hobbit is a pleasant introduction but a much different kind of story. Tolkien wrote:For one thing, [The Hobbit] was never intended to have a sequel – 'Bilbo remained very happy to the end of his days and those were extraordinarily long': a sentence I find an almost insuperable obstacle to a satisfactory link. For another nearly all the 'motives' that I can use were packed into the original book, so that a sequel will appear either 'thinner' or merely repetitional.” (108)After all that Tolkien had imagined in his mythology, it's hilarious to see him claiming to have used up all his good ideas in The Hobbit.I'm glad that the main character of The Lord of the Rings did not end up being called Bingo Bolger-Baggins, and the the character who became Strider did not remain as in the original drafts: a Ranger Hobbit called Trotter (because of his wooden shoes—or perhaps even wooden feet!). There are many such little differences between the first drafts and the final publication. (I do wish, however, that Tolkien had used the title The Return of the Shadow rather than The Fellowship of the Ring; in fact, I prefer all of the alternate titles used in the History series.) But as Christopher points out, what's amazing is how much of the narrative reached almost final form after only one or two drafts—and even before major plot elements were imagined. The journey of the Fellowship from Rivendell is remarkably similar to the final book, even though it included five hobbits (not yet quite the four Fellowship hobbits as they would become), Gandalf, and Boromir (who does not have the full depth of characterization he would later achieve). I really like this glimpse into Tolkien's creative process; I'm grateful he rarely threw anything he wrote into the rubbish bin.This is Volume VI in the History Of Middle-Earth series, and it surprised me in a number of ways. I've found the first five volumes extremely fascinating (I've read a few of them more than once), but they can also be rather tortuous and slow reads. Reading these books involves a lot of flipping back and forth between text and endnote, which can be cumbersome; it's not a linear reading experience. Also, the fine points that interest Christopher are not always what I'm most interested in. For example, Christopher can write pages and pages about the development of Middle-Earth's geography: little place-name changes, minor adjustments of where rivers flowed, and so forth. I'm interested up to a point, but Christopher often goes well beyond that point. In The Return of the Shadow, however, there seemed to be fewer endnotes, and longer sections of uninterrupted original text (and maybe I'm just so used to Christopher's style by now that I don't even notice if it is sometimes unwieldy). I also found that Christopher's annotations focused much more on the major points of the developing narrative. His commentary is helpful and very interesting.The other surprise was that I'd expected that some knowledge of the first five volumes of the History would be a prerequisite for understanding what is going on in this book. I don't believe that's the case, though. Someone who wanted to learn about only The Lord of the Rings would be fine to start in with this book.My reviews of the other volumes in The History of the Lord of the Rings series:The Treason of IsengardThe War of the RingSauron Defeated

  • Anna C
    2018-11-29 17:12

    This book is not for everyone. You have to be a Next Level Tolkien Geek to tackle the 12-volume History of Middle Earth. But if you can enjoy seven pages of Christopher Tolkien trying to determine the exact angle of the Loudwater river as it bends toward Rivendell, this is the book for you. And for people who can get past the lore, this is actually a fascinating look at the creative process. It isn't often you get to read the earliest drafts and manuscripts of your favorite books. Going over scraps of Tolkien's notes, you can see exactly where the idea for a certain character or plot point first hit him, or where he finally understood the sheer scale of what he was writing.

  • Neil Ottenstein
    2018-11-22 17:54

    If you like behind the scenes information and DVD extras, etc. and love the Lord of the Rings, then this book is for you. It is fascinating, but with all the notes and such it is a long read. This is the first of the History of Middle-Earth books that I've actually made it all the way through. On to the Treason of Isengard.

  • Brian
    2018-11-20 14:50

    A complicated title and I suppose a rather complicated little series of books. This is the first book of "the writing" of the lord of the rings that Christopher Tolkien published. To elaborate on the severely complicated writing process which occured in developing the lord of the rings "trilogy" Christopher put together this ensemble of drafts that his father wrote. Here you get all the different drafts that Tolkien wrote in chronological order of their development with commentary by Christopher. Stemming from the idea for "a sequel to the Hobbit," a humorous tale... to a dark epic struggle for all things the history of Tokiens writing of the LOTR is fascinating, that is for the fan of such things. An impressive project perfectly realized for severe fans of LOTR and historians of Toklien. Highly recommended.

  • Ben De Bono
    2018-11-12 17:00

    Tolkien fanatics and/or would be novelists will loves this. Everyone else will probably be bored silly. Even for a Tolkien fanatic like me, the book does get a little dense in places (Middle-Earth geography, dates, some of the footnotes) but those sections are very easy to skip over if you start losing interest. One interesting side note: the four titles that make up The History of The Lord of the Rings (Return of the Shadow, The Treason of Isengard, The War of the Ring and The End of the Third Age) were all alternate titles for the the volumes of LOTR. Personally, with the exception of End of the Third Age, I like them much better.

  • Julie
    2018-11-16 16:08

    Yes. I am a nerd. This is the first in a series of books that chapter-by-chapter painstakingly details Tolkien's writing of LOTR. It has drafts of the chapters, edits, shows when names were changed, etc., etc. It is Hard. Core. And I love it.

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2018-11-22 20:06

    The Return of the Shadow: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part One (The History of Middle-Earth #6), J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (Editor)

  • Rachel Draper
    2018-12-01 12:03

    If you've ever wondered what Tolkien's thought process was when he was writing The Lord of the Rings this is the book for you. Christopher Tolkien has compiled many of his father's early manuscripts into a sequential order. He has also included valuable commentary on the various drafts and additions to each draft. If nothing else you gain a greater appreciation for the thought that went into the writing of The Lord of the Rings. This book is a book of manuscripts so if you are looking for something in story form check out something like The Children of Húrin or the new Beren and Lúthien.

  • Gerardo B.
    2018-12-02 14:06

    Es super interesante recorrer los primeros borradores de Tolkien. Cualquier tolkiendili va a disfrutar de algo así; cualquier escritor que quiera ver de cerca lo que es trabajar por capas y el resultado que se obtiene, se va a beneficiar de algo así.

  • Jessy
    2018-12-05 19:15

    me encanta leer las diferentes versiones :3

  • Raechel
    2018-12-09 13:18

    proof that every Tolkien novel isn't good...there was little actual point to this book as a whole. the interesting parts were drowned out by monotonous scribblings of idle ponderings.

  • Jeffrey Gerhart
    2018-11-11 17:51

    The story was good, it was basically the story of "Fellowship of the Ring" with different characters. It was interesting to see the rough drafts of the story unfold into what it eventually became. Overall a pretty good read.

  • Garrett Robinson
    2018-11-28 16:04

    There's nothing better than watching the process by which Tolkien created the greatest fantasy work of all time.

  • Elfscribe
    2018-12-01 17:49

    In this book, the first of four volumes and part of the massive 12 volume series called The History of Middle-earth, J.R.R. Tolkien's son Christopher laboriously sifts through his father's myriad handwritten manuscripts, notes, and scribblings on the backside of exams with their many changes and emendations, in an attempt to recreate J.R.R.'s process in writing his masterpiece, Lord of the Rings. What emerges amongst the maddening detail (each change is meticulously documented) is a fascinating look at the creative process. J.R.R. Tolkien began his epic simply as a sequel to the Hobbit in response to his publisher saying fans would like more about hobbits. The earliest draft concerns Bilbo and later his nephew, who has the terrible name of Bingo Bolger-Baggins (JRR himself wrote in a margin that it was a terrible name)along with several relatives (later to become Pippin and Merry) setting out on another light-hearted adventure. In the process of following these characters (who change names numerous times) the story slowly emerges. As elements solidified, such as the reason for leaving was actually the Ring rather than a desire for adventure, Tolkien would then circle back and rewrite the beginning, which he did about five times.Much of the depth and changes to the story came about from Tolkien figuring out why things happened. For example, why didn't Gandalf meet Bingo (Frodo) when he first set out from Hobbiton? What kept him? That led to the whole story of Saruman's treason. Aragorn starts out as a hobbit named Trotter (a name he keeps through much of the first drafts even once Tolkien determined that he was, in fact, a man). But clearly this character gnawed at Tolkien's imagination. He wrote several times in the manuscript. Who is Trotter? The answer to that, found in the backstory J.R.R. created for the Silmarillion added an epic quality to the tale. From a writer's perspective, watching the evolution from the rough beginnings of a rather mediocre children's adventure to the epic tale of heroism against dark forces with its backdrop of numerous cultures and languages, landscapes, and sweeping history is a fascinating slog. It was encouraging to see that the genius came not so much from inspiration (although that's clearly there in a host of smaller decisions) but more through sheer hard work until he finally arrived at the story we know and love. This is not a book for anyone wanting a light read or for discussions of Tolkien's thought process. Christopher Tolkien never attempts to guess at anything that wasn't present in his father's notes. So, when a change is made, there is no explanation for it. I ended up skimming over portions of the manuscript because one can only dwell so much in minutiae. But sometimes the best insights could be gleaned from one of the footnotes. Recommended for those fellow geeks who are hopelessly fascinated by Middle-earth.

  • Mary Catelli
    2018-12-03 16:05

    I can only review this from the point of view of a writer. Which can find it very interesting indeed. Knowing The Lord of the Rings is essential.One of the very first scenes is a Long-Expected Party. Which has many elements that you can easily recognize from Fellowship. Except the part about Bilbo's decision to marry. But right after, in the best style of the muses, he thrashes about with possibilities. It takes him a while to have Bilbo pass the torch and at first it's to his son -- later adopted son, blood cousin -- Bingo. Ah, what a name. He rejects the notion of marriage. (Though considering that he was very popular with his nieces and nephews, I suspect that perhaps a female connection, a niece's cousin perhaps, might also have been infected by his walking tours and ended up romantically involved. Perhaps. My muse, playing with the notion, was naturally filing off serial numbers in the process. It does have a certain tendency to suggest Ideas.) And then he even sent Bingo out and on his way before he had resolved what the Ring was, and how it was to figure.Several passes through the opening chapters, some written out in full form, others sketchy outlines to form the plot. Ideas that come and go. The adventures in names -- a change in names sometimes but not always indicates a change in character. The hobbit (at first Odo) whom they left behind to cover their disappearance was captured by the Black Riders and rescued by Gandalf -- we even get scenes from Gandalf's POV -- but that dropped without explanation. The mysterious wild fellow at the inn was a hobbit named Trotter, who wore shoes. It was not until they reach Rivendell, and he's toldBy the third draft he was looking ahead past where he had gotten. Treebeard appears in some notes, very different from the character you may remember.

  • Nonabgo
    2018-11-30 14:05

    Volume 6 of the mythology takes the story, finally, to what will later become LOTR. Specifically, it consists of the earliest versions of the Fellowship, up until Gandalf's "death" in the Mines of Moria.Almost half of the book consists of the early texts surrounding the way through which Frodo got possession of the ring and his journey to Weathertop. There were a lot of changes from the initial version to what we finally have in the Fellowship - starting with Frodo's name (initially names Bingo), the number and names of his hobbit companions, the identity of the stranger they met at the Prancing Pony (initially another hobbit, not Strider/Aragorn). We are then taken to Rivendell, where Elrond's council is held and we meet some of Frodo's later companions - Boromir (named so from the beginning) and Gimli (initially another dwarf who does not go with them). There's no Legolas. Gandalf is the only character that is present from the earlier drafts.This book is a lot of fun. It's great to see how it all began from a children's story - meant to be a continuation of The Hobbit (the fact that it was seen as another hobbit story is obvious from the fact that most of the company - except for Gandalf - were hobbits) - to one of the greatest novels of all time. The story evolves a lot - initially Tolkien hadn't even thought of the ring as being "the one ring", nor about its powers and what effects it has on the carrier. Although a lot of things were changed, especially elements from the earliest drafts, there are a lot of things that survived from the very beginning, so it's like reading a story you feel you already know, but not really. It's definitely an easier read than the previous volumes of the mythology, because of the familiarity with the story, but it's still quite dense and detail-packed so patience is needed.

  • Tom
    2018-11-13 19:59

    I picked this up hoping for an insight into the writing process, and there was plenty of that, but it also turned out to fit into a sort of quest narrative of its own, with the familiar final form of the story being the goal of the quest and the bold hero (JRRT) struggling through many false paths and diversions to get there. There was the constant tension of when he'd finally decide that (view spoiler)[the ranger they meet in Bree should probably be a man rather than a hobbit (hide spoiler)], and the mystery of what happened to Odo when (view spoiler)[Gandalf said he'd been captured by the Black Riders in a side plot which was abandoned before the details could be filled out (hide spoiler)].Having tried a bit of writing in a small way myself, and living with a writer, I was fascinated to see how Tolkien managed the development of ideas. There were many instances of his writing events which were then used to shape the emerging ideas of the overall narrative, rather than the other way around. The most dramatic example, early on, is the party of hobbits just setting out on their journey and hiding from a mysterious rider who stops on the road near where they hid and sniffs.... and who turns out to be Gandalf! The idea that they should meet up with Gandalf so early was immediately abandoned but the event of hiding from a horseman was kept and it was this that was the genesis of the black riders. Also, JRRT had a rather impressive ability to keep several possible versions of the story on the back burner, sometimes colour coded by which ink he'd used, writing notes for new developments according to which version they fit with.

  • Jacob
    2018-11-27 19:06

    This is volume 6 of something like 10 volumes of Tolkien's drafts of everything he worked on for Middle Earth, published by his son Christopher. Volumes 6-8 tackle the Lord of the Rings. I made it through 6 and 7.I liked seeing how Tolkien's mind worked, at least at first. As an English teacher and writer, I had a window into another writer's process. Tolkien agonized over the beginning of the story, not really sure what was going to happen, but writing anyway. He rewrote from the beginning several times before settling on a storyline, but once he had the story idea it seems he wrote only a few drafts to complete much of the book. It's as if the story had to brew for a while in his head, and then spilled out onto the paper. His narrative position, that he merely related the story as told to him, seems not that far off at times.What dragged me down, though, was the minutiae that Christopher Tolkien included in these books. I care very little about the evolution of calendars and maps and phases of the moon, and by the end of the second book the story had resembled LOTR enough that I should just read that instead. So, while this is probably interesting to those Tolkien scholars out there, I am not one of them.

  • Nicholas Whyte
    2018-11-16 16:10

    http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1824549...Here we have three-ish drafts of The Lord of the Rings up to the exploration of Moria. It is striking how quickly Tolkien shifted tone from the young-reader-ish style of The Hobbit, which surivives in the very first draft of the first chapter, but really no further, to adopt a more mature voice. But it's also interesting to see the evolution of the character who became Strider, at first a mysterious hobbit called Trotter who turns out to be a long-lost cousin of Bilbo's called Peregrine. The names and characters of Frodo and his friends changed very substantially between rewrites (though the dialogue between them was surprisingly constant). The original Fellowship includes the four hobbits from the Shire, Troter, Gandalf and Boromir but no dwarf or elf. At one point the editor quotes his father's marginal note "Christopher wants Odo kept" but admits that he is unable now to remember why (Odo ends up party Frodo and partly Pippin). The geography and distances between Bree and Rivendell are chopped about a bit, leaving some inconsistency in the published book. It's a fascinating insight into how revising a text can make it stronger, and how sometimes bits in the middle come right almost immediately while you are still tinkering with the beginning.

  • Kat
    2018-11-28 15:16

    This is a lovely book for anyone who is either obsessed with the Lord of the Rings or an aspiring writer, as Christopher Tolkien traces his father's writing process and the successive changes he made to the manuscript in GREAT detail. From page 325: "...It is still the Moon that rouses the Elves to song; but the old wording ("The yellow moon rose; springing swiftly out of the shadow, and then climbing round and slow into the sky") surviving from the original version of the chapter was changed, apparently at or very near the time of writing, to: "Above the mists away in the East the thin silver rind of the new Moon appeared, and rising swift and clear out of the shadow it swung gleaming in the sky." My father no doubt made this change on account of what he had said elsewhere about the Moon for there was a waxing moon as the hobbits approached Weathertop and it was 'nearly half-full'on the night of the attack: the attack was on 5 October, and there could not be a full or nearly full Moon on 24 September, the night passed with the Elves in the Woody End. On that night it must have been almost New Moon." Well, that is a sample of his talk, preciouss.

  • John Vandike
    2018-11-17 17:02

    I bought this in hardcover back in the 90's when I was just discovering Tolkien. Though I would not allow it to leave my shelves, now that I have finally read the book I will admit that it is an interesting bit of literary history (I think I have all twelve or thirteen volumes of the History of Middle-Earth on by shelves) it is really of more interest to literary historians than hardcore fans of Tolkien's world. Though there are some fascinating tidbits here and there, I actually found the fact that in most of the earliest drafts of Fellowship of the Rings Frodo was a fellow-traveler of Bingo, Tolkien's original name for the hobbit following in Bilbo's footsteps, you will also find Trotter in place of Strider, and a number of other name games.I found this book to be of more interest from the perspective of how great authors write as opposed to it actually being some sort of history of Middle-Earth. The evolution of Tolkien's vision for the book and the shear number of times he rewrote various bits and pieces is interesting...but hardly the sort of thing I found myself looking forward to at the end of a long day next to the fire.