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The Shaping of Middle-Earth: The Quenta, the Ambarkanta and the Annals (The History of Middle-Earth, Vol. 4) Mass Market Paperback


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Del Rey
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345400437
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345400437
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.7 x 17.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,059,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael W. Perry on Dec 6 2008
Format: Paperback
Collections of an author's work are often confusing, particularly when what the author has created is as complex as Tolkien's writings. Here's an overview of the twelve-volume History of Middle-earth, which was edited by his son Christopher Tolkien. Hopefully, it will help you select which book or books to buy.

Keep something in mind. In the U.S. Houghton Mifflin publishes Tolkien's authorized works in hardback and trade paperback editions, while Ballantine Books publishes them as cheaper mass-market paperbacks. For some reason, Ballantine doesn't always make it clear that some of their titles are part of the same History of Middle-earth series as those published by Houghton Mifflin. If the title is the same, the content is the same. Which you buy depends on your taste in books and finances. I have copies of both.

GROUP ONE, VOLUMES I - V, EARLY TALES

These five volumes deal primarily Tolkien's writings before the publication of The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-55). In them, Tolkien was struggling as a still unknown author to create his first history of Middle-earth.

Vol 1 & 2, The Book of Lost Tales Part 1 ( 1983) & 2 (1984). The Book of Lost Tales was written during the 1910s and 1920s. Wikipedia describes it this way: "The framework for the book is that a mortal Man visits the Isle of Tol Eressëa where the Elves live. In the earlier versions of the `Lost Tales' this man is named Eriol, of some vague north European origin, but in later versions he becomes Ælfwine, an Englishman of the Middle-ages."

Vol. 3, The Lays of Beleriand (1985). These are collections of poems, many of them incomplete, written between the 1920s and the late 1940s.

Vol 4, The Shaping of Middle-earth (1986).
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In the third volume in The History of Middle Earth series, Christopher Tolkien picks up where he left off with The Book Lost Tales. In this volume you will see the central themes in Middle Earth evolve a little closer to what we see in the Silmarillion. You will see the early Silmarillion and the Annals of both Valinor and Beleriand. Also incuded are maps drawn by Tolkien himself showing his early ideas for the geography of Middle Earth and Numenor. Moreover, in his attempt to make the Silmarillion seem more like a real history (which it is in some of our hearts) Tolkien has translated parts of the Annals and the Silmarillion into the native language of Elfwine, Old English. I recommend this book for anyone who loves Tolkien's works.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Shaping of Middle-Earth concentrates some part of it to actually physically describing the layout of Arda (the World) with some interesting maps drawn by Tolkien in the middle of the book. The book also includes information behind the fall of Morgoth at the end of the First Age.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok TOP 500 REVIEWER on Dec 27 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In this tome Christopher Tolkien delves further into his father's early writings that would later become the core of the "Silmarillion". Included are early maps of Middle Earth and Numenor, an extensive glossary of terms, and some geneaologies of some of the important families mentioned in the "Silmarillion". Along with "The Book Of Lost Tales", it includes some of the earliest descriptions of Elrond, Gandalf, and Sauron from the "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy. Undoubtedly it is essential reading for Tolkien fans.
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Amazon.com: 20 reviews
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
See the evolution of Middle Earth Sept. 25 1998
By olorin69@hotmail.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In the third volume in The History of Middle Earth series, Christopher Tolkien picks up where he left off with The Book Lost Tales. In this volume you will see the central themes in Middle Earth evolve a little closer to what we see in the Silmarillion. You will see the early Silmarillion and the Annals of both Valinor and Beleriand. Also incuded are maps drawn by Tolkien himself showing his early ideas for the geography of Middle Earth and Numenor. Moreover, in his attempt to make the Silmarillion seem more like a real history (which it is in some of our hearts) Tolkien has translated parts of the Annals and the Silmarillion into the native language of Elfwine, Old English. I recommend this book for anyone who loves Tolkien's works.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Early Notes for The Silmarillion, plus MAPS! Better than Vol III July 30 2005
By B. Marold - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
`The Shaping of Middle-Earth' is the fourth volume of Christopher Tolkien's exegesis of his father, J.R.R. Tolkien's unpublished writings which were done before, during, and after the writing of `The Hobbit' and `The Lord of the Rings'. It is important to realize that beginning with Volume III, `The Lays of Beleriand', these volumes are prepared according to the date on which the elder Tolkien wrote the documents. That this `real world' chronology is roughly parallel to the great ages of middle earth is simply a happy coincidence.

One little niggle I have about the emphasis of `Middle Earth' in the title of both this volume and the series as a whole is that the land, middle earth, is just one part of the whole world in which this mythology is played out. It is basically a great continent, roughly similar to Eurasia in size, surrounded by a single great ocean which is, in turn, bounded by the undying lands. This fact is eminantly clear in the crude maps by Tolkien senior presented in this volume.

What is also eminantly clear in most of these fragments is the great difference in both geography and physics between our world and the world in which middle earth is embedded. There is no sun and no stars, until the stars are created by some of the `gods', the Valar, who are in turn created by `the one', Iluvatar.

The fragments in this volume are mostly early versions of the mythology which was to become the postumously published `The Silmarillion'. As such, it deals with my very favorite character outside of `The Lord of the Rings', the elven lord Feanor who, in a rough parallel to both Adam and Prometheus, disobeys the Valar based on the promptings of the ultimate bad guy in these stories, Morgoth.

Even if one buys the unique physics, cosmology, and pantheon of gods and demigods, the hardest part of this and similar writings is how to deal with Tolkien's handling of evil. How, one wonders, are eight `good' Valar duped by the ninth evil one, who is left to subvert the Valar's most favored creations, the elves, and create all sorts of mayhem in Middle Earth. Even if one introduces the arguments about `free will', one wonders how, if you posit a very real supreme being, Iluvatar (Eru), plus eight comparably powerful beings, such beings would let Morgoth get away with being the cause of all this suffering.

On a ligher note, I find this book an amazing source of poetic inspiration, even more poetic, sometimes than the overtly poetic `The Lays of Beleriand'. There are phrases and paragraphs here and there which sound like they are straight out of a song by Donoven Leitch or The Incredible String Band.

Like almost all the twelve volumes in this series, this is much more a study of fragments than a complete work. Many of the fragments rework the same material, so you find yourself reading the same story over again, in slightly different words. And yet, the power of the created world holds up through the scholarly framework. As with other volumes, there is an excellent index of names at the end of the book and the aforementioned maps are invaluable in understanding the very odd geography of this invented world.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Literally, the "Shaping" of Middle-Earth Jan. 3 2002
By "mokkan" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Shaping of Middle-Earth concentrates some part of it to actually physically describing the layout of Arda (the World) with some interesting maps drawn by Tolkien in the middle of the book. The book also includes information behind the fall of Morgoth at the end of the First Age.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Early Silmarillion . . . Feb. 4 2007
By David Zampino - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
. . . continues in this, the fourth volume of "The History of Middle-Earth" series.

Christopher Tolkien, in his 12-volume "History of Middle-Earth" series presents the notes, stories, fragments, and legends of what was to eventually become "The Silmarillion" in two stages. This book is the final stage of what scholars would consider "The Early Silmarillion"; continuing on the work presented in the two volumes of "The Book of Lost Tales".

If the Tolkien fan is interested in seeing how the mind of the Master developed and progressed his stories, this volume is absolutely indispensable. It is especially interesting to compare "The Shaping of Middle-Earth" with "Morgoth's Ring" and the other volumes of what Christopher calls "The Later Silmarillion".

Once again, thanks is due to Christopher for his labor of love so that we can delve more deeply into Middle-Earth.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
More variations of the core events of the Silmarillion and one unpublished poem composed by Tuor March 29 2015
By Juan Pablo Martese - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Warning: a substantial portion of this book is in Old English, translations made by Tolkien of his own texts. It's a treasure for the student of Old English, but otherwise it is unintelligible.
In my opinion, the only truly interesting piece of this book is Tuor's poem “The Horns of Ylmir”, written for his son Earendil, where he describes the music Ulmo played when he appeared to him in the Land of Willows. It is the only new text present in this volume.
The rest of the book contains:
1) The Ambarkanta: one of the first descriptions of Tolkien's world, very different from later versions in the Silmarillion. Like the “Annals”, the “Ambakanta” narrates the fundamental history and events of the First Age of Tolkien's world in a very schematic way, almost like a prose time-line. In fact, Ch. Tolkien describes it as a “Sketch that my father composed extremely rapidly”.
2) First maps of Middle-Earth with list and explanations of the names that appear in them.
3) A long list of Elvish names with Old English equivalents, interesting because they shed light on the meaning of the names in elvish.
4) The earliest “Annals of Valinor” written by Pengolod the Wise of Gondolin, which tell the events spanning from the coming of the Valar to the return of Feanor to Beleriand. This is followed by a translation into Old English of the same text written by Aelfwine/Eriol.
4) Earliest “Annals of Beleriand”: it starts where the “Annals of Valinor” left off: the return of the Noldor to Middle-Earth to the end of the First Age, followed by an Old English translation of the same text.
At this stage, after reading the three first volumes of “History of Middle Earth”, I found book 4 very repetitive. It just presents another version of the tales present in the previous installments. Like I said, the only original and interesting piece here is Tour's poem. The rest is variations of the same themes.

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