This is the fourth volume of The History of Middle-earth, edited by Christopher Tolkien, the first two comprising The Book of Lost Tales Parts One and Two, and the third The Lays of Beleriand.
It has been given the title The Shaping of Middle-earth because the writings it includes display a great advance in the chronological and geographical structure of the legends of Middle-earth and Valinor. The hitherto wholly unknown "Ambarkanta," or Shape of the World, is the only account ever given of the nature of the imagined Universe, and it is accompanied by diagrams and maps of the world before and after the cataclysms of the War of the Gods and the Downfall of Numenor. The first map of Beleriand, in the North-west of Middle-earth, is also reproduced and discussed. In the "Annals of Valinor" and the "Annals of Beleriand" the chronology of the First Age is given shape; and with these are given the fragments of the translations into Anglo-Saxon made by Aelfwine, the Englishman who voyaged into the True West and came to Tol Eressea, the Lonely Isle, where he learned the ancient history of Elves and Men.
Also included are the original "Silmarillion," written in 1926, from which all the later development proceeded, and the "Quenta Noldorinwa" of 1930, the only version of the myths and legends of the First Age that J.R.R. Tolkien completed to their end. As Christopher Tolkien continues editing the unpublished papers that form the bedrock from which The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion were quarried, the vastness of his father's accomplishment becomes even more extraordinary.
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THE HISTORY OF MIDDLE-EARTH
Poems and prose, maps and chronologies, detours and diversions along the road to Middle-earth . . . Christopher Tolkien has gathered archival materials that his late father, J. R. R. Tolkien, used to create the world and the history behind his classic stories.
THE EVOLUTION OF A WORLD
This fourth volume of The History of Middle-earth presents early versions of those first tales, from the creation myth to the fall of Morgoth. Writings include a chronology of the events in Beleriand, the first Silmarillion map, and the only known description of the physical nature of Middle-earth's universe. Detailed annotations highlight changes ranging from the spelling of Elvish names to pivotal emendations whose effects reach even to the war of the ring.
The Shaping of Middle-earth presents a solid framework by which to trace the development of the early lore of Middle-earth. It is a truly indispensable reference work for those familiar with the history of that endlessly beloved land--and fascinating reading for those just entering that world.
CHRISTOPHER TOLKIEN is the third son of J.R.R. Tolkien. Appointed by Tolkien to be his literary executor, he has devoted himself to the editing and publication of unpublished writings, notably The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and The History of Middle-earth.
J.R.R. TOLKIEN (1892–1973) is the creator of Middle-earth and author of such classic and extraordinary works of fiction as The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. His books have been translated into more than fifty languages and have sold many millions of copies worldwide.
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