The Book of Lost Tales, Part One by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
People who have enjoyed The Lord of the Rings often stumble when they turn to The Silmarillion, since the two works are so different in tone and perspective. The books in The History of Middle-Earth series are different again. They contain sixty years of stories we've never seen before because Tolkien abandoned them completely, as well as abandoned, early versions of the stories we have met elsewhere. These books are the archaeology of Tolkien's subcreation of Middle-Earth. Through alternating passages of text, notes, and commentary, Christopher Tolkien lays out how his father developed this world, tale by tale and word by word.
If that sounds interesting to you, then you may well find great pleasure in The Book of Lost Tales and the other books in this series. I know I have. That's not just because I have always been a big fan of Tolkien, but because I have also always been someone who studies books as much as I read books. I found it fascinating to discover how his conceptions of this world and these tales changed over time.
If you do decide to give this book a try, I'd suggest you also lend an ear to the Mythgard Academy's free online course on this book, which is available from Mythgard's website and iTunes, and is terrific. Even for the knowledgeable fan, it's nice to have an expert guide along.
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