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The Treason of Isengard is the seventh volume in Christopher Tolkien's History of Middle-earth and the second in his account of the evolution of The Lord of the Rings. This book follows the long halt in the darkness of the Mines of Moria (which ended The Return of the Shadow) and traces the tale into new lands south and east of the Misty Mountains. Tolkien introduces us to The Treason of Isengard is the seventh volume in Christopher Tolkien's History of Middle-earth and the second in his account of the evolution of The Lord of the Rings. This book follows the long halt in the darkness of the Mines of Moria (which ended The Return of the Shadow) and traces the tale into new lands south and east of the Misty Mountains. Tolkien introduces us to Lothlorien, land of the elves, where we meet the Ents, the Riders of Rohan, and Saruman the White in the fortress of Isengard. In brief outlines and penciled drafts dashed down on scraps of paper are the first entry of Galadriel; the earliest ides of the history of Gondor; and the original meeting of Aragorn with Eowyn, its significance destined to be wholly transformed. Conceptions of what lay ahead dissolve as the story takes its own paths, as in the account of the capture of Frodo and his rescue by Sam Gamgee from Minas Morgul, written long before J.R.R. Tolkien actually reached that point in the writing of The Lord of the Rings. A chief feature of the book is a full account of the original Map, with drawings of successive phases, which was long the basis and accompaniment of the emerging geography of Middle-earth. An appendix describes the Runic alphabets of the time, with illustrations of the forms and an analysis of the Runes used in the Book of Mazarbul found beside Balin's tomb in Moria.


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The Treason of Isengard is the seventh volume in Christopher Tolkien's History of Middle-earth and the second in his account of the evolution of The Lord of the Rings. This book follows the long halt in the darkness of the Mines of Moria (which ended The Return of the Shadow) and traces the tale into new lands south and east of the Misty Mountains. Tolkien introduces us to The Treason of Isengard is the seventh volume in Christopher Tolkien's History of Middle-earth and the second in his account of the evolution of The Lord of the Rings. This book follows the long halt in the darkness of the Mines of Moria (which ended The Return of the Shadow) and traces the tale into new lands south and east of the Misty Mountains. Tolkien introduces us to Lothlorien, land of the elves, where we meet the Ents, the Riders of Rohan, and Saruman the White in the fortress of Isengard. In brief outlines and penciled drafts dashed down on scraps of paper are the first entry of Galadriel; the earliest ides of the history of Gondor; and the original meeting of Aragorn with Eowyn, its significance destined to be wholly transformed. Conceptions of what lay ahead dissolve as the story takes its own paths, as in the account of the capture of Frodo and his rescue by Sam Gamgee from Minas Morgul, written long before J.R.R. Tolkien actually reached that point in the writing of The Lord of the Rings. A chief feature of the book is a full account of the original Map, with drawings of successive phases, which was long the basis and accompaniment of the emerging geography of Middle-earth. An appendix describes the Runic alphabets of the time, with illustrations of the forms and an analysis of the Runes used in the Book of Mazarbul found beside Balin's tomb in Moria.

30 review for The Treason of Isengard: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part Two

  1. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    I don’t think I have too much to say about _The Treason of Isengard_. It is very much, of course, a continuation of the previous HoME volume as we follow Tolkien’s further development of the story of the Lord of the Rings in as near a chronological manner as Christopher Tolkien is able to piece together from the numerous drafts, re-writings, and changes in his father’s text. That is perhaps the first thing to note: throughout the HoME series it has become obvious that Christopher Tolkien really I don’t think I have too much to say about _The Treason of Isengard_. It is very much, of course, a continuation of the previous HoME volume as we follow Tolkien’s further development of the story of the Lord of the Rings in as near a chronological manner as Christopher Tolkien is able to piece together from the numerous drafts, re-writings, and changes in his father’s text. That is perhaps the first thing to note: throughout the HoME series it has become obvious that Christopher Tolkien really did take on a monumental task in choosing to edit the early works/drafts of his father given the method (or madness?) of Tolkien’s writing process. That is definitely apparent in spades in this volume. Not only was Tolkien an inveterate re-writer, continually going back to the beginning of a previously written text to ‘polish it up’, only to end up re-writing the whole damn thing…usually before he had even finished the first draft of the initial phase, he was also in the habit of erasing and/or overwriting earlier pencil drafts in ink, adding marginal notes throughout, was often working on multiple competing versions of the same plot elements at the same time, and even inserting riders and writing stray notes on any scrap of paper he could find that refer to text on the ‘main’ pages. Truly a dizzying puzzle to try and unravel if one wants to discover a sequential progression in the text. Some of the major developments to note in this volume: - Here we see the final change of our friend Trotter the wooden shoe wearing hobbit-ranger to the figure that would eventually become Aragorn, son of Arathorn, heir of Isildur. - Saruman emerges as a figure in the text (already a traitor), though still in a fairly minor role compared to the one he will occupy later. - Lothlorien and Galadriel emerge seemingly from nowhere, an important development indeed given the central place Galadriel would come to occupy in Tolkien’s mind (to the point where he would go back and re-write huge segments of the Silmarillion material so she could be included…though that is not even hinted at yet). - Gandalf is gradually raised in stature from the little old man who happens to be a wizard we saw in the original version of The Hobbit to something much more (though the concept of the Istari is not yet in place). - Rohan and the society of the Riders developing out of whole cloth with obvious nods to Tolkien’s love of Anglo-Saxon culture and literature (esp. Beowulf) being apparent in their genesis. - Some fun tidbits: it appears that Gandalf’s fall in Moria and subsequent return were part of the plan from the beginning; since we still have no Arwen the initial plan points to Aragorn falling for Eowyn when he meets her in Theoden’s Golden Hall (great vindication for numerous fan fic writers out there no doubt); Boromir was at first going to be an unremitting traitor who didn’t heroically die at the hands of Orcs while trying to save Merry and Pippin, but who would actually have been a full rival of Aragorn as the two vied for control of Minas Tirith. Required reading if you have read the preceding volume and want to know how the story further grows and develops, but definitely not the point you want to start with the HoME series.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    As always with this series I find Christopher’s dedication and determination to compile all of this immensely interesting and thank him for the hours and hours of work it must have entailed, and the insight to how a great writer crafts his stories is invaluable and sadly with the advent of modern word processing, something we are unlikely to see laid out in this way ever again.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    @TolkienKC completed a concurrent group read of The Treason of Isengard and the fist half of the first book of The Two Towers in September of 2019. Check the Tolkien Society of Kansas City Facebook page for details.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The Treason of Isengard: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part Two (The History of Middle-Earth #7), J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien

  5. 5 out of 5

    Neil R. Coulter

    In my review of the previous volume in Christopher Tolkien's History Of Middle-Earth, I said that it was a quicker, easier read than some of the earlier books in the series. One of the main reasons for this is that the four books that make up The History of the Lord of the Rings--the series-within-a-series--lead to an actual published endpoint. There is a final, definitive Lord of the Rings, and so it's enjoyable to see the early ideas and drafts heading toward the familiar story.The second volu In my review of the previous volume in Christopher Tolkien's History Of Middle-Earth, I said that it was a quicker, easier read than some of the earlier books in the series. One of the main reasons for this is that the four books that make up The History of the Lord of the Rings--the series-within-a-series--lead to an actual published endpoint. There is a final, definitive Lord of the Rings, and so it's enjoyable to see the early ideas and drafts heading toward the familiar story.The second volume of The History of the Lord of the Rings, The Treason of Isengard, is, however, a slightly more tedious read than The Return of the Shadow. One reason is that the first 189 pages are rewrites of material that was covered in The Return of the Shadow. The developments and changes are more slight--as of course they must be when it's existing material being revised, rather than new writing coming out of nothing. But once the drafts push on beyond the end of The Fellowship of the Ring, it is remarkable how quickly many of the major elements in the final story fall into place. I was especially interested to learn in what order Tolkien wrote the story once the Fellowship breaks apart.Throughout the drafting of what would become The Two Towers, as well as some parts of The Return of the King, the names continue to evolve, though most are well set by this point in the writing. Details are reimagined or reconfigured. And some major elements--such as Arwen--are yet to be devised. It was Tolkien's perspective that he was recording history "as it actually happened," and many times he saw many things fully formed in the initial drafts.Christopher Tolkien is highly intrigued by a couple of areas that don't engage my interest very much, and both areas appear repeatedly in The Treason of Isengard. The first is an interest in the minute details of timing and chronology. Christopher spends a great deal of endnote discussion time figuring out the precise details of which days the events took place. I just don't really care about those details. The other area that Christopher often writes about in the History series is geography. It wasn't a big part of The Return of the Shadow, but in The Treason of Isengard there is an entire chapter on the early maps of Middle-Earth; and though I am interested in Middle-Earth maps, I found myself skimming this chapter and not gleaning much from it.None of this is a problem with the book; just a difference in what fascinates me. The book continues to be an amazing tour of the creation of The Lord of the Rings, and I look forward to getting into the next volume.My reviews of the other volumes in The History of the Lord of the Rings series: The Return of the Shadow The War of the Ring Sauron Defeated

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mary Catelli

    The continuing analysis of the writing process. It's not so wide-open as it was in The Return of the Shadow, since the prior story imposed definitely constraints. But he's still sorting out which hobbits have what names, and which ones will go. At one point Elrond firmly puts his foot down on the notion that either Merry or Pippin can go. Sam didn't always go with Frodo after the split up, and sometimes he was the first one to see Gandalf again. Eowyn was considered as a love interest for Aragorn The continuing analysis of the writing process. It's not so wide-open as it was in The Return of the Shadow, since the prior story imposed definitely constraints. But he's still sorting out which hobbits have what names, and which ones will go. At one point Elrond firmly puts his foot down on the notion that either Merry or Pippin can go. Sam didn't always go with Frodo after the split up, and sometimes he was the first one to see Gandalf again. Eowyn was considered as a love interest for Aragorn, but only briefly. And her cousin, Theoden's daughter, didn't exist for long. At one point Boromir and Aragorn made it to Minas Tirth together, and Aragorn got chosen as Lord there, to Boromir's jealousy. Interesting to watch the provisional status of everything fixed in the final version.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jenna (Falling Letters)

    The first part of this one took me awhile to get through because it's mostly rewriting the passages from HoME Vol. 6. I even skipped a chapter about maps...... But by the end of the volume, we're in Rohan and that's one of my favourite parts. The first part of this one took me awhile to get through because it's mostly rewriting the passages from HoME Vol. 6. I even skipped a chapter about maps...... But by the end of the volume, we're in Rohan and that's one of my favourite parts.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Elo

    A really good companion if you love Tolkien and want to discover his writing process when he write his masterpiece. If not, I’d advice you to leave this be. It is really interesting to see many alternative on how the story could have gone. Reading this, you start to understand how much work and thinking Tolkien put into his work. As a regular Tolkien fan, you know it already but reading here all the alternatives (and yet not all of them are even here) about the story, quotes or the multiple names A really good companion if you love Tolkien and want to discover his writing process when he write his masterpiece. If not, I’d advice you to leave this be. It is really interesting to see many alternative on how the story could have gone. Reading this, you start to understand how much work and thinking Tolkien put into his work. As a regular Tolkien fan, you know it already but reading here all the alternatives (and yet not all of them are even here) about the story, quotes or the multiple names in several drafts, that Christopher Tolkien presents to us. Many excerpts written in now fading pencil draft, crossed sentences on many supports. Christopher Tolkien underlines the main differences, with all of his father’s source material at hands, between the drafts and the final version. You’ll discover that Aragorn had many names, Theoden had a daughter for a little while, an analysis of the evolution of the maps and other tidbits of alternative what-ifs which are really neat to know. This book is really for people who want to dig even more into Tolkien’s world and love to read more academic oriented works as it’s very complete with many notes.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mitch Milam

    If the next book opens with yet another return to the Shire, then I will cackle for a full 23 minutes before lighting myself on fire. Real talk: This was interesting and informative just like the last book, but the narrative is starting to resemble the published text more and more with each passing chapter which means it's not nearly as amusing and wild anymore lol. I'd much rather read the final published form. If the next book opens with yet another return to the Shire, then I will cackle for a full 23 minutes before lighting myself on fire. Real talk: This was interesting and informative just like the last book, but the narrative is starting to resemble the published text more and more with each passing chapter which means it's not nearly as amusing and wild anymore lol. I'd much rather read the final published form.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michael Pryor

    Insightful, illuminating, fascinating.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Another collection of manuscripts showing the development of The Lord of the Rings, which proved just as helpful to me in understanding the mind of this highly influential author. Again, this is only for the die-hards but there's a lot of people who fit that category, and I predict soon that we'll get lots of interpretations of Tolkien that will be absolute bunk, so let's note some stuff. First off, I noticed that the way Tolkien writes, it is as though he thought of it as his duty not to invent Another collection of manuscripts showing the development of The Lord of the Rings, which proved just as helpful to me in understanding the mind of this highly influential author. Again, this is only for the die-hards but there's a lot of people who fit that category, and I predict soon that we'll get lots of interpretations of Tolkien that will be absolute bunk, so let's note some stuff. First off, I noticed that the way Tolkien writes, it is as though he thought of it as his duty not to invent the world of Middle Earth so much as to discover it. This is one of the reasons the book has such weight: it feels like Tolkien thought the world had to be a certain way, whether he wanted it to be that way or not, and that has a huge impact. It certainly makes things weird, but I think it explains the uncompromising nature of the project. Second, the most fascinating thing about this book is the fact that Tolkien clearly didn't know where he was going. While many people highlight his perfectionism, pointing out that he wouldn't just copy and paste, and would always start over, this is only half the truth: Tolkien really did lean heavily on what he had already written and that's evident here. Some of the funnest portions are the bits where, after having decided that Boromir should try to take the ring from Frodo, he ponders (in the manuscripts) completely different outcomes. This shows that Tolkien was not at all sure where things would go, and thus any interpretation of the book that presupposes some grand platonic scheme in Tolkien's mind before he wrote the books must be discounted. It also shows, in my opinion, that Tolkien was more plot centered than character centered. Here's some of the juiciest bits: before they got to Lothlorien, Tolkien intended for Sam to find Gollum and enlist his help in finding the fleeing Frodo. At that point Gollum leads them to Mordor where black riders arrive, turned into demonic eagles. Frodo and Sam reach the crack, Gollum takes the ring, but Sam grabs Gollum and dies with him in the gulf. The idea of multiple spiders is also thought of at this point, as is the idea of Sam temporarily bearing the ring. Also, when the ring is destroyed, wouldn't this have been cool: "Frodo standing on side of Fire Mountain holds up sword. He now commands Ringwraiths and bids them be gone. They fall to earth and vanish like wisps of smoke with a terrible wail." (210). At the same time, Merry and Pippin meet Fangorn (no orc attack), Legolas and Gimli get lost and are captured by Saruman, and Aragorn and Boromir go to Minas Tirith and when Denethor is killed, the men elect Aragorn, forcing Boromir to go to Saruman for help. In some versions of this, Legolas and Gimli lose heart and head north, only to meet Gandalf. Gandalf used mithril to escape Moria. Saruman AND Sauron attack Minas Tirith at the same time, and Treebeard breaks the siege of Minas Tirith. Tolkien even speculates on killing Boromir (through Aragorn) Pippin! Saruman is dressed in a mud-colored robe and told to beg for a day's digging. At this point, Lothlorien is written, and at one point Galadriel and Celeborne have white hair. Frodo, I think, sees the vision at first alone, and then Sam is added. Gimli gets a green stone from Galadriel, rather than Aragorn! However, the story is otherwise the same as in the final version. After this, we get another outlining. As usual, Tolkien plans to have Aragorn and Boromir go to Minas Tirith together, where they come into conflict. More importantly, Tolkien starts writing the ending of Frodo and Sam's adventures. After some brief dialogue with Gollum's meeting with Sam and the two tracking down Frodo, he writes bits and pieces of Frodo's coma because of spider stings (there are still multiple spiders) and his capture after Sam takes the ring. Gollum leads the orcs to Frodo's body and is tasked with hunting down Sam. Sam's rescue of Frodo from Cirith Ungol is actually fairly close (though this time Frodo uses the ring to escape and they kill an orc to get his armor for the visible Sam). Frodo is separated from Sam in Mordor. At this point however, Tolkien decides upon a less dramatic breaking of the fellowship in which Boromir is killed, Merry and Pippin captured by orcs, and the three hunters pursue them. Much stronger than Legolas and Gimli going across the plain. When Pippin and Merry meet Treebeard, he talks about Tom Bombadil. When Gandlaf returns, Tolkien ponders making Saruman the balrog. The first draft of the arrival at Rohan has no Wormtongue, and Theoden is just grouchy and reluctant to help Gandalf, not under enchantment as in the final version. Eowyn, of course, is destined to marry Aragorn at this point. So, again, a special thanks to Christopher Tolkien for being such a good scholar. I really do hope that these books are referenced as people write and interpret Tolkien.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Luka Novak

    This book is not a logical sequel to "The Return of the Shadow" but rather somewhat arbitrary separation of Tolkien early drafts. This book does not start where "The Return of the Shadow" ended as there are again later drafts of previous chapters. Christopher Tolkien had to separate his father's papers into several books so we are not presented with one massive book and this place seems as good as any. So if you expect this book to cover evolution of "The Two Towers" you'll be dissapointed. Rewri This book is not a logical sequel to "The Return of the Shadow" but rather somewhat arbitrary separation of Tolkien early drafts. This book does not start where "The Return of the Shadow" ended as there are again later drafts of previous chapters. Christopher Tolkien had to separate his father's papers into several books so we are not presented with one massive book and this place seems as good as any. So if you expect this book to cover evolution of "The Two Towers" you'll be dissapointed. Rewrites of early parts of LOTR-Fellowship of the Ring up to Rivendell mostly cover details. Tolkien tinkers with movement of Black riders, movement of Hobbits and most of all dates. Overall interesting details but something that only really hard core Tolkien fans would find cruicial. The most important part of this volume is "Council of Elrond". This chapter is used as a tool to place LOTR into Tolkien's world and transforms it from "The Hobbit" sequel unconnected to his massive fantasy world to continuation of earlier ages. Tolkien achieves this by renaming characters to equate them with older ones and their motives. Elrond is given place at defeat of Sauron (The Last Alliance), Aragorn becomes Isildur's heir (removed several generations, of course), Gandalf and Saruman are given bigger role in Middle-earth and so on. Another interesting thing is we see Tolkien's style of writting. LOTR wasn't created from a draft where he had a general idea of events but events more or less wrote themselves. While he had a general idea of ending (destruction of the Ring, last clash between Sauron and Men....) he had little idea about how to get there. While he had general idea about two massive battles which later became siege of Minas Tirith and Black Gates later was to be fought at Mordor itself and former was still sketchy, as can be seen by his inclusion of Ents/Hurons/trees. These elements later found their way to battle of Helm's Deep but at this point Tolkien's ideas about Rohan were still vague. And it's with Rohan that this book ends. Gimli, Legolas, Gandalf and Aragorn enter that land and see the king but early work shows that much was changed later. While leter events are sketched and you can see hints of pivotal moments these are still rough ideas. You can sense ideas about battle of Helm's Deep but it was to be fought at Isen fords, battle that was covered only briefly in the LOTR. And if Rohan is still vague Gondor doesn't exists beyond "there is a land in the south where stewards rule for absent king". Overall written (or edited) in same style as "The Return of the Shadow" this book covers further evolution of LOTR into what we came to love.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Although not quite as exciting as the first part of Christopher Tolkien's account of the evolution of The Lord of the Rings, reviewed here, this is still a fascinating read for the Tolkien aficionado. The reason for the "not quite" can be found not in the quality or detail of its scholarship (which is as meticulous as ever), nor in any lack of substantial variation from the book as eventually published (there is plenty), but emerges as a direct consequence of J.R.R. Tolkien's writing process. Th Although not quite as exciting as the first part of Christopher Tolkien's account of the evolution of The Lord of the Rings, reviewed here, this is still a fascinating read for the Tolkien aficionado. The reason for the "not quite" can be found not in the quality or detail of its scholarship (which is as meticulous as ever), nor in any lack of substantial variation from the book as eventually published (there is plenty), but emerges as a direct consequence of J.R.R. Tolkien's writing process. The first 180+ pages of this volume are devoted to tracing, as Christopher makes clear, his father's attempts to resolve the "intractable problems" that had emerged during the drafts that make up The Return of the Shadow. This means that the beginning of this book has to go over a lot of the ground of its predecessor before it can move forward; and for the reader who is hoping to see the story move from 3, to 4, to 5 (numbers arbitrary), a return to 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3 can be a little frustrating. Once this point is reached, though, with Tolkien senior eventually able to move on from Moria, to Lorien, to Rohan, there is plenty of fresh material to enjoy. This ranges from early plot lines (Boromir's projected return to Minas Tirith), to extended sequences of narrative that would end up changing quite radically (such as the early versions of Frodo and Sam's passage through Kirith Ungol and escape from Minas Morgul), and also includes glimpses of radical changes that Tolkien considered only momentarily (such as having Gandalf face Saruman, instead of a Balrog, in Moria), as well as absences (no Arwen or Faramir, as yet) and characters who lived for a few brief lines or pages, before vanishing (such as Idis, the daughter of Theoden, who appears beside Eowyn for a while, silent and overshadowed by her, until she is gone forever). Like the first volume, there is also plenty of detail on chronology and geography, and here for the first time an exhaustive examination of Tolkien's early maps, runes, and the evolution of some of the poems in the text. Much of this can be safely skipped or skimmed; and indeed doing so, according to the reader's interest, might be the best way to make the most of an enjoyable but sometimes formidable book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Whyte

    http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1849441... The most interesting point for me was that Frodo and Sam's path to Mordor, and even back to the Shire, emerged in Tolkien's thinking much earlier than the story of the others after the death of Boromir. He seems to almost make up the tale of Gimli, Legolas and Aragorn as he goes along, and I must admit it's not the most satisfying part of the book (and was the most messed around with by Peter Jackson for the film). In the middle of this, however, the Treeb http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1849441... The most interesting point for me was that Frodo and Sam's path to Mordor, and even back to the Shire, emerged in Tolkien's thinking much earlier than the story of the others after the death of Boromir. He seems to almost make up the tale of Gimli, Legolas and Aragorn as he goes along, and I must admit it's not the most satisfying part of the book (and was the most messed around with by Peter Jackson for the film). In the middle of this, however, the Treebeard chapter stands out as a coming together of long-simmering ideas for Tolkien, who was fascinated by trees and forests and had been dropping foreshadowing references to Treebeard into his drafts without really thinking them through. Tolkien took great care over names. It's a bit jarring to read "Trotter" instead of "Strider", "Ingolf" instead of "Aragorn" and "Ondor" instead of "Gondor", but I think it's not just familiarity with the final product - the eventually chosen names are genuinely better. There are a very few exceptions - Tolkien was not happy with "Osgiliath", and I think rightly so, but didn't find a good alternative. Irish readers find it amusing that one of Treebeard's fellow elder Ents is named Finglas; this name is there in the very first draft. I noted with interest that all the early examples of runes - basically Gandalf's messages left at Bree and scrawled at Weathertop - use the good old-fashioned futhark, rather than what we came to know as the Cirth. The switch was made while composing the inscription on Balin's tomb in Moria, and implemented consistently after that. The development of the runes shows off Tolkien's deep knowledge of phonetics; you would expect him to have some familiarity with the subject as a philologist, but clearly it was a profound fascination. (Do you pronounce the 'o's differently in 'Lord' and 'Moria'? I don't, but Tolkien evidently did, going by his first drafts.) Anyway, much enjoying this reconstruction of how the classic came to be.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Reilly

    The fascinating evolution of Tolkien's characters and events continues in this second part of The History of The Lord of the Rings. The emergence of important elements, and the subsequent reshaping of the overall adventure is always interesting to read, and is highly informative of Tolkien's ongoing search for relevance and meaning in the unfolding – and expanding – storyline. Christopher Tolkien provides solid reasoning and informed opinion on various issues and alterations, and gives us an insi The fascinating evolution of Tolkien's characters and events continues in this second part of The History of The Lord of the Rings. The emergence of important elements, and the subsequent reshaping of the overall adventure is always interesting to read, and is highly informative of Tolkien's ongoing search for relevance and meaning in the unfolding – and expanding – storyline. Christopher Tolkien provides solid reasoning and informed opinion on various issues and alterations, and gives us an insight into his father's writing processes and general thinking by determining when text or notes were most likely written, and how the timeline of events was continuously updated as new developments impacted on chapters already conceived. Although this series of books is full of detailed discussion and repeated examinations of material already covered, I've not found myself bored or confused by either the tone or the content at any point so far. There is great intrigue in the way that Tolkien constructs TLotR – its complex history, overlapping subplots and broad themes – with many important parts of the final story only appearing at the time of writing without preparation or earlier consideration. This 'behind the scenes' access never fails to appeal, especially with Christopher's personal connection, which significantly adds to the authenticity.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nonethousand Oberrhein

    From Rivendell to Rohan It is undeniable that what pushes a reader to go through several versions of the same narrative goes beyond the simple curiosity. There is a sort of affectionate awe in discovering how, layer after layer the personality of known characters are shaped, structured and anchored deep into the legendarium that defined a genre in the XXth century. We readers are not here for the pretty story anymore, but to feel the blood and bones of a myth being born. Here below my reviews to t From Rivendell to Rohan It is undeniable that what pushes a reader to go through several versions of the same narrative goes beyond the simple curiosity. There is a sort of affectionate awe in discovering how, layer after layer the personality of known characters are shaped, structured and anchored deep into the legendarium that defined a genre in the XXth century. We readers are not here for the pretty story anymore, but to feel the blood and bones of a myth being born. Here below my reviews to the previous volumes of the History of Middle-earth: Vol.1: Sit down and listen Vol.2: Heroics of a young author Vol.3: The poet of Middle-earth Vol.4: Sketches and Annals of the First Age Vol.5: A glimpse of Númenor Vol.6: When Trotter led the way

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Dense and certainly not for everyone, but fascinating and full of intriguing odds and ends about the creation of the Lord of the Rings series. Tolkien originally intended Aragorn marry Eowyn! It's amazing how late some very essential plot points (like Arwen) enter the story at all. Dense and certainly not for everyone, but fascinating and full of intriguing odds and ends about the creation of the Lord of the Rings series. Tolkien originally intended Aragorn marry Eowyn! It's amazing how late some very essential plot points (like Arwen) enter the story at all.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Max

    Goooood, more the Lord of the Rings history! That's what I signed up for! This reads a lot faster than the previous few. Goooood, more the Lord of the Rings history! That's what I signed up for! This reads a lot faster than the previous few.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    The Treason Of Isengard (The History Of The Lord Of the Rings:  Part Two), by J.R.R. Tolkien It is remarkable just how little of this book has to do with the Treason of Isengard.  Although I am very familiar with the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, I have to say that I was unaware that there was so big an interest in the manuscript history of his Lord of the Rings to make it worth making a giant series that relies on the fact that readers are not only aware of the Lord of the Rings itself but are int The Treason Of Isengard (The History Of The Lord Of the Rings:  Part Two), by J.R.R. Tolkien It is remarkable just how little of this book has to do with the Treason of Isengard.  Although I am very familiar with the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, I have to say that I was unaware that there was so big an interest in the manuscript history of his Lord of the Rings to make it worth making a giant series that relies on the fact that readers are not only aware of the Lord of the Rings itself but are interested in seeing large amounts of variants that reveal the painstaking process by which that epic came into being.  And let it be understood that this book is by no means the only such book in the series--it is the second of three that I have read and it manages to cover some of the same ground that the first book had gone over showing the fourth and fifth (!) efforts that Tolkien made to get through some of the beginning chapters of the Fellowship of the Ring.  This sort of book is a clear example of a secondary work, one whose existence depends on the excellence and worth of a previous work, but such works are not bad ones. This book consists of twenty-six chapters featuring manuscripts and various comments by the Tolkiens on material that ranges from the beginning of Fellowship of the Ring to the beginning of The Two Towers.  The material includes a discussion of Galdalf's delay (1), the fourth phase of the introduction to Fellowship (2,3), more discussion about Gandalf and Saruman (4), Bilbo's song at Rivendell (5), the council of Elrond (6,7), the movement of the ring to the south (8), the mines of Moria (9,10), the story as foreseen from that point (11), , Lothlorien (12), and Galadriel (13), and the farewell to Lorien (14).  There are chapters on the first map of the LotR (15), the story as foreseen from Lorien (16), the great river (17), the breaking of the fellowship (18), the departure of Boromir (19), the riders of Rohan (20), the Uruk-hai (21), Treeberad (22), some miscellaneous notes (23), the white rider (24), the story foreseen from Fangorn (25), and the king of the golden hall (26), a well as an appendix on runes and an index.  All told, this material takes up more than 400 pages, some of it turning in itself in the way that snakes are sometimes shown to have devoured their own tails, but not in a bad way. It is hard to recommend this book to someone who is not a huge fan of Lord of the Rings.  While the original publishers of Tolkien's works wondered how big of an audience would be interested in the Hobbit and then Lord of the Rings and thought that they may lose money on it, the existence of this book not only proves that Lord of the Rings has a huge enough audience to support other books being written about it but that there is an audience that event wants to read the manuscripts that demonstrate the painfully slow process by which Tolkien's story that was originally going to be a simple and straightforward story of the destruction of the one ring as a sequel to the Hobbit became a sprawling epic that hinted at still more sprawling epic stories involved in his legendarium.  I found this book interesting, but at the same time I wonder if this sort of book is really a good one to enjoy very often, since like laws and sausages I would prefer not to know how my novels are made from endless and frustrating edits that add length and complexity to originally simple and straightforward plans, especially since Tolkien and I write in very different ways.

  20. 5 out of 5

    D-day

    Volume 7 of The History Of Middle Earth series, with the usual disclaimer that this series is for Tolkien enthusiasts only. Last installment the story had reached the Mines Of Moria. However as was his way, Tolkien began rewriting the story again from the beginning. A key problem is- why was Gandalf not with Frodo when Frodo left the shire? Obviously something must have prevented Gandalf from this most important task-Enter Saruman. The writing then proceeds from Rivendell to the Mines of Moria o Volume 7 of The History Of Middle Earth series, with the usual disclaimer that this series is for Tolkien enthusiasts only. Last installment the story had reached the Mines Of Moria. However as was his way, Tolkien began rewriting the story again from the beginning. A key problem is- why was Gandalf not with Frodo when Frodo left the shire? Obviously something must have prevented Gandalf from this most important task-Enter Saruman. The writing then proceeds from Rivendell to the Mines of Moria once again, although it took Tolkien some time to finally decide on the final complement of the Fellowship of the Ring. Interestingly the character of Galadriel almost springs out of thin air- interesting in that Tolkien would subsequently amend the Silmarillion to include her character's backstory. Then (after many re-writes) the story proceeds to the breaking of the Fellowship and the Death of Boromir. Tolkien already had a pretty clear idea of Frodo and Sam's subsequent adventures, but the story for the rest was still in embryonic form. Here enters the Riders of Rohan, as well as the Ents. Also included is a discussion of the first map of The Lord of the Rings

  21. 5 out of 5

    L.J.

    This is a continuation of the notes and drafts from Tolkien that his son Christopher meticulously researched and presents to fans of Lord of the Rings. For non-fans this book would be extremely tedious and boring but for those of us curious enough to want to know more of the thoughts and insights from Professor Tolkien in formulating his great story it is a very interesting read. Although not a complete rewrite with huge plot changes or character revisions this volume does include some interesti This is a continuation of the notes and drafts from Tolkien that his son Christopher meticulously researched and presents to fans of Lord of the Rings. For non-fans this book would be extremely tedious and boring but for those of us curious enough to want to know more of the thoughts and insights from Professor Tolkien in formulating his great story it is a very interesting read. Although not a complete rewrite with huge plot changes or character revisions this volume does include some interesting notes and insights into the changes of how the story might have been crafted. Nothing monumental here but the fact that at some point Tolkien admits the story is 'writing itself' shows that he had a vision to his story and stuck with it; he would make basic notes, write, slightly edit or rewrite a passage and then work again (there are some large rewrites at times but the core of the story never really changed much). Enjoyable to see what directions the story 'might' have progressed toward and what eventually was retained in the completed version.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This one didn't make as much progress through the text as the previous volume (Return of the Shadow). There is a whole chapter on the various permutations of Tolkien's maps of the LOTR world, and even an appendix on runic writing. The most fascinating thing to me is the way Tolkien wrote. Sometimes he planned, sometimes he "pantsed." (If you participate in NaNoWriMo, you'll know what that means.) Some texts would be in nearly the final form the first time, others would be re-written numerous time This one didn't make as much progress through the text as the previous volume (Return of the Shadow). There is a whole chapter on the various permutations of Tolkien's maps of the LOTR world, and even an appendix on runic writing. The most fascinating thing to me is the way Tolkien wrote. Sometimes he planned, sometimes he "pantsed." (If you participate in NaNoWriMo, you'll know what that means.) Some texts would be in nearly the final form the first time, others would be re-written numerous times. Often he would stop in the middle of a thought and start another one without stopping to cross out the previous bit. As Tolkien was writing during WWII, and there was a paper shortage, Tolkien also was very thrifty and creative with his paper usage, often writing on the backs of meeting memos or calendar pages or student examination papers. There was even a reference to writing between the lines of these examination papers. Much props to C. Tolkien for being able to sort it out!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Zama

    Absolutely fantastic! While the first book in the History of the Lord of the Rings gave us a glimpse of what the story might have been (if WWII hadn't happened, in my opinion), in this second volume we see characters and situations getting nearer to the story we know. I was surprised of how slowly some things moved and morphed. Aragorn is a clear example. I thought there must be a time when Tolkien realised who he was... but there isn't. The character changes very slowly, imperceptibly, almost, a Absolutely fantastic! While the first book in the History of the Lord of the Rings gave us a glimpse of what the story might have been (if WWII hadn't happened, in my opinion), in this second volume we see characters and situations getting nearer to the story we know. I was surprised of how slowly some things moved and morphed. Aragorn is a clear example. I thought there must be a time when Tolkien realised who he was... but there isn't. The character changes very slowly, imperceptibly, almost, and at the beginning of The Two Towers he is still Trotter, Arwen hasn’t appeared yet and Tolkien planned to have him marry Eowyn! The tone of the story changes clearly, too. After Tolkien paused for almost one year when WWII broke out, the story – which moves on from Rivendell – takes up a darker tone, although I was surprised to discover that the depth of the final work is still quite far. Can't wait to read on!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ben Duerksen

    An amazing piece of scholarship, the second volume in a series which chronicles the writing and many revisions of the LoTR trilogy. This second book in the series mostly covers from the start of the Two Towers through to Gandalf’s arrival in Rohan, though there’s some additional coverage on the evolution of Gandalf’s battle in Moria, as well as overall conceptions that would later be applied to earlier phases of writing. The book additionally includes a chapter on the evolving geography of Middl An amazing piece of scholarship, the second volume in a series which chronicles the writing and many revisions of the LoTR trilogy. This second book in the series mostly covers from the start of the Two Towers through to Gandalf’s arrival in Rohan, though there’s some additional coverage on the evolution of Gandalf’s battle in Moria, as well as overall conceptions that would later be applied to earlier phases of writing. The book additionally includes a chapter on the evolving geography of Middle Earth, for those interested in Tolkien’s maps. I found the writing in this volume more confusing than the first, likely because the various drafts and revisions covered in the book were less well delineated than earlier chapters. It’s stunning to discover just how fluid Tolkien’s process was, with concepts and names constantly in flux yet here and there with entire chunks that were hardly changed from first draft to publication.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Warren Dunn

    A little slow, making me wonder if I am getting tired of reading these drafts, or if the drafting of the Lord of the Rings is less interesting than that of The Silmarillion. Much of the problem with this part of the series, I think, comes from the fact that Tolkien actually finished The Lord of the Rings, compared to the complete rewrites of The Silmarillion, which was only published after his death. So much of the book is Christopher Tolkien listing only differences, instead of actually giving A little slow, making me wonder if I am getting tired of reading these drafts, or if the drafting of the Lord of the Rings is less interesting than that of The Silmarillion. Much of the problem with this part of the series, I think, comes from the fact that Tolkien actually finished The Lord of the Rings, compared to the complete rewrites of The Silmarillion, which was only published after his death. So much of the book is Christopher Tolkien listing only differences, instead of actually giving full drafts. Doing the latter is out of the question, as we would get so many repetitive drafts of nearly the same thing that the readers certainly wouldn't be able to tell the difference. http://ossuslibrary.tripod.com/Bk_Fan...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Martti

    Seriously, what's with renaming everyone every other draft? Hamilcar Bolger, Faramond Took, Peregrin Boffin, Folco Boffin, Odo, Drogo, Frodo, Bingo. The Land of Ond, Ondor, Gondor. Trotter. In the Fourth iteration of the narrative Gandalf is held captive by a Giant Treebeard. And a lot of messing around with all the place names. No idea why not just stick with first one? HOME7 still deals in large parts with rewritings of the Fellowship and maybe dips into Two Towers a bit as well, but it clearly Seriously, what's with renaming everyone every other draft? Hamilcar Bolger, Faramond Took, Peregrin Boffin, Folco Boffin, Odo, Drogo, Frodo, Bingo. The Land of Ond, Ondor, Gondor. Trotter. In the Fourth iteration of the narrative Gandalf is held captive by a Giant Treebeard. And a lot of messing around with all the place names. No idea why not just stick with first one? HOME7 still deals in large parts with rewritings of the Fellowship and maybe dips into Two Towers a bit as well, but it clearly was a massive long process. One can just admire the grit, or despair on the perfectionism. This history of LOTR is still a set of paradoxes - mind-numbingly boring and fascinating at the same time.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Poltz

    This is the seventh book in the History of Middle Earth (HoME) series, and the second in the History of the Lord of the Rings. It picks up where the last left off, in the mines of Moria. It covers the development of the story up through the beginnings of Rohan. I found the previous book, The Return of the Shadow, to be quite entertaining, watching the development of a story that actually led to publication. I thought this second book would continue to be as entertaining, but I found it much drie This is the seventh book in the History of Middle Earth (HoME) series, and the second in the History of the Lord of the Rings. It picks up where the last left off, in the mines of Moria. It covers the development of the story up through the beginnings of Rohan. I found the previous book, The Return of the Shadow, to be quite entertaining, watching the development of a story that actually led to publication. I thought this second book would continue to be as entertaining, but I found it much drier than I had expected. Come visit my blog for the full review… https://itstartedwiththehugos.blogspo...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Thijs

    An amazing work in which you really see LoTR 'post Moria' take shape. Take for instance the instance of Galadriel, in the space of a few pages she went from non-existence to one of the most powerful beings in Middle-earth with a completely flashed out background and Elven Ring, which also solidified the way they had been created. On the other hand you have the subtle and complicated history of other subject, and the significants of certain lines from LoTR which take on soo much more of a backgrou An amazing work in which you really see LoTR 'post Moria' take shape. Take for instance the instance of Galadriel, in the space of a few pages she went from non-existence to one of the most powerful beings in Middle-earth with a completely flashed out background and Elven Ring, which also solidified the way they had been created. On the other hand you have the subtle and complicated history of other subject, and the significants of certain lines from LoTR which take on soo much more of a background. Simply amazing! I read the Lord of the Rings beforehand, but really I should read it when I finish this series.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Noelle

    Compared to The Return of the Shadow, this book just doesn't measure up. Much less fun trivia, more first draft paragraphs. Also, it frequently refers directly to the text of The Two Towers, as if it expects the reader to have he Two Towers available for reference at all times. This book was still interesting in showing how close Tolkien's prose is in his rough drafts to the final form, and in how uniquely he develops plot. Also, as someone who enjoyed reading LOTR more than the Silmarillion, it Compared to The Return of the Shadow, this book just doesn't measure up. Much less fun trivia, more first draft paragraphs. Also, it frequently refers directly to the text of The Two Towers, as if it expects the reader to have he Two Towers available for reference at all times. This book was still interesting in showing how close Tolkien's prose is in his rough drafts to the final form, and in how uniquely he develops plot. Also, as someone who enjoyed reading LOTR more than the Silmarillion, it's bizarre that I now found myself wishing for the planned out complexity of the First Age storylines. You can tell Tolkien's passion was really in those stories.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Christopher Tolkien has continued to do a good job at assembling all of his father's notes and drafts, and putting them together in some sort of semblance of a "narrative arc" where you can see the final story of The Lord of the Rings come together. Lots of fun little facts are revealed, and it's very interesting to see what could have been (with a little relief on occasion that he made different choices!). Christopher Tolkien has continued to do a good job at assembling all of his father's notes and drafts, and putting them together in some sort of semblance of a "narrative arc" where you can see the final story of The Lord of the Rings come together. Lots of fun little facts are revealed, and it's very interesting to see what could have been (with a little relief on occasion that he made different choices!).

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