The Top 5 Middle-earth Stories That Will Never Be Told

A few years ago, millions of fanboy dreams came true when George Lucas officially forked over the reigns of his Star Wars franchise to a team at Disney. While Lucas was responsible for the creation of the Star Wars universe, this transfer of creative power opened the door not only to a new trilogy but also to the possibility that dozens more stories could be told that would have “official/canonical” status in the Star Wars universe.

Middle-earth stories that will never be told

Similarly, there are dozens (even hundreds!) more Middle-earth stories Tolkien might have told. While the recent announcement of a novel-sized Beren and Lúthien was big news for Tolkien fandom, it’s not quite the same as getting an entirely new Middle-earth tale. Sadly, the best the devout Tolkien fan can really hope for is more expansion novels like Beren and Lúthien or unofficial fan fiction and speculation.

Still, one can fantasize, and so I thought it would be fun to put together a running list of the top Middle-earth stories that will never be told.

The Seduction of Sauron

Long before he was the Lord of the Rings, Sauron was a Maia and a servant of Aulë. Sometime in the pre-history of Middle-earth, Melkor went to him and brought him over to his side. He quickly became Melkor’s primary lieutenant, and he plays a major role in the story of Beren and Lúthien. As we know, Sauron became a REALLY bad dude. What was it that caused him to fall from grace and to become such an eager disciple of Melkor? I’d love to have had Tolkien tell this story so that we can truly understand the origin of his most well-known and important villain.

Of the Blue Wizards and Their Adventures

In Unfinished Tales, we learn that, in addition to Gandalf, Saruman, and Radagast, 2 other Istari (the “blue” wizards) were sent from the Blessed Realm to Middle-earth at the beginning of the Third Age, all with the mission of rallying the free peoples of Middle-earth against Sauron. We know a lot about Gandalf and Saruman, a little about Radagast, and virtually nothing about the blue wizards, except that they were named Alatar and Pallano and were sent by the Valar Oromë, Mandos, and Nienna. It is thought that they went far into the east, perhaps to the region of Rhûn or even beyond that. We never learn if they in fact played any part in the war against Sauron, or if instead they were defeated or simply became preoccupied with other things. I’d love to have learned more of this pair and their adventures, as well as their ultimate fate.

Of the First War

When Arda was first shaped, there was apparently a long, pre-historic war between Melkor and the Valar. While we know that it ended with the coming of Tulkas and resulted in a major setback for Melkor, one has to imagine that there was far more that could have been said here. Was this a war of great armies or more of a clash of the titans sort of affair? What sort of secrets might we have learned about the various powers in exploring the details of such a conflict? Even with the stories we do have of the Valar, they only seem like the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these incredible beings.

The New Shadow/LOTR Sequel

Tolkien actually began a sequel to The Lord of the Rings but never got beyond a few pages. It’s called “The New Shadow” and you can read it in Volume 12 of the History of Middle-earth. Apparently, the story was inspired by mankind’s strange tendency to become utterly bored with the good and entirely fascinated by evil. It would have taken place about 100 years after the fall of Barad-dûr and concerned a new evil arising after the death of Aragorn and during the reign of his son. Tolkien didn’t think the story was particularly worth telling, but who knows what might have happened if he had worked to complete a full draft? It’s hard to imagine anything topping The Lord of the Rings, but I have to say, I wouldn’t have minded even a lesser story of Gondorian intrigue.

Bilbo’s Other Adventures

The biggest draw to Tolkien’s works has always been hobbits, which is surprising considering Tolkien had so few stories about them. 59 years pass between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. We have an idea that Bilbo was quite adventuresome during this period. Wouldn’t it be great to have experienced some of Biblo’s “interstitial” adventures? What was Bilbo like after his experiences in The Hobbit but before he became an old man? While we’ll never know for sure, one can imagine that these would have been fun stories.


Who knows! Maybe one day some kind of official move will be made to pass the baton to a new writer (or even team of writers) that will gain responsibility for continuing the stories of Middle-earth. I’m not sure how I’d feel about that, so I’m not holding my breath. However, considering what a fascinating place Middle-earth is, it’s tempting to consider the possibility.

What are the Middle-earth stories you wish had been told? Let me know in the comments below.

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from Tolkien’s Requiem: Fall and Catastrophe

From my book Tolkien’s Requiem

“Of Beren and Lúthien” takes place in a fallen world, a world that has lost the great light of the Two Trees of Valinor, Telperion the Silver and Laurelin the Gold. The very title The Silmarillion comes from the story of the great elf-lord Fëanor, the “fiery spirit”, who crafts three unbreakable jewels and fills them with the glorious light of these Two Trees. His creations are the marvels of all, though they receive such attention that Fëanor quickly becomes suspicious of admirers and seeks to hide them away from all except his closest kin in an effort to protect them. When the dark lord Melkor (known in the story of Beren and Lúthien as Morgoth) and the hideous spider-demon Ungoliant poison Telperion and Laurelin, the Silmarils are all that remain of their light, and the only hope of restoring them. Nevertheless, Fëanor refuses to surrender the Silmarils to the great powers (the Valar, quasi-angelic beings) of Valinor, and when Melkor murders his father and steals the three Silmarils, Fëanor and his sons swear an unbreakable oath that none shall ever possess the Silmarils except for them. Fëanor and his kin (the Noldor) depart Valinor in anger and pride, murdering their weaker kinsmen and stealing their ships. In sum, centuries of war and sorrow are set off by these three great dyscatastrophes: the poisoning of the Two Trees, the theft of the Silmarils, and the Kinslaying. These are not the first falls in the long history of Middle-earth, though they are perhaps the most significant for the purposes of the tale of Beren and Lúthien.

Get Tolkien’s Requiem: Concerning Beren and Lúthien

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The Tolkien Road – Ep80 – The Silmarillion in One

One episode to RULE THEM ALL!!!

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Having completed a chapter-by-chapter walkthrough of The Silmarillion (which spans over 30 hours of content), we decided to do an episode where we cover the whole of The Silmarillion in less than an hour. With this one episode, you get the whole enchilada, from “Ainulindalë” to “Eärendil” to the end of the Third Age. If you’ve always wanted to read The Silmarillion but have never succeeded, then this is the episode for you!

We’ve also provided a collection of Silmarillion resources for you here.

By the way, if you haven’t already, please leave The Tolkien Road a rating and feedback on iTunes. We’d love to know what you think of the podcast. Enjoy the show!

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©2013-2016 rfcunha

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The Tolkien Road – Ep77 – Akallabêth Pt2

Continuing with “Akallabêth”, the chronicle of Númenór’s downfall…

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Hey there fellow travelers! Welcome to The Tolkien Road, a long walk through the works and philosophy of J.R.R. Tolkien. On this episode, we conclude our look at “Akallabêth”, or “The Downfallen”, the story of Númenór’s rise and fall in the Second Age. By the way, if you haven’t already, please leave The Tolkien Road a rating and feedback on iTunes. We’d love to know what you think of the podcast. Enjoy the show!

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©2013-2016 rfcunha
  • Note from a Listener: more March 25th connections (2:30)
  • Sauron’s Assault Upon Nimloth the Fair (10:00)
  • The Worship of Melkor (13:00)
  • Ar-Pharazôn’s Unholy Crusade (29:30)
  • Amandil Goes West/Elendil Goes East (33:00)
  • Gathering Clouds (36:30)
  • The Assault Upon Aman (39:00)
  • The Great Chasm (41:00)
  • Elendil’s Escape & Sauron’s Fate (44:30)
  • Haiku (46:00)

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Concerning Ainulindalë: The Second Theme

Even as Eru smiles, he lifts up his left hand and a new theme emerges amid the storm. What do we make of this new theme? Is it a mere reaction to Melkor’s work, or is it a theme altogether distinct from the first? We are told it is “like and yet unlike” the former theme and that it “gathered power and had new beauty.” Coming as it does amidst Melkor’s cacophony, it would need to be powerful enough to emerge through that noise, the same noise that seemed to drown Ilúvatar’s first theme.
ainulindäle - evan palmerAs for it being “like and yet unlike” the former theme, we are not told in what way this is. Most of us probably recognize this sensation when it comes to hearing music. An artist may produce a song using a melody or riff, and then change something about it later so that it sounds the same yet, at the same time, seems altogether new. One can see this operative in James Horner’s music for The Fellowship of the Ring. Even in a short piece like “Concerning Hobbits,” the initial theme opens, and then is changed, almost transfigured, by a shift in rhythm and instrumentation. And then, further down the line, a brief twinge of sadness, a minor key, interrupts the flow and something even newer emerges.

Though it would seem that Ilúvatar has produced something capable of withstanding Melkor’s assault of noise, Melkor is not finished yet. Even as the second theme emerges from the sea of sound, Melkor’s discord arises with a vengeance and an even greater war of noise results, a noise so great that many of the Ainur simply cease their playing altogether. “Who’s in charge here?” they must be wondering.

It would seem, according to the text, that Melkor is: “Melkor had the mastery.” Melkor, created by Ilúvatar, seems to be winning in what has gone from a beautiful harmonious music to a war of noise. Yet as we might expect, Ilúvatar is not finished yet…
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Image: from “J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ainulindalë” by Evan Palmer

rysowAnia, Tolkien Artist-of-the-Month: “Nienna”

“The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama.”

Last week, I named rysowAnia my Tolkien Artist of the Month. This week, I take a look at “Nienna“, her portrait of the weeping Vala.
She is acquainted with grief, and mourns for every wound that Arda has suffered in the marring of Melkor. So great was her sorrow, as the Music unfolded, that her song turned to lamentation long before its end, and the sound of mourning was woven into the themes of the World before it began. But she does not weep for herself; and those who hearken to her learn pity, and endurance in hope.

– The Silmarillion

I really love how rysowAnia captures the spiritual essence of the Valar. Nienna, queen of tears, is here so mournful that she appears like a ghost in a waterfall, yet at the same time she beckons, as if to say “Come to me and learn pity.” In Tolkien’s works, the word “pity” always evokes the counsel of Gandalf (“It was pity that stayed [Bilbo’s] hand”). Thus, it is fascinating to note that Valaquenta mentions that Olórin (Gandalf) went “often to the house of Nienna, and of her he learned pity and patience.”

Though I don’t know it to be a direct influence in this case, the imagery bears a striking similarity to “Mary Mother of Graces.” Of course, one of Mary’s other titles is “Mother of Sorrows.”
IR03545xxTune in next Monday when I’ll feature another one of rysowAnia’s pieces. In the meantime, hop on over to her DeviantArt gallery and check out the rest of her work.

Concerning Ungoliant’s Fate

“Ungoliant is a nightmare, a hellish vision of self-absorption worthy of Dante. For all that she devours, for all that she poisons, for all that she ruins, she is absorbed by her own hunger and need, at once desiring light but hating it all the same. Tolkien gives us little to go off of with regard to Ungoliant. We do not really know how she took this form, from what estate she fell, only that she was likely corrupted at some time past by Melkor. The same is true of her fate; all we know is that she forsakes Melkor again, and that “some have said that she ended . . . when in her uttermost famine she devoured herself at last” (81). In Dante’s terms, if Melkor belongs among the wrathful, then Ungoliant has been fixed into the permanent state of the gluttonous, who love sensual pleasure yet hate it all the same.”

from Tolkien’s Requiem – Concerning Beren and Lúthien

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Concerning the Love of Melkor

“Melkor wants to possess the jewels in such a way that prevents others from possessing them. This is Melkor’s chief flaw from before the foundations of Arda: for him, love means possession and domination, the need to hoard and to guard a treasure as one’s own. In fact, in “Ainulindalë”, we learn that Melkor seeks to increase his own power and glory when he is already the most powerful and glorious of created beings. It seems that his own greatness leaves him jealous of the potential of others, with a need to see others always as a threat to his own glory. Thus, he must possess the Silmarils lest someone else do the same instead of him.”

from Tolkien’s Requiem – Concerning Beren and Lúthien

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Melkor, Fëanor, Ungoliant, and Gollum

“One begins to detect in the examples of Melkor, Fëanor, and even Ungoliant the attitudes of the spirit that are seen in later figures. The keenest example of this is Gollum. Gollum must possess Sauron’s Ring. In one way, his need to possess it reflects Melkor’s own jealous attitude. For another to possess the Ring is unacceptable and means that he will not be able to possess it. In another way, he is like Ungoliant, not really possessing so much as being possessed by it to his utter end and destruction. No matter what the object of lust and jealousy is – Sacred Jewels, Ring of Power, Arkenstone – the need to possess, to have the object of love, results in a disorder that leads to catastrophe and tragedy…”

from Tolkien’s Requiem – Concerning Beren and Lúthien

Tolkiens-Requiem

Concerning Melkor, Fëanor, and Ungoliant

From Tolkien’s Requiem:

Melkor

Melkor wants to possess the jewels in such a way that prevents others from possessing them. This is Melkor’s chief flaw from before the foundations of Arda: for him, love means possession and domination, the need to hoard and to guard a treasure as one’s own. In fact, in “Ainulindalë”, we learn that Melkor seeks to increase his own power and glory when he is already the most powerful and glorious of created beings. It seems that his own greatness leaves him jealous of the potential of others, with a need to see others always as a threat to his own glory. Thus, he must possess the Silmarils lest someone else do the same instead of him.

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Fëanor

In truth, however, Melkor is not the only one to have such a possessive reaction to the Silmarils. Of Fëanor, Tolkien says that he “began to love the Silmarils with a greedy love, and grudged the sight of them to all save to his father and his seven sons; he seldom remembered now that the light within them was not his own” (69). Thus Fëanor is slowly corrupted by an illicit desire of possession. The light of the Silmarils, taken as it is from the Two Trees, is a light belonging to no individual or group of individuals but common to all. It is quite literally a light that fills the world. When Fëanor creates the Silmarils, he captures and contains something previously free to all. Though Melkor is the first to explicitly desire the Silmarils for his own, Fëanor and others soon follow suit. Thus, Fëanor’s love for the light of the Two Trees poisons the light by containing it, by making it scarce, when all along it is something that should not be contained. His desire and action to possess the blessed light sets into the hearts of the story’s free agents the will to possess it singularly and selfishly.

Ungoliant

Ungoliant is an enigma and no easy read. Whereas from the beginning of the mythology Melkor is a vainglorious figure obsessed with domination, Ungoliant, on the other hand, is a mysterious figure of unknown origin, once corrupted to darkness by the seductions of Melkor, but having since repudiated his service for her independence. Yet despite her independence from Melkor, she hates the peoples of Valinor all the same. As Tolkien puts it, she is a figure “desiring to be mistress of her own lust, taking all things to herself to feed her emptiness” (73). Still, Melkor knows her deepest need, a desire to be filled by all things. He finds her in the dark caves to the south of Valinor, desperately hungry for the light of the Two Trees but hating it all the same, fearful of it and of the Valar who tend it (73). When he promises her fullness of the Light, she sets forth to do his bidding. Melkor wounds the trees, “and their sap poured forth as it were their blood, and was spilled upon the ground,” presenting Ungoliant with her feast (76). She sucks up every last drop of the Trees’ light-blood, bloating to a prodigious size, yet famished evermore. Ungoliant’s love is turned inward, seeking always fullness, but unable to find it. Acting alone, she is a poison to herself only; under the influence of another, she is a poison to many.


Click here to get Tolkien’s Requiem – Concerning Beren and Lúthien.