Concerning “The Palantíri”, from visions in the distance to the vanquishing of Denethor…
Concerning “The Palantír”, from the ways of Wizards to the strides of Shadowfax…
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.
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.
Concerning “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age”, from the founding of Lindon to the Last Alliance of Men and Elves…
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 begin a 2-part discussion of the last chapter in The Silmarillion, “Of the Rings of Power and the Third 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!
- Correspondence, etc (1:30)
- First Age and Akallabêth recap (12:30)
- Lindon, Gil-Galad, and Elrond (20:00)
- Sauron, Lord of the Gifts (22:30)
- The Forging of the Rings (25:30)
- Men = Easy to Ensnare (29:00)
- The Numenorean Kingdoms of Middle-earth (32:00)
- The Seven Stones & the White Tree (38:00)
- Sauron’s Return & Assault on Gondor (40:30)
- The Last Alliance of Men & Elves (44:30)
- Haiku Time (48:00)
Continuing with “Akallabêth”, the chronicle of Númenór’s downfall…
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!
- 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)
Concerning Akallabêth, from the reward of the Edain to the captivity of Sauron…
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 begin 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!
- Josh Sosa on Jackson’s Fellowship… (3:00)
- What “Akallabêth” means… (14:00)
- The Waldman Letter on the Second Age (15:30)
- Eärendil & the Edain (20:00)
- The Downfall of Morgoth & the Raising of Númenór (23:00)
- The Religion of Númenór (29:00)
- The Ban (34:00)
- The Escape from Death/Númenór’s Complaint (37:00)
- Sauron Returns/The Shadow Awakens (48:00)
- The Deeds of Ar-Pharazôn the Golden (49:00)
- Sauron’s Surrender (51:00)
- The Worship of the Lord of Darkness (55:00)
- Haiku Time (1:02:45)
Concerning “The Breaking of the Fellowship”, Book 2, Chapter 10 of The Lord of the Rings…
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 continue through The Lord of the Rings with Book 2, Chapter 10, “The Breaking of the Fellowship.” 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!
Topics of discussion…
- A Brief Note on Lembas and Melian – 3:30
- A Note on Tolkien’s Requiem – 7:00
- Frodo’s Decision – 9:30
- The Temptation of Boromir – 15:30
- Frodo in the Ring World – 32:00
- Meanwhile by the Riverside… – 40:30
- Boromir’s Confession – 46:00
- Sam & Frodo – 48:00
- Haiku Time – 54:30
“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…”
Concerning “The Council of Elrond”, Book 2, Chapter 2 of The Lord of the Rings…
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 continue through The Lord of the Rings with Book 2, Chapter 2, “The Council of Elrond.” 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!
Topics of discussion…
- Haiku – 4:30
- Who’s at the Council? – 15:30
- The Story of the Ring – 21:30
- Boromir & Aragorn – 30:00
- Gandalf’s Account – 37:30
- Saurman’s Treachery – 47:00
- What To Do With the Ring? – 58:00
Thanks for listening to The Tolkien Road! To see a list of our previous episodes, go here.
“The Men of the Three Houses were rewarded for their valour and faithful alliance, by being allowed to dwell ‘westernmost of all mortals’, in the great ‘Atlantis’ isle of Númenóre. The doom or gift of God, of mortality, the gods of course cannot abrogate, but the Númenóreans have a great span of life.” (xviii)
The Silmarillion proper comes to an end with the downfall of Morgoth which ends the First Age of Middle-earth. The Second Age immediately follows, the age of that great civilization of men, Númenor. It is also the age in which Sauron assumes the mantle of “chief bad guy” and in which the stage is set for much of the backstory of The Lord of the Rings.
I am going to do a 3-part series on the story of “Akallabêth”, corresponding with the founding, fall, and end of Númenor, but to begin I’d like revisit what Tolkien himself had to say about the Second Age in his letter to Milton Waldman, which as you’ll recall serves as the introduction to the book we know as The Silmarillion. Continue reading “The Silmarillion – A Beginner’s Guide – Pt 34 (Akallabêth pt 1)”