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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Lectio Tolkiena: The Purpose of Númenór

But the design of Manwë was that the Númenóreans should not be tempted to seek for the Blessed Realm, nor desire to overpass the limits set to their bliss, becoming enamoured of the immortality of the Valar and the Eldar and the lands where all things endure.

– “Akallabêth

What was the purpose of Númenór?

Earendil © elegaer 2006 – 2016

We know that it was a reward to the Edain, the Elf-friends, that minority of Men that aided the Eldar against Morgoth. Yet it was perhaps an error to see it as a “progression” toward Valinor, the Blessed Realm of earthly immortality. Instead, it would seem that the way the Númenóreans should have seen it was as a launching point for peaceful mission, a place from which they could bring the light of the Valar and the Eldar (and ultimately the knowledge of Ilúvatar) to their brethren who remained in the dark. The first generations of Númenór perhaps grasped this, but over time that vision faded.

Our blessings are rarely, if ever, meant merely for our enjoyment or well-being.

Lectio Tolkiena: Why Should We Not Envy the Valar?

And the Númenóreans answered: ‘Why should we not envy the Valar, or even the least of the Deathless? For of us is required a blind trust, and a hope without assurance, knowing not what lies before us in a little while. And yet we also love the Earth and would not lose it.’

– “Akallabêth”

Though short in comparison with the entirety of The Silmarillion, “Akallabêth” is a marvel for many reasons. One thing I find particularly fascinating about it is the establishment of the Númenórean religion, which is probably the most straightforward example of religion in all of Tolkien’s works.

Light of Silmarils © elegaer 2009-2016
Things start off well for the Númenóreans, the “elf-friends”, but as age and well-being increase, so too does their dissatisfaction with their lot in life. After all, they must “trust” that death is not the end of their story, though it rightly seems that it is a “blind” sort of trust, because none really bear witness to what may await them. They are told to keep faith, but it seems that they would respond “What faith have we to keep?”

The parallels of Akallabêth with our own time are manifold and staggering, each instance demonstrating the sort of insight Tolkien had into the human spirit. We sense that we are made for the eternal, though we have lost touch with it, and have trouble glimpsing it. Tolkien, of course, knew the Christian message of eternal life and the renewal of the cosmos, and realized the great advantage that it gives to post-Resurrection mankind. Thus, even as his fictional sea-kings slowly slide into despair, we hear far more pity in his telling than contempt.