Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power – Reading Recommendation

With the release of the Amazon Prime show “The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power” many people are looking to return to, or start reading, the books that started it all. Of course, the main books are The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Silmarillion. Then there are others like the Unfinished Tales. For those who wish to dig deeper into the core of the Middle Earth lore, you have the 12-volume The History of the Middle Earth and the new The Nature of the Middle Earth.

If you are familiar with the material, I have seen a reference guide put together to get you up and running quickly. Below is the list of essential reading to understand the Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power story.

Please do note that the showrunners have rights to limited material from the Tolkien Estate, and the histories (from The Lord of the Rings appendices) do not always tell a story. In order to tell a cohesive story, there are some original characters introduced, timeline compressions, and other adjustments made for the medium of television. In my opinion, I am glad I am living in an age where an attempt is made to bring the world to this medium to bring new people to the journey through the Middle-Earth.

Without further adieu, here is your reading list,

The Lord of the Rings:

  • Volume 1, Book 1, Chapter 2: “The Shadow of the Past
  • Volume 1, Book 2, Chapter 2: “The Council of Elrond
  • Volume 2, Book 4, Chapter 5: “The Window on the West
  • Appendix A, “The Númenorean Kings
  • Appendix A, “Durin’s Folk
  • Appendix B, “The Second Age
  • Appendix D, “The Calendars
  • Appendix F I, “Of Men

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien:

  • Letter 131
  • Letter 144
  • Letter 154
  • Letter 181
  • Letter 211
  • Letter 227

The Silmarillion:

  • Part 4: “Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor
  • Part 5: “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

Unfinished Tales:

  • Part 2, “The Second Age
    • II “Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner’s Wife
    • III “The Line of Elros: Kings of Númenor
    • IV “The Historv of Galadriel and Celeborn
  • Part 4,
    • I “The Drúedain
    • II “The Istari
    • III ‘The Palantíri

The History of Middle-Earth:

  • Volume 5: The Lost Road
    • Part 1 The Fall of Numenor.
  • Volume 9: Sauron Defeated
    • Part 2 The Notion Club Paners
    • Appendix on Adûnaic, the language of Númenor
  • Volume 10: Morgoth’s Ring
    • Part 4, Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth
  • Volume 12: The Peoples of Middle-earth
    • Part 1, Ch. 5. The History of the Akallabêth”
    • Part 4 Ch. XVII Tal-Elmar

The Nature of Middle-earth:

  • Part 1, Chapter XVII
  • Part 3
    Many chapters touch on Second Age, directly or indirectly in part 3

There are few things as rewarding as losing yourself in a great book series. With its expansive worldbuilding and complex characters, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of those series. If you’re planning on binge-watching the television adaptation or are just looking for background material to expand your knowledge of the lore of the Middle-Earth, you can’t go wrong with the above list.

Happy reading! And Happy Watching.

Update:

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fall of Númenor: And Other Tales from the Second Age of Middle-earth book by Brian Sibley & Alan Lee was released on November 15, 2022. You can get it from the link above.
In this book, editor Brian Sibley has assembled a single-volume chronicling the history of the Second Age of Middle-earth. It is told in the words of Tolkien from above mentioned as well as other published texts, including new illustrations in watercolor and pencil by the great Alan Lee.
Brian Sibley has also added extensive footnotes and commentary throughout the book.
If there is one book you want for the Second Age of Middle-earth, then this is it.

JPS Nagi
Sept. 6, 2022/ Updated Nov. 20, 2022

“It’s fictional. You’re real”

Redshirts by John Scalzi is one of those stories which are difficult to review, without spoiling, but I’m going to try.

The story takes place in post-television 25th century future on an elite DubU ship – Intrepid. It is under the command of captain Abernathy, whose crew include science officer Q’eeng, first office Keerensky, medical office Hartnell and chief engineer West among others. Intrepid is on a peaceful mission to boldly go where no man has gone before. Sounds familiar? Well it should. During its explorations the crew encounters some hostile situations on different worlds, and quiet often there are away teams formed to deal with them.

The novel opens with some new crew members assigned to intrepid. They develop a sort of friendship while waiting for the shuttle in the bay that would take them to the ship. On reaching ship, they are take on their assigned tasks in different departments. They continue to meet when they are off duty, and found out that Intrepid has highest casualties for new crew members among any Dub U’s ships during these away missions, statistically. As they dig more and more, they find that there is some sort of space time continuum mix up where realities from different times seem to have intertwined.

I should stop now, because I think I have already said too much.

John has great ability to define his characters well and then develop them throughout his stories. This novel is no different. The new crew members Dahl (who is the protagonist), Duvall, Hester, Henson have characters that one easily understand when they interact while waiting in the shuttle bay. They do not always agree with each other. They also form a part of some of the away missions, and suffer losses. They start to observe a pattern, which the officers of the ship seem to be oblivious to. Over the course of events, their friendship, beliefs and trust for each other is tested. You start to identify with the characters, and can’t help but want them to control their own fate instead of letting the mixed up timelines decide what happens.

Redshirts does not disappoint at any place. It is a must read if you grew up with TV shows like the original Star Trek, or Dr. Who. The book is a nod to these and other cheesy space adventures of yesteryears. There are dozens of moments and in-jokes built around the worlds that are familiar and hilarious. It is darkly funny at times; even when things go wrong, John puts a smile on your face with interactions of his characters. The story moves at a fast pace, and is extremely well edited. There is nothing that does not add to the story or character development and you are drawn in. If you want to read a fun science fiction story during summer try this one.

If you like listening to books, get the audiobook. It is read by Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher from Star Trek – The Next Generation). Wil is very impressive voice actor, and he brings this book alive with his narration. He has collaborated with the author before in Fuzzy Nation and few others.

Both the book and the audiobook are highly recommended. I give this book 5 stars; hey, anything that can keep me up all night deserves 5 stars.

Jatinder PS Nagi
July 4, 2012