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

The Other Tolkien…

We all know the JRR Tolkien as an author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Many, including me, never knew that Hilary Arthur Reuel Tolkien, JRR’s younger brother, as an author. At least, he was when he was young.

In 2008, a small 88 page book was released titled Black and White Ogre country: Lost Tales of Hilary Tolkien. This book is edited by Angela Gardner and Illustrated by Jef Murray. Hilary’s grandchild discovered an old tattered notebook with some stories and it was quickly determined that it is a good idea to get them published.

The tales are flights of fancy put together by the Hilary, inspired by adventures brothers had as young boys. There are stories about black ogres, white ogres, black witches, white witches and many other curious folks, likely based on many of the people the brothers encountered. It is also an introductory journey into the minds of the young boys, one of whom was going to develop a world that we now know as Middle Earth.

Like Ronald, Hilary shows in interest in the all things natural. With time, the stories depict the changes in the countryside around them. There are reminiscences of something that may have influenced the tales of Middle Earth many years later. This is a small book that includes introduction to the notebook, the stories (edited and illustrated), and a brief biography of Hilary Tolkien.

This book also had a mention in Humphrey Carpenter’s Biography on JRR Tolkien.

After their mother died, John (10) and Hilary (8) were under the legal guardianship of the church priest who arranged for their Aunt to take the kids in. The arrangement fell out, and as the time passed, kids grew up moving from home to home. Hilary joined his uncle’s business and later British Army during World War I. After the war, Hilary got a home in Blackminster, near Evesham, maintained a Plum Orchard, married and had family. His house also became one of the venues for family get reunions. He kept in touch with his relatives, as well as his brother during their lifetime.

Hilary kept his creativity alive, with paintings and drawings. Some of them he used on the cards he used to send his relatives. He died in 1976.

I recently acquired a copy of this not so easily available book. The copy I got is the first edition and is signed by the editor – Angela Gardner and the illustrator – Jef Murray. Jef  has also made a small windmill doodle as a part of his signature.

Here are few more photos of the book.


Signature on the inside cover


Jef Murray’s Windmill Doodle in Pencil


Notebook of Hilary Tolkien


Returning Home by Jef Murray on the back cover of the book.

JPS Nagi
July 2011