The Second Unfinished Tales Discussion Reading Room

July 2006 - October 2006





The First Unfinished Tales Discussion of March 2002 - August 2002

The Third Unfinished Tales Discussion of November 2013 - April 2014

Part One: The First Age
('Tuor Coming to Gondolin' and 'Narn I Hin Hurin')

Ulmo, Lord of Waters, strides out of the sea beneath Vinyamar ''clad in a gleaming coat, close-fitted as the mail of a mighty fish, and in a kirtle of deep green that flashed and flickered with seafire.'' Turin draws the Black Sword of Beleg and stabs the dragon Glaurung in its pale, wrinkled underside .... There are moments of high adventure such as these, but ... the earthiness of earth and the stoniness of stone, the homeliness of hobbits and dwarves who grow weary, cantankerous, hungry, and smoke their pipes to ward off despair - all this is as missing here

-- F. Buechner, New York Times, Nov. 16, 1980


Part Two: The Second Age

''The History of Galadriel and Celeborn'' is not really a tale at all but an essay more or less on Tolkien's narrative technique... Inconsistencies are allowed to stand on purpose - did Galadriel travel east over the mountains of Beleriand alone or with her husband? was Celeborn a Telerin Elf of Aman or a Sindarin Elf of Beleriand? - and such interest as the piece has derives from ... the wistful question it raises as to what he might have made of so many intricate narrative threads if he had lived to weave them into a seamless whole.

-- F. Buechner, New York Times, Nov. 16, 1980


Part Three: The Third Age

 In ''The Quest of Erebor,'' Gandalf, the great wizard, reappears to explain in some detail many things that happened before his visit to Bilbo and the subsequent ''Unexpected Party'' of ''The Fellowship of the Ring,'' but there is again the sinking sense of something vital missing in it, a kind of summarizing flatness and sketchiness about it which makes one feel that Tolkien was right in cutting it out of the trilogy ''to lighten the boat,'' as he put it in a letter to his son.

-- F. Buechner, New York Times, Nov. 16, 1980


Part Four: Essays

There are as well other generalized and discursive essays with little or no element of story to them on such subjects as the seven Seeing Stones known as the palantiri, .... ''Unfinished Tales'' is, in short, a production less of Tolkien himself than of the Tolkien industry - a book for the specialist, the scholar of Middle-earth, the addict, who will doubtless revel in the wealth of lore that it provides.

-- F. Buechner, New York Times, Nov. 16, 1980