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Thread: Which HoME books are best?

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I have heard that some of the HoME series are incosistant with other books like the Silmarillion. Which of the HoME are most consistant, enjoyable, and valuable to read?
i think it depends on what your after "gettin" from the hom series, my favs were number 12 "the peoples of middle earth", 1 + 2 "the book of lost tale 1/2" and number 5 "the lost road" (come on, it has the Entymologies!)
Thanks. I guess I'll read those first, then. Is "The Lay of Beleriand" any good?
Is "The Lay of Beleriand" any good?

Only if you don't mind reading poetry, for rather than being prose, it is many lines of verse which comprise:
1) The Lay of the Children of H’rin (two versions);
2) Poems Early Abandoned (three of them);
3) The Lay of Leithian (The Gest’the romantic story of daring adventures’of Beren and L’thien); and
4) The Lay of Leithian Recommenced.
Teacher Smilie

You shouldn't look for consistency in the History books; they reflect years and years of development and change in Tolkien's universe. The Book of Lost Tales 1 and 2 are quite a remarkable (and to me, enjoyable) read. Tolkien's original tales are more vivid, more detailed, more like fairytale, than the later almost academic and historic accounts.

The History of LotR books are also remarkable, because of how different the first ideas were from what was published in the end. Aragorn as a hobbit, can you imagine that? Plus, you get to read what Minas Morgul looks like from the inside :o)

The last book in History contains some of the last wirings in Tolkien's life, as wells as the unfinished sequel to LotR.

So far my favorite (and I have not yet read them all) is Morgoth's Ring.  The debate of Finrod and Andreth is not to be missed, if you are a fan of Finrod.  They debate the fate and hope of men.   Also we see a glimpse of the only time to my knowledge, that an elf fell in love with a mortal and did not pursue the relationship.  By this I am referring to Finrod's brother Aegnor, and his reasons for not pursuing said relationship.


In Morgoth's Ring I also loved "the Laws and Customs of the Eldar" and the compare and contrast essay that Tolkien did between Morgoth and Sauron.  Who's might was greater?  Tolkien reflects upon this at the end of Morgoth's Ring. 


I loved this book and could not put it down.  If you fell in love with the Silmarillion, I can not recommend it enough. 


I did also enjoy the Book of Lost Tales part 2.  Especially the full account of the fall of Gondolin.  Until I read this , I had no idea that Legolas was present during the fall of this mighty city.

Morgoth's Ring does seem to be on many people's list of favorites. Plus Morgoth's Ring and The War of the Jewels reveal part of Tolkien's post-Lord of the Rings work on the Silmarillion.

Tolkien wanted his Silmarillion published along with The Lord of the Rings, and in the early 1950s he 'dove in' to update, expand, revise, and finish his Silmarillion -- but the deal with another publisher fell through, and Allen and Unwin wouldn't publish the Silmarillion at that time.

I did also enjoy the Book of Lost Tales part 2. Especially the full account of the fall of Gondolin. Until I read this , I had no idea that Legolas was present during the fall of this mighty city.

This was a different Legolas though, this one being a Gnome (one of the Noldoli) in this very early version of Gondolin's fall.

I had no idea!  Thank you so much for the information.  Two different Legolas then?  Now, is the Glorifindel that we see in the fall of Gondolin the same Glorfindel in The Lord of the Rings?  I never could quite figure this out.

You're welcome; and yes Tolkien decided (late in life) that there was only one Glorfindel. Glorfindel began as a Gnome (in the early stages all the Elves of Gondolin were Noldoli) and ended as one of the Noldor, one of the Exiled Noldor of course.

Tolkien reused some names for The Lord of the Rings, names that at that time hadn't been published [although Tolkien once read an early version of his Fall of Gondolin at least], for example names like Glorfindel, Gimli, Legolas; but even in the draft versions for The Lord of the Rings Tolkien noted to himself that Glorfindel should tell of his ancestry in Gondolin, so there was a seeming connection here early on, outside of merely borrowing an old name.

Tolkien (when much older) would state that the reuse of 'Glorfindel' in The Lord of the Rings was a somewhat random theft of a name (stealing from his own work in a sense), a name that escaped reconsideration [somehow] before publication. Well he didn't use 'theft' actually...

... but in any case Tolkien then decided that the story was made better by making Glorfindel of Rivendell be the famed Glorfindel of Gondolin returned.

Tolkien's two Glorfindel texts (one text is missing the beginning) appear in the final volume of The History of Middle-Earth series, The Peoples of Middle-Earth.

I had been pondering which HoME book I was going to read next, I believe that you have answered that for me.  I will definitely read Peoples of Middle Earth.  it sounds like there is a lot of information in this book that I would like to have.  Thank you so much. 

The Peoples of Middle-Earth includes draft versions of some of the Appendix material to The Lord of the Rings, but it also contains some interesting late texts too, like Of Dwarves And Men, The Shibboleth of Feanor, in addition to the very late Glorfindel texts noted.

Two different Legolas then?

I didn't get around to rambling more specifically here, but I would say: not necessarily; and by that I mean I don't think Tolkien necessarily intended that there be two Elves named Legolas within Middle-earth.

He certainly borrowed the name, but the question becomes: did an older Tolkien still think there was an Elf in Gondolin named Legolas after he had invented Legolas of Mirkwood? In any case the later revised Fall of Gondolin -- begun after Tolkien had 'finished' writing The Lord of the Rings -- never got to the Legolas character, as JRRT abandoned the revision fairly early.

We know, however, that Tolkien revised the etymology of the name Legolas to [seemingly] fit his new character from The Lord of the Rings. The earlier Gnomish etymology was (edited here by me): 

'Laigolas = green-leaf, (...) legolast i.e. keen-sight (...) but perhaps both were his names as the gnomes delighted to give similar sounding names of dissimilar meaning. Legolas, the ordinary form is a confusion of the two'

This is interesting! But in any event, much later Tolkien rather decided (again edited here by me):

'Legolas means 'green-leaves', a woodland name -- dialectal form of pure Sindarin laegolas (...) (H.E. laica, S. laeg (seldom used, usually replaced by calen), woodland leg).'

So the name Legolas has become a dialectal Silvan name, suitable to Legolas of Greenwood. Was Tolkien going to retain this same name for an Elf of Gondolin? It's possible that he could have used the purer Sindarin form Laegolas here, but it's equally possible that Tolkien could have wholly avoided this and made up a new name for the Gondolin character, if he was to remain.

So with Glorfindel (which name also was originally invented as a Gnomish name, not a Sindarin name), Tolkien chose to ask himself whether or not we have the same character here, and he answered this in two short texts. And for Tolkien's changing mind about this name, I wrote a longish post in languages here (if you need a sleep aid maybe, my post should help with that).

But with Legolas all we really have is a name borrowed for a new character, with the etymology of that name revised [within the revised linguistic scenario], and an abandoned version of The Fall of Gondolin with the name Legolas still in it.

I think Gimli was also the name of a Gnome (thus an Elf), back in The Book of Lost Tales anyway.

It's fairly common for Tolkien to abandon a character and use their name for some new character. For example, in the Book of Lost Tales there was an elf called Gimli. When writing LotR, there was also a lot of name-swapping between characters as they were introduced, interchanged, or dropped from the story.

Good point Wildespace.

It's possibly interesting that, in this phase Legolas the Gnome was noted for his keen sight, and Gimli the Gnome noted for his amazing hearing.

Legolas of Gondolin was described as 'night-sighted' and one of his names, Legolast meant 'Keen sight'.

While Gimli the Gnome had grown blind, but his hearing was the keenest that has been in the world (as all songs say), and the Gnomish Lexicon has the words gimli 'sense of hearing', gim- 'hear' gimriol 'attentive' [changed to 'audible'].

I wonder if Tolkien remembered that when he had Gimli the Dwarf (his name now a translation, and not an Elvish name of course) say that there were no goblins near '... or my ears are made of wood'

Wink Smilie

I like Unfinished Tales. You get stuff from the First to the 3rd Ages in that one.