The King's Letter was a letter sent by King Elessar, to be published in an epilogue to The Lord of the Rings, but this idea was dropped. It is the longest known sample of both Sindarin prose and Tengwar.
Position in the story
The omitted epilogue was finally published in Sauron Defeated, and tells the story of Sam and his children in the year 16 of the Fourth Age. At this time, only eight of Sam's thirteen children are born, Daisy being the youngest.
One night, Sam gathers his children around the fire to tell them of a letter he received, from King Elessar far away. It was black, the letters were golden, and it was wrapped in silk. In the letter, Elessar greets Samwise and his children, and tells them he will ride to the North. He would meet all those interested on the Brandywine Bridge. He would not enter the Shire, as he himself banned Men from entering the Hobbits' land.
Three versions of the actual letter exist. The first and third were published with the epilogue in Sauron Defeated. The second version was first published as the cover image of Vinyar Tengwar 29, and later reproduced as image 199 in J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator.
The first version is written in a vowel-mode which employs tengwar for vowels, like the Mode of Beleriand. The text goes:
|Aragorn Strider The Elfstone, King of Gondor and Lord of the Westlands, will approach the Bridge of Baranduin on the eighth day of Spring, or in the Shire-reckoning the second day of April. And he desires to greet there all his friends. In especial he desires to see Maser Samwise, Mayor of the Shire, and Rose his wife; and Elanor, Rose, Goldilocks, and Daisy his daughters; and Frodo, Merry, Pippin and Hamfast his sons.
||Elessar Telcontar: Aragorn Arathornion Edhelharn, aran Gondor ar Hîr i Mbair Annui, anglennatha i Varanduiniant erin dolothen Ethuil, egor ben genediad Drannail erin Gwirith edwen. Ar e aníra ennas suilannad mhellyn în phain: edregol e aníra tírad i Cherdir Perhael (i sennui Panthael estathar aen) Condir i Drann, ar Meril bess dîn, ar Elanor, Meril, Glorfinniel, ar Eirien sellath dîn; ar Iorhael, Gelir, Cordof, ar Baravorn, ionnath dîn. |
The translation misses one line: (i sennui Panthael estathar aen). This translates as "who ought to be called Fullwise", referring to Samwise's name, meaning "Halfwise".
This second version polishes up some minor mistakes and corrections in the first, but omits the date and place of the letter, and ar Arnor has been added after the first Gondor. It is also written in the vowel mode.
This version, included in a second sketch of the epilogue, uses vowel-tehtar instead of the vowel-tengwar of the previous mode. The text itself is slightly different from the second version. The word order of the first sentence is changed, and in the postscript, the year is added: 1436 of the Shire Reckoning in the English version, and 16 in the Stewards' Reckoning. The signature, which could not exist of two vowels in this mode, is written Ar•El•
These texts are the longest known examples of Sindarin Tengwar, and added several symbols to the alphabet. Comma's, colons, brackets and periods were previously unknown, and the third letter contained information on numerals.
The letter also provided the correct tengwar for diphtongs. These are as following:
- AE: written as yanta + /a/-tehta
- AI: written as anna + /a/-tehta
- EI: written as anna + /e/-tehta
- IE: written as /i/-short carrier amd the /e/ on top of the following consonant
- UI: written as anna + u-tehta
Though numerals were already published in Quettar (1982), the Letter employs a quite different shape for the characters. We also see the order of the numerals - right to left. So 1436 and 16 appear as  and  here.
These texts show the use of various formation unknown prior to publication, such as the use of the gerund after another verb, word order, passive sentences, and various names.
The following Sindarin names appear in the versions of this letter:
- Arathornion, "Arathornsson"
- Edhelharn, "Elessar, Elfstone"
- Perhael, "Samwise", though this had already appeared in the Ringbearer's Praise in the chapter The Field of Cormallen.
- Panthael, "Fullwise"
- Meril, "Rose". This name was used in early writings for the lady of Tol Eressëa, Meril-i-Turinqi.
- Glorfinniel, "Goldilocks"
- Eirien, "Daisy", reminiscient of Arien.
- Iorhael, "Frodo". In the Ringbearer's Praise, Frodo Baggins was called Taur (lenited Daur) instead.
- Gelir, "Merry"
- Cordof, "Pippin"
- Baravorn, "Hamfast"
- i Drann, "The Shire"
- i Varanduiniant, "Brandywine Bridge"
The dating system of the letter is not described in the Appendices but can be found in the The Peoples of Middle-earth. It is a system where "dates were usually given in official documents by the Seasons, but the old month-names ... remained in private and popular use."
Note that this corresponds to the abandoned calendaric system displayed in The Peoples of Middle-earth which was abandoned and contradicts that of the Appendices were 31 echuir should represent 24 February.
- Wayne G. Hammond, Christina Scull, J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, pages 201-2
- J.R.R. Tolkien, "The King's Letter", (Marquette MS Tolkien 3/9/35 1r), published in Vinyar Tengwar 29 (May 1993), cover
- Arden R. Smith, "The Tengwar Versions of the King's Letter", published in Vinyar Tengwar 29 (May 1993), pages 7-20
- Carl F. Hostetter, "The King's Letter, An Historical and Comparative Analysis", published in Vinyar Tengwar 31 (September 1993), pages 12-34