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The Book of Lost Tales: Part One

This article is about the first book in The History of Middle-earth series. For the conceptual phase of the legendarium, see The Book of Lost Tales.
The Book of Lost Tales: Part One
Lost Tales I 1983.png
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorChristopher Tolkien
PublisherGeorge Allen and Unwin (UK)
Houghton Mifflin (US)
Released27 October 1983 (UK)
22 February 1984 (US)
FormatHardcover; paperback
Preceded byUnfinished Tales (1980)
Followed byThe Book of Lost Tales: Part Two (1984)

The Book of Lost Tales: Part One, published in 1983, is the first volume of Christopher Tolkien's 12-volume book series, The History of Middle-earth, in which he analyzes the unpublished manuscripts of J.R.R. Tolkien.

The book is a collection of early stories, which were the earliest form (begun in 1917) of the legendarium that would eventually comprise The Silmarillion. Each of the Tales is followed by notes and a detailed commentary by Christopher.

In these Tales are found the earliest accounts and original ideas of the Gods and the creation of the world, the Elves and their coming to Valinor, the Two Trees and the Silmarils, the theft of Melko, and the Exile of the Noldoli. These are continued in The Book of Lost Tales: Part Two.


[edit] Overview

Though they cover a broadly similar history, the Tales are very different from The Silmarillion. Firstly, the Tales are more complex and detailed than The Silmarillion: they are written in a less formal but more archaic style and include many obsolete words and phrases. Secondly, the interaction between the different elf-races is profoundly different: the exiled Noldoli (or "Gnomes", the Noldor of the later histories) suffer decisive defeat much earlier and become slaves of the enemy they had sought to punish.

In the frame story of the book, a mortal Man visits the Elvish Isle of Tol Eressëa, where he learns the history of its inhabitants. In the earlier versions this man is named Eriol, and is of some vague north European origin. In later versions he becomes Ælfwine, an Englishman of the Middle-ages.

[edit] Contents

  • Foreword
  • Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales — Part I

[edit] Inscriptions

There is an inscription in the Tengwar characters in the first pages of every History of Middle-earth volume, written by Christopher Tolkien and describing the contents of the book. The inscription in Book I reads:

"This is the first part of the Book of the Lost Tales of Elfinesse which Eriol the Mariner learned from the Elves of Tol Eressëa, the Lonely Isle in the western ocean, and afterwards wrote in the Golden Book of Tavrobel. Herein are told the Tales of Valinor, from the Music of the Ainur to the Exile of the Noldoli and the Hiding of Valinor."

[edit] From the publisher

The first of a two-book set that contains the early myths and legends which led to the writing of Tolkien's epic tale of war, The Silmarillion.

The Book of Lost Tales stands at the beginning of the entire conception of Middle-earth and Valinor for the Tales were the first form of the myths and legends that came to be called The Silmarillion. Embedded in English legend and English association, they are set in the narrative frame of a great westward voyage over the Ocean by a mariner named Eriol to the lonely Isle where the Elves dwelt; from them he learned their true history, the Lost Tales of Elfinesse. In the Tales are found the earliest accounts of Gods and Elves, Dwarves, Balrogs and Orcs; of the Silmarils and the Two Trees of Valinor; of the geography and cosmology of Tolkien's invented world.

[edit] Publication history and gallery

UK Editions
1983 hardcover  
1985 paperback  
1985 paperback 4th impression  
1994 paperback  
2002 paperback  
2010 hardcover  

[edit] External links

A detailed list of unique writings and works by Tolkien in this volume, at

The History of Middle-earth series
i.The Book of Lost Tales: Part One · ii.The Book of Lost Tales: Part Two · iii.The Lays of Beleriand ·
iv.The Shaping of Middle-earth · v.The Lost Road and Other Writings · vi.The Return of the Shadow ·
vii.The Treason of Isengard · viii.The War of the Ring · ix.Sauron Defeated ·
x.Morgoth's Ring · xi.The War of the Jewels · xii.The Peoples of Middle-earth ·