The Fall of Gondolin

From Tolkien Gateway
The name The Fall of Gondolin refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see The Fall of Gondolin (disambiguation).
The Fall of Gondolin
Fall of Gondolin 2018.jpeg
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorChristopher Tolkien
IllustratorAlan Lee
PublisherHarperCollins (UK)
Houghton Mifflin (US)
Released30 August 2018
FormatHardcover; paperback; deluxe edition
Preceded byBeren and Lúthien (2017)
Followed byThe Nature of Middle-earth (2021)

The Fall of Gondolin is a collection of writings by J.R.R. Tolkien and edited by his son, Christopher Tolkien. Published on 30 August 2018, it brings together several existing passages of work into one volume, along with commentary from Christopher.

The story tells of the ancient hidden city of Gondolin, a Noldorin stronghold in defiance of Morgoth; the coming of the man Tuor at the bidding of the god Ulmo. The city is betrayed, and is attacked and conquered by Morgoth's army. And from Eärendil, Tuor's son, comes the hope for the future.

The story is one of three "great tales" set in the First Age of Tolkien's Middle-earth, the other two being The Children of Húrin and Beren and Lúthien. It is the last book edited by Christopher Tolkien before his death, in 2020.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

In the Tale of The Fall of Gondolin are two of the greatest powers: Morgoth of the uttermost evil; and opposed to him is Ulmo, who is called the Lord of Waters. Central to this enmity of the gods is the city of Gondolin, beautiful but undiscoverable. It was built and peopled by exiled Noldorin Elves. Morgoth seeks in vain to discover the marvelously hidden city, while the Valar largely refuse to intervene in support of Ulmo, who desires to protect it.

Into this world comes Tuor, cousin of Túrin, the instrument of Ulmo's designs. Guided unseen by him Tuor sets out from the land of his birth on the fearful journey to Gondolin, and in one of the most arresting moments in the history of Middle-earth the Vala himself appears to him, rising out of the ocean in the midst of a storm. In Gondolin he becomes great; he is wedded to Idril, Turgon's daughter, and their son is Eärendel, whose birth and profound importance in days to come is foreseen by Ulmo.

At last comes the terrible ending. Morgoth learns through an act of supreme treachery all that he needs to mount a devastating attack on the city, with Balrogs and dragons and numberless Orcs. After a minutely observed account of the fall of Gondolin, the tale ends with the escape of Tuor and Idril, with the child Eärendel, looking back from a cleft in the mountains as they flee southward, at the blazing wreckage of their city. They were journeying into a new story, the Tale of Eärendel, which Tolkien never wrote, but which is sketched out in this book from other sources.

Contents[edit | edit source]

  • Preface
  • Prologue
  • The Fall of Gondolin
The Original Tale [LT II, ch. 3]
◦ The Earliest Text [LT II, ch. 3, comm., §3, (vi)]
Turlin and the Exiles of Gondolin [Shaping, ch. 1, (i)]
◦ The Story Told in the Sketch of the Mythology [Shaping, ch. 2, §§15-16]
◦ The Story Told in the Quenta Noldorinwa [Shaping, ch. 3, §§15-17]
The Last Version [UT, pt. 1, ch. 1]
◦ The Evolution of the Story
◦ Conclusion [Shaping, ch. 2, §§17-19] [Shaping, ch. 3, §§17-19]
  • List of Names
  • Additional Notes
  • Glossary

Conception and development[edit | edit source]

Tolkien said that the story was written "out of [his] head" during sick-leave from the army in 1917[1] and it was the very first tale of his later legendarium that he ever composed. The earliest saved manuscript was written in an exercise book (that was subsequently clean-copied by his wife Edith) and was one of the stories of the Lost Tales; this manuscript was the last time Tolkien wrote the complete tale of Tuor with a detailed description of the city. He also read part of the story to the Essay Club of Exeter College in the spring of 1920.[2][3]

Later Tolkien attempted to make a verse version of it, as The Lay of the Fall of Gondolin, in the early 1920s whilst at the University of Leeds.[4] In the late 1920s he wrote a compressed version to be a part of his intended Silmarillion[2] such as in The Quenta, which was the last complete chronicle of the War of the Jewels that Tolkien ever wrote;[5] both the later works The Later Quenta Silmarillion and the Grey Annals stop before the time of Tuor.

Tolkien regarded the story as one of the three "Great Tales" of the Elder Days and wished to expand it as an independent full-scale story.[6] In this form, he started writing Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin, probably in 1951, but it was abandoned.[2]

The whole story was first published in 1977 in The Silmarillion which used as a main source the Lost Tale of 1917. The expanded, partially-reworked, 1951 version appeared in Unfinished Tales in 1980 retitled as "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin" (as the text doesn't continue beyond that). The earliest version of the story was published in 1984 as one of the chapters in The Book of Lost Tales Part Two.

Reception[edit | edit source]

On hearing the news, The Tolkien Society claimed the book has been anticipated by fans for decades,[7] whilst its chair Shaun Gunner said "The Fall of Gondolin is, to many in the Tolkien community, the Holy Grail of Tolkien texts as one of Tolkien’s three Great Tales alongside The Children of Húrin and Beren and Lúthien."[8] John Garth, author of Tolkien and the Great War, described the book as "a template for everything Tolkien wrote afterwards" which is the "biggest battle narrative outside of The Lord of the Rings."[9]

Publication history and gallery[edit | edit source]

UK editions
2018 hardcover  
2018 hardcover deluxe edition  
2018 paperback large print  
2020 paperback  
2022 paperback  
2023 paperback  

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]


A J.R.R. Tolkien book guide
Books by or mainly by Tolkien
On Arda Authored by
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
(i.The Fellowship of the Ring · ii.The Two Towers · iii.The Return of the King) ·
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil · The Road Goes Ever On · Bilbo's Last Song
Edited by Christopher Tolkien The Silmarillion · Unfinished Tales · 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 · Index) ·
The Children of Húrin · Beren and Lúthien · The Fall of Gondolin
Edited by others The Annotated Hobbit · The History of The Hobbit · The Nature of Middle-earth ·
The Fall of Númenor · The Maps of Middle-earth
Not on Arda Short stories
and poems
Leaf by Niggle · Farmer Giles of Ham · Smith of Wootton Major · Letters from Father Christmas ·
Mr. Bliss · Roverandom · Tree and Leaf (compilation) · Tales from the Perilous Realm (compilation)
Fictional works The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún · The Fall of Arthur · The Story of Kullervo · The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
Translations and academic works Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo · Finn and Hengest ·
The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays · Beowulf and the Critics · Tolkien On Fairy-stories ·
Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary · A Secret Vice · The Battle of Maldon
Collected letters and poems The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien · The Collected Poems of J.R.R. Tolkien
Edited old texts A Middle English Vocabulary · Sir Gawain and the Green Knight · Ancrene Wisse · The Old English Exodus
Books by other authors
Biographies J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography · The Inklings · Tolkien and the Great War
Reference works The Complete Guide to Middle-earth · The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide
Scholarly studies The Road to Middle-earth · The Keys of Middle-earth · The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion ·
The Ring of Words · A Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien · Tolkien's Lost Chaucer ·
Tolkien's Library · Tolkien on Chaucer, 1913-1959
Scholarly journals Tolkien Studies · (The Chronology)
Other works by Tolkien
Linguistic journals Vinyar Tengwar various issues · Parma Eldalamberon issue 11-22
Collections of artwork
and manuscripts
Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien · J.R.R. Tolkien: Life and Legend · J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator ·
The Art of The Hobbit · The Art of The Lord of the Rings · Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth ·
Tolkien: Treasures · J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript
This list is only a selection of works, for a fuller bibliography of Tolkien see here or here. See also a timeline and an index.