The New Shadow

From Tolkien Gateway
"...It is a long tale..." — Aragorn
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The Peoples of Middle-earth
  1. The Prologue
  2. The Appendix on Languages
  3. The Family Trees
  4. The Calendars
  5. The History of the Akallabêth
  6. The Tale of Years of the Second Age
  7. The Heirs of Elendil
  8. The Tale of Years of the Third Age
  9. The Making of Appendix A
  10. Of Dwarves and Men
  11. The Shibboleth of Fëanor
  12. The Problem of Ros
  13. Last Writings
  14. Dangweth Pengoloð
  15. Of Lembas
  16. The New Shadow
  17. Tal-Elmar

The New Shadow is an incomplete sequel (approximately 13 pages) to The Lord of the Rings that J.R.R. Tolkien quickly abandoned. The manuscript was published as chapter sixteen of The Peoples of Middle-earth.

The story is set in the time of Eldarion, Elessar's son. While various versions of the tale place the story from 100 years to 120 years after the Fall of the Dark Tower, Tolkien decided late in the process that the events would be set 100 years into the reign of Eldarion, in the year 220 of the Fourth Age. In it is mentioned the Dark Tree, and two characters: Saelon and Borlas.

Tolkien commented this on it in 1964:

I did begin a story placed about 100 years after the Downfall, but it proved both sinister and depressing. Since we are dealing with Men it is inevitable that we should be concerned with the most regrettable feature of their nature: their quick satiety with good. So that the people of Gondor in times of peace, justice and prosperity, would become discontented and restless — while the dynasts descended from Aragorn would become just kings and governors — like Denethor or worse. I found that even so early there was an outcrop of revolutionary plots, about a centre of secret Satanistic religion; while Gondorian boys were playing at being Orcs and going around doing damage. I could have written a 'thriller' about the plot and its discovery and overthrow — but it would have been just that. Not worth doing.

He commented this in 1972, fifteen months before his death:

I have written nothing beyond the first few years of the Fourth Age. (Except the beginning of a tale supposed to refer to the end of the reign of Eldaron about 100 years after the death of Aragorn. Then I of course discovered that the King's Peace would contain no tales worth recounting; and his wars would have little interest after the overthrow of Sauron; but that almost certainly a restlessness would appear about then, owing to the (it seems) inevitable boredom of Men with the good: there would be secret societies practising dark cults, and 'orc-cults' among adolescents.)


During the reign of Eldarion, King of Gondor, the events of the War of the Ring are now little more than seldom-heeded tales to the people of Gondor, lingering only as a shadow upon the early childhood of those who lived to see it. One such man was Borlas of Pen-arduin, the younger son of Beregond. In his garden by the Anduin in sight of Minas Tirith, he is in conversation with a young man named Saelon. Borlas speaks of the constant presence of evil in the hearts of Men, a "Dark Tree" that cannot be felled forever, while Saelon is doubtful. Saelon recalls the time when Borlas scolded him in his youth for wasting unripe fruit from his garden, calling it "Orcs' work", much to Saelon's disdain at the time. Borlas replies that misuse of unripe fruit robs the world and hinders a good thing of fulfillment. Saelon brings up Men's habit of felling trees for their own use, to which Borlas says that if the wood is used for decent purposes and not wasted then no wrong is done.

Borlas grows tired of the conversation, but Saelon wishes to continue their discussion of the nature of growing evil. Saelon claims that it couldn't have been memories of Saelon's childhood mischief that began their discussion of the Dark Tree, saying that he must have heard of Herumor. Saelon goes on to say that a growing number of people are not content in the days after the death of the Great King. Borlas asks what the growing unrest plans to accomplish, to which Saelon asks how Borlas came to know the name of Herumor in the first place. After some disagreement on who should answer first, Saelon offers to tell Borlas all that he wishes to know if he joins him after nightfall clad in black. With this offer, Saelon takes his leave of Borlas's garden.

Left alone, Borlas thinks of his son Berelach, a friend of Saelon, and of news from the Ethir Anduin of ships disappearing. He returns into his home, smelling as it would seem the scent of old Evil returning to the world.

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