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The Shaping of Middle-earth

The Shaping of Middle-earth
Shaping of Middle-earth 1986.jpeg
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorChristopher Tolkien
PublisherGeorge Allen and Unwin (UK)
Houghton Mifflin (US)
Released21 August 1986 (UK)
14 November 1986 (US)
FormatHardcover; paperback
Preceded byThe Lays of Beleriand (1985)
Followed byThe Lost Road and Other Writings (1987)

The Shaping of Middle-earth, published in 1986, is the fourth volume of Christopher Tolkien's 12-volume book series, The History of Middle-earth, in which he analyzes the unpublished manuscripts of J.R.R. Tolkien.


[edit] Overview

In The Shaping of Middle-earth the gradual transition from the "primitive" legendaria of The Book of Lost Tales to what would become The Silmarillion is described, and it contains a text which could be seen as the first "Silmarillion": the "Sketch of the Mythology".

Three other parts are the Ambarkanta or "Shape of the World", a collection of maps and diagrams of the world described by Tolkien; and the Annals of Valinor and Beleriand, chronological works which started out as timelines but gradually turned into full narratives.

[edit] Contents

  • Preface
  • III. "The Quenta" — (Quenta Noldorinwa, a further developed version of that which appears in the "Sketch")
    • Appendix 1: Ælfwine's translation of the Quenta into Old English
    • Appendix 2: The Horns of Ylmir

The Annals of Valinor and Annals of Beleriand show the earliest outline of the chronology of the First Age as envisaged in the early 1930s. The next volume in the series, The Lost Road and Other Writings (1987), outlined revisions to both texts made c. 1937 as "The Later Annals of Valinor" and "The Later Annals of Beleriand".

[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 IV reads:

"Herein are the Quenta Noldorinwa, the History of the Gnomes, the Ambarkanta or Shape of the World by Rúmil, the Annals of Valinor, and the Annals of Beleriand by Pengolod, the Wise of Gondolin with maps of the world in the Elder Days and translations made by Ælfwine the Mariner of England into the tongue of his own land."

[edit] From the publisher

The fourth volume that contains the early myths and legends which led to the writing of Tolkien’s epic tale of war, The Silmarillion.

In this book, the shaping of the chronological and geographical structure of the legends of Middle-earth and Valinor is spread before us.

We are introduced to the hitherto unknown Ambarkanta or 'Shape of the World', the only account ever given of the nature of the imagined Universe, accompanied by maps and diagrams of the world before and after the cataclysms of The War of the Gods and the Downfall of Númenor. The first map of Beleriand is also reproduced and discussed.

In The Annals of Valinor and The Annals of Beleriand we are shown how the chronology of the First Age was moulded; and the tale is told of Ælfwine, the Englishman who voyaged into the True West and came to Tol Eressëa, the Lonely Isle, where he learned the ancient history of Elves and Men.

Also included are the original 'The Silmarillion' of 1926, and the Quenta Noldorinwa of 1930 - the only version of the myths and legends of the First Age that J.R.R. Tolkien completed to their end.

[edit] Publication history and gallery

UK Editions
1986 hardcover  
1988 paperback  
1989 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 ·