Timed perfectly to coincide with Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which takes place in the Second Age of Middle-earth, Harper Collins have announced their next Tolkien publication. The Fall of Númenor, edited by Brian Sibley, brings together the key tales of the Second Age, in chronological order. Sure to be the perfect handbook for those who want to see exactly what Tolkien did write about this earlier period of his legendarium, it will not contain any previously unpublished text; but it does feature new art by beloved artist Alan Lee. It will be released in hardback and deluxe editions November 10th 2022, two months after the debut of The Rings of Power.
You can read comments Brian Sibley made exclusively to our friends at The Tolkien Society on their website. Further details can be found in the official press release from HarperCollins, below:
HarperCollins is proud to announce the publication in November 2022 of THE FALL OF NÚMENOR by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by writer and Tolkien expert, Brian Sibley, and illustrated by acclaimed artist, Alan Lee. The book will be published globally by HarperCollinsPublishers and in other languages by numerous Tolkien publishers worldwide.
Presenting for the first time in one volume the events of the Second Age as written by J.R.R. Tolkien and originally and masterfully edited for publication by Christopher Tolkien, this new volume will include pencil drawings and colour paintings by Alan Lee, who also illustrated The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and went on to win an Academy Award for his work on The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
J.R.R. Tolkien famously described the Second Age of Middle-earth as a ‘dark age, and not very much of its history is (or need be) told’. And for many years readers would need to be content with the tantalizing glimpses of it found within the pages of The Lord of the Rings and its appendices.
It was not until Christopher Tolkien presented The Silmarillion for publication in 1977 that a fuller story could be told for, though much of its content concerned the First Age of Middle-earth, there were at its close two key works that revealed the tumultuous events concerning the rise and fall of the island-kingdom of Númenor, the Forging of the Rings of Power, the building of the Barad-dûr and the rise of Sauron, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.
Christopher Tolkien provided even greater insight into the Second Age in Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth in 1980, and expanded upon this in his magisterial 12-volume History of Middle-earth, in which he presented and discussed a wealth of further tales written by his father, many in draft form.
Now, using ‘The Tale of Years’ in The Lord of the Rings as a starting point, Brian Sibley has assembled from the various published texts in a way that tells for the very first time in one volume the tale of the Second Age of Middle-earth, whose events would ultimately lead to the Third Age, and the War of the Ring, as told in The Lord of the Rings.
The Hobbit was first published in 1937 and The Lord of the Rings in 1954–5. Each has since gone on to become a beloved classic of literature and an international bestseller translated into more than 70 languages, collectively selling more than 150,000,000 copies worldwide. Published in 1977, The Silmarillion sold more than one million copies in its first year of publication and has gone on to be translated into almost 40 languages.
Brian Sibley says: ‘Since the first publication of The Silmarillion forty-five years ago, I have passionately followed Christopher Tolkien’s meticulous curation and scholarship in publishing a formidable history of his father’s writings on Middle-earth. I am honoured to be adding to that authoritative library with The Fall of Númenor. I hope that, in drawing together many of the threads from the tales of the Second Age into a single work, readers will discover – or rediscover – the rich tapestry of characters and events that are a prelude to the drama of the War of the Ring as is told in The Lord of the Rings.
Alan Lee says: ‘It is a pleasure to be able to explore the Second Age in more detail, and learn more about those shadowy and ancient events, alliances and disasters that eventually led to the Third Age stories we are more familiar with. Wherever I had the opportunity when working on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, I tried to imbue pictures and designs with an appropriate antiquity, an overlayering of history and of echoes of those older stories, and The Fall of Númenor has proved a perfect opportunity to dig a little deeper into the rich history of Middle-earth.’
The Fall of Númenor will be published by HarperCollins with a simultaneous global publication date of November 2022, and subsequently in translation around the world.
It’s Semi Final time! Time to reveal the winners from each of the four ‘Divisional’ brackets, and launch the round to decide our finalists. Just two rounds remain in Middle-earth March Madness 2022, A Battle of the Ages – so don’t delay, get in on the action and cast your vote today! With voting numbers holding strong through each round – 12,000votes in the Elite Eight stage – it’s clear there will be some compelling feelings about which event from the history of Arda should claim the title of Grand Champion. Final Four voting is open now until the end of the day Saturday April 2nd. As ever, you’ll find the updated bracket, and the button for voting, below.
We’re down to the final round in the ‘Divisional’ brackets – in the next couple of days, YOU decide which events go through to the Final Four, where Pre-First goes up against First Age, and Second goes up against Third Age.
Instructions: Click on one of the orange division buttons above. Then click the ‘Vote Now’ option that appears above the divisional bracket. This year you get to vote in each divisional match-up in one convenient and visual interface. Note – you need to click each division to vote in their respective brackets. So let’s get voting!
My learned colleagues at TORnCentral have weighed in on the 23 images released yesterday by our good friends at Amazomg, but I’m keen to zero in on one and put it under the microscope.
It’s this one — let’s call it Gauntlet and Sword.
Gauntlet and Sword immediately recalls Jackson’s Third Age armoured Sauron. But there are obvious discrepancies when you compare it against the visual aesthetic that the Peter Jackson productions established.
First, at the Last Alliance confrontation between Gil-galad, Elendil and Sauron in the Fellowship of the Ring prologue, the latter bears a gigantic flanged mace, not a sword. (You can rewatch the entire prologue scene here if you like; Sauron appears about two minutes in.)
Gauntlet and Sword, on the other hand, shows, well, a sword. A blackened sword with a remarkably ornate hilt. But, still, a sword.
Second, the Amazon Studios gauntlet does not fully correspond to the one designed by WETA Workshop head Richard Taylor and his staff. The WETA gauntlet is a metal one, with articulated metal plates all the way past the wrist.
Sure, the gauntlet we see in Gauntlet and Sword is black and spiky, but from the promotional image provided, it lacks the articulated and overlapping metal plates that go all the way to the wrist. Instead, the articulation appears to stop at the knuckles. The general effect looks more like a studded, heavy leather gauntlet than one carefully assembled from many metal plates.
Finally, it’s important to note that before the Akallabêth — the period that Rings of Power seems likely to focus on at first, Sauron was not bound to that terrible and intimidating form. Instead:
…in his earlier incarnation he was able to veil his power (as Gandalf did) and could appear as a commanding figure of great strength of body and supremely royal demeanour and countenance.
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Letter #246.
One must conclude that either:
1) This is not actually Sauron 2) It is Sauron, but Amazon Studios is moving away from “the PJ look”
When we have cosplayers doing intensive research and nailing all the details with incredible detailed replica Sauron costumes, it defies logic that Amazon Studios couldn’t do the same with their sky-high budget. If they so desired.
The impression that I have long had is that Amazon Studios has been trying to hew to the aesthetic Jackson created. In itself, choosing New Zealand as the original shooting location fits this thesis — although I am sure financial considerations come into play there, too.
It makes sense — the PJ aesthetic has a lot of penetration through the popular consciousness and pop culture. Leveraging it is a low-effort way to get buy-in from viewers.
And the original Amazon Studios tease image carries a great deal of PJ aesthetic in the architecture of Tirion upon Túna.
So I don’t think Amazon Studios is drifting from the PJ look . Instead, what we have is some artful misdirection — we are being teased with the superficial appearance of Sauron using typical signifiers that we subconsciously associate with the lord of Barad-dûr, but there are enough clues for us to dismiss it.
This is not Sauron.
For similar reasons I would discard the Witch-king of Angmar — the gauntlet doesn’t match (you can get a good look at Wiki’s gauntlet at 1 min and 6 secs in this clip where he confronts Éowyn) , and although Wiki carries a sword (as well as a massive flail), its design is a lot cleaner than the one in Gauntlet and Sword. In fact the swords of all the Nazgul are very minimalist with flat or slightly curved crossguards.
So, who is it?
I’m going to outline a handful of outlandish possibilities. All speculation, of course.
Option 1. Túrin.
Black sword, right? Also, The Silmarillion outlines how the folk of Nargothrond equip Túrin with “dwarf-mail, to guard him”. Further, The Silmarillion describes from the perspective of Tuor and Voronwë the following scene at the Well of Ivrin after the sack of Nargothrond.
But even as they gazed upon it they saw one going northward in haste, and he was a tall Man, clad in black, and bearing a black sword. But they knew not who he was, nor anything of what had befallen in the south; and he passed them by, and they said no word.
Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin
Nevertheless, the other image with a broken black sword somehow seems a better fit for Túrin.
Option 2. Eölor Maeglin.
Gurthang (or Anglachel, if you prefer) is not the only black sword to feature in The Silmarillion. There is another: Anguirel. Eöl, the Dark Elf, forges both as a pair. The former he gave to Thingol, the latter he kept for himself. Anguirel then ends up in the hands of his son, Maeglin, when Aredhel and Maeglin flee Eöl’s controlling nature.
Canonically, both Eöl and Maeglin meet nasty ends in Gondolin; the ultimate fate of Anguirel is unknown. Because Maeglin is tossed over the walls of Gondolin during its sack, it’s only a bit of a stretch that he might have survived (but it is a stretch). And the emblem of Maeglin’s house was a plain black field with no symbol whatsoever.
Could Tolkien Estate be convinced to allow Maeglin to be used as a returning Second Age antagonist? I don’t know. It’s a thought.
Props to posters over on the LOTR on Prime sub-reddit for raising this one. Intriguing.
In The Silmarillion, Beleg also uses the appellation “Black Hand” at one point to describe Morgoth. If we get the Two Trees, we must surely get Morgoth at some point. Right?
The current rumour: Adar
The current suggestion via Fellowship of the Fans is that it corresponds to a character known as “Adar” (originally codenamed “Oren”). Adar is a Sindarin word that translates as “father” and the role is supposedly being filled by Joseph Malwe.
To reprise, Adar is said to be an “corrupted” and “tortured” elf who oversees a group of orcs who see him as a father figure. Hence the name, Adar. Further, the rumour states that this elf is one of the brothers of Galadriel — but not Finrod Felagund. This offers two choices: Angrod and Aegnor, both of whom canonically perished in The Battle of Sudden Flame (Orodreth should properly be considered to be Angrod’s son).
These are choices that seem much more out of canon than, say, the Maeglin option. The Silmarillion’s text declares “the sons of Finarfin bore most heavily the brunt of the assault, and Angrod and Aegnor were slain”.
Could they work? I guess.
There’s this to consider:
But ever the Noldor feared most the treachery of those of their own kin, who had been thralls in Angband; for Morgoth used some of these for his evil purposes, and feigning to give them liberty sent them abroad, but their wills were chained to his, and they strayed only to come back to him again. Therefore if any of his captives escaped in truth, and returned to their own people, they had little welcome, and wandered alone outlawed and desperate.
Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin
Additionally, in the Lord of the Rings, Gandalf says to Frodo:
The Elves may fear the Dark Lord, and they may fly before him, but never again will they listen to him or serve him [emphasis mine].
And service need not be direct, or knowing as in the case of Húrin.
When therefore he judged the time to be ripe, [Morgoth] released Húrin from his bondage, bidding him go whither he would; and he feigned that in this he was moved by pity as for an enemy utterly defeated. But he lied, for his purpose was that Húrin should still further his hatred for Elves and Men, ere he died.
Of the Ruin of Doriath
Placed against that, consider Gwindor son of Guilin. An escaped thrall, he not only assists Beleg and succors Turin at risk to himself, he is also seemingly welcomed back to Nargothrond without suspicion or fear.
Still, there might be a way for Amazon Studios to work a story of pathos and miscalculation, if they can find some subtlety. We’ll see.
A complete tale of the War of the Last Alliance is a tantalising prospect. Yet, all the information we have available comes from fragments scattered over a number of books. The following post attempts to reconstruct the entire account as written Tolkien himself Continue reading “The Tale of the War of the Last Alliance”
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