For Tolkien fans, two books add rich new layers to the series


Now that “The Lord of Rings: Rings of the Energy” has completed its first season, what are Tolkien fanatics to do as we look forward to the following installment? By no means concern: The Tolkien literary property turns out to have an enchanted carpetbag, with wonders that emerge lengthy after it has apparently been emptied.

This month, it launched “The Fall of Númenor,” a trove of supply subject material about one among Center-earth’s maximum intriguing and central backstories. The ebook is superbly illustrated by way of Alan Lee and nimbly edited by way of Brian Sibley, who has toiled on a dozen earlier Tolkien initiatives. Compiled from in the past revealed subject material, the ebook is a to hand addendum for any Tolkien completist and likewise a neat creation for the ones whose sole wisdom of the doomed island comes from “The Rings of Energy.”

The brand new Lord of the Rings sequence, defined

“Númenor” used to be Tolkien’s try to grapple with what he referred to as his “Atlantis advanced” or “Atlantis-haunting.” In a 1964 letter, he wrote: “This legend or delusion or dim reminiscence of a few historical historical past has at all times afflicted me. In sleep I had the dreadful dream of the ineluctable Wave, both bobbing up out of a quiet sea, or coming in towering over the fairway islands. It nonetheless happens now and again, although now exorcised by way of writing about it.” Certainly, hints of Númenor’s cataclysmic historical past seem in “The Lord of the Rings,” with lengthier accounts recorded somewhere else within the huge Tolkien Legendarium. In a nutshell:

On the finish of the First Age of Center-earth, the evil Morgoth/Melkor is defeated by way of an alliance of Elves and Males. The Valar, “Guardians of the Global,” are directed by way of Iluvatar the All-Tough to praise those Males with their very own island haven, a spot “got rid of from the risks of Center-earth.” The only hitch is the “Ban of the Valar.” This forbids the Númenóreans from ever crusing even additional west, out of sight in their island house, or atmosphere foot upon the Timeless Lands, the place the Valar and make a selection a number of the Elves reside.

Lose your self within the puts that impressed J.R.R. Tolkien

Males are mortal; the Elves and Valar don’t seem to be. To sweeten the deal, Númenóreans are proficient a lifestyles span of loads of years, at the side of the promise of a relaxed lifestyles on their paradisal island. Years of bliss observe as, secure by way of the Valar and taking part in their proceeding friendship with the Eldar Elves, the folk of Númenor prosper right through the 2nd Age.

The account of this era of Númenórean historical past is longish and reasonably uninteresting, in spite of the inclusion of a story of ill-fated love. As Tolkien observes in “The Hobbit,” “Now this can be a atypical factor, that issues which are just right to have and days which are just right to spend [are] no longer a lot to hear; whilst issues which are uncomfortable palpitating, or even grotesque, might make a just right story …” Thankfully for readers, bother is afoot somewhere else in Center-earth, the place Sauron, Morgoth’s maximum tough servant, has re-emerged. He’s defeated once more, however no longer sooner than the Rings of Energy had been cast underneath his tutelage, and dissent sowed between Elves and Númenóreans.

By means of now, the Númenóreans, sensible mariners, have evolved a style for colonization and exploitation. They’ve grown impatient with the Ban of the Valar: Why shouldn’t they be immortal, too? “Ever guileful” Sauron (you didn’t in point of fact suppose he used to be useless, did you?) makes his technique to Númenor. He makes use of 3 of his 9 Rings to ensnare tough males (they ultimately turn out to be Nazgûl), and encourages Númenor’s ruler to sail west and overcome the Timeless Lands.

Right here Tolkien’s uncomfortable palpitating and grotesque issues are used to nice impact, because the Númenórean other folks, obsessive about the necromantic arts, worship Melkor and fill “the entire land with silent tombs by which the considered dying used to be enshrined with darkness.” They enslave different males and particularly Elves, whom they have got come to hate for his or her immortality, and sacrifice them to Melkor (Alan Lee illustrates this in a chilling, understated portray). Just a small workforce of Númenóreans stay devoted to the Valar, and plan to sail east to hunt shelter with the Elves of Center-earth.

When you’ve learn “The Lord of the Rings” or watched “The Rings of Energy,” a lot of which takes position in Númenor, it’ll no longer finish neatly for many who disregard the Valar. “The Fall of Númenor” serves as a high-quality better half to the continued Amazon sequence — some a number of the Smart might neatly suppose it hath been deliberate thus. And trustworthy Tolkien readers will in finding a lot to amaze and enjoyment them. My favourite tidbit relates to the mysterious destiny of the entwines, from a 1954 Tolkien letter: “A few of route, will have fled east, and even have turn out to be enslaved … If any survived so, they might certainly be a long way estranged from the Ents, and any rapprochement can be tough — until enjoy of industrialized and militarized agriculture had made them a bit extra anarchic. I’m hoping so.”

Entwines as anarchist eco-warriors! One hopes the manufacturers of “The Rings of Energy” remember.

“The Fall of Númenor” would make a really nice vacation present. However for particularly deserving Tolkien fanatics, it’s possible you’ll imagine the luxurious re-creation of “The Silmarillion,” lavishly furnished with Tolkien’s artwork, drawings, elaborations, and maps, plus an excerpt from “The Story of Túrin” written within the Rúmilian alphabet used handiest by way of the elves in Valinor. Tolkien used to be a skilled artist whose paintings obviously presentations the affect of Britain’s Arts and Crafts motion, similarly at house with visionary landscapes and the ornamental arts, as demonstrated by way of two jewel-toned drawings of Númenórean carpets. Looking at at those photographs in expectation of the vacations might encourage you to put in writing a letter to Father Christmas — in Rúmilian, after all.

Elizabeth Hand’s most up-to-date novel is “Hokuloa Highway.”

The Fall of Númenor and Different Stories from the 2nd Age of Center-earth

Edited by way of Brian Sibley with illustrations by way of Alan Lee

HarperCollins, 296 pp, $40

By means of J.R.R. Tolkien; edited by way of Christopher Tolkien. Illustrated by way of the writer

William Morrow, 358 pp, $65

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