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Unfinished Tales (fully titled Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth) is a collection of stories by J.R.R. Tolkien that were never completed during his lifetime, but were edited and concluded by his son Christopher Tolkien and published in 1980.

Publication and editionEdit

Unlike The Silmarillion, in which the narrative fragments were modified to connect into a consistent and coherent work, the Unfinished Tales are presented as Tolkien left them, with little more than names changed (the author having had a confusing habit of trying out different names for a character while writing a draft). Thus some of these are incomplete stories, while others are collections of "factual" information about Middle-earth. Each tale is followed by a long series of Christopher's notes explaining inconsistencies and obscure points.

As with The Silmarillion, Christopher Tolkien edited and published Unfinished Tales before he had finished his study of the materials in his father's archive. Despite its shortcomings in editorial consistency, Unfinished Tales does provide more detailed information about characters, events and places mentioned only briefly in The Lord of the Rings. Versions of such tales including the origins of Gandalf and the Istari (Wizards), the death of Isildur and the loss of the One Ring in the Gladden Fields, and the founding of the kingdom of Rohan help expand knowledge about Middle-earth.

Of particular note is the tale of Tar-Aldarion and Erendis (chapter two of Part Two), the only known story of Númenor before its fall. A map of Númenor is also included in the book.

The Unfinished Tales had commercial success, demonstrating that the demand for Tolkien's stories several years after his death was not only still present, it was actually growing. Considering this, Christopher Tolkien began to embark upon the more ambitious twelve-volume work entitled The History of Middle-earth which encompassed nearly the entire corpus of Tolkien's writings about Middle-earth.


Part One: The First Age:

Part Two: The Second Age:

Part Three: The Third Age:

Part Four

J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium

Works published during his lifetime
The Hobbit | The Lord of the Rings | The Adventures of Tom Bombadil | The Road Goes Ever On

Posthumous publications
The Silmarillion | Unfinished Tales | The History of Middle-earth (12 volumes) | Bilbo's Last Song | The Children of Húrin

Lists of LOTR Wiki articles about Middle-earth
by category | name | writings | characters | peoples | rivers | realms | ages

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