This document could potentially spoil parts of the tales in Tolkien's
legendarium; I can't imagine that anyone who hasn't read at the very least The
Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings would be all that interested in this (more
likely they'd be uninterested) but because spoilers are a terrible thing I feel
I should have this warning.
This document is more general than my other document, which is
commentary on the history of The Lord of the Rings
; in time I will possibly
have a document on The History of The Hobbit. At the time of writing, the
16th of December 2018, there is very little here. I will update the menu as
I add new sections and I will try and note the last updated date for each
section should I update it (otherwise it'll be the date of creation). I will
in time possibly add a bibliography but all of this can be found in
different parts of The History of Middle-earth (HoMe), Unfinished Tales, The
Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien and of course The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and The
Lord of the Rings themselves.
You can skip to the abbreviations in this document
here, the vocabulary
here, the notes on the structure of
and to the first section
I only recall abbreviations for the volumes of History of Middle-earth
for The Lord of the Rings books as far as the History but the abbreviations
that I do know and that are (or might be in a future update) are below.
Ainu (p.l. Ainur): The Holy Ones; beings that Eru Ilúvatar created
Vala (p.l. Valar): The Powers of the World (Arda)
Maia (p.l. Maiar): Spirits who helped the Valar in Arda
Melkor ('He Who Arises in Might': The first Dark
Lord, the most powerful of the Valar but who after stealing the
Silmarils is called Morgoth ('Black Foe') is no longer counted amongst
the Valar; Sauron was his most loyal lieutenant.
Balrog: Maiar corrupted by Melko -> Melkor ->
Morgoth; they were his most formidable servants and it is they who
rescue him from Ungoliant who tried to devour him when he refused to
hand over the Silmarils after she helped him destroy the lights of the
world (as explained in the Quenta Silmarillion or The Silmarillion
proper); they would have destroyed her but Morgoth called them off. It
should be noted that Shelob is one of the offspring of Ungoliant.
Although they were considered at one point to be many or unspecified
amount Tolkien would later specify that there were very few, perhaps no
more than seven (the number was very small in any case). In the War of
[the] Wrath (in the First Age) at least one escaped and lie dormant for
years (until it was accidentally 'released' by the Dwarves in the Third
Age; that's the one the Dwarves called the Bane of Durin and it's the one
that Gandalf confronts and ultimately defeats (dying in the process like
everyone else who slew a Balrog but then brought back to life by Eru
Ilúvatar because of his sacrifice to make sure the quest would not fail
at that point as it would have otherwise) at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm
('The Bridge of the Mansion of Dwarves' or otherwise 'The Bridge of the
Dwarf Mansion') in the Mines of Moria (in Elvish of the Gnomish mode).
Dwarrows: The historically accurate plural of
Dwarf; I have documented this more thoroughly in its own section.
As for how I've gone about reading the history it's important to realise
there is a lot of background information, a lot of history with many drafts,
ideas changing and essentially everything being different in some way or
another. I started out initially reading from the first book but then I decided
that I wanted to read the history of The Lord of the Rings first; therefore I
started with book VI, entitled: The Return of the Shadow (a name that Tolkien
thought of before deciding on The Fellowship of the Ring). I have since then
read more of HoMe and along with UT and various other works I have the content
in this document (as in these are the primary sources here).
I will try my best to organise this in a somewhat intuitive order where
possible (and when I have the motivation to do so) but I personally prefer having
more content over having the best organisation. But just like Middle-earth there
will be many drafts and versions of this document; I will try to document where
possible but this will never be remotely perfect.
Those who have read TS (or the story that was published this year on its
own) will know about The Fall of Gondolin; in this tale Glorfindel
slays a Balrog but like everyone else who does he falls with it. Now Elves
are by natural law to return to the Valinor when their body is destroyed and
to await judgement. Those who have done real evil are judged by Eru himself
and perhaps the most significant example is Fëanor (who is not
Glorfindel, however, was forgiven for his part in ignoring
the Ban of the Valar (see TS) in the Kinslaying &c instigated by Morgoth
(he corrupted the Noldor or at least some of them and when he stole the
Silmaril Fëanor sought revenge and he and others made a vow to reclaim them
and they murdered other Elves who refused to give them their ships to sail
to Middle-earth). This is because he actually was against the Kinslaying and
he only joined out of loyalty for his King (as I think it was - can't recall
At this point because his home of Gondolin was destroyed he stayed in
Valinor for quite some time; here he would befriend Olórin (Gandalf), a
Maia, and having done this, was almost as powerful as the Maiar themselves
in spirit. This is why the Witch-king of Angmar even fled from him (this is
in the Appendix - I want to say Appendix A). Now it's said that he could not
deal with all of the Nine Nazgûl at once but as we know in the FR their
horses were driven mad by the water and along with the fire from Aragorn and
Glorfindel along with the latter's wrath they all were dismayed.
Glorfindel of course is the one who rescues Frodo after he had been
stabbed at Weathertop by the Witch-king, Lord of the Nazgûl. The last time
we see him is in The Council of Elrond but either way he was a very powerful
As I noted in the vocabulary Tolkien noted in more than one place that
the plural of 'dwarf' should be 'dwarrows'. He pointed out in the Letters
that it was a bad habit of his to use 'Dwarves' and if I recall correctly he
did this to make it like Elves. This was something that publishers gave him
trouble with but even worse was the American publisher that tried changing
'elves' to 'elfs' which he rightfully rejected utterly (since it's never
been that nor indeed is it a word).
In the second chapter of The Peoples of Middle-earth 'Appendix on
'The Appendix on Languages' Tolkien elaborated on the plural a fair bit. He
noted that he didn't know at the time he wrote Dwarves that it should be
Dwarrows rather than 'Dwarfs' (see below) but he did refer to it in one
place in LR; The Mines of Moria (Moria in Elvish means 'Black Chasm') is in
the Common Speech Dwarrow-delf 'Dwarf-delving'.
He notes that dictionaries would have us believe it 'dwarfs' but he
explains how and why it should be dwarrows but I feel that that's of less
interest here compared to the above.