March 25th has been designated Tolkien Reading Day in honour of the. English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor J R R Tolkien, CBE, whois Best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. He was Born on 3 January 1892 in Bloemfontein. His first novel was The Hobbit which was originally intended as a bed time story for his son Christopher but proved so popular that it was subsequently Published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim.
Set in a time “Between the Dawn of Færie and the Dominion of Men”,The Hobbit follows the sometimes dangerous, but at all times exciting quest of home-loving hobbit Bilbo Baggins who joins the Wizard Gandalf and a company of thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Okenshield on a dangerous journey to the Lonely Mountain, to reclaim the kingdom of Erabor and the many treasures which have been stolen by the fearsome dragon Smaug. Along the way they encounter many hazards including Cave Trolls, Giant Spiders, Hordes of Orcs and Imprisonment by the Elves of Mirkwood Forest, as if that wasn’t enough something decidedly dodgy is also stirring in the Fortress of Dol Gulder, to the South-East of Mirkwood and there is plenty of related material in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings and Unfinished Tales, about the rise of the Necromancer and the subsequent Battle of Dol Guldur. The story culminates in a big battle between the men of Dale, The Elves of Mirkwood, The Dwarves of Erabor, the Hordes of Orcs and the Eagles as they all try to reclaim the treasure stolen by Smaug.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS
The Hobbit became such a success he was asked to write a follow up and Tolkien’s next novel The Lord of the Rings was Published as three volumes over the course of a year from 21 July 1954 to October 1955,as The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. The title of the novel refers to the story’s main antagonist, the Dark Lord Sauron, who Long before the events of the novel created One Ring to rule the other Rings of Power as the ultimate weapon in his campaign to conquer and rule all of Middle-earth and corrupt everyone. He is defeated in battle, and Isildur cuts the One Ring from Sauron’s finger, claiming it as an heirloom for his line.Sadly though Isildur is later ambushed and killed by Orcs in the Gladden Fields, and the Ring is lost in the River Anduin.
Over two thousand years later, the Ring is found by a river-dwelling stoor called Déagol. His friend Sméagol immediately falls under the Ring’s spell and strangles Deagol to acquire it. Sméagol is banished and hides under the Misty Mountains, where the Ring extends his lifespan and transforms him over the course of hundreds of years into a twisted, corrupted creature called Gollum. Sadly He loses the Ring during The Hobbit, and Bilbo Baggins finds it. Meanwhile, Sauron takes a new physical form and reoccupies his old realm of Mordor. Gollum sets out in search of the Ring, but is captured by Sauron, who learns from him that Bilbo Baggins now has it. Gollum is set loose, and Sauron, who needs the Ring to regain his full power, sends forth his powerful servants, the Nazgûl, to seize it. Meanwhile back in the Shire, the hobbit Frodo Baggins inherits the Ring from Bilbo, his cousin and guardian. Neither is aware of its origin, however Gandalf the Grey, a wizard and old friend of Bilbo, suspects the Ring’s identity. When he becomes certain, he advises Frodo to take it away from the Shire. So Frodo leaves, accompanied by his gardener and friend, Samwise (“Sam”) Gamgee, and two cousins, Meriadoc (“Merry”) Brandybuck and Peregrin (“Pippin”) Took.
They are nearly captured by the Nazgûl while still in the Shire, but manage to escape, and are aided by the enigmatic Tom Bombadil, who seems curiously unaffected by the Ring’s corrupting influence. After stopping in the town of Bree they meet Aragorn, Isildur’s heir. He persuades them to take him on as guide and protector. They flee from Bree after narrowly escaping another assault, but the Nazgûl attack them on the hill of Weathertop, wounding Frodo with a Morgul blade. Aragorn leads the hobbits toward the Elven refuge of Rivendell, while Frodo gradually succumbs to the wound. The Ringwraiths nearly overtake Frodo at the Ford of Bruinen, but flood waters summoned by Elrond, master of Rivendell, rise up and overwhelm them.Frodo recovers in Rivendell under the care of Elrond. The Council of Elrond reveals much significant history about Sauron and the Ring, as well as the news that Sauron has corrupted Gandalf’s fellow wizard, Saruman. The Council decides that the best course of action is to destroy the Ring, which can only be done by returning it to the flames of Mount Doom in Mordor, where it was forged So the hobbits Frodo Baggins, Samwise “Sam” Gamgee, Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck and Peregrin “Pippin” Took, aided by the hobbits’ chief allies and travelling companions: Aragorn, a Human Ranger; Boromir, son of the Ruling Steward Denethor of the realm of Gondor; Gimli, a Dwarf warrior; Legolas, an Elven prince; and Gandalf, a Wizard set off on a perilous quest across Middle Earth to destroy the Ring in the Fires of Mount Doom. Encountering many dangers along the way including The Machinations of corrupted wizard Saruman, The Nazgul, Hordes of vicious orcs, and The Ancient Demonic and fiery Balrog. They are helped along by Galadriel and Celeborn after they take refuge in the Elven forest of Lothlórien.
THE TWO TOWERS
Merry & Pippin are captured by Orcs but manage to escape and are befriended by Treebeard, the oldest of the tree-like Ents. who roused from their customarily peaceful ways by Merry and Pippin, attack Isengard, Saruman’s stronghold, and trap the wizard in the tower of Orthanc. The rest of the company ride to Edoras, the capital of Rohan, where they meet Théoden, King of Rohan, whom Gandalf convinces to ride to the ancient fortress of Helm’s Deep to engage Saruman’s forces, and are joined by company of the Rohirrim. Gandalf then convinces Treebeard to send an army of Huorns to the aid of Théoden at Helm’s Deep, and the Huorns destroy Saruman’s army. Frodo and Sam capture Gollum, who had been following them from Moria, and force him to guide them to Mordor. Finding Mordor’s Black Gate too dangerous to attempt, they travel instead to a secret passage Gollum knows. Torn between his loyalty to Frodo and his desire for the Ring, Gollum eventually betrays Frodo by leading him to the great spider Shelob in the tunnels of Cirith Ungol. Frodo is felled by Shelob’s bite, but Sam fights her off. Sam takes the Ring and leaves Frodo, believing him to be dead. When orcs find Frodo, Sam overhears them say that Frodo is only unconscious, and Sam determines to rescue him.
THE RETURN OF THE KING
Having been defeated at Helm’s Deep Sauron unleashes a heavy assault upon Gondor. Gandalf arrives with Pippin at Minas Tirith to alert Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, of the impending attack. The city is besieged, and Denethor, under the influence of Sauron through another palantír, despairs and commits suicide, nearly taking his remaining son Faramir with him. With time running out, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli take the Paths of the Dead, where Aragorn raises an undead army of oath-breakers bound by an ancient curse. The ghostly army help them to defeat the Corsairs of Umbar invading southern Gondor. The forces of Gondor and Rohan break the siege of Minas Tirith. Sam rescues Frodo from the tower of Cirith Ungol, and they cross Mordor. Meanwhile, in order to distract Sauron from his true danger, Aragorn leads the the armies of Gondor and Rohan in a march on the Black Gate of Mordor. His vastly outnumbered troops fight desperately against Sauron’s armies. At the edge of the Cracks of Doom, Frodo is unable to resist the Ring any longer, and claims it for himself. Gollum suddenly reappears, struggles with Frodo and bites off his finger, Ring and all. Celebrating wildly, Gollum falls into the fire, taking the Ring with him.
the Silmarrillion was devised prior to the publication of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien’s publisher requested a sequel to The Hobbit, and Tolkien sent them an early draft of The Silmarillion which comprises five parts. The first part, Ainulindalë, tells of the creation of Eä, the “world that is”. Valaquenta, the second part, gives a description of the Valar and Maiar, the supernatural powers in Eä. The next section, Quenta Silmarillion, which forms the bulk of the collection, chronicles the history of the events before and during the First Age, including the wars over the Silmarils which gave the book its title. The fourth part, Akallabêth, relates the history of the Downfall of Númenor and its people, which takes place in the Second Age. The final part, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, is a brief account of the circumstances which led to and were presented in The Lord of the Rings.Ainulindalë and Valaquenta.
The first section of The Silmarillion, Ainulindalë (“The Music of the Ainur”), takes the form of a primary creation narrative. Eru (“The One”, also called Ilúvatar (“Father of All”), first created the Ainur, a group of eternal spirits or demiurges, called “the offspring of his thought”. Ilúvatar brought the Ainur together and showed them a theme, from which he bade them make a great music. Melkor — whom Ilúvatar had given the “greatest power and knowledge” of all the Ainur — broke from the harmony of the music to develop his own song. Some Ainur joined him, while others continued to follow Ilúvatar, causing discord in the music. This happened thrice, with Eru Ilúvatar successfully overpowering his rebellious subordinate with a new theme each time. Ilúvatar then stopped the music and showed them a vision of Arda and its peoples. The vision disappeared after a while, and Ilúvatar offered the Ainur a chance to enter into Arda and govern over the new world. Many Ainur descended, taking physical form and becoming bound to that world. The greater Ainur became known as Valar, while the lesser Ainur were called Maiar. The Valar attempted to prepare the world for the coming inhabitants (Elves and Men), while Melkor, who wanted Arda for himself, repeatedly destroyed their work; this went on for thousands of years until, through waves of destruction and creation, the world took shape. Valaquenta “Account of the Valar” describes Melkor and each of the 14 Valar in detail, as well as a few of the Maiar. It also reveals how Melkor seduced many Maiar — including Sauron into serving him.
Quenta Silmarillion (“The History of the Silmarils”) ,makes up the bulk of the book, and is a series of interconnected tales set in the First Age that make up the tragic saga of the three jewels, the Silmarils. It features the God-like Valar, who create the world for Elves and Men, but are continually plagued by the evil Melkor, who destroys the two lights that illuminated the world, so the Valar move to Aman, a continent to the west of Middle-earth, and establish Valinor, illuminated by Two trees, leaving Middle-earth in darkness. Soon stars began to shine on Middle Earth waking the Elves and the Valar try to keep them safe from Melkor, who is eventually captured. The Elves are invited to live in Aman and some leave, while others stay in Middle Earth, including the Sindar, who are ruled by the Elf King Thingol and Melian, a Maia. Of the three Elf tribes that set out, all of the Vanyar and Noldor, and many of the Teleri reached Aman, where Fëanor, son of Finwë, King of the Noldor, creates the Silmarils, jewels which glowed with the light of the Two Trees. However after being released Melkor, destroyd the Two Trees with the help of Ungoliant, kills Finwë, and steals the Silmarils, fleeing to Middle-earth, and attacking the Elvish kingdom of Doriath. However he is defeated in the first of five battles of Beleriand, and barricades himself in his northern fortress of Angband. So Fëanor and his sons swear an oath of vengeance against Melkor and anyone who withholds the Silmarils from them, inclluding the Valar. The Noldor pursue Melkor, whom Fëanor renames Morgoth. Fëanor’s sons seize ships from the Teleri, attacking and killing many of them, and leave the other Noldor to make the voyage by foot. Upon arriving in Middle-earth, the Noldor under Fëanor attacked Melkor and defeat him, though Fëanor is killed by a Balrog . After a period of peace, Melkor attacks the Noldor but is defeated and besiege for 400 years before eventually breaking the siege and driving the Noldor back. Following the destruction of the Trees and the theft of the Silmaril, the Valar create the moon and sun, which awakens Men who settle in Beleriand and ally themselves to the Elves.
Beren a man who had survived the latest battle, arrives in Doriath, falls in love with the elf named Lúthien, the king’s daughter. However the king tries to prevent their marriage by imposing an impossible task: retrieving one of the Silmarils from Melkor. So Beren and Lúthien set out to retrieve a Silmaril but are caught and imprisoned by Sauron a powerful servant of Melkor, however the manage to escape and get inside Melkor’s fortress at Angband before taking a Silmaril from Melkor’s Crown. Having achieved the task, the first union of man and elf was formed, though Beren was soon mortally wounded and Lúthien also died of grief. The Noldor, seeing that a mortal and an elf-woman could infiltrate Angband, attacked again with a great army of Elves, Dwarves and Men. But are deceived by Melkor, and defeated. However, many Men remained loyal to the Elves and were honoured thereafter.
None received more honour than the brothers Húrin and Huor. Melkor captured Húrin, and cursed him to watch the downfall of his kin. Húrin’s son, Túrin Turambar, was sent to Doriath, leaving his mother and unborn sister behind in his father’s kingdom (which had been overrun by the enemy). Túrin achieved many great deeds of valor, the greatest being the defeat of the dragon Glaurung. Despite his heroism, however, Túrin was plagued by the curse of Melkor, which led him unwittingly to murder his friend Beleg and to marry and impregnate his sister Nienor, whom he had never met before, and who had lost her memory through Glaurung’s enchantment. Before their child was born, the bewitchment was lifted as the dragon lay dying. Nienor, realizing what grew within her, took her own life. Upon learning the truth, Túrin threw himself on his sword. Huor’s other son, Tuor, became involved in the fate of the hidden Noldorin kingdom of Gondolin. He married Idril, daughter of Turgon, Lord of Gondolin (the second union between Elves and Men). When Gondolin fell, betrayed from within by Maeglin, Tuor saved many of its inhabitants from destruction. All of the Elvish kingdoms in Beleriand eventually fell, and the refugees fled to a haven by the sea created by Tuor. The son of Tuor and Idril, Eärendil the Half-elven, was betrothed to Elwing, herself descended from Beren and Lúthien. Elwing brought Eärendil the Silmaril of Beren and Lúthien, and using its light Eärendil travelled across the sea to Aman to seek help from the Valar. The Valar obliged; they attacked and defeated Melkor, completely destroying his fortress Angband and sinking most of Beleriand; and they expelled Melkor from Arda. This ended the First Age of Middle-earth. Eärendil and Elwing had two children: Elrond and Elros. As descendants of immortal elves and mortal men, they were given the choice of which lineage to belong to: Elrond chose to belong to the Elves, while his brother Elros became the first king of Numenor
Akallabêth (“The Downfallen” recounts the rise and fall of the island kingdom of Númenor, inhabited by the Dúnedain. After the defeat of Melkor, the Valar gave the island to the three loyal houses of Men who had aided the Elves in the war against him. Through the favor with the Valar, the Dúnedain were granted wisdom and power and life more enduring than any other of mortal race had possessed, making them comparable to the High-Elves of Aman. Indeed, the isle of Númenor lay closer to Aman than to Middle-earth. But their power lay in their bliss and their acceptance of mortality. The fall of Númenor was brought about by the corrupted Maia Sauron (formerly a chief servant of Melkor), who arose during the Second Age and tried to conquer Middle-earth.The Númenóreans moved against Sauron, who saw that he could not defeat them with force and allowed himself to be taken as a prisoner to Númenor. There he quickly enthralled the king, Ar-Pharazôn, urging him to seek out the immortality that the Valar had apparently denied him, thus nurturing the seeds of envy that the Númenóreans had begun to hold against the Elves of the West and the Valar. So it was that all the knowledge and power of Númenor was turned towards seeking an avoidance of death; but this only weakened them and sped the gradual waning of the lifespans to something more similar to that of other Men. Sauron urged them to wage war against the Valar themselves to win immortality, and to worship his old master Melkor, whom he said could grant them their wish. Ar-Pharazôn created the mightiest army and fleet Númenor had seen, and sailed against Aman.
The Valar and Elves of Aman, stricken with grief over their betrayal, called on Ilúvatar for help. When Ar-Pharazôn landed, Ilúvatar destroyed his fleet and drowned Númenor itself as punishment for the rebellion against the rightful rule of the Valar. Ilúvatar created a great wave, such as had never before been seen, which utterly destroyed and submerged the isle of Númenor, killing all but those Dúnedain who had already sailed east, and changing the shape of all the lands of Middle-earth. Sauron’s physical manifestation was also destroyed in the ruin of Númenor, but as a Maia his spirit returned to Middle-earth, now robbed of the fair form he once had. Some Númenóreans who had remained loyal to the Valar were spared and were washed up on the shores of Middle-earth, where they founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor. Among these survivors were Elendil their leader, and his two sons Isildur and Anárion who had also saved a seedling from Númenor´s white tree, the ancestor of that of Gondor. They founded the Númenórean Kingdoms in Exile: Arnor in the north and Gondor in the south. Elendil reigned as High-king of both kingdoms, but committed the rule of Gondor jointly to Isildur and Anárion. The power of the kingdoms in exile was greatly diminished from that of Númenor, “yet very great it seemed To the Wild Men of Mddle Earth.
The Children of Húrin was also published posthumously by Christopher Tolkien and tells the unfortunate story of the Children of Hurin Thalion who was chained to a rock by the evil Melkur/Morgoth and forced to watch the ultimately tragic downfall of his son Túrin Turambar who is separated from his sister Nienor from an early age and sent to Doriath, and after at first proving himself to be a mighty warrior and achieving many great deeds in Middle Earth and defeating many enemies, falls foul of the sinister machinations of the evil dragon Glaurung around the fall of Elven kingdom of Gondolin. The material was compiled by Christopher Tolkien from The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth, and unpublished manuscripts.