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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
If reading J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings saga wasn't enough to satiate your hunger for Middle-earth, the five-volume Histories of Middle-earth box set is guaranteed to do the trick -- with dozens of lost tales, epic poems, maps, author notes, sketches, and a fully detailed history of Middle-earth!
The Book of Lost Tales (Part One and Two) not only contains the only full explanation of the fall of the secret elven city of Gondolin but also a fascinating account of the First Awakening of Men as told by the elf Gilfanon, as well as notes and commentary on the coming of the elves and the darkening of Valinor. The Lays of Beleriand features two epic poems dealing with the legends of the Elder Days: "The Lay of the Children of Hurin" in alliterative verse and "The Lay of Leithian" in octosyllabic couplets. The Shaping of Middle-earth contains prose fragments and historical tales of what would become The Silmarillion. Finally, The Lost Road and Other Writings is a companion work of sorts to C. S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet. (In 1968, the two authors agreed to write tales about what Lewis termed "what we really like in stories." Lewis tried his hand at space travel, while Tolkien took on time travel. The resulting work was The Lost Road.)
Tolkien's Middle-earth is unarguably the most richly described and utterly complex realm in fantastical literature. Anyone who doubts this has only to read the books in this truly impressive five-volume set. Paul Goat Allen