J.R.R. Tolkien only properly published Middle Earth novels in 1937’s The Hobbit and 1954-1955’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy before he passed away in 1973. Yet, his backlog of manuscripts and concepts remains a cache of source material for posthumous releases curated by his son, Christopher Tolkien, notably with 1977’s Middle-earth historical chronicle, The Silmarillion, 2007’s The Children of Húrin and, most recently, 2017’s Beren and Lúthien. Now, the next posthumous J.R.R. Tolkien release has been revealed to be The Fall of Gondolin.
The Fall of Gondolin is set to arrive late this summer, manifesting as a 304-page novel, showcasing illustrations by the legendary (movie-aesthetic-inspiring) Tolkien-artist, Alan Lee, released in all physical and digital formats in numerous languages in the USA by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It will also apparently be the final Middle-earth book that the 93-year-old Christopher Tolkien will adapt. Fortuitously, it will be a crucial missing Middle-earth tale, one that J.R.R. is said to have written while recovering from injuries sustained in one of World War I’s bloodiest campaigns, the Battle of the Somme, which took place from July to November 1916.
Another era from the ancient history of Middle-earth (briefly chronicled in The Silmarillion,) will be greatly expanded in The Fall of Gondolin, given away by its very title. Gondolin refers to a vast mountain-elevated city of the Elven kin, the Noldor, hidden from evil and built by lord-later-king, Turgon, after their exile from Valinor, the Undying Lands. However, after the city’s splendor endured for 400 years, it was made vulnerable in an act of betrayal against Turgon, facilitating an unprecedently devastating invasion by the orcs, balrogs, and dragons in the service of Middle-earth’s original enemy, Melkor (or Morgoth), leading to its fall.
While The Fall of Gondolin takes place in the ancient Elven city, this tale will be told through the eyes of a human, named Tuor. Born into difficult familial circumstances in the aftermath of the first great battle against Melkor/Morgoth, Tuor eventually found himself a slave to the Easterlings, later escaping to live a roguish existence as an outlaw, until an encounter with one of the Valar (the mythos’ highest of celestial beings,) named Ulmo, the god of water. Ulmo warns Tuor of a disaster fated for the city of Gondolin, directing him to travel there, giving him a magic cloak (not unlike the ones that Frodo and company wear in The Lord of the Rings,) that hides him safely from the eyes of enemies. While Tuor would make a home of Gondolin, even managing to start a family (notably siring the half-elf, Eärendil, whose star light would, ages later, be given to Frodo by Galadriel), the ominous disaster of which he was warned still looms.
The choice of The Fall of Gondolin for this – presumably final – Christopher Tolkien-curated novel is one that seems to be resonating with the fandom. As Tolkien Society chair Shaun Gunner lauds in response:
“We never dared to dream that we would see this published. The Fall of Gondolin is, to many in the Tolkien community, the Holy Grail of Tolkien texts as one of Tolkien’s three Great Tales alongside The Children of Húrin and Beren and Lúthien. This beautiful story captures the rise and fall of a great Elven kingdom, taking place millennia before the events of The Lord of the Rings. This book brings all the existing work together in one place to present the story in full.”
Of course, the release of The Fall of Gondolin will be boosted by Amazon’s upcoming – purportedly $1 billion costing – The Lord of the Rings TV series, as well as the upcoming J.R.R. Tolkien biopic, titled Tolkien.
The Fall of Gondolin is scheduled to hit bookshelves and devices when it’s released on August 30.