Tolkien Gateway

Reading order

New Tolkien fans are usually puzzled with the complexity of the works and the best order in which to read the works. The most famous works take place late in the legendarium's history, with hints to the backstory. The stories that comprise the background are relatively complex and have no obvious links to the most famous works. Furthemore, the stories-chapters-essays overlap each another, or take place simultaneously, differing only in the extensiveness of the details.

Hardcore fans read the works more than once. For example one can read The Lord of the Rings first, then The Hobbit and sometime later The Lord of the Rings again, in light of the backstory seen in The Hobbit.

There can be various approaches:


[edit] Publication history

This can be one of the most famous approaches.

  • The Hobbit
People can start with The Hobbit, as an easy and lighthearted fantasy story, which Tolkien wrote first, without having much backstory and historical details in mind.
  • The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings is the natural sequel of The Hobbit and completes the story. However it has many allusions to the greater world and ancient history of Arda.
Published after Tolkien's death, it provides the cosmogony and earlier stories of Arda. It can give the reader insight about the world they already know.
These books provide additional and extensive details about several aspects of the greater History

[edit] Rough chronological order

A less common approach is to read the saga in chronologically accurate order

  • The Silmarillion

The Silmarillion can be a complex and tedious reading for someone not already acquainted with Tolkien, however it describes the beginnings of his world.

  • The Children of Húrin, Beren and Lúthien and The Fall of Gondolin

These books give an extended version of the Great Tales of the Elder Days, featured as a part of the Silmarillion

  • Unfinished Tales

Parts of this book give insight about Númenor, the Second Age (mentioned in the Silmarillion) and early Third Age, with elements that will play their role in the Lord of the Rings.

  • The Hobbit

Althought directly unrelated to the Silmarillion, it is the next big story.

  • The Lord of the Rings

The conclusion of the story of the Hobbit as well as things mentioned in the Silmarillion (like Sauron and the Line of Númenorean Kings).

[edit] Exact chronological order

Of the Beginning of Days
Of Aulë and Yavanna
Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor
Of Thingol and Melian
Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië
Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor
Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor
Of the Darkening of Valinor
Of the Flight of the Noldor
Of the Sindar
Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor
Of Men
Of the Return of the Noldor
Of Beleriand and its Realms
Of the Noldor in Beleriand
Of Maeglin
Of the Coming of Men into the West
Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin
Of Beren and Lúthien Lay of Leithian
Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad
Of Túrin Turambar The Children of Húrin
Of the Ruin of Doriath
Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin
Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath
Akallabêth Aldarion and Erendis

[edit] External links