With Amazon poised to make a $1 billion TV show based on The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth is back in the spotlight. Although Tolkien is best known for his writing The Hobbit and Rings, he wrote many other stories detailing the complex history of Middle Earth, some of which were published after his death in 1973 and some of which weren’t. Now, thanks to some editorial work on the part of Tolkien’s 93-year-old son Christopher, HarperCollins will release The Fall of Gondolin — one of the earliest and most important tales in Tolkien’s mythology — on August 30 of this year.
According to The Tolkien Society, The Fall of Gondolin will be illustrated by Alan Lee, be 304 pages long, and be published in four editions: hardback, hardback with deluxe slipcase, paperback, and e-book. The new book will be told in the same “history in sequence” style as 2017’s Beren and Lúthien, another one of the three “Great Tales” of the First Age of Middle Earth. (The other is The Children of Húrin, released back in 2007). Tolkien Society chairperson Shaun Gunner commented on the exciting news, calling The Fall of Gondolin “the Holy Grail of Tolkien texts.”
The Fall of Gondolin takes place millennia before the events of Rings, and was written back in 1917, or at least that’s as near the Tolkien Society can figure it. HarperCollins describes the book as a tale of the war between Morgoth, “of the uttermost evil, unseen in this story but ruling over a vast military power from his fortress of Angband” (and Sauron’s boss, fyi) and Ulmo, “second in might only to Manwë, chief of the Valar: he is called the Lord of Waters, of all seas, lakes, and rivers under the sky.”
Central to this enmity of the gods is the city of Gondolin, beautiful but undiscoverable. It was built and peopled by Noldorin Elves who, when they dwelt in Valinor, the land of the gods, rebelled against their rule and fled to Middle-earth. Turgon King of Gondolin is hated and feared above all his enemies by Morgoth, who seeks in vain to discover the marvellously hidden city, while the gods in Valinor in heated debate largely refuse to intervene in support of Ulmo’s desires and designs.
The main character of the story is Tuor, cousin of Túrin, who sets out to find Gondolin, guided by the sea god himself, Ulmo. Once there, he “becomes great,” and marries Idril, Turgon’s daughter. The two have a son named Eärendel, who would go on to become a key figure in the history of Middle Earth but who still isn’t mentioned much in The Lord of the Rings because that story takes place so much later.
Tolkien considered The Fall of Gondolin “the first real story of this imaginary world.” It’s exciting that it’s getting a release now, so many years later. Again, the book will be available on August 30, and you can pre-order it now.