It’s difficult to find a pop-culture franchise that has the charm and staying power of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. However, more stories are forthcoming from the immense and fantastical world of Middle-Earth. In 2021, The Nature of Middle-earth by J.R.R. Tolkien is coming to bookshelves near you from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books and Media. This tome boasts never-before-seen tales that will “transport readers back to the world of The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and The Lord of the Rings.” But will it?
Tolkien was brilliant, but…
Let’s be honest. Tolkien enthusiasts were excited about the news of Beren and Luthien being published back in 2017, there was significant let-down when we got the book in our hands. Not that it was bad, but yet again, Christopher Tolkien let his editing of the source material become the story instead of letting the greatest story in Middle-Earth be told in his father’s prose. It’s possible they figured that out when The Fall of Gondolin was published about a year later. It was better, but the story was still choppy, with interjections from Christopher, which made it hard to read for all except the most hard-core Tolkienists.
Ten years prior, with The Children of Hurin, the story flowed as if J.R.R. himself had written it yesterday and without all the editorial interruption. And it was wonderful. Let’s hope they go back to that mode of story-telling with The Nature of Middle-earth.
Where do all these new Middle-Earth stories keep coming from?
J.R.R. Tolkien died in 1973 at the age of 81, but at his passing, he left troves of manuscripts and unfinished stories at different points of completion. His son Christopher spent his entire adult life sorting and filing these collections in a coherent order for readers to continue to enjoy long after his father had gone. One Christopher passed in January of 2020, many Tolkien readers thought we had seen the last of any original or unseen works. We thought wrong.
“For him, Middle-earth was part of an entire world to be explored. The writings in The Nature of Middle-earth reveal the journeys that he took as he sought to better understand his unique creation. (This new collection) is a veritable treasure trove offering readers a chance to peer over Professor Tolkien’s shoulder at the very moment of discovery: and on every page, Middle-earth is once again brought to extraordinary life.”Deb Brody, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s VP and Publisher
That’s high praise, and Tolkien fans are excited to hear it. Let’s hope it lives up to the billing. One heartening endorsement comes from David Rowe, author of The Proverbs of Middle-earth:
“It’s an absolute joy to anticipate more original Tolkien work. This new book appears to be genuinely new: new investigations and explorations into a world that we already love, and are looking forward to loving more. As with many Tolkienists, I had presumed that we would be reading no new J.R.R. Tolkien material after Christopher Tolkien’s death. So the joy we are all feeling is an unexpected party.”
When can we get our hands on it?
The Nature of Middle-earth is due out June 24th, 2021 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books and Media. Also, be on the lookout for more information on the upcoming Amazon TV production based on the more familiar Lord of the Rings tales. The show has already resumed production in New Zealand ahead of schedule. Stick with us at That Hashtag Show for all your Lord of the Rings and Tolkien news and reviews!