JRR Tolkien once described The Fall of Gondolin as his “first real story” set in Middle-earth – and now the “Holy Grail of Tolkien texts” it is to be published as a standalone book for the very first time.
The author started writing the book in 1917, telling the story of an elven city sacked by the Dark Lord, Morgoth.
He later returned to Middle-earth for his best-known works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Fall of Gondolin was set aside and never published in the author’s lifetime, but 45 years after his death the book will finally hit the shelves.
Tolkien Society chair Shaun Gunner said that many fans regarded The Fall of Gondolin as “the Holy Grail of Tolkien texts” and had “never dared to dream that we would see this published.”
The author’s son Christopher Tolkien, 93, will serve as editor. This will be the first time the tale of The Fall of Gondolin is published as a standalone edition, with all versions of the story collected together in one place.
The publication will come as a surprise to many in the Tolkien community as Christopher Tolkien had described the 2017 publication of Beren and Lúthien as probably “my last book in the long series of editions of my father’s writings.”
But Christopher Tolkien has returned once more to Middle-earth to rescue The Fall of Gondolin, the first of the tales of the First Age to be composed and part of the earliest phase of Tolkien’s mythology. It is thought that JRR Tolkien began writing it while recovering from active service in World War 1.
The work does act as a missing link, chronicling the history of Middle-earth many millennia before the events of The Lord of the Rings, and fans will be able to see how the story evolved over the years.
The novel, with images by longtime Tolkien illustrator Alan Lee, is published by HarperCollins and will arrive in bookshops on 30th August.