The Lost Road and Other Writings (The History of Middle-Earth, #5)

ISBN: 0048233498
ISBN 13: 9780048233493
By: J.R.R. Tolkien Christopher Tolkien

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Classics Currently Reading Default Fantasy Fiction J R R Tolkien Middle Earth Sci Fi Fantasy To Read Tolkien

About this book

Once again, editor Christopher Tolkien satisfies the hunger of his father's fans for more of the magical storytelling that has made The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy the most successful fantasy novels of all time.

Reader's Thoughts

Linda Hoover

For an in-depth look at the history of Middle Earth from start to finish, this is the fifth one to read in "The History of Middle Earth" series of books, edited by Christopher Tolkien. An interesting look into Tolkien's creative genius at work! :-)

Artnoose Noose

I am slowly plugging my way through the History of Middle Earth series. I liked reading this volume more than some of the other ones. It contains a story called "The Lost Road" that is about a contemporary father and son who are transported back to Númenor because they are descendants who start "remembering" the ancient language. Tolkien never finished it, but it's a neat oblique story.It also contains another draft of the Quenta Silmarillion, and now that I know more about the history of Tolkien's cosmology, a lot of this stuff made more sense than when I read the earlier volumes.In addition there are writings about the languages and some maps. Admittedly I skimmed through the etymology section.Well, five down, seven to go!

Asher Riley

"The Lost Road And Other Writings" is, like the other books in "The History Of Middle Earth" series, vivid, inspiring and awesome. It is truly a joy to see how Tolkien's world came to be, and to see how his ideas and thoughts for his world unfolded into the timeless "The Hobbit" And "The Lord Of The Rings". Overall, I highly recommend this book, it's by far my personal favorite of the entire series.

Nancy Laney

History of Middle Earth Book 5


I couldn't get through all of it. I read the main beginning story - left me wanting more. I jumped around and read parts of the Silmilarion etc. which I've read in the past.

Nicholas Whyte

Getting to the end of the books about how the Silmarillion was (and wasn't) written now, this volume includes several interesting insights into how Tolkien's works reached us. At the core is the rather slim pickings of The Lost Road, the time travel novel which Tolkien began at around the same time C.S. Lewis began his Ransome trilogy. Tolkien abandoned it, and it wasn't really going in the right direction; what we have here is too episodic to be coherent, and in particular, the framing narrative has a set of slightly odd father-son dynamics going on - Tolkien's own parents were absent, largely through being dead, and the same is true of most of his more successful characters (Bilbo's parents are never heard of, he in turn abandons Frodo in the first chapter of LotR, Húrin is a distant captive while his son and daughter fall in love with each other) though there are exceptions (mostly father-figures who are over-controlling - Théoden, Denethor, Thingol).The importance of father-son dynamics extends also to the making of this book, and I was particularly interested in a passage on page 302 where Christopher Tolkien expresses his regrets that the Silmarillion as originally published was not better; he reflects on the role played by Guy Gavriel Kay in assembling the texts but in the end takes full responsibility for it himself. I was not surprised to read that the story he feels was worst served is the tale of Beren and Lúthien.There's also a lot of meaty material on the languages - an essay called the Lhammas and a set of Elvish etymologies, which brought home to me that for Tolkien his invented structure was much more than just Quenya and Sindarin, it also included half a dozen other languages spoken by different branches of the Elves, barely mentioned in the stories. I have dabbled enough in philology to sense the uniqueness of this achievement - very few sf or fantasy writers come anywhere near Tolkien's level of detail in his invented names and words, and some (eg Robert Jordan) are so bad at it that it's painful.Apart from that, we have the Fall of Númenor, and yet another rehash of the main text of the Silmarillion. I am looking forward to the next volume which is about the early versions of LotR.


Few people have ever been able to tell a tale as elegantly and beautifully as Tolkien has. Having dedicated so much of his life to his literary work shines through in his writtings. Its a tragedy that there aren't more completed works, but perhaps thats part or the magic of it all.


I really enjoyed The Lost Road segment of this book, but unfortunately is was cut short since Tolkien himself abandoned it. The Lost Road w as very autobiographical in nature and it made me feel closer to this brilliant man and finally understand what he meant when he said he did not invent Middle-Earth, but discovered it.The rest of the book was just more Silmarillion drafts as usual. Glad to be moving on to Volume Six now; I love the first age but I need a break from it after reading eight First Age books in a row.


Um.... I skipped a lot of the "extra" stuff - the explanations, commentaries, genealogies, etymologies, and just read the texts as they were written - pretty interesting, but not that much different than set out in the Silmarillion.

Steve Levai

This book provides an interesting look into the development of the narrative that will eventually become The Akallabeth in the Silmarillion. The most interesting element in my opinion is the treatment of Sauron in the various narratives. Not bad, but it won't be interesting to anyone who isn't really into the Tolkien mythology.


The different versions of the early Numenor fables and tales of the first age were interesting, but like the other volumes in the history, Christopher gets too involved even for me. Really for only hardcore tolkien geeks, or even scholars. Had to skip alot of the commentary due to boredom and just read the story versions.


This volume of Tolkien's History of Middle-Earth contains one of his most underestimated works - The Lost Road. In this short novel Professor tries to link his imaginary world of ME and real world together.ProfessorT.A. Shippey thought that balancing between those two worlds was the main Tolkien problem and it drastically affected all his writings (not in a good way sometimes, professor Shippey thinks). In The lost Road Tolkien not only links them by bringing his Numenor legend into modern geography, but also ties his son to the whole ME story, that actually became true after, when Cristofer Tolkien started to edit and combine uncoordinated wrtings of his father and actually produced whole History of Middle-Earth for example.

Justin Vestil

This book is about the history of Middle Earth, from the Akallabeth(The Drowning of Numenor) towards the First Age(which ended with the defeat of Morgoth, and destruction of Beleriand). To simplify, its the history of Middle-Earth before the time of Lord of the Rings. It is about how the Dark Lord Sauron came to be, and how Men and Elves came to Middle-Earth.For history and LOTR buffs, it's a good read. It answers questions that LOTR left hanging.


Read "The Lost Road" section for a a course at The Mythgard Institute. It was good, but I'm always a little put off by Christopher Tolkien's commentary and notes. Christopher gets a little hard to follow when he starts talking about variations in different manuscripts. Definitely will take some additional reading.I look forward to reading other sections, in particular the Etymologies, but will likely need to put them off until I have more Time.

Michael Davis

A little less engaging that the other Histories I've read thus far. Looking forward to the 5th in the series, followed quickly (I hope) by the 6th, which takes up the behind the scenes tale at the point in Tolkien's life when he begins the Lord of the Rings. Recommend this one only for the die hard or the scholar.I wrote about the experience of reading all 12 of these volumes here: (part 1) and here: (part 2). Much more detail about the series in those two pieces.

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