When it comes to epic fantasy, there’s no author more universally beloved than J.R.R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings author wrote two other books set in Middle Earth during his lifetime, The Hobbit and The Silmarillion (though the latter was published after his death). But he also compiled thousands of pages of notes and world-building, which have been edited and published over the years by his son Christopher and other writers working to preserve his legacy. A new Tolkien book is joining those others this November, The Fall of Númenor, using all of Tolkien’s notes about the Second Age and edited by Brian Sibley. But just what will the new book be about, and how does it tie in to the new Lord of the Rings TV show, The Rings of Power, coming out this fall?
The Fall of Númenor
Edited by Brian Sibley and illustrated by Alan Lee, The Fall of Númenor depicts Middle Earth’s Second Age, using notes by J.R.R. Tolkien edited by Christopher Tolkien throughout the years. While The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place in the Third Age, and The Silmarillion in the First, the Second Age has, before now, mostly existed only in worldbuilding notes (and those extensive appendices at the end of The Return of the King). This book is unique among the posthumous Tolkien works, since it will be the first published after Christopher Tolkien’s death in 2020.
Tolkien has long been known as a master of world-building, though, creating entire languages and histories from scratch, so the notes editor Brian Sibley had to go on provided plenty of fascinating storytelling. To supplement the story, Alan Lee provides detailed illustrations of both shining cities and brand-new characters; Lee has illustrated several Tolkien works before, and even won an Oscar for art direction for the Lord of the Rings movies. So it’s no question that the book will definitely capture our attention.
The Second Age
So what is the Second Age, and what happened in it? The Second Age of Middle Earth is a time of heroes fighting against evil, just like the Third Age we’ve seen before, only in those stories, the Second Age figures strongly in their myths. Númenor, an island kingdom near Middle Earth, was populated by a noble race of (almost) humans, ultimately corrupted by Sauron until their descendant, Aragorn, becomes king at the end of the Third Age (spoilers). The Second Age also deals with the forging of the Rings and Sauron’s rise to power in Middle Earth. Despite it being thousands of years before Lord of the Rings, the Second Age was home to some characters we know, like Elrond and Galadriel, as well as some we’ve only heard of, like the mythical warrior Isildur.
Rings of Power Connections
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is coming to Prime Video later this year, with showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, and has been years in the making. The series is also set in the Second Age, and it seems like the story will follow along the same lines of The Fall of Númenor. The Rings of Power trailer came out this Friday, and it definitely seemed like Sauron’s rise to power will figure prominently in the show. So for Tolkien fans, there’s a lot to get excited about: a never before seen era of Middle Earth is coming to both page and screen this fall. The Rings of Power premieres on Prime Video on September 2, and The Fall of Númenor will hit shelves on November 15.
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