6th January marked the 25th anniversary of the publication of Sauron Defeated, the ninth volume in the History of Middle-earth series edited by Christopher Tolkien.
The History of Middle-earth series chronicled over 50 years of Tolkien’s literary work, covering the developing legendarium from the early Silmarillion, to Tolkien’s languages, his maps of Middle-earth, and of course the development of The Lord of the Rings. Sauron Defeated was published by HarperCollins on the 6th January 1992 as the ninth volume in the series.
The first part of the book covers the end of The Return of the King and includes Tolkien’s earlier drafts for Book VI. The most interesting revelation in this part of the book is the revelation that Sam’s immortal words, “Well, I’m back.” was never intended to be the end of the story. In this section is included the “Epilogue” where Sam talks to his children about the events that passed, and discusses a letter that Sam had received from King Elessar (written in Tengwar and reproduced in the book) inviting him to a meeting at Brandywine Bridge. Also included are Tolkien’s own sketches of Orthanc and Dunharrow.
The Notion Club Papers form the second part of the book. Set in the 1980s, the story surrounds the “Notion Club” (a fictionalised version of the Inklings) who time travel through dreams to Númenor. They all learn more about the languages and characters of the past, and increasingly consider their own connections with those characters.
The final part of the book follows on from the Notion Club Papers: The Drowning of Anadûnê. This includes several versions of the Drowning of Númenor, the tragic story of the downfall of the island of the Men of Westernesse. The section concludes with a thorough description of their language, Adûnaic, which has proven a treasure trove for Tolkien linguistic scholars for years to come.