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New Tolkien book: The Fall of Númenor to be published
The Fall of Númenor by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Brian Sibley. Cover by Alan Lee
The Fall of Númenor by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Brian Sibley. Cover by Alan Lee

HarperCollins have announced that a new Tolkien publication, The Fall of Númenor, will be published on 10th November 2022. Edited by well-known Tolkien expert Brian Sibley, the book collects together J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings of the Second Age.

The book brings many of Tolkien’s writings together, and uses The Tale of Years in the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings in order to present the content in an order and a style that works well for readers. This convenient volume will tell the story from the foundations of Númenor, the forging of the Rings, and the Last Alliance against Sauron that ended the Second Age. Sibley has gone through the entire published works by Tolkien, and provides new introductions and commentaries to bring all the pieces of Tolkien’s original content together.

The book also comes with 11 colour images (10 and the cover), and dozens of pencil sketches by renowned Tolkien artist Alan Lee. Entirely new artwork that has been described as Lee’s “best work yet”. The book, due out in hardback and deluxe on 10th November 2022, is conveniently timed to coincide with Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power which is being released this September, and which is also set in the Second Age. This autumn will also see new editions of The Silmarillion and The Complete Guide to Middle-earth.

Speaking to The Tolkien Society exclusively, Brian Sibley said:

As my many friends in the Tolkien Society will understand, it has been a great honour to have been entrusted with the task of bringing together J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings (under the editorship of Christopher Tolkien) relating to the dramatic history spanning the Second Age of Middle-earth. I hope that this opportunity to read, as a single narrative, an account of those years, will provide a new appreciation of how the monumental events of the Second Age were to impact on those told in The Lord of the Rings.

Also for Tolkien aficionados, there is the glorious gift of ten new colour plates by Alan Lee, featuring scenes – such as the building of Barad-dûr and Galadriel leading the Elves through Khazad-dûm – that this master illustrator hasn’t previously had the opportunity to depict.

Commenting on the news, Tolkien Society Chair Shaun Gunner said:

This is an absolute delight for Tolkien fans to enjoy. Whether you’re new to Tolkien’s works through the Amazon series or been an avid reader for decades, this edition will take you through the “dark age” of the Second Age and show a different side of Middle-earth to the one familiar to all of us – and all illustrated by Alan Lee! This isn’t just about Sauron and the forging of the Rings, this is about the rise and fall of the great island kingdom of Númenor, and the history that underpins the world of The Lord of the Rings we all know and love. If you love Tolkien, or if you love the Amazon series, this book is for you.

The Fall of Númenor is published in hardback and deluxe editions on 10th November 2022.

Press release

HarperCollins is proud to announce the publication in November 2022 of THE FALL OF NÚMENOR by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by writer and Tolkien expert, Brian Sibley, and illustrated by acclaimed artist, Alan Lee. The book will be published globally by HarperCollinsPublishers and in other languages by numerous Tolkien publishers worldwide.

Presenting for the first time in one volume the events of the Second Age as written by J.R.R. Tolkien and originally and masterfully edited for publication by Christopher Tolkien, this new volume will include pencil drawings and colour paintings by Alan Lee, who also illustrated The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and went on to win an Academy Award for his work on The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

J.R.R. Tolkien famously described the Second Age of Middle-earth as a ‘dark age, and not very much of its history is (or need be) told’. And for many years readers would need to be content with the tantalizing glimpses of it found within the pages of The Lord of the Rings and its appendices.

It was not until Christopher Tolkien presented The Silmarillion for publication in 1977 that a fuller story could be told for, though much of its content concerned the First Age of Middle-earth, there were at its close two key works that revealed the tumultuous events concerning the rise and fall of the island-kingdom of Númenor, the Forging of the Rings of Power, the building of the Barad-dûr and the rise of Sauron, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.

Christopher Tolkien provided even greater insight into the Second Age in Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth in 1980, and expanded upon this in his magisterial 12-volume History of Middle-earth, in which he presented and discussed a wealth of further tales written by his father, many in draft form.

Now, using ‘The Tale of Years’ in The Lord of the Rings as a starting point, Brian Sibley has assembled from the various published texts in a way that tells for the very first time in one volume the tale of the Second Age of Middle-earth, whose events would ultimately lead to the Third Age, and the War of the Ring, as told in The Lord of the Rings.

The Hobbit was first published in 1937 and The Lord of the Rings in 19545. Each has since gone on to become a beloved classic of literature and an international bestseller translated into more than 70 languages, collectively selling more than 150,000,000 copies worldwide. Published in 1977, The Silmarillion sold more than one million copies in its first year of publication and has gone on to be translated into almost 40 languages.

Brian Sibley says: ‘Since the first publication of The Silmarillion forty-five years ago, I have passionately followed Christopher Tolkien’s meticulous curation and scholarship in publishing a formidable history of his father’s writings on Middle-earth. I am honoured to be adding to that authoritative library with The Fall of Númenor. I hope that, in drawing together many of the threads from the tales of the Second Age into a single work, readers will discover – or rediscover – the rich tapestry of characters and events that are a prelude to the drama of the War of the Ring as is told in The Lord of the Rings.

Alan Lee says: ‘It is a pleasure to be able to explore the Second Age in more detail, and learn more about those shadowy and ancient events, alliances and disasters that eventually led to the Third Age stories we are more familiar with. Wherever I had the opportunity when working on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, I tried to imbue pictures and designs with an appropriate antiquity, an overlayering of history and of echoes of those older stories, and The Fall of Númenor has proved a perfect opportunity to dig a little deeper into the rich history of Middle-earth.’

The Fall of Númenor will be published by HarperCollins with a simultaneous global publication date of November 2022, and subsequently in translation around the world.

The streaming series, The Rings of Power, set during the Second Age of Middle-earth, will be released by Amazon Prime in September 2022.

About the Author: The Tolkien Society
The Tolkien Society is an educational charity and worldwide membership organisation devoted to promoting research into, and educating the public in, the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The Society organises regular events (such as Oxonmoot and Tolkien Reading Day), publishes regular books and journal (such as Amon Hen and Mallorn), and is working towards a permanent home to Tolkien in the UK.