And so begins the first glimpses into the wider detail of the world that Tolkien created. Most authors are content with writing their story, maybe putting an epilogue at the end, and leaving it there (though most have an idea of what happens next in their own mind, though they prefer fans create it themselves). Of course there are then some authors who decide to add on sequels or prequels to further develop the world that they have painstakingly created and invested a lot of their waking hours to.
But Tolkien is in a world of his own when it comes to his mythology and history (I’ve mentioned it before in relation to LoTR itself and the detail contained within, but here I’m referring to everything else additional that Tolkien wrote). Even without going into all the additional works, like The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The Children of Hurin, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun and the History of Middle Earth (all 12 volumes of it) all of which were published posthumously by his son Christopher Tolkien, though most of the foundations of the stories would have already been set down by JRR himself, so I don’t believe Christopher is just making stuff up as he sees fit (even if he was, I think he is more than qualified for the job), there is enough additional information in the appendices to make your head hurt with the magnitude of the Middle Earth. All those other works I will read in due course, but that will take me years, and I’ll fill you in on my progress.
There are 6 individual appendices, each dealing with a different topic. Appendix A is the ‘annals of the kings and rulers’, and goes through striking detail about the history and genealogy of the King of Gondor, Rohan and Durin (dwarves). And it is fascinating, and answered quite a few questions I had about everything, and clarified just who the Numenorean People were and where they came from.
Appendix B is a chronology of the ‘westlands’, and is a dense timeline of the Second, Third and Fourth ages (up until the Fellowship’s story is complete). We don’t get much about the First Age, but we get a lot about all the other ages. It gives so much detail, that I couldn’t keep track of it all, and it would certainly take a few read throughs to get everything sorted. But it also gave us more detail to what else was going on during the war of the rings, including what the people of Dale were doing. In addition it gave a great history of Sauron, the Numenorean and Middle Earth in general. Honestly, LoTR isn’t complete without the appendices.
Appendix C contains Family Trees of Hobbits. And I can’t believe how much detail, yet again, Tolkien included. Honestly, he created 6 family trees (I know Hobbits were obsessed, but Tolkien was too) all with names and dates of the ancestors of Pippin, Merry, Sam and Frodo (plus Bilbo) and even shows who was invited to Bilbo’s birthday party!
Appendix D discusses the various calendars used throughout Middle Earth, and I’m sounding like a broken record, but I was struck that Tolkien decided to layout and create an intricate system of calendars for his world. Who does that? Honestly? I was beginning to think that we should use The Hobbit calendar, because it sounded more intelligent and more logical than ours! Though it was odd to see that they started and ended the year on the same day of the week. He even included leap years, and the rule that leap years don’t occur every century!
Then in Appendix E Tolkien becomes even greater, as he explains the writing systems and spelling of the languages of Middle Earth. I could keep up at the beginning, but then he was using English words I had no idea existed. I know he was a professor of language, and linguists was something he loved (and was amazing at) but just how much work he put into creating the Elven languages (there are two) and Common Speech, and all the rules of pronunciation. It is mind boggling! It is no wonder that you can do degrees in this stuff, because it is so complex. I struggled pretty early on in this, and eventually gave up. I didn’t understand it, and I think you might need a linguists degree to understand the vocabulary Tolkien is using, if you have one, enjoy.
The final appendix deals with the various languages of Middle Earth. From the two Elven languages, to Westron (or Common Speech), even Entish, the Black-speech and Dwarvish get a mention. He has planned out so much, and it is no wonder he spent decades creating the world that he shared just a fraction of with us. It is really fascinating stuff.
All in all, the appendices provide an even more complex picture of Middle Earth. For Tolkien enthusiasts there its invaluable knowledge and intriguing insights into the history of all the races in Middle Earth. Even for novices, like myself, they provide clarification and expiation of the ideas and stories in LoTR. I think if you don’t read at least the first few appendices, where the history is explored, you are missing out, so it is a must!
So concludes my Lord of the Rings journey, but as I’ve said, my journey in Middle Earth is far from over!