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(Oct 26, 2005)
This is definitely a book for those who have read and deeply enjoyed The Lord of the Rings (LOTR)and The Silmarillion and who hunger for more rich material. Here it will be found. Unfinished Tales provides a wonderful collection of writings which relate closely to both the Silmarillion and the Appendices of the LOTR. When Tolkien wrote the LOTR he desperately wanted to include a much more detailed appendix than he was allowed, so go to this book for that which you thirst.
The various versions of The History of Galdriel and Celeborn are explored and show Tolkien's late revisions of their place in the world; in particular the importance of Galadriel as a pivotal figure through time. Entrancing. Also a wonderful collection of material coming from Numenor and much more detail of the process by which Sauron seduced the King of Numenor and cowed the people, and the escape of Elendil and his sons.
The chapters on the history of Saruman and Gandalf and Radagast and their blue brethren who went into the east and did not return is explained in "The Istari". Charming to read and includes some other significant statements about who Gandalf was rumoured to actually be.
Also, the history and technicalities of the Palantiri are explained as fully as you are going to get.
You'll also get the detail of the forging of the alliance between Gondor and the Northmen who established Rohan, which is not the most interesting reading but good for sticklers like me.
Throughout this collection, Tolkien also shows himself as a master revisionist who changed the details of his fictional history to help explain chance events or ambiguities in his major plotlines. I loved the post-coronation chat in Minas Tirith between Frodo, Gandalf and Gimli, in which Gandalf explains his involvement with Thorin Oakenshield.