Best Tolkien Books: Check out the J.R.R. Tolkien books in order
There would hardly be a conversation on the fantasy genre where the legendary J.R.R. Tolkien would not be mentioned. The amazing storyteller created thrilling universes and carried us all on a journey through time, imagination, and magic. Tolkien was born in England in 1892 and fought on the Western Front during the First World War. You would realise that his experience in military service is an underlying theme in most Tolkien books. His book, “The Hobbit” catapulted him to huge heights, solidifying his authority in the genre. Let’s journey through the magical world of Tolkien’s mind by looking at some of his most revered literary pieces!
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- The Hobbit ** The Hobbit is one of the best Tolkien books on the market. The novel is set in Middle-Earth and tells the fantastic tale of a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins who leaves behind his home and comforts to join the wizard Gandalf and thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield on a quest to reclaim the home of the dwarves and lay hold of a prized treasure. This quest brings him to the Battle of the Five Armies and puts him against Smaug the Dragon. The plot of The Hobbit rests on three main characters: Bilbo a home-loving hobbit who has been thrust into a world of the unknown, Thorin a dwarf whose main goal is to reclaim his home and Gandalf the wizard who is a voice of reason and helps the group overcome obstacle during their journey. The story unfolds as an episodic quest with each chapter presented with a new and adventurous spirit. We observe as Bilbo grows to new levels of wisdom, competence, and maturity. Tolkien’s experiences in WWI drive the central themes of this book which are heroism and personal development. We see these themes clearly in Bilbo’s maturity, as well as in Thorin’s growth. Tolkien’s The Hobbit also speaks of comradery and the power in numbers. Upon its release in 1937, The Hobbit was nominated for the Carnegie Medal. **
- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy ** The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is an epic adventure that speaks volumes of friendship, love, and heroism like most of Tolkien’s works. As is the case with Tolkien books, the hero upon whose success the fate of the world lies, must embark on a life-altering quest, overcoming heinous challenges on the way. Tolkien carries us along on a journey that may be familiar to Bilbo’s quest in The Hobbit yet presented with a newness that manages to catch readers off guard. Let’s have a closer look at each volume that makes up the LOTR trilogy. **A. The Fellowship of the Ring** The Fellowship of the Ring is an outstanding opening to this epic adventure. We are met head-on with the world of Tolkien – Middle Earth, its people, creatures, and customs. It is here, in the rolling, swooping hills of Tolkien’s imagination where we first meet Frodo Baggins who has recently inherited a ring from his uncle Bilbo Baggins. But there is a darkness lurking in the shadows! With the return of the Dark Lord Sauron threatening life in Middle-Earth, Frodo must embark on a journey like none other. He must journey across Middle-Earth to Mordor to destroy the-[One Ring to Rule Them All.](<>) To aid his quest, Frodo joins a “Fellowship” with species representing a cross-section of Middle-Earth’s population. There is the dwarf Gimli, hobbits Sam, Pippin, and Merry, Legolas the elf, humans Boromir and Aragon, and revered wizard Gandalf. The group begins their journey to the forge where the ring was made so it can be destroyed for good. Gandalf the wizard acts as a spiritual guide for the fellowship; assisting the hero – Frodo as he achieves his personal legend. There are several significant locations in this book that help in our understanding of the characters and the plot: the Shire in the region of Eriador where the Hobbits live, Rivendell where the first Fellowship was formed, the Old Forest which presents several challenges for the group and Mordor, Mount Doom, the volcano where the ring was forged and where it must be destroyed. **B. The Two Towers** Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is the perfect sequel to the Fellowship of the Ring. The book picks up from the suspense of the first volume and leads us to switching narratives and new characters. When The Fellowship of the Ring phased out, Frodo and his companions had met grave danger on their quest to the cracks of Doom to destroy the One Ring to Rule Them All. The Two Towers follow the group after they have lost Gandalf to the Mine of Maria. One of the humans Boromir tried to take the ring by force after he is seduced by the immense power it possesses. Frodo and the other Hobbit Sam manage to escape while the others are attacked by Orcs. The Two Towers leads us to a new quest introducing new characters. Gandalf has returned as Gandalf the White wielding more power and sets the fellowship to the new task of liberating Rohan – a human country in the lands of Gondor. Their new task is met with stiff resistance and the group works hard to fend off the evil forces of Sauron and Saruman. **C. The Return of the King** Unsurprisingly, the Return of the King, the final part of Tolkien’s mind-blowing trilogy, is action packed and intense. To finally defeat Sauron, the One Ring must be cast in the fires of Mount Doom. But the Fellowship is faced with severe battles. Frodo is quickly losing his strength and time is running out. Tolkien goes to great lengths to paint clear pictures of the characters' internal and external struggles as he carefully drives the story to its end. The Return of the King has amazing high points like the final defeat of Sauron but still carries on with a sense of adventure that we are introduced to in the Fellowship of Ring. With The Return of the King, Tolkien raises timeless and magical themes of heroism, sacrifice, and redemption. The fire of hope burns bright even as the world around the Fellowship is swallowed up in darkness. **
- The Silmarillion ** The Silmarillion, released in 1977, is one the best Tolkien books after the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. It is a compilation of myths and stories that explores the Ea world, Nmenor, Valinor and Beleriand in addition to the Middle Earth. The Silmarillion is a depiction of the Elder Days. It is an ancient drama with familiar characters from the Lord of the Rings. The myths and tales in the Silmarillion are set in a time when the first dark lord Morgoth ruled Middle Earth and the High Elves went to battle against him to recover the jewels that contained the pure light of Valinor – the Silmarils. Here, we see the creation of myths and the history of Middle Earth. Tolkien was a catholic Christian and we can see influence of his religion within the story. In The Silmarillion we see a Middle Earth that is initially formless before the demigods begin creating structure from the void then they go on to create Man, Dwarves and Elves. All this was before Morgoth sowed evils into the earth, turned elves into orcs, and created dragons and balrogs. He eventually destroys the tree of light in Valinor and steals the Silmarils, plunging Middle Earth into a state of temporary darkness.
Other Notable Tolkien Books
How many books did Tolkien write? Tolkien wrote about 29 books, some of which were published posthumously. Discover other notable Tolkien books aside from those mentioned above.
A. The Children of Húrin
The Children of Húrin is an epic fantasy novel published in 2007 as a standalone novel by Tolkien’s son Christopher after the author passed away in 1973. The Children of Húrin is set in the First Age of Middle-earth and depicts the life of Turin, son of Húrin, a warrior who is cursed by the Lord of the Dark Morgoth when he is born. The novel closely resembles most of Tolkien’s other publications with recurring themes of heroism and Finnish mythologies.
B. Unfinished Tales
The Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle Earth is a collection of essays and short stories that were only published in 1980 by Christopher Tolkien after his father’s death. The tales are mostly considered as unfinished but have been strung together for better coherence and chronology. The Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth recounts Gandalf’s humours narratives as he transports Dwarves to Bag-End for celebrations. The tales also include the legend of Amroth, the Rider of Rohan and other interesting tales which Christopher Tolkien carefully curated. The book also contains a summary of the Lord of the Ring Trilogy and other tales you would find in the Silmarillion.
C. The History of Middle-earth series
The History of Middle-earth series shows the development of Tolkien’s middle-earth, narrating its creations as a fictional space with language systems, races and people, a history, and a future. Readers would be able to explore the Middle Earth from Tolkien’s initial notions of “mythology for England” to the development of stories like Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion whose plots depend heavily on the set. The work is more of an insider perspective of Tolkien’s creative process than it is an origin story of the Middle Earth.
D. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
The Letter of J.R.R. Tolkien is not an epic novel, rather, it is a collection of over 354 letters by the author dating from October 1914 to around 29 August 1973, a few days before he died. The letters were edited and published by Tolkien’s son Christopher and his biographer Humphrey Carpenter. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien are relevant for the picture they paint of the author’s life as well as his interpretations of his writing and depictions of the Middle earth.
Exploring Tolkien’s World
In exploring Tolkien’s world, we can understand, to some degree, the depth of his genius starting with the language and writing systems in his works. Outside his literary prowess, J.R.R. Tolkien was a linguist and philologist fascinated by the creation of languages. He created languages that possess depth and are reminiscent of languages that can be found on Earth. The Elvish languages in the novel are a combination of historical linguistics, mythology, and his active imagination. Tolkien himself annotated the maps in his novels alongside illustrator Pauline Baynes with whom he worked on several projects. In exploring Tolkien’s world, we are confronted with his interest in religion, philology, Norse, and Celtic mythology as well as his experiences in military service during the WWI.
Adaptations and Beyond
The forefather creates vast fictional universes with history and detailed origins. His works established the foundations of modern fantasy upon which other writers have thrived. There is also no shortage of where to watch Tolkien-inspired movies. Tolkien’s books have gained recognition and served as inspiration for a good number of fantasy movies, video games, and interactive media. The movie adaption of his most famous titles, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings by New Zealand Director Peter Jackson, were well received by both fans of the book series and movie goers. There have also been several video game adaptions from Tolkien books, including The Lord of the Rings: Gollum by Daedalic Entertainment and LOTR slots games at online casinos in Canada.
Choosing the Best Tolkien Books for You
Choosing the best Tolkien books for you comes down to your interest and reading preferences. Each book transports readers to a new world with its unique set of challenges while touching on subjects like love, heroism and sacrifice which aren’t alien to us. I recommend exploring different editions and formats. It is also important to read Tolkien’s books in order and chronology to understand the events as they unfold. As you may have noticed, Tolkien’s works are often connected. Each story adds a relevant bit to the next which helps you understand the premise for each plot. For example, Bilbo Baggins from the Hobbit is Frodo Baggin’s uncle in Lord of the Rings and the person who gives Frodo the ring. This may not be a significant detail, but you will find many such connections and links in Tolkien’s books which makes order important.
From Bilbo’s quest in The Hobbit to the adventures of Frodo and the Fellowship in Lord of the Rings, Tolkien offers readers an exquisite literary journey. The enduring appeal and relevance of Tolkien’s works makes them magical and timeless. You can always feel connected to characters as they battle enemies within and without and fight to restore peace and order. You see reflections of yourself in their will to triumph. Pick up a Tolkien book today and embark on your own Middle-earth adventure with mystical creatures, magic and more.