According to Tolkien, The Fall of Gondolin is “the first real story” of Middle-earth. The story is also the second “new” Tolkien work to be released in two years. (Beren and Lúthien was released in May 2017.) Edited by Tolkien’s son Christopher, and illustrated by artist Alan Lee, its announcement comes as a surprise. In the preface for Beren and Lúthien, Christopher Tolkien, who is now 93, described it as “my last book in the long series of editions of my father’s writings.”
Responding to the news, Tolkien Society chair, Shaun Gunner, said:
We never dared to dream that we would see this published. The Fall of Gondolin is, to many in the Tolkien community, the Holy Grail of Tolkien texts as one of Tolkien’s three Great Tales alongside The Children of Húrin and Beren and Lúthien. This beautiful story captures the rise and fall of a great Elven kingdom, taking place millennia before the events of The Lord of the Rings. This book brings all the existing work together in one place to present the story in full.
And If the title sounds familiar to you, it’s likely because the destruction of the hidden city of Gondolin is referenced in The Silmarillion.
HarperCollins, the book’s publisher, said that the story sets the “uttermost evil” of Morgoth against the sea-god Ulmo. And thanks to EW, we have a good idea of exactly what will take place during the story.
During the years that the dark lord Morgoth (Sauron’s predecessor and mentor) reigned supreme in Middle-earth, his fellow godlike Valar refused to intervene against him on behalf of the peoples of Middle-earth. Only Ulmo, the Lord of Waters, worked in secret to help the Noldorin Elves. The Noldor stronghold is the beautiful city of Gondolin, built to be undiscoverable by Morgoth’s forces. Ulmo guides a man named Tuor (cousin of the doomed Turin Turambar) to Gondolin, where he grows into a great hero and marries Idril, daughter of Gondolin’s King Turgon. Soon, however, Morgoth finds Gondolin and his armies lay waste to the city in one of the most epic battle scenes Tolkien ever depicted (including, among other things, the noble Elf Glorfindel dying in battle against a Balrog). Tuor and Idril are among the few who escape, along with their with the child Eärendel. That half-Elf, half-human child will go on to have a great destiny.
The Fall of Gondolin hits bookshelves everywhere on August 30th. The book will be 304 pages and be published in hardback, deluxe hardback, large print, and e-book.
From the Publisher
In the Tale of The Fall of Gondolin are two of the greatest powers in the world. There is Morgoth of the uttermost evil, unseen in this story but ruling over a vast military power from his fortress of Angband. Deeply opposed to Morgoth is Ulmo, second in might only to Manwë, chief of the Valar: he is called the Lord of Waters, of all seas, lakes, and rivers under the sky. But he works in secret in Middle-earth to support the Noldor, the kindred of the Elves among whom were numbered Húrin and Túrin Turambar.
Central to this enmity of the gods is the city of Gondolin, beautiful but undiscoverable. It was built and peopled by Noldorin Elves who, when they dwelt in Valinor, the land of the gods, rebelled against their rule and fled to Middle-earth. Turgon King of Gondolin is hated and feared above all his enemies by Morgoth, who seeks in vain to discover the marvellously hidden city, while the gods in Valinor in heated debate largely refuse to intervene in support of Ulmo’s desires and designs.
Into this world comes Tuor, cousin of Túrin, the instrument of Ulmo’s designs. Guided unseen by him Tuor sets out from the land of his birth on the fearful journey to Gondolin, and in one of the most arresting moments in the history of Middle-earth the sea-god himself appears to him, rising out of the ocean in the midst of a storm. In Gondolin he becomes great; he is wedded to Idril, Turgon’s daughter, and their son is Eärendel, whose birth and profound importance in days to come is foreseen by Ulmo.
At last comes the terrible ending. Morgoth learns through an act of supreme treachery all that he needs to mount a devastating attack on the city, with Balrogs and dragons and numberless Orcs. After a minutely observed account of the fall of Gondolin, the tale ends with the escape of Tuor and Idril, with the child Eärendel, looking back from a cleft in the mountains as they flee southward, at the blazing wreckage of their city. They were journeying into a new story, the Tale of Eärendel, which Tolkien never wrote, but which is sketched out in this book from other sources.
Following his presentation of Beren and Lúthien Christopher Tolkien has used the same ‘history in sequence’ mode in the writing of this edition of The Fall of Gondolin. In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, it was ‘the first real story of this imaginary world’ and, together with Beren and Lúthien and The Children of Húrin, he regarded it as one of the three ‘Great Tales’ of the Elder Days.