While recovering from chronic trench fever in a hospital after the battle of Somme, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a rough outline to The Fall of Gondolin. This would become the first tale of Middle Earth and one of the three Great Tales of the Elder Days, along with The Children of Hurin and Beren and Lúthien. These two stories were edited by Tolkien’s son Christopher and were published in 2007 and 2017 respectively. The latter, according to a 93-year-old Christopher Tolkien, would have been the last of his father’s stories that he would work on and release. Now, it seems that the destruction of Gondolin was too important a story not to be told.
Avid readers and fans of Tolkien have surely heard of Gondolin. It’s the hidden city referenced in the first book that Christopher edited based on his fathers work, The Silmarillion. The destruction of Gondolin occurred during the reign of the Dark Lord Morgoth on Middle Earth, Sauron’s mentor and predecessor. He was a god-like creature, one of the Valar that brought the world into existence with their songs. Morgoth opposed the existence of the Noldor Elves and sought to destroy them at every chance. Turgon, a Noldorin Elf led by the Vala Ulmo, Lord of Waters, built the city of Gondolin in the hidden Vale of Tumladen. Gondolin was destined to be the last Noldor city of Beleriand to be discovered and to fall to the wrath of Morgoth.
The story follows Tuor, one of the Noldor, who sets out to find Gondolin. The location of Gondolin is revealed to him in one of Tolkien’s most enchanting scenes when Ulmo rises from a stormy sea to send Tuor to the hidden city. There, he falls in love with Idril and together they bring Eärendel to the world, a very important character in The Silmarillion. Maeglen, in envy of Tuor, leaves Gondolin and betrays the location of Gondolin to Morgoth.
After years of careful planning, Morgoth finally sets to destroy Gondolin. The Elves were caught by surprise and were largely outnumbered by Morgoth’s armies and beasts. However, they held their city and ranks for days in one of the greatest battle scenes Tolkien ever depicted outside The Lord of the Rings. Most prominent are the battles of Ecthelion and Glorfindel against the mighty Balrogs. Tuor, who also fought bravely, managed to escape along with Idril and their child, “looking back from a cleft in the mountains as they flee southward, at the blazing wreckage of their city”.
The book will also contain illustrations by The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings artist, Alan Lee.
The Fall of Gondolin is due to be released August 30, 2018, in the U.S. from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
In the wake of news concerning Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series, a new Tolkien book release may fall between the cracks, but let’s not forget that the books were where it all started.
Are any of you eager to add The Fall of Gondolin to your book collection? Let us know in the comments!