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Unfinished Tales  By  cover art

Unfinished Tales

By: J. R. R. Tolkien,Christopher Tolkien - editor
Narrated by: Timothy West,Samuel West
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Publisher's Summary

JRR Tolkien’s legacy of short stories which inhabit the realm of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, on audio for the first time.

Unfinished Tales is a collection of narratives ranging in time from the Elder Days of Middle-earth to the end of the War of the Ring and provides those who have read The Lord of the Rings with a whole collection of background and new stories from the 20th century’s most acclaimed popular author.

The book concentrates on the realm of Middle-earth and comprises such elements as Gandalf’s lively account of how it was that he came to send the Dwarves to the celebrated party at Bag-End, the emergence of the sea-god Ulmo before the eyes of Tuor on the coast of Beleriand and an exact description of the military organisation of the Riders of Rohan.

Unfinished Tales also contains the only story about the long ages of Numenor before its downfall and all that is known about such matters as the Five Wizards, the Palantiri and the legend of Amroth. The tales were collated and edited by JRR Tolkien’s son and literary heir, Christopher Tolkien, who provides a short commentary on each story, helping the listener to fill in the gaps and put each story into the context of the rest of his father’s writings.

©2021 J. R. R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic Reviews

"Another monument to the incredible imagination of Tolkien." (Sunday Telegraph)

"Moments of mythic grandeur." (Sunday Times

Featured Article: The Lord of the Rings—The Fellowship Members, Explained


The Lord of the Rings is a saga about a great many things: the push and pull between tremendous good and unthinkable evil, the tantalizing yet insidious nature of ambition and pride, and the call of fate and destiny. Yet despite its grand, fully realized settings, at its core the trilogy is a story of the bonds forged between vastly different peoples, the unity born from fellowship, and individual capacity for courage, loyalty, and perseverance.

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What listeners say about Unfinished Tales

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Great, but read all the reviews.

I've read a lot of Tolkien. Like, "The History of Middle-Earth," a lot. Maybe too much. But he helped me escape from many a bad thing in my younger days. Visiting the Council of Elrond or sitting in front of a fire with Frodo and Gandalf was particularly nice during silent reading after... recess (A scary musical sting should probably go right here). So, I'm biased. And some find Tolkien... Let's be kind and say, "dry." But I'm writing this because I've read the other reviews and if you're at all undecided; I think you should, too.
I was disappointed not to have been one of the first reviewers, enjoying him as I do. But I've come to realize that these reviews are all very good and really represent the many different views on this man's writings all while discussing the pros and cons of the recording, etc... So, maybe you're like me and you know what this is and that you'll love it, buuuut maybe you loved The Hobbit and The Trilogy proper (no disrespect, Star Wars fans. I love that, too! But it's more than a Trilogy now whether we like it or not (and I like it!)) but couldn't stand, "The Silmarillion," Perhaps, when you saw the first part of that book was called the, "Ainulindale," you went, "Nope." Completely understandable! So did I, at first. I have quite a few friends who still agree with that completely! And if that happens to be the case with you, then you could easily skip this and not miss a thing. An opinion well represented here. And as we know: there are no incorrect opinions. Well... when it comes to Tolkien, anyway.
I hope this wasn't too long and I hope it helps. And honestly: Read the other reviews.

98 people found this helpful

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Editorial roadblocks

All the information one who loves to live in Middle Earth desires to fill in many gaps however, in The History of Galadriel and Celeborn, I wish C.Tolkien would have simply placed all the editorial comments and embellishments at the end as they are hard to mentally smooth into the story as one listens because they just seem to be interruptions like a car horn or siren when one is trying to nap. The puzzling thing is that there are extensive appendices to this segment already!! One does soldier on however when one loves something so.

35 people found this helpful

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An Unexpected Surprise, but a Welcomed One

The fact that this audiobook exists is a testament to the classical quality of Tolkien’s genius and the beautiful depth of his work.

Timothy West and Samuel West both perform exquisitely as Christopher Tolkien and J.R.R. Tolkien respectively, and this adds to the experience as a whole.

25 people found this helpful

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PLEASE DO THE HISTORY OF MIDDLE EARTH!!!

Timothy and Samuel West give outstanding performances with this reading. The roles they take in presenting the narrative and the editor's notes make it very easy to follow.

I deeply hope they consider repeating what they have done here with "The History of Middle Earth" volumes. None of these books have an existing audiobook on the market and I believe the Wests would do justice to the text.

I've heard it suggested on the Texas Tolkien Podcast that making a review such as this might garner a demand for having these texts done in audiobook format, so I'm simply here to lend my voice and say that there is definitely an audience for such a project. So please to whomever it may concern, take heed and consider bringing the rest of Tolkien's works to this format.

24 people found this helpful

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Despatch for More Middle Earth

None of the ancillary Middle Earth material written by J.R.R. Tolkein and published posthumously compares to his most popular a r works, "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings." They are somewhat stale, lacking the compelling characters and themes of the aforementioned classics. These "Unfinished Tales" might be suitable for and enjoyed by readers who are truly desperate for more of Tolkien's world, but they are not nearly as entertaining as the stories for which he is best known. This audiobook is well-produced, however, and I have no complaints about the narration. Two narrators are used: one as the voice of J.R.R. Tolkein himself, and another for Christopher Tolkien—his son—who edited and published his late father's notes in this book and inserts his commentary at certain points.

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Really good

As a long time listener of the old school Erin Jones narrated version (a cassette version from the early 80s) I was sceptical. But I am pleased with this new version, narrated excellently by Timothy and Samuel West. The content speaks for itself, so I won't rate that here, just the narration. If you make through the genealogy of the Numenorian kings, bravo!

16 people found this helpful

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not for casual Tolkien fan.

First I'll say that if your not familiar with The Silmarillion then avoid this book. Not for the casual fan, serious Tolkien fans only!

when I first got ahold of this i was hoping for more lose ends of Middle Earth to be tired up. a couple were. The first half rehashed several stories from The Silmarillon and adds a few notes on how they could've been different.
The second half is more interesting and has more background on a few places and characters.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
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They did the best they could with what they had

Hard to push through this one as it largely is more of a reference book than actual tales. this effect may be increased in the audio format as what stories there are get broken into constantly, and often at length, by footnotes. That said they didn't really have a better option for the footnotes as the explanations are often needed and they'd make no sense if saved for the end. This one is almost certainly better in print.

The mariner's wife is pretty good though, as far as it goes, and the parts with Gandalf speaking on his meeting Thorin and the Nazgul hunting the ring are also ok. the stories in part 1 (fall of gondolin and Children of Hurin) are better in their own separate books, also available on audible.

11 people found this helpful

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What stories!

Christopher Tolkien, J. R. R. Tolkien’s son and literary executor, has spent years compiling the history of Middle Earth from his father’s pages and pages of manuscripts. With academic precision, Christopher has assembled the stories in this book that complement the Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, and the Silmarillion. And Samuel West as the stories’ narrator is superb, as sensitive a reader as Tolkien pater was a story teller. The producer, to amuse us, has Samuel’s father Timothy reading Christopher’s editorial notes, making this audio production a double father/son affair.

9 people found this helpful

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For those who want/need to know more.

Highly recommend any and all who want or need to know more about the Middle Earth story. This and the Silmarillion are must reads for Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings fans. If your reading this then you’ve likely read other books by Tolkien so prepare yourself for some dry chapters but brace yourself for all the very interesting lore you will learn. Be patient because some of the best info came towards the end with Gandalf’s extra lore & the palantir, and naturally the chapter of Galadriel & Celeborn was a joy as well.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Malak
  • 05-07-21

FIX THE CHAPTERS

Other Audible audiobooks consisting of short stories manage named chapters in the app to allow easy navigation so why can’t an important book by a major publisher?

52 people found this helpful

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  • Adam
  • 01-29-22

Deleted scenes and outakes

Reading or listening to this is akin to working your way through a reel of deleted scenes and out-takes from a favourite movie. Individually these are interesting pieces, and of course they are suffused with genius artistry and world building of Tolkien, but they make an unsatisfactory whole, and for me did not work as an audio book. The Wests do their usual incredible job of narration. West Jr tells the tales with sympathetic gravitas. His Dad interjects with scholarly footnotes (reading Christopher Tolkien's comments on his Dad's work). Tales include the first phase of the Fall of Gondolin, much of the Children of Hurin, some tales from the history of Numenor, the Rohirrm and Gondor, Stewards, Wizards and Palantir.
It's for those already baptised in the lore of Middle Earth and able to swim confidently in its waters. It is not a jumping in point.
An amazing work, but not the best material for an audio book. Some of the tales don't have many hooks, and the scholarly interjections can be frustrating if you are getting into a particular tale.
But nevertheless this is Middle Earth, and expertly narrated.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Cagri Gurkanli
  • 06-16-21

Excellent Narrative Duo

If you want to have a further exploration into Tolkien's writings beyond the Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion, this should be priority. Excellent narrative duo helps immensely with the two-author-editor nature of the book. Buy it, and you will not regret!

7 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 06-14-21

Great pair of narrators!

Some minor mispronounciations my only complaint. I want them to do all the other books!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-21-21

Awesome Tolkien

Expands&explains details in the Hobbit, LOTR and Silmarilion. Loved it and will read it again.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-03-21

offcuts from world of evergreen modern classic

The first half of this collection of snippets of work that never made it into the final works of Tolkein offers little that isnt a (highly readable) precis of the denoument of the tragedy that is The Sons of Hurin.

This collection is only suitable for those already entranced by the epic of the ring that binds them all. (a little like me) we hear a little more of the often mentioned Numenoreans. i enjoyed some beautiful pastoral descriptions of the early days of idyllic Numenor......and once more see Tolkein illustrating how easily conflict born of envy begins...as also towards the end of the work similar strife is awakenened within Istar Saruman when it is in fact Istar Mythril who recieves one of the Elves three rings from Cereborn rather than himself.
Best of all is written the disaster of Gladden Fields where the war is all but lost....isildur killed unarmed exhausted and drenched having lost The Ring ,been forced by his doomed son and heir to forsake the field of battle ,and dessert.
There are plenty of other gems..a different working of Thorin Okenshield being persuaded by Gandalf to re take Erebor...how and why.....The battles for Isen and the painful ominous and unguliant movement of Saurons forces ever westward...evever closer to and by default The Shires.
Although they are mentioned fairly regularly .there is disappointingly little detail about a relationshilp between Galadriel and Cereborn.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Emerkar
  • 01-14-22

Fabulously presented

This book is for the more “hardcore” Middle-Earth fans. As more of a Silmarillion reader, I nevertheless enjoyed myself immensely when listening to stories and anecdotes set in the later ages.
The narrators are superb. Father and son wrote and edited the book. Similarly, father and son narrate the book. The older narrator reads Christopher’s footnotes and comments, as a lovely tribute to the editor who recently passed away at the advanced age of 96 (the book is published in 1980 though). Samuel West has the voice for the ageless, eternal storyteller and scholar, the real-world Illuvatar.
I would really love to listen to their version of Nature of Middle-Earth.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Alan T Butcher
  • 08-16-21

A Brilliant Format for an Audiobook.

Presenting this father and son team to deliver this audiobook of a father’s work edited by his son is a work of genius. It would be wonderful for the whole of The History of Middle-Earth series to be presented in this way. It was also wonderful to be reminded in listening to this that some of JRR Tolkien’s most beautiful writing is here in this book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-06-21

spoilt by Christopher Tolkien

some interesting stories but why did Christopher Tolkien have to keep going on and on explaining things ruining the story threads. I had to give up...

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-24-22

unable to follow

Would have been great if it wasn't for the constant abrupt Christopher Tolkien remarks.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-20-21

Many Stories of Middle Earth

This was a great tale of stories compiled into one book, this helps understand his thought process behind many off his books.
I would definitely recommend for anyone who loves the tales of middle earth.