The Fall of Gondolin Book Review

Updated: Jan 20, 2019

Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an advanced copy of this title for the purposes of review:

Image Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

For a large portion of his adulthood, Christopher Tolkien, the son of the prestigious fantasy author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien, has labored in crafting and editing his father’s unfinished drafts and releasing them to the literary community for both scholars and Tolkien advocates to explore. It’s simply a daunting feat, considering the sheer number of books that Christopher Tolkien has released under his father’s name. And with this year marking Christopher’s ninety-second year of life, he has officially confirmed that The Fall of Gondolin, his latest entry into the edited works of his father, will be his final book that he publishes. Fortunately, this impressive task has ended on a brilliant high note. The Fall of Gondolin is both imaginative and impressive in its storytelling, layout and respect for the original source material. It highlights the very best aspects of Christopher Tolkien’s editing works and ensures that his father’s legacy is forever expanding. It is a deep, moving, and powerful work of literacy that celebrates everything that Tolkien created in his expansive, imaginative world and creates a fitting legacy for the best fantasy author of all time.

Christopher Tolkien (Image Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Like his previous works, Christopher’s rendition on The Fall of Gondolin, the third of a series of stories that Tolkien originally titled “The Great Tales,” is not a complete and whole book. It certainly has resemblance of one, but due to the book having several gaps and serving more as a textbook than anything, it simply can’t rival other of Tolkien’s works such as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit based on storytelling alone. However, it’s obvious from the very start that that was not what editor Christopher Tolkien had envisioned for The Fall of Gondolin. Any other editor, who was less mature than Christopher, would have flocked to create a whole story, filling in gaps from their imagination. However, he neither falls or even ventures into this trope. Annotations are filled throughout the book, creating a lavish experience that has angles from every visible view. In addition, he maintains the esteemed elements from other of his works, such as last year’s Beren and Luthien. At the very beginning of the work, he includes an in-depth prologue and preface that helps guide readers through the context of the story and the actual backstory of bringing the story to publication. It’s certainly a fascinating read for any Tolkien fan.

However, some of the fans of Middle-Earth often criticize these publications, stating that they are often overstated and too drab and mellow to justify a read. These are all valid points from a casual Tolkien fan’s view, a fan who has only read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and seen Peter Jackson’s franchise of film adaptations. For a casual fan, they may return the book before even finishing the preface. However, like many of his bold choices, there is still a massive reason that completely justifies this choice. The Fall of G