Tolkien Gateway

The Fall of Gondolin

The name The Fall of Gondolin refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see The Fall of Gondolin (disambiguation).
The Fall of Gondolin
The Fall of Gondolin.jpg
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorChristopher Tolkien
IllustratorAlan Lee
PublisherHarperCollins (UK)
Houghton Mifflin (US)
Released30 August 2018
FormatHardcover, e-book, deluxe edition

The Fall of Gondolin is a book edited by Christopher Tolkien. Published on 30 August 2018, it brings together several existing passages of work into one volume, along with commentary from Christopher.

The story tells of the ancient hidden city of Gondolin, a Noldorin stronghold in defiance of Morgoth; the man Tuor is sent to Gondolin by the god Ulmo where he falls in love with the king Turgon's daughter, the elf Idril. However, the city is betrayed by Maeglin, who reveals the location of the city to Morgoth, who sends Orcs, Dragons and Balrogs to attack the city. Despite the heroic efforts of the Elven forces, Gondolin is destroyed; however, Tuor and Idril manage to escape, with some survivors, and through their son Eärendil (father to Elrond and Elros) they are able to help bring about the final defeat of Morgoth.


[edit] Conception and publication

Tolkien said that the story was written "out of [his] head" during sick-leave from the army in 1917[1] and it was the very first tale of his later Legendarium that he ever composed. The earliest saved manuscript was written in an exercise book (that was subsequently clean-copied by his wife Edith) and was one of the stories of the Lost Tales; this manuscript was the last time Tolkien wrote the complete tale of Tuor with a detailed description of the city. He also read part of the story to the Essay Club of Exeter College in the spring of 1920.[2][3]

Later Tolkien attempted to make a verse version of it, as The Lay of the Fall of Gondolin, in the early 1920s whilst at the University of Leeds.[4] In the late 1920s he wrote a compressed version to be a part of his intended Silmarillion[2] such as in The Quenta, which was the last complete chronicle of the War of the Jewels that Tolkien ever wrote;[5] both the later works The Later Quenta Silmarillion and the Grey Annals stop before the time of Tuor.

Tolkien regarded the story as one of the three "Great Tales" of the Elder Days and wished to expand it as an independent full-scale story.[6] In this form, he started writing Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin, probably in 1951, but it was abandoned.[2]

The whole story was first published in 1977 in The Silmarillion which used as a main source the Lost Tale of 1917. The expanded, partially-reworked, 1951 version appeared in Unfinished Tales in 1980 retitled as "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin" (as the text doesn't continue beyond that). The earliest version of the story was published in 1984 as one of the chapters in The Book of Lost Tales Part Two.

[edit] 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.

[edit] Reception

On hearing the news, The Tolkien Society claimed the book has been anticipated by fans for decades,[7] whilst its chair Shaun Gunner said "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."[8] John Garth, author of Tolkien and the Great War, described the book as "a template for everything Tolkien wrote afterwards" which is the "biggest battle narrative outside of The Lord of the Rings."[9]

[edit] See also

[edit] External links


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 257, (dated 16 July 1964)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Introduction"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "III. The Fall of Gondolin"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lays of Beleriand, "II. Poems Early Abandoned: The Lay of the Fall of Gondolin", p. 145
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "III. The Quenta"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Beren and Lúthien, "Preface"
  7. "[1]" dated 10 April 2018, Twitter (accessed 10 April 2018)
  8. "The Fall of Gondolin to be published" dated 10 April 2018, The Tolkien Society (accessed 10 April 2018)
  9. Alison Flood, "The Fall of Gondolin, 'new' JRR Tolkien book, to be published in 2018" dated 10 April 2018, The Guardian (accessed 10 April 2018)