Reading Tolkien Chronologically : A "History of Middle-earth" Reading List by Linaewen

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Story Notes:

I love reading things chronologically, so it wasn't long after becoming entranced with Tolkien and his vast history that I decided to try my hand at preparing a chronological reading list as a way to read through Tolkien in proper order.  As new works were published, I worked them into my "system" and used it to read through the series every year.  It is not a perfect chronology, for not everything is in actual chronological order, and there is repetition and some backtracking in order to include different tellings of the same events that often provide a new detail or insight -- but for the most part it covers the history in order as it happened.  For someone new to the books, it can be a bit confusing to read in this fashion, but for those who are familiar with Tolkien and his world, it can provide a fascinating and refreshing way to read the history of Middle-earth.


Abbreviations Key:

S = The Silmarillion
UT = Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth
CoH = The Children of Húrin
LoTR = The Lord of the Rings
FoTR = Fellowship of the Ring
TTT = The Two Towers
RoTK = Return of the King


~*~*~*~*~


Ainulindalë (S)

Valaquenta (S)

Quenta Silmarillion (S)
    After Chapter 21 "Of Túrin Turambar" also read:
        "Narn i Hîn Húrin" & appendix (UT)
         [For a more extended reading of this part of the tale, read The Children of Húrin (CoH)]
    After Chapter 23 "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" also read:
        "Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin" (UT)

The Drúedain (UT)

The History of Galadriel & Celeborn (UT)
    Read the following:
    Main section [Except for the section, "The Elessar"]
    Appendix C : "The Boundaries of Lorien"
    Appendix E : "The Names of Galadriel & Celeborn"

Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age (S)
    [Read through as far as Sauron's sojourn in Númenor]

Description of the Island of Númenor (UT)

The Line of Elros (UT)

Aldarion and Erendis (UT)

The History of Galadriel & Celeborn (UT)
    Read Appendix D : "Lond Daer"

Akallabêth (S)

Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age (S)
    [Read from Sauron's capture and the destruction of Númenor to the defeat of Sauron by Isildur]

The History of Galadriel & Celeborn (UT)
    Read the following:
    Appendix A : "The Silvan Elves & their Speech"
    Appendix B : "The Sindarin Princes of the Silvan Elves"

Lord of the Rings Appendix A (RoTK)
    Read the following sections:
    Annals of the Kings & Rulers - 1st paragraph
    I. The Númenorean Kings: (i) Númenor

The Disaster of the Gladden Fields & appendix (UT)

The Istari (UT)

The History of Galadriel & Celeborn (UT)
    [Read: "The Elessar" at the end of main section]

Lord of the Rings Appendix A (RoTK)
    Read the following sections of Annals of the Kings & Rulers, I. The Númenorean Kings:
    (ii) Realms in Exile
    (iii) Eriador, Arnor, Heirs of Isildur
    (iv) Gondor & the Heirs of Anárion
        [read up to Cirion and the Oath of Eorl in "The Stewards" section, stopping with Beren, the 19th Steward]

Cirion & Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan (UT)

Lord of the Rings Appendix A (RoTK)
    Read the following sections of Annals of the Kings & Rulers:
    II. The House of Eorl
    I.  The Númenorean Kings: (iv) Gondor & the Heirs of Anárion, "The Stewards"
        [read from Beren, 19th Steward to Turgon]
    I.  The Númenorean Kings: (v) A Part of the Tale of Aragorn & Arwen
        [read to the death of Gilraen]
    I.  The Númenorean Kings: (iv) Gondor & the Heirs of Anárion, "The Stewards"
        [read from Ecthelion II to the end of the section]
    III. Durin's Folk
        [read the whole section except for the last part which speaks of Gimli Glóin's son]

Lord of the Rings Appendix B: "The Tale of Years" (RoTK)
    [read through year 2939, Third Age]

Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age (S)
    [Read from the beginning of the Third Age to the battle with Sauron at the end of the Third Age]

The Quest of Erebor & appendix (UT)

The Hobbit

Lord of the Rings Appendices C through F (RoTK)

Lord of the Rings Prologue (FoTR)

The Hunt for the Ring (UT)

Fellowship of the Ring (LoTR vol. 1)

The Battles of the Fords of Isen & appendix (UT)

The Two Towers (LoTR vol. 2)

The Palantíri (UT)

Return of the King (LoTR vol. 3)

Lord of the Rings Appendix B: "The Tale of Years" (ROTK)
    [read from year 2941 to end]

Lord of the Rings Appendix A (RoTK)
    Read the following sections of Annals of the Kings & Rulers:
    I.  The Númenorean Kings: (v) A Part of the Tale of Aragorn & Arwen
        [read from the War of Ring to the death of Arwen]
    III.  Durin's Folk
        [read the last paragraphs concerning Gimli after the War of the Ring]

Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age (S)
    [Read the last two sections which summarize the War of the Ring and end with the sailing of the Keepers of the Three Rings]




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