Tolkien Almost Wrote A Fourth ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Novel

By Kristin Lovett on Wednesday, February 12, 2014
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” ‘I wish life was not so short,’ he thought. ‘Languages take such a time, and so do all the things one wants to know about.’ ” —JRR Tolkien, “The Lost Road and Other Writings”

In A Nutshell

JRR Tolkien wrote many more works besides his two most popular (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings). These mainly included more short stories, most set within his fictional world of Middle Earth. However, after his death, his son Christopher Tolkien published many of his notes and unfinished works, one of which included the failed, discarded draft of a final novel in the Lord of the Rings series.

The Whole Bushel

Originally “discovered” in some of Tolkien’s published letters, the author expressed his unhappiness with the ideas he had contrived, and referred to it as a “thriller.” The manuscript was only a first draft, and highly incomplete. It was roughly 13 pages long, and did not have much, if any editing done on it at all.

The basic plot of the 13 pages was laid out in the manuscript and by Tolkien himself in some of his letters. It was set roughly 100 years after the events of The Lord of the Rings. None of the characters from the original trilogy are featured in the manuscript, though the possibility of Gandalf appearing likely crossed Tolkien’s mind. The book centers around a young man named Borlas, and chronicles the aftermath of the fall of Sauron. One of the major themes was, according to Tolkien, the fact that Men far too often become satisfied with peace and splendor, almost as if they have been lulled into a false sense of security. Thus the main conflict arises from the lionization of aspects of the previous novels, such as young boys playing as Orcs, eventually culminating in what can only be described as a satanic (or perhaps Sauronic) cult, which creates the main dilemma and conflict for the plot.

Considering all that we really have are the first 13 rough pages, it is tricky to determine just exactly where Tolkien was going to take the story, but it would undoubtedly be a bit tricky to follow up the massive, culmination events of the previous novels. Tolkien mentioned that he stopped writing as he considered the writing to be “sinister and depressing,” and the plot nothing granting hope or inspiration to the reader.

It is rather strange to think that Tolkien, who was widely considered less a commercial writer than a man with a world in his mind, simply allowing people in through his words would do something that we often see Hollywood film executives doing in an effort to make more money. Fortunately, Tolkien spared us, and axed his own project before he became too serious about it. To hardcore fans, however, this writing is highly interesting, as it delves into the time period which is referred to in the mythos as “The Fourth Age,” the previous novels taking place in the Third Age. Granted, this is not Tolkien’s only venture outside of those books which are well recognized, as he did write many other works, and there are a great deal of unfinished publications (which were likely never meant to be published, were it not for Tolkien’s son). Hopefully Peter Jackson won’t find these 13 pages for his next trilogy.

Show Me The Proof

The New Shadow
Exploring Tolkien’s Fourth Age
Photo credit: Zanastardust

  • lbatfish

    Tolkien is awesome . . . .

    • Rijul Ballal

      Beyond awesome!!!

      • lbatfish

        I wonder how long it’ll take Lisa to get here? 🙂

        • TheMadHatter

          Idk she saw the Columbus one at four in the morning. And you beat me to it again!

          • Lisa 39

            Ugh, i still can’t get that pic out of my head.

          • TheMadHatter

            I don’t think you get the same effect at 6:00. There have been other things on listverse and knowledge nuts much more creepy in the morning.

          • Lisa 39

            Yeah, i can handle creepy and scary and gore and stuff, but when you see a name like christopher columbus you expect like wholesome explorer stuff not a freaky swirly face lol

        • Lisa 39

          Sorry i’m late, my s.a.d is fully kicked in but i was lucky enough to go back to sleep, tolkien rocks!

          • Ray

            Did you die?

          • Lisa 39

            Not that i’m aware of, if i did i’m feeling pretty good for a ghost lol, how are you ray?

    • Patrick Starr

      Yes! He is! I am awesome!

    • Patrick Starr

      Oh wai… Hail Hitler!

    • Lisa 39

      Oops, not quite with the program yet, tolkien is truly awesome!

  • Nathaniel A.

    Tolkien is without a doubt the best author the world has ever known, I knew about this bushel already, but reading LOTR-related stuff and ripping on Peter Jackson is always fun.

    • rincewind

      Yes. He certainly will forever be counted among the greats, together with Terry Pratchett.

    • Brad

      Uh… Shakespeare is rolling in his grave right now.

      • TheHumanSub

        Why? Is it because most of Shakespeare’s works has a resolved ending where Goodness prevails over Evil, Kings triump Usurpers and Pretenders to the throne? Tolkien on the other hand continued to write about events after the destruction of the ring such as the scouring of the shire, and the final submission of the Haradrim and Easterlings etc..

        Or.. is it because a literary work of genius has been butchered to paraphrase Christopher Tolkien

        “eviscerate the book by making it an action movie for people aged 15 to 25”.

        Or is it because rather than focussing on the themes, philosophical seriousness, or fantastic imaginative fantasy of the book; greater interested was generated about whether Aragorn or Legolas is “hotter”.

        • Lisa 39

          Mel gibson was hot in hamlet.

          • lbatfish

            Is it just me, or would “Hot in Hamlet” be a truly awesome name for a movie?

            Or a gay boy band?

            I sure hope you remembered to get a trademark for it before you posted it!

          • Lisa 39

            Awesome movie name! I nominate the super hot and studly man who plays thor to be the leading man, i of course get to be the leading lady, and i forgot about the trademark, damn it!

          • lbatfish

            Next time, just hold down on the [Alt] key, and type “0153” on the number keypad:

            “Coming Soon to Theaters Near You — Hot in Hamlet™!!!”

          • Lisa 39

            Yay! Thanks ibatfish! Wait, this means that i have to like read the book now, crap, i knew tbere was a catch, there’s always a catch, damn it.

          • lbatfish

            That’s some catch, that Catch-22!

          • Lisa 39

            I get caught there way to often lol

        • Brad

          None of the above.

          • TheHumanSub

            So, uh… why is Shakespeare rolling in his grave right now?

          • Ray

            It should be obvious.

      • Ian Moone

        I never understood why anyone even liked Shakespeare. I mean have you read Romeo and Juliet? While the poetry in it is okay (still not great) the story line is awful and the characters are rather one dimensional.

        • Ray

          He wrote more than one play…

          • Ian Moone

            Yes I know. I was just using Romeo and Juliet as an example. I don’t think any of his writing is great.

    • the big un

      Got bout 1/4 way through the hobbit and slung it in the bin tried to watch the film even worse . The game of thrones series is twice , three times the read of LOTR at least

      • Ray

        Good for you

      • Riley Corvus

        You’ve obviously never read the game of thrones books, otherwise you’d call it A Song of Ice and Fire. Don’t worry, I found the first chapter of the Hobbit to be boring too when I was a kid, but I pulled myself through it and it was well worth it.

        • the big un

          I’ve read the full series marra brilliant books well written and the author paints a proper picture in your mind of the characters and surroundings just felt LOTR didn’t and the writing style quite childish

    • Lisa 39

      I watch lotr anytime i have a free day on a weekend, i love that 3 part movie!

      • Whatisreal

        Same here! Makes most movies look terrible..

        • Lisa 39

          Right? I think its a combination of things, great plot, beautiful scenery, elves, hobbits, trolls and an awful lot of hot guys!

          • Nathaniel A.

            Who is the hot guy to you. Legolas or Aragorn? I think those are the big two in female’s eyes.

          • Whatisreal

            Gimli is HOT.

          • Lisa 39

            Both, plus carl urban who we all remember from doom (that was for you) and ghost ship, plus the 2 brothers whose names i can’t think of but their father was the crazy guy who set himself on fire, the king of gondor, not to bad for an old guy, his son, gimli in real life, pretty much everyone, btw someone on this comment section was asking for nominations for who should write lotr 4 so i nominated you!

          • Nathaniel A.

            I saw and thanked you for it Lisa, and the brother’s name are Boromir and Faramir.

          • Lisa 39

            Thank you nathaniel, i couldn’t think of their names, probably because my mind was racing through 12 hours of movie looking for hot guys!

          • Fabia Walker

            The crazy old guy was Denethor, steward of Gondor. He’s my 2nd favorite character (behind only Golem) and no one ever remembers his name D:

          • Lisa 39

            Hi fabia, we may not remember his name but we sure remember what a great performance he gave, we knew right away that he was totally insane and no one will forget how he died, thanks for the name.

          • C0gentman

            I don’t know if you consider him a hot old guy, but Ian McKellen was excellent as Gandalf. He is gay, though.

          • Lisa 39

            I know tons of hot gay guys lol i really didn’t think about him but i guess he was hot 20 yeart or so ago!

          • Whatisreal

            You forgot to say great actors, an enchanting musical score.. and what guy hasnt got a thing for Arwen. Also a big Gollum fan, Serkis is just brilliant.

          • Lisa 39

            Sorry, i got to hot guys and everything else was forgotten lol the music was perfect and beautiful and i agree about serkis, he was definitely perfect for that role 🙂

          • Nathaniel A.

            You are right about the music being perfect, I listen to it on a daily basis, and in fact am listening to it right now!

          • Lisa 39

            Lucky! I’m watching dinosaur train with a bunch of little people!

          • lbatfish

            And as a side effect of what got you seeing them, do you also have the munchies?

          • Lisa 39

            Hahaha i wish, no, dinosaur train is a kid show, i’m with my 4 year old grandson, a 2 year old who calls me grandma and my 6 month granddaughter. Munchie time will be later lol

          • inconspicuous detective

            see now this is nathaniel. not nathanborg. 😀

          • Nathaniel A.

            Well this is a very informal subject, but nathanborg will appear today.

          • lbatfish

            This isn’t really the pic that i started off looking for, but I liked it better than any of the others:

    • Patriotic Dane

      If only he finished the fourth novel 🙁

    • Lisa 39

      Today seems like the appropriate day to give you a valentine suprise nathaniel

      • Nathaniel A.

        Thank you Lisa, I saw this first thing in the morning and it made me laugh!

        • Lisa 39

          I saw it on fb yesterday and thought of you, so my 16 year old showed me how to save it in my pics, i’m glad it made you laugh!

      • lbatfish

        FWIW, I liked this one so much that I saved it, and earlier today I relayed it to Hadeskibir (who totally LOL’ed, of course). 🙂

        • Lisa 39

          That’s awesome! I wish he’d come back, will you tell him that i said hi please? I have more funny pics but i can’t get them on here today, damn it.

    • Ian Moone

      While I love his level of creativity and don’t don’t doubt his skill with words I always found Tolkien’s books a bit slow. It’s like they were so in depth they became almost boring.

      • Nathaniel A.

        A lot of people(including me) love how in-depth he is, but each to his own.

  • Emhyr Var Emreis

    Now if only hollywood make the Witcher books a film

  • Brad

    13 pages is enough for Jackson based on the sh*t he made up for the other 3 and the Hobbit.

    • Nathaniel A.

      He made very few of the plot in the Hobbit movies up. He merely elaborated on the story line by showing parallel story lines that Tolkien mentions in the appendices to The Lord of the Rings.

      • Ray

        Some of it is made up. Like parts from rivendell with Saruman, the goblin king, and the end of the movie. They basically made up every scene with Azog since he was dead before the events in the book so they made up an entire character. None of that is elaboration and that’s only the first film.

        • Nathaniel A.

          The Goblin King existed in the book, and the end scene on the cliff happened roughly the same way, but as you said, had no Azog in it.

        • Lisa 39

          Ray, i had no idea that you’re a lotr kind of man, that’s awesome!

        • http://twitter.com/enigmaticstatic Pythia

          The female Elf character is also made up.

  • bluenette

    That actually sounds like it would have been an interesting story. Too bad he didn’t write it.

  • Riley Corvus

    We need a good writer to finish this story. Any nominations?

    • Lisa 39

      Nathaniel!

      • Nathaniel A.

        Thank you Lisa, but frankly the story just doesn’t seem interesting. I wouldn’t want to read about the Fall of Gondor anymore than the Fall of Gondolin or Dale.

        • Lisa 39

          But if you write it then you can make it however you want!

  • Poke poke splat

    Worst news I’ve ha all day, to think I could be sat immersed in Tolkien’s world of wonder reading about fantastical creatures instead of on the Internet. I miss a good book

    • Nathaniel A.

      I bought the Lord of the Rings set from a used bookstore for 7$, one of the most useful seven dollars of my life.

      • Poke poke splat

        7 dollars, that’s less than 5 euros, if be all over that!!! I must have bought lotr and the hobbit about 5 times, then I come across a friend who tells me they haven’t ever read it, I lend them, never to be seen again. But on the plus side I suppose I am helping spread the gospel of Tolkien and raise the literacy rate of my amigos.

  • Solomoooooon

    If you haven’t read the Silmarillion by Tolkien you will be amazed when you do. This book describes all of the backstory. Sauron was only an officer in the army of Morgoth who is a fallen angel/ satan

    • Nathaniel A.

      If you paid attention to the book you would have known that.

  • UN

    i never read LOTR so i might be in minority but seriously doubt they’ll be as good as movies….

    • Nathaniel A.

      Your right, they are not as good. They are better!

      • UN

        peter jackson out did tolkien……..

    • Scott

      I actually feel that while the second and third books are great, the first movie was definitely better than the book. I’ve never been so bored with a book as I was with The Fellowship of the Ring. I mean shit, it took 3/4 of the book for the fricken hobbits to get off their asses and leave the Shire!

  • TheStupidityofLiberals

    Yawn….Tolkien was a Zionist that included pro-Jew propaganda in the LOTR series.