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Sauron Defeated cover Sauron Defeated by J.R.R. Tolkien

Published by Houghton Mifflin

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

In this volume Christopher Tolkien concludes his examination of his father's manuscripts for The Lord of the Rings. By this point, the narrative had reached its climax, and J.R.R. Tolkien now needed only to take it through to the logical end. But after he had his characters successfully destroy the One Ring and with it the power of Sauron to take corporeal form, there was still the problem of bringing the narrative to a satisfying conclusion.

That proved harder than Tolkien expected, since the lives of his characters, rather like the lives of real people in the Primary World, continued after the climactic victory over Incarnate Evil. In this volume we see an Epilogue that Tolkien removed as extraneous after it was harshly criticized by his first readers.

As Tolkien was finishing The Lord of the Rings, he also returned his attentions to the story of the Fall of Numenor. His earlier attempt, The Lost Road, had been conclusively abandoned as unworkable, and this time he started afresh with a completely different narrative frame (although there are traces of the ideas of the earlier version visible here and there). This time he used the idea of a group rather like the Inklings, but set sometime in the 1980's, leaving a record of their meetings, a record which would be discovered and published sometime after the turn of the millenium.

With this framing story, he developed the idea of one of his characters being able to "hear" and "see" the distant past while in a trance state. The information that came to him was in several different languages, but all seemed to tell a similar story: of an island of humans who longed for the immortality denied them, and who in seeking to seize it ended up losing everything.

Unfortunately, like so many of Tolkien's grand conceptions, this ran out just as it was really beginning to get interesting. However, before he definitely abandoned this, he did produce the beginnings of a fairly extensive discussion of the structure of Adunaic, the language of the common people of Numenor.

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Review posted November 17, 2000

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