In detailing this vital—and indeed tragic—tale of Middle-earth lore, The Fall of Gondolin provides everything Tolkien’s readers expect. Given his ability to create unforgettable characters like Tuor and classical good-versus-evil myths, it’s no surprise these stories remain so massively popular ... Middle-earth stands as the most immersive and detailed fictional realm of our own age because of the different languages Tolkien—master philologist that he was—invented to describe it. Spending time in Middle-earth provides an opportunity to revel in his etymological derring-do. Characters and places go by different names depending on who’s talking, and that adds a welcome dosage of realism to the fantasy. There exists an intense sense of linguistic immersion that I’ve not found in much other literature ... The Fall of Gondolin demonstrates yet again that Middle-earth boasts its own rich cosmology and history.
Never did J.R.R. Tolkien more energetically celebrate his 'high-elven' culture. Never did he write a more sustained account of battle. With dragons and fiery balrogs galore, the attack on Gondolin makes Peter Jackson’s souped-up cinema battles look like tabletop games. Forged in the heat of youth, the tale lacks the depth and granular detail of the maturer Tolkien. The prose is clear but archaic, unleavened by the hobbit voices of later works. But Tuor, the lone mortal man in this elf-centred epic, anticipates Bilbo and Frodo—a reluctant hero unexpectedly burdened with a weighty and perilous mission ... With language honed by long years and an immeasurably enriched vision, he never bettered the rising of the sea-god Ulmo in a storm as told in the 1951 version published here. It is a tantalising testament to what might have been.
In the style of Beren and Lúthien, the previous 'Great Tale' published as a standalone book in 2017, this edition of Gondolin is an essential historical reference for Tolkien devotees ... the importance of Tuor, and particularly of his son Eärendel (or Eärendil), cannot be overstated ... For enthusiasts, these glimpses into the burgeoning interconnectedness of Tolkien’s fiction are fascinating ... This supposition of a pre-existing understanding of Tolkien scholarship serves as The Fall of Gondolin’s primary weakness when viewed as a self-contained read, but the inscrutability is also something of a strength. Patient and dedicated readers will find among the references to other books and their many footnotes and appendices a poignant sense of completion and finality to the life’s pursuit of a father and son. Deep delvers of Middle-earth lore will be rewarded with a thorough understanding of one of modern fantasy’s seminal works.
The history of Middle-earth is so intricately detailed and fully imagined, readers are lucky indeed that Christopher Tolkien is such an excellent editor. With a full glossary, additional notes, a family tree, and a list of names with descriptions, it is easy to keep track of who is whose son (Lord of the Rings fans will be pleased to note that Eärendel is Elrond's father) and which races of elves and orcs and goblins are which and live where. Tolkien also takes great care to explain where each version of the story comes from and pieces together its evolution, giving much-needed context. All this makes it easy to enjoy the tale itself, which is beautifully written, with lyrical descriptions of Ulmo, Gondolin, and even the dragons and Balrogs that devastate the city. Even the battle sequences are somehow lovely. The tone here is more like a fairy tale than the main Ring cycle, which is perfectly suited to its shorter length. This gorgeous novel is a must for more than just Tolkien fanatics.
Christopher Tolkien, in this new volume, brings to a conclusion his decades-long endeavor to present definitive critical editions of his late father’s writings about wizards, hobbits, and all things Middle Earth. The Fall of Gondolin follows last year’s Beren and Lúthien ... tells the story of a dark hero, Tuor, in the age before the events of The Lord of the Rings, and his story plays out against a backdrop featuring far more mythological than what readers encounter in the famous trilogy: in this story, men and elves interact with the gods Tolkien has set over Middle Earth, and his High Elf lords fight with monsters, and all of it centers around the hidden city of Gondolin, a long-ago legend to figures like Gandalf and Aragorn in The Fellowship of the Ring ... The Children of Húrin amply demonstrated that these volumes will be greedily consumed by their cognoscenti, although the note of finality in The Fall of Gondolin is somber. Christopher Tolkien is in his nineties and plans no further books; the literary legacy of his father will soon pass into other hands.
Tolkien so enmeshed himself in Middle-earth that he wrote countless stories and histories of it. There are college courses dedicated to Middle-earth, as well as some that teach the Elvish language. Since his passing, Tolkien's family has remained dedicated to finishing the many works not released in his lifetime ... The Fall of Gondolin is a terrific novel that once again will transport readers old and new to the world of Middle-earth.