Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, or Unfinished Tales for short, was the first publication of unfinished and fragmentary material that formed part of the Backstory of The Lord of the Rings and Middle-earth. The stories take various formats: Some are pseudo-history written in a scholarly manner while others are actual narratives. They can be entertaining in their own right and give interesting details like the political organization of Gondor and Rohan, details about the ancient realm of Númenor, and a rough draft of The Children of Hurin, among other things. A gift for any true Tolkien-geek. Much more material of the same type would later be collected and published in The History of Middle Earth.

Tropes used in Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth include:
  • City of Adventure: Bree in The Quest of Erebor and The Hunt for the Ring.
  • City of Spies: Bree in The Hunt for the Ring.
  • The Chessmaster : In The Quest of Erebor (a "special feature" of The Hobbit) when Gandalf and the dwarves met at Bree before visiting Thorin accuses Gandalf of having more in his mind then Thorin's troubles. Gandalf replies that of course he did - He was a chessmaster and that was why his advice was so good.
  • Curse: Túrin
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Curse on Túrin was given by Morgoth because he was angry at Húrin for defying him. This would also be Revenge by Proxy and perhaps Sins of Our Fathers. Morgoth, of course, was not normally known for being nice anyway.
  • The Handler: In The Hunt for the Ring The Witch-King captures an agent of Saruman's and intimidates him into serving Sauron
  • Hidden Depths: The Quest of Erebor reveals that Thorin was far more conflicted and doubtful than his proud and egotistcal behaviour the Hobbit let on, to the point where he almost called the whole thing off in Bag End.
  • Last Stand : Disaster of the Gladden Fields
  • Meta Fiction: The Quest for Erebor is told by Gandalf to the Hobbits and Gimli at Minas Tirith.
  • My Girl Back Home: Aldarion and Erendis is about a Númenorean prince who ruins his marriage because of his love for the sea.
  • Noble Fugitive: Túrin
  • Noble Savage:
    • The Drúedain, or Wild Men, who are not unlike Neanderthals in appearance.
    • They also double as a race of Magical Negros.
  • Perspective Flip: The Quest for Erebor is the events of The Hobbit (and preceding it) from Gandalf's perspective.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Partial example in Aldarion and Erendis; apparently he never thought of mentioning that while he was off cruising, he was helping the elves fortify against Sauron.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying: Exploited. In Cirdan and Eorl (and in the appendix to Return of the King), an incident is recorded where the Wainriders win a victory over Gondor, and take a break to celebrate all the fun they are looking forward to. While they are drunk the commander of Gondor's southern force comes up and slaughters them.
  • The Spymaster: The Witch-King in The Hunt for the Ring
  • Worthy Opponent: In Cirion and Eorl an ancient campaign between Gondor and it's allies against the Wainriders is opened by Gondorian agents enginnering a slave revolt in the Wainriders' country while the men were away at war. The Wainrider women defend their homes against the rebels and are praised for their valor. Interestingly this is one of the few times Tolkien uses this trope in detail, although it is implied elsewhere that Easterlings and Haradrim have Worthy Opponents among them.
  • You All Meet in An Inn: The Quest of Erebor