An Adventure in Tolkien: The Unfinished Tales, Third Age

Previously on An Adventure in Tolkien: I’m still trying to pretend I don’t know that Aragorn and Arwen are first cousins.

Annnnnd we’re back! I promise this is the last post you’ll see from me regarding The Unfinished Tales, though nowhere near the last Tolkien post. There are still SEVERAL more to come just about him and his world in general. Again, we’ve already done the First Age & Second Age, both of which I’ve just linked since we’re at the end, and I recommend reading the first two, or at least the introduction on the first one, or whatever, don’t read anything, don’t even read this, I’m really just here to have a good time and scream about what a genius madman Tolkien was.

What, you thought this was suddenly going to turn into a serious review?

The Third Age

The Disaster of the Gladden Fields

Is it a good idea for me to be starting this right now? PROBABLY NOT, GONNA DO IT ANYWAY. I am exhausted. I just finished reading 200 pages of another book. I’m so sick of being in the space I’m currently in. But I need something familiar (ish) to carry me through the next hour until I get to go home, so here we are.

wow jfc there are TEN footnotes on the first page, chill out

Ohhhhhh, this is Isildur’s death! I was trying to figure out why everything sounded so familiar, and then realized we get shots of this in the beginning of the Fellowship movie.

Also, there’s a note somewhere that Aragorn later gives Sam one of the jewels that he finds when he becomes Elessar, king of Arnor, and discovers a horde of stolen things in Saruman’s tower, and I swear, I’m not crying at all.

Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan

OH OH OH already this title tells me this section is going to contain a lot of screaming. GUYS. Do you even know how much I love Gondor & Rohan? Probably not because you assume I’m at least mildly sane, despite these reviews.

Life is so good. I am so, so grateful to be alive. 🌊 #ocean #tattoo #lordoftherings (at Nahant Beach)


This had always been the custom of Gondor, that the King, if he willed, should command his army in a major battle, provided that an heir with undisputed claim to the throne was left behind.

hi yes please mark this down as one of the top reasons why I love the race of Men

Like, I don’t want kingly men standing high on a cliff watching their army die in battle, I want them in the thick of things, fighting off the enemy side-by-side with their men. I don’t want Denethor, I want Faramir.

YES. OKAY. So we’ve got the Éothéod, who are the Rohirrim’s ancestors, and let me tell you, they’re just as cool as the Rohirrim.


Also, this section is honestly mostly boring. There’s no dialogue and no, like, actual main characters. Like, we get what the kings names were, and we know the different captains, but no one is actually interacting, it’s just long paragraphs of describing a battle. It’s definitely first draft kind of stuff where Tolkien was just starting to figure out how the different moving pieces worked together.

But, this has been split into subsections, and the next one is called The Ride of Eorl, and if I remember my Rohirrim-obsessed research correctly, he’s where Forth Eorlingas comes from. Stay tuned.

Things I did not know:

The éored with which Éomer pursues the Orcs had 120 Riders… No such host, of course, had ever ridden all together to war beyond the Mark; but Théoden’s claim that he might, in this great peril, have led out an expedition of ten thousand Riders was no doubt justified. The Rohirrim had increased since the days of Folcwine, and before the attacks of Saruman a Full Muster would probably have produced many more than twelve thousand Riders… In the event, owing to the losses in the western war, the hastiness of the Muster, and the threat form North and East, Théoeden only led out a host of some six thousand spears, though this was still the greatest riding of the Rohirrim that was recorded since the coming of Eorl.

This is one of Christopher’s notes, and like, I knew there were a lot of Rohirrim in the ROTK scenes, but holy hot damn, SIX THOUSAND RIDERS! Das a lot.

Oh yeah, this is great. So Cirion is Steward of Gondor and Eorl is King (Lord?) of Rohan, and after Eorl helps Cirion out big time, Cirion decides he has to pay his respects, but he wants to make sure he does it in the most meaningful way possible, so Cirion tells Eorl to go hang out in one of his cities for a bit and he’ll call him in three months time to discuss the details of his plan to honor Eorl.

They part ways, and after three months, they meet again, but Cirion’s had this passage cleared in the Whispering Wood that hasn’t been walked since he was young and with his father. It’s a very meaningful place for him, and Eorl understands this as they walk through. Cirion leads them through the woods, and they don’t talk a bunch because it feels like a sacred place. Eventually, they come out of the woods and onto a hill, and Cirion pauses. “To Eorl I will give in free gift all the great land of Calendardhon from Anduin to Isen,” he says. This is a mighty gift, and Cirion gives it freely, but also asks if Eorl might say an oath of friendship between Gondor and Rohan with him so that “its enemies shall be their enemies” and basically keep them both safe forevermore. Eorl’s like bro because this is truly a mighty gift, and obviously he accepts, but he also thinks the friendship oath sounds like a bang-up idea, so they keep climbing past the hill.

And do you know where Cirion brings them?

“Is this then a tomb? But what great man of old lies here?”

“Have you not read the letters?” said Cirion.

“I have,” said the Prince, “and therefore I wonder; for the letters are lambe, ando, lambe, but there is no tomb for Elendil, nor has any man since his day dared to use that name.”

Nonetheless this is his tomb,” said Cirion; “and from it comes the awe that dwells on this hill and in the woods below. From Isildur who raised it to Meneldil who succeeded him, and so down all the line of the Kings and down the line of the Stewards even to myself, this tomb has been kept a secret by Isildur’s command… I have brought you here, so that the oaths here taken may seem of deepest solemnity to ourselves and to our heirs upon either side.”


Eorl the Young, Donato Giancola
Art by Donato Giancola

All I can find is this art of Eorl, so it’ll have to suffice.

Cirion was so amazed at Eorl coming to his aid that he brought him to Elendil’s grave so that they could swear a solemn oath of friendship, and then they both swore the oaths in high languages instead of just common tongue, and I cannot with how dramatic Tolkien made his characters. So basically, whoever ended up breaking the promise between Cirion and Eorl is dead to me.


Also, yes, can confirm Forth Eorlingas comes from Eorl, first King of the Éothéod, later called the Rohirrim. Basically, it translates to “ride now, people of Eorl!”

The Quest of Erebor


Gandalf & Dwarves
Art by innocence777

Someday, I’ll stop crying about Gandalf because when I look at him now, all I can see is baby Olórin. Today is not that day.

…when Bilbo was thirty-one: Gandalf says later that he had not quite come of age [thirty-three] when he last saw him.

wait there’s a meme for this

Tolkien taught at university. He totally knew what... - #20s #knew #taught #Tolkien #totally #university

I NEED Y’ALL TO APPRECIATE HOW LONG IT TOOK ME TO FIND THIS (oh good reminder I’m saving it right now)

Oh, this section is SO COOL! It’s set post-ROTK, and the hobbits + Gimli are hanging out with Gandalf and just asking him a million questions, so he tells the tale of how he decided Thorin and Bilbo should work together, as well as the fact that he might have “foreseen” them needing to work together so that certain things could be put in motion to eventually defeat Sauron. This is so interesting.

The Hunt for the Ring

I am going to finish this damn book today, which means you’re going to get this damn review on Christmas. Honestly feels like the perfect way to celebrate Christmas?

Okay, look, I am trash for Melkor/Mairon, and I will never stop, so you have to experience this with me.

But the power of the White Ring he would not defy, nor enter yet into Lórien.

So Sauron’s starting to actively search for the ring, and the Nine are approaching the Shire in the hopes of stealing it back. And because fanfiction is a thing, and The Silmarillion is a thing, I have a pretty crystal clear image of Sauron now. Yes, he “died” at the end of the Second Age, and so he’s basically just pure evil and can’t take his fair Maiar form anymore, so everything is just bad for him. But all I can picture is him pacing restlessly in Mordor, unable to leave his fortress lest he die again, ruminating on all the ways his plans have gone wrong, and there’s just this quiet tiny part in the back of his brain that wishes he could turn back time and figure out how to keep Morgoth by his side, how he could save him from exile so that they might rule together.

Because you can demonize Sauron all you want. I’m fully agreeing with you, he’s the worst, he deserves everything and more. But there was a sweet version of him, long, long ago, and that’s still probably lingering in there somewhere, because he is still technically a Maiar and elf-life, and I just–

Melkor & Mairon
Art by Phobs

The amount of times I think about this art strip of Sauron’s soul returning to his Maiar form as all evil from Middle-earth is being wiped out and seeking out Melkor’s exiled soul for one last moment between them is a lot, and it makes me cry every time.

Like, ya boy won’t even go into Lórien because Galadriel’s light is too much, and he’s stuck in Mordor, where it’s just doom and gloom all day long, and all Morgoth ever wanted was a little peace and quiet, and now Sauron’s kind of thinking maybe he was right and if only he could just have Morgoth here again maybe they could figure things out together, AND DON’T TAKE MY HEADCANON AWAY FROM ME.

Also, like, totally also a headcanon that Sauron tried to mentor Saruman just as Morgoth did with him when he was still Mairon, but it obviously didn’t work out, and so Sauron’s super bitter about that, which is why he’s a petty bitch to Saruman.

Which is probably not even headcanon, it’s just canon because reading between the lines isn’t all that necessary when it comes to Tolkien because he hints so heavily at things in his notes. Christopher is currently piecing together four different versions of the same story, and all of them include Sauron’s internal thoughts, and it’s lowkey the best part of this section so far.

Okay, wait, but something I’m confused on. When Gollum is first kidnapped by Sauron, he’s released, and then Aragorn finds him, and he spends some time in captivity with Thranduil. Gandalf’s privy to all this, so Saruman kidnaps Gandalf and basically tries to torture out where the location of the Shire is, sooooooo why does Gandalf go to Saruman for advice after he leaves the Shire (the first time, when he’s making sure old Bilbo has the Ring)? Have I just got my timeline super confused?

Angmar & Khamul as Nazgul >3
Khamûl & Angmar
Art by Phobs

okay HOLD UP

The power of the LOTR fandom is nuts. The power of Tolkien is nuts. So, there’s this little naïve part of my brain that grew up thinking that the Stormtroopers in Star Wars were just mindless robots. Consider me appropriately shocked at age 20-something when Finn is a Stormtrooper and WHAT Stormtroopers are people inside of robot-looking costumes??? Don’t ask questions, I seriously thought Santa was real until I was twelve, and I decided it was opposite day when I found out he wasn’t. (Thank you, Spongebob.) That same naïve part of my brain thought the Nazgûl were mindless creatures being controlled by Sauron. I understand that they were once men and were tortured into evil and blah blah blah, but the movies do a really good job at pushing that idea home. They don’t talk all that much, and when they do, it’s mostly one word or a brief threatening phrase.

LOOK, I understand that I literally just posted the clip from ROTK where the witch-king has an actual conversation with Gandalf, don’t @ me.

But I’m so wrong?! Not only were all of the Nazgûl still pretty much in full possession of their faculties, they actively tried to get away from Sauron. The only one of them who felt any kind of loyalty to Sauron was the Angmar, and the rest of them, if Sauron didn’t send them on a mission together, would just quietly wander off and try to run away. Except for Khamûl, who evidently felt some kind of loyalty to Angmar because he usually stuck by his side. And Angmar (!!!) was the only one of them that could actively sense the ring from far away; the rest of them only could if it was directly in front of them. So, basically, what you’re telling me is that Angmar had to be constantly vigilant in babysitting his fellow Nazgûl to make sure they didn’t try to run away while Khamûl just kind of adorably trailed after him.

Cue me imagining the freaking witch-king of Angmar doing a headcount every once in a while and promptly falling in love with the idea of Angmar/Khamûl, which OF COURSE there’s fanart of because the LOTR fandom is nuts, and they’re only nuts because Tolkien is fucking insane.

There is nothing more that I love in the world than John Ronald Reuel Tolkien.

SIIIIIIIGH this was so unnecessary I really did not need another questionable LOTR pairing wtf

The Battles of the Fords of Isen

This section takes place in Two Towers, and it’s the actual battle where Théodred is killed. Théoden is already under Saruman’s control via Gríma, and Saruman is trying to strike out on his own outside of Sauron’s rule, so he attacks the Westfold, focusing his first attempts on Gondor & Rohan. This is both when he takes Osgiliath (I think?) and deals a terrible blow to the Rohirrim. I ended up putting on my headphones, though, because I need to focus to get through this, and of course, my music is very fitting.

Nope, sorry, my timeline is screwy, Sauron’s responsible for Osgiliath, not Saruman, which is why it actually remains taken. (Yes, I am throwing shade at you Saruman, what did you expect.)


Part Four

The Drúedain

For reference, because I had to look it up since I had no idea and the text is not saying, the Drúedain are a race of wild men that mostly kept to themselves and that no one really wanted to associate with.

Okay, they’re legit adorable. They’re like a cross between Men & Hobbits in that they’re small, usually only about four feet, but still definitely men. They’re very sweet-natured, but they have a long-seated hatred with orcs, and one of their favorite things to do was carve orcs out of large pieces of wood, make the orcs look like they were fleeing in terror, and place the wooden orcs around the borders of their land as both insult and trickery to orcs, and I cannot with how cute that is.

My father was at pains to emphasize the radical difference between the Drúedain and the Hobbits.

Well, he did a terrible job, Christopher.

The Istari

Oh, I’m such an idiot. I forgot there were introductions to each section under the different parts, damn it. That would have helped. Or not. The introduction to this part doesn’t tell me what the Istari are, and though I can hazard a guess, that’s what Tolkien Gateway is for. Wizards! Oh good, I think it’s high time we cry about Olórin again.

I’m shaking my head so hard right now at this man.

Of the Blue little was known in the West, and they had no names save Ithryn Luin “the Blue Wizards;” for they passed into the East with Curunír, but they never returned, and whether they remained in the East, pursuing there the purposes for which they were sent; or perished; or as some hold were ensnared by Sauron and became his servants, is not now known.

Image result for lord of the rings blue wizards meme

In a letter written in 1958 my father said that he knew nothing clearly about “the other two,” since they were not concerned in the history of the North-west of Middle-earth. “I think,” he wrote, “they went as emissaries to distant regions, East and South, far out of Númenóreans range: missionaries to enemy-occupied lands, as it were. What success they had I do not know; but I fear that they failed, as Saruman did, though doubtless in different ways; and I suspect they were founders or beginners of secret cults of ‘magic’ traditions that outlasted the fall of Sauron.”

I just love this man. Like. Literally has no idea what happened to two of his characters because they didn’t concern the history that he was working on, and so decided to never figure it out. And yet, created sub-lores for his lore.

Since we’re nearly done, and the next section is so small, here’s some Olórin art that, much like Sauron finding Morgoth at the end of all things, I think about (and cry about) frequently.

Gandalf & Nienna
Art by Marta

Her caption on it is: “You know how Gandalf didn’t want to be one of the Istari?” AND I THINK ABOUT BABY GANDALF CRYING A LOT BECAUSE HE JUST WANTED TO STAY HOME AND BE SAFE

But Olórin declared that he was too weak for such a task, and that he feared Sauron. Then Manwë said that that was all the more reason why he should go.


The Palantíri

Oh, this is actually interesting, so obviously Gandalf & Pippin go to Minas Tirith because of what Pippin sees in Saruman’s palantír, but Gandalf is also of a mind to go to Minas Tirith because he suspects that Denethor has another of the missing palantír. He says this because Denethor is declining in age much more rapidly than he should be, which is a sure sign of falling to Sauron’s influence, and Denethor seems to have widespread knowledge that he wouldn’t otherwise. Thus, Gandalf is going to Minas Tirith not only to protect the city, but to find out if it needs protection from within, as well.

Well, friends, that’s a wrap on Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales, which means!!!

Happy birthday Bilbo! 🐉 . I went to a flea market this morning, and scored on a first American edition of Unfinished Tales and a second edition, 11th printing of Lord of the Rings, so I’m feeling pretty festive on this holy day! . #maryreads...

IT’S TIME TO READ THE HOBBIT! I am literally so excited, I can’t wait. Also this picture reminds me, I’m not sure if I ever linked the homepage for this project? It has an intro about what the project is, and why, as well as keeps track of everything that’s been written for it, so if you’re interested, check that out!

And, since I don’t get to talk about these fools together again for the rest of the main works:

Morgoth & Sauron
Art by Phobs

Previously: The Unfinished Tales: Second Age | Next: The Hobbit

4 responses to “An Adventure in Tolkien: The Unfinished Tales, Third Age”

  1. An Adventure in Tolkien: The Unfinished Tales, Second Age – Mary and the Words Avatar

    […] Previously: The Unfinished Tales: First Age | Next: The Unfinished Tales: Third Age […]


  2. An Adventure in Tolkien: The Hobbit – Mary and the Words Avatar

    […] Previously on An Adventure in Tolkien: I don’t even want to talk about the fact that the Tolkien fandom made me ship NAZGÛL. […]


  3. An Adventure in Tolkien: The Fellowship of the Ring – Mary and the Words Avatar

    […] I was freaking out so much about The Unfinished Tales that I had to break the first, second, and third age into separate posts. Suffice to say, you’ve been warned that this is going to dissolve […]


  4. It’s The Great Silmarillion Readalong! (Week Four) – Mary and the Words Avatar

    […] to immediately go read Unfinished Tales (I even have helpful reviews of the First, Second, and Third Age!), or b) I’m going to have to reread it. It’s so good! I know that we’re all […]


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