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The War of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Published by Houghton Mifflin

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

This volume brings Christopher Tolkien's study of his father's manuscript workings for The Lord of the Rings to the climactic chapters of the novel, when everything hangs in the balance. By this time in the creation of the novel, J.R.R. Tolkien had a fairly good idea of where he was going. However, this still didn't necessarily guarantee a smooth flow of writing, as we can see with his initial dead-end attempt to write book five, which would take the narrative to Minas Tirith.

This book, like its predecessors, is of interest not only for its literary critical insight into the final form of The Lord of the Rings, but also for writers who wish to see the hand of the master in progress. Reading this can be an important eye-opener for anyone who struggles under the illusion that they should be able to produce perfect copy the first time (Robert A. Heinlein claimed to, but he was an unusual exception, and he did not consider cutting verbage from his manuscripts to be rewriting). It is also a good read for a writer's non-writer friends and family who accuse them of "loafing" because they're not pouring out words, right the first time, the way one might write a thank-you note or a letter to a friend.

Table of Contents

Click here to order The War of the Ring in hardcover

Click here to order The War of the Ring as a boxed set with The Return of the Shadow, The Treason of Isengard and Sauron Defeated.

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Review posted November 17, 2000

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