Tolkien's legendarium

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Tolkien's legendarium refers to J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional fantasy world and all his works concerned with it. The world is also most often called Arda (the world) or Middle-earth (which is a continent therein, but where much of the action is set).


Published books

  • The Hobbit (1937): not written as part of the legendarium, but later retconned to be set there.
  • The Lord of the Rings (1954-55): sequel to The Hobbit, about the War of the Ring
  • Posthumous books with self-contained narratives, edited by Christopher Tolkien:
    • The Silmarillion (1977): strories from the creation of the world to the end of the Third Age, the main part being about the First Age (Quenta Silmarillion)
    • The Children of Húrin (2007): the tragic story of the Children of Húrin from the First Age
  • Posthumous collections of Tolkien's material from and about the legendarium, edited by Christopher Tolkien: Unfinished Tales (1980), The History of Middle-earth (12 volumes, 1983–1996), The History of The Hobbit (2 volumes, 2007)

External history

See J. R. R. Tolkien, specifically the sections on Works and Reception.


Tolkien wrote many stories which were continually revised and changed over the years. Because of this, it is sometimes difficult to discern which his final, or at least more favoured, version of some story was. The two published books of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are generally taken as canonically. Also taken canonically by many is the posthumously compiled The Silmarillion, with or without the differences resulting from the later dicovery of "more canon" versions of some tales or facts.

Also, canon or not, not necessarily everything written down in a story actually has to be "true" in the fictional world, as many stories are ostensibly actual written accounts by a fictional writer, who may not have correct information, or deliberately altered things. An example is The Hobbit, which stems from Bilbo Baggin's There and Back Again, in which he at first did not wholly write the truth concerning the One Ring.

On the trail of adaptions have come adaption continuitities differing more or less from the original. Most notable is probably Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films, which spawned a (separate) movie fandom.

Internal history

Internal chronology of the legendarium's fictional world. Also referenced are important individual stories, and the in-story names of certain bodies of stories or fictional books.

Pre-First Age:

  • The creation of the world (internal title: Ainulindalë), and its shaping by the Valar (the Valaquenta)

First Age:

  • Before the rise of the Sun and Moon:
    • Awakening of the Elves and Dwarves in Middle-earth. Journey of the Elves towards the West.
    • Ends when Morgoth kills the Two Trees and steals the three Silmaril jewels. The remains of the trees are made into the Sun and Moon. Part of the Noldor Elves return to Middle-earth to recover the Silmarils.
  • After the Rise of the Sun and Moon (Years of the Sun in the First Age, 590 years): The awakening of Men. Half a millienia of wars and struggle in Middle-earth (internal title: Quenta Silmarillion "Tale of the Silmarils")
    • the tale of Beren and Lúthien
    • the tragic story of the Children of Húrin (internal title: Narn i Chîn Húrin "Tale of the Children of Húrin")
    • the Fall of Gondolin, and the story of Tuor

Second Age (3441 years):

  • Rise and Fall of the Mannish island nation Númenor (internal title: Akallabêth)
  • the Rings of Power are forged, Sauron makes the One Ring.

Third Age (3019 years):

  • Quest of Erebor (2941-42): Thorin Oakenshield and his company retake the Lonely Mountain, the dragon Smaug is killed, and along the way the One Ring is found by Bilbo Baggins (events of the published The Hobbit). Bilbo Baggins writes his account of the story titled There and Back Again.
  • War of the Ring (core 3018-19): last war of the Free Peoples against Sauron, destruction of the One Ring and final death of Sauron (events of the published The Lord of the Rings). Frodo writes The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings. Bilbo's and Frodo's tales are comprised in the Red Book of Westmarch.

Fourth Age: Begins after the destruction of the One Ring and the final defeat of Sauron, and the departure of the bearers of the three Elven Rings of Power to the West. Begin of the time of Men, while the other peoples will continue to dwindle.

See also

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