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The Fall of Gondolin

The Fall of Gondolin is, in the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien, one of the original Lost Tales which formed the basis for a section in his later work, The Silmarillion. A stand-alone, book-length version of the story was published on 30 August 2018.[1][2] The Fall of Gondolin is one of three stories from the First Age of Middle-earth to be published as a stand-alone book: the other two are Beren and Lúthien and The Children of Húrin.

The Fall of Gondolin
Front cover of the 2018 hardback edition
EditorChristopher Tolkien
AuthorJ. R. R. Tolkien
IllustratorAlan Lee
Cover artistAlan Lee
CountryUnited Kingdom
SubjectTolkien's legendarium
GenreHigh fantasy
Published30 August 2018 (Worldwide)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Media typePrint (hardback)
Preceded byBeren and Lúthien 
The fall of Turgon's Tower.
Gothmog, High Captain of Angband, at the storming of Gondolin.


Gondolin was a fabulous secret city of Elves in the First Age of Middle-earth. The Fall of Gondolin tells of the founding of the city; of the arrival there of Tuor, a prince of Men; of the betrayal of the city to Morgoth by the king's nephew, Maeglin; and of its subsequent catastrophic destruction by Morgoth's armies. It also relates the flight of the fugitives to the Havens of Sirion, the wedding of Tuor and Idril, as well as the childhood of Eärendil.

Origin and publication historyEdit

Tolkien began writing the story that would become "The Fall of Gondolin" in 1917 in an army barracks on the back of a sheet of military marching music. It is the first traceable story of his Middle-earth legendarium that he wrote down on paper.[3] While the first half of the story "appears to echo Tolkien's creative development and slow acceptance of duty in the first year of the war," the second half echoes his personal experience of battle.[4] The story was read aloud by Tolkien to the Exeter College Essay Club in the spring of 1920.[5]

Tolkien was constantly revising his First Age stories; however, the narrative he wrote in 1917, published posthumously in The Book of Lost Tales, remains the only full account of the fall of the city. The narrative in The Silmarillion was the result of the editing by his son Christopher using that story (minus some elements all too obviously evocative of World War I warfare) and compressed versions from the different versions of the Annals and Quentas as various sources. The later Quenta Silmarillion and the Grey Annals of Beleriand, the main sources for much of the published Silmarillion, both stop before the beginning of the Tuor story.

A partial later version of "The Fall of Gondolin" was published in the Unfinished Tales under the title "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin". Originally titled "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin," this narrative shows a great expansion of the earlier tale. Christopher Tolkien retitled the story before including it in Unfinished Tales, because it ends at the point of Tuor's arrival in Gondolin, and does not depict the actual Fall.

There is also an unfinished poem, The Lay of the Fall of Gondolin, of which a few verses are quoted in The Lays of Beleriand. In 130 verses Tolkien reaches the point where dragons attack the city.

Stand-alone bookEdit

On 30 August 2018,[1] the first stand-alone version of the story was published by HarperCollins in the UK[1] and Houghton Mifflin in the US.[1] This version, illustrated by Alan Lee, has been curated and edited by Christopher Tolkien,[1] J.R.R. Tolkien's son, who also edited The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin, and several other works that were published after the author's death.[3]

The book compiles material previously published elsewhere, namely The Tale of The Fall of Gondolin and Isfin and Eöl both published in the Book of Lost Tales II; Turlin and the Exiles of Gondolin published in The Shaping of Middle-earth; excerpts from the Sketch of the Mythology and Quenta Noldorinwa, both published in The Shaping of Middle-Earth; and Of Tuor and The Fall of Gondolin published in Unfinished Tales, along with excerpts from The Silmarillion and elsewhere.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f Helen, Daniel (10 April 2018). "The Fall of Gondolin to be published". Tolkien Society. Retrieved 18 April 2018. HarperCollins has announced that it will, for the very first time, publish The Fall of Gondolin on 30 August this year. [...] Edited by Christopher Tolkien and illustrated by Alan Lee, The Fall of Gondolin will follow the same format as Beren and Lúthien published last year, separating out the story so that it stands alone while showing how the narrative evolved over the years. This is the first time the tale of the Fall of Gondolin will be published as a standalone edition, collecting all versions of the story together.
  2. ^ Helen, Daniel (30 August 2018). "The Fall of Gondolin published". Tolkien Society. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b "J.R.R. Tolkien's First Middle-Earth Story, The Fall of Gondolin, to Be Published". BBC. 11 April 2018. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  4. ^ Garth, John (2013). Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 217. ISBN 9780544263727.
  5. ^ Tolkien, J.R.R. The Book of Lost Tales, Part II. p. 147.

External linksEdit