To dungeons deep and caverns cold

The History of the Hobbit
by John D. Rateliff

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I stopped by the local Barnes & Noble over the weekend and stumbled over a new J.R.R. Tolkien book: The History of the Hobbit Part One, Mr. Baggins by John D. Rateliff and picked it up immediately. I’ll admit that I’ve not yet worked my way through all twelve volumes of the History of Middle Earth by Christopher Tolkien but I’ll finish it eventually. I’m already 30 pages into the volume (it is not a light read even if it didn’t have all those footnotes,) and I’m loving it.

For example, do you recognize these characters from the earliest draft: Bladthorin, Pryftan, and Gandalf? Well, don’t be too quick with that last one! Bladthorin ended up as the wizard Gandalf, Pryftan ended up as the dragon Smaug, and Gandalf was originally the name for Thorin the Dwarf. I can’t wait to find out what other secrets await in Tolkien’s original manuscripts.

Addendum: In writing this post I found that there’s a boxed set being released on October 26th, that includes both volumes of the History along with "a new edition of The Hobbit with a short introduction by Christopher Tolkien, a reset text incorporating the most up-to-date corrections, and all of Tolkien’s own drawings and color illustrations, including the rare ‘Mirkwood’ piece." (Click the link above-right for more details.) Guess what I just ordered.

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