The LotR Sequel That Never Was

The other day I happened to be perusing the comments section of an article discussing the very scant facts about the Eastern countries of Middle-Earth when one particular comment caught my eye. Someone mentioned that Tolkien had begun writing a sequel to The Lord of the Rings but had abandoned the story when he felt it wasn’t going to be the same quality as LotR.

This was the first time I had ever heard anything about a Lord of the Rings sequel, which was itself a sequel to The Hobbit. So off to Google I went in search of more information for this abandoned Middle-Earth tale. It was titled The New Shadow and was set in Gondor during the reign of Aragorn and Arwen’s son Eldarion. After the defeat of Sauron and the extra battles Aragorn and Eomer fought to make sure all of the evil had been purged, Gondor was a peaceful and prosperous realm…but, as Gandalf cautioned in The Lord of the Rings, after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow always takes a new shape. This time it took the shape of a cult that worshiped Melkor and Sauron, the Dark Lords of old, along with Orcs, which no longer exist and are now considered creatures of legend.

The premise certainly sounds interesting, so why did Tolkien abandon it after just thirteen pages? The answer best comes from the man himself in one of his letters:

I did begin a story placed about 100 years after the Downfall, but it proved both sinister and depressing. Since we are dealing with Men it is inevitable that we should be concerned with the most regrettable feature of their nature: their quick satiety with good. So that the people of Gondor in times of peace, justice and prosperity, would become discontented and restless — while the dynasts descended from Aragorn would become just kings and governors — like Denethor or worse. I found that even so early there was an outcrop of revolutionary plots, about a centre of secret Satanistic religion; while Gondorian boys were playing at being Orcs and going around doing damage. I could have written a ‘thriller’ about the plot and its discovery and overthrow — but it would have been just that. Not worth doing.

It’s worth noting that The New Shadow did eventually see the light of day in The History of Middle-Earth, Volume 12: The Peoples of Middle-Earth. The people who have read it have agreed with Tolkien; it is much darker and more depressing than The Lord of the Rings, and it certainly would have provided a unique look at a Middle-Earth where Men were the most powerful people.

You can find some of this information at the Tolkien Gateway, and other info was just found by randomly searching. I certainly encourage you to see what you can learn about this abandoned sequel.

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