J.R.R.Tolkien (1892-1973) was a distinguished academic, though he is best known for writing The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, plus other stories and essays. His books have been translated into over 60 languages and have sold many millions of copies worldwide. Christopher Tolkien, born on 21 November 1924, is the third son of J.R.R. Tolkien. During the Second World War he served in the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm as a pilot. At the end of the war he returned to Oxford University and became a Fellow and Tutor in English of New College in 1964, lecturing in the University on early English and northern literature. Appointed by J.R.R. Tolkien to be his literary executor, he has devoted himself since his father's death in 1973 to the editing and publication of unpublished writings, notably The Silmarillion and Beowulf, and the collections entitled Unfinished Tales and The History of Middle-earth. Since 1975 he has lived in France with his wife Baillie. Alan Lee is the illustrator of the highly-successful centenary edition of The Lord of the Rings and diamond edition of The Hobbit. He studied graphic design and the depiction of Celtic and Norse myths and has illustrated a wide range of books, including Faeries, Merlin Dreams and Castles, and was conceptual designer for Terry Jones' film Erik the Viking. He was awarded the Kate Greenaway Medal for his illustrated edition of Black Ships Before Troy.
'Never did [Tolkien] write a more sustained account of battle.
With dragons and fiery balrogs galore, the attack on Gondolin makes
Peter Jackson's souped-up cinema battles look like tabletop
'The text is rife with references to characters and creatures
that come to play a role in The Lord of the Rings... one passage in
particular seems to set up one of the most famous scenes from the
'It's a load-bearing pillar in the grander narrative that
eventually came to encompass better-known works. Tolkien explicitly
expressed his wish later in life that the three Great Tales of
Middle-earth's early days - The Children of Hurin, Beren and
Luthien, and The Fall of Gondolin - along with The Lord of the
Rings and other writings, should be considered as "one long Saga of
the Jewels and the Rings".'