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An illustration from JRR Tolkein

Tolkien’s Mythology Explained in 10 Minutes

Two videos impressively summarize one of literature’s most complex and fascinating mythologies.

Few minds are so strangely wonderful as was that of J. R. R. Tolkien. His talent (hardly limited to writing) created one of the most extensive and consistent fictional universes in the history of literature, and his work has for decades inspired later authors. Impressively, the mythology created by Tolkien —the history of Middle Earth— includes its own enormous historical baggage: myths, epics, languages (with their own alphabets) and countless characters who, for those who dare to immerse themselves in this world, can only be that much more endearing.

Tolkien’s Middle Earth, its cosmogony and history, are all deeply complex, full of twists and turns which, fortunately, have been synthesized into two videos by the podcaster and Youtuber, CGP Grey. The Lord of the Rings Mythology Explained and The One Ring Explained respectively synthesize the entire history of Middle Earth and the history of the One Ring, the name of which is lent to The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In the first video, Grey agilely narrates the emergence of Middle Earth from the primitive existence of the creator god of the world, the angels, and the supernatural beings who at some point gave life to the creatures inhabiting the place: magicians, men, elves, dwarfs, and hobbits. All these myths may be explored in greater depth in The Simarillion, a collection of texts by Tolkien and which were posthumously published by Tolkien’s son. These texts describe the ages of the universe as it existed in the writer’s mind.

The second video, in turn, synthesizes the history of the powerful rings. Carved as they were by the malevolent Sauron through his power to dominate each and every one of the races of Middle Earth, eventually leading to its destruction.

The two videos are invaluable to anyone who’s explored the world created by Tolkien, intimately touched as it is by medieval European legend and Norse mythology. They may also provide a brief and striking introduction to the world created by Tolkien in The Hobbit, the three books of The Lord of the Rings and The Simarillion.


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