My book The Cracks of Doom: Untold Tales in Middle-earth is now available in its expanded third edition. Notes for The Hobbit have been added, as well as many new and expanded additions for The Lord of the Rings. As such the book is now at 28,000 words. It has also had a further two passes of proof-reading, plus Amazon’s own spell-checking (it picked up four I didn’t catch, but Amazon doesn’t know about huorns).
Amazon has had the newly uploaded file for five days now, and they say ‘wait 72 hours’ after successful submission. Thus the new edition (in Kindle ebook only) should by live by now. I’ve also dropped the price a dollar, to $5.99 or around £5 UK. If you’ve already purchased the Kindle ebook edition, a new download to your Kindle should get you the new third edition.
My book seeks to sympathetically identify all the ‘cracks’ and ‘gaps’ in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in which new fan-fiction stories might be told, or where small new gap-fillers might be fitted in.
Three examples of the sort of notes and ideas you’ll find, which track through in the same order as the events of the books…
Rangers hold Sarn Ford
Rangers attempt to hold Sarn Ford against the Black Riders, but many are killed and others are forced to fall back.
In a long-unpublished text, at the moment when Frodo’s luggage leaves Hobbiton bound for Crickhollow, Tolkien has Sarn Ford in the far south of the Shire being defended by the Rangers. They face the Black Riders boldly but are out matched and defeated. Some escape, so the encounter and losses would become known to the other Rangers. There might be a scope for a poignant story set a few years after the War of the Ring, in which some of the Southfarthing hobbits trek all the way to the Brandywine Bridge to petition the King for a stone memorial at the Ford to their fallen defenders, and there meet some of the Rangers who survived the encounter with the Riders.
Gimli and the honey-cakes
Gimli remarks that the waybread of the elves is better than honey-cakes made by the Beornings, a treat they are evidently reluctant to offer to travellers in such wary days.
Gimli thus implies that he has recently encountered the Beornings, as a traveller. Presumably this was on his journey to Rivendell. How did he persuade them to let him have some honey-cakes? This might be a short comedic tale, with songs and mention of some of the bee-lore of the Beornings.
Were-worms and heroes
Evidently Bilbo knows a tale or tales that indicate that in the East of East of Middle-earth there are fierce wild Were-worms in the Last Desert.
This implies that someone fights with these creatures, presumably a hero who defeats or at least escapes from them. Such a tale has most likely been picked up from travelling dwarves, who by that time pass through the Shire on the way to their mines. That Bilbo can use the reference without comment from the dwarves strongly suggests that this is the case. “Were-worms” suggests shape-changing dragon-men, real desert men who can become dragons or dragon-like, just as Beorn is a bear-man or were-bear. There is surely a story here of how a Tookish ancestor of Bilbo manages to winkle such a vivid story out of a passing dwarf, followed by details of the great (dwarf?)-hero involved and the reasons for his epic quest to such a remote and fearsome place.