Lord of the Rings Timeline

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Tolkien is well known as the father of modern fantasy. See his books, their adaptations, and other stories told within Middle-earth.

What’s on the Lord of the Rings Timeline?

This is the unofficial Lord of the Rings timeline for the books, films and film tie-in material, such as video games like Shadows of Mordor.

The rights to create tie-in materials like video games for Lord of the Rings used to be rather limited. The rights for the books and films were separate, so Warner Brothers could only make games based on the films and only on the films. Thankfully, the rights were consolidated and other tie-in works can be made based on the books or pieces of the books that didn’t appear in the films.

This timeline includes the books, their primary adaptations, and a number of other tie-in materials. It might not include every adaptation ever, but we’ve got the most important ones (remember this is a curated timeline).

Where to start reading Tolkien’s work?

While it comes chronologically, the Silmarillion is definitely not the best place to start. Generally, we recommend starting with The Hobbit, and then moving on from there.

The books can be somewhat large and tough to get through for some, so pace yourself. Of course, the films are a nice way to understand what happens and build up interest in reading the books.

Of course, if you just want to read Tolkien’s work in a rough chronological order, without all the other fluff, we recommend reading them in this order:

  • The Silmarillion
  • The Children of Hurin
  • Beren and Luthien
  • The Unfinished Tales
  • The Hobbit
  • The Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Two Towers
  • Return of the King

The Chronological Order of Media

This is the chronological list of media by default. You can also sort by date, title, or any of the other columns. Below you will find another recommended chronology that takes the books and sorts them chronologically by chapter.

#Get ItNameMediaAuthor/DirectorDateSeriesNotes
1
The SilmarillionNovelJ.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien1977-09-15Silmarillion
2
Beren and LuthienNovelJ.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien2017-06-01Silmarillion
3
The Children of HurinNovelJ.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien2007-04-17Silmarillion
4
The Fall of GondolinNovelJ.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien2018-08-30Silmarillion
5Unfinished TalesNovelJ.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien1980-01-01Silmarillion
6
The HobbitNovelJ.R.R. Tolkien1937-09-21Hobbit
7
The Hobbit (audio)Audio DramaMichael Kilgarriff, J.R.R. Tolkien1968-01-01Hobbit
8
The Hobbit (animated)FilmArthur Rankin Jr., Jules Bass1977-11-27Hobbit
9The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyFilmPeter Jackson2012-12-14Hobbit
10The Hobbit: Desolation of SmaugFilmPeter Jackson2013-12-13Hobbit
11The Hobbit: Battle of Five ArmiesFilmPeter Jackson2014-12-17Hobbit
12
Shadow of MordorGameMichael de Plater2014-09-30Shadow of Mordor
13Shadow of WarGameMichael de Plater2017-10-10Shadow of Mordor
14The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the RingNovelJ.R.R. Tolkien1954-07-29LOTR
15
The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (audio)Audio DramaJ.R.R. Tolkien1981-08-30LOTR
16The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (film)FilmPeter Jackson2001-12-19LOTR
17
The Lord of the Rings: The Two TowersNovelJ.R.R. Tolkien1954-11-11LOTR
18The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (audio)Audio DramaJ.R.R. Tolkien1981-08-30LOTR
19The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (film)FilmPeter Jackson2002-12-18LOTR
20
The Lord of the Rings (animated)FilmRalph Bakshi1978-11-15LOTRAn adaptation of the films Fellowship of the Rings, and The Two Towers
21The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (game)GameHudson Piehl2002-10-21LOTRAn adaptation of the films Fellowship of the Rings, and The Two Towers
22
The Lord of the Rings: Return of the KingNovelJ.R.R. Tolkien1955-10-20LOTR
23The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (audio)Audio DramaJ.R.R. Tolkien1981-08-30LOTR
24The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (film)FilmPeter Jackson2003-12-17LOTR
25The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (game)Game2003-11-03LOTRAn adaptation of the film Return of the King
26
The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (animated)FilmArthur Rankin Jr., Jules Bass1980-05-11LOTR
27
Battle for Middle-EarthGame2004-12-06War in the NorthAn adaptation of the film Return of the King
28Battle for Middle-Earth IIGame2006-02-28War in the NorthCovers the War in the North during the films.
29
War in the NorthGameScott Crawford2011-11-01War in the NorthAlso covers the War in the North during the films
30
Aragorn's QuestGameTancred Dyke-Wells2010-09-14Post-LOTRThe frame story takes place 15 years after ROTK.

Lord of the Rings Chapter by Chapter Reading Order

To those who haven’t read the Lord of the Rings books, it may come as a slight surprise that their pacing is different from that of most books. In The Two Towers and Return of the King, instead of jumping back and forth between various viewpoints, Tolkien gives us everything from one viewpoint all at once, then everything from the other viewpoint. For some, like me, this can be a bit jarring. It’s like hitting rewind and then watching the whole thing again from another perspective. If Tolkien were to publish the books today, his editor would almost certainly make him split the chapters up to be more chronological.

Obviously, on this site, we’re a bit obsessed with chronology, so it only made sense to create a list of chapters in a more streamlined order. It would make some sense if, were the books published today instead of the 50s, it might look a little something like this.

The Chapter by Chapter Reading Order

  • Silmarillion: Ainulindale – Of Beren and Luthien
  • Beren and Luthien
  • Silmarillion: Of the Fifth Battle – Of Turin Turambar
  • UT: Narn i Hin Hurin
  • The Children of Hurin
  • Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Doriath – Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin
  • UT: Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin
  • The Fall of Gondolin
  • Silmarillion: Of the Voyage of Earendil and the War of Wrath
  • Silimarillion: Akallabeth
  • UT: Part 2
  • UT: The Disaster of Gladden Fields
  • UT: Cirion and Eorl
  • UT: Part 4
  • UT: The Quest of Erebor
  • Silmarilion: Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
  • The Hobbit
  • FOTR: Prologue
  • FOTR: Book I
  • UT: The Hunt for the Ring
  • FOTR: Book II
  • UT: The Battle of the Fords of Isen
  • TTT Book III: Chapter 1: The Departure of Boromir
  • TTT Book IV: Chapter 1: The Taming of Smeagol
  • TTT Book IV: Chapter 2: The Passage of the Marshes
  • TTT Book III: Chapter 2: The Riders of Rohan
  • TTT Book III: Chapter 3: The Uruk-hai
  • TTT Book III: Chapter 4: Treebeard
  • TTT Book IV: Chapter 3: The Black Gate is Closed
  • TTT Book IV: Chapter 4: Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
  • TTT Book III: Chapter 5: The White Rider
  • TTT Book III: Chapter 6: The King of the Golden Hall
  • TTT Book III: Chapter 7: Helm’s Deep
  • TTT Book IV: Chapter 5: The Window on the West
  • TTT Book IV: Chapter 6: The Forbidden Pool
  • TTT Book III: Chapter 8: The Road to Isengard
  • TTT Book III: Chapter 9: Flotsam and Jetsam
  • TTT Book III: Chapter 10: The Voice of Saruman
  • TTT Book III: Chapter 11: The Palantir
  • TTT Book IV: Chapter 7: Journey to the Cross-Roads
  • TTT Book IV: Chapter 8: The Stairs of Cirith Ungol
  • ROTK Book V: Chapter 1: Minias Tirith
  • ROTK Book V: Chapter 2: The Passing of the Grey Company
  • TTT Book IV: Chapter 9: Shelob’s Lair
  • TTT Book IV: Chapter 10: The Choices of Master Samwise
  • ROTK Book V: Chapter 3: The Muster of Rohan
  • ROTK Book VI: Chapter 1: The Tower of Cirith Ungol
  • ROTK Book V: Chapter 4: The Siege of Gondor
  • ROTK BOok V: Chapter 5: The Ride of the Rohirrim
  • ROTK Book V: Chapter 6: The Battle of the Pelennor Fields
  • ROTK Book V: Chapter 7: The Pyre of Denethor
  • ROTK Book VI: Chapter 2: The Land of Shadow
  • ROTK Book V: Chapter 8: The Houses of Healing
  • ROTK Book V: Chapter 9: The Last Debate
  • ROTK Book V: The Black Gate Opens
  • ROTK Book VI: Chapter 3: Mount Doom
  • ROTK Book VI: Chapter 4: The Field of Cormallen
  • ROTK Book VI: Chapter 5: The Steward and the King
  • ROTK Book VI: Chapter 6: Many Partings
  • ROTK Book VI: Chapter 7: Homeward Bound
  • ROTK Book VI: Chapter 8: The Scouring of the Shire
  • ROTK BOok VI: Chapter 9: The Grey Havens
  • ROTK: Appendices