The Lord of the Rings 4: “The New Shadow” – Tolkien wanted to write this sequel


JRR Tolkien planned a sequel to The Lord of the Rings, wrote a few pages and ultimately abandoned his idea. But what should “The New Shadow” be about?

Lord of the Rings - Gondor

Lord of the Rings – Gondor (Source:

  • “The Lord of the Rings” is the sequel to “The Hobbit,” but what happens next?
  • Although Tolkien told us what became of Aragorn, Sam and Co. after the War of the Ring, the history of Middle-earth is not over there.
  • Another book was planned, but Tolkien quickly found his own story “too bleak” to tell in its entirety.

JRR Tolkien’s books are primarily about the first three ages of Middle-earth and, in the “Silmarillion”, about the beginning of everything. However, very little information can be found about the Fourth Age, which began after the end of the War of the Ring.

The clearest picture of the Fourth Age is provided by “The New Shadow”, a planned sequel to “The Lord of the Rings” that JRR Tolkien worked on in the 1960s. In total, however, Tolkien only wrote about 13 pages because the story was “too bleak” for him.

“The New Shadow” was initially supposed to take place almost 100 years after the fall of Mordor, but Tolkien later changed this plan and decided to set the story in the 100th year of the reign of Eldarion, Aragorn’s son. According to Tolkien’s son Christopher “would be [die Geschichte] […] been a very remarkable ‘thriller’, and you can [J.R.R. Tolkiens] “We look at this early task with regret.”

But what would “The New Shadow” have been about and why did JRR Tolkien find the story so bleak that he didn’t want to finish it? We take a closer look at the “Lord of the Rings” sequel.

The Phantom Menace

Would Sauron have returned yet?

Would Sauron have returned yet? (Source:

There is no complete synopsis of the never-finished story, but the 13 pages from “The New Shadow”, which appeared in the Tolkien collection “The Peoples of Middle-earth”, and some of Tolkien’s letters reveal at least a little more about it Future of Middle-earth.

Borlas, who experienced the War of the Ring himself, recognizes that the youth of Gondor is slowly beginning to forget or trivialize the terrible deeds of yore. He catches a boy, Saelon, stealing unripe apples to play with. Borlas confronts him and compares him to an orc because he steals without even needing to.

Years later, Borlas and Saelon meet again and talk about the incident again. The men distrust each other and Saelon is surprised when Borlas mentions a satanic religion that worships Herumor (aka Sauron). Saelon, who also appears to be a follower of Herumor, invites Borlas to a meeting of this dark group, then they part ways.

On the way home, Borlas decides to accept Saelon’s offer, and at home he “smells the old evil in the dark, dead silence.” This is where Tolkien’s story for “The New Shadow” ends.

Many people = many problems

The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's descendants preserve no better rulers than Denethor

The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s descendants maintain no better rulers than Denethor (Source: Warner Bros.)

In a letter from 1964, Tolkien described his planned story as “uncanny and oppressive.” In the Fourth Age of Middle-earth there are hardly any elves and dwarves left. According to Tolkien, this domination of humans has negative consequences.

The time of peace makes people restless and dissatisfied; revolutionary and satanist groups are formed. Meanwhile, Aragorn’s descendants become bad kings and governors; Tolkien compares them to Denethor.

Tolkien also described his story as a thriller, but in his opinion it was not worth writing. The people, their politics and their tendency to never let good things be good did not fit Tolkien’s ideal of Middle-earth (and are also the reason why the author is not a fan of “Dune”).

Continuation without fantasy

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Source:

Just like with “The Lord of the Rings”, JRR Tolkien probably simply wrote “The New Shadow” in order to come up with a suitable story on his own. He came to the conclusion that if he didn’t want to talk about hobbits again, he had to focus on the people of Middle-earth.

It is not clear if and how Sauron would have returned as Rumor in “The New Shadow”, or if there would have been a new villain referred to in the title. Herumor’s followers could also have served as a threat, driven by indifference, ignorance and malice. In this very depressing and human story, the fantastic element of Tolkien’s earlier works would have been neglected.

The Lord of the Rings: Reviewing the Rings of Power
genreDrama, Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
First broadcast

September 1, 2022

First broadcast in Germany

September 2, 2022
Other sources


Amazon Studios, New Line Cinema, Harper Collins Publishers, Tolkien Enterprises


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