Lord of the Rings Reading Order (Books)

lotr

The Lord of the Rings reading order and timeline art. Featuring the eye of Sauron.


What’s on the Lord of the Rings Reading Order?

This Lord of the Rings reading order is one of the few exceptions where I break up the books for the timeline, in order to place the chapters in chronological order. Usually, even if parts of the books overlap with other parts, I just place the books in the best chronological reading order that I know of. Breaking up the book doesn’t work well for me. In this case, the Lord of the Rings books are written oddly. Both The Two Towers and Return of the King, are written in two parts, and each part covers the events of a different group of people during the same period of time. Most novels would normally break up the two perspectives, going back and forth between the two. This timeline attempts just that, breaking up the chapters of the Lord of the Rings books so there is less backtracking in the narrative.

Of course, if you just want to read Tolkien’s work in a rough chronological order, without breaking up the chapters, I recommend reading them in this order:

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

Note: This timeline is for the books only. If you want a timeline for the films and tie-in video games, visit the other Lord of the Rings timeline.

#Series:Buy:Name:Type:Author/Director:Year:Notes:
1SilmarillionBuySilmarillion: Ainulindale - Of Beren and LuthienChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1977
2SilmarillionBuySilmarillion: Of the Fifth Battle - Of Turin TurambarChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1977
3Unfinished TalesBuyUT: Narn i Hin HurinChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1980
4Children of HurinBuyThe Children of HurinChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien2007The entire Children of Hurin novel takes place during the Silmarillion.
5SilmarillionBuySilmarillion: Of the Ruin of Doriath - Of Tuor and the Fall of GondolinChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1977
6Unfinished TalesBuyUT: Of Tuor and his Coming to GondolinChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1980
7SilmarillionBuySilmarillion: Of the Voyage of Earendil and the War of WrathChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1977
8SilmarillionBuySilimarillion: AkallabethChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1977
9Unfinished TalesBuyUT: Part 2ChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1980
10Unfinished TalesBuyUT: The Disaster of Gladden FieldsChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1980
11Unfinished TalesBuyUT: Cirion and EorlChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1980
12Unfinished TalesBuyUT: Part 4ChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1980
13Unfinished TalesBuyUT: The Quest of EreborChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1980
14SilmarillionBuySilmarilion: Of the Rings of Power and the Third AgeChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1977
15HobbitBuyThe HobbitNovelJ. R. R. Tolkien1937
16Fellowship of the RingBuyFOTR: PrologueChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
17Fellowship of the RingBuyFOTR: Book IChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
18Unfinished TalesBuyUT: The Hunt for the RingChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1980
19Fellowship of the RingBuyFOTR: Book IIChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
20Unfinished TalesBuyUT: The Battle of the Fords of IsenChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1980
21The Two TowersBuyTTT Book III: Chapter 1: The Departure of BoromirChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
22The Two TowersBuyTTT Book IV: Chapter 1: The Taming of SmeagolChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
23The Two TowersBuyTTT Book IV: Chapter 2: The Passage of the MarshesChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
24The Two TowersBuyTTT Book III: Chapter 2: The Riders of RohanChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
25The Two TowersBuyTTT Book III: Chapter 3: The Uruk-haiChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
26The Two TowersBuyTTT Book III: Chapter 4: TreebeardChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
27The Two TowersBuyTTT Book IV: Chapter 3: The Black Gate is ClosedChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
28The Two TowersBuyTTT Book IV: Chapter 4: Of Herbs and Stewed RabbitChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
29The Two TowersBuyTTT Book III: Chapter 5: The White RiderChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
30The Two TowersBuyTTT Book III: Chapter 6: The King of the Golden HallChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
31The Two TowersBuyTTT Book III: Chapter 7: Helm's DeepChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
32The Two TowersBuyTTT Book IV: Chapter 5: The Window on the WestChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
33The Two TowersBuyTTT Book IV: Chapter 6: The Forbidden PoolChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
34The Two TowersBuyTTT Book III: Chapter 8: The Road to IsengardChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
35The Two TowersBuyTTT Book III: Chapter 9: Flotsam and JetsamChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
36The Two TowersBuyTTT Book III: Chapter 10: The Voice of SarumanChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
37The Two TowersBuyTTT Book III: Chapter 11: The PalantirChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
38The Two TowersBuyTTT Book IV: Chapter 7: Journey to the Cross-RoadsChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
39The Two TowersBuyTTT Book IV: Chapter 8: The Stairs of Cirith UngolChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
40Return of the KingBuyROTK Book V: Chapter 1: Minias TirithChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
41Return of the KingBuyROTK Book V: Chapter 2: The Passing of the Grey CompanyChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
42The Two TowersBuyTTT Book IV: Chapter 9: Shelob's LairChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
43The Two TowersBuyTTT Book IV: Chapter 10: The Choices of Master SamwiseChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1954
44Return of the KingBuyROTK Book V: Chapter 3: The Muster of RohanChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
45Return of the KingBuyROTK Book VI: Chapter 1: The Tower of Cirith UngolChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
46Return of the KingBuyROTK Book V: Chapter 4: The Siege of GondorChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
47Return of the KingBuyROTK BOok V: Chapter 5: The Ride of the RohirrimChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
48Return of the KingBuyROTK Book V: Chapter 6: The Battle of the Pelennor FieldsChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
49Return of the KingBuyROTK Book V: Chapter 7: The Pyre of DenethorChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
50Return of the KingBuyROTK Book VI: Chapter 2: The Land of ShadowChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
51Return of the KingBuyROTK Book V: Chapter 8: The Houses of HealingChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
52Return of the KingBuyROTK Book V: Chapter 9: The Last DebateChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
53Return of the KingBuyROTK Book V: The Black Gate OpensChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
54Return of the KingBuyROTK Book VI: Chapter 3: Mount DoomChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
55Return of the KingBuyROTK Book VI: Chapter 4: The Field of CormallenChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
56Return of the KingBuyROTK Book VI: Chapter 5: The Steward and the KingChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
57Return of the KingBuyROTK Book VI: Chapter 6: Many PartingsChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
58Return of the KingBuyROTK Book VI: Chapter 7: Homeward BoundChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
59Return of the KingBuyROTK Book VI: Chapter 8: The Scouring of the ShireChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
60Return of the KingBuyROTK BOok VI: Chapter 9: The Grey HavensChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955
61Return of the KingBuyROTK: AppendicesChapterJ. R. R. Tolkien1955Though covering earlier time periods, these are written as if they were created post-ROTK

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