It’s all about the Second Age

The recent TV series Rings of Power has drawn attention to Tolkien’s stories of Númenor and of the making of the rings, both set in the Second Age of Middle-earth. As is usual with adaptations, the show has drawn increased attention to what Tolkien wrote, although plenty of scholars and fans have been commenting about Second Age stories well before Amazon announced its version.

Still, there’s been an upsurge in Second Age discussions, and here are just a few.

J.R.R. Tolkien. The Fall of Numenor, edited by Brian Sibley

The Fall of Númenor, and Other Tales from the Second Age of Middle-earth,
edited by Brian Sibley. HarperCollins, 2022.

A couple of reviews of the book:

John Garth,  “The Fall of Númenor by J.R.R. Tolkien, review – masterful world-building from the father of fantasy.” The Guardian, 23 November 2022.

Douglas C. Kane, “The Fall of Númenor (2022) by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Brian Sibley,” Journal of Tolkien Research, Vol. 15, Iss. 2, Article 5. 2022.
Available at:

An interview with Brian Sibley:

Many interviews can be found online with the editor of the book, Brian Sibley.  Here is one with the German Tolkien Society:

A recent article on the Second Age

Schürer, Norbert (2022) “Second Age, Middle Age,” Journal of Tolkien Research: Vol. 15: Iss. 2, Article 6.
Available at:

Conference sessions

Tolkien in Vermont logo

University of Vermont Tolkien Conference

April 1, 2023 (hybrid)

Theme: the Second Age
Keynote speaker: Gergely Nagy

The call for papers has been extended to March 1st. The theme is the Second Age, but all topics will be considered.

If interested please submit abstracts to:

Kalamazoo campus swan pond

The International Conference on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo

May 11 – 13, 2023

This is a large medieval conference with several sessions on Tolkien. The following ones include Second Age discussions.

Thursday, May 11 (in-person only)
Medieval Elements in Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – A Roundtable

Organized by Tolkien at Kalamazoo. A roundtable discussion with Kristine Larsen, Central Connecticut State Univ.; Lydia H. Hayes, Catawba College; Jennifer Fast, Newman Theological College; Christopher Vaccaro; and Valerie Dawn Hampton, Univ. of Florida

Saturday, May 13 (hybrid session)
Climate Change II: Social, Ecological, Political, and Spiritual Shifts in J. R. R. Tolkien and Medieval Poets

This session features a number of interesting papers, including one one the “The Fall of Númenor: A Political and Natural Catastrophe.” Gaëlle Abaléa, Univ. de Paris–Sorbonne

Take a look at the program and registration information to find more sessions on Tolkien, two of which will be available in hybrid/virtual format. There is a fee for registration.

Tolkien Society logo

Tolkien Society Seminar 2023:
Númenor: The Mighty and Frail 

July 2, 2023

A hybrid one-day conference.  Free attendance, either online or in-person at The Hilton, Leeds, UK.  Register here.

The program has not yet appeared for the public, but there will be a variety of presentations on the day, with broad-ranging discussions of ecology, death, trauma, theology, myth, memory, imperialism, and more!  Register soon and keep a look-out for the program details on the Tolkien Society Seminar 2023 page.

Leeds international medieval congress welcome banner

International Medieval Congress, Leeds, UK

July 3 – 6, 2023

The University of Leeds hosts a large annual medieval conference, including 6 sessions focusing on Tolkien this year. Two of the sessions deal with the Second Age.

Tuesday, July 4

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and Questions of Adaptation and Authenticity: A roundtable discussion

Organized by Andrew Higgins, Centre for Fantasy & the Fantastic, School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow. Participants include Brian Egede-Pedersen (Independent Scholar, Nykøbing Falster), Mercury Natis (Independent Scholar, Worthing), and Kate Natishan (University of Virginia).

Thursday, July 6

Disentangling the Second Age of Middle-earth
Organizer: Andrew Higgins, Centre for Fantasy & the Fantastic, School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow

  • The Tale of Aldarion and Erendis: Not Just a Medieval Love Story. Sara Brown, Department of Language & Literature, Signum University, New Hampshire
  • Out of the Great Sea: Of Elendil and Legends Old and New. S. R. Westvik, School of History, University College Dublin / Historisches Institut, Universität Potsdam
  • Untangling the Second Age Tale of Years. James Tauber, School of History, Classics & Archaeology, University of Edinburgh
  • The Roads to Númenor: Navigating Tolkien’s Mythopoeic Network. Clara Colin-Saïdani, Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest/Wien

Registration is required, and there is a fee.  You can also search for the other Tolkien sessions in the pdf program.

I will post more news about all of the Tolkien sessions and the availability of hybrid sessions later.

More to come

It’s still early days, and conference sessions for the PCA, Mythopoeic Society, and Oxonmoot are still to be announced. No doubt, there will be continuing discussion of the Second Age in the months ahead. But remember that this discussion has been ongoing in Tolkien scholarship way before the Amazon TV series, so don’t forget to check your favourite Tolkien journals for earlier studies.

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