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
  • 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
  • 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

Of course, if you want to see a timeline that also includes the films, games, and other works set within Middle-earth, be sure to check out our Lord of the Rings timeline.

  1. Christopher Poll

    The Great Tales based on 3 of The Silmarillion chapters (Beren and Luthien, Children of Hurin and The Fall of Gondolin) are now their own standalone books, do they count as part of the literary timeline as expansion stories of the 3 pre-mentioned chapters or not?

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