Few books manage to rise to the very top of their genre the way J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings novels and its prequel book, The Hobbit have in the realm of fantasy fiction. Ever since the series was published starting from 1937, fans the world over have delighted in the tales of magic and heroism that took place in the fictional land created by Tolkien known as Middle-earth. Now, HarperCollins is set to publish a new set of collected essays by Tolkien that have been named The Nature of Middle-earth. HarperCollins' deputy publishing director Chris Smith explained the significance of the collection for fans of Middle-earth.

"For [Tolkien], Middle-earth was part of an entire world to be explored. And the writings in The Nature of Middle-earth reveal the journeys that he took as he sought to better understand his unique creation. [The essays are] a veritable treasure trove offering readers a chance to peer over Professor Tolkien's shoulder at the very moment of discovery: and on every page, Middle-earth is once again brought to extraordinary life."
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For J.R.R. Tolkien, his interest in fiction writing was secondary to his interest in linguistics, or the study of languages. In fact, some fans contend that Tolkien's main reason for writing the Lord of the Rings was to provide him with an excuse to develop a host of fictional languages and their connected history.

Due to Tolkien's interest in developing the language for Middle-earth, the history of the fictional land was also meticulously developed by the author. Each of the various races that inhabit the realm was given full backstories, from men to the dwarves to the elves, to the orcs.

The new collection of essays will shed further light on these races, answering such questions as to whether Elves are immortal, or undergo reincarnation, the exact nature of the Valar, the beasts of Numenor, whether both male and female dwarves can grow beards, and the geography of the kingdom of Gondor.

While such questions might seem inconsequential to general fans, who just want to see Gandalf face off against the Balrog, there are millions of Tolkien fans the world over who will be eagerly poring over his latest book in hopes of finding the answer to such questions as exactly what kind of power the character of Tom Bombadil wields, and whether Ents are truly even more long-lived than Elves.

For the general fans, Amazon is gearing up to scratch that Middle-earth itch with their upcoming The Lord of the Rings series. The title of the show is slightly misleading since it will not be a retelling of the story covered in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy of movies. Instead, the show will take us back centuries, to the time when Sauron was at the height of his power, and the forces of man, elves, and dwarves had to come together in order to challenge the might of the cursed land of Mordor. You know, where the shadows lie. This news arrives courtesy of theguardian.com.