At the end of 1937, J.R.R.Tolkien reluctantly set aside his work on the myths and heroic legends of Valinor and Middle-earth and began "The Lord of the Rings". This fifth volume of "The History of Middle-earth" completes the examination of his writing up to that time. Later forms of "The Annals of Valinor" and "The Annals of Beleriand" had been composed, "The Silmarillion" was nearing completion in a greatly amplified form, and a new Map had been made. The legend of the Downfall of Numenor had entered the work, including those central ideas: the World Made Round and the Straight Path into the vanished West. Closely associated with this was the abandoned "time-travel" story "The Lost Road and Other Writings", linking the world of Numenor and Middle-earth with the legends of many other times and peoples.
Also included in this volume is "The Lhammas", an essay on the complex languages and dialects of Middle-earth, and an 'etymological dictionary' containing an extensive account of Elvish vocabularies.