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The Children of Hurinby J. R. R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien
Synopses & Reviews
The first complete book by J.R.R. Tolkien in three decades — since the publication of The Silmarillion in 1977 — The Children of Hurin reunites fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, dragons and Dwarves, Eagles and Orcs. Presented for the first time as a complete, standalone story, this stirring narrative will appeal to casual fans and expert readers alike, returning them to the rich landscape and characters unique to Tolkien.
The Children of Hurin, begun in 1918, was one of three 'Great Tales' J.R.R. Tolkien worked on throughout his life, though he never realized his ambition to see it published. Though familiar to many fans from extracts and references within other Tolkien books, it has long been assumed that the story would forever remain an unfinished tale. Now reconstructed by Christopher Tolkien, painstakingly editing together the complete work from his father's many drafts, this book is the culmination of a tireless thirty-year endeavor by him to bring J.R.R. Tolkien's vast body of unpublished work to a wide audience.
Having drawn the distinctive maps for the original The Lord of the Rings more than 50 years ago, Christopher has also created a detailed new map for this book. In addition, it includes a jacket and color paintings by Alan Lee, illustrator of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Centenary Edition and Academy Award-winning designer of the film trilogy.
"If anyone still labors under the delusion that J.R.R. Tolkien was a writer of twee fantasies for children, this novel should set them straight. A bleak, darkly beautiful tale played out against the background of the First Age of Tolkien's Middle Earth, 'The Children of Hurin' possesses the mythic resonance and grim sense of inexorable fate found in Greek tragedy. According to Christopher... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien's son and literary executor, 'The Children of Hurin' had its genesis in a tale penned by his father in 1919. Tolkien obsessively wrote and rewrote stories over the course of his long life, and slightly variant tellings of this tale have previously appeared in several of his other works. But this is its first stand-alone publication, incorporating all the various versions and attendant fragments into a seamless whole. Does it warrant the attention of readers other than Tolkien purists? Absolutely. Even casual readers, as well as fans of Peter Jackson's phenomenally successful film adaptation, will find their experience of Middle Earth considerably enriched by this new volume, which also features superb illustrations (both color and black and white) by Alan Lee. 'The Children of Hurin' takes place 6,000 years before the Council of Elrond (a pivotal event in 'The Lord of the Rings'), as Christopher Tolkien points out in his useful introduction. Its setting is not your great-great-grandfather's Middle Earth, but the forests and mountains of Beleriand, a country that was drowned, like Atlantis, eons before various Bagginses and their ilk populated the Shire. There are no hobbits in 'The Children of Hurin.' The primary players are Men; Elves; Orcs; a few Dwarves; Morgoth, the original Dark Lord (Sauron was his most powerful lieutenant); and Glaurung, 'father of dragons,' who ranks with the monstrous spider Shelob as one of Tolkien's most terrifying creations. For centuries, Men and Elves have been engaged in a mostly losing battle against Morgoth's forces, whose members — Orcs but also Men known as Easterlings — resemble marauding Vikings more than the crude, slightly cartoonish regiments depicted in 'The Lord of the Rings.' More than any other Tolkien work, 'The Children of Hurin' evokes the Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon epics that Tolkien loved and studied and taught and emulated. Its central protagonist, Turin, is one of the most complex characters in all Middle Earth, a tormented, brooding anti-hero who bears hallmarks of a sword-wielding Heathcliff. Shortly after the book opens, Turin's father, Lord Hurin the Steadfast, has been imprisoned by Morgoth following a doomed campaign mounted by Elves and Men. In the battle's aftermath, the 9-year-old Turin and his pregnant mother, Morwen, barely manage to escape becoming thralls of the Easterlings. At Morwen's urging, the boy flees to a hidden Elvish kingdom where he finds sanctuary. His sister is born not long after. Turin grows to manhood among the Elves, whose king treats him as a foster son, giving him a dragon-crested helm that is an heirloom of Turin's forebears. Such treatment, along with Turin's sternly aloof, even haughty, demeanor, causes resentment among some of the Elves. One of these detractors goads Turin, then waylays him, and Turin inadvertently causes his attacker's death. Out of shame and remorse, but also pride, Turin leaves the kingdom before learning he has been pardoned. He joins forces with a group of outlaws, and in short order becomes their leader, mustering them against the Orcs. The House of Hurin matches that of Atreus in curses coming home to roost upon doomed and sometimes innocent family members. Readers looking for happy endings will find none in this book. Instead, there is grand, epic storytelling and a reminder, if one was needed, of Tolkien's genius in creating an imaginary world that both reflects and deepens a sense of our own mythic past, the now-forgotten battles and legends that gave birth to the 'Aeneid,' the Old Testament, the 'Oresteia,' the 'Elder Eddas' and the 'Mabinogion, Beowulf' and 'Paradise Lost.' Years from now, when our present day is as remote from men and women (or cyborgs) as the events of the First Age were to the Council of Elrond, people may still tell tales out of Middle Earth. If so, 'The Children of Hurin' will be one of them. Elizabeth Hand's eighth novel, the psychological thriller 'Generation Loss,' has just been published." Reviewed by Judy BudnitzMichael DirdaJonathan YardleyLaila HalabyMaya JasanoffSusie LinfieldKenji YoshinoDavid CannadineROBERT PINSKYAmanda VaillElizabeth Hand, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
(hide most of this review)
"The Children of Hurin is the book for which [Tolkien fans] have been longing....By meticulously combining and editing the many published and unpublished versions of the tale, [Christopher Tolkien] has produced at last a coherent, vivid and readable narrative." The Associated Press
"[A]n intense and very grown-up manner saves [The Children of Hurin] from the failings of [Tolkien's] other works. The prose is still more gesture than depth, but there is a real feeling of high seriousness....This is Tolkien in Wagnerian mode." The Sunday Times (U.K.)
"For those who already love Middle-earth, The Children of Húrin will be a chance to return there. For others, it may be an opportunity to question some deeply rooted assumptions and to learn that literature that rejects the canons of modernism and realism can nevertheless have great emotional power." Providence Journal
"[A] superb addition to the Tolkien cannon....Stunning in its scope, writing and story-telling, it's vintage Tolkien." Chicago Sun-Times
"This is a delightful though slight addition to Tolkien's work for several reasons. Hurin is like an appetizer, a tasty tapas to get new readers ready for the heavy-duty feasting provided by far more elaborate and lengthy books such as The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy." USA Today
Presented for the first time as a complete, standalone story, this stirring narrative will appeal to casual fans and expert readers alike, returning them to the rich landscape and characters unique to Tolkien.
There are tales of Middle-earth from times long before The Lord of the Rings, and the story told in this book is set in the great country that lay beyond the Grey Havens in the West: lands where Treebeard once walked, but that were drowned in the great cataclysm that ended the First Age of the World.
In that remote time Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, dwelt in the vast fortress of Angband, the Hells of Iron, in the North; and the tragedy of Túrin and his sister Niënor unfolded within the shadow of the fear of Angband and the war waged by Morgoth against the lands and secret cities of the Elves.
Their brief and passionate lives were dominated by the elemental hatred that Morgoth bore them as the children of Húrin, the man who had dared to defy and to scorn him to his face. Against them he sent his most formidable servant, Glaurung, a powerful spirit in the form of a huge wingless dragon of fire. Into this story of brutal conquest and flight, of forest hiding-places and pursuit, of resistance with lessening hope, the Dark Lord and the Dragon enter in direly articulate form. Sardonic and mocking, Glaurung manipulated the fates of Túrin and Niënor by lies of diabolic cunning and guile, and the curse of Morgoth was fulfilled.
The earliest versions of this story by J.R.R. Tolkien go back to the end of the First World War and the years that followed; but long afterward, when The Lord of the Rings was finished, he wrote it anew and greatly enlarged it in complexities of motive and character: it became the dominant story in his later work on Middle-earth. But he could not bring it to a final and finished form. In this book I have endeavored to construct, after long study of the manuscripts, a coherent narrative without any editorial invention.” — Christopher Tolkien
The Children of Húrin is the first complete book by J.R.R.Tolkien since the 1977 publication of The Silmarillion. Six thousand years before the One Ring is destroyed, Middle-earth lies under the shadow of the Dark Lord Morgoth. The greatest warriors among elves and men have perished, and all is in darkness and despair. But a deadly new leader rises, Túrin, son of Húrin, and with his grim band of outlaws begins to turn the tide in the war for Middle-earth — awaiting the day he confronts his destiny and the deadly curse laid upon him.
The paperback edition of The Children of Húrin includes eight color paintings by Alan Lee and a black-and-white map.
The first complete book by Tolkien in three decades, this book reunites fans of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" with Elves and Men, dragons and Dwarves, Eagles and Orcs. This stirring narrative will return fans to the rich landscape and characters unique to Tolkien.
About the Author
J.R.R. Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892. After serving in the First World War, he embarked upon a distinguished career as a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University. He is the renowned creator of Middle-earth and author of the great modern classic The Hobbit, the prelude to his epic masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings. Other works by J.R.R. Tolkien include The Silmarillion. J.R.R. Tolkien died in 1973 at the age of 81.
Christopher Tolkien, who formerly taught at Oxford University, is J.R.R. Tolkien's son and literary executor. The editor of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales as well as the twelve-part series The History of Middle-earth, he lives in France.
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