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The Children of Hurin

J. R. R. Tolkien

Average Review Rating Average Rating 6/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : HarperCollins

Published : 2007

Copyright : Christopher Reuel Tolkien 2007

ISBN-10 : HB 0-00724-622-6
ISBN-13 : HB 978-0-00724-622-9

Publisher's Write-Up

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 which 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 Nienor 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 Nienor 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 afterwards, 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 Christopher Tolkien has constructed, after long study of the manuscripts, a coherent narrative without any editorial invention.

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Review by Chrissi (010507) Rating (6/10)

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Review by Chrissi
Rating 6/10
Set a long time before the events in The Lord of the Rings, The Children of Hurin is part of the epic history of Middle Earth as Tolkien wanted to recount it. It tells the story of Turin, son of Hurin, interwoven with that of his sister Niniel. Theirs is not a happy lot in life, and the narrative contains betrayal and dark deeds, much of it with long lists of the people and places involved. This makes for a very complicated read and I found trying to keep track of all the peripheral characters to be hard work; it felt almost as though they were there as an exercise in history building by Tolkien rather than developing characters in their own right as part of the plot. I am sure that someone who loves Tolkien would be much better able to cross reference all the multitudes but I found I was more concerned with deciding how their names sounded and who was related to whom, that I missed their relevance to the story.

In truth I had a similar problem reading The Lord of the Rings; the writing style is just not suited to the visual imagery my mind creates when I read, and unfortunately The Children of Hurin is much harder to read than The Lord of the Rings. I found I became so bogged down in the laborious language and names and places there was no flow and therefore no pleasure.

In reading the introduction to this book, it is described as being best suited to those people who could remember how tough Shelob’s carapace was and the various materials and races that could not penetrate the shell of the creature. Hmmm, a warning perhaps?

I do appreciate that Christopher has remained true to his fathers’ writing and has not changed the prose that has become Hurin, but I do feel that it could have been edited sympathetically and rendered slightly more accessible. But then again I suppose that it would have offended the Tolkien purists, who are much more likely to know about Shelob in the first place and will therefore appreciate the novel so much more.

I would love to say that I enjoyed The Children of Hurin but in truth I did not, and that is no fault of the book. I would advise anyone considering reading this book to proceed with caution, because if you found the writing style or the wide range of characters used in The Lord of the Rings even the slightest bit heavy going, then you will not enjoy this book. However, if you feel The Silmarillion is one of the best books ever written then The Children of Hurin is definitely good for your next fix.

I’m trying not to be biased here, and I would freely admit that those who love Tolkien and his style of writing will adore this book because it is grand in scope and vast in detail. I do think that The Children of Hurin will polarise the feelings of the reading public about Tolkien yet further, which is kind of a shame because if you can get past the wordiness and unconventional writing style there lies a fabulous vision.

You will either love this book or hate it and never the twain shall meet. I can safely say this decision will have been made before you read the first word and will not have changed when you read the last. One for Tolkien fans I’m afraid.
Chrissi (1st May 2007)

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