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The Children of Hurin

by J R R Tolkein
Edited by Christopher Tolkein
Illustrated by Alan Lee

      Tolkein needs no introduction, but if you love the world he created it is always good to be able to visit it again, and here is another chance to do so. This tale is set long before the time of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, back when Morgoth ruled the roost in Angband and fought against the children of Hurin. Tolkein died before he could complete this story, but his son Christopher has stitched it all together into a continuous epic, with suitably gray and stony illustrations by Alan Lee.

If you are hoping for a tale told in the manner of his more famous books you will be in for a surprise. Instead, this is a tale that calls to mind the sagas of the Norse people to be told by skalds at feasts in echoing halls. This is a style that suits this epic far better than anything else would, but it does not make for a fast read. Instead, here is a book to be savored and enjoyed slowly like a fine wine (served in a horn, of course). Here is one of the tales of the old times referred to in Lord of the Rings, but if you are one of the few who are yet to enjoy that epic this is a good place to start as any, as it all takes place before the main Tolkein story. There is a fine introduction about Middle Earth in the "elder days" that ought to be read first, and this sets the scene. Donít expect a merry tale with ale houses and good companionship; this is a much darker story with a lot of tragedy, albeit in a more readable form than The Silmarillion where some of this tale can also be found in a different form. That being said, I enjoyed this story and the way it was told; read this quick before Hollywood gets hold of it!

The Book

Harper (HarperCollins UK)
1 April 2008
0007252269 / 9780007252268
More at US || UK
NOTE: US edition is different

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008