The Children Of Hurin Paperback – Mar 11 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Tolkien fans are sure to treasure this tale of Middle-earth's First Age, which appeared in incomplete forms in the posthumously published The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. Those earlier books, also edited by Tolkien's son, Christopher, only hinted at the depth and power of the tragic story of Túrin and Niënor, the children of Húrin, the lord of Dor-lómin, who achieved renown for having confronted Morgoth, who was the master of Sauron, the manifestation of evil in the Lord of the Rings. The lengthy and fatiguing battle against Morgoth forms the backdrop for the moving account of the life of Húrin's eldest son, Túrin, a valiant but proud warrior whose all too human frailties augur an unhappy end. Perhaps Tolkien's most three-dimensional figure, Túrin flees from the elven kingdom where he has grown into manhood, sheltered from the forces of evil, after he's unjustly judged responsible for another's death. He hides his true identity as he begins a new life as leader of a band of outlaws, a choice that has dire consequences when he crosses paths with a family member after many years of separation. Deftly balancing thrilling battles with moments of introspection, Tolkien's vivid and gripping narrative reaffirms his primacy in fantasy literature.
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From School Library Journal
Adult/High School–While much of the material here was published posthumously in books like The Silmarillion (1985) and Unfinished Tales (1988, both Del Rey), Tolkien delivered it in a loosely connected way that made it difficult to read. Edited by his son, this new volume draws from both of these earlier sources to pull together a complete single narrative set in pre-Hobbit Middle Earth. Túrin, son of the human lord Húrin and the elven lady Morwen, becomes a pivotal force in the ongoing battle against evil in an epic adventure full of intrigue and clever battle scenes. The early parts of the story focus on Túrin's young life. As an adult, he is wrongly judged for the death of an elf and banished for the rest of his life. He manages to become the leader of a ragtag band of forest outlaws that cause no end of problems for forces of evil trying to usurp the kingdom. Túrin is charismatic, brave, cocky, and as equally skilled at getting into trouble as he is at getting out of it. Lee's black-and-white drawings and full-color paintings come from the traditions of fantasy illustration and offer dramatic visuals throughout the book. The language and vocabulary, especially in the dialogue, might intimidate casual readers, but ambitious fans of fantasy will find a work that reminds them why we continue to place Tolkien at the zenith of fantasy literature after so many years.–Matthew L. Moffett, Pohick Regional Library, Burke, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Top Customer Reviews
But in the case of "The Children of Húrin," the result is a surprisingly solid and lucid story, full of familiar characters from other books about the history of Middle-Earth. Tolkien's timeless, formal prose and richly-imagined world make this novella pop from the pages, especially without his son's stuffier footnotes.
It opens with the story of Huon and Hurin, heroic brothers who lived back in the first age. But when battling the terrible Morgoth (the Middle-Earth Satan), Huor is slain and Hurin is taken prisoner by Morgoth, who torments and curses him. The Easterlings overrun his lands, and in fear for her son and unborn baby, Hurin's wife Morwen sends her son away to be fostered in Doriath.
And so Turin grows up in Doriath, until the day when he feels the need to go out and defend his distant family. His adventures take him through Middle-Earth, encountering great elves, orcs, lives with outlaws, and Mim the petty-dwarf. But his life is cursed by Morgoth -- as is the mysterious girl he falls in love with -- and his downfall will be one of horror and disgrace, even as he slays the most terrible dragon in Middle-Earth, Glaurung.
This book is actually a jigsaw puzzle -- Tolkien worked on the interrelated stories and poetry throughout his lifetime, but he never quite finished a solid cohesive story. So Christopher Tolkien cobbled together these various stories with Tolkien's unfinished works, pasted them together, and the result was "The Children of Húrin."
Surprisingly, the resulting story is very solid and strong, with a darker finale than "Lord of the Rings.Read more ›
The short answer is yes. As Tolkien's major tales go, this one ranks in third place after Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit (or second for those who don't like the children's flavor of The Hobbit). Unlike The Silmarillion, this is a genuine story with a narrative and character development. The only deficiency is that, without those hobbits, it lacks the light and comic touch they provide, giving it a grimmer and more fatalistic feel. Unless he reads Tolkien only for the hobbits, your friend will be delighted with your gift.
Perhaps the only other Tolkien work that would top The Children of Hurin in value--and one you ought to consider if your friend doesn't have it already--is The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. It's a collection of Tolkien's letters over a six decade span (from 1914 to 1973), and it provides the definitive background to Middle earth. When I wrote the entry on "Magic in Middle earth" for The J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia, I used it almost exclusively. It was far better to let Tolkien explain what he meant than to make guesses of my own.
--Michael W. Perry, author of Untangling Tolkien (a book-length LOTR chronology)
I'm a rabid fan of Tolkien, having started with The Hobbit in my teen years, and over the years I think I've read and re-read The Lord of The Rings 3 times. My son is finally old enough that I can read The Hobbit to him, and he is now as captivated by Tolkien's storytelling as I was. The Simarillion is more difficult to read because there is no single character or story thread to tie the beginning to the end, except the inscrutable and immortal enemies. Taken as "short stories" however, it can be digested with some academic effort, and it makes subsequent re-readings of LOTR more enjoyable.
It seemed likely that The Children of Hurin would be more like LOTR than The Simarillion, since the struggles of a single family should focus one's attention upon individual characters throughout the book. I find myself disappointed, because instead, The Children of Hurin is a cataloguing of events more like the Simarillion. The struggles and events in the lives of these characters are confronted as events alone, not as their feelings, thoughts, nor even their words. The dialogue in Hurin, what little there is, is stilted and dull. It is full of lofty declarations and the weight of duty; rarely do the characters share friendly or family moments together.
If I may use an example to illustrate my point, take this exchange between Turin and Sador, best friends about 8 years old:
Turin: "...I shall go as a soldier with an Elf-king as soon as I am able, as you did Labadal."
Sador: "You may learn much of them. They are a fair fold and wonderful, and they have a power over the hearts of Men... In their light we are dimmed, or we burn with too quick a flame, and the weight of our doom lies heavier on us.Read more ›
Naturally, an event such as a publication of a new novel by a long deceased major author is bound to excite different reactions from different quarters. Depending on where you stand in Tolkien fandom will largely define your reactions to the story.
First, just a few quick facts about the novel.
*CoH can be read independently of Tolkien's other works, due largely in part to C. Tolkien's excellent introduction, explaining the background and context in which these events occur in Tolkien's imagined cosmos. Having an overall general knowledge of Tolkien's legendarium is certainly helpful, but fortunately it is not a pre-requisite as the story is strong enough to stand independently.
*CoH is much darker than the Hobbit cycle. It is a very tragic story on a Shakespearian level, and altogether not suitable for children, featuring incest and murder as prominent plot features.
*The plot revolves around the Dark Lord Morgoth's curse on Turin and Nienor, who are the Children of Hurin, for Hurin's defiance against Morgoth. Morgoth is Tolkien's equivalent of Satan, and who Sauron is but a servant too.
*CoH is easier to read than THE SILMARILLION, though CoH still employs in places the archaic style found in that book.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
If you're an avid Tolkien fan, think Silmarillion, not Lord of the Rings.Published 7 months ago by Nic
Great book to give you more details of the races of men and elves. Quick read too!Published 10 months ago by Katherine
I would not qualify this work as his best but being the fan that I am, I enjoy it.Published 13 months ago by Camille Savoie
This is the first J.R.R. Tolkien's book in English that I'm reading and the quality still is the same, great book, great history. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Ivo Pontes
Sometimes its a pain to find books in a book store but Amazon makes it easy to get those ones that you want.Published 23 months ago by robert hartl
This book is a must for all tolkien's fans. Fantastic universe, great story and the illustrations by Alan Lee are well done!Published on July 11 2013 by Samuel Proulx
Again we are made privy to additional background
The true scope of time and space is manifest as we grapple
with yet more of the history of Middle Earth