- Hardcover: 326 pages
- Publisher: Tolkien - GB (13 April 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780007246229
- ISBN-13: 978-0007246229
- ASIN: 0007246226
- Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 3.2 x 22.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 599 g
- Customer Reviews:
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 75,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Children Of Hurin Hardcover – 1 May 2007
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‘I hope that its universality and power will grant it a place in English mythology’
Independent on Sunday
‘The darkest of all Tolkien’s tales. Alan Lee’s illustrations complement the writing splendidly’
Times Literary Supplement
About the Author
J.R.R.Tolkien (1892-1973) was a distinguished academic, though he is best known for writing The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, plus other stories and essays. His books have been translated into over 60 languages and have sold many millions of copies worldwide.
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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." While the main storyline is about Hurin and his son, it's sprinkled with familiar characters, such as Melian and Morgoth. And the rich, tragic storyline is full of noble elves, great human heroes, ancient lost cities and even a vengeful, talking sword.
And Tolkien's writing is somewhere between his "Silmarillion" style and his "Lord of the Rings" style -- it's formal and archaic, but he includes strong descriptions ("A flash of white swallowed in the dark chasm, a cry lost in the roaring of the river") and dialogue ("You are one of the fools that spring would not mourn if you perished in winter". One of the best scenes is when Morgoth and Hurin argue about theology and the "circles of the world" on a tower.
Despite the formality of his writing, the characters really pop out of their stories -- Turin is fierce, passionate and tragic, and his last scenes are absolutely stunning. His noble father and moody mother also come across well, and we get plenty of other colourful characters, from snitty elves to the evil Morgoth himself, who torments Hurin by forcing him to see everything Morgoth sees.
Since the actual story is only about two hundred pages long, it's fleshed out considerably by Christopher Tolkien's introduction and appendices, which explain about the writing and construction of the stories and poems, as well as a pronunciation guide, and a series of family trees.
And Alan Lee provides several beautiful drawings (both black-and-white and color), including Doriath's forests, eagles carrying Hurin and Huor, elven smiths, the dragon, Elf warriors, and finally the death of Turin, over a grey river under some burned trees.
Despite its brevity, "The Children of Húrin" is a stunning, brilliant piece of work, full of Tolkien's vibrant storytelling and memorable characters. Definitely a must-read.
Top international reviews
This is a great historical book set in the 1st Age of Middle Earth, before Sauron and his Rings, before Hobbits and Gandalf etc. It is a stand alone story, but it fills in historical gaps that are aluded to in the LotR.
As a HUGE Tolkien fan - I love this book. To me, it is another glimpse into the intricate world and history of Middle Earth; a world so in-depth and rich in history, languages and legends that I cannot comprehend how it could all have come from just one mans imagination.
This tale is taken from the Silmarillion and tells the story of the elf friend Hurin and the curse put upon him and his family during the rule of the great enemy Morgoth, to whom Sauron was but a servant. His son, Turin, endures many sorrows due to the curse, and despite his rash and headstrong character, you find yourself wanting things to just go right for him. Although, being a tale of ancient middle earth, a sorrowful ending is a certainty.
I just love the detail and depth involved in Tolkien's world and therefore love most of his works. I would recommend it to fans of Lord of the Rings, however it can be confusing with the unfamiliar places, names etc and for people who haven't read the Silmarillion, it could be very confusing.
As for the story, I would have to say that it is by no means perfect. I certainly wouldn't compare it to The Hobbit, or Lord Of The Rings, both of which I love. This is much darker, and more depressing, perhaps too much so, and I felt the end was rather hurried, though that is a minor criticism. If you're a fan of Tolkien's work I would suggest giving it a go, especially if you found previous Tolkien mythology hard to stick with, as this combines these tales of earlier ages of middle earth with an easier novelistic style. Though this has no bearing on the quality of the story I must say I found it rather short, making it pleasant to read, though if I had forked out the £18.99 RRP when it first came out I think I would have felt somewhat short-changed! One final point is to know that the map is folded at the back of the hardback version; I did not discover this until near the end of the book, which was irritating because I found the geography quite hard to comprehend!
Overall a good, tragic novel, quite unlike Tolkien's most well known works, but I'm definitely glad I read it, because it fleshed out the skeleton of the story which was presented in the Silmarillion.
If one has read The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales then there is not a great deal more to this story. However it is still nice to read it all in one book and the illustrations provided by Alan Lee are beautiful.
I don't feel i should give away the story here but i would say if you can read The Lord of the Rings and find it interesting then that same person will find The Children of Hurin to be equally accessible and also enjoyable - though it is a sad tale.
For myself i did feel my prior knowledge helped in grasping the story straight away and the first chapter could be a little off putting with the introduction of quite a few names. If one persists though i think they are heavily rewarded.
I think it sits right up there with Tolkien's other work and i am really pleased it was released as its own standalone novel. A great purchase for anyone but especially those who like Tolkien but are put off by the reputation of The Silmarillion.
Turin is not entirely unlikeable and can do some pretty kind and sweet things.But there is no doubt he and his family are a pestillence upon whom evers company they are in.Demanding and ungrateful they are and the love and loyalty they inspire is mind boggling.It is a relief when they eventually all meet their fate!
The elves are NOT like those in "LOTR" and they seem to rate physical beauty and showmanship above wisdom and understanding.
Yet the book is no less good because of this and it is made even more intersting because it is dark and there is no happy ending.
I, for one am glad that Christopher Tolkien ended it where he did,The tradgedy is what makes the story rich.
A cruel and sad story which obviously fascinated Tolkien. Completely lacking in the humour which makes Lord of the Rings so enjoyable
Firstly I feel Christopher Tolkien should have engaged the book with a little more of his own writting, by this I mean taking it out from the draft form it was initaly written in to a more polished book. Furthermore, I felt that the many names put in the book were (with a feww exceptions) needless and the book was at some points patchy with it's descriptions.
However these are all blasted away by the richness and sadness of the tale, though it is not a book to relax to. I would also suggest reading Christopher Tolkien's (who, in case you didn't know, is J.R.R. Tolkien's son and was edited all his father's post-mournally) fascinating foreword and his final commentries in the large appendix of the book, though I would read both after you have the read the tale as otherwise this will be rather more difficult to follow.