The Barnes & Noble Review
For fantasy fans young and old, the much-anticipated release of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Children of Húrin (begun in 1918 and never fully completed) is like the unearthing of a long-lost holy book. The dark, wartorn epic of love and loss, set in the First Age of Middle-earth, is one of Tolkien's three Great Tales of the Elder Days (along with Beren and Lúthien and the Fall of Gondolin), and according to Christopher Tolkien in the novel's preface, it is "integral" to understanding the complex history of Elves and Men in Middle-earth.
While fighting side by side with Elven allies against the evil Morgoth and his minions of Orcs, Húrin Thalion -- one of the greatest warriors of the First Age -- is captured and brought back to Morgoth's stronghold, where the Great Enemy places a curse, a "dark doom," on the hero and his offspring. Imprisoned atop a mountain peak, Húrin is forced to witness the horrific ordeals that beset his son Túrin and his daughter Nienor…
Easily the most monumental publishing event of 2007, The Children of Húrin is an absolute must-read for fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, as well as for genre historians and fantasy aficionados alike. Featuring spectacular illustrations from the legendary Alan Lee, Tolkien's oldest -- and arguably darkest -- Middle-earth tale is replete with grand-scale adventure, awe-inspiring magic, and one the most unforgettably heroic (and tragic) story lines genre fans will ever experience. This heartrending tale of Túrin and Nienor will undoubtedly become one of the most popular chronicles of Middle-earth. Classic Tolkien. Paul Goat Allen
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.
The Washington Post
What could be more apropos than hiring the face of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings to read Tolkien's newly complete version of these pre-Ringstales? Christopher Lee, the British actor beloved for his role in Peter Jackson's trilogy as well as his numerous turns in Hammer fright films, reads Tolkien's Ringsprecursor as if still in full makeup. Booming and vaguely menacing, Lee sounds like Sauron around the campfire, entertaining his minions with a tale of adventure and woe. Even Lee cannot sound entirely convincing bellowing some of Tolkien's invented languages, but his reading is suitably ominous. Tolkien's son, Christopher, who edited his father's book, also contributes a preface and introduction he reads himself. His voice-phlegmy and rough-provides a taste of what it might have sounded like had the author himself been available to read his own work. Simultaneous release with the Houghton Mifflin hardcover (reviewed online). (Dec.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Read by Lee in delightfully melancholy and beautifully sonorous tones.
Drawing on a manuscript that his father began in 1918 and reworked throughout his life, Christopher Tolkien, who has edited 14 posthumous volumes of his dad's work, spent decades shaping the story's many drafts into this final form, which was released in a beautiful, illustrated hardcover in April 2007. HarperCollinsUK Audiobooks has kept that same spirit, and this audio version is equally alluring, featuring a booklet sporting all of the book's illustrations by Tolkien artist Alan Lee and a fold-out map of Middle-earth, as well as an introduction read by the younger Tolkien. Equally glorious is the reading by actor Christopher Lee, already associated with Tolkien through his performance as Saruman in the Lord of the Rings films. His deep voice brings the proper sense of woe to this dark tale. A nice extra is hearing the proper pronunciation of the player and place names in the author's mythical world. Set centuries before Rings, the plot unfurls the lives of Túrin and Niënor, son and daughter to Húrin, a great warrior held captive by Morgoth, the Dark Lord, whose malice dooms his enemy's children as well. Highly recommended.
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 2006 Reed Business Information.
All your old T-shirts and bumper stickers inscribed "Frodo Lives" may have to be replaced. Old Hobbits do die hard-but there are none even born yet in this reconstructed tale of Middle Earth during the Elder Days (i.e., thousands of years prior to events immortalized in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy). Begun in 1918, revised several times, never published (though a capsule version of its narrative appears as a chapter in the posthumously published volume The Silmarillion), this appealing yarn is very nearly vintage Tolkien. To be sure, Middle Earth is under siege early in its history. The reigning villain is Dark Lord Morgoth (Sauron is merely one of his lieutenants), a demonic sort who rules a huge northern fortress ringed by mountains and destroys his enemies through the focused power of his malevolent will-more often than not incarnated in the figure of Glaurung, an exceedingly nasty "dragon of fire." Their vengeful energies seek out two inordinately plucky youngsters-stalwart Turin and his beautiful sister Nienor-who share the curse pronounced on their father Hurin, an intrepid Elfin warrior who had brazenly defied Morgoth. The episodic narrative takes off when Hurin leaves his sister and their mother Morwen (a veritable Penelope patiently awaiting her Ulysses's return) to undertake a series of adventures that involve him with a brawling band of outlaws, the memorable Battle of Unnumbered Tears against what seem innumerable hordes of invading Orcs-remember them?), a duplicitous dwarf who offers the "shelter" of his underground stronghold and a terrific climactic encounter with the . . . uh, inflamed Glaurung. Strong echoes of the Finnish epic Kalevala, the tales of Robin Hood,Homeric epic and the matter of Wagnerian opera charge the text with complexity as well as vigor. And introductory and textual notes provided by the volume's editor, Tolkien's son Christopher, add welcome clarification. A fine addition to a deservedly well-loved body of work.
From the Publisher
"It has seemed to me for a long time that there was a good case for presenting my father's long version of the legend of the Children of Húrin as an independent work" Christopher Tolkien“The Children of Hurin is about to thrill and intrigue millions. It is safe to say that the 'great tale' of Turin is about to become a global myth…in its own dotty but also awe-inspiring way, it works.” Sunday Times Culture“…worthy of a readership beyond Tolkien devotees…this book deserves to eclipse all his other posthumous writings, and stand as a worthy memorial to the imagination of Tolkien.' The Times“I hope that its universality and power will grant it a place in English mythology'… It isn't jolly, but then neither is Anthony and Cleopatra.” The Independent on Sunday
Read an Excerpt
Hador Goldenhead was a lord of the Edain and wellbeloved by the Eldar. He dwelt while his days lasted under the lordship of Fingolfin, who gave to him wide lands in that region of Hithlum which was called Dor-lómin. His daughter Glóredhel wedded Haldir son of Halmir, lord of the Men of Brethil; and at the same feast his son Galdor the Tall wedded Hareth, the daughter of Halmir.
Galdor and Hareth had two sons, Húrin and Huor. Húrin was by three years the elder, but he was shorter in stature than other men of his kin; in this he took after his mother’s people, but in all else he was like Hador, his grandfather, strong in body and fiery of mood. But the fire in him burned steadily, and he had great endurance of will. Of all Men of the North he knew most of the counsels of the Noldor. Huor his brother was tall, the tallest of all the Edain save his own son Tuor only, and a swift runner; but if the race were long and hard Húrin would be the first home, for he ran as strongly at the end of the course as at the beginning. There was great love between the brothers, and they were seldom apart in their youth.
Húrin wedded Morwen, the daughter of Baragund son of Bregolas of the House of Bëor; and she was thus of close kin to Beren One-hand. Morwen was dark-haired and tall, and for the light of her glance and the beauty of her face men called her Eledhwen, the elven-fair; but she was somewhat stern of mood and proud. The sorrows of the House of Bëor saddened her heart; for she came as an exile to Dorlómin from Dorthonion after the ruin of the Bragollach.
Túrin was the name of the eldest child of Húrin and Morwen, and he was born in that year in which Beren came to Doriath and found Lúthien Tinúviel, Thingol’s daughter. Morwen bore a daughter also to Húrin, and she was named Urwen; but she was called Lalaith, which is Laughter, by all that knew her in her short life.
Huor wedded Rían, the cousin of Morwen; she was the daughter of Belegund son of Bregolas. By hard fate was she born into such days, for she was gentle of heart and loved neither hunting nor war. Her love was given to trees and to the flowers of the wild, and she was a singer and a maker of songs. Two months only had she been wedded to Huor when he went with his brother to the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, and she never saw him again.
But now the tale returns to Húrin and Huor in the days of their youth. It is said that for a while the sons of Galdor dwelt in Brethil as foster-sons of Haldir their uncle, after the custom of Northern men in those days. They often went to battle with the Men of Brethil against the Orcs, who now harried the northern borders of their land; for Húrin, though only seventeen years of age, was strong, and Huor the younger was already as tall as most full-grown men of that people.
On a time Húrin and Huor went with a company of scouts, but they were ambushed by the Orcs and scattered, and the brothers were pursued to the ford of Brithiach. There they would have been taken or slain but for the power of Ulmo that was still strong in the waters of Sirion; and it is said that a mist arose from the river and hid them from their enemies, and they escaped over the Brithiach into Dimbar. There they wandered in great hardship among the hills beneath the sheer walls of the Crissaegrim, until they were bewildered in the deceits of that land and knew not the way to go on or to return. There Thorondor espied them, and he sent two of his Eagles to their aid; and the Eagles bore them up and brought them beyond the Encircling Mountains to the secret vale of Tumladen and the hidden city of Gondolin, which no Man had yet seen.
There Turgon the King received them well, when he learned of their kin; for Hador was an Elf-friend, and Ulmo, moreover, had counselled Turgon to deal kindly with the sons of that House, from whom help should come to him at need. Húrin and Huor dwelt as guests in the King’s house for well nigh a year; and it is said that in this time Húrin, whose mind was swift and eager, gained much lore of the Elves, and learned also something of the counsels and purposes of the King. For Turgon took great liking for the sons of Galdor, and spoke much with them; and he wished indeed to keep them in Gondolin out of love, and not only for his law that no stranger, be he Elf or Man, who found the way to the secret kingdom or looked upon the city should ever depart again, until the King should open the leaguer, and the hidden people should come forth.