A Book Review?!
I was so excited when a little bird told me that “The Children of Hurin” a new book by J.R.R. Tolkien was out that I ran out and bought it for her dad â€“ who is a moderate to large fan of adventures in Middle Earth. He seemed genuinely surprised and happy at this newfound story to read and then he put it away â€“ he hid it away â€“ possibly never to be seen again â€“ and I got antsy. The story is only 236 pages long â€“ so I figured that he would read it and then I would be able to get my grubby hands on it â€“ I am also quite the fan of stories of hobbits â€“ and whatnot. I waited for a couple of weeks and then â€“ when I couldnâ€™t stand the pressure (from myself), I snuck in to his lair, grabbed it and ran for the train where I knew I would have ample time to zip through the pages â€“ possibly before anyone was the wiser.
The book is edited by Tolkienâ€™s son, Christopher Tolkien, and is the end result of a story that appeared in various forms â€“ most notably in Tolkienâ€™s â€œThe Silmarillionâ€ â€“ another book about Middle Earth (originally published in 1977) that was edited/published by Christopher Tolkien â€“ which incidentally â€“ I havenâ€™t quite gotten around to reading â€“ yet – mostly because I have heard that it is dense and a tough read . . . I mean I enjoy dragons and dwarves â€“ but it has to be â€“ at least â€“ kind of entertaining. History for the sake of history is for stones and pebbles.
To the story!
First off â€“ a warning. Unless you have some crazy condition that forces you to read every single page â€“ I would advise you to skip both the preface and the introduction â€“ because they embody everything that I am afraid â€œThe Simarillonâ€ may be â€“ dry â€“ and boring talk about the various histories of the story. And â€“ seriously â€“ you are going to need your stamina â€“ because the first 15 (fifteen) pages â€“ or so â€“ of the actual story are pretty rough reading as well . . . a lot of he begat him â€“ who â€“ in turn begat this â€“ who was in that battle with which-er-ma-roo . . . and stuff.
Once you get through that opening salvo of gruel . . . the adventure begins in earnest. It is the story of the family of Hurin the leader of the House of Hador in the land of Dor-lomin â€“ donâ€™t get too lost there â€“ I am trying to keep it as simple as possible. Basically â€“ after the â€œBattle of Unnumbered Tearsâ€ (against this big not-so-good-guy, Morgoth – of whom – Sauron (the main bad guy in â€œThe Lord of the Ringsâ€) was only a lieutenant) â€“ which ends poorly â€“ Hurin goes away â€“ and the rest of the book follows the tragic and meandering life of his son Turin. There are elves, dwarves, bands of thieves, damsels in distress and even a dragon (named Glaurung) for good measure.
I enjoyed the book ten times â€“ and really appreciated it re-opening the door to Middle Earth for me . . . and that is pretty much all that I can say. It is so short that if I give away (the part about the robots) then it might ruin (the part where gorillas come in and take all of the babies to the fair to eat candied apples and ride the Ferris wheel) the whole book â€“ and I would never want to do that. One of my favorite parts was the map (all of these books have maps so that I can follow along with the story) and also the genealogical charts of all of the characters â€“ including some that even show up in â€œThe Lord of the Rings.â€
I suppose that my next step is going to be reading â€œThe Simarillonâ€ . . . but my brain is going to have to be in the right place for that â€“ a place where I will be able to enjoy â€œa complex work that explores a wide array of themes inspired by many ancient, medieval, and modern sources.â€
Okay â€“ now I have to go and sneak this book back under the pillow of a sleeping giant . . . shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Nice review. I agree about Silmarillion. Tried to read it almost 20 years ago and couldn't get through it. Bought a 1st edition back then for about $10. You can now buy 1st editions for about $5 off ebay. That might tell you how readable the book is.
20 years ago . . . hmmmm . . . well bobo – i wouldn’t have put you at quite that old – but now in this cat and mouse game that we shall call the internets . . . i must reassess my approach to your file.
oh yes – indeed – mister bobo – you have a file . . . and we – here at headquarters – are even thinking of building one of those maps with push-pins and yarn to really getting down to some pin point accuracy as to the situation at hand – whatever that may be.
and as to “the simarillon” – who needs it?! i have harry potter waiting in the wings as my next book to read.