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The Children of Húrin [Audiobook, CD, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

J. R. R. Tolkien , Christopher Tolkien , Christopher Lee
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
Price: £24.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Jan 2007

Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a fully continuous and stand alone story, the epic tale of The Children of Húrin will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, dragons and Dwarves, eagles and Orcs, and the rich landscape and characters unique to Tolkien.

There are tales of Middle-earth from times long before The Lord of the Rings, and the story told in this book is set in the great country that lay beyond the Grey Havens in the West: lands where Treebeard once walked, but which were drowned in the great cataclysm that ended the First Age of the World.

In that remote time Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, dwelt in the vast fortress of Angband, the Hells of Iron, in the North; and the tragedy of Túrin and his sister Nienor unfolded within the shadow of the fear of Angband and the war waged by Morgoth against the lands and secret cities of the Elves.

Their brief and passionate lives were dominated by the elemental hatred that Morgoth bore them as the children of Húrin, the man who had dared to defy and to scorn him to his face. Against them he sent his most formidable servant, Glaurung, a powerful spirit in the form of a huge wingless dragon of fire. Into this story of brutal conquest and flight, of forest hiding-places and pursuit, of resistance with lessening hope, the Dark Lord and the Dragon enter in direly articulate form. Sardonic and mocking, Glaurung manipulated the fates of Túrin and Nienor by lies of diabolic cunning and guile, and the curse of Morgoth was fulfilled.

The earliest versions of this story by J.R.R. Tolkien go back to the end of the First World War and the years that followed; but long afterwards, when The Lord of the Rings was finished, he wrote it anew and greatly enlarged it in complexities of motive and character: it became the dominant story in his later work on Middle-earth. But he could not bring it to a final and finished form. In this book Christopher Tolkien has constructed, after long study of the manuscripts, a coherent narrative without any editorial invention.

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 8 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Unabridged edition edition (1 Jan 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007263457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007263455
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 14.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 236,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J.R.R. Tolkien was born on 3rd January 1892. After serving in the First World War, he became best known for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, selling 150 million copies in more than 40 languages worldwide. Awarded the CBE and an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Oxford University, he died in 1973 at the age of 81.

Product Description


"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

From the Publisher


I was brought up in France, and although my grandfather died when I was
very young, his work was always very much in evidence at home. My father,
Christopher, the third of J.R.R. Tolkien's four children, according to his
father's explicit wishes, has devoted himself to the publishing of my
grandfather's massive archive of material ever since he began work on the
"Silmarillion" papers in 1974. Ideally suited as he was through his
twenty-five years of experience as a professor of Anglo-Saxon in Oxford,
his work has always been that of the most rigorous editorial discipline. I
have always been impressed by his ability to preserve his father's original
writings as far as possible while applying the deft skill of an editor to
make his volumes readable and not simply a catalogue of unpublished texts,
something I was to learn first-hand when I undertook the daunting task of
translating the first two volumes of The History of Middle-earth for
Christian Bourgois, the French Tolkien publisher. With these books,
complete with Christopher's notes, as well as being able to discover some
otherwise completely unknown tales, readers could begin to understand the
way the author worked, and see how he would write and rewrite, often
revisiting the same stories and passages after many years, keen to refine
and improve his vast mythology, as well as to accommodate into his earlier
writing the fruits of his later invention and to create a complete and
seamless mythology, a saga spanning thousands of years.

Having spent the three years immediately following J.R.R. Tolkien's death
compiling The Silmarillion, Christopher went on to compile the book
Unfinished Tales, followed by the 12-volume The History of Middle-earth,
which was itself to take him 16 years. So when the twelfth volume, The
Peoples of Middle-earth, was published in 1997, it seemed probable that
this was to be Christopher's final book. The book's dedication to my
mother, Baillie, did seem to make it clear that this was a conclusion to a
long labour. But my father is as indefatigable as his father was, and he
had been thinking for a long while of the possibility of a better and more
complete version of one of the major tales from the Legendarium, "The
Children of Húrin", and one that would be closer to his father's vision.

He has explained a little more extensively what had been his intention with
The Children of Húrin :

`It is undeniable that there are a very great many readers of The Lord of
the Rings for whom the legends of the Elder Days (as previously published
in varying forms in The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and The History of
Middle-earth) are altogether unknown, unless by their repute as strange and
inaccessible in mode and manner. For this reason 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,
between its own covers, with a minimum of editorial presence, and above all
in continuous narrative without gaps or interruptions, if this could be
done without distortion or invention, despite the unfinished state in which
he left some parts of it.

`When my father was a young man, during the years of the First World War
and long before there was any inkling of the tales that were to form the
narrative of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, he began the writing of a
collection of stories that he called The Book of Lost Tales. That was his
first work of imaginative literature, and a substantial one, for though it
was left unfinished there are fourteen completed tales. Among the Lost
Tales three were of much greater length, and all three are concerned with
Men as well as Elves: the stories of Beren and Lúthien, the Children of
Húrin, and The Fall of Gondolin. In 1951, three years before the
publication of The Fellowship of the Ring, he told of his early intention:
"I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only
placed in the scheme, and sketched."

`It thus seems unquestionable, from my father's own words, that if he could
achieve final and finished narratives on the scale he desired, he saw the
three "Great Tales" as works sufficiently complete in themselves as not to
demand knowledge of the great body of legend known as The Silmarillion.'

Remarkably, considering that the earliest passages in The Children of Húrin
are 90 years old, Christopher's reworking of the book works brilliantly. In
a sense it is not a new book, for versions and pieces of the story will be
familiar to some readers. For example, the whole tale was condensed down
into a single chapter in The Silmarillion, as was the story of The Lord of
the Rings at the end of that book, so what you have here is the
reconstructed version, complete with familiar elements and also pieces that
have never appeared before. (It might be compared to a sort of literary
Director's Cut, the long version of the story assembled from all the best
footage available, though my father probably wouldn't welcome the
filmmaking comparison!)

We are especially delighted that HarperCollins agreed to publish the book
with illustrations, and that the artist is Alan Lee (this was a particular
request on Christopher's part). Alan was commissioned in 1990 to create the
first-ever illustrated edition of The Lord of the Rings to mark Tolkien's
Centenary, and his 50 watercolour paintings were to prove more influential
than anyone could possibly have imagined, as Alan then spent five years in
New Zealand working as conceptual designer with John Howe for the Peter
Jackson trilogy. But now he is back, and has created some remarkable new
paintings and pencil drawings for the book, while Christopher has himself
redrawn the map, as indeed he did for The Lord of the Rings more than 50
years ago.

We hope that readers will be sufficiently attracted to the tragic tale of
The Children of Húrin, and will discover the `great tale' that was so
important to J.R.R. Tolkien and then the whole fascinating mythology that
lies behind The Lord of the Rings. It is a testament to my father's skill
as an editor that he has been able to construct a complete narrative
without resorting to writing anything new. The words are one hundred
percent J.R.R. Tolkien's, and for anyone who has read The Hobbit and The
Lord of the Rings, this book allows them to take a step back into a larger
world, an ancient land of heroes and vagabonds, honour and jeopardy, hope
and tragedy. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Your Father's Hurin 24 Aug 2008
This is a tale of unrelenting tragedy. Drawn from the history of the First Age of Middle-earth, it tells of how Morgoth, the original Dark Lord to whom Sauron was but a lieutenant, wreaked appalling vengeance upon the family of the man Hurin, chiefly for his refusal to betray a great hidden city of the elves who were his allies. Readers acquainted with the story from a more summary version published three decades earlier in THE SILMARILLION will have some idea what to expect. They will also understand the part these events ultimately did play in the fall of virtually every elven kingdom in the vast land of Beleriand before it sank beneath the sea, still millennia prior to the events recounted in THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

This new telling, however, differs from the former in at least two respects. First and most obvious, it greatly develops the details so that we come to know the doomed players more intimately, better appreciating both their flaws and their virtues, and thus feeling the tragedy more personally when it manifests itself in turn after turn of their lives.

Second and perhaps more subtle is what this version leaves out. THE SILMARILLION continued the story further, revealing later events which, while not negating these present disasters, at least mitigated them somewhat, suggesting that evil's triumph was indeed only for a season. (There were also poignant touches, such as the extraordinary future of a certain gravesite, which lent a melancholy beauty to the sorrow.) Here, however, Christopher Tolkien, the author's son and editor, chooses to end the tale at a point which before had occurred in mid-paragraph. When I first glanced through HURIN and then reacquainted myself with the earlier publication, I seriously questioned this decision.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This book is hard going. Compare the writing here with Tolkien's masterpiece "The Lord of the Rings" or with his wonderfully accessible "The Hobbit" and you will be very disappointed. This is not surprising as this is not a book Tolkien published. Instead, as detailed in the preface, the book has been brought together from Tolkiens noted with a minimum of editorial input, rewriting etc. long after the author's death. This hands off approach was clearly adopted after the complaints over the editorial input into the tales of the equally impenetrable "Silmarillion". But the problem here is that whilst the tale is clearly Tolkien's, it is not at all clear that this was a tale he would ever have published in this form - and had he done so, it would not have read like this.

Tolkien fans will care not a wit though. This is still a wonderfully imagined tale based on some folk literature that the author acknowledges. It reads like an epic tragedy - and that is exactly what it is, but set in the mythology that Tolkien was creating for his Middle Earth.

Set 6,500 years before the events of The Lord of the Rings, this book provides some wonderful insights and background material - and it is an essential book for Tolkien completists.

But that will be the only group who should read this. It is not an entry point into the Lord of the Rings. It is not the book you would buy first - it is the one you would buy last after reading the others.

read as a standalone story I feel it is stilted, unpolished, long and pondering on places and not by any means the best example of Tolkien's work. Still, for its imagination, background material, and the very different character of story which - being based on actual mythologies from several cultures - is intellectually stimulating, I feel I can in good conscience give it three stars.
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74 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beginners guide to The Children of Hurin 22 Jun 2007
I have read the other reviews left and find myself slightly amazed the diversity of views. It is clearly a love-it or hate-it phenomenon. For readers of the Silmarillion, the over-arching storyline is familiar, as it is summarised in this work, please read my companion review. The Children of Hurin is a piece by Christopher Tolkien, who also completed the Silmarillion on his father's behalf and this installment is one of the three main works that Tolkien wished to see completed in the epic tragedy that the Silmarillion was to be: Of Beren and Luthien (which is complete), The Children of Hurin and the Fall of Gondolin. In the foreword, Christopher Tolkien underlines the fact that this book is written for devotees of the existing series of tales, and particularly dedicated fans. Although I cannot claim to be as devoted as those who can quote sections of the story, my enthusiasm comes from exploring and forgetting some details as a casual reader. This separate publication is highly recommended to read as a bridging work, for Lord of the Rings fans to become familiar and confident to attempt The Silmarillion. I acknowledge from another reviewer that, without background of characters in the early chapters, the sudden introduction of names and places that have no reference on Middle Earth can be daunting and imposing (indeed, these tales are set in Beleriand, a region west of the Westernmost shores of Middle Earth that became destroyed before even Bilbo Baggins was born.) I would highly recommend a list of Dramatis Personae for future editions and a brief summary of their character to make this transition easier.

Having outlined some of the flaws here, I think it is important to balance up unmentioned strengths of the works.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I thought it would be in all honesty
Not as good as I thought it would be in all honesty, you can tell this is not written purely by JRR Tolkien himself
Published 13 days ago by Charlotte Heaton
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A good buy
Published 23 days ago by peter greatorex
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Take it for what it is, a chance to go back into Tolkein's ancient and mystical world!
Published 1 month ago by J. C. Beale
5.0 out of 5 stars A+++
I got really fast service, it was very cheap, really happy with this sale will happily use again and definitely recommend.
Published 2 months ago by katie archbold
5.0 out of 5 stars The Children of Húrin
The book came almost brand new. Very happy with it. As for the book I think it's my favourite Tolkien book outside The Lord of the Rings. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ross Hudson
5.0 out of 5 stars Dont be to hasty!
Read this after finishing the Silmarillion with great anticipation as Turin had been my favorite character, I wasn't disappointed! Great read, with nice illustrations. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Peter Scales
4.0 out of 5 stars Next film?
Easily good enough to be made into the next film to stack onto the shelf next to The Lord of the rings and the Hobbit. Very typical Tolkien.
Published 4 months ago by mountain biker
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
Simply put, it reads like Arthurian tragedy.
If you have read the section in the Silmarillion about Turin then you already know the story, but this is more in depth and... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Joshua
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Great book it made me deepen my knowledge of the world of Tolkien and it is a must if you are a Lord of the rings lover.
Published 5 months ago by Panagiotis
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
Heart breaking at times but really well written with some excellent characters. Not your typical Tolkien but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Published 6 months ago by JASON A POVAH
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