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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 (121 customer reviews)
Price: £24.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Review

"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

THE CHILDREN OF HÚRIN by ADAM TOLKIEN

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make his volumes readable and not simply a catalogue of unpublished texts,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.

From the Author

"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
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.
Christopher Tolkien, born on 21st November 1924, is the third son of J.R.R. Tolkien. A pilot during the Second World War, he later lectured on early English and northern literature at New College, Oxford, becoming a Fellow and Tutor in 1964. Appointed by J.R.R. Tolkien to be his literary executor, he has devoted himself to the publication of his father’s unpublished writings, notably The Silmarillion and The History of Middle-earth. He lives in France with his wife Baillie.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Questions for Alan Lee. We had the chance to ask Alan Lee a few questions about his illustrative collaboration with the world imagined by J.R.R. Tolkien:

Amazon: How much of a treat was it to get first crack at depicting entirely new characters rather than ones who had been interpreted many times before? Was there one who particularly captured your imagination? Lee: Although it was a great honor to illustrate The Children of Húrin, the characters and the main elements of the story line are familiar to those who have read The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, and these narratives have inspired quite a few illustrators. Ted Nasmith has illustrated The Silmarillion and touched on some of the same characters and landscapes. This was the first time that I ventured into the First Age; while working on The Lord of the Rings books and films--and The Hobbit--I've had to refer back to events in Middle-earth history but not really depict them. I'm drawn to characters who bear similarities to the protagonists in myths and legends; these correspondences add layers and shades of meaning, and most of the characters in this story have those archetypal qualities. However, I prefer not to get too close to the characters because the author is delineating them much more carefully than I can, and I'm wary of interfering with the pictures that the text is creating in the reader's mind. Amazon: The Húrin story has been described as darker than some of Tolkien's other work. What mood did you try to set with your illustrations? Lee: It is a tragic story, but the darkness is offset by the light and beauty of Tolkien's elegiac writing. In the illustrations I tried to show some of the fragile beauty of the landscapes and create an atmosphere that would enhance the sense of foreboding and impending loss. I try to get the setting to tell its part in the story, as evidence of what happened there in the past and as a hint at what is going to occur. My usual scarred and broken trees came in handy. Amazon: You were a conceptual designer (and won an Oscar) for Peter Jackson's film trilogy of The Lord of the Rings, which I think we can safely say had a bit of success. How does designing for the screen compare to designing for the page? Lee: They both have their share of joys and frustrations. It was great to be part of a huge film collaboration and play a small part in something quite magical and monumental; I will always treasure that experience. Film is attractive because I enjoy sketching and coming up with ideas more than producing highly finished artwork, and it's great having several hundred other people lending a hand! But books--as long as they don't get moldy from being left in an empty studio for six years--have their own special quality. I hope that I can continue doing both. Amazon: Of all fiction genres, fantasy seems to have the strongest tradition of illustration. Why do you think that is? Who are some of your favorite illustrators? Lee: A lot of excellent illustrators are working at the moment--especially in fantasy and children's books. It is exciting also to see graphic artists such as Dave McKean, in his film Mirrormask, moving between different media. I also greatly admire the more traditional work of Gennady Spirin and Roberto Innocenti. Kinuko Craft, John Jude Palencar, John Howe, Charles Vess, Brian Froud ... I'll stop there, as the list would get too long. But--in a fit of pride and justified nepotism--I'll add my daughter, Virginia Lee, to the list. Her first illustrated children's book, The Frog Bride [coming out in the U.K. in September], will be lovely. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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