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The Lays of Beleriand (Histories of Middle-Earth) [Mass Market Paperback]

J. R. R. Tolkien
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct 1994 Histories of Middle-Earth
"The power of Tolkien's central characters . . . shines through." Library Journal.
A treasure trove of lore for old and new friends of Middle-earth. Enter now, reader, and learn of the hero of the Lay of Leithian. Hear as well of the early years of Turin the Tall, as he journeys through darkness on his quest to find his father. Read of his rescue by Beleg the Brave, and of the dark destiny that haunts their friendship! Only the genius of Tolkien could create a fantasy more real than reality, a reality more fantastic than fantasy!

Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey Books; Reprint edition (Oct 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345388186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345388186
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 10.6 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,750,679 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


‘A worthy addition to The History of Middle-earth’ Mallorn

‘Anyone loving the oiginal books will want to study this one’ Daily Mail

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

This, the third volume of The History of Middle-earth, gives us a priviledged insight into the creation of the mythology of Middle-earth, through the alliterative verse tales of two of the most crucial stories in Tolkien’s world – those of Turien and Luthien. The first of the poems is the unpublished Lay of The Children of Hurin, narrating on a grand scale the tragedy of Turin Turambar. The second is the moving Lay of Leithian, the chief source of the tale of Beren and Luthien in The Silmarillion, telling of the Quest of the Silmaril and the encounter with Morgoth in his subterranean fortress.

Accompanying the poems are commentaries on the evolution of the history of the Elder Days. Also included is the notable criticism of The Lay of The Leithian by CS Lewis, who read the poem in 1929.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sad Loss... 4 Aug 2003
By Jane Aland VINE VOICE
The Lays of Beleriand contains 2 partially completed verse tales, the 1st of which – ‘The Lay of the Children of Hurin’ is hampered by it’s reader unfriendly metre, and is no improvement on the prose version as already given in earlier volumes. In contrast ‘The Lay of Leithian’ is an excellent epic poem, and it’s a sad loss that this was never completed, as I feel this would ultimately have been one of Tolkiens most celebrated works. As usual there is a morass of needless editorial minutia concerning changing names, but due to the construction this can be readily skipped.
The ‘History of Middle Earth’ series of books often makes the mistake of presuming that every single unpublished scribbling by this great writer is worthy of publication, but this volume at least contains much that is of genuine quality.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
It is just two poems - unfinished - plus fragments of several more abandoned after a couple of pages, and loads of editorial info on top of that.
Yes, but - this is gorgeous writing. The pain of Túrin is as real and gripping as the 'Silmarillion' account was factual and distant, and the love of Beren and Lúthien shines with the power unrivalled in the rest of Tolkien's writing. And that's saying a lot! The unfinished aspect of the works just serves as a reminder of the difficulty with which work of this magnitude is achieved - as well as the fragility of creative impulse that sustains it.
Rather than despair over what is left unsaid, I find myself turning to this book more often than to 'The Lord of the Rings' - the power and the relative brevity (so that much can be ingested in one sitting - the verse is extremely readable) of the works make me fall instantly in love with them every time!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Lays of Beleriand comprises of two long poems. One of them is the alliterative poem Lay of the Children of Húrin, the second one is the octosyllabic poem Lay of Leithien, i.e the story of Beren and Lúthien). Both of them are a valuable addition for a Tolkien reader. There can be found many passages of immense beaty as well as some weaker ones, partly deriving from the fact, that the poems are unfinished and so we have only a glimpse of what could be, if Tolkien had the life-span of a true Dunedain.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is perhaps one of the greatest passages by Tolkien I have evere read. Though it is an ongoing poem, it is quite easy to read, and yet as power- and beautifull, as it gets. I recommendthis book to ANYONE who has read the Sillmarillion, I think it's save to say, that this poem is among the best ones, ever written in the English language.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overview of The History of Middle-earth Series 6 Dec 2008
Collections of an author's work are often confusing, particularly when what the author has created is as complex as Tolkien's writings. Here's an overview of the twelve-volume History of Middle-earth, which was edited by his son Christopher Tolkien. Hopefully, it will help you select which book or books to buy.

Keep something in mind. In the U.S. Houghton Mifflin publishes Tolkien's authorized works in hardback and trade paperback editions, while Ballantine Books publishes them as cheaper mass-market paperbacks. For some reason, Ballantine doesn't always make it clear that some of their titles are part of the same History of Middle-earth series as those published by Houghton Mifflin. If the title is the same, the content is the same. Which you buy depends on your taste in books and finances. I have copies of both.


These five volumes deal primarily with Tolkien's writings before the publication of The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-55). In them, Tolkien was struggling as a still unknown author to create his first history of Middle-earth.

Vol 1 & 2, The Book of Lost Tales Part 1 ( 1983) & 2 (1984). The Book of Lost Tales was written during the 1910s and 1920s. Wikipedia describes it this way: "The framework for the book is that a mortal Man visits the Isle of Tol Eressa where the Elves live. In the earlier versions of the `Lost Tales' this man is named Eriol, of some vague north European origin, but in later versions he becomes lfwine, an Englishman of the Middle-ages."

Vol. 3, The Lays of Beleriand (1985). These are collections of poems, many of them incomplete, written between the 1920s and the late 1940s.

Vol 4, The Shaping of Middle-earth (1986).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Tolkien outdid himself with these two long poems. Although never completed, these alliterative verse versions of the "Lay of the Children of Hurin" and "The Lay of Beren and Luthien" are vivid, thrilling and deeply moving. There is little different about these stories from their versions in The Silmarillion, but they are more detailed, and in VERSE. Not only do they make very enjoyable reading, but students of Old, Middle and Early Modern English poetry will be in awe of Tolkiens completely unaffected ability to render his story in alliterative verse, complete with caesura. I was very frustrated not to be able to read complete versions, but the lies of Delu Morgoth live even today, and the ends of these tales are lost in the mists of time...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lays of Beleriand (The History of Middle-earth, Book 3)
Bought this book for my son in law as a Christmas present, he loved it, and the price was right too.
Published 12 months ago by amanda joy
4.0 out of 5 stars An extensive & remarkable insight into the creation of Middle-Earth,...
This is the third volume within the collection of books that make up `the history of Middle-Earth' which delves into JRR Tolkien's great creation behind The Silmarillion, the... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Lucinda
5.0 out of 5 stars The History of Middle-earth unveiled...
Owning the 12 books of Tolkien's "History...", I managed to get a much better understanding of the complexity of work done by the author during his lifetime. Read more
Published on 5 May 2008 by Alexandru Baicoana
5.0 out of 5 stars the lays of beleriand
this is an example of truly great literature in my opinion-while the narn i hin hurin is good, though not very reader friendly, the lay of leithian is worth the r.r. Read more
Published on 2 July 2006 by bairdie
4.0 out of 5 stars It is a poem book but very ineresting!
The Lays of Beleriand tells you all about Tolkien's early tales in a poem like. At first it begins in a boring way but as you continue reading it the book will become more... Read more
Published on 15 Jan 2005 by Luca Caruana
5.0 out of 5 stars FAB BOOK
Basicaly this is the silmarilion the way it was originaly written ( in verse ).
one of the best books i have ever read , this should be in everyones collection ( along with... Read more
Published on 24 Dec 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars A great addition to an already large Tolkien library
When I bought this book a few years ago, I thought it was an excellent resource for clarifying some points not covered in The Silmarillion. Tolkien was truly gifted .
Published on 28 Mar 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
Anything I say in this review could never do this book justice. Tolkien has done a wonderful job putting together these two long poems (The Lay of Leithian and The Lay of the... Read more
Published on 25 Sep 1998
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