Customer Review

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bolder than LOTR and The Hobbit, 27 May 2007
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This review is from: The Children of Húrin (Hardcover)
The Hobbit starts like this:

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."

The Lord of the Rings starts in a similar manner.

The Children of Hurin starts like this:

"Hador Goldenhead was a lord of the Edain and well-beloved by the Eldar. He dwelt while his days lasted under the lordship of Fingolfin, who gave him wide lands in that region of Hithlum which was called Dor-lomin. His daughter Gloredhel 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."

And, I should add, the book continues in a similar manner for the first three chapters, and it isn't until we are around 30 pages into the story that we start to get individual characters developing that we can engage with and follow on their journey. So anyone coming cold to the story who is not familar with the broad saga of middle earth and the Silmarillion will struggle in the early chapters.

So, having said that and having read the other reviews, why have I still given the book 5 stars? Because once you get into the story it is a wonderfully dark and compelling gothic legend of ill-fortune, ill-fate and the pride of man.

At each stage of the story we are presented with an astonishingly sinister legend full of doom and tragedy. Each poetic detail makes the loss and pain more beautifully sad. If you have ever felt frustrated at the eagles swooping in to once again save the day in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, then feel confident that "The Children of Hurin" contains no such Disney-style devices.

While hobbits might be useful characters to lead the reader into an Enid Blyton-style world of faerie, the hobbit-free "Children of Hurin" is a horrifyingly cold, grey world full of doom and suffering, and certainly no place for Hobbits.

Although those nostalgic for the teletubby world of Sackville-Bagginses, Hobbiton and Bag-End might feel let-down by this book, many readers will find a more beautiful and sublime poetry in the doom of Turin than in the nursery-rhymes of Bilbo.

If you have the strength to experience the sanctification of drowning slowly in majestic tragedy, suffocating in awe and despair beneath the grey oceans of suffering, buy this book.
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