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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 18 December 2012
I found this one a hard book to get into. I stumbled within the first ten pages and gave up on the book for a while. Eventually I came back to the book and forced myself to concentrate a bit harder. As other reviews note there is a lot of names to take in but it isn't just the names that are a 'problem', the language is tough too; I found the language to be very concise but also intractable when I was hoping for a casual/easy read. That said, I did find that after the first chapter or so the list of names to remember is smaller and the language flows much better.

I haven't read the Silmarillion so I can't comment on, nor criticise, any supposed similarities. I managed to get into the book and finish it just fine. Some reviewers have stated that it may be impossible to understand without having read the Simarillion, but that isn't the case. This book stands works fine without any knowledge to the rest of the universe; yes, it will be more familiar if you have at least read about the extended mythology. Melkor, aka Morgoth, is the main protagonist but he is mentioned in LOTR. Sauron doesn't appear in this story, or only has a minor role if he does (can't quite remember). As such, the plot occurs more than 3000 years before LOTR.

I'm willing to believe that Tolkien, the original, wrote most of this and that his son merely edited it without too much input. It reads like Tolkien but I wouldn't say that it is as easy as LOTR. The hardback version is nice, and comes in the usual larger size when books are first released. I think later reprints, including the paperback, are smaller although it isn't so easy to find this book in the highstreet stores. I mostly see the Hobbit and LOTR, with the odd copy of the Silmarillion.

The plot is much darker than either the Hobbit or LOTR, there is no humour (from memory) and many characters die or are cursed. The general feeling is that the heroes are fighting against themselves and the world in a bitter futile struggle. It is tragic in a way that the classic Greek plays are, or that Shakespeare is. There is an obvious comparison to make but I can't mention it for fear of spoiling some of the plot.

It is really a good read but you have to get past the first chapter, if you feel like you are getting bogged down then try your best to get past it. The book isn't that long despite how much story is crammed into so few pages. Fans of the universe should love it, while slightly more casual readers should at least enjoy it if they like to read darker fantasy.
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on 17 May 2017
I have not started reading this book yet as I have just finished The Silmarillion which is a very hard read. I am expecting the same with this book and need an easy read book before I start reading it.
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on 23 February 2015
This book is fantastic, it will grab you by the throat. I read it in two days, two weeks after I read The Silmarillion for the first time.

So, why I said "I hated it"? Simple: after reading this book, I just imagined if (IF!!) Tolkien could have published more worls in hit life time, works like this one that spreads thing that happens in The Simarillion. Imagine a whole book about Beren and LUthine, about Eol, about the dog from Valinor, about the Valars, some books about the details of one of the battles, about the battle between Elves and Dwarfs... gosh, the option are infinite...

BUt it was not so... I do not see this book as a false attempt, a false job jsut to get cash for the state. It is a very good stan alone book, everyone that like fantasy I think would enjoy it.

Also, the dialogues.... Here we have much more dialogue than in The Silmarillion, and, not surprisingly, they are very good. Tolkine was a master of the craft, every word counted.

Just loved this book.

Bear in mind that this book is kind of an expanded version of the tale already contained in UNFINISHED TALES, under the name "Narn I Hin Húrin" (the longest chapter in that book, by the way). The differences between the versions are clearly explained by Christopher Tolkien at the end of "The Children of Húrin".
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on 20 March 2017
Excellent book ,good service
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on 19 May 2017
Excellent read. More detailed account of Turin and Nienor and the war against the dragon. Recommended to all Middle Earth enthusiasts.
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on 29 May 2007
There's no way I can top some of the other reviews posted here, so I'll focus on a different question: "Should I, someone who knows little about Tolkien, buy this book for a friend who's a Tolkien fan?"

The short answer is yes. As Tolkien's major tales go, this one ranks in third place after Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit (or second for those who don't like the children's flavor of The Hobbit). Unlike The Silmarillion, this is a genuine story with a narrative and character development. The only deficiency is that, without those hobbits, it lacks the light and comic touch they provide, giving it a grimmer and more fatalistic feel. Unless he reads Tolkien only for the hobbits, your friend will be delighted with your gift.

Perhaps the only other Tolkien work that would top The Children of Hurin in value--and one you ought to consider if your friend doesn't have it already--is The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. It's a collection of Tolkien's letters over a six decade span (from 1914 to 1973), and it provides the definitive background to Middle earth. When I wrote the entry on "Magic in Middle earth" for The J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia, I used it almost exclusively. It was far better to let Tolkien explain what he meant than to make guesses of my own.

--Michael W. Perry, author of Untangling Tolkien (a book-length LOTR chronology)
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on 17 April 2007
The Children of Hurin is the long-awaited addition to the Tolkien franchise. Started somewhere around 1916 - 1918 by J.R.R. Tolkien, then revised several times, it has taken his son Christopher Tolkien 30 years to finally complete it and form the tale of Turin Turambar and the other offspring of Hurin of Hador for publication as an independent work. It is the first, full-length, cohesive Tolkien novel to be published since The Silmarillion of 1977.

For Tolkien enthusiasts, the story will not be entirely unfamiliar because a short version of it appears in The Silmarillion, in the same way that a compressed version of The Lord of the Rings appears. You may also recognise snippets from other posthumous publications, specifically "Unfinished Tales" and "The Lays of Beleriand". However, if you are new to the franchise, it is still a wonderful tale, although expect it to be far darker than anything else you may have read.

The story takes the reader back to a time long before "The Lord of the Rings", in an area of Middle-earth that was to be drowned thousands of years before the story of the Ring. The great enemy was still the fallen Vala, Morgoth, and Souron only a lieutenant. Hurin, is captured by Morgoth in battle. When Hurin refuses to give Morgoth the information he demands, Morgoth sets a curse upon his bloodline. Thus, his family is destined for tragedy, despite the greatness of his warrior son Turin. In Turin's struggles through the lost world of Beleriand, everything he does fails or turns to bad.

Christopher Tolkien was granted the honour of becoming the J.R.R.'s literary executor by the author himself and insists that the majority of the text is the original word of his father. His only changes are grammatical and linguistic of "a stylistic nature". However, reading it, I can't help feel that there may have been a little more than that. Its style of writing feels more modern than The Silmarillion, for example, perhaps as a symptom of the 30 years that this work has been in progress. On the one hand, I think this is a good thing. For such a gloomy story, it has a readable quality that I believe some of the meandering parts of previous works lacked. Finally, for the real buffs among you - the new map and editorial notes are very interesting, plus wonderful Alan Lee illustrations that make this edition a joy to own.
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on 28 January 2008
I love the work of JRR Tolkien, the history he created for Middle Earth has never been surpassed by any fantasy writer since.

The Children of Hurin is not as strong a peice of work as 'The Lord of the Rings' or 'the Hobbit' or even 'The Silmarrilion' but for Tolkien fans its a must buy.

Judging it on its own merits however, I cannot be so easily pleased. The writing style is too vague and too similar to the Silmarrilion version of this tale. Being the Tolkien-fan that I am, I enjoyed this book but its not as good as Tolkiens more famous works.

Those that are familar with Hurin, Turin and the others in this tale may, like me, be disapointed at where the book ends. It fails to tell the full story of Hurin's return, which was a huge disapointment for me.

Be warned, this story is very dark and dont expect any type of happy ending. This tale takes place in a time when Morgoth (the first Dark Lord) ruled Middle Earth. Hurin defies Morgoth but is captured and forced to watch the decline of his clan. Hurin's children continue to defy Morgoth but they are cursed by the Dark Lord as things go from bad to worse.

If your a fan of Tolkien and want further knowledge of the history and myth he created .... buy this book. If not, stay away.
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This book proved hard going at first, but after some perseverance did reveal the Tolkien genius and things began falling into place. In my opinion, one needs to have read the Silmarillion for background in order to fully understand where this history fits into the greater scheme of things. A fold-out map helps with the geography.

In the preface it is explained when and how JRR Tolkien worked on the long version of the legend of the children of Hurin as an independent work and how the current text came about, whilst the introduction provides a brief discussion of Beleriand and its peoples near the end of the elder days. There is also a note on pronunciation.

The narrative takes the reader through the lands of Hithlum, Mithrim, Dor-Lomin, Dimbar, Brethil, Doriath, Talath Dirnen and Dorthonion. It begins with the childhood of Hurin and the Battle of Unnumbered Tears which marked the decline of the Eldar when Hithlum was lost. Hurin and his descendants were cursed by Morgoth whose evil realm was then expanding.

As a young boy, Turin left Hithlum for the hidden Elvish kingdom of Doriath where he stayed some years. After a dispute with an Elf, he left to become an outlaw. He eventually established a home on the mountain Amon Rudh, the domain of the petty dwarf Mim. This outpost was lost to the orcs through treachery.

Thereafter, Turin dwelt in the Elvish city of Nargothrond until its fall. Afterwards he established a home amongst the people of the forest of Brethil. At this time his sister left Doriath, lost her memory in an encounter with the dragon Glaurung and came to Brethil, with tragic consequences.

The wingless dragon made its way toward Brethil, intending to destroy this outpost, when the highlight of the book occurs: Turin's slaying of Glaurung. If one perseveres through the first difficult pages one will certainly enjoy this great tale of tragedy. It has all the Tolkien trademarks - an intricate plot, gripping imagery and elegant use of language.

There are beautiful colour plates and black & white illustrations throughout the text. The Genealogies section includes the House of Hador & People of Haleth, the House of Beor and the Princes of the Noldor. The Appendix includes The Evolution of the Great Tales and The Composition of the Text, and the book concludes with a List of Names.
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on 8 October 2012
When the Tolkien Estate announced a new Tolkien novel to be published in April, 2007, the world was shocked. After all, Tolkien died 34 years before THE CHLDREN OF HURIN was published. Reactions varied from trepidation and fear, to charges that the Estate is trying to milk the pubic for more money, to sheer excitement that, beyond all odds, we're getting another Tolkien story. We all know Hollywood is eying it greedily, though the Estate has made it quite clear that it is not interested in selling the film rights any time soon.

Naturally, an event such as a publication of a new novel by a long deceased major author is bound to excite different reactions from different quarters. Depending on where you stand in Tolkien fandom will largely define your reactions to the story.

First, just a few quick facts about the novel.

*CoH can be read independently of Tolkien's other works, due largely in part to C. Tolkien's excellent introduction, explaining the background and context in which these events occur in Tolkien's imagined cosmos. Having an overall general knowledge of Tolkien's legendarium is certainly helpful, but fortunately it is not a pre-requisite as the story is strong enough to stand independently.
*CoH is much darker than the Hobbit cycle. It is a very tragic story on a Shakespearian level, and altogether not suitable for children, featuring incest and murder as prominent plot features.
*The plot revolves around the Dark Lord Morgoth's curse on Turin and Nienor, who are the Children of Hurin, for Hurin's defiance against Morgoth. Morgoth is Tolkien's equivalent of Satan, and who Sauron is but a servant too.
*CoH is easier to read than THE SILMARILLION, though CoH still employs in places the archaic style found in that book. In style and content, it bears similarities to both LOTR and THE SILMARILLION, mingling the archaic style of the later with the more conventional novel style of the former.
*Although the novel has been "reconstructed" by Christopher Tolkien, unlike certain elements of the published SILMARILLION, there has been no editorial interpolation or invention. Other than minor grammatical errors and some brief transitional passages, the text is entirely as Tolkien conceived it.
*Approx 25% of the text has never been published before. The remaining 75% has been published in THE SILMARILLION and UNFINISHED TALES, though Christopher Tolkien notes there are several changes to the text that do not appear in UNFINISHED TALES
*Though the press has made much of the fact that Tolkien began this in 1918, almost all the text used in the book was written AFTER LOTR was written
*There is a swift narrative urgency. While THE SILMARILLION stands as a broad overview of Tolkien's mythology with hundreds of characters vying for the readers' attention, CoH keeps its focus on a well-defined cast of main characters.

There are three primary readerships that will be approaching THE CHILDREN OF HURIN. Depending on what group you belong to will largely define your reaction to the work.

The first group is that portion of Tolkien's fanbase who has read the Hobbit Cycle, and most if not all the posthumous publications regarding his legendarium (THE SILMARILLION, UNFINISHED TALES, and the HISTORY OF MIDDLE-EARTH series). These are the hardcore Tolkien fans, who are known to debate the rather arcane finder points of the mythology and are very much into the "lore" of it all. This reviewer belongs in this group.

This group will overall be quite pleased with the work. Tolkien left much of his work unfinished, and it is nice at long last to have a completed version of one of the central legends of the First Age. Much of the actual text will not be new to them, as the much of the novel largely has already appeared in UNFINISHED TALES and THE SILMARILLION, though there are several stretches that have not been published before, or the material is handled differently than in previous publications. Naturally, the story is already well known to this group, and there are no plot surprises. I will say, however, even though I knew how the story ended, when I finished reading CoH, I was moved by the sheer pathos of the tragedy, moreso than when I read the other, compressed versions.

The second group are those who largely have read only the Hobbit Cycle, and found THE SILMARILLION and other books very dry and difficult to get through. It is for this group, and the third group, that C. Tolkien primarily did this project for. Due to the arid, remote style of THE SILMARILLION, and the diffuse, contradictory, and unfinished nature of most of HoME, as well as the heavy editorial content, much of Tolkien's mythology remains unknown to the casual reader. This book was meant to address that, and to make the legends of the First Age more accessible to the general reader. The style is a successful blend of both the Silmarillion and LOTR. For those of this group unfamiliar with the story, many will probably be surprised at how dark and altogether depressing. Undoubtedly, there will be readers who find the pathos and tragedy of Turin rather offputting, but on the same token there will be readers who find it riveting.

The third group is those who know Tolkien primarily through the Peter Jackson films. This group will probably have the most far ranging variety of reactions of the three main groups, from sheer delight at the story to utter bewilderment and confusion. Those looking for a story along the lines of the Hobbit cycle will be invariably disappointed, and this group may be the most surprised at the darkness of the story.

A fan once wrote to Tolkien, saying that he only read THE LORD OF THE RINGS during the Lent season, because the novel is so hard and bitter. For those unfamiliar with the storyline of THE CHILDREN OF HURIN, many will be surprised at how dark the "new novel" actually is. CoH is much bitterer than its famous predecessor

Overall, I think that CoH is a fine novel in its own right, and I also think that it is a perfect bridging link between his most famous work (LOTR) and, as Tom Shippey says, the work of his heart (the Silmarillion). I also feel that CoH, in terms of style, is, to put it in vulgar terms, Silmarillion light and LOTR heavy, and serves as a primer for what to expect within the Silmarillion. While CoH certainly shares several main hallmarks of the Silmarillion style, especially the beginning chapters, the book reads quite well, and bridges (successfully, in my opinion), the remote style and wide focus of the Silmarillion with the more conventional novel approach of the Hobbit cycle. CoH also has the benefit of being a product of long study of the manuscripts to produce the most accurate version to Tolkien's intentions, something that cannot, unfortunately, be said of the 1977 SILMARILLION.

Will it stand the test of time? That, only time can answer. But if I was a betting man, I think time will be very gracious to this last novel from the father of fantasy.
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