2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Heroism & tragedy,
This review is from: The Children of Húrin (Hardcover)
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.