Monday, July 16, 2007

Thoughts on "The Children of Hurin"

The Children of Hurin by J. R. R. Tolkien

My Rating:

First let me say that the illustrations by Alan Lee in this book are simply beautiful. They really set the mood for the book. The packaging of this book was truly a the act of love. As for the story, it was a complete downer. I was so excited to read this new Tolkien title. When I first got it, I just stared at it for a few days before I cracked it open. Then as I read it, I just felt so sad. It was like watching a storm destroy some one's home on television, you feel sad and helpless to stop the tragedy from happening.

The beginning was like reading Numbers from the Old Testament. Listed were a litany of names and places that had no connection to anything I know about (or care to know about.) The writing was in the typical "Fantasy Ancient Lore" style that Tolkien basically invented. Fortunately Tolkien is a master writer, otherwise this book would be unreadable. I usually avoid Fantasy titles for just this reason.

The Children of Hurin is not like The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings trilogy, in that, the characters are not such that you can really relate to them. They all feel far way and untouchable. I guess I was looking for that same warm feeling that I had for Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam. It wasn't there. I don't think that that was ever meant to be.

Tolkien got lost in his back story. In a way we should all be grateful because, it is because of the back story that The Lord of the Rings is so rich. The Children of Hurin is set 6,000 years before the events of The Lord of the Rings. The setting is the end of an era and the story follows a curse on a family. It is their suffering and sacrifice that guarantees the safety of an important line of elves and men. Look at the genealogy in the back of the book and it can be seen that without Hurin's enduring the pain of his travails the line that produced Elron of Rivendell would not have been saved.

Was this worth reading? I don't know. It made me sad and didn't really illuminate more about the world of Middle-earth for me. It was beautiful to look at and it may very well be the last time we get a new book from the great J. R. R. Tolkien himself, it is for these reasons it may be worth picking up.


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