Nightjar
  • Paul Jameson

'The Children of Húrin' by JRR Tolkien: A Review of Sorts

Having finished the Silmarillion before reading this, I have been amazed at the breadth and depth of Tolkien's worldly vision. It's huge. Hard to even picture as a reader. He must have had so many tales whirling about in his head. In this book, edited and compiled from his notes and poems by his son Christopher, 'The Children of Húrin' expands upon a particularly dark tale already told in the Silmarillion. However, unlike in the Silmarillion, which is concerned more with the acts of primary characters, additional context and life is breathed into both primary and secondary actors - some known and others never before mentioned - and as a lover of Tolkien I really appreciated this.


Now I try never to give much away in my reviews, as I would hate to ruin a book for anyone else and so tend to concentrate more on the emotional aspects of the piece, but I will say this...


It's a dark tale.

Never hopeful.

But beautifully rendered.


Imagine a tale more akin to the darkness contained in the Norse Sagas, or one of Shakespeare's tragedies. It throws an entirely different light on Tolkien's mind as compared to 'The Hobbit' or 'Lord of the Rings'. There are few happy moments, no soft plays for children, no detailed descriptions that paint in colour. No hope to throw out light. But there are dragons and wars, Orcs, battles, Petty Dwarfs - they are a thing - swords and Elves. Lots of Elves. Men too. And working through the whole is the dark fate bestowed by evil upon Húrin's children. And for that it's brilliant. Lovers of Tolkien will thoroughly enjoy it, I'm sure, but at the same time may feel slightly frustrated he was never able to provide us the same detail he did with Lord of the Rings.


What an epic novel this tale would have made!

But a man is only gifted so much time, and for Tolkien I doubt there would ever have been enough.


I loved this. But I'm not going to give it five stars because I don't think it was ever really written as a novel. This shows at times, it being drawn from the slivers of detailed notes and poems, but so too does it provide a wonderful insight into a remarkable mind that had so many fantastical tales to tell. Four stars for me. Now if you do want to read it, which I recommend to any lover of Tolkien, do make sure you get a copy that contains the illustrations of Alan Lee; these are worth holding a physical copy for in their own right. Wonderful images.

 

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