Friday, May 25, 2007

J.R.R. Tolkien - Children of Hurin

It's amazing how quickly I seem to be able to read fiction, especially when I'm in the middle of a work crisis! I remmeber reading Les Miserables twice through while trying to revise for my finals first time I was at uni...

This is a story of Tolkien's, set in Middle Earth about 6500 years before Lord of the Rings, rescued from random manuscripts and notes by his son Christopher and published to try to cash in a little more on the films of Lord of the Rings.

It's striking - Tolkien's interest and intention was largely in legend and in writing it. And whereas Lord of the Rings had much more of a feel of saga or epic - like Beowulf or something - this has much more of the feel of an ancient Greek myth. Quite possibly that's deliberate, being set earlier and all. But I'm hardly an expert on either sub-genre.

Anyhow, Hurin is a senior man in the war against Morgoth (Sauron's boss), and he gets captured by Morgoth and cursed. The book is the tragedy of how the curse works itself out in the lives of his heroic but tragic son Turin and his beautiful but tragic daughter Niennor. It's interesting and moving and set in the same world, but don't expect anywhere near the scale or detail of Lord of the Rings. At the end of the day, it's expanding a legend that was present in Lord of the Rings, so adding still more depth to that world, rather than exploring a new one. It is also a tragedy, so don't expect a happy ending...

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