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Book: Narn i chîn Húrin: the tale of the children of Húrin

Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
Started: 7 May 2007
Finished: 20 May 2007
313 p / 14 d
22 p/d

The title listed in the subject is the real title, used on the title page of the book and in the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data section. The “friendlier” title “The Children of Húrin” is used on the cover and other places you see it mentioned… but it is not the real title. So I am using the real title above.

Regardless, this is the “new” Tolkien book… the story itself has been published in several forms in the past, including as a chapter in The Silmarillion. But that was in a more abbreviated “summary” sort of form. This instead is Christopher Tolkien‘s attempt to piece together dozens of drafts of portions of this tale that has father left behind into a single coherent novel form.

As a not all that critical reader and a Tolkien fan, I think he did just fine. This book is much darker than the Lord of the Rings and definitely isn’t quite as accessible and fun as a story. And of course the main character just makes mistake after mistake, leading inexorably to the unhappy ending. But it gives another glimpse into another bit of Middle Earth history.

If you are into Tolkien… especially if you are into him enough that you have read the Silmarillion and not just the Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, then you NEED to read this book too. If you never were able to get into the Silmarillion, this might be a bit more interesting to you than that was… this really is a novel, which the Silmarillion wasn’t really… so maybe.

But if when reading TLOTR you just never were very interested in the background history of that world and weren’t reading the Appendices at the end of the Return of the King wishing there was even more to read… then you can probably skip this.

Having said that, since I was one of those soaking up every last drop… well, OK, I never got past Book 2 of the 12 volume History of Middle Earth… but soaking up a lot of drops anyway… I did enjoy the Children of Húrin.