New Tolkien book due April 17

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Children of Húrin, a fleshed-out narrative version of a tale outlined briefly in The Silmarillion, has been completed by Tolkien’s son Christopher, and will be published April 17.


Here’s what the article from The Independent says:

The first new Tolkien novel for 30 years is to be published next month. In a move eagerly anticipated by millions of fans across the world, The Children of Húrin will be released worldwide on 17 April, 89 years after the author started the work and four years after the final cinematic instalment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, one of biggest box office successes in history.

The book, whose contents are being jealously guarded by publisher HarperCollins – is described as “an epic story of adventure, tragedy, fellowship and heroism.”

It is likely to be a publishing sensation, particularly as it is illustrated by veteran Middle Earth artist Alan Lee, who won an Oscar for art direction on Peter Jackson’s third film The Return of The King. …

Tolkien experts are already tipping The Children of Húrin – which features significant battle scenes and at least one major twist – for big budget Hollywood treatment. … Chris Crawshaw, chairman of the Tolkien Society, said: “It would probably make a very good movie, if anyone can secure the film rights.

“Tolkien saw his work as one long history of Middle Earth: from the beginning of creation to the end of the Third Age. The Children of Húrin is an early chapter in that bigger story.”

The author’s son Christopher, using his late father’s voluminous notes, has painstakingly completed the book, left unfinished by the author when he died in 1971. The work has taken the best part of three decades, and will signify the first “new” Tolkien book since The Silmarillion was published posthumously in 1977.

The Silmarillion, which was also completed by Christopher Tolkien and published after J.R.R.’s death, reads more like a history text than a novel, as a result of which it’s really for true Tolkien uber-nerds only. But this sounds like it will be a narrative in the LOTR style, and thus much more accessible to a broader audience. So I have high hopes. Here’s what the book’s Wikipedia page says about it:

The story deals with a hero of the First Age, Húrin, of the race of Men, who is cursed by the Dark Lord Morgoth, and the effect this curse has on his children Túrin Turambar and Nienor.

The Children of Húrin takes the reader back to a time long before The Lord of the Rings, in an area of Middle-earth that was to be drowned before ever Hobbits appeared, and when the great enemy was still the fallen Vala, Morgoth, and Sauron only his lieutenant. This heroic romance is the tale of the Man, Húrin, who dared to defy Morgoth’s force of evil, and his family’s tragic destiny, as it follows his son Túrin Turambar’s travails through the lost world of Beleriand. …

A brief version of the story formed the base of chapter XXI of The Silmarillion, setting the tale in the context of the wars of Beleriand. Although based on the same texts used to complete the new book, the Silmarillion account leaves out the greater part of the tale. (The Silmarillion also includes an essay Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, which tells the story of The Lord of the Rings in compressed form, which could serve as a basis for comparison.)

Needless to say, I can’t wait to read The Children of Húrin. I’ve added its publication date to my countdown sidebar at left.

(Hat tip: Tom Stone.)

13 Responses to “New Tolkien book due April 17”

  1. Terry says:

    it’s really for true Tolkien uber-nerds only

    Do you fall into that category?

  2. 4-7 says:

    Not for the uber nerd only. The Silmarillion is the party that rocks the body. The creation account in the beginning is marvelously original but wonderfully saturated with Tolkiens “subcreative” (but non-allegorical) christian overtones.

  3. Brendan Loy says:

    Terry, is there any doubt? Of course I do!

  4. gahrie says:

    I read The Hobbit, and the Lord of the Rings because I was a rabid Science Fiction fan, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I enjoyed the Hobbit, and LotR was OK. But The Silmarillion pretty much soured me on the whole genre of fantasy. Pretty much the only fantasy I can bear anymore, is that which has a science fiction overlap, such as the Pern books.

  5. Brendan Loy says:

    As my post indicates, The Silmarillion is really not a novel. It’s not indicative of any genre, unless there is a genre of “historical textbooks about mythological worlds.” It’s not written in a narrative style. It would be deadly dull to anyone who doesn’t already care deeply about Tolkien’s world… and might still be dull even to some who do care.

    That said, if you only thought LotR was “OK,” then yeah, fantasy probably isn’t for you. :)

  6. David K. says:

    basing the genre of fantasy on the Silmarillion is about as logical as basing the genre of mystery on a coroners report

  7. David K. says:

    That said, if you only thought LotR was “OK,” then yeah, fantasy probably isn’t for you. :)

    Nonesense! There is a wide variety to what fantasy can encompass. LoTR is epic and great and all but it has its moments of “i can’t believe i’m slogging through this dull pointless stuff *cough* tom bombadil *cough* end of the books where they go back to fight “sharkey” *cough*”. I could recommned a number of great fantasy books and series.

  8. Brendan Loy says:

    basing the genre of fantasy on the Silmarillion is about as logical as basing the genre of mystery on a coroners report

    Heh… very well put.

  9. gahrie says:

    basing the genre of fantasy on the Silmarillion is about as logical as basing the genre of mystery on a coroners report

    Well then someone needs to put some type of warning (like the surgeon general’s warning on cigarette packs) on the cover.

    I was scarred (scarred I tell you) for life…..

  10. Mindsurfer says:

    David K has it exactly right.
    As the Silmarillion is mostly a postumous compilation by Christopher of Tolkien’s notes, outlines, and short writings, it falls into the area of “Backstory” of Middle-Earth.
    As a science-fiction as well as science-fantasy fan I found it a facinating window into Tolkien’s vision.

  11. Sören says:

    Hmmm . . . I actually wonder whether this is going to be another one of Christopher Tolkien’s compilations of his father’s notes and will read more like Brendan’s new genre of “historical textbooks about mythological worlds” – another book in the style of The Silmarilion or The Lost Tales. It says on the cover (is that a potograph of the official cover you got there, Brendan?) it says that it was “edited by Christopher Tolkien,” the same as for all the posthumous Tolkien publications. I also have a feeling that Christopher does not want to try and (re)narrate his father’s material, he seems to understand that all he could really provide is a (potentially Pale) imitation of J. R. R.’s style.

    That said, I really like The Silmarilion . . . the boring style (according to some – heh) is actually much closer to the style of actual epic narratives . . . which can be soooooo boring! (has anyone here ever tried to slog through Beowulf (even in a modern translation) or any of the Islandic sagas? Certainly not a fast-paced narrative style . . . whereas LotR is more novellistic than epic in style.

    Discuss amongst yourselves. 8)

  12. Brendan Loy says:

    I got the cover art from Wikipedia, but I think it’s the official cover, yes. Anyway, it is indeed edited by Christopher Tolkien and is based on his father’s notes, but I gather that, at the very least, the publishing company is trying to bill it as more LOTR-ish and less Silmarillion-ish. Whether that advance billing is accurate, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

    By the way, I really liked the Silmarilion, too. :)

  13. 4-7 says:

    I think it’s simplistic to characterize the book as too historical. I see it as a bunch of independent short stories. It’s a different format than LOTR, and more like the prologue to the movie – observing proceedings mostly from a bird’s eye view. I still think some of Tolkien’s best moments of touching that deep well of comelling and universal meaning in human drama can be found in the Silmarillion. As I’ve said, the creation story is rich with semblance, the long unfolding tale of Beren and Luthien to Elendil gives another portrait of one of the main themes in Tolkien – that each of us has a role to play in history but the struggle between good and evil continues. The book also has some of the best fight scenes. The lead up and fight between the elf and Morgoth outside the gates is awesome.