Saturday, 23 June 2007

Book Review: The Children of Húrin (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Let's take a short break from gushing over Transformers (even though I have a lot of picures from Robotcon 2007 to show off!), to bring you a long-delayed Hopefully-Weekly-Book-Review.

And I promise I won't use the word 'predictable' this time. Not much anyway. Hehe.


Title: The Children of Húrin
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
(kononnya lah. I wonder how much Christopher Tolkien actually wrote in his father's stead)

This is the first complete book by J.R.R. Tolkien in three decades since the publication of The Silmarillion in 1977. The Children of Hurin, begun in 1918, was one of three 'Great Tales' J.R.R. Tolkien worked on throughout his life, though he never realized his ambition to see it published.

It tell the tragic story of Túrin and Niënor, the children of Húrin, the lord of Dor-lómin, who achieved renown for having confronted Morgoth, who was the master of Sauron, the manifestation of evil in the Lord of the Rings. The lengthy and fatiguing battle against Morgoth forms the backdrop for the moving account of the life of Húrin's eldest son, Túrin, a valiant but proud warrior whose all too human frailties augur an unhappy end.

What I Liked:
  • It's TOLKIEN!
  • Easier to read than Silmarillion, and even LOTR (Well, it was for ME!)
  • At least it didn't have 300 pages of Hobbits walking, singing and partying all the time
  • I loved reading and remembering all those familiar names... it was like meeting old friends once again...

What I Didn't Like:
  • Wahlau, why all these pre-LOTR stories all damn tragic and depressing wan...
  • Sometimes the language is still a bit archaic and dry (but still easier to read than LOTR)
  • I was cheated into thinking there was more to the story at the end of it because there was a lot of pages left, but it turned out to be the damn appendix.
I actually finished this book quite fast, partly because it had been so long since I'd read a Middle-Earth story, and dropped eveyrthing else to read this book first; and partly because compared to The Silmarillion, Lost Tales and LOTR itself, this was a walk in the park, really.

The story is standard Tolkien stuff. I especially like Morgoth as a villain more than Sauron, and having him as the main villain was quite cool. The plot is tragic as usual, those familiar with the Beren/Luthien story in Silmarillion might find this all too familiar... tragedy and lamenting-wise I mean.

But really, I was just glad to have something out of Middle-Earth to read after so long (that reminds me, it's time to reread LOTR again). Though this was entertaing and depressing at the same time, it was still a welcome return to Middle Earth, and read about elves, dwarves, dragons, and evil dark lords once again.

Remembering words and names like Valar, Galadriel, Fingolfin, Glorfindel, Beren, Luthien, Thingol, and so on really made me want to go read LOTR again (and watch the movies too, for the 20th time. hehehe).

All in all, a pretty decent read. Just don't expect it to change your life like LOTR did lor...

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