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Newly Completed Tolkien Tale Due in Spring

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Tolkien-heads with hunger pangs growing and taking ominous form within their insatiable gullets can rejoice and look forward to fresh literary meat off the bone come spring '07, when The Children of Hurin, edited and compiled by J.R.R. Tolkien's son Christopher from the sire's voluminous notes, will be published as a single, coherent work for the first time.

Christopher, the master's youngest son and literary executor, has been gathering and assembling the story — published previously in bits and pieces in The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, and The War of the Jewels volume of the completist History of Middle-earth series — for 30 long years. "It has seemed to me for a long time that there was a good case for presenting my father's long version of the legend of The Children of Hurin as an independent work, between its own covers," he said in a statement released by his publishers Houghton Mifflin in the US and HarperCollins in the UK.

J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the mythic fantasies The Hobbit and the The Lord of the Rings trilogy about the doings of men, elves, dwarves, wizards, hobbits, orcs, and the like in Middle-earth, died in 1973 at the age of 81. He worked on elements of Hurin from 1918 on, but never finished the story.

Christopher, now 81 himself, has been diligently studying, editing, and assembling his father's unfinished notes and manuscripts into book form ever since, most of which elaborate upon and flesh out characters and backstories only touched upon in the legendary published works. Earlier on, Christopher drew the indelible maps used in the trilogy. Earlier still, he was an RAF pilot in WWll and studied English at Oxford.

The Hurin story takes place in the first age, early in Middle-earth mythology and follows the fate of Húrin and his children Túrin and Nienor after Húrin is cursed by Melkor/Morgoth, the first of the "Dark Lords."

HarperCollins' Victoria Barnsley said, "This epic story of adventure, tragedy, fellowship and heroism stands as one of the finest expressions of JRR Tolkien's skills as a storyteller. With a narrative as dramatic and powerful as anything contained within The Lord Of The Rings, it can now be read and enjoyed as Tolkien originally intended, and will doubtless be a revelation for millions of fans around the world."

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    This is pretty amazing. TheWifeToWhomI’mMarried has loved reading LOTR and The Hobbit. This will be a must have.

  • Eric Olsen

    yes Josh, should be very interesting, although you are almost getting into collaboration at this point. The son had to do a lot of assuming and guessing as far as which version of the various bits to choose, etc. That’s why it took 30 years!

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    And I am sure it will be hated or decried by some purists. It clearly won’t be what J.R.R. Tolkien would have written himself but might still be a hell of a read.

  • Nancy

    Anyone who’s ever waded thru the murk of Tolkien’s “heavier” writing (which is almost everything outside of LOTR, Hobbit, and a few of his shorts, poems, and lighter stuff) will appreciate how daunting a task this would be, even for Tolkien’s heir who is familiar with it. Talk about your dark & gloomy norse mythology-! If Hurin’s the fella I remember correctly, this is another tale guaranteed to make you have to double your antidepressant meds or take to drink. Hobbit-stuff it ain’t. In any event, sorting out all the false starts and blind ends of Tolkien’s writing must have been a massive task, as anyone knows who’s read the “Notes” with all the little half-finished scribblings on sketches of the world, etc.

  • Eric Olsen

    excellent points Nancy, he can be turgid as hell – I wonder if that bubbly quote at the end is based upon the actual content of the story or wishful thinking. From what I’ve read — not that much because it gets too dense and dull –the information in all of this backstory stuff is more interesting for the light it sheds on the four main books than for itself

  • Nancy

    IMO, more for what it reveals of Tolkien’s mental processes while developing his mythology than anything else. The stories/histories themselves are boring as hell; reading them w/all the quasi-biblical phraseology is like running under water. Actually, so numbing it would make a good sub for anesthesia sometimes. He falls into this in LOTR, actually, somewhere in Book II when his hero, Aragorn starts in with the “Lo-!” business. Of course, if you have read the Harvard Lampoon’s takeoff, Bored of the Rings, all this will be totally & utterly ruined for you forever, so that everything you read by Tolkien will send you into fits of helpless hysterical laughter evermore. Lo!

  • http://philobiblon.co.uk Natalie Bennett

    This article has been selected for syndication to Advance.net, which is affiliated with newspapers around the United States. Nice work!

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com Mark Schannon

    Wonderful news as JRRT’s Silmarillion was a bear to read…I await this with baited breath…hadn’t heard of this, so thanks.

    in Jameson veritas

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Mark – I hope this is more story-oriented, which at least seems to be the implication