I first read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings sometime in the mid-1970’s. I remember cutting school because I couldn’t put the books down, I was so entranced. I new then that I was going to be a JRR Tolkien fanboy (though we didn’t use that term back in them old days, sonny!) for life. I do have some remembrance of also reading Farmer Giles of Ham and finding it unsatisfying.
Fast forward to last fall when I finally read The Silmarillion. Call me silly, but I’d been ‘saving’ that book for all those years, not wanting to find myself having read everything Tolkien wrote. And when I finally did read it, I was vaguely disappointed in it.
Which brings us to The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien, and edited by his son, Christopher Tolkien. This is a tale of the Eldar Days, long before The Shire and the Hobbits that dwell within. It’s a tale told, in much briefer fashion, in The Silmarillion as well, but this longer version has a slightly more narrative feel to it.
That said…I’m sorry, but it is still not even close to the magnificence that is The Lord of the Rings. The reader still feels distanced from the characters in the story, much more like listening to a narrator telling the tale as opposed to living it ourselves. And the tale itself is so unrelentingly morbid and sad…there is no lightness to it. It seems like despair from front cover to rear.
Once again, it is worth reading for Tokien buffs. But let’s face it, they’re going to read it no matter what I say. But if you kind of like Lord of the Rings but didn’t go nuts over them, you can safely skip this volume.