Beren and Lúthien

Beren and Luthien by J.R.R.Tolkien, edited by his son

This is a book for fans of Tolkien. If you want to know how the characters in early middle earth plots evolve then Christopher Tolkien had done fine job in putting them together from his father’s manuscripts. It must have been a daunting job.

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Much of the book is in the form of epic poetry – and I personally missed the little details possible in a prose narrative, it seemed a collection of facts strung together with high sounding words. For me, the pictures evoked were just not strong enough on their own.

It was hard to follow as there was quite a bit of jumping around – and oh! I would dearly have loved a map! But despite these reservations, I think Christopher did a fine job on a very difficult subject matter. Trying to get inside the head of the original writer would be hard, and here we were guided along the way.

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The story is full of drama as you would expect from Tolkien senior. The linking narrative was rather dry but it did try to hold the various versions of the story together. I think this book needs to be reread a few times to really get the power behind the epic.

Alan Lee’s superb illustrations made the book worth having just for them, the sombre colours of the plates suited the themes drama and the pencil sketches added charm and both evoked a sense of the drama and made the whole book more emotive.

I found this a difficult read, one wants to go back to in the future. For those of us who love the Hobbit, then this adds some background but is not essential. The pictures are a dream.

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Written by Liz H

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