My husband was SO disappointed with this book. He was so disappointed that he actually had me post it here, and he's a total book hoarder! He said that it read like an outline and was completely lacking in the narrative prose that was so distinctive to Tolkien. While he was reading it, I suggested to him that we leave to go out to dinner and he said with great disdain, "Give me a few minutes. I want to see this character die. I've been anticipating it for so long." Definitely not a good sign. I gave it one star, just because he did manage to finish the book.
Really a lovely book, with not-at-all-cheesy, atmospheric b/w and color illustrations by Alan Lee. Worth mentioning, 'cause it's so rare to see a book with actual illustration these days it seems!
This, of course, is a story "put together" by J.R.R.'s son Christopher from Tolkien's copious unfinished writings. It's also featured in the Silmarillion, but this is a more complete version, including more details, and some revisions, about which Christopher Tolkien talks extensively.
As a novel, it's good, but not great ficton on the level of the Lord of the Rings. As Christopher notes, Tolkien's "other" tales tended to be written in a very distanced manner. They're supposed to be "ancient tales" and one gets that feeling from the story, as if a teller were relating a legend of long ago. It's similar to reading stories of the Mabinogion or the Eddas, or something from Arthurian lore.
The story itself lives up to that - it's high tragedy, and feels completely authentic. It really should be read by anyone who loves mythic fantasy. Still, it doesn't have the emotional immediacy - or the humor and charm - of Tolkien's better-known works.
My biggest gripe with this book is that CHristopher T. makes mention of the fact that Tolkien began writing two different forms of this story in verse, as well, and gives brief stanzas as examples. He says that they were unfinished - but also that they were epic-ly long. I really think that this volume should have included the poetic versions, perhaps as a long appendix.
Not all that readable, alas. Much better than The Silmarillion, but there's still something about the prose here that clearly shows it was assembled from notes rather than written as a cohesive tale. I loved The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but nothing else by Tolkien has worked for me, including this one.
A stark and beautiful retelling of a set of tales told in shorter form in "The Silmarillion." Highly enjoyable for Tolkien fans, and possibly a good introduction to his work for any fan of mythology or heroic opera who hasn't read him (if there are any!), although probably not as likely to interest anyone who isn't otherwise a fan of either the writer or the genre.
Amazing book! It's super tragic. I don't think I have ever read anything like it. It is very well written with great character development. A real piece of art. The story made me love the family and want only good things to happen, but nothing good happens. Really sad, but really worth the read.