Book Review of Beren and Luthien

Beren and Luthien
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While Romeo and Juliet was indeed a romance for the ages, the story of Beren and Lúthien trump every aspect of the story. The actual book starts out with the bare bones story of Beren and Lúthien; Beren is on the run from Melko (the dark force in the story) and came across Lúthien (also known as Tinúviel) dancing in the woods, and was so entranced by the way she danced in the copse of trees and how she seemed to glow in the moonlight, that Beren risked breaking his cover just to look at her.

Lúthien's brother, Dairon, spied Beren and told Lúthien to run home. Knowing she was not as fast as her brother, Lúthien tried to blend in with the moonlight and flowers. Beren, stumbling through the forest, accidentally grazed her arm and put her in such a fright that she âtwittered between moonbeams all the way homeâ. Lúthien loved to dance, and would dance often while her brother Dairon would play the pipe reeds. Having been scared by Beren, Lúthien would not venture out to dance, until she couldn't contain herself anymore. Perchance, Beren finally came across her and asked her to teach him how to dance. Of course, this made Lúthien smile, and she asked him to follow her, and dance the entire way to her father's palace (yes palace; Lúthien was the daughter to the King, Tinwelint [also known as Thingol]).

So here we are in the palace of the Hidden Elves. Tinwelint (Thingol) is sitting on his throne with Queen Gwendeling (also known as Melion) by his side, and enters Beren. Immediately Tinwelint assumes Beren is a dark elf, and has come to cause trouble. Lúthien (scared little Lúthien who was running away from Beren not too long ago) comes to his defense and pulls the most quintessential trick daughters can do to their fathers; if you are mean to him, you will make me cry. And in typical fatherly fashion Tinwelint asks Beren what he wants just to be rid of him.

Beren surprised everyone by asking for Lúthien's hand in marriage. Taken aback, Tinwelint makes impossible terms- to bring back one Simaril from Melko's crown. Everyone knew that the Iron Crown never left Melko's head, and if anyone dared lay a finger on it, they would not see the light of day. Beren knew he was being a made fool of, and his anger got the best of him. Foolheartedly he told the king âit is too small a gift, I will fulfill your small desire.â Beren storms out of the palace, and essentially does not stop his temper tantrum stomp until the gates of Melko. Meanwhile, Lúthien starts to weep in fear she would not find anyone that would look upon her with such love and adoration. Lúthien pleaded with her mother, Gwendeling to see if Beren was alive. Acknowledging he was alive, but captured, Lúthien wants to go in search of Beren to help him escape. Gwendeling asks her daughter not to talk of such things. But Lúthien, being ever earnest, begs her mother to go on her behalf to the king to send help to Beren. Her father also refuses, leaving her no choice but to beg her brother to run away with her to help Beren. Dairon, like any âgoodâ sibling, goes to tell their father, who promptly builds a tree house that no ladder could touch, until Lúthien would get this fool hardy idea out of her head.

With Lúthien's free spirit, she finds a way to leave her quaint tree house. Tinwelent has provided guards to bring her whatever she desires. Being imbued with elven magic, Lúthien asks for ingredients to make a potion that makes her hair grow continuously for 12 hours (as well as make her sleep). Once grown, she cuts her hair off, fashions a cloak which when flung about makes people fall asleep, and uses the remaining hair to climb down from her tower (yes, just like Rapunzel) and escape.

While in the woods before reaching Melko's gate, Lúthien comes across a giant dog named Huan. When learning she was the princess of the woodland elves, Huan came up with an idea that benefited both. Huan wanted nothing more than to be rid of Tevildo (The Prince of Cats- but in other versions this particular character would be Sauron; yes the âOne ring to rule them allâ guy). After conspiring together, Lúthien sneaks up to the terrace where the cats sleep to see if she could spy Beren. If spotted, she would lure Telvido down to the forest where Huan would pretend to be injured, only to end the rivalry between cats and dogs forever. As cunning as this cat could be, he could not see through his hatred for dogs to know a lie. Telvido follows Lúthien into the forest with a scout cat, happening upon Huan's lifeless form. Filled with euphoric satisfaction, Telvido completely misses the ambush, and his cohort pays the price. Telvido runs up a tree, tail between his legs, and negotiations start for the release of Beren in exchange for Telvido's life.

After escaping, Beren, Lúthien, and Huan decide to carry out Tinwelint's wishes and return with the Simaril.

Any newcomer to the Tolkien prose will be discouraged with the first part of the book. There are a lot of explanations and background information on characters and story outline that would make any Tolkien fan's head spin- let alone someone attempting to join the fandom.

I am not dissuading you to read âBeren And Lúthienâ- oh no. I am ENCOURAGING you to start with âThe Hobbitâ, continue with âThe Lord of the Ringsâ trilogy, and then proceed back in time to expanded references you are already familiar with.

Like any good story, over time it evolves. We start with the simplest of stories. From there Simon Tolkien attempts to revive and piece together his father's manuscripts- it is here where names change, and the story is extended in exquisite prose. Reading prose could be similar to reading a screenplay- it's not for everyone. BUT! If you can get into the rhythm it is well worth the effort.