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Beren and Lúthien by J. R. R. Tolkien

Beren and Lúthien

by J. R. R. Tolkien

Other authors: Alan Lee (Illustrator), Christopher Tolkien (Editor)

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For dedicated lovers of Tolkien, this book fills in some of the older lore. For everyone else, it my not hold a great deal of interest. If you've read nothing more than The Lord Of The Rings and you want more, I might suggest The Silmarillon or even The Fall Of Gondolin first, then circle back to this one.

As with all the more recent Tolkien books edited by Christopher Tolkien, this one gives over a lot of pages for the preface and numerous explanations and explorations of the history of the work - the various versions and revisions, and why and when Tolkien wrote them. This may not appeal to everyone.

A significant amount of this book is also in poetry form, which isn't for me personally but I'm happy to skim over it.

If you're a dedicated Tolkien fan, you'll love it - just don't buy it expecting a single 260-page story. ( )
  adam.currey | Feb 10, 2019 |
Beren and Lúthien by J.R.R. Tolkien is one of the Tales of the Elder Days as touched upon in The Silmarillion.

Beren and Lúthien is another story that finally has seen the light of day. I loved reading this tale and learning more about other characters in Tolkien's world. In addition, the poems were beautiful with beautiful prose. I had not realized what an amazing poet Tolkien was. This was an added treat for me.

I highly recommend anyone who loves Tolkien's work to read this. You will not be disappointed. ( )
  feeroberts64 | Jan 30, 2019 |
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 “twittered between moonbeams all the way home”. 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 “it is too small a gift, I will fulfill your small desire.” 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 “good” 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 “One ring to rule them all” 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 “Beren And Lúthien”- oh no. I am ENCOURAGING you to start with “The Hobbit”, continue with “The Lord of the Rings” 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.

( )
  mspoet569 | Aug 18, 2018 |
Every time I see that a new Tolkien book is being published I get unbelievably excited. I can’t help it. Tolkien’s works were one of the first adult fantasy series I’d ever read, and has remained a life-long love. Beren and Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien and edited by Christopher Tolkien is the last in a long line of posthumously published works focusing on Middle Earth. This one tells the story of Beren and Luthien, one of the tales found within the Silmarillion.

I expected this book to be something more comparable to The Children of Hurin than another compilation. I respect Christopher Tolkien’s zeal in trying to be as completely true to what his father wrote or would have wanted as possible. In this particular case I can’t help but feel that this dogmatic approach hurt rather than helped this volume. More than that, I think it’s safe to say that a longer, book length version of Beren and Luthien is what people want, and something that this story deserves.

This tale itself is a very good one. In my opinion, the version found in the Silmarillion stands as one of the best written pieces J.R.R. Tolkien produced. The story touches on themes that we see very little of, especially in the time period which this was first written. This is a story about a princess who can save herself and can save the man she loves. Luthien is an incredibly competent character and the first character I thought of when the term ‘strong female character’ came up in conversation. Even today this is something that isn’t always found in books.

Despite having some background on the events leading up to and characters surrounding the tale of Beren and Luthien, I still felt there was a certain degree of inaccessibility between the story and the reader. It is best if the basics of the story are already known to the reader. If you’ve read the story found in the Silmarillion or, at the very least, if you remember the version mentioned more briefly in the Lord of the Rings. (I think Aragorn may have been discussing it with Frodo in the swamp during Fellowship of the Ring? Please correct me if I’m mis-remembering.) Honestly, it’s probably best for the reader if they’ve read the Silmarillion as a whole, or least wiki-ed certain parts.

There are several versions of the story in this book. Some of them have the main character’s names – Beren and Luthien – listed differently. Certain characters are added. Some are missing. We have some very interesting villains not seen in the version within The Silmarillion. In particular I liked Tevildo the cat, a good foil to Huan. It was also interesting seeing the evolution of the story throughout the years. I really liked that the Lay of Lethian (what was completed, at least) is included, something which is mentioned in other books but which I, at least, have never seen.

The book did pitter out a little bit at the end. A few passages from later works are included in an effort to conclude the life of Beren and Luthien. There is mention of Beren and Luthien’s child and of events after the ending of the original story. This, along with the very beginning of the book, is where things become muddied and inaccessible. We don’t get a very long tale about their later life together. The reader is expected to know what happens next. The later life of Beren and Luthien is included in other tales, but lacks a story of its own.

Despite my gripes, the tale itself is really quite wonderful. I’ve always loved the story of Beren and Luthien, and it’s safe to say that I always will. I only wish that this volume was handled a little differently. The illustrations by Alan Lee are all very beautiful, as always.

However, I do still think that someone new to Middle Earth will feel very lost first going into Beren and Luthien. Still, there’s a lot to love here. Fans of the series get to see the evolution of one of the best tales of Middle Earth, and I think those hard core fans are who will appreciate the book the most. If you are a die-hard fan who owns everything with Tolkien’s name on it you will definitely want this book for your collection. If you don’t like editorial dialogue interrupting the narrative or if you aren’t a fan this book may be one to pass up.

This review originally found on Looking Glass Reads. ( )
1 vote kateprice88 | Jul 19, 2018 |
The story of Beren and Luthien is explored through the different editing done by Tolkien, as compiled by his son Christopher. It was interesting to see how the story progressed and changed through time. I knew the basic story from my reading of other Tolkien books, but I found the telling of this tale particularly good in this book. If you're a Tolkien fan, you will want to add this to your collection. ( )
  hobbitprincess | May 13, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
J. R. R. Tolkienprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lee, AlanIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tolkien, ChristopherEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0008214190, Hardcover)

Painstakingly restored from Tolkien's manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Luthien will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, Dwarves and Orcs and the rich landscape and creatures unique to Tolkien's Middle-earth. The tale of Beren and Luthien was, or became, an essential element in the evolution of The Silmarillion, the myths and legends of the First Age of the World conceived by J.R.R. Tolkien. Returning from France and the battle of the Somme at the end of 1916, he wrote the tale in the following year. Essential to the story, and never changed, is the fate that shadowed the love of Beren and Luthien: for Beren was a mortal man, but Luthien was an immortal Elf. Her father, a great Elvish lord, in deep opposition to Beren, imposed on him an impossible task that he must perform before he might wed Luthien. This is the kernel of the legend; and it leads to the supremely heroic attempt of Beren and Luthien together to rob the greatest of all evil beings, Melkor, called Morgoth, the Black Enemy, of a Silmaril. In this book Christopher Tolkien has attempted to extract the story of Beren and Luthien from the comprehensive work in which it was embedded; but that story was itself changing as it developed new associations within the larger history. To show something of the process whereby this legend of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he has told the story in his father's own words by giving, first, its original form, and then passages in prose and verse from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed. Presented together for the first time, they reveal aspects of the story, both in event and in narrative immediacy, that were afterwards lost.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 16 Nov 2016 10:11:54 -0500)

Beren was a mortal man, but Lúthien was an immortal elf. Her father, a great elvish lord, in deep opposition to Beren, imposed on him an impossible task that he must perform before he might wed Lúthien. To show something of the process whereby this legend of Middle-earth evolved over the years, [Christopher Tolkien] has told the story in his father's own words by giving, first, its original form, and then passages in prose and verse from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed. Presented together for the first time, they reveal aspects of the story, both in event and in narrative immediacy, that were afterwards lost.--… (more)

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