The Children Of Hurin

Discussion in 'CycleChat Cafe' started by Andy in Sig, 16 Jul 2007.

  1. Andy in Sig

    Andy in Sig Vice President in Exile

    My copy arrived in the post at work today and I read the first chapter in the lunch hour. It's written in the marvellous semi-archaic style of the Silmarillion, as if it had been translated from Old English (I suspect that given Tolkein's academic background this was the effect he was trying to achieve.) Anyway, it looks like it's going to be a cracking read.
  2. Pete

    Pete Guest

    Must admit, my Tolkien-fandom has diminished somewhat over recent years! I remember a longish chapter (with a title in Elvish) published in Tolkien Unfinished Tales, which was itself an expansion of the Turin Turambar chapter in the Silmarillion. Is this book in fact the same text as that in Unfinished Tales perhaps? In any case, personally speaking I preferred the more succinct version in the Silmarillion. But don't let me put you off - enjoy your read!
  3. OP
    Andy in Sig

    Andy in Sig Vice President in Exile

    His son has taken everything which JRR wrote of the tale and turned it into one complete and coherent narrative i.e. it's longer than the Silmarillion version. Oddly enough I wasn't to keen on the version of the story in the Silmarillion but now I'm really enjoying it. It's much darker than the other stuff, in fact it's sort of in Shakespearian heroic tragedy mode and IMO it's just begging to be filmed.
  4. jonesy

    jonesy Legendary Member

    I've just finished it. Not sure 'enjoyed' would be the right word for something with such a depressing ending, but I certainly appreciated it! Anyone looking for a story with a happy ending, I suggest you find your entertainment elsewhere!

    I've always enjoyed Tolkien since reading LOTR as a child and spending ages looking at the maps and reading the appendices to find out more of the 'history' to the ring story. New readers do need to be warned that his works are all very different. If you've read LOTR and want more like that then the Hobbit, written for children, will be a disappointment. And the Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales etc are at the other extreme; written in the style of ancient legends rather than a normal work of fiction. The start of the Silmarillion has more than hint of Paradise Lost about it, (though it is not written as poetry) with Morgoth/Melkor not unlike Satan the fallen angel. (Disclaimer: I am a scientist, not a student of English literature!)
  5. PBancroft

    PBancroft Senior Member

    I must try reading the Silmarillion again. I tried once, many years ago, but I found it to be rather tough-going. I think it was just a little too much like reading a holy text.
  6. Fnaar

    Fnaar Smutmaster General

    Tried with the Hobbit and LOTR when I was a kid, but they bored me rigid. Gave up on them. Don't get it. Sorry smile.gif
  7. Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Guru

    The Hobbit and Watership Down were my favourite books as a boy. In some ways they're pretty similar books. I've read The Hobbit about 13 times, once in French. Although it's more child-oriented, I still think it's better than Lord of the Rings.

    Actually, I was just thinking last night how I didn't think JRR Tolkien's decision to make the Bilbo's ring the McGuffin of LoTR was the best. For starters, how does this ring of power actually work? Does it just make you invisible or does it do something else. Does it make you lucky in war, or better at killing or more charismatic? I mean, if you're a king, a prince or mighty warrior and you suddenly disappear during the middle of a battle, surely that would have a disorienting effect on your followers. Perhaps it was just owning the ring that amplified your leadership qualities. But in that case, why did Gollum end up at the bottom of a mountain having to murder passing goblins to survive. Second point is, if the ring fits small hobbit fingers, how can it fit large warlord fingers? I'd have invented some other McGuffin for LoTR myself.

    I couldn't make head or tail of The Silmarillion the first time I read it. The second time, I was struck by how much like The Old Testament it was, in particular Genesis. I never got through the Book of Lost Tales. One of my old line managers was pretty sure a lot of this stuff was actually written by JRR Tolkein's son.
  8. martint235

    martint235 Dog on a bike

    Well just to sum it all up, the One ring controls all the others (3 Elven, 7 Dwarven and 9 human). It does grow and shrink on its own, hence it "decided" to fall of Isildur's finger. IIRC the Elves didn't want power or wealth, they wanted to be loved so the wearers of the 3 Elven rings (at the time of LOTR Galadriel, Gandalf and Elrond) are universally worshipped. Gandalf's ring originally belonged to Cirdan the ship builder. The dwarves wanted wealth so their original ring bearers all ended up fantastically rich but as the One ring came to move around the world again, tragedy befalls them. The humans wanted power, and basically end of as slaves (the Ringwraiths). I think that about sums up how the rings work in LOTR.
  9. OP
    Andy in Sig

    Andy in Sig Vice President in Exile

    The thing with all literature and art is that ultimately it rings your bell or it doesn't and I don't suppose that a consideration of the background of the works will change that but it might help one to see a work in a new light.

    Firstly, Tolkein was acutely aware that the British, unlike many other peoples, did not have a national myth or collection of myths such as the Icelandic sagas.

    Secondly, he was an Oxford professor who was steeped in Anglo-Saxon literature and culture. ("Middle Earth" is, for instance a direct translation of the Anglo-Saxon term for the world. The Riders of Rohan are the cavalry which we didn't have at Hastings.)

    Thirdly, I suspect that his aim was not so much to write novels but to tell epic tales. This alone distinguishes him from conventional novelists and explains the absence of self-conscious froth which is sadly so present in the works of many of the accepted literati. You can imagine Tolkein's tales being chanted out by a bard standing by the fire in a great mead hall while all listened entranced. But can you picture the same for the likes of Salman Rushdie or Martin Amis?

    I'm not saying that he doesn't have a deliberate style: much of his language is fairly obviously Anglo-Saxon and much less latinate than conventional modern English. It's that use of the language - it seems to me to be more genuinely English - to which I attribute the wildly romantic nature of his stuff which swept up my imagination when I first read LOTR as a fifteen year old. It was only years later that I realise that how he was telling the tales was as powerful as the tales themselves.

    The first chapter of a book called Beowulf and Other Stories by Richard North and Joe Allard is called Old English Influence on Lord of the Rings and is worth a read if you are interested in this sort of thing.

    But ultimately, like I said, it either rings your bell or it doesn't.
  10. Rustyspoke

    Rustyspoke New Member

    Take the map of Middle Earth. Copy it onto transparent film.

    Overlay it on a map of South East Birmingham. :-

    The Shire - Yardley Wood and Solihull Lodge. Fields in JRR's days.

    Baranduin - River Cole south of Sarehole Mill.

    Bucklebury Ferry - Green Road, Hall Green.

    Rivendell - Banks of the river Cole along Sarehole Road.

    Misty Mountains - Industrial East Birmingham.

    Mines of Moria - BSA, Armoury Road, Small Heath.

    Great river of the Wilderland - river Cole north of the A45 Coventry Road.

    [There IS a Buckland End where Cole Hall Lane crosses the river.]

    Beorn - Ruins of Kingshurst Castle, Fordbridge Road, Kingshurst.

    Mirkwood - Chelmsley Wood. It was a wood in JRR's days.

    Long Lake - junction of Kingshurst Brook and river Cole. Flood plain.

    Elvenkings Halls - Coleshill Hall & Farms.

    Lonely Mountain - Coleshill.

    Smaug - Coleshill Church. Take a ride there are have a look at the dragon gargoils !!!

    Secret door - the vicarage garden gate.
  11. 661-Pete

    661-Pete Guest

    Wow, this thread has certainly undergone a bump and a half! Feels a bit weird, and vaguely schizo, to see post#2 on it, penned by an exile not totally unknown to Yours Truly!

    Never mind.

    I think of LOTR as not so much a great romance, as realistic 'road' saga set in an unreal but not too fantastic universe. At least, Fellowship and parts of Two Towers seem like that, although towards the end it somewhat loses the plot, for me. But I still pick up the volume and re-read a few pages here and there, when I feel in the mood. I did plough through Silmarillion diligently when that first came out, but I feel little inclination to make a grab for that tome as it sits gathering dust on our shelves...

    One thing I'm ever grateful for. There may be 'wizards' in LOTR, but at least they don't have the power to turn people into bunny-rabbits just by waving a wooden stick around and muttering absurd phrases in illiterate Latin!
  12. ASC1951

    ASC1951 Guru

    Most people who read Tolkein as children are captivated - I certainly was. LOTR was actually first published while I was at school and I remember my distress at having to wait a year for the final volume. Read him as an adult, though, and you realise his limitations: clunky narrative, obvious plotting, wooden dialogue, no emotional content, minimal character development...

    If you want a children's book, The Hobbit is right up there and certainly much better than LOTR. (By comparison Watership Down is more at Noddy and Big Ears level, tbh, although Richard Adams can write good stuff, witness Shardik.)

    If you want a bardic epic, read a proper one. Try some of the great pieces of European literature, like the Odyssey, the Voyage of the Argo, the Epic of Gilgamesh, Beowulf. Or similar Indian and Chinese classics; or slightly more modern, Gargantua and Pantagruel; or Don Quixote. Tolkein just about comes up to their shins.
  13. OP
    Andy in Sig

    Andy in Sig Vice President in Exile

    Maybe I've happily retained something of my childhood then because I find the battle scenes and many other bits as stirring and or moving now as I did then.
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