The guys at MercatorNet have been good enough to send me a copy of the “new” Tolkien book, The Children of Húrin, with a view to my reviewing it for them. I must admit I approached it with some trepidation. While I am a Tolkien fan, having read the LotR literally dozens of times, I’ve never been very good at working out the people and places of the Silmarillion (from which this story comes) nor the different flavours of elf you encounter.

I’ve not finished the book yet but it’s not so bad once you get into it. It does smack very much of the older epics, which is very clearly JRR’s bread-and-butter: I can’t help feeling that LotR was a kind of modern-day epic spin-off for those who couldn’t take the original! What is bewildering is the number of times Túrin (Húrin’s son, the main character) changes his identity; he hardly seems to last three pages before he blunders out of one alliance and into another, each time taking an ironic name like “The One Who is Lost” or “The Hand of the Black Sword” or something.

I should be finished by the end of the today and onto the review. In short, if anyone’s looking for a LotR prequel, they’re going to be mostly disappointed. But it is interesting to read in fuller form the kind of thing which JRR Tolkien loved to do. I’m a fan of the man as much as of his work: I’ve probably read (or at least browsed) The Letters of JRR Tolkien more often than LotR and the attitudes and actions of the people in any of his writing surely reflect something of his character and beliefs when he wrote them down.