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Tales of Middle Earth

Beren and Lúthien

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The tale of Beren and Lúthien 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 Lúthien: for 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. This is the kernel of the legend; and it leads to the supremely heroic attempt of Beren and Lúthien 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 Lúthien 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.
Published on the tenth anniversary of the last Middle-earth book, the international bestseller The Children of Húrin, this new volume will similarly include drawings and color plates by Alan Lee, who also illustrated The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and went on to win Academy Awards for his work on The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

321 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 1, 2017

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About the author

J.R.R. Tolkien

516 books68.9k followers
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien: writer, artist, scholar, linguist. Known to millions around the world as the author of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien spent most of his life teaching at the University of Oxford where he was a distinguished academic in the fields of Old and Middle English and Old Norse. His creativity, confined to his spare time, found its outlet in fantasy works, stories for children, poetry, illustration and invented languages and alphabets.

Tolkien’s most popular works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are set in Middle-earth, an imagined world with strangely familiar settings inhabited by ancient and extraordinary peoples. Through this secondary world Tolkien writes perceptively of universal human concerns – love and loss, courage and betrayal, humility and pride – giving his books a wide and enduring appeal.

Tolkien was an accomplished amateur artist who painted for pleasure and relaxation. He excelled at landscapes and often drew inspiration from his own stories. He illustrated many scenes from The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, sometimes drawing or painting as he was writing in order to visualize the imagined scene more clearly.

Tolkien was a professor at the Universities of Leeds and Oxford for almost forty years, teaching Old and Middle English, as well as Old Norse and Gothic. His illuminating lectures on works such as the Old English epic poem, Beowulf, illustrate his deep knowledge of ancient languages and at the same time provide new insights into peoples and legends from a remote past.

Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, in 1892 to English parents. He came to England aged three and was brought up in and around Birmingham. He graduated from the University of Oxford in 1915 and saw active service in France during the First World War before being invalided home. After the war he pursued an academic career teaching Old and Middle English. Alongside his professional work, he invented his own languages and began to create what he called a mythology for England; it was this ‘legendarium’ that he would work on throughout his life. But his literary work did not start and end with Middle-earth, he also wrote poetry, children’s stories and fairy tales for adults. He died in 1973 and is buried in Oxford where he spent most of his adult life.

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Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
May 6, 2020
Straight from the pages of The Silmarillion, this tale has been given new authority and the chance to stand on its own.

And such a story it is. It’s about a mortal man who fell in love with an immortal elf. Unlike the romance between Aragorn and Arwen in The Lord of the Rings this relationship foregrounds the narrative: it is the narrative. Given an absolutely impossible task to prove his devotion, no less than stealing a Silmaril from the crown of Melko (Morgoth- the first dark lord), Beren sets off on a seemingly hopeless quest. But he is not without allies. When a man displays such courage, conviction and fortitude other honour bound individuals feel compelled to assist him.

Indeed, such as Huan the mighty hound of Valinor. What follows is a tale as epic and fantastical as any you would expect from middle earth. Sauron also appears in several different forms as the loyal servant of Melkor, long before he took up the mantel his fallen master would eventually drop. What I also found interesting (I’ve been researching middle-earth family-trees) is that Aragorn and are Arwen are both distant descendants of Beren and Luthien. It’s a strange repeat of such a similar theme, one Aragorn actually recalls in The Lord of the Rings.


Is it worth buying for those who have read The Silmarillion?

As I always say in my reviews of posthumously published Tolkien works, it really depends on how interested you are in Tolkien as a writer. For me, this edition was worth purchasing. Not only do we get more fantastic (and unrivalled) illustrations by Alan Lee, but we also get a thorough a succinct introduction to the text by Christopher Tolkien detailing how it came about and the reasoning behind his father’s writing. He also mentions that this is going to be his last restoration of his father’s writing, a true shame but he is now ninety-three years old. I digress, not many readers will go for a book on these reasons alone. So what of the actual work?

The version in The Silmarillion is very concise and straight to the point. It’s a compelling account, told with a certain degree of distance afforded by such writing. This, however, is closer to normal prose. It is the same story again, but it gets to the heart of the matter with more clarity. That being said, I did prefer the shorter version. What this edition does have, and something I have not seen before, is The Lay of Leithian. Now this is a verse version of the same story. Some fantasy readers may hate poetry and verse (or at least may find themselves out of their comfort zone) but for me it was the most enjoyable part of the book.

So for this reason I recommend this book to those that have read many of Tolkien’s works. If you enjoyed Tolkien’s poetry editions such as Beowulf a Translation and a Commentary and The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun along with the books set in middle-earth then this will be for you. Readers who are expecting to enjoy a prose story will, ultimately, be disappointed with the content here.


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Profile Image for Petrik.
687 reviews46k followers
August 14, 2023
Unlike The Children of Hurin, unless you’re a lover of poems or you're a diehard Tolkien fans, I doubt the overall content of this book will be enjoyable to read.

The Children of Hurin has a novel format with a standalone story. The novel begins with a preface from Christopher Tolkien, then the story starts and continues until the end without break in prose form. It’s pretty much a standard standalone fantasy novel format with a self-contained story that can be read and enjoyed by anyone who loves fantasy novel. Beren and Luthien isn’t like The Children of Hurin. Although I’m super happy that I approached The Children of Hurin without knowing anything about it and ended up loving it, I wish I have known about the overall content of Beren and Luthien before I bought it; because I wouldn’t have bought it.

It wasn’t the story of Beren and Luthien itself that didn’t work for me, it’s the overall structure of this book. By this, what I mean is that the story isn’t adapted into a standard novel format. The introduction and notes were 40 pages long, then the Tale of Tinuviel (Luthien) was told in prose form for 50 pages. After that, the remaining of the book tells a different and evolved version of Beren and Luthien’s story again, except that this time it’s in verses and poems format for 100 pages long rather than prose. I have nothing against poetic prose but reading poetry itself is something I dislike; there’s a good reason why I don’t read Lang Leav or Rupi Kaur. There was also constant interruption from Christopher Tolkien where he explains J.R.R. Tolkien’s inspiration and the writing evolution on the creation of this book that really disrupts the reading flow. In my opinion, this feels more like a case study of the creation of Beren and Luthien than actually reading the story of Beren and Luthien. So yeah, unless you’re REALLY interested in reading poems or knowing J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing process and knowing about the text comparisons and evolution of this story, I highly doubt you’ll enjoy this one.

I also found that the story of Beren and Luthien to be better told from other sources like Wikipedia and stunning artworks throughout the internet than the actual novel reading experience. Don’t get me wrong, Alan Lee’s illustrations are always a delight to look at. But reading the story of Beren and Luthien here made me feel like I’m reading a Disney fairy tale version of Middle-Earth’s history; with a non-happy and a bit ambiguous ending. In the end, I don’t have a full review for this one, I think I’ve stated it clearly enough why this book didn’t work out for me. I can only recommend Beren and Luthien for extreme Tolkien fans—which I’m not—who wants to learn more about him, his writing process, and Christopher Tolkien’s adaptation process of this book. My friend from Goodreads, Rinaldo, told me that even though I highly enjoyed reading The Children of Hurin, I most likely won’t enjoy reading Beren and Luthien and he’s damn right about it.

You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions
Profile Image for Kevin Kuhn.
Author 2 books584 followers
October 18, 2019
I have great admiration for JRR Tolkein, his imagination seems endless and his commitment to his craft was incredible. It's clear his son Christopher has a genuine love of his father's work and treats it with respect and care. His commentary is excellent and interesting. When I was 9 or 10 The Hobbit solidified my love of reading. I found it at the library on my own and felt like I uncovered the world's greatest treasure. After speaking with the librarian she informed me there were three more books - The Lord of the Rings, but that they were not appropriate for my age group and that I should wait until my late teens. Of course I had my mom check them out right away and I plowed through them in a summer. I was scared when Samwise was scared and hungry when Frodo was hungry and gutted when Gandolf fell. It was a long a difficult read for me, but I devoured those books. At the end, I felt like I knew a secret no one else did. I spoke about the books to my family and friends, but no one else was interested. Being my first true reading love, I'm delighted that they are so well known and respected today.

So, I feel somewhat inadequate in saying that I enjoyed Beren and Luthen, but I didn't love it. I tried to read the Silmarillion when I was younger and struggled, getting lost and tangled in the history and endless characters. This was similar, I appreciate the craft, the expansiveness of the story and world, but I took only occasional moments of reading pleasure. I attribute this more to my own limitations verses any failings of Tolkien, father or son. The sections of story in rhymed verse are amazing, but fail to pull me into the story. Again, I appreciate and wonder at the craft, but I don't love it.

I did very much enjoy the artwork. The illustrations are perfect. But, possibly the best part of this book was the repetition of the story. The story of Beren and Luthien is retold many times, pulled from a variety of JRR's works. It's fascinating to see the story evolve and get a small glimpse into JRR's mind through the evolution.

I desperately wanted to recapture the magic of reading The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings from my youth, but alas, that is a thing that I believe will never be. I understood what this book was and went in fully aware that it would be more like The Silmarillion than The Hobbit, but I was still disappointed. However, it does not diminish my love of Tokien or his works, for he expanded my imagination and ingrained a love of reading that would enrich my life forever.
Profile Image for Ines.
321 reviews198 followers
October 31, 2019
Tears, tears and only tears.
I closed this very complicated and difficult book and I find myself with a lump in my throat but with a soul full of beauty. The story is made by a disarming simplicity, the love and encounter between Beren, mortal and human, and Luthien(Tinuviel,so called by Beren), wonderful elf daughter of King Thingol of the Middle Earth Kingdom. I am not at all an expert on Tolkien and his world( although I have read almost all his works), I have worked very hard to remember all the kingdoms, the descendants and the various ages, So many times I had to get Tolkienpedia to help me, otherwise I would have understood absolutely nothing.
What remains in your heart is this extraordinary journey, the challenge of Beren, who, out of love and longing for eternal love for Luthien, accepts an impossible and crazy challenge... I understand and I am moved when in the various explanations given by Christopher Tolkien ( son of Ronald), he explains to us that this is nothing but the challenge and the path of the life of every little man on earth, frail and unknown in the face of a thousand impossibilities, harshness and sorrows of destiny. There is no end in this story, it remains open for the life and circumstances of these characters, reflect the today of all of us.
The reality, today has no end; and that is exactly what Tolkien explains, but only at the end of our days everything will be revealed...

Lacrime, lacrime e solo lacrime.....
Ho chiuso questo complicatissimo e difficilissimo libro e mi ritrovo con un groppo alla gola ma con l'anima ricolma di bellezza., la storia è di una semplicità disarmante, l'amore e l'incontro tra Beren, umano mortale e Luthien (Tinuviel,cosi chiamata da Beren) meravigliosa elfa figlia del Re Thingol del regno della Terra di Mezzo. Io non sono assolutamente una esperta di Tolkien e del suo mondo fantastico( pur avendo letto quasi tutte le sue opere), ho faticato molto per ricordami tutti i regni, le discendenze e le varie Ere, tantissime volte ho dovuto farmi aiutare da Tolkienpedia, se no non avrei capito assolutamente nulla.
Ciò che rimane nel cuore è questo straordinario cammino,la sfida di Beren, che per amore e desiderio di amore eterno per Luthhien, accetta una sfida impossibile e folle....capisco e mi commuovo quando nelle varie spiegazioni date da Christopher Tolkien ( figlio di Ronald), ci spiega che questo non è altro che la sfida e il cammino della vita di ogni piccolo uomo sulla terra, debole fragile e sconosciuto di fronte alle mille impossibilità, asperità e dolori del destino. Non vi è una fine in questa storia, rimane aperta per la vita e le circostanze di questi personaggi, riflettono l'oggi di tutti noi.
Il reale, l'oggi non ha una fine, ed è proprio quello che ci spiega Tolkien, ma solo alla fine dei giorni tutto sarà svelato..
Profile Image for Adrian.
570 reviews209 followers
September 7, 2018
Hmm, a difficult job to review this book. I felt it was a cross between wonderful 5 star Tolkien storytelling and occasionally tough going almost repetitive storytelling, but the Tolkien verse and prose won out and whilst not 5 stars, I do think it scrapes (nay, merits) 4 stars.

I shall write more on the morrow when the sun shineth on our fair land

Ok, so after a stupidly long day of work, I feel that i ought to write the rest of my review before I loose the thread.

I was going to say I'm a real Tolkien freak, but that's not really true, I suppose I'm a Lord of the Rings
fan, as in I've read it 16 times in the past 41 years, the Hobbit slightly less times, so this was a new departure for me to read about "new people" in the Tolkien world.

That said i really enjoyed it, with the following caveat (s)
a) It wasn't LotR, which I know like an old friend (maybe this could become an old friend ?? ) and
b) its a shame it’s not one long story instead of one single story repeated in poetry and prose from different times. I like the idea that the story evolved and JRR was creating a whole history, but one long story would’ve been nicer.
Nevertheless it was interesting and after a shaky start where I struggled with all the names, I started getting seriously into it. I need to read more about Middle Earth.
Profile Image for leynes.
1,115 reviews3,029 followers
October 4, 2022
I loved this a lot. The story of Beren and Lúthien is one of my favorites from the First Age. It's a beautiful – dare I say romantic? – tragedy with lots of ups and downs. And man, the way Christopher Tolkien edited this from the manuscripts of his father was amazing. I LOVE that he included The Lay of Leithian in this collection – the verse version of this tale – since Tolkien's verse is unmatched.
And o’er the host of hell there shone
with a cold radiance, clear and wan,
the Silmarils, the gems of fate,
emprisoned in the crown of hate.
The Lay of Leithian is definitely my favorite version of this tale and it makes me wish that Tolkien had written the entirety of The Silmarillion in verse. Can you imagine how epic (in every sense of the word) that would've been?

The story of Beren and Lúthien is a beautiful one, which is why I'll share it with those who are not familiar with it:

Lúthien, often called 'Lúthien Tinuviel', as Beren called her (Nightingale, daughter of twilight in Sindarin), fairest of the elven maids of Beleriand, lived in the First Age of the Sun before the War of Wrath. Her story and fate is tied inevitably to Beren son of Barahir, Edain (human) lord of Dorthonian, whom she fell in love with when he wandered into Doriath. Lúthien Tinuviel was daughter of the great King Thingol of Doriath, greatest of the Teleri elves, who would not give his daughter freely, especially to a mortal man.

So, Upon Thingol's discovery of Beren's presence in his land, he sent for him and, having sworn not to harm the man, set before him a quest to recover a Silmaril from Morgoth's iron crown. Upon the successful completion of this quest, Beren would be aloud to marry Lúthien, as was their want. So, Beren set out upon his quest while Lúthien, imprisoned by Melian the Maian queen of Doriath to stop her from following Beren into hell, devised a means of escape from her prison in order to follow her love. Beren travelled to Nargothrond and there gained the help of King Felagund while gaining strong enemies in the Sons of Fëanor.

Beren and the party left Nargothrond and travelled north disguised as orcs until they came to Wizard's Isle and were imprisoned by Thû, Lord of Wolves. Lúthien flees Doriath to help Beren and, with the help of Haun, great hound of the Valar, destroy Wizard's Isle and free Beren (Felagund and his companions had died in captivity at the hands of Thû's wolves).
The Isle in Sirion they left behind;
but there on hill-top might one find
a green grave, and a stone set,
and there there lie the white bones yet
of Felagund, of Finrod’s son –
unless that land is changed and gone,
or foundered in unfathomed seas,
while Felagund laughs beneath the trees
in Valinor, and comes no more
to this grey world of tears and war.
Beren and Lúthien wander until they approach Doriath and Beren steals away from Lúthien while she sleeps and goes to Angband to fulfill his quest. Before approaching Thangorodrim Lúthien and Huan once again find him and, with the help of Lúthien's elvish magic, they approach Angband in the guise of a werewolf and bat. They enter Angband and steal a Silmaril from Morgoth's crown while he is enchanted by Lúthien. Beren loses the stone, however, when the great wolf Carcharas, the great wolf, bites off the hand of Beren that holds the Silmaril. It is regained, however, in Doriath, when Carcharas is killed and Beren in the end fulfills his quest to Thingol.

When Beren dies (in the different versions there are different reasons for why he dies), his spirit lingered in the Halls of Mandos, awaiting Lúthien upon the dim shores of the Outer Sea, where they could say their final farewell. The spirit of Lúthien fled her body, and found its way to the Halls of Mandos. Kneeling before the Vala, she sang to him a song so beautifully sorrowful that Mandos was moved to pity. But it was not within his power to alter the fates of the Children of Ilúvatar, and so he called on Manwë, who sought guidance from Ilúvatar.

Two choices were put before Lúthien. On account of her extraordinary labours and grief in life, she was permitted to remain in Valinor, forgetting all pains she had known. But there Beren, being mortal, could not follow. The second choice was that she might return with Beren to dwell in Middle-earth, as a mortal, with no guarantee of joy in life. There, both would be subject to a second death. This second option she chose, forsaking the Undying Lands, for a mortal life with Beren. So it came to pass that long ago, Lúthien Tinúviel and Beren Erchamion at last left the confines of the world, together.

I love the story of Beren and Lúthien because it has everything: drama, action, romance, death. It's a captivating story, it tears at your heartstrings, it makes you gasp when Beren's hand is bit off, it makes you feel Lúthien's pain when he dies, it makes you marvel at the impossible decision that she has to make by the end of it. And of course, it is very reminiscent of the story of Aragorn and Arwen – who are arguably my favorite couple in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

Just like the story of Beren and Lúthien, theirs is also the story of a mortal man falling in love with an immortal elf-maiden. Both stories show the obstacles that must be overcome in order to fully accept this seemingly possible union and how love prevails in the end. Just like Lúthien, Arwen was willing to sacrifice her immortality so that she could spend her days with the love of her life. It didn't make sense to her to live forever if it had to be without him.

And yes, that's corny and sappy. And yes, I hate that the women have to give up/ sacrifice their power in order to be with their men. But fuck it, I love it. It makes me FEEL things, okay? But the ending – Lúthien (and Arwen) having to give up her elvishness – is why I will always call this tale a great tragedy. You cannot have it all. (And that might even be a good thing.)
Profile Image for Alexandra Elend Wolf.
615 reviews269 followers
February 22, 2019
3.5 stars

"Three jewels he made, and names the Silmarils. A living fire burning within them that was blended of the light of the Two Trees."

Beren and Lúthien is more than I was expecting. A tale of love that transcends the limits and normative established. A tale where neither part is more or less but where both save each other.

I was really surprised about where this story was going to take me, and I'm really glad about that. I enjoyed discovering their story and hearing their trials. It was nice.

I wasn't expecting it to be told in the way it was though. I swear, the only thing my brain kept thinking while reading was "This is a documentary, isn't it?"

"No moon is there, no
Voice, no sound
Of beating heart; a sigh
Once in each age as each
Age dies
Alone is heard. Far, far it
The Land of Waiting
Where the Dead sit,
In their thought’s shadow,
By no moon lit."

Instead of just telling us a progressive story, with a definite beginning and end, we are provided with a follow up in how the final story came to be. Passing through all the previous states.

I found this incredibly interesting. We saw the beginning stages, a tale with a lot of potential but a bit laughable and ridiculous, to a more mature stage where things are starting to make sense, to the final product, a mature and epic tale of love and woe.

It was incredible to be able to see a bit of all the genius that takes to create this world and make it actually make sense in the context.

Of course, I was a bit disoriented at the beginning with all the interventions of our narrator -the fact that gave the book such a documentary feel- where we were explained from what book was taken each part and dates and such things, as well as interesting or fun little facts. It was ok once you get used to it, but at first, it was just disorienting.

"No wizardry, nor spell,
Nor dart,
No fang, nor venom,
Nor devil’s art
Could harm that hound
That hart and boar
Had hunted once in

I found that my favorite part was the poetry. This lush, lyrical, rhythmical kind of poetry is exactly what I been looking for so long. It was delightful to read and I could feel the story washing through me like that.

I flew through those parts, it doesn't matter if they did have some oldish English, it was just impossible to take too long on them.

That's another thing, the writing style. Some words were old, the ever beautiful yet disorienting thy, thee, thou (as well as other old-English words) made an apparition, and even though it's not quite so difficult to understand them it still took me a few seconds from time-to-time to figure it out.

Yet, I think that adds a richness and fullness to the story. It gives it character.

"Then men woke and listened and marveled, for great wisdom was in that song, as well as beauty, and the heart grew wiser that listened to it."

As a novice in Tolkien books, I was also really confuse at the beginning. What with the appearance of Melkor and the variation/evolution of names through the tale, as well as who, exactly, were some people. But I made it out alive.

Having read this before reading The Lord of the Rings I think will help me understand the world much better, and give me perspective in somethings.

It's not exactly that I don't know anything about the world, just that, well, I've only ever watched the movies, and we all know how well that usually goes.

I loved the characters, ok, I mostly loved the characters. Lúthien/Tinúviel's father made me mad, such a prejudiced man. Yes, ok, ok, he may have reasons to be like that, but still, I can't stand people like that. Ugh.

But the rest? I think they were beautiful. Especially Lúthien/Tinúviel.

"That foul should be what
Once was clean,
That dark should be where
Light has been?
Whom do ye serve, Light
Or Mirk?"

I regret not having read these books sooner, not like I even knew this particular one even existed before, but, still, I would have loved to read it before.

Actually, no, scratch that, I don't think I would have appreciated it correctly before. Nope, I wouldn't have.

Maybe I did read it at the right time.

Four days is way longer than what I wanted to take reading this book, honestly, four days felt like an eternity and like not enough time at the same time.

The book was beyond different from what I thought I was gonna find.

But, it's late right now and I really should get to bed, so, more on it tomorrow.

This is my first step towards completing my challenge of reading Tolkiens works -specifically The Lord of the Rings - and I'm pretty excited about it!

I love the movies, I do, I've watched them a couple times and loved them more every time, so, of course, I had to read the books.

I know nothing about the plot of this one, I'm going completely blind, but I so hope I'll love it.

Here's for an epic read!
September 6, 2018
I consider myself a huge Tolkien fan, and,the world we all know as Middle Earth, you could say, it is my second home. If one wished to go a step further, you could also day, that The Lord of the rings changed my life, in a profound way.
When I think of Tolkien, or he gets a mention somewhere, I immediately think "Gandalf" He is my favourite character from Middle Earth, and really, that mighty staff he carries says it all.

I was most excited to get my hands on this little beauty of a book, and I'm glad I did, but in some ways, I'm not. Firstly, I took the presumption that we'd be getting a book in the structure of a story, but alas, this was not the case. Instead, whilst getting engaged into the story, there were constant interruptions and comparisons if you like, from Christopher Tolkien. This may not bother some people, but it became rather irritating.
Tolkiens world is wonderfully vast, with many names floating around, and this book added so many more to that collection. So much so, at times, I found I needed to read over passages a couple of times, in order for me to digest the new names I'd just been introduced to.

I enjoyed the poetry format, but, I really would have appreciated and loved this book more, if it was a fine flowing story. I must say though, the illustrations by Alan Lee in this book are beautiful. They are really quite Tolkienish.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
May 1, 2022
In the original draft version of the Tale of Beren and Lúthien, I learn here that Melian the Maia was called "Gwendeling". I blush to admit it, but this irresistibly reminded me of a certain song. With the help of some well-disposed muses (they know who they are), I was inspired to compose the following, which I hope is equally respectful to both of the beloved cultural icons in question:

Celebrity Death Match Special: J.R.R. and Christopher Tolkien versus Chuck Berry

When I was a little bitty elf
I tried to write a poem all by myself.
I needed more rhymes, my muses had the thing
So now here's our piece about Queen Gwendeling!


Queen Gwendeling, Queen Gwendeling
Lúthien's mom was Queen Gwendeling.
Queen Gwendeling, Queen Gwendeling
In the first draft, she was Queen Gwendeling!

Lúthien was immortal and hot.
When Beren saw her he liked her a lot.
He said "Who's the babe? And wow, can she sing!
Perhaps she's the daughter of Queen Gwendeling!"


In the first draft, Beren was a gnome.
A big disadvantage when Lú took him home.
He made no impression on Thingol, the King
And it didn't go better with Queen Gwendeling.


Thingol said, "Girl, your boyfriend's a dill
But I could change my mind for a real silmaril...
If you want my approval, that's what you should bring
It sure would look good on Queen Gwendeling!"


Beren said "Right! To Angband I go!
I'll pick up the goods for you and ya ho!"
Thingol said, "Great! Just get me the bling!
But that's no way to talk to Queen Gwendeling!"


Now even though Melkor was nasty and mean
He fell for Lú's foxy pole dance routine.
If maybe you think she was packing a ring
The Second Age was after Queen Gwendeling!


Melkor watched Lú and her twinkling toes
But suddenly found that he needed to doze.
He yawned with a hand on his dark ding-a-ling:
"The chick's... even hotter... than Queen Gwendeling!"


Melkor's lieutenant was a cat named Tevildo

The rest of this review has been suppressed following reports that Conservative MPs have been browsing it on their smartphones in the House of Commons. No points awarded.

But seriously...

My conscience is giving me a hard time over this, and I want to offer some kind of defence. The interesting thing about the first draft of Beren and Lúthien is how it shows that Tolkien's apparently miraculous power to create names wasn't miraculous at all, it was painstakingly learned. "Gwendeling" is a terrible name, and he must also have realised this when he changed it to "Melian". "Tevildo" is even worse, and I do wonder when Tolkien noticed that it only rhymes with one word in the English language, a word that's been around since at least the sixteenth century (check out this poem if you don't believe me). "Tevildo" later became "Thû, the necromancer", already a vast improvement, and ended up as the fantastic name "Sauron", which deservedly has become a synonym for evil.

But even if there were some choices which he later regretted, Tolkien certainly made some very good decisions even this far back. Lúthien was always called "Lúthien", and it is indeed a wonderful name. But he wasn't content with just getting some of it right, he wanted to keep on improving things, and he did the necessary work. Really, I admire him more after reading this unsatisfactory preliminary sketch.
Profile Image for Markus.
476 reviews1,562 followers
January 2, 2019
"Then Beren took to following Tinúviel secretly through the woods even to the entrance of the cave and the bridge’s head, and when she was gone in he would cry across the stream, softly saying ‘Tinúviel’, for he had caught the name from Dairon’s lips; and although he knew it not Tinúviel often hearkened from within the shadows of the cavernous doors and laughed softly or smiled. At length one day as she danced alone he stepped out more boldly and said to her: ‘Tinúviel, teach me to dance.’ ‘Who art thou?’ said she. ‘Beren. I am from across the Bitter Hills.’ ‘Then if thou wouldst dance, follow me,’ said the maiden, and she danced before Beren away, and away into the woods, nimbly and yet not so fast that he could not follow, and ever and anon she would look back and laugh at him stumbling after, saying ‘Dance, Beren, dance! as they dance beyond the Bitter Hills!’ In this way they came by winding paths to the abode of Tinwelint, and Tinúviel beckoned Beren beyond the stream, and he followed her wondering down into the cave and the deep halls of her home."

An excellent Christmas read in the mountains - the greatest love story ever written.

One of the first things I did when I moved to England again was journey to Wolvercote Cemetery outside Oxford and visit the graves of J. R. R. and Edith Tolkien, the names inscribed with “Beren” and “Lúthien” beneath them. It was something of a pilgrimage, going to the great man’s final resting place and witnessing his personal connection to the story of Beren and Lúthien for myself.

In this new version of the tale, Christopher Tolkien has collected and edited the surviving material about the couple and turned it into a detailed, comprehensive account of the story. Older and newer versions are set side by side, showcasing the development of the tale over time, combined with the beautiful poems from the Lay of Leithian, written in the pseudo-Medieval style which only Tolkien could master.

And the book does read very much like a collection of ancient legends, gathered and pierced together from the remaining pieces of evidence. It is not a book to read from back to back, but rather something to enjoy slowly, step by step.

In the end, I ended up loving every single one of those steps. It truly is a spectacularly beautiful story of undying love, a legendary romance from our own time.

Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,100 followers
February 21, 2019
Okay, so, this book requires a HUGE caveat.

It's uneven as hell, it's not a full tale, and it is comprised of many unfinished snippets in various states of revision. You can see thirty odd years worth of fascination with the same tale of Beren and Luthien from very early and oddly simplistic Nordic-type style befitting Tolkien's regular scholarship all the way to several nearly full-developed Lays, poems in epic style, of the two characters, of Sauron who was named Thu, and Melkor, the original God of Evil that corrupted all that his siblings, the Illuvatar, made.

So we start with humble beginnings, telling the basic same tale over and over, of Beren's capture and Luthien's great courage, infiltrating Melkor's stronghold, tricking and magicking him until she could steal back the Simaril from his crown and saving her love.

When this is good, it's freaking awesome. When it isn't, it's just barely okay. :)

There's also a number of extra bits and pieces regarding Beren and Luthien's offspring, the half-elves who have a choice to remain Elf or fall into the fate of Mortal Man. I liked them, but they were all mere snippets.

One thing is certain, however. I feel very scholarly after reading this. It's not really designed for anyone's pure pleasure. As a writer, I loved to see the evolution of Tolkien's writing and style and dramatic choices as he revised and revised this prose and poetry into the forms we later see in the Silmarillion and in LoTR.

But without a much more vast underpinning or various re-reads of all the pertinent novels and histories, I'm afraid that most people may not really enjoy this for what it is.

For me, however, I LOVED the story of Beren and Luthien in the Silmarillion and immediately shined on how they were the prototypes and even MORE EPIC prototype for Aragorn and Arwen. I really looked forward to reading this. I just wish it had been finished and polished. ; ;
Profile Image for Trish.
2,017 reviews3,436 followers
February 21, 2019
Every year, it seems, I set out for at least one bookish quest. This year it turns out to be Tolkien's works (or some of them) about Middle-Earth.
My group buddy-read this one this month so I joined. The problem, however, is that while I did read The Lord Of The Rings and even The Hobbit, it was in my early teens, many moons ago, and a translation besides, so I barely remember. What I remember most are the movies (don't get me started on the Hobbit disaster). Thus, I was unprepared for all the name dropping here and it got quite overwhelming.

Trying to find Wikipedia articles or explanations from my fellow buddy-reader(s) was cumbersome and therefore prevented me from fully enjoying this book. Which is why I decided I might come back to it after reading LOTR and Hobbit and The Silmarillion.

Nevertheless, what I can say is that the beauty of Tolkien's poetry struck me and struck me hard. He never did finish all of them but what we have is utterly beautiful, skillfully crafted, and lovingly collected by his son in this and a number of other companion books.
I had fallen in love with Tolkien's rhymes when the first was uttered in one of the movies but to see it on the page, in full length (as far as the author got before he died), is a different experience alltogether.

Moreover, we get treated to some very nice illustrations, some of which are "just" pencil drawings

while others are full-colour

Hauntingly beautiful, just like the text.

One can also see the evolution of Tolkien's work. The titular Beren & Lúthien are not only ancestors to Aragorn and Arwen but basically are the same characters, just differently packaged. Pappa Elrond has nobody to blame but his own lineage. *lol* So yes, many of the stories seem repetitive - which isn't too big a deal since, if you look at history, there ARE a lot of those in real life as well. Nevertheless, it is something that caught my eye and that made me wonder if we really need EVERYTHING the author ever scribbled onto a page.

Yes, this is quite a "low" rating but despite the immensity of the universe created by Tolkien as well as his craftmanship when it came to languages, I have to take my enjoyment into account and I wanted to DNF several times. As I mentioned above, it's me because I read this too soon and I therefore might increase my rating one day after I've read all the other books and have a better grasp of all the ages and creatures in them. Until then, 3 Silmarils stars.
Profile Image for Evripidis Gousiaris.
229 reviews100 followers
June 17, 2017
Ο κόσμος του Tolkien έχει ξεχωριστή θέση στην καρδία μου (και στην βιβλιοθήκη μου). Είναι το παράθυρο διαφυγής μου. Οπότε όταν ανακοινώθηκε πέρυσι τον Οκτώβριο το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο ανυπομονούσα για την στιγμή που θα έφτανε στα χέρια μου.

Η Ιστορία είναι η γνωστή ιστορία του Beren και της Luthien όπου αναπτύσσεται και στο Silmarillion. Η διαφορά είναι ότι η συγκεκριμένη έκδοση περιλαμβάνει όλες της μορφές της ιστορίας, από την σύλληψη της ιδέας μέχρι την "τελική" της μορφή. Ο Tolkien ξανάγραψε την ιστορία πολλές φορές με αρκετές διαφορές ως προς την πλοκή αλλά και ως προς την δομή. Δύο μάλιστα εκδοχές είναι σε μορφή ποιήματος όπου φανερώνουν το μεγαλείο και την ομορφιά της πένας του καθηγητή.

Δεν γίνεται βέβαια να μην αναφέρω και να μην επαινέσω τον Christopher Tolkien, όπου επιμελήθηκε την συγκεκριμένη έκδοση και για άλλη μια φορά παρείχε τις κατάλληλες πληροφορίες και σχόλια. Η αγάπη για το έργο του πατέρα του είναι εμφανέστατη στις σελίδες του βιβλίου. Επίσης δεν γίνεται να μην αναφέρω και να μην σχολιάσω την εκπληκτική εικονογράφηση του Alan Lee. Τα σχέδια του μοιάζουν ότι προέρχονται όντως από την Μέση-Γη.

Εν ολίγοις το βιβλίο δεν έχει την συνηθισμέν�� δομή βιβλίου. Πρόκειται για μια συλλογή διαφορετικών εκδοχών και αποσπασμάτων της ίδιας ιστορίας. Για αυτό θα έλεγα ότι απευθύνεται κυρίως σε άτομα όπου είναι γνωστά με το έργο του Tolkien και έχουν διαβάσει το Silmarillion. Δηλαδή στους φανς που θέλουν το κάτι παραπάνω :)

Bonus φωτογραφία της γωνιάς του Tolkien αυτήν την στιγμή!

Profile Image for Celia&#x1fa90;.
552 reviews1 follower
December 19, 2022
Hace solo unos días tuve la oportunidad de realizar una lectura que se ha convertido (de momento) en mi favorita del año, y que fue tan bonita como fascinante, y no solo por si misma. Leer “El Silmarillion” me ha permitido conectar de nuevo con la obra de Tolkien y con la Tierra Media, con un mundo que me ha acompañado durante la inmensa mayoría de mi vida lectora, pero al que tenia relegado desde hacia unos años. Es por eso que ahora casi las únicas ganas que tengo es de seguir leyendo el resto de libros que el autor escribió sobre el prolífico y detallado mundo que concibió, a parte de su celebre saga de “El Señor de los Anillos” y “El Hobbit”. Desde prácticamente el primer minuto, “Beren y Lúthien” tuvo todas las papeletas para ser mi siguiente lectura al respecto. La historia de amor entre el humano y la princesa elfa fue, sin duda alguna, mi relato favorito dentro de “El Silmarillion” (sin quitarles méritos al resto de historias, por supuesto), el que más me impacto y el que más disfruté leyendo.

El presente volumen es una recopilación de textos que muestran como el cuento fue moldeandose y evolucionando por parte de Tolkien a lo largo de los años. Ha sido editado por Christopher, el hijo de Tolkien, quien acompaña los escritos de su padre con unas notas tremendamente ilustrativas a la hora de entender la intra historia de este cuento y su evolución, siendo la parte más teórica de la lectura.

Reconozco que quizás no sea un ensayo para todo el mundo, es más que posible solo sea apto para gente que ya este familiarizada con la obra de Tolkien y sean muy fan de la misma. Desde luego, bajo ningún concepto animaría a nadie a iniciarse con este autor y su mundo con este libro para nada. Pero si eres fan acérrimo del escritor y su obra, adelante. Hay muchas posibilidades de que disfrutes de este libro. Sobre todo porque, hay algo que, a mi juicio, lo más significativo de esta lectura: ver no solo como evoluciona la historia de Beren y Luthien, también permite intuir cómo fue evolucionando todo el legendarium por el que Tolkien ha pasado tan merecidamente a la historia de la literatura y de la ciencia ficción. Tolkien escribió los diferentes fragmentos que son el motor de este volumen en periodos de su vida muy separados cronológicamente. Y esto se nota en cómo va modificándose la historia y en qué elementos van transformándose dentro de la misma, también en cómo va evolucionando el estilo del autor a medida que pasan los años. Respecto a lo primero, resulta muy interesante ver como los conceptos que Tolkien manejó y el transfondo de las razas que protagonizan su historia va transformándose con el tiempo. Personalmente, considero muy acertado que dejarse a un lado la relación de los con las hadas o los gnomos según la cultura popular anglosajona. Creo que esto fue muy inteligente por su parte, le permitió enfocar sus esfuerzos en crear una raza (la de los elfos) original y única, con su propia historia, composición y forma de ser; manejándola con gran originalidad para convertirla en una de las señas de identidad de su mundo. De esta forma, no creó una raza que imitase lo que ya existía, sino que lo que él creó se convirtió en algo que ha sido imitado posteriormente. También creo que es muy interesante ver como la propia historia de Beren y Lúthien fue modificándose con el paso de los años, la manera en que su creador fue cambiando a sus personajes según lo que consideraba más acertado, hasta llegar a la leyenda que todos conocemos e integrarla con elementos del legendarium de la Tierra Media, como si de un puzzle se tratara.

En su momento, en la reseña del Silmarillion hablaba de la historia de Beren y Lúthien de esta forma: “No en pocas ocasiones había leído que era una de las más hermosas historias de amor que nos había legado en la literatura. Y ahora entiendo porque. Los hermanos Grimm cuentan el mito de Orfeo, protagonizado por una pareja de amantes prohibidos que se ponen el mundo por montera y desafían hasta la misma muerte por estar juntos.” No se trata solo de un cuento que hable solo sobre la ancestral lucha entre el bien y el mal, o la fuerza del amor. Tiene algo especial, una fuerza propia. Y creo que eso bebe de que esta inspirado en la propia relación entre Tolkien y su esposa, Edith. La pareja se conoció y se enamoro siendo adolescentes en un orfanato. Fueron obligados durante años a estar sin contacto por el tutor de Tolkien. Este, al poco de volver a contactar con ella, tuvo que marchar al frente en que se convirtio Francia en la Primera Guerra Mundial, a la batalla del Somme. El primer borrador que tenemos de “Beren y Lúthien” fue escrito un año después de sobrevivir a la guerra, la cual le generó un fuerte estrés postraumático que marcaría su vida y su obra. Todos estos impedimentos se reflejan en como el padre de Lúthien, el rey elfo Thingol, se opone a la relación, obligando a Beren a partir en pos de un Silmaril, una de las gemas en robo Morgoth, el Enemigo Oscuro, el gran antagonista de la primera y la segunda era y maestro de Sauron. 

Al menos, después todo esto, Tolkien pudo tener una larga y feliz vida junto a Edith. De hecho, el autor solo sobrevivió a su esposa apenas un año. En las tumbas del matrimonio, bajo sus nombres y la fecha de su nacimiento y defunción, aparecen los nombres de los amantes protagonistas del cuento. Siempre me ha parecido un guiño de lo más entrañable que si ya me pareció encantador antes de leer este romance en “El Silmarilion”, ahora me lo parece infinitamente más. Para mí el único pero que le puedo poner a esta obra es que creo que no se incide tanto en este detalle humano como en la forma en que esta relación fue fundamental para Tolkien a la hora de inspirarle para este relato. Christopher solo habla del matrimonio de sus padres muy al principio del ensayo, y creo que todos sus comentarios al texto podían haberse enriquecido más con más detalles de la pareja y a los episodios en común que inspiraron a su padre a la hora de componer esta historia.

Y, una vez más, solo puedo poner el enfásis en la forma de narrar y de escribir de Tolkien. Creo que su importancia en la historia de la literatura no solo bebe en sus enormes facultades como filólogo, escritor, filósofo y creador de mundos. También de lo hermosamente narrado que estaba todo lo que salía de su pluma. Tanto en verso como en prosa hay algo poético, lejano y melancólico en su forma de escribir. Sus frases son de una belleza brillante pero sutil, llenas de fuerza y encanto. Sus palabras transportan totalmente al lector dentro de la historia y los avatares que deben superar la pareja protagonista, creando personajes que beben de la fantasía, si, pero cuyas personalidades, para bien o para mal, están enraizadas en lo más hondo de lo que conlleva la humanidad. Contrasta con el tono más enciclopédico y árido de su hijo, que está más pendiente de lo técnico de la narrativa que de lo meramente literario. Uno de los aspectos que más he disfrutado de esta lectura es ver como el estilo y la prosa de Tolkien fueron evolucionando con el paso de los años, algo que se ve muy bien en esta ocasión, puesto que los textos que aparecen en el tomo fueron compuestos con mucha distancia temporal unos de otros.

Y, por supuesto, mención especial a las ilustraciones de Alan Lee, y a lo estupendamente que sabe captar el espíritu de la Tierra Media. Este libro no es la excepción. Se trata de nueve dibujos a color en el centro del libro, acompañados de varias ilustraciones a lápiz que jalonan el texto, especialmente el principio y el final de los epígrafes. Son ilustraciones que evocan nostalgia medieval y de una belleza serena pero impactante, llenas de sensibilidad y que casan perfectamente con el texto. Sigo desde hace muchos años los trabajos de Lee, y una vez más no me ha defraudado.

Una joven bailando en medio de un campo de cicutas en Inglaterra. Así empezó una de las historias de amor más hermosas de toda la literatura. Una historia que se convirtió en uno de los centros emocionales y narrativos de uno de los compendios de mitos e historias más importantes de la fantasía. “Beren y Lúthien” no es solo un relato de amor, también es una historia en la que aventura, mitología y amistad se aúnan. El viaje de Christopher Tolkien nos propone muestra como fue evolucionando esta historia a lo largo de los años, y meternos dentro de un relato que su propio padre considero como el más importante dentro del “Silmarillion”. Desde luego, para mi es el más hermoso de todos los que escribió el genial autor, y la forma en que se convirtió en una crónica de su propia historia de amor con su esposa solo lo hace más entrañable y emotivo. Y a esto hay que añadir la importancia que tuvo para el resto del cómputo de cuentos que tienen lugar dentro de La Tierra Media, en el sentido de que los actos de Beren y Lúthien fueron esenciales para las generaciones venideras.
Profile Image for Fonch.
387 reviews298 followers
July 2, 2019
dedicated to the Spanish society of Tolkien.
Ladies and gentlemen if the heat will allow me I will start to write my review of this book by J.R.R. Tolkien said the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck which had two things, that it was better not to know how sausages and laws were made. Not so with this book. Before you begin this criticism should go back to the recesses of my past, because as I said a great master of communication that God be glory "remember is to relive". I remember, how in my youth about eleven or twelve J.R.R. Tolkien would have entered in my life. I have a group of friends, and we formed a group of role. I do not enter me in my first wave, rather they looked like they needed reinforcements. First thing, I was told, when they proposed it to me was that it was not a video game (in that time I was obsessed with them). It was not what was expected, but I ended up liking it, and despite the criticisms that had I never disowned role-playing games, although I do not play. It happened rogue, but I think there are no coincidences. The role-playing game in question was the role of the "Lord of the rings" game https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... & from_search = true After that they will kill my character in the second game (a noldor Elf Mage) I had to make another character, and that chance was a Hobbit, and for informing me and on the recommendation of a friend which call Kunniotani I began to read "The Hobbit" , as a writer, I think, was C.S. Lewis in "Surprised by Joy" https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... did not know where I got. I could not fit in better hands. Tolkien was not only a great writer, but a great person, and someone of impeccable morality. In addition we were agreed on many things. J.R.R. Tolkien would be the first of the great writers, I knew, would come after Michael Ende https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... (that has always been strongly influenced by the Inklings. The group that belonged to J.R.R. Tolkien, and their friends, even though it was created by the brother of the British director David Lean). There began my love affair, when I was older I started to investigate further, close to Tolkien, and increasingly liked me more. Raised by a priest at the oratory, (my father who is very Anglophile on their ways taught me from a young age to feel a predilection for Catholic writers, the first being J.R.R. Tolkien to the met). After the Hobbit, I continued with "The Lord of the rings", and then "The Silmarillion", which I liked, but as I read it very young I don't appreciated it in what was worth. I guess, that despite being lower quality, I've always felt more comfortable with a model of epic fantasy closer to realms, forgotten, or Dragonlance https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... https://www.goodreads.com/series/4175... but here we would have also found with the elongated shadow of the writer Anglo-South African, because one of the authors, who most influenced Gary Gygax https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... was J.R.R. Tolkien, and also in the SAGA writers whose award was called Gandalf https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sword... of which they are members the biographer of J.R.R. Tolkien Lin Carter L. Sprague de Camp https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... Fritz Leiber https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... John Jakes https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... Lin Carter https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... or Poul Anderson https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... André Norton https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... Jack Vance https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... Tanith Lee https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... or Roger Zelazny https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... say one. Yet I believe that all of them J.R.R. Tolkien is the best of all of them. He has accused not to be the first, but the thing is not who writes fantasy first, although it is very commendable, but who is the best , and who leave one greater legacy. This second is to respond, which without a doubt J.R.R. Tolkien. Some can be reproached to the Ballad of "Beren and Luthien", which is already all said, with the times, appearing in "The Lord of the rings", "The Silmarillion" https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7... or "the tales lost' (it's embarrassing to say so, but I have not read them). That's why, to me this book edited by Christopher Tolkien, because it has helped me to see how it has evolved, which for me is the story of the most beautiful of the "Silmarillion", as Peter Falk in "The Princess Bride" was delighted "sports, torture, revenge, love true". This novel has all the elements required by the performer who played the grandfather of the child star of "The Princess Bride" https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... In reality the own William Goldman https://www.goodreads.com/author/show..., but interpreted it Fred Savage aka the child protagonist of the mythical series of those wonderful years. In his book de Hommage coordinated by the great Joseph Pearce "Lord Tolkien's Middle Earth" https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... said that "The Silmarillion", had him a little disappointed, because it was not original was inspired by the Finnish "Kalevala" (especially the Kullervo myth gave rise to Turin Turambar). The story of Beren and Lúthien was inspired by the legend of the "Mabinogion" It was the source of inspiration for Lloyd Alexander. I guess, that will sound to the people more by the movie of Disney Taran and the magic cauldron https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bla.... "The reason why I did not want to read"The lost tales" https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... was because as I read"The Silmarillion"it was because I didn't read the stories again and again, but after reading" The Ballad of Beren and Luthien"I have repented of my mistake greatly. The wonder of this book consists of that, just to see how it changed history. The story of "The lost tales" that a group of Elves has Eriol or Aelfwine is a marvel. Perhaps closest to the Grimm, or German, or near Ruskin, or George MacDonald romance https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6... https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... . This first version of the story that I was surprised is that Beren initially which makes is to use cunning to gain a position in the Court of Melko (the final Beren do not think, that it would have done so. Both Beren and Lúthien used a lying than the casuistas informal, called to survive). Another thing that surprised me is that Beren was not a man, but an Elf. That Thingon shut up her daughter and the emergence of a brother of the singer, the powerful magic of Luthien, when I think that a my cousin scoffed at Gandalf, because there was no magic. Here to see it, and in industrial quantities. To me I loved Lúthien, and I see leaves in the wrong place to feminists, attacking J.R.R. Tolkien for not having female characters. Recently I read a very good book by writer Silvia Pato "Brief history of fantasy" https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4... there were three elements in them that was not in accordance with the author. His defense of the war of sexes, and practically the obligation by the writers of fantasy of fighting women, the issue of the persecution of the Catholic Church to fantasy, and third point the black legend against JRR Tolkien (here in this criticism will only reply to the third point, when criticism of "Brief history of fantasy" type will reply the other two, and will offer a list of writers of fantasy valid for Catholic and Christian readers, but that can be enjoyed by all.) Is not the first that makes it part of Edwin Muir https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... one of the most repulsive attacks that occurred against JRR Tolkien was drafted by the Communist editor Edmund Wilson in his book "Who cares, who killed Roger Ackroyd?" https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... in the book "Intellectuals" Paul Johnson https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5... you will find more information about Edmund Wilson (criticism of Wilson attacked the fantastic literature, police for not being sufficiently committed). Other attacks on J.R.R. Tolkien comes from the fantasy writer and feminist Marion Bradley Zimmer, wing that seems not enough the presence of Éowyn, and branded to J.R.R. Tolkien's macho man by female characters, creating. It seems to me that the Mrs Bradley-Zimmer didn't read much the Bible, if you had read it would have advised you the parable of Matthew before removing straw from the foreign eye, get yours beam. I don't like to use this argument, but it must be done. Marion Bradley-Zimmer who was a supporter of feminism and the ideology of gender, and treatment promote it in their novels according to testimonies of his daughter would have abused their own children. Here is the testimony of his daughter https://www.religionenlibertad.com/cu... https://askthebigot.com/2015/07/23/th... If anyone would like more information on this topic here has the book where his daughter Moira Greyland has his terrible https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... , by what we can eliminate Bradley-Zimmer from the list of detractors of J.R.R. Tolkien. Of all fiormas although the debate Bradley-Zimmer originated it others such as Silvia Pato have continued it, although me cost very serious trouble I will say my opinion. Enough already, please use the fantasy genre to do social engineering as it is doing. I often have deplored the taste of people in literary themes, and have shown me relentless. However, on the rare occasions when I think, that readers have reason, as in this case it is not me rather than defend the taste of the public. As I have criticized, that we live in times of the mass of Marcuse man, and never has been more susceptible to pressure from lobbyists, and the force of the media, and of publishers. However, I believe that the free will of the individual must be respected, and do not wash her brain, as some are trying to. One of the things with which I am very much in disagreement are the fees. Which in my opinion makes big a story, is not to include a female heroine Xena style and a different from Caucasian white person, a person with a different from heterosexual sexual identity. What makes a book great is its literary quality, its argument, and in my case the morality of the book. I advocated for one thing, I quit to pursue people who not commune with the ideology described previously, and that people can write whatever he wants, and let be the people who decide if you want to read the book or not. I would also propose other wise advice, and is not to judge writers mostly of other times by the current parameters, which is what many critics and journalists make (and thus going), and judge them by their quality, taking into account the context in which wrote his works. Also, is there a profound error on the issue of alleged sexism of J.R.R. Tolkien. J.R.R. Tolkien Tolkien in contrast to other Catholic writers according to his biographer Humphrey Carpenter J.R.R. Tolkien in his youth would have defended women's suffrage. With all say that opposition from writers such as g. k. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... were due not to machismo, but that they foresaw what was going to happen, and was that the incorporation of women into the labour market would favour the proletarianization of the family, and having two workers family for the price of one. Not to mention that this would promote the competence of the sexes, and the destruction of the family. This would be the spearhead of the sexual revolution, which has become a cemetery of elephants to Europe, and has frozen the birth rate in the West. Hence the opposition of these two bright Catholic writers to feminism. On the subject of feminism, I recommend the article by Ana María Mariño Arias on Eowyn in the book inspired by the cycle of the San Pablo CEU dedicated to J.R.R. Tolkien entitled "J.R.R. Tolkien stories tree" https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... other the attacks of the Lady Duck to J.R.R. Tolkien is that Tolkien would not be the first writer of fantasy, nobody has said that, but it was certainly who triumphed, and who has done more for the fantasy genre. The writer suggests that you attention should be to other writers including Poul Anderson, and E.R. Eddison. We are agreed that if a writer deserves greater recognition that is Poul Anderson wrote very good novels of science fiction, and fantasy, and it hurts that it be postponed. Hence the reason I give to the Lady Duck, but is that Tolkien is best. First Poul Anderson was a great admirer of J.R.R. Tolkien, and participated in its tribute https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4... one thing if I agree to Poul Anderson Elves exist it is likely that they were more akin to the of "the broken sword" https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4... as Poul Anderson expects it to J.R.R. Tolkien, but not all the elves of the master being beneficial in this tale of Beren and Lúthien look disgusting behavior of Feanor, Curifinn, and Celigord, which seems to more the work of demons. We must not forget the brutal genocide of the Noldor to the Teleri, nor has this book Christopher Tolkien the death of Dior, and the fall of Sirion, being saved Elrond Maidros, or Maeglor, because it is already sick and tired of so much blood bath. If we compare "the broken sword" with the history of Turin Turambar we see that this is the same issue, and that Tolkien WINS Anderson. With respect to the saga of Hrolf Kraki than did Poul Anderson Anderson who is best Poul Anderson or J.R.R. Tolkien returned to translate the great Nordic sagas? We will Anderson is a wonderful writer. The only one, who can perhaps do you shade, but Tolkien is best. Yet I recommend "High Crusade" and "Three hearts three lions" https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... ah , and also the saga of "Time Patrol" https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... . With respect to E.R. Eddison https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... at that time was in the doldrums, and the Inklings offered him protection and shelter, so with the triumph of the Inklings, also improved the reception of Eddison. In the case of Eddison J.R.R. Tolkien really like the Robert Ervin Howard stories https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... but did not approve of his philosophy. Perhaps the most repulsive attack on Tolkien had envy of C.S. Lewis https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... because according to the author was writing faster than him. First, there were always friends. The methods were different Tolkien argued for the Mytopoeia and Lewis by allegory. . To be friends they agreed on issues. The cosmic trilogy the story of Tolkien that was never published is was better. "The great divorce" "Sheet of niggle" gave a thousand turns. "The Chronicles of Narnia" he not liked Tolkien in part by the fact that he preferred that Christianity was implicit, and Lewis was explicit. The only reasonable criticisms that have been made against the Chronicles of Narnia J.R.R. Tolkien has made them. Yet if J.R.R. Tolkien had wanted to write the Chronicles of Narnia these would continue as https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... as "Giles farmer's Ham". On the issue of Joy Gresham one You can be friends with a person, and not have to get along for the wedding, despite his conversion to Christianity his divorce and his Communist past harm to Tolkien as it could not be normal. With all I do not remember or one reproach of the heirs of Tolkien or Lewis the either of the two. Walter Hooper https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... biographer and Secretary of C.S. Lewis, only speaks wonders of J.R.R. Tolkien. The same Douglas Gresham and that tell of the Tolkien that they worshipped Lewis. Priscilla recognized the great help given by Tolkien. Let us remember that Tolkien was asked to write the preface to the "Lord of the rings", it did not participate in the tributes of C.S. Lewis. Now you are also made in life. His great friendship is the best tribute that could be given. If we want to defend Lewis of unjustified attacks, why not of Pullman the author of dark matter? Due to his atheism accused Lewis of sexist, racist, and sadistic emotional, but unless Michael Ward whose book 'Planet Narnia' https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... to very few have seen in this crusade, perhaps Alan Jacobs https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... to finish this issue (at the end of my review I'll leave some links to books on Tolkien) the Inklings would like to recommend some unpublished works in https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... Spain so grandiose is the literary group the Inklings, which has produced a large number of novels and books highlighting of T.M. Doran "Toward the gleam" https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... and David C. Downing's "Looking for the King ' https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8... https://www.ignatius.com/promotions/t... With respect to the saga of Beren and Luthien has impressed the evolution of Sauron as passes from the cat Tevildo, of Thu the necromancer, to be the Hitman of Morgoth. I can say of Finrod Felagund who was always one of my favorite characters. Christopher Tolkien tells the Elves site to Morgoth, that I had forgotten, and I remembered reading this book fascinated me. Talk of the war against the dwarves that is the closest to the Volsunga. But perhaps what I liked most is the story of Eärendil. Pity that Tolkien could not complete that part was in their plans, but couldn't. In summary, Beren and Lúthien is the proof that eternal love can do miracles, and only by that deserves the five stars. I say goodbye honoring the King of fantasy and asking for apologies to my followers for having devoted many efforts to defend Tolkien, but same as with Faramir Beregond this was necessary.
Profile Image for Kevin Futers.
Author 1 book9 followers
June 5, 2017
Part of me wanted to go five stars, another part of me wanted to go to one.

The disappointment is simple: with The Children of Hurin we were given a single narrative without break or comment. That is what I had assumed we had here. We don't.

Now I loved the different versions of the story, but it just felt like going over old ground. This has all been printed before, either as The Silmarillion, The Book of Lost Tales (in two volumes) or The History of Middle Earth (in three volumes).

I would have been happy with the Lay of Leithian overlaid with later passages whether in verse or in prose if they added to the story or brought it in line with his later thinking. I would have liked to see an editorial hand to update the Tinwelints, Gwendelings and Thu's to what later JRR Tolkien decided were the "right" names.

There are reasons that writers make revisions. If you are interested in what makes an author's mind work, this sort of thing is fine, but these have been done before with this work. Tolkien senior hated literary criticism (though he loved textual criticism when dealing with early medieval sources). I really felt that after all of the textual detail Christopher Tolkien has been presenting to us all of these years, he might have left us with a story rather than a text mine.

In the introduction he reminds us that he is ninety-two and it is unlikely that he will produce any more. On a personal note I salute him for his dedication and industry in bringing his father's literary writings to the world's attention and wish him well if it is nearly his time to claim the Gift of Illuvatar. If ill health is what stood in the way of the "attempt to extract one narrative element from a vast work of extraordinary richness and complexity" then I can only apologise for any harshness you may find in my words.
Profile Image for Tanabrus.
1,858 reviews165 followers
November 7, 2019
Che grande, bella sorpresa questo libro!
Ammetto che dopo averlo preso ero comunque molto dubbioso al riguardo, per questo ho aspettato così tanto per leggerlo.

E invece...

In questo libro si narra, certo, la leggenda di Beren e Lúthien. Ma essendo questa praticamente solo una piccola parte del Silmarillon, come poteva diventare un libro a sé stante?
Semplice: trasformandosi in un ibrido, in parte storia\leggenda\poesia, e in parte studio dell'opera di Tolkien nel passare degli annni.

Così seguiamo l'evoluzione di questa storia dai primi appunti scritti al riguardo dallo scrittore alle varie versioni di questa storia, tra cambi di nomi e di registri, di personaggi e di eventi.
Stupisce scoprire che originariamente c'era un Re dei Gatti, infernalmente modificato dai poteri di Morgoth, nei panni del carceriere di Beren.
E che col tempo si sia trasformato in un personaggio fondamentale nel libro più famoso dello scrittore, lo stesso Sauron che permea le pagine del Signore degli Anelli.

Le vicende degli elfi, legate agli eventi che nel Silmarillon li porteranno dall'ovest alla Terra di Mezzo. Il Silmaril, centro focale come sempre di ogni scontro.
Huan, il fedele e coraggioso re dei cani.

E sopra tutto e tutti, la storia di Beren e Lúthien, di Berene e Tinúviel.
Il fuorilegge umano, il più grande pericolo per Morgoth a quei tempi, la scintilla della ribellione e della resistenza nel suo regno.
E la principessa elfica, la creatura più leggiadra della Terra di Mezzo.

Beren che per ottenere la mano della principessa accetta la richiesta suicida di Thingol di portargli un Silmaril di Morgoth. E Lúthien che fugge da Doriath per salvare l'amato e che al suo fianco lotta contro le creature di Morgoth e contro lo stesso Vala, più potente e più decisiva di Beren stesso.

Spesso si leggono critiche per i personaggi femminili di Tolkien e per il loro ruolo, o per come Arwen sia stata resa più guerriera e più importante nel film. La risposta a entrambe le critiche è Lúthien, a mio avviso, gran personaggio. Coraggiosa, indomita, pronta a sfidare la famiglia, il Male, la morte e il fato stessi per stare con Beren. E a rinunciare all'immortalità, scegliendo di vivere e morire con l'amato piuttosto che accettare l'eternità senza di lui.
Profile Image for Menia.
477 reviews29 followers
October 3, 2021
Εδώ παρέα με τον δάσκαλο Κυριάκο συνεχίζουμε την Τολκινιαδα.
Η ιστορία του Μπέρεν κ της Λούθιεν μου αρεσε, τι δεν μου άρεσε;
Οι 7698 παραλλαγές της ωδής στη Λούθιεν που σκέφτηκε να συμπεριλάβει ο Κρίστοφερ (γιος του Τόλκιν) κ με κούρασε λιγάκι.
Άστον τον κακομοίρη τον μονόχειρα να αναπαυθεί επιτέλους! 🙈
Profile Image for Kate.
30 reviews
Want to read
December 4, 2016
My obvious excitement for the content aside -- look at that cover! Luthien Tinuviel, fair and valiant astride her wolfhound steed, reaches down to tenderly reassure her human lover before riding off to dropkick evil in the face.

That's my girl.
Profile Image for Marcos GM.
295 reviews131 followers
October 18, 2022

Tres son las grandes historias de la edad antigua en el legendarium de Tolkien: Los hijos de Hurin, Beren y Lúthien, y La caída de Gondolin. De todos ellos teníamos su historia en El Silmarillion, recogidos como leyendas. Pero Christopher Tolkien tras pasarse años poniendo en orden el trabajo de su padre nos ha ofrecido las historias por separado, en su evolución completa desde el primer borrador hasta la versión última (que no final, puesto que Tolkien siempre estaba trabajando en ellas)

En el caso que nos ocupa, vamos a la historia de, como no podía ser de otra manera, Beren y Luthien, una pareja que toma la relación del propio Tolkien con su mujer como origen, y ciertas escenas están inspiradas en sus propias vidas. Resumiendo rápido, Beren es un hombre mortal, hijo de Barahir y por tanto líder de una de las grandes casas de los hombres, pero mortal en definitiva. Lúthien por su parte es hija del rey Thingol, elfo gobernante de todo su pueblo, y Melian, que es una Maia (un espíritu de alto rango sin llegar a ser un Valar), por lo que no solo es hija de rey sino además de un ser superior. Teniendo tan poco en común ambos se conocen, enamoran y sufren juntos.

En este libro la historia no es lo importante, aunque sea lo que nueve toda la obra, sino ver cómo se originó esto y cómo fue evolucionando hasta llegar a lo que tenemos como final. Curiosamente Beren en un inicio no era un hombre, sino otro elfo. Este cambio dota a la historia de un componente mucho más potente, ya habíamos visto a elfos de la primera edad hacer cosas importantes, pero que aquí recaiga sobre un hombre es un elemento distintivo. Por su parte Lúthien pasa de doncella élfica "común" a ser la coprotagonista con derecho propio, y salvando la situación en no pocas ocasiones.

Tiene varios cambios que son para alegrarse, al menos en mi caso. El hecho de que originalmente los elfos fuesen llamados gnomos y los Maiar hadas y se haya cambiado es un gran acierto, porque hoy día estos términos son totalmente antagónicos a lo que pretendía Tolkien cuando lo escribió. El cambio de varios nombres, aunque no podamos saber cómo habrían funcionado, me parece correcto, ya que al menos son más fáciles de leer/pronunciar. Y sobre todo, la eliminación entera de la historia de los gatos y su líder Tevildo, algo que me cargó la lectura y funciona mucho mejor con lobos en su versión final.

Esta edición está ilustrada con algunas láminas de Alan Lee, que como no puede ser de otra manera son todas soberbias (mi favorita es la de Lúthien perdiendo su forma de vampiro), y con muchas notas de Christopher Tolkien sobre cómo ha ido cambiando la historia, lo que te da cierta perspectiva sobre lo que pensaba El profesor cuando escribía sus historias.

Si te gusta el legendarium de Tolkien este libro y sus otros dos "acompañantes" son muy recomendables. Si no te gusta, este no es tu libro.


Three are the great stories of the ancient age in Tolkien's legendarium: The sons of Hurin, Beren and Lúthien, and The Fall of Gondolin. Of all of them we had their story in The Silmarillion, collected as legends. But Christopher Tolkien, after spending years putting his father's work in order, has offered us the stories separately, in their complete evolution from the first draft to the latest version (not final, since Tolkien was always working on them).

In the case at hand, we have the story of, how could it be otherwise, Beren and Lúthien, a couple who take Tolkien's own relationship with his wife as its origin, and certain scenes are inspired by their own lives. To summarize quickly, Beren is a mortal man, son of Barahir and therefore leader of one of the great houses of men, but ultimately mortal. Lúthien, on her part, is the daughter of King Thingol, elf ruler of all his people, and Melian, who is a Maia (a spirit of high rank without being a Valar), so she is not only the daughter of a king but also of a higher being. Having so little in common, they both meet, fall in love and suffer together.

In this book the story is not what is important, even though it is what the whole work is about, but to see how this originated and how it evolved until reaching what we have as the end. Interestingly, Beren was not initially a man, but another elf. This change gives the story a much more powerful component, we had already seen elves from the first age do important things, but him being a man is a distinctive element. For her part, Lúthien goes from "common" elven maiden to being the co-star in her own right, and saving the day on many occasions.

It has several changes that is for rejoice, at least in my case. The fact that originally the elves were called gnomes and the Maiar fairies and has been changed is a great success, because today these terms are totally antagonistic to what Tolkien intended when he wrote it. Changing various names, although we can't know how they would have worked, seems fine to me as they are at least easier to read/pronounce. And above all, the entire elimination of the story of the cats and their leader Tevildo, something that burdened me reading and works much better with wolves in its final version.

This edition is illustrated with some prints by Alan Lee, which, of course, are all superb (my favorite is the one of Lúthien losing her vampire form), and with many notes by Christopher Tolkien on how history has changed, which gives you some perspective on what The Professor was thinking when he wrote his stories.

If you like Tolkien's legendarium this book and its other two "companions" are highly recommended. If you don't like it, this is not your book.
Profile Image for Amanda Hupe.
953 reviews58 followers
October 13, 2021
“Where the forest-stream went through the wood,
and silent all the stems there stood
of tall trees, moveless, hanging dark
with mottled shadows on their bark
above the green and gleaming river,
there came through leaves a sudden shiver,
a windy whisper through the still
cool silences; and down the hill,
as faint as a deep sleeper’s breath,
an echo came as cold as death:
‘Long are the paths, of shadow made
where no foot’s print is ever laid,
over the hills, across the seas!
Far, far away are the Lands of Ease,
but the Land of the Lost is further yet,
where the Dead wait, while ye forget.
No moon is there, no voice, no sound
of beating heart; a sigh profound
once in each age as each age dies
alone is heard. Far, far it lies,
the Land of Waiting where the Dead sit,
in their thought’s shadow, by no moon lit.”

Beren and Luthien by JRR Tolkien is one of the first stories that Tolkien worked on that is part of the Middle Earth Legendarium. Beren is a mortal man and he sees Luthien, an immortal elf. Her father is Thingol, an Elf-King. He refuses to grant their marriage unless Beren can bring him a Silmaril. The Silmarils were three jewels made of the light of the Two Trees by Feanor which had been stolen by Morgoth. Beren goes on the quest without hesitation. But is also followed later by Luthien. Their quest brings them to the halls and Morgoth and also brings death.

That is just a brief synopsis because this book isn’t just about one story. It is the metamorphosis of the story we know. This story was started by Tolkien in 1917 and it could be argued that it is the most important of all his works.–Well, it is the most personal for Tolkien. If you don’t know. The names Beren and Luthien are on JRR Tolkien’s and his wife, Edith’s tombstone. Their love story is woven into the story of Beren and Luthien. The story began as A Tale of Tinuviel. In that tale, Tinuviel’s father is Tinwelint and Beren was actually a Gnome. To keep Tinuviel from following Beren, he locked her in a tall tower. She then created a spell for her hair to grow long so she could escape. Sound familiar? Then The Lay of Leithian was composed in 1928 and then in the 1930s, in the Quenta, a massive change occurs. –The arrival of Felagund, son of Finrod.

While this book is not a complete narrative, it really shows Tolkien’s writing process. It is fascinating to see the process of the creation of Middle Earth and its history. 5 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for E.F. Buckles.
Author 1 book20 followers
July 4, 2017
Great read! Definitely not for those trying Tolkien for the first time, but for those who have read “The Hobbit”, “The Lord of the Rings”, and “The Silmarillion” (Or if not the entire Silm, you still need to at least read the story of Beren and Luthien so you have enough familiarity with it to recognize and appreciate the changes it went through), it should be enjoyable.

It’s important to note that this “Beren and Luthien” book isn’t like “The Children of Hurin” book which is a longer, more complete version of that story of TCoH than we got in The Silm. In this book, Christopher Tolkien is attempting to show the reader how the story of B&L evolved over time. We start out reading one of the earliest versions of the story Christopher could find, and then, as the book progresses, Christopher interludes now and then to explain where he found the next version, when his father wrote it, etc, then shares the next excerpt.

We see both prose and poetic versions/excerpts from the story here and I personally found it very interesting to see what Tolkien changed over time and what he kept the same. Take for example everybody’s favorite hound of Valinor, Huan. In the original version, it didn’t seem that Huan was a hound of Valinor at all, he was just one of the giant hounds that could be found running around Arda in the Elder Days. Also unlike the final version of the story that appears in The Silm where Huan can only speak three times in his life, the original version had him being quite the chatterbox. I could list quite a few more changes that happened between the original and final versions, but that would make this more an essay than a review!

Overall, I really liked this book. I actually went into it thinking that I wouldn’t read it straight through because I was afraid that reading one version of the same story after the other might get repetitive and maybe I should take breaks between versions to read other things. However, I think Christopher did well in putting this together in a way that it didn’t get repetitive and I wanted to keep going to see how things changed next. Since this book is illustrated by Alan Lee, I’ll also mention that the art was GORGEOUS, really added to the narrative, and I very much envy his talent.

5 stars.
Profile Image for Madison.
315 reviews12 followers
Want to read
February 22, 2023
Well, look at that!!


I'm so excited by the cover and the description!


Plus, it's going to be published about 100 years after Tolkien started writing it, which is very neat. AND, the names of the two main characters, Beren and Luthien, were each written on Tolkien's and his wife's graves (respectively), which is very VERY neat. If this piece of work meant that much to them, it definitely deserves to be read.
Profile Image for Велислав Върбанов.
442 reviews45 followers
July 6, 2023
Абсолютно прекрасна книжка, разказваща за най-прочутата любовна история от Средната земя! ❤️

„Прощавай, светъл небосклон,
под теб живя във своя дом
и тичаше като сърна
под слънчев блясък и луна
тя, Лутиен Тинувиел,
най-нежна в земния предел.
Дори светът да е умрял,
дори разбит да рухне цял
в първичния бездънен мрак,
за туй го бих възвърнал пак —
земя, море, зора и ден
и че е зърнал Лутиен.“
Profile Image for Melora.
575 reviews143 followers
June 10, 2017
You'll want to take my comments on this one with more than a grain of salt, as I have trouble being objective when it comes to Tolkien, and the story of Beren and Luthien hits me in a soft spot (my younger brother's middle name is Beren, and my sister's is Lorien -- Tolkien was big in my family). This is one of the stories that Sam Gamgee might have been referring to when he and Frodo are traveling to Mount Doom and Sam talks about the adventures in the great legends,

”Folk seem to have just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid out that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end.”

Beren and Luthien's story, for which we get here a couple choices of endings, was foundational in Tolkien's mythology, echoing aspects of his own life, and within his works in the romance of Aragorn and Arwen. As Christopher Tolkien reminds us,
”my father called it 'the chief of the stories of the Silmarillion', and he said of Beren that he is 'the outlawed mortal who succeeds (with the help of Luthien, a mere maiden even if an elf of royalty) where all the armies and warriors have failed: he penetrates the stronghold of the Enemy and wrests one of the Silmarilli from the Iron Crown. Thus he wins the hand of Luthien and the first marriage of mortal and immortal is achieved.”

Tolkien apparently began work on the story in 1917, and continued playing with it at least until some point in the 1930's, so there were several versions, as well as additions to both ends of the story, and snippets to be (maybe) inserted at various places. Christopher Tolkien, this book's editor/compiler does a really excellent job of organizing this material so that even readers who are not familiar with the entire mythology of which the story of Beren and Luthien is a part won't feel lost. Or, at least, very lost.

The story is presented, mainly, in two works, these being supplemented by additions and variations from other pieces. The first is the earlier form, and is in prose, and the second, broken into sections, is in verse. Both have their charms. I'll admit a preference for the earlier prose version, which is shorter, has little or no swooning, and is, at a few points, laugh-out-loud funny. I was having a little trouble staying focused on the poetic version until I started reading it out loud, with proper dramatic feeling, to my dog. Boy did that help! And my dog, who claims that there are far too few works of epic poetry with dog heroes, loved it! If I set the book aside for a bit he'd start poking me with his sweet wet nose and asking, hopefully, “Isn't it time to get back to the exciting adventures of Huan the Wonderdog?” And, really, he's not exaggerating. Huan may only get second billing on the marquee (well, his picture's on the cover, anyway), but he is the awesomest. Not only is he an amazing warrior, but he's better at planning missions than any of the men or elves he works with, and he has an expert knowledge of healing herbs! Like Aragorn, except tougher, fluffier, and you can ride on his back.

As I said, the prose version, The Tale of Tinuviel, comes from The Book of Lost Tales, and is loads of fun. Luthien Tinuviel is very fine heroine – brave, resourceful, etc. – and Beren is no slouch. Though of course it's not primarily humorous, there are some really funny bits, and little of that excessively “high” tone which sometimes leads the more hobbit-like of readers to feel drowsy. Initially this had something of the feel of Norse myth to me, but once I got farther in I decided it might have hints of the Kalevala, a Finnish story. We have giant magical cats and dogs, monstrous wolves... Wait. I just have to say, that Telvido, Prince of the Cats, who disappears in the longer, poetic version is too great a villain to miss. I wish he were on the book cover too.

The longer, though incomplete, version of the story is from “The Lay of Leithian.” This is, as I said, Tolkien in his high-toned, archaic style (which sometimes feels a little over the top, but then you come across an amazing word like “quook,” which is, deliciously, the past tense of “quake” and is just what you want to rhyme with “shook,” when you are describing an earthquake, and you forgive him all his excesses). Tolkien never finished any of this stuff to his satisfaction, so it seems unfair to pick much about rhymes and word choices he certainly would have improved upon, given enough time, and the story itself is really grand. Huan the Wonderdog is great in The Tale of Tinuviel, but here he is revealed in all his brilliance. Really, you'll love him. And Luthien and Beren are just as brave and loving and noble as you could ask for. There are romantic vistas, gloomy swamps, dank dungeons, true love, and tragic deaths – the works. Also beautiful colored plates and generous numbers of line drawings. I enjoyed the book very much.
Profile Image for Nad Gandia.
173 reviews40 followers
May 17, 2021
Lo que me ha gustado de esta historia han sido las notas del hijo de Tolkien, que dan contexto y amplitud a la historia. Por otro lado, reconozco que las canciones y poemas del autor me resultan soporíferos, simplemente no son para mí.
Profile Image for Marquise.
1,747 reviews611 followers
June 4, 2017
One hundred years back, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien began to create this story while on leave from the WWI trenches. I suppose he had no idea he'd became practically the God of Fantasy a few decades later, and likely didn't imagine he'd leave incomplete this lovely story of "heroic epic and high romance" as he described his favourite stories to write, as it sadly happened.

It would be left to his son Christopher to roll up his sleeves and start the titanic labour of parsing through the pile of manuscripts, drafts, half-erased, half-finished and half moth-eaten papers of his late dad to publish The Silmarillion, the classical epic cross with biblical chronicle that tells the origins of the Middle-earth peoples, the different races of Elves and Men and Dwarves and Orcs, the evil Vala and the good Valar, the heroes and villains, the idiots and the wise. I read it after LOTR and The Hobbit, and I recall three were the stories that struck me the most: the Nïrnaeth Arnoediad (damn you, Morgoth!), the tragic tale of Túrin Turambar (Damn you twice over, Morgoth!), and Beren and Lúthien (And damn you too, Sauron!).

So, when Tolkien Jr published The Children of Húrin with illustrations by Alan Lee (man is the official Tolkien artist to me and his depictions are canon as far as I'm concerned; his and Ted Nasmith's), I was happy-dancing. Never thought good old Christopher Tolkien would repeat and do the same for Beren and Lúthien, and I'm happy-dancing again.

(A suggestion for anyone involved with the publishers or that can nudge Tolkien Jr gently into doing it: Please, do consider a third installment of this kind of expanded story taken from the Silmarillion, this time dedicated to the Fëanorians. Seriously, there'd be no Silmarillion without these crazy Elves and their bloody oath, Fëanor and his litter of seven caused so so so much trouble that they deserve a book of their own. Preferably illustrated by Lee again. Please, Mr Christopher, and thank you.)

So, what do we have in this re-release of Beren and Lúthien's story? Art! Gorgeous art! Unfortunately, I can't post any examples, but you can feast your eyes on some of the illustrations that are at bookseller's sites like Amazon, Waterstones, HarperCollins, etc., or by Googling them. They're beautiful! The cover alone is sample enough of what is inside, and although for some scenes I already had my favourite artistic depictions by other artists, fan and professional, I can't say I found fault with Lee's vision. He's one of those illustrators you just appreciate for the talent even if his vision and yours differ. Donato Giancola would be another suchlike case, and if Lee were to not be available for the next book (crosses fingers), then he'd be the man.

And the contents? Well, there was a bit of a surprise with the contents. For a start, unlike The Children of Húrin, this isn't merely an illustrated reprint of the Beren and Lúthien story we already read in The Silmarillion (or in The Lays of Beleriand). That was what I had asummed this book was, and honestly didn't mind even though I could hear the cynics muttering about money-grabbing re-editions of already published stuff. Instead, this is a sort of history of the story. Meaning, what Christopher Tolkien has done is write about the origins and evolution of the story from the earliest existing manuscript draft to the last existing draft before the demise of JRRT, all those bits and pieces he had to work on like a puzzle to write the story as we know it from The Silmarillion.

That makes this book one for academics and Tolkienites, not for those readers not acquainted with the Tolkien lore or who haven't read The Silmarillion yet. So, if you only read LOTR and/or The Hobbit, then I don't recommend you read this. You will be confused, won't understand anything, and probably get annoyed because of that. But if you've already read the Sil, then I strongly recommend you run and buy a copy of this! More so if Beren and Lúthien happen to be your favourite story from the Sil or amongst those you liked best. You'll learn a lot about the evolution of the storyline, the changes to plot and characters that JRRT made, and what things stayed the same since the very first and original version, The Tale of Tinúviel, and what things are vastly different since that one.

The book contains extracts from a total of 12 sources in manuscripts/drafts, which were:

1. The Tale of Tinúviel
2. A Passage from the ‘Sketch of the Mythology’
3. A Passage Extracted from The Lay of Leithian
4. The Quenta Noldorinwa
5. A Passage Extracted from the Quenta
6. A Second Extract from The Lay of Leithian
7. A Further Extract from the Quenta
8. The Narrative in The Lay of Leithian to Its Termination
9. The Quenta Silmarillion
10. The Return of Beren and Lúthien According to the Quenta Noldorinwa
11. Extract from the Lost Tale of the Nauglafring
12. The Morning and Evening Star

I found it quite fascinating, there were some surprises I hadn't expected, like (mild spoilers ahead!) and a myriad other changes and divergences of all sizes from small to middling to big that you must absolutely learn all by reading this yourself. Besides the interest in finding about these changes, I also learnt a lot about JRRT's writing process, how he created his stories, how his writing habits and techniques were like. The latter is wont to tickle scholarly fancies more, I imagine. And Christopher Tolkien's preface, notes, commentary on each chapter, and appendix that complement the twelve sections will also be very informative.
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