Beren and Lúthien by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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. ; ;
View all my reviews