Children of Húrin, New Tolkien Book, Completed

The final book by J.R.R. Tolkien will be published next month, 37 years after its author’s death.

The first new Tolkien novel for 30 years is to be published next month. In a move eagerly anticipated by millions of fans across the world, The Children of Húrin will be released worldwide on 17 April, 89 years after the author started the work and four years after the final cinematic instalment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, one of biggest box office successes in history.

The Children of Húrin Book CoverThe book, whose contents are being jealously guarded by publisher HarperCollins – is described as “an epic story of adventure, tragedy, fellowship and heroism.”

It is likely to be a publishing sensation, particularly as it is illustrated by veteran Middle Earth artist Alan Lee, who won an Oscar for art direction on Peter Jackson’s third film The Return of The King. Lee provided 25 pencil sketches and eight paintings for the first edition of the book, one of which is reproduced here for the first time in a national newspaper.

Tolkien experts are already tipping The Children of Húrin – which features significant battle scenes and at least one major twist – for big budget Hollywood treatment. Takings from the Lord of the Rings trilogy box office takings to date total some £1.5bn. Chris Crawshaw, chairman of the Tolkien Society, said: “It would probably make a very good movie, if anyone can secure the film rights. “Tolkien saw his work as one long history of Middle Earth: from the beginning of creation to the end of the Third Age. The Children of Húrin is an early chapter in that bigger story.”

The author’s son Christopher, using his late father’s voluminous notes, has painstakingly completed the book, left unfinished by the author when he died in 1971. The work has taken the best part of three decades, and will signify the first “new” Tolkien book since The Silmarillion was published posthumously in 1977.

Interesting. Christopher Tolkien was involved in readying The Silmarillion for publication, so his father’s fans trust his work.

via Slashdot

Gone Hollywood

FILED UNDER: General,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

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  2. I loved the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but I found the Silmarillion unreadable. Personally, I will wait for someone else to spend there time reading (and reporting back) before I rush out to read the new book.

    I also have an image in my head of an old James Garner movie about an American artist who is starving, people think he is dead so suddenly his work is valuable but when he turns up not dead he has to “stay dead” and paint in secret to take advantage of the new market. Maybe the image is brought about by a new book from an author who has been dead close to as long as I have been alive.

  3. Anderson says:

    Well, with Christopher writing, it should at least avoid some of the nonsense one might otherwise fear. May still suck, though.

    But since Christopher hated the Peter Jackson movies (rightly so!), and reportedly won’t sell film rights to The Hobbit, I wonder whether Húrin will see the big screen in his lifetime?

  4. Tlaloc says:

    Lets hope he does a better job with his father’s world than Frank Herbert’s son did.

    But since Christopher hated the Peter Jackson movies (rightly so!),

    Wow. I can understand some people bothered by some of the choices of things to leave out (Tom Bombadil, the destruction of the shire) and by some of the things modified (Old Man Willow, Arwen) and I can really understand the few glaringly stupid pop culture references annoying people (Surfing on a shield down the stairs) but overall the LotR movies were utterly incredible. Given all the difficulties, they made a series of movies that were phenomenal. The truly annoying points (again, shield surfing) compromise maybe 15 minutes in a trilogy that is over 11 hours long.

    And the detail of what they did and the love that must have gone into it is just breath taking. As an example the big wolf’s head battering ram used to knock in the gates at Minas Tirith was covered in orcish script but the crafters deliberately put in spelling errors to reflect the orc’s lack of perspicacity. Now when you watch the movie you can’t even come close to reading these runes, and maybe ten people on the planet would be able to recognize a spelling mistake therein, but it was all part of the authenticity.

    Similarly the actor playing Theodin commented that his armor had horse patterns on the inside. No one would ever see them in the film, but they helped him feel the part.

    There are certainly minor complaints to be made about Peter Jackson’s works, and things I would have done differently, but overall the trilogy was an enormous triumph.

  5. Django Bliss says:

    but I found the Silmarillion unreadable

    Really, I found the Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales to really add a lot to the overall genesis of the War of the Rings content.

    Lets hope he does a better job with his father’s world than Frank Herbert’s son did

    You are so right about that.

    But since Christopher hated the Peter Jackson movies (rightly so!), and reportedly won’t sell film rights to The Hobbit, I wonder whether Húrin will see the big screen in his lifetime?

    This is a myth. See “Christoper Tolkien Deines Rift

  6. Major Scarlet says:

    I agree. the simarillion was awful. i stopped reading half way through the book. maybe i’m not a big enough geek to get it but the story didn’t flow like the originals.

  7. B. Minich says:

    From what I understand, this book is more novel-like than the Silmarillian. The Silmarillian was pretty much thrown together without much effort to make it flow – it reads like a disjointed history book, and can be a bit of a slog (to borrow a British word that fits here). This is supposed to be written more like LOTR – a novel, not just Tolkien’s outlines in published and slightly modified form. (Actually, there are some pretty good story parts to the Silmarillian – and some parts that just feel like someone writing “this guy goes here, and then he does that”.)

    Also, Christopher Tolkien isn’t the one holding up the film rights to the “Hobbit” – New Line holds those rights, and doesn’t want Jackson to do it. Christopher Tolkien has nothing to do with the film rights, and really hasn’t for years.

  8. B. Minich says:

    From what I understand, this book is more novel-like than the Silmarillian. The Silmarillian was pretty much thrown together without much effort to make it flow – it reads like a disjointed history book, and can be a bit of a slog (to borrow a British word that fits here). This is supposed to be written more like LOTR – a novel, not just Tolkien’s outlines in published and slightly modified form. (Actually, there are some pretty good story parts to the Silmarillian – and some parts that just feel like someone writing “this guy goes here, and then he does that”.)

    Also, Christopher Tolkien isn’t the one holding up the film rights to the “Hobbit” – New Line holds those rights, and doesn’t want Jackson to do it. Christopher Tolkien has nothing to do with the film rights, and really hasn’t for years.

  9. Anderson says:

    Sorry, Django (is that a Hobbit name?), but Christopher’s denial issued through his lawyers smacks to me much more of CYA than of anything else. Reasonable minds may differ.

    As for the atrocities committed by the flicks, that would take us far afield. Plenty of changes were made for no practical reason (e.g., turning Denethor, whom Pippin could mistake for Aragorn in the book, into the Baron Harkonnen), showing a general lack of interest in what Tolkien wrote.

  10. Anderson says:

    Google, btw, yields the linked example of the ferocity of C.T.’s lawyers, including this wonderful correction they issued to the blogger in question:

    Christopher Tolkien does not guard his house with a wild boar.

    All straight on that? Good. –Though he may have retained the legal services of a wild boar or two.

  11. Tlaloc says:

    e.g., turning Denethor, whom Pippin could mistake for Aragorn in the book, into the Baron Harkonnen

    The way they did Denethor is one of the things that bugs my wife the most, but again the guy has maybe 10 minutes of screen time. It’s just not that big a deal, certainly not enough to ruin the 97% of the film that was fantastic.

  12. Anderson says:

    Denethor was not, of course, the only atrocity. Off the top of my head:

    (1) The “Arwen will die!” subplot, including Aragorn-is-missing, etc., eating up scads of screen time urgently needed elsewhere.

    (2) The botching of a great dramatic moment in the book, Gandalf’s confrontation with the Lord of the Nazgul at the gate of Minas Tirith — together with the utterly unnecessary invasion of Tirith by the enemy.

    (3) The silly, and again time-wasting, “wizard duel” in FOTR b/t Gandalf and Saruman. One suspects that Peter Jackson found Tolkien’s wizards boring.

    (4) The elimination of the Scouring of the Shire, which could’ve been done in 5 minutes if need be.

    I have no trouble with sensible cuts & elisions — Bombadil gone, Glorfindel merged into Arwen. What bugs me are two things: rewriting for its own sake, as if LOTR were a sadly defective work whose popularity mystified Jackson, and the deafness to the work’s tone, which would’ve cut out the ridiculous add-ons to the battle scenes, the “dwarf tossing” joke (lots of the jokes, actually), and more other things than I can mention in a comment thread.

  13. Tlaloc says:

    Denethor was not, of course, the only atrocity. Off the top of my head:

    (1) The “Arwen will die!” subplot, including Aragorn-is-missing, etc., eating up scads of screen time urgently needed elsewhere.

    (2) The botching of a great dramatic moment in the book, Gandalf’s confrontation with the Lord of the Nazgul at the gate of Minas Tirith — together with the utterly unnecessary invasion of Tirith by the enemy.

    (3) The silly, and again time-wasting, “wizard duel” in FOTR b/t Gandalf and Saruman. One suspects that Peter Jackson found Tolkien’s wizards boring.

    (4) The elimination of the Scouring of the Shire, which could’ve been done in 5 minutes if need be.

    Sorry but I wouldn’t count any of those as an atrocity. I could have done without 1 but I don’t see as it was handled all that badly. I would have liked the inclusion of 4 but it really isn’t that important to the plot. I like the way 2 is handled in the movies, frankly. And 3 was also nice to give a sense of how bad it is that Saruman has gone over to the other side.

    Denethor and the shield surfing things are the only ones that really annoyed me. But again neither of those really matter all that much, I just personally found them galling. You are conflating your personal prefernces for how things should have been done with actual affronts to the story. The Peter Jackson movies tell the story well. They hit all the important notes, all the critical moments that propel the narrative along. They do it with a huge amount of loving attention to detail and the occasional stupid gaffe. But they get the job done.

    Would that any significant number of adaptations could do half as well. Hell if Peter Jackson got tapped to make a trilogy of the first three Dune books I’d be ecstatic.

  14. Paul Barnes says:

    I hear Peter Jackson might be on board for a Halo movie…which would be cool, I would think.