Book Review: The Children of Húrin by JRR Tolkien and edited by Christopher Tolkien (Houghton-Mifflin – 2007)

For any big Tolkien fans, this might seem like an odd choice for a review, since Tolkien is such a well-known writer. However, I’ve been surprised at how many people I’ve run into who have never heard of this book.

The Children of Húrin follows Túrin, the son of Húrin, and his sister as they struggle against the wrath of the dark lord Morgoth. Húrin once defied Morgoth, who now seeks his revenge on Húrin’s family. Now, Húrin’s children must face the destruction of their homes and a powerful dragon bent on their destruction.

First of all, this book is not for anyone who hates long, convoluted sentences and tons of fantasy names (many of which are spelled incredibly similarly). I enjoy Tolkien, and I have to admit the first time I read it I was a bit bogged down. It’s a masterpiece—beautifully written with excellent pacing and breathtaking description. However, if you’re tired or (like someone I know) reading too many legal textbooks for law school, the words just bleed together and the mind turns off.

This book is also not for the faint of heart. Tolkien never wrote anything in Middle-Earth that didn’t have a tragic bent somewhere, so prepare to bawl your eyes out. That said, if it wasn’t written so well with such vibrant and exciting characters, I wouldn’t have wanted to cry. The Children of Húrin beautifully illustrates the costs of war and how a single choice can affect not just yourself, but everyone around you.

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