The Children of Húrin came out yesterday. Under normal circumstances, I would have sat down and immediately read through the entire book, but unfortunately Real Life(tm) intruded once more – I had an English paper due the next day, and I prefer being relatively awake during the school hours. So I wrote that first and actually got several hours of sleep. Consequently, I only got up through pg 86 (out of 259 not counting the appendices).
Still, I’ve seen enough to make a preliminary judgement on the essential features of the book. So, here goes.
The artwork is amazing. It does a very good job of capturing what Beleriand would have been like – the battlefields of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, the towers of Thangorodrim, the halls of Menegroth. The only complaint I have about it is that the representation of the Dragon Helm of Dor-Lomin, though very cool-looking, doesn’t appear to have its characteristic dwarf-mask – or at least, the dwarf-mask doesn’t look at all like I imagined it.
The map in the back is irritatingly small. I prefer the one in the back of the Silmarillion – a 2×3 page foldout, instead of a 1×2 page one. Other than that, it’s essentially a simplified version of the one found in the Silmarillion.
The story so far contains much more detail than I ever knew existed about the early life of Túrin Turambar. Of course, I haven’t read the Histories of Middle Earth, only the Silmarillion. The story so far is quite well done (as expected). However, while it can be compelling at times (for example, Túrin’s conversations with Sador and the knife-gift episode), it occasionally seems closer to the rush-through-the-facts style of some parts of the Silmarillion than to the story-telling of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit.
This was also expected, since after all J.R.R. Tolkien never sat down and wrote a full-length book of the life of Túrin, but it is somewhat disappointing. And it is at times rather odd – not necessarily bad, but odd – how it switches narrative style so quickly.
Finally, as to whether people unfamiliar with the Silmarillion will enjoy reading this book… yes, but. It is a denser read than even LotR, and there is a 15 page introduction that essentially summarizes the background scenario, and reads much like the Silmarillion… but the fact remains that this is essentially a narrative tale, while the Silmarillion can seem at times like a history book. So for those of you who don’t enjoy reading history books (I do), it will be easier to read. And it is indeed worth the time spent reading.