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Beren and Lúthien

Beren and Lúthien

by J. R. R. Tolkien

Narrated by Timothy West, Samuel West

Unabridged — 6 hours, 54 minutes

J. R. R. Tolkien

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Presented for the first time on audio, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves, Men and Orcs and the rich landscape unique to Tolkien's Middle-earth in this unabridged recording read by critically acclaimed father and son, Timothy and Samuel West.

Beren was a mortal man, but Lúthien was an immortal Elf. Her father, a great Elvish lord, was deeply opposed to Beren, and imposed on him an impossible task that he must perform before he might wed Lúthien.

Undaunted by Lord Thingol's challenge, Beren and Lúthien embark on the supremely heroic attempt to rob Morgoth, the greatest of all evil beings, of a Silmaril, one of the hallowed jewels that adorn the Black Enemy's crown.

The tale of Beren and Lúthien, which was written shortly after J.R.R. Tolkien returned from the Battle of the Somme in 1916, was an essential element in the evolution of The Silmarillion. In this book Christopher Tolkien has extracted the various versions of Beren and Lúthien from the comprehensive work in which they are embedded.

To show something of the process whereby this Great Tale of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he tells 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Editor Christopher Tolkien successfully aims this latest version of Beren and Lúthien’s tale at two distinct audiences. This hybrid volume serves both as an introduction to a moving love story from the First Age of Middle Earth for fans who are not familiar with The Silmarillion and as a scholarly look at how Christopher’s father altered the tale over the years. Those in the first category should skip the spoiler-filled preface and go straight to the original version, which describes the love of the mortal Beren and the royal elf-maiden Lúthien. Lúthien’s father agrees to their marriage, but only if Beren retrieves a Silmaril jewel from the crown of Melko, the dark god who preceded Sauron as the embodiment of evil in Middle Earth. Despite that familiar fairy-tale setup, Lúthien herself plays an active part in the adventure. The prose isn’t always the elder Tolkien’s most polished, but the story works as a stand-alone tale. Those who have encountered it before will find that Christopher enhances their appreciation of it through his accessible illumination of how it evolved over the years. (June)

From the Publisher

Every version of the story in the book is incomplete, but under Christopher Tolkien’s steady editorial hand, the fragments assemble themselves to give us an impression of the whole. What makes this possible is the grace with which he handles his long-accustomed dual role of guide to both story and history. His preface and annotations are openhearted and engaging. He leads the reader pleasantly through the greater landscape of Middle-earth in the First Age, and strikes as clear a path as possible through the wilderness of Tolkien’s lifelong attempts to get the story finished and published. With eloquence and diligence and care, the son reconstructs and retraces the father’s journey, pursuing the tale through draft after draft as Tolkien pursued his vision of Middle-earth; as Beren, lost and hunted, followed the sound of Lùthien’s voice as she sang in the shadowed forest of Doriath.” — “A good introduction to LOTR fans nervous about taking on The Silmarillion, and also gives longtime fans a fascinating look at the Tolkiens’ myth-making process.”— “A beautiful book.”— San Antonio Express-News

Kirkus Reviews

★ 2017-05-27
Frodo-heads rejoice: from the Tolkien factory comes a foundational story a century in the making, one yarn to rule them all. "I cannot think of anything more to say about hobbits," J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in frustration to his publisher. "But I have only too much to say, and much already written, about the world into which the hobbit intruded." The story of Beren, a mortal human, and Lúthien, an immortal elf, resonates throughout the corpus of Tolkien's work; born while Tolkien was shaking off the horrors of combat in World War I, it figures in The Silmarillion, the first of the major posthumous books, and in other of the Middle-earth books, to say nothing of The Lord of the Rings itself, when Aragorn sings of the fraught love between the two legendary figures. As reconstructed here and presented whole, the saga adds back story to much of LOTR: it explains the mistrust of Treebeard and the other forest denizens for the world of men, and it provides a foreshadowing for the whole of the canonical Rings trilogy, since it describes a kind of ur-Saruman who lusts for both power and magical jewels, setting off a chain of events that implicates Orcs, dragons, humans, elves, and all manner of other beings. Some of the tale here is in verse, done in a kind of Tennyson-esque meter: "Then Sauron laughed aloud. ‘Thou base, / thou cringing worm! Stand up, / and hear me! And now drink the cup / that I have sweetly blent for thee!' " Sweetly blent indeed. Other moments are worthy of Mikhail Bulgakov, such as Tolkien's conjuring of giant malevolent cats, their "eyes glowing like green lamps or red or yellow where Tevildo's thanes sat waving and lashing their beautiful tails," and of Tennyson himself, as when Beren tells how for Lúthien's love "he must essay the burning waste, / and doubtless death and torment taste."The story has it all: swords, sorcery, and pure and undying love. (Excellent illustrations, too.) Essential grounding for an epic cycle that shows no signs of ending anytime soon.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940173287793
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Publication date: 05/14/2020
Edition description: Unabridged

Customer Reviews