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Search tags: J.-R.-R.-Tolkien
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review 2018-11-09 12:18
Numenor: Unfinished Tales" by J. R. R. Tolkien
Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth - J.R.R. Tolkien,J.R.R. Tolkien

(Original Review, 1980-10-13)


The new Tolkien book is out. While I haven't read even half of it, I think I've read enough to produce a helpful review, so here goes. This book ("Unfinished Tales" by JRR Tolkien, $15 from Houghton Mifflin) is definitely not a book for a general readership, nor even for the mass Tolkien consumer, who thinks that Lord of the Rings is a swell story, but all that linguistic and historical stuff is just a lot of window-dressing. Rather than a narrative, it's really a sort of organized memory dump of Tolkien's filing cabinet [2018 EDIT: “filing cabinet” indeed!!!].
 
 
 
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.
 

 

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video 2018-11-06 14:21
The Darkest Part of the Forest - Holly Black
Insanity - Cameron Jace
Figment (Insanity Book 2) - Cameron Jace
The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
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review 2018-10-27 00:00
Beren and Lúthien
Beren and Lúthien - J.R.R. Tolkien,Christopher Tolkien,Alan Lee The story of Beren and Lúthien is one of the three central stories of Tolkien’s Elvish history, presented in this book in a new light, revealing the process of Tokien’s writing and how it evolved from its earliest concept to the latest, though never quite finished version.

Edited by Christopher Tolkien, Beren and Lúthien is actually a collection of various versions, accompanied with a commentary on their conception and development and the reasoning behind it, following by now a familiar approach when it comes to Tolkien’s posthumously published works.

As such, it comes out rather academic – perhaps overly so – to a reader only interested in a ‘story’.

However, I found Beren and Lúthien extremely readable and even refreshing and I loved rediscovering the already familiar story from The Silmarillion with its different and new angles through both in prose and verse. Although Tolkien’s poetry does at times seem awkward, it is in most places highly evocative and yet again shows Tolkien’s skill. The latest written verses in particularly make you think about what he could have done if he had had more time.

I was, nevertheless, a little ‘disappointed’ to learn that Tolkien was apparently not a cat person (just kidding, LOL.)

All in all, Beren and Lúthien was an enjoyable and quick read that only rekindled my love for all things Tolkien, so maybe even 4.5 stars.

This review was first published on my book blog, Beyond Strange New Words.
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text 2018-10-22 02:04
The Return of the King - 70%
The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien,Rob Inglis

     But as they came to the east end of the village, they met a barrier with a large board saying, NO ROAD; and behind it stood a large band of Shirriffs with staves in their hands and feathers in their caps, looking both important and rather scared.

 

     "What's all this?" said Frodo, feeling inclined to laugh. 

 

     "This is what it is, Mr. Baggins," said the leader of the Shirriffs, a two-feather hobbit. "You're arrested for Gate-breaking, and Tearing Up of Rules, and Assaulting Gate-keepers, and Tresspassing, and Sleeping in Shire-buildings Without Leave, and Bribing Guards with Food."

 

     "And what else?" said Frodo. 

 

     "That'll do to go on with," said the Shirriff leader. 

 

     "I can add some more if you like it," said Sam. "Calling Your Chief Names, Wishing to Punch His Pimply Face, and Thinking you Shirriffs look a lot of Tom-fools." 

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review 2018-10-03 12:01
The Story of Kullervo, J.R.R. Tolkien, ed. Verlyn Flieger
The Story of Kullervo - J.R.R. Tolkien,Verlyn Flieger

I wasn't aware until I read this book that Tolkien has become a sufficiently widespread and intensive subject of study to have an academic journal entirely devoted to him and his works! As a direct result of this, we are presented with this book which is not part of Christopher Tolkien's apparent obsession with his father's imagined mythos, being instead edited by Verlyn Flieger.

 

It's a short, unfinished, stylistically dreadful tale that no sane person would publish alone based on its literary merit - so what's the point? The cynical might argue that for some time now the Tolkien estate has been milking a cash cow that is aging and drying up, producing lower and lower quality product. That may be so, but I don't think Flieger's motivations are cynical at all. This story, which is a very early example of Tolkien's creative output, appears to be a "missing link" between admiration of an existing work (The Kalevala) and inspiration for his own imagined work, specifically the Tale of the Children of Hurin and more generally the Silmarillion as a whole and Flieger sets out to demonstrate this. Hence this book is not really "Here's a forgotten story by the most influential fantasist in history, it's really good!" so much as, "If you're sufficiently interested in Tolkien, his imagined world and creative process, this little, badly written adaptation of a little-known (in English) Finnish folk-tale is important and you should have the opportunity to learn about it."

 

In that context, this book is worthwhile. Additionally, the biographical aspects of Tolkien's life that raise the personal parallels and significance this story would have had for its author are made clear along with how these developed into what I believe is Tolkien's best story (the above mentioned Children of Hurin). However, even with the attendant notes and essay, one would still have only a very small book. Bulking out the volume (to still very modest proportions) are two versions of an informal lecture on the Kalevala, the source material for the Story of Kullervo and it is this connection that made me interested in this book.

 

I read a translation of the Kalevala, a collection of Finnish folk ballads assembled into a vaguely narrative sequence, not long after the release of this book and it was amazing! To learn that it was a heavy influence on Tolkien was fascinating and here is the book that is going to tell me what the influences were and what he thought about the source material. So this book may not be for you; if you just want a good story - forget it. If you don't know or don't care about the source material - probably not that interesting. If you don't care about how Tolkien's justifiably famous works came into being - not worth your time. But for me - though the story itself was the least rewarding aspect - well, I ripped through the supporting material in no time, even if the material it supports had me plodding like I was trying to find my way through the Finnish bogs of its setting.

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