Beren and Lúthien by J.R.R. Tolkien

Title: Beren and Lúthien.
Series: The Great Tales of Middle-Earth #2.
Writer(s): J.R.R. Tolkien.
Editor(s): Christopher Tolkien.
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Format: Hardcover.
Release Date: June 1st, 2017.
Pages: 285.
Genre(s): Fantasy.
ISBN13: 9781328791825.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.


“I Beren, a huntsman of the Noldoli, will fulfil thy small desire.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Almost a century later, the son of the legendary fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, delivers the most comprehensive and compelling collection of a myriad of versions of one of the most romantic yet tragic tales set in the early days of Middle-earth. Where an ethereal vision of love clashes with an epic scope of adventure, the mortal Man Beren and the immortal Elf Lúthien have their mystical and pure bond tested as their fated encounter leads them to the heart of all evil and back like no other has ever dared accomplish before.

On a fortuitous day, Beren, son of Egnor the forester, discovers Tinúviel, who will later be known as Lúthien in other versions of this tale, dancing and prancing along in the woods of Artanor with her Sindarin elf friend Dairon, mesmerizing Beren with her talents until spotted and prompting them to flee out of fear. Despite the prejudices shared about one another’s race through hearsay, their second encounter, after countless days of searching the woods, leads Beren to find Tinúviel once more and desire lessons in her art of dancing. As they joyfully head toward the halls of Tinwelint, Beren finds himself confronted by her father only to declare his love for his daughter. Out of jest, the great elvish lord King Tinwelint offers her hand to Beren only if he’s able to obtain a Silmaril from the crown of Melko, which in itself is a daunting and nearly impossible task. However, unfazed and offended by such a request from a father, Beren accepts the conditions and sets off on a quest no other would ever agree upon unless desiring an encounter with death.

Promptly unveiled through his preface, Christopher Tolkien establishes the purpose and direction envisioned for this edition of a book containing one of the stories that are quintessential to the evolution of Middle-earth history presented in The Silmarillion. Acknowledging the presence of a pace-breaking editorial commentary and of inevitable narrative repetition due to overlap in story-telling from different versions of the same story is key to finding any form of appreciation for this legendary tale from the First Age that is often referred to by other in-world characters.

While also a conspicuous and fascinating insight into the origins and inspirations for the beloved bond between Aragorn and Arwen, Christopher Tolkien does an impressive job in presenting the various versions of this story according to narrative chronology rather than his father’s publication order, allowing the final product to be much closer to a complete and linear story. However, this does lead to countless contradictions and changes to character names or even events and how they take place. While such issues would normally be detrimental to any other stand-alone epic fantasy story, it remains a wonderful insight into J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing process, especially when the versions of these tales are told in verses rather than prose, further highlighting his unparalleled writing prowess.

Once more, like The Children of Húrin, published a decade before, artist Alan Lee’s illustrations, both his gorgeous drawings and his full-page colour plates give this book a beautiful edge that captures the heart and soul of the story. Fans of Tolkien’s Middle-earth will surely rejoice in the subtle beauty of this story, from the epic battles featuring talking canines and felines to a robbery at the feet of Melkor/Morgoth, the greatest evil of all time, there’s something simply whimsically perilous about this adventure.

Beren and Lúthien is an in-depth collection of various versions of an epic First Age of Middle-earth story centered around love and adventure.



34 thoughts on “Beren and Lúthien by J.R.R. Tolkien

  1. Considering the amount of Tragedy that Tolkien seemed to gravitate towards, I am surprised that he ended up writing the Hobbit and the LotR with as happy endings as we got. I’m thankful for that, but I feel like it does a disservice to fans who might go into his other writings expecting that same kind of outcome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True, it’s a whole different universe what comes after TLOtR. Thankfully, I have no issues with darker, grim tales, and tragedies, making it all even more my cup of tea hahah 😀 I do think there might be some non-tragedy Middle-earth stuff out there I’ll get to this year though. Maybe they’ll intrigue you and convince you enough to try out. 😮

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The main attraction in these curated editions of Tolkien’s stories stands indeed in being able to see how they evolved through time and how Tolkien’s view of his characters and world changed over time. Alan Lee’s illustrations can easily be the proverbial cherry on top… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is one that has been sitting on my ‘wish list’ for a bit. I’ve read The Simarillion and know the bones of this tale, but it would be neat to page through this edition. Great review on it, Lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I recall the story from The Silmarillion vividly, even though I read it over 40 years ago… I love the fact that Christopher has traced the iterations of it through his father’s thought processes. What a fascinating insight into the workings of one of the most influential authors of the last century. And thank you for an excellent review, Lashaan:).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading my review, Sarah! And yes, I’m really glad Christopher Tolkien took the time to really look into all the versions and give us this little beast. It really shows how scattered J.R.R. Tolkien was during his own writing process. Who knows what the definitive version would’ve looked like in his hands! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You’re on a roll with these. I love that they’re illustrated by Alan Lee, I’ve always enjoyed his artistic interpretations. So what’s next to tackle in the world of Tolkien?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I never realised how many LOTR related books there were until you started reviewing them! Great review, it’s another one to add to the TBR list and it’s making me think I should just dedicate a month for Tolkien or something like that haha

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m not too enamoured with Tolkien’s Jr. quest of publishing even the tiniest scrap of Tolkien the Elder’s work… But I’m glad you enjoyed this so much, Lashaan! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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