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Tragedian of Middle Earth

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Children of Hurin arrived in stores last spring; never a timely reader I finished the novel last Saturday. It's not as good as The Lord of the Rings--what is?--but, it isn't meant to compete or replace that book. This tale is smaller in scope and as such, can't have the richness of a story broken up into three (really six)books. Nevertheless, this story of fate and striving is a very good read. Tolkien's style is of an older age, yet it reads smoothly, doesn't sound forced or pretentious--he brings you into his world on his terms. Without giving too much away, Hurin, a man among men, challenges Morgoth--Middle Earth's Satan and lord of Sauron BTW--and is captured(This takes place thousands of years before LOTR). Morgoth allows Hurin to live, but he cannot leave Morgoth's lair; he is fated to watch the curse that the enemy lays on his family. So the story switches to Hurin's only son, Turin, who is forced to leave his home, live with elves, and eventually become an outcast. There's a dragon, but much of the conflict is within Turin as he struggles with his pride. What I found the most compelling was the Greek sense of fate, of futile striving against forces larger than oneself, which only makes the story sadder than it is. Again, not as majestic as LOTR, but longer than the tales of The Silmarillion, and thus richer. If you enjoy sad, heroic tales, this is worth your time.

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