Beren and Lúthien- J.R.R Tolkien (edited by Christopher Tolkien)

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Per dictionary.com;

fandom

[fan-duh m]
noun
  1. fans collectively, as of a motion-picture star or a professional game or sport.

And here @Quitterstrip, we are adding books to this definition.

There are certain fandoms that just welcome their readers back with open arms, regardless the amount of time spent away. For me, these fandoms will always be an ever expanding list, but so far include:

  1. Kristy Nicolle’s Infiniverse
  2. Aliens
  3. Harry Potter
  4. Dune
  5. Sarah J Maas (ACOTAR & TOG)
  6. Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles)
  7. Anne of Green Gables
  8. The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit (anything related to Middle Earth)
  9. Anything Marvel related (YUP! This chick digs comics & graphic novels too!)
  10. James Rollins

That’s all I can think of at the moment, but you get the point. There’s a point to some of this- and a point to why some fandoms were expunged from this list (BIG notice that neither Star Wars OR DC comics was listed!) Aliens, Harry Potter, Dune, and LOTR. . .a lot of 80s and 90s kids grew up with these titles, whether it be in book or video form. All of a sudden it felt like they ended. Some tied up in nice bows, others were a constant knot of open ended wonderment. Then something amazing happened. . . a fan picked up pen and paper and continued the story. Or something else amazing happened. . . a descendant of the writer picked up pen and paper and continued writing. Lastly, something amazing happened. . . the original author continued the story!

I’m a BIG “Lord of the Rings” fan. I know it’s hit or miss with some people, but this is the sci-fi that I grew up with. I love the length of the books, I love the characters, I love that “The Hobbit” was turned into three movies to do the book justice! I’m also a detail person. The more detail an author provides, the more I can picture in my head exactly what’s going on- though sometimes when translated to the big screen, it’s not at all how I pictured certain characters, or places. . .let alone pronunciation!

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Now ↑ THAT is a clever girl!

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Again, while I do my best NOT to spoil any book, this review is paraphrased in the shortest way possible. This particular book is hard to review due to the many changes of the same story (different versions).

While Romeo and Juliet was indeed a romance for the ages, the story of Beren and Lúthien trump every aspect of the story. The actual book starts out with the bare bones story of Beren and Lúthien; Beren is on the run from Melko (the dark force in the story) and came across Lúthien (also known as Tinúviel) dancing in the woods, and was so entranced by the way she danced in the copse of trees and how she seemed to glow in the moonlight, that Beren risked breaking his cover just to look at her.

Lúthien’s brother, Dairon, spied Beren and told Lúthien to run home. Knowing she was not as fast as her brother, Lúthien tried to blend in with the moonlight and flowers. Beren, stumbling through the forest, accidentally grazed her arm and put her in such a fright that she “twittered between moonbeams all the way home”. Lúthien loved to dance, and would dance often while her brother Dairon would play the pipe reeds. Having been scared by Beren, Lúthien would not venture out to dance, until she couldn’t contain herself anymore. Perchance, Beren finally came across her and asked her to teach him how to dance. Of course, this made Lúthien smile, and she asked him to follow her, and dance the entire way to her father’s palace (yes palace; Lúthien was the daughter to the King, Tinwelint [also known as Thingol]).

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Beren watching Lúthien

So here we are in the palace of the Hidden Elves. Tinwelint (Thingol) is sitting on his throne with Queen Gwendeling (also known as Melion) by his side, and enters Beren. Immediately Tinwelint assumes Beren is a dark elf, and has come to cause trouble. Lúthien (scared little Lúthien who was running away from Beren not too long ago) comes to his defense and pulls the most quintessential trick daughters can do to their fathers; if you are mean to him, you will make me cry. And in typical fatherly fashion Tinwelint asks Beren what he wants just to be rid of him.

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The House of the Hidden Elves

Beren surprised everyone by asking for Lúthien’s hand in marriage. Taken aback, Tinwelint makes impossible terms- to bring back one Simaril from Melko’s crown. Everyone knew that the Iron Crown never left Melko’s head, and if anyone dared lay a finger on it, they would not see the light of day. Beren knew he was being a made fool of, and his anger got the best of him. Foolheartedly he told the king “it is too small a gift, I will fulfill your small desire.” Beren storms out of the palace, and essentially does not stop his temper tantrum stomp until the gates of Melko. Meanwhile, Lúthien starts to weep in fear she would not find anyone that would look upon her with such love and adoration. Lúthien pleaded with her mother, Gwendeling to see if Beren was alive. Acknowledging he was alive, but captured, Lúthien wants to go in search of Beren to help him escape. Gwendeling asks her daughter not to talk of such things. But Lúthien, being ever earnest, begs her mother to go on her behalf to the king to send help to Beren. Her father also refuses, leaving her no choice but to beg her brother to run away with her to help Beren. Dairon, like any “good” sibling, goes to tell their father, who promptly builds a tree house that no ladder could touch, until Lúthien would get this fool hardy idea out of her head.

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Illustrator Alan Lee’s version of Lúthien’s tree house.

With Lúthien’s free spirit, she finds a way to leave her quaint tree house. Tinwelent has provided guards to bring her whatever she desires. Being imbued with elven magic, Lúthien asks for ingredients to make a potion that makes her hair grow continuously for 12 hours (as well as make her sleep). Once grown, she cuts her hair off, fashions a cloak which when flung about makes people fall asleep, and uses the remaining hair to climb down from her tower (yes, just like Rapunzel) and escape.

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Lúthien escaping from her tree house in her cloak

While in the woods before reaching Melko’s gate, Lúthien comes across a giant dog named Huan.  When learning she was the princess of the woodland elves, Huan came up with an idea that benefited both. Huan wanted nothing more than to be rid of Tevildo (The Prince of Cats- but in other versions this particular character would be Sauron; yes the “One ring to rule them all” guy). After conspiring together, Lúthien sneaks up to the terrace where the cats sleep to see if she could spy Beren. If spotted, she would lure Telvido down to the forest where Huan would pretend to be injured, only to end the rivalry between cats and dogs forever. As cunning as this cat could be, he could not see through his hatred for dogs to know a lie. Telvido follows Lúthien into the forest with a scout cat, happening upon Huan’s lifeless form. Filled with euphoric satisfaction, Telvido completely misses the ambush, and his cohort pays the price. Telvido runs up a tree, tail between his legs, and negotiations start for the release of Beren in exchange for Telvido’s life.

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Alan Lee illustration of Telvido Prince of Cats included in “Beren and Lúthien”

After escaping, Beren, Lúthien, and Huan decide to carry out Tinwelint’s wishes and return with the Simaril.

Any newcomer to the Tolkien prose will be discouraged with the first part of the book. There are a lot of explanations and background information on characters and story outline that would make any Tolkien fan’s head spin- let alone someone attempting to join the fandom.

I am not dissuading you to read “Beren And Lúthien”- oh no. I am ENCOURAGING you to start with “The Hobbit”, continue with “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and then proceed back in time to expanded references you are already familiar with.

Like any good story, over time it evolves. We start with the simplest of stories. From there Simon Tolkien attempts to revive and piece together his father’s manuscripts- it is here where names change, and the story is extended in exquisite prose. Reading prose could be similar to reading a screenplay- it’s not for everyone. BUT! If you can get into the rhythm it is well worth the effort.

4-Star-Rating

Beren and Lúthien” by J.R.R Tolkien (edited by Christopher Tolkien) is available now!  I was chosen to receive an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review. Given that fact, it has not altered my opinion on the book at all.

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16 comments

  1. It’s always great when you get more from the worlds you love – whether it’s the original author or just really good fanfiction. I’ve read and loved The Hobbit, but I never could get into the trilogy (though I like the movies). I’m glad this was another great addition to the world.

    -Lauren
    http://www.shootingstarsmag.net

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful resource! I grew up with parents who loved Tolkein, but they didn’t share it with me as much as I would have liked. My oldest child is going into 4th grade, and I’m hoping to introduce her to these stories over the next couple of years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Neither of my parents are readers… so I stumbled upon Tolkien all on my own. Now, I can’t even imagine not knowing Middle Earth!

      Like

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