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Book Review: The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3) by J.R.R. Tolkien

Book Review: The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3) by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Lord of the Rings (Book #3 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, Classic Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Published: 20th October 1955 by George Allen and Unwin


“For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”

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Book Review: The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2) by J.R.R. Tolkien

Book Review: The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2) by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Lord of the Rings (Book #2 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, Classic Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Published: 11th November 1954 by George Allen and Unwin


“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.”

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Book Review: The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1) by J.R.R. Tolkien

Book Review: The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1) by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Lord of the Rings (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, Classic Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Published: 29th July 1954 by George Allen and Unwin


“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”

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Book Review: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Book Review: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Series: Standalone, Middle-Earth Universe

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Classic Fantasy

Pages: 322 pages (75th Anniversary edition)

Published: September 21st, 1937


The Hobbit probably would’ve been more enjoyable if I were reading it at least 15 years ago.

I have an odd relationship with The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings due to my feelings of the movie adaptations. For Lord of the Rings, I haven’t been able to finish Fellowship of the Ring because I loved the movies so much and I ended up finding the book incredibly boring; I will try again next year. As for The Hobbit, I was reluctant to read the book because I disliked the movie adaptation. After finally reading this for the first time, I can safely say that I still dislike the movies, and I felt more or less indifferent about the book.

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The Silmarillion (Middle-Earth Universe)

The Silmarillion (Middle-Earth Universe)

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

With a new interest and determination, I have finally finished reading The Silmarillion.

I have failed this book twice and I was so sure that I won’t attempt reading it again. However, I have just finished re-watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy extended editions and reading the Three Great Tales of Middle-Earth that’s edited by Christopher Tolkien. I know this is not the recommended reading order but it’s only because of doing these two activities that I found a new interest, knowledge, and motivation to actually persevere and finish this book.

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The Fall of Gondolin

The Fall of Gondolin

The Fall of Gondolin by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Here it is, the third and final Great Tales of Middle-Earth in its full form. Not really.

This was my first time reading The Fall of Gondolin and I must say it reminded me of the Trojan War. I’ll be honest that I don’t have a lot of things to say regarding this book. I can seriously copy paste my Beren and Luthien review with a few tweaks and it would describe my thoughts on the book appropriately.

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Beren and Luthien

Beren and Luthien

Beren and Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Unlike The Children of Hurin, unless you’re a lover of poetry or you’re a diehard Tolkien fans, I doubt the overall content of this book will be enjoyable to read.

The Children of Hurin has a novel format with a standalone story. The novel begins with a preface from Christopher Tolkien, then the story starts and continues until the end without break in prose form. It’s pretty much a standard standalone fantasy novel format with a self-contained story that can be read and enjoyed by anyone who loves fantasy novel. Beren and Luthien isn’t like The Children of Hurin. Although I’m super happy that I approached The Children of Hurin without knowing anything about it and ended up loving it, I wish I have known about the overall content of Beren and Luthien before I bought it; because I wouldn’t have bought it.

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The Children of Hurin

The Children of Hurin

The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of Tolkien’s best works. Maybe even the best. I never expected Tolkien to write a story as dark and tragic as the one portrayed in The Children of Hurin.

First, a full disclosure that might anger Tolkien fanatics. During the time of writing this review, despite the fact that I’ve watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy more than ten times, I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t able to finish reading The Fellowship of the Rings because I was extremely bored with it. It’s most likely because the movie has tainted me with its fast pacing; I have no idea why but the book was so boring that it drowsed me to sleep several times, not even halfway. I blame Tom Bombadil, really. I also failed to finish The Silmarillion. Twice I almost made it halfway—the first time was more than ten years ago, the second time was just a few days ago—through the book, and twice I gave up.

For the past few years, I have asked some fans of Tolkien whether it’s necessary to read (not watch) the main trilogy and The Silmarillion first or not before attempting the three Great Tales of Middle-Earth. Some answered as long that I’ve watched the movies and I have the basic knowledge from the first half of The Silmarillion or thorough Wikipedia research (which I did on both accounts), they should be enough. Some even said it’s better to not read The Silmarillion first to get the maximum surprise experience of going into the story as blind as possible. Of course, some weren’t keen—some even felt offended, only Morgoth knows why—on the idea that I’m reading The Silmarillion, or attempted this, without actually reading The Lord of the Rings first. Well, guess what? I’m going to offend them more. I finished The Children of Hurin without reading The Silmarillion or The Lord of the Rings trilogy first, and I totally loved it.

I should note, though, that I’ve now finished reading The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings, and I enjoyed them both, but this review is written with the knowledge and experience when I haven’t read the two.

Picture: The Land of Bow and Helm by Alan Lee

With that knowledge in mind, until I do a reread, this review will be shorter and less detailed than my usual reviews; a lot of readers have done a better job than me in explaining the importance of The Children of Hurin and its connections to the larger story of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. The Children of Hurin is one of the three Great Tales of Middle-Earth written by J.R.R. Tolkien and edited by Christopher Tolkien, the son of Tolkien. The Children of Hurin is a relatively short book. Excluding the preface, appendices, and glossary, the main story is only 200 pages long; what’s incredible and interesting, though, is how much depth, impact, and emotions are contained in it. Most of the storyline revolves around the curse bestowed upon the children of Hurin, specifically on the story of Turin Turambar that begins from his childhood.

“A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.”

As I said, I knew close to nothing when I first read this book, and I think it’s the best way to enjoy it. All I did know was that the story was dark, but I never knew how tragic and brutal it gets. Although the beginning felt a bit rough, I still think the prose was able to grab my attention so much more than The Silmarillion did. Don’t get me wrong, the writing style does feel similar, but The Silmarillion felt too much like reading a bible. In my opinion, The Children of Hurin is more approachable, and I found the second half of the book to be full of engaging drama, an intensely gripping narrative, heartbreaking twists and turns, and it’s utterly unputdownable. Also, TúrinTurambar is one of the most memorable protagonists I’ve ever read.

“False hopes are more dangerous than fears.”

Lastly, I want to praise Alan Lee’s illustrations. The narrative itself already offered a mythical and distinct atmospheric experience, and Lee’s illustrations enhanced the immersion even further. They’re beautifully drawn, placed at the right moments, and it felt easy for me to feel like I was inside a dark tale of Middle-Earth when I was reading through this book.

Picture: Glaurung by Alan Lee

I have no idea whether finishing the ‘required’ reading would enhance or diminish my reading experience. But as far as my first reading goes, knowing nothing about the content has greatly worked in my favor. And I will have to say that I absolutely loved this book. The Children of Hurin is a superbly written tale. A fantastic, mythical, powerful, and atmospheric reading experience. For me, The Children of Hurin is one of Tolkien’s best books, and it’s certainly one of my favorite books now. I look forward to rereading it one day.

You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)

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