Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Children of Hurin - J.R.R. Tolkien

The fullest available account of the tale of Turin Turambar is here extracted by Christopher Tolkein from the mass of his father's papers and published as a stand-alone book. The story of the doomed Turin's failure to escape his fate is downbeat in an almost Jude the Obscure-like way so this is far from a fun read. It is, however, a great treat to have the story put forward in this form: largely freed from the entanglements of the surrounding events and the vagaries of composition that crowd in on the various versions presented in the History of Middle Earth. Tolkien enthusiasts will, of course, have bought this book regardless but for those hooked by the Lord of the Rings it might actually be the best available taster for the stories of the elder days and draw in an additional readership for the legends that were central to Tolkien's great creation.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Traitor and the Chalice - Jane Fletcher

The second half of Lorimal's Chalice now appears as the second of three volumes of "Lyremouth Chronicles". The story continues from the end of The Exile and the Sorcerer and gains in strength and structural coherence from its new stand-alone presentation. Jemeryl, the sorcerer, and Tevi, the exile, combine forces to overcome danger and treachery to recover the lost chalice and return it to Lyremouth. The two lead characters are depicted with equal affection but the gritty realism of Tevi's mundane world is perhaps more strongly characterised than the rarified, politicised, atmosphere of the sorcerers' mellieu. Absorbing and rewarding reading; now that I'm caught up with the story I'm keen to know where we head in the third volume.