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The Children of Hurin

Written by: J. R. R. Tolkien
Narrated by: Christopher Lee
Length: 7 hrs and 51 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (51 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

There are tales of Middle-earth from times long before The Lord of the Rings. The story told in this book is set in the great country that lay beyond the Grey Havens in the West: lands where Treebeard once walked, but which were drowned in the great cataclysm that ended the First Age of the World.

In that remote time, Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, dwelt in the vast fortress of Angband, the Hells of Iron, in the North; and the tragedy of Túrin and his sister Nienor unfolded within the shadow of the fear of Angband and the war waged by Morgoth against the lands and secret cities of the Elves. Their brief and passionate lives were dominated by the elemental hatred that Morgoth bore them as the children of Húrin, the man who had dared to defy and to scorn him to his face. Against them he sent his most formidable servant, Glaurung, a powerful spirit in the form of a huge wingless dragon of fire.

Into this story of brutal conquest and flight, of forest hiding-places and pursuit, of resistance with lessening hope, the Dark Lord and the Dragon enter in direly articulate form. Sardonic and mocking, Glaurung manipulated the fates of Túrin and Nienor by lies of diabolic cunning and guile, and the curse of Morgoth was fulfilled.

The earliest versions of this Tolkien story go back to the end of the First World War and the years that followed. But long afterwards, when The Lord of the Rings was finished, he revised and greatly enlarged it, enhancing complexities of motive and character. It became the dominant story in his later work on Middle-earth. But he could not bring it to a final and finished form. In this book, Christopher Tolkien has constructed, after long study of the manuscripts, a coherent narrative without any editorial invention.

©2007 J. R. R. Tolkien Copyright Trust and Christopher Reuel Tolkien (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, London, UK

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Tolkien. Christopher Lee. 'Nuff said.

Christopher Lee is the only person I want to hear reading this tale. I had read it in print before, but his flavour and gravitas make the experience even richer. It is a tragic, desperately sad story, as beautiful as any of the others of Middle Earth. If you have read the Lost or Unfinished Tales, you will be familiar with some of the story and the characters. It seems to me that Christopher Tolkien has edited this version to be a little more action-packed and theatrical, but although it is a good story, I doubt Newline would want to film it: too tragic.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

an instant classic! memorable performance.

Christopher Lee did an absolutely fantastic job! his pronounciation is great and his voice is so fitting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fantastic!

I've read the book, years ago. But this performance by Mr Lee is just spectacular.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Doesn't reach its potential?

Christopher Lee was fantastic in LOTR and has an amazing voice. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to make it through the first chapter. Ultimately, it's like your grandfather is reading you a bedtime story. There are subtle inflections but it's boring overall. If you're looking for more like the Rob Inglis narrations of the Hobbit and LoTR, this is not for you.

Edit: Some of the other reviews describe him using different voices for characters. It's very possible that the first chapter is just extraordinarily dry. I'll keep trying to get through it.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Poorly organized

The story and narration are fine, however, the book has 18 chapters while this audiobook is divided into 7 parts. That makes it harder to reference a hardcopy of the book or to know when a chapter is going to end. I would have highly preferred the audiobook have 18 separate chapters.

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A dark Tolkien adventure

Definitely different from LOTR and The Hobbit but still good nonetheless. Plus, having Christopher Lee reading is a rare treat. Worth a listen for any fan of Middle Earth.

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Not great

There’s a reason that this one is one of the least well known of Tolkien’s work. Lee’s dwarf voices are ridiculous but he’s otherwise great. This one should have stayed as a pile of notes on JRR Tolkien’s desk, rather than being cobbled together as it was.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Simply fantastic

Fantastic expansion of one of the most memorable stories in the Silmarillion. Christopher Lee adds gravitas to the story with his masterful performance, making it feel as though Saruman himself is delivering the narrative.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Very dry, hard to follow

I wouldn't recommend this book. it was slow and all over the place. Hard to follow. Far to many sub plots.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Catherine Collins
  • 2009-12-19

Powerful and Disturbing

This is a powerful and disturbing novel -- the tragic story of a man crippled by external misfortune and by his own proud and violent temperament. I began this book in paper format when it first came out but soon gave it up. I found the story to be grim and unappealing. I then decided to give Audible a try, and I'm glad I did. Christopher Lee's brilliant narration saved the book for me. He gives full justice to Tolkien's musical prose and The Children of Hurin carried me happily through several weeks of commuting. I have to say that the story is easier to take when split up into 20 minute chunks.

The text that we have was not completed by Tolkien, but was edited by his son from rough drafts and notes. This accounts for a lot. The novel is repetitious. In fact, it feels as if one is hearing the same story several times over. The same themes of heroism, followed by rashness and failure, occur again and again throughout the novel in slightly different episodes. And throughout, Turin, the hero, never seems to learn anything or to be changed by what he experiences. It occurred to me at the end, that perhaps what we have is precisely that: several attempts at the same short story, strung one after the other, rather than a complete novel with a fully realized narrative arc.

I suspect that if Tolkien had managed to finish the work to his liking, it would have been shorter, or more varied. It is one aspect of Tolkien's genius, evident in the Hobbit and the LOTR, that he never tells the same story twice. Every chapter of the Hobbit, for example, is not only a different adventure, but a different kind of adventure. That inventiveness is missing from The Children of Hurin. For this reason, I give the book only 4 stars instead of 5.

Nonetheless, I am glad that I bought this recording. Christopher Lee is first rate and the work is a masterpiece, albeit a flawed and unfinished one.

143 of 147 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Chelsea
  • 2011-01-21

Christopher Lee makes it!

Christopher Lee's narration really makes this book accessible and enjoyable. His pronunciation of the difficult Elvish words is accurate and spry in a way. I love his different voices for the different characters, especially Morwen. His interpretation of her really adds to the listener's imagining of the character.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Brian
  • 2007-11-07

Great read

Wonderful book for Tolkien fans. Christopher Lee, who played Saruman, does a wonderful job narrating. A Tolkien fanatic in his own right his reading lends an almost palpable weight to the story, helped by how easily he reads Tolkien's imagined languages. Non-Tolkien fans or new readers may find this book difficult to follow at times and would be better served to start with his more well known works.

39 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tom
  • 2009-01-07

Couldn't Stop Listening!

An excellent rendition of this newly-reconstructed tale. Tolkien fans should take note, however, that this recording does not include Christopher Tolkien's introduction or notes on the text. You'll want to supplement your listening with a print copy for these, as well as the map, geneologies, reference sections, and beautiful illustrations by Alan Lee.

26 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Sue
  • 2008-03-13

Persistance Pays Off

This book requires the listener to be patient and skim over the alien sounding names. Eventually you gain an understanding of the characters and the story line. I have to admit it was a lot easier to listen to than to actually read as pronunciation was handled by the reader. Christopher Lee did a stirling job and presented a wonderful story in a appropriate and entertaining tone.

23 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Elithea
  • 2007-10-07

at last!

someone got a clue! fabulous, perfect narrator, now please: the silmarillion, the ring "trilogy" and the whole tolkein corpus, unabridged and with narration of this quality, should mr. lee prove unavailable for the enirety of such a mammoth project. how can no one have done this yet?!

34 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • haesel
  • 2008-02-02

Epic Story

I have read many of the reviews and it seems that you will not like this book if a happy ending is essential to you. For me, happy endings are nice, but I dont need them to enjoy the story. I agree that you will enjoy this book more if you have read the Silmarillion-- oh darn, another great book to read... Personally, I prefer these tragic epics to the Ring & Hobbit series -- they are dense and complex and the characters stay with you -- these stories are facinating. The narration is a bit mello dramatic and the music is terrible, but it didnt bother me too much. This is a great winter book to read by the fire.

27 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Alyssa
  • 2008-06-28

Extraordinary Tale as only Tolkein can contrive

If you want the true experience of Tolkein's genius, you need to read the Silmarillion, not the Lord of the Rings. This is an expansion of one of the tales from the Silmarillion, which deals with the great tragedies of Middle Earth eons before LOTR, and the epic battles between the stranded races of Humans, Elves and Dwarves with Morgoth/Lucifer. If you love true literature, not just modern trash, then this will bring great joy. Those who found this book difficult, need to read the Silmarillion, as you cannot possibly understand what is happening in the "Children of Hurin" without it. Highly Recommended.

24 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Euryleia
  • 2008-07-17

Difficult to Follow

I really like Christopher Lee's voice and his pronunciation of the taxing Tolkien names and language is excellent. That said, as a purely audio version, this book is really hard to follow. It was much easier for me to actually read than to listen to (much like the Silmarilion, which I loved when I read and couldn't follow in an audio format) although it works remarkably well as a read-along!

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Penny
  • 2007-12-10

Not quite epic

I preferred Rob Inglis reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I think Christopher Lee is too serious in places. This story has a mind-boggling collection of names for the first few chapters, but settles down eventually to tell a "St George and the Dragon" type of story. Not an epic like the Hobbit or LOTR, but classic Tolkien nonetheless.

For reasons known only to Audible, the Rob Inglis versions are no longer available. Pity, they are amazing.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful