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New J.R.R. Tolkien book released after 100-year wait

A wizard is never late. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.

If you are looking for some fantasy fiction to tide you over before the new Game of Throne‘s lands, this could be just the thing.

A new book by The Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien is finally hitting the shelves today, 100 years after the beloved writer started working on it.

The book is titled Beren and Lúthien and it is a love story between Beren, a mortal man, and Lúthien an immortal elf. Their families/society doesn’t approve so yeah it’s basically Romeo and Juliet (or Titanic or Avatar). It’s a tale of star-crossed lovers, but set in Middle Earth several thousand years before the events of The Lord of the Rings.

Romeo and Juliet

At that moment, Juliet declared her love of fish.

A different version of the story actually first appeared in 1977’s The Silmarillion, a collection of myths about the greater universe surrounding Middle Earth. Tolkien’s son has tried to keep the integrity of that version, while also showing how it was changed.

The new book is being published by HarperCollins with drawings by illustrator and movie conceptual designer Alan Lee. It’s right up Lee’s alley because in 2004 he won an Academy Award for his work on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings.

John Garth, the author of Tolkien and the Great War, told BBC News that Tolkien had returned from World War I “a wreck” and that writing Beren and Lúthien was like an “exorcism” for the horrors he had seen.

Garth also told the BBC that while on a walk through the woods, Tolkien’s wife Edith “had danced in a glade filled with white flowers”, a moment that later became a key scene in Beren and Lúthien.

The story must have been of great importance to their marriage because Tolkien posthumously had the names of the characters inscribed on their shared gravestone. That’s sweet (note to self: do something neat with my gravestone).

Let’s hope that no one lets Kiwi director Jackson get his hands on the new story. Jackson means well, and he did a fine job with The Lord of the Rings series, but there is no way that The Hobbit should have been three movies. The last thing we need is a Beren and Lúthien trilogy.

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter

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