Beren and Lúthien is the second work of J.R.R. Tolkien that I’ve read, the first being The Hobbit (review here). I love The Lord of the Rings movies (have seen them multiple times) and will, one day, read the books too. The reason I picked up Beren and Lúthien is because Aragorn (in Fellowship of the Ring) mentions the story of the mortal man who fell in love with an immortal elf, and I just had to read more about it.
The thing with most of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work is that most people either love it, or they hate it. I, for instance, fall in the former group. Which makes it difficult to provide an objective review. I really enjoyed Beren and Lúthien, but in the spirit of attempting to review the book with some objectivity, I will highlight the stuff that I thought was amazing, and the stuff that may be considered less so.
Beren and Lúthien is not written as a linear story. It, in fact, contains parts from numerous manuscripts of J.R.R. Tolkien, all of which contribute to the story of the two characters. As Tolkien evolved the world he created, the stories of its characters also evolved, including that of Beren and Lúthien. The book, through Christopher Tolkien’s efforts, brings together all of the many different parts that Tolkien wrote in relation to these characters, while also attempting to provide the entire story at the very beginning.
10 out of 10
10 out of 10
10 out of 10
10 out of 10 for its fantasy; 10 out of 10 for its love-story emotion
10 out of 10
Part of a Series:
Sort of. While Beren and Lúthien can be read as a standalone, it will only make sense or be enjoyable if you’re looking at getting into the fantasy world that J.R.R. Tolkien created. It is, at the same time, as good a place as any to start.
The poems. There is something just so beautiful about the poems that tell the story of Beren and Lúthien, which is a good thing given that a lot of the book is written in that format. It may take a bit of getting used to, but once you do, it makes up some of the best parts of the book.
What I Liked:
Christopher Tolkien, in putting the book together, has brought two things to the forefront: One, the evolution of the story of Beren and Lúthien and how it changed over the course of years, expanding as it did; and Two, the sheer magnitude of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination, which is amazing to witness. Not only did he create the entire universe of Middle Earth and Arda, but as time went by, he elaborated on the stories of every character within, truly creating a “universe”. Beren and Lúthien offers a glimpse into this expanse.
What I Didn’t Like:
The book, for all its merit, is not a quick or easy read. Given its style, the mixture of poems and story, and the fact that it picks segments from numerous works and unfinished manuscripts, Beren and Lúthien can get a bit heavy. Which is why it may take longer than expected for someone to read it.
Who Should Read It:
Anyone who is interested in The Lord of the Rings (movies and/or books) will enjoy reading about other parts of the world Tolkien has created. Anyone interested in the fantasy genre will enjoy this book too, because not only does it have a story based in that genre, but it actually gives you an inside-look into the evolution of fantasy stories.
Who Should Avoid:
Anyone who doesn’t enjoy fantasy.
Read It For:
The kick-ass and incredibly brave character that is Lúthien, and the strong-willed, principled character that is Beren. The story, written decades ago, shows what a true romantic partnership is about, including the strength, love, and sacrifice required and offered by each person within it.
That’s all for this review 🙂 Share your thoughts on J.R.R. Tolkien, his works, especially Beren and Lúthien, and anything related in the comments below! And as always, thanks for stopping by to read my review.
Coming up next, a review of Blake Crouch’s sci-fi novel, Recursion.