Beren and Lúthien Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Presented for the first time on audio, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves, Men and Orcs and the rich landscape unique to Tolkien’s Middle-earth in this unabridged recording read by critically acclaimed father and son, Timothy and Samuel West.
Beren was a mortal man, but Lúthien was an immortal Elf. Her father, a great Elvish lord, was deeply opposed to Beren, and imposed on him an impossible task that he must perform before he might wed Lúthien. Undaunted by Lord Thingol’s challenge, Beren and Lúthien embark on the supremely heroic attempt to rob Morgoth, the greatest of all evil beings, of a Silmaril, one of the hallowed jewels that adorn the Black Enemy’s crown. The tale of Beren and Lúthien, which was written shortly after J.R.R. Tolkien returned from the Battle of the Somme in 1916, was an essential element in the evolution of The Silmarillion.
In this book Christopher Tolkien has extracted the various versions of Beren and Lúthien from the comprehensive work in which they are embedded. To show something of the process whereby this Great Tale of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he tells the story in his father's own words by giving, first, its original form, and then passages in prose and verse from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed. Presented together for the first time, they reveal aspects of the story, both in event and in narrative immediacy, that were afterwards lost.
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|Listening Length||6 hours and 54 minutes|
|Author||Christopher Tolkien, J. R. R. Tolkien|
|Narrator||Timothy West, Samuel West|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||30 April 2020|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 12,822 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
554 in Literary Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
753 in Epic Fantasy (Audible Books & Originals)
946 in Family Saga Fiction (Books)
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Top reviews from Australia
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So "Beren and Lúthien" separates this tale from the rest of Tolkien's work, exploring the different aspects and earlier drafts of the story, which have some notable differences (Beren was originally an elf referred to as a "Gnome"). It's not so much a cohesive telling of the tale as it is a collection of Tolkien's ever-evolving drafts, but they all revolve around the love story between a semi-divine elf maiden and her stalwart suitor.
* "The Tale of Tinuviel, in which the beautiful "fairy" princess Tinuviel is spotted by a Gnome named Beren, but her father's scorn for him sends him on a hopeless quest to steal a Silmaril from the crown of the evil Melko. The heartbroken Tinuviel, kept prisoner by her father, devises a way to escape and save Beren, but the danger and cost for them both will be enormous.
*Extracts from "The Lay of Leithian" and "The Quenta Noldorinwa," in which Tolkien made a number of important changes: the insertion of the elf Felagund, Beren's switch from an elf to a human, larger-scale conflicts with the evil Morgoth, and alterations to Beren and Luthien's fate. A great deal more of Middle-Earth's mythos is interwoven with these stories.
*Analysis of the "Quenta Silmarillion," which was what the final version of the tale was ultimately derived from.
*The story of the Nauglafring, a Norse-legend-like tale of Beren's actions that are fleshed out more expansively, and "The Morning and Evening Star," which follows Earendil and Elwing.
It's hard to overstate the importance of Beren and Luthien's tale in Tolkien's legendarium. Not only did it have massive personal resonance for Tolkien himself, but it also had ripple effects across the rest of his Middle-Earth mythos, including the kingship of multiple nations, the lineage of Elrond and the Dunedain, and the love story of Aragorn and Arwen. So its importance as a tale in Tolkien's world can't be overestimated.
It's also simply an entertaining, vivid story, full of forbidden romance, sparkling magic (Tinuviel's spell to make her hair grow AND become a sedative), werewolves, giant talking dogs, bitten-off hands, resurrection, and malevolent gods with shining crowns. There's something almost primally appealing about a tale of against-the-odds lovers whose devotion cannot be stopped.
And "Beren and Luthien" is in some ways a highlighting of the evolving tale, and partly an exploration of how the story evolved over time. The first rendition of it is fanciful, but it's also rather like a child's storybook. Just consider the giant evil cats. The later retellings are far more complicated, both in character development (more of Luthien's angst over her star-crossed romance) and in the world-building (Morgoth's increased influence, the more implicit bittersweetness of their fate rather than outright tragedy, and the involvement with outside elements of Middle-Earth).
And as always, Tolkien's writing is the star of the book -- his prose is hauntingly beautiful, with the quality of being much older than it actually was, as if he had dug up and translated an old legend ("Thereafter Beren was named Erchamion, which is the One-handed, and suffering was graven on his face"). His poetry is perhaps more beautiful ("Thus long they spoke with heavy hearts/and yet not all her elvish arts/nor lissom arms, nor shining eyes/as tremulous stars in rainy skies...").
"Beren and Luthien" is an intriguing look at the evolution of a legendary fantasy tale, and how Tolkien's skill spun it from a simple fairy love story into the heart of a vast epic. A must-see for fans of Tolkien's life's work.
Top reviews from other countries
How is that not a complete misrepresentation of what this is? It may be a worthy piece of literary research, but it's not a novel as that description suggests.
It's a beautiful book. Had to get a replacement as the first one had a chip of the gold embossing missing, so make sure that you check yours for defects. You don't want to pay £40-60 for a book for such blemishes.
Regarding this book, only buy it if you know what you're getting to. If you just want the story of Beren and Luthien, it's covered in the Silmarillion. This book covers various versions of the same story and is not a single novel such as the Hobbit or Lord of hte Rings.
As a piece of literature it fails (as I expected it to) in that it doesn't live up to the high bar set by the excellent Children of Hurin. This has no real cohesive narrative that begs interest to a general reader at all, in my opinion. For that - read The Silmarillion
This also fails as a study piece, which is what it is really, granted, because it's incomplete. In the same breath however, this whole book also feels unnecessary and that's why the low rating. - For this read The Book of Lost Tales and The Lays of Beleriand.
This book follows the development of the Tale of Beren & Luthien through the years and various iterations. It is missing the final version of the story, which was published in the Silmarillion, to make it a valid completist effort; but the material that is included is all present in the books of The History of Middle Earth. This leads to a compendium of material that fails to satisfy either need, I feel.
There was an opportunity here to do something different with the material, to make it more relatable and accessible with good editing but no, true to form CT fails to change a thing which, while admirable in HOME, would have been welcome here to create a different viewpoint on the stories at least. Just updating the names to stop confusion through the iterations would have been helpful. While keeping them as is chronologically in HOME made sense, viewing the changes thematically is made much harder by this approach here.
I rarely regret a book purchase, but this would definitely go on the list. Its sole saving grace for me is the artwork, which is beautiful. Beyond that this book is largely pointless.
I would recommend reading the other books listed in this review as a better approach than this.
This book is for Tolkien fans. If you enjoyed The Silmarillion, better still The unfinished tales, and especially if you stuck with the History Of Middle Earth, then this will be a wonderful addition to your collection.
As always. beautiful colour artwork from Alan Lee throughout with a lovely illustrated dust jacket.