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New Tolkien book: Beren and Lúthien

beren_and_luthienA compilation of Tolkien’s tales of Beren and Lúthien will be published on 1 June 2017, HarperCollins has announced.

Edited by Christopher Tolkien and illustrated by Alan Lee, Beren and Lúthien will bring together material scattered throughout the 12-volume History of Middle-earth series.

The earliest version of the tale of Beren and Lúthien was written in 1917, when Beren was an Elf not a Man and the equivalent of Sauron was a large evil cat.

The story underwent considerable revision throughout Tolkien’s life, and was reworked in both prose and poetry. The new book will demonstrate this evolution.

Beren and Lúthien will be published 100 years since Tolkien’s wife Edith danced for him in a small woodland glade filled with hemlocks in East Yorkshire, an event he later acknowledged was the inspiration for the meeting of the immortal Lúthien Tinúviel and the mortal Beren in the glades beside Esgalduin.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Beren and Lúthien will be published on 1 June 2017.

From the publisher

Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a fully continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, Dwarves and Orcs and the rich landscape and creatures unique to Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

The tale of Beren and Lúthien was, or became, an essential element in the evolution of The Silmarillion, the myths and legends of the First Age of the World conceived by J.R.R. Tolkien. Returning from France and the battle of the Somme at the end of 1916, he wrote the tale in the following year.

Essential to the story, and never changed, is the fate that shadowed the love of Beren and Lúthien: for Beren was a mortal man, but Lúthien was an immortal Elf. Her father, a great Elvish lord, in deep opposition to Beren, imposed on him an impossible task that he must perform before he might wed Lúthien. This is the kernel of the legend; and it leads to the supremely heroic attempt of Beren and Lúthien together to rob the greatest of all evil beings, Melkor, called Morgoth, the Black Enemy, of a Silmaril.

In this book Christopher Tolkien has attempted to extract the story of Beren and Lúthien from the comprehensive work in which it was embedded; but that story was itself changing as it developed new associations within the larger history. To show something of the process whereby this legend of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he has told 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.

See also

About the Author: Daniel Helen
Daniel is an Officer without Portfolio and Trustee of The Tolkien Society. Elected in 2014, he is mainly responsible for the Society's digital operations, including this website.
  • Cesar Augusto Machado

    AMAZING!!! Next step “The Fall of Gondolin”?!

    • If only Tolkien had finished his latest version. One long-standing Tolkien Society member describes it as “Tolkien firing on all cylinders” and I absolutely agree.

      • Cesar Augusto Machado

        Well, I would love that Beren and Lúthien was like The children of Húrin, but the compilation is a GREAT news. The Fall of Gondolin can be like an compilation too… some texts os HoM-e divided by “versions” and “pieces”.

      • Maksim

        The version in the Book of Lost Tales was also “Tolkien firing on all cylinders”, I would love to see that tale + later versions published too in one book, like what they’re doing with Beren & Luthien.

    • Yes, totally agree – when I was in high school (over a decade ago) I actually typed up a compilation of The Fall of Gondolin (using Of Maeglin as a prologue, then splicing the Unfinished Tales beginning to the Book of Lost Tales 2 narrative, with bits and pieces of other stories added. Would love to see what CT came up with.

    • Planetary

      Oh man, that would be awesome!!

  • I have always been anticipating a standalone Fall of Gondolin book. Here’s hoping.

  • Ruca77

    Great news! Big cheers to Christopher Tolkien to keep doing this amazing work!

  • David Beckmann

    The publishing date is a cool idea.

  • Suzieanna Dreamsmasher Donald

    I actually started crying when i read this, like full on sobbing because I’m so so happy!! Another book release, yes!!

  • Maeglin

    One of the most important books in the legendarium.

    Beren and Lúthien is really the heart of the Middle Earth Legendarium. Even The Lord of the Rings was in origin peripheral to this. To have a book constructed about this tale is a crowning achievement for Tolkien’s literary creations goes without saying.

  • mo0on-light

    that’s really great.. beren and luthien is one of my fav love story and i hope in the future is they could make a book for another love story.. aegnor and andreth

  • Nilton Braga

    What’s the difference between this book and the story in Unfinished tales?

    • There’s no such story in Unfinished Tales. Of Beren and Lúthien is of course in The Silmarillion, but how it differs we’ll have to wait and see!

      • Nilton Braga

        You’re right… It’s Hurin’s tale that’s in both books (Si and UnTa). Tks!

  • Renato Accioly

    Oh, my… yet another awful “film trilogy” by Peter Jackson in 3… 2… 1… (actually, I did enjoy the three LOTR movies, but The Hobbit stretched it a little too thin. Can’t begin to imagine what they’ll do to the stories in the Silmarillion 🙁

    • bohemond

      Don’t worry, the film rights to the First Age aren’t for sale.

      • I-ann Monzon

        This promise made me doubly happy haha. I am a fan of both movies and books, but I never once saw The Hobbit in any cinema because I thought it was bordering on terrible for being so over the top (length, randomly added characters/storylines/romances, making Orlando Bloom seem like a younger Legolas lol). I hope Beren and Luthien remains a historical part of the legendarium and not another trilogy. I think they already did The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen well enough for screen anyway.

    • treeman

      How many films have you produced and directed?

  • Alex McLeish

    Alan Lee.

    Is Ted Nasmith too busy to do Tolkien stuff these days? I mean, I have nothing against one of Jackson’s cronies, but how ‘Hollywood’ will be illustrations end up being?

    • Taz

      They’re only Hollywood because Jackson based a lot of his films’ look off Lee’s illustrations. Or rather, the illustrations aren’t ‘Hollywood’, Hollywood is the illustrations.

    • bohemond

      Lee has been illustrating Tolkien at the Estate’s behest for over 20 years, well before the movies were ever a glimmer in PJ’s Harryhausean fantasies; that’s *why* PJ chose him.

  • Planetary

    Question for the hard core Tolkien fans……I’d like to read all the Middle Earth stuff in chronological order. Not “making of” stuff, but as a story. From creation to the Fourth Age. I know that it wasn’t really meant to be read like that, but I’d like to anyway. Could you point me to the best, most detailed versions of some of the stories in The Silmarillion, and any other tales of note? I own copies of The Silmarillion, Children Of Hurin, Book Of Lost Tales 1 and 2, Unfinished Tales, The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings. Will probably wait until “Beren and Luthien” comes out. Any help and info would be greatly appreciated and a hearty “thanks!!” to you as well

    • Desmond

      Sounds like you already have the order essentially correct. I would probably leave Book of Lost Tales for the end, since it doesn’t have anything in its “final form”, and is more interesting just to go back and look to see how Tolkien’s world evolved over time. Unfinished Tales is similar but not everything in it is really “unfinished”, just miscellaneous stories from all the different eras of Middle Earth that didn’t really fit in any other publication. There’s an early version in it of what would become Children of Hurin.

      If you start with the Sil (which literally has the “beginning”) keep in mind it’s more of a history book/mythological compendium than a novel, and easy to get bored with if you aren’t already “into” that world. Personally, I’d go with the Hobbit, LOTR, The Sil, then Children of Hurin, and finally UT and/or Book of Lost Tales.

    • Like_Like

      Hello, you could use the calculator on this website http://www.chronology.org/tolkien/

      • Planetary

        Wow, that’s exactly what I was looking for! Thanks!

  • Catherine Spence

    I don’t know if I’m more excited about the book itself or the fact that it’s got Alan Lee illustrations – the best of both worlds!

  • Kaladin

    Great news.

  • Many thanks Daniel for sharing this news! I am late to the party but I will be the first in line to get the hardcover book!

    I just shared your article on my personal blog since it is very appropriate for a guy like me that admires Elrond’s great lineage among other things:

    https://www.elrond.org/new-tolkien-book-beren-and-luthien/

    The illustrations by Alan Lee will be wonderful, I am certain!

  • Tosca Zraikat

    Hello. Can you advise where the ‘War of the Jewels’ fits into Tolkien’s books? Is it a sequel to the Silmarillion or is there something that fits better between them? Much thanks. And many many thanks to Christopher Tolkien for making so much of his father’s work available. It is an immense task.

    • Abhishek Chakrabarti

      The ‘War of the Jewels’ is a part of the Silmarillion and forms bulk of the narrative set in the First Age. 🙂

  • Double D

    Just because the Battle of the Five Armies is over does not mean it’s the end of Middle-earth.

  • NJ

    I am hopeful that CJR Tolkien will undertake to attempt a standalone volume related to the coming of Tuor and the fall of Gondolin.

  • Amanda Robinson

    Just seen this on the news I’m gonna buy it in honour of my dad he loved and collected Tolkien for many years I have it now I have vintage books and even a comic book version of the hobbit and the radio play tape set that was from the 80s plus lots more he would have loved this news I grew up listening to his stories

  • Curtis O. Fletcher

    Wait, so is this the actual story, in story form (like the Hobbit or the trilogy) or is it a compilation of multiple stages of development that looks more like lost tales?

    • William Connor

      It’s a compilation, there are multiple “finished” versions of the story within the book that each have vastly different details of the story (The core of the story remains the same).

  • Jonathan McOsker

    Does anybody know how much different this is than that published in the “Unfinished tales?”

    • William Connor

      Hi Jon,
      I’ve almost finished this book (Picked it up a few days ago) It is very different than the one in “Unfinished Tales” in the sense that it follows the different developments of the story.
      I don’t want to ruin anything for you but there are at least 2 complete versions of the story in this book, each very different than the other. (The core of the story remains the same though)