Review of New Tolkien Book

Library Journal summarizes the newly published work based on Norse mythology.

Houghton Mifflin. May 2009. 377p. ed. by Christopher Tolkien. illus. ISBN 978-0-547-27342-6. $26. LIT

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún

Yet another posthumous title by Tolkien (between writing this much and teaching full time when did he sleep?), this is one of his more scholarly outputs. Written before his popular Middle-earth creations, the two full poems presented here are based on the old Norse legends that heavily influenced those later works. There are no hobbits or elves, but readers will find plenty of familiar trappings and the feel is much the same. Son Christopher, who has edited 15 of his father’s posthumous publications, provides lengthy commentaries on both poems, which greatly help to grasp the narrative, for as he states in the intro these “are not at all points easy to follow” (Beowulf is Dr. Seuss compared to some of this). These poems were experimental writings for Tolkien, and not entirely successful, yet the parts that work are strong. Much like his marvelous The Children of Húrin, this is dark; there are murders, suicides, and betrayals aplenty. Though the average hobbit head might find this too academic, a new book by Tolkien is always warmly welcomed. Recommended.—Mike Rogers, LJX/LJ

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