The Lays of Beleriand (The History of Middle-earth, #3)

ISBN: 0345388186
ISBN 13: 9780345388186
By: J.R.R. Tolkien Christopher Tolkien

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About this book

"The power of Tolkien's central characters . . . shines through." Library Journal.A treasure trove of lore for old and new friends of Middle-earth. Enter now, reader, and learn of the hero of the Lay of Leithian. Hear as well of the early years of Turin the Tall, as he journeys through darkness on his quest to find his father. Read of his rescue by Beleg the Brave, and of the dark destiny that haunts their friendship! Only the genius of Tolkien could create a fantasy more real than reality, a reality more fantastic than fantasy!

Reader's Thoughts

John Penn

If you get this book, be sure to read the Lay of Leithian (early version first) and then read the post-LotR rewrite of it at a later date. I read it aloud at a friends gathering recently in my best mead hall baritone. Great stuff! Right now I am working my way through "The Book of Lost Tales 1(The History of Middle-Earth, Vol. 1)"

D.E. Wyatt

The unfortunate thing about this, is that Tolkien never finished. This book contains partial versions of the stories of Turin, and of Beren and Luthien, in verse form. Both offer a unique telling of the stories outlined in the Silmarillion (and the Children of Hurin in the former case), but Tolkien ultimately abandoned them.

Steve Cran

this third installment makes it abundantly clear that some of Tolkien's tales may well havbe more then 3-4 versions, each one with different ending, character names and what not. None the less It is still enjoyable to read. Tolkien wrote several of his stories in poetry form. Now normally I am not a fan of reading poems as their meaning is totally lost on me. With JRR Tolkien I can grasp what he is saying. The explanatory notes by Christopher help fill in any gaps. Clearly Christopher is showing improvement in this area or I am just getting used to it. They were useful and painless.Every Tolkien fan should be familiar with the Children of Hurin. He tells it a little bit differently every time. In this version all of mankind abandon the elves to fight Morgoth alone, except for Hurin and his army. Thingol is the elven king I believe and he has an underground kingdom that or an enchanted kingdom that Morgoth cannot find. the names get confusing as not only are they elvish but in different versions they are quite interchangeable. Hurin is captured and Morgoth want him to reveal the location of turgon's kingdom but Hurin is steadfast. Hurin's wife is sick with worry and knows not where Hurin is whether alive or dead. Turin grows up in poverty and eventually the mother the mother sends him to Thingol's kingdom to grow up. Turin knows the pain of loneliness and being different. He still becomes and awesome warrior. Things go awry when a royal guest mocks him. Turin throws a drinking stein in his face thus destroying his face and killing him. Turin flees. He joins an individual hunter who and they hunt orcs and goblin. This unit of hunters will be betrayed. Vengeance will bee had. Turin gets captured and rescued by his hunter friend. Turin kills him on accident. The poem ends with him going to another kingdom and his mom visting Thingol's realm. The least complete of the versions.In the Lay of Lethian, Bern a Mortal comes to Doriath which Thingol is king and Melian is queen. Their daughter Luthien falls in love with the mortal Beren. This differs from the Tale of Tinuviel. Beren is not an elf and Queen Melian is not fae. Thingols does not approve of Luthien's love for Beren so Thingol sends Beren off on a suicide mission to get 0ne of the Simarrilion of Morgoth's crown. Beren and a group of people from Norgrothond ambush a bunch of orcs take their uniforms and infiltrate the Wolven island. they are discovered and imprisoned. The wolf Thu eats one of them every evening, In the Tale of Tinuviel there was no wolf but Teveldo the cat. Noorgrathond is lead by Cuiven and Celigwen stand inplace rulers while the king rots in Morgoth's prison. Needless to say Huam the hound kills the wolves rescues beren but the real king of Norgrthiond dies Luthien gets them back in and there is a battle with werewolves at the end with a wolf swallowing a Simaril along with Beren's hand. THey get the Simaril and in the end Beren and Luthien become Mortals.

Nicholas Whyte is the third volume of the History of Middle Earth; it contains two unfinished poems tackling the two key narratives of the Silmarillion. The first, a version of the tale of Turin told in alliterative blank verse, did not really appeal to me, and while I can see why Tolkien, with his background, wanted to give it a try, it's not very surprising that the effort did not come off. The Lay of Leithian, however, is a different matter - telling the story of Beren and Luthien in rhyming couplets of iambic tetrameter, it has a tremendous energy that Tolkien never quite managed in the prose versions of the story, despite its strong personal significance for him. Also I had forgotten, or had never realised, just how kickass a heroine Luthien actually is. The couplets are occasionally a little unpolished, but Christopher Tolkien reproduces a mock source-critical analysis by none other than C.S. Lewis suggesting that the least good bits are obvious interpolations by later scribes. J.R.R. Tolkien then revised the poem in line with Lewis' suggestions, but typically started expanding it from the middle again and never got around to finishing it.Years later, it was part of the disorganised bundle of papers submitted to Unwin as material for a potential sequel to The Hobbit. Unwin's reader, who clearly had not been given much background, found the poem indigestible and urged instead an expansion of the prose summary of the rest of The Silmarillion. Tolkien wasn't up for this at that point, and wrote The Lord of the Rings instead. And thus was history made.

Richard Houchin

Like the Silmarillion, this book is only for those who are passionate not just about Tolkien's world -- but about the nuts and bolts behind that world. It reads like a dry, boring history book at times. Or like the bible. But it's got great stories and good insight to the world of Lord of the Rings.

Dave Mosher

The first two Book of Lost Tales warm you up to the series, and this is a great gem to work your way toward.It took my 1/10th the time to read this from cover-to-cover than the previous two books combined, because the stories/lays (poems) were longer, more developed and more reminiscent of the "feel" of the Lord of the Rings. When the annotations stopped and the stories began, I could not put this down.As usual with this series, you have to be a Tolkien nut to appreciate what Christopher Tolkien has done here, and not be annoyed by the academic-style literary commentary throughout.I'm learning to love being in a college literature course taught by J.R.R. Tolkien's son (figuratively speaking, of course), because you get the sense that you are looking over the shoulder of a giant in fiction as he labored over his tales. It's awesome.


This book differs from the other volumes of Tolkien's history in that it is primarily poetry. Because of that, I loved it. Tolkien isn't the best poet in the world, but because of the subject matter, who cares. He does want he does and does it better than anyone else ever did it. 'nuff said. Get the book and start reading. You'll never be able to say you are Tolkien's #1 fan until you polish off this book.


I finished it!!! Okay so it wasn't all that hard to finish, but it's just taken me so long to even pick it up. It looked to be tedious at the beginning, but by the end it was much easier reading. I now move on to the fourth book, which also looks to be rather easy to go through. Hopefully the remaining books will be this easy to get through.


Even though the poetry in this volume is incomplete, it is well worth reading. It beautifully retells portions of stories found in "The Silmarillion"...most notably about 1/3 of the tragic lives of the children of Hurin and 3/4 of the love/adventure story of Beren the mortal man and Luthien the immortal elf. The poems are some of J. R. R. Tolkien's earlier writings so some names and events do differ slightly from the later "Silmarillion" version of the stories.The editorial commentary by Christopher Tolkien (which takes up at least 1/3 of the page count) is tedious in the extreme. You should skip it unless you happen to be interested in how the story evolved through various rough drafts and earlier versions and how Christopher edited together the current version from various partial manuscripts. It breaks up the flow of the poetry and adds little or no additional information to the current form of the story.Overall: excellent fragments of dramatic poetry by a great author interspersed with tedious pontification by the editor.


A work for Tolkien afficionado. It shows the different stages of how the myth was built and comments on the choices made or possibly made. While interesting, it is an analysis of an incomplete work that brings depths of understanding to it but is totaly superfluous to the casual fan (IMHO).


Though, as a fan of Middle-Earth I've been enjoying this book immensely, it may not be limited to Hobbit groupies. The contents of this book had not been published at the time of Tolkien's death but it is easy to see how they add to the lore of Middle earth, expanding on the Silmarillion in long lays of simple but beautiful heroic couplets.It can also be interesting to examine Tolkien's poetry from the perspective of his literary background such as his experience with Old English poetry such as Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.Yet as fun as these things may be for me, from a literary standpoint Tolkien's poetry may be beautiful, but not entirely remarkable and a non-fanperson might be soon bored.

Fernando Perez

** spoiler alert ** what i think of this book is that this book is really interesting and not that much of a boring middle-age book. the lays of beleriand by J.R.R Tolkien mostly talks about this hero that starts on a journy to save his father on his journy he incounters mane foes that get in his way but he alwasy manage to escape not until he gets trap, then out of no where this stranger swoops in and helps turin the hero and thats all i can give now its your turn who ever is reading this to find this book and read it your self


I love this book. It's really magical to see these stories in this way, epic poems that really bring these corners of the Tolkien mythology to life. And faithfully recreated Old English metres, at that. You can almost imagine some travelling bard reciting these over a couple of nights in some lordly lord's hall.I've read this before, and usually, I'll end up skipping over a lot of the commentary and notes, as it detracts a bit from the magic. This time, though, I read it nearly cover to cover. It really provides a great deal of insight into how the mythology evolved, the transitional steps between the Lost Tales and the "finished" versions in the Silmarillion. If you're into that kind of thing (nerd alert), then I'd recommend it.

Mauricio Fleury

Christopher Tolkien…

Linda Hoover

For an in-depth look at the history of Middle Earth from start to finish, this is the third one to read in "The History of Middle Earth" series of books, edited by Christopher Tolkien. An interesting look into Tolkien's creative genius at work! :-) This one is made more interesting because it is full of poetry in a style that Tolkien excelled at!

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