Tolkien’s Beren and Lúthien Reunited in a New Book from HarperCollins


Great news, Tolkein fans! The enigmatic tale of mortal Beren and his elvish love Lúthien is coming to a bookstore near you.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s star-crossed lovers Beren and Lúthien will be reunited once again in a new book. HarperCollins Publishing plans to release the book, edited by Christpher Tolkien, in 2017.

The Song of Beren and Lúthien

In The Fellowship of the Ring, Aragorn sings the Song of Beren and Lúthien to Frodo Baggins and his hobbit pals shortly after they meet, while they’re camping on Weathertop. It’s the hobbits’ first real introduction to the history of elves and men, but Aragon’s song doesn’t say much. The ranger explains that his version isn’t as beautiful as the elvish one, and that Elrond is the only one who remembers the real story.

In Aragorn’s version, Beren sees the beautiful Lúthien dancing and falls madly in love with her. She runs away coyly and Beren chases her. Eventually she lets him catch her, they have vague adventures, are separated by a sea, are reunited, and eventually they die.

The Rest of the Story

The gaps are filled extensively in The Silmarillion, and the 12-volume, 5392-page The Complete History of Middle-Earth. The backstory is that love-struck Beren followed Lúthien to her father’s elvish kingdom. Dad, of course, doesn’t want a scuzzy human dating his ethereal, immortal, magic elf daughter. In classic fairy-tale-style, the elf king sends Beren on a quest to win his daughter’s hand, because there is no way mortal Beren can survive. Beren had it bad, so he did what he was asked: he travels to Mordor to steal a silmaril from the crown of Sauron. Yes, the same Sauron. A silmaril is basically just a gem fashioned to resemble the light from Galadriel’s hair. It’s only magic is that it kills anything mortal or evil that touches it. Sauron owns all of them, and they’re stuck onto his crown.

In Mordor, Beren inevitably gets captured, so Lúthien has to come save him, which she does, with help from a giant magical dog named Huan, the Hound of Valinor. They happily return home, only to have Beren killed by a mad, bad wolf. Lúthien starts wasting away, but she’s immortal, so she is called in front of a great elf council, where she sings the most beautiful song. They’re so impressed they decide to bring Beren back to life and let Lúthien live out a mortal life with him.  Apparently that’s what elves dream about. They live happily ever after, but not as happy as they might have if they didn’t own that damned silmaril.

398729 02: The grave of ”Lord of the Rings” author J.R.R. Tolkien and his wife Edith December 15, 2001 at a cemetery in Oxford, England. The first movie of the trilogy based on the Tolkien novels will be released worldwide December 19, 2001. (Photo by Graham Barclay/BWP Media/Getty Images)

Unlike most of the Lord of the Rings cycle, which is based on British, German and Norse mythology, the story of Lúthien and Beren is based on reality. It’s a picture Tolkien kept in his mind, of his wife dancing “in a small woodland glade filled with hemlocks at Roos in Yorkshire.” The Tolkiens’ graves are carved with Beren and Luthien, a mere mortal and his radiant, dancing love.

Next: Harry Potter and the Fancy New Art Prints

With the new retelling, Christopher Tolkien gathers together all  the Beren and Lúthien material into what I hope will be a story that is actually fun to read. And you know Hollywood is just drooling to option this one. Peter Jackson, start your engines! New Zealand… keep being scenic! I hope to see you again soon, standing in for Middle-Earth on the big screen.