Saturday, 14 August 2010

The Children of Hurin: Super Deluxe Edition - 2007

'The Children of Hurin' is a most paradoxical book, and one could quite convincingly argue that it shouldn't have been a commercial or even critical success: around 80% of the content had already been published in the History of Middle Earth series (precluding many of the hardcore Tolkien fans who had already read it there). On top of that, it dealt with a pre Lord of the Rings age, and I am surely not the only one who was somewhat deterred by this fact. Yes, the only other pre-LOTR book I had read was The Silmarillion, and whilst I grew to love it by the end, that certainly wasn't a walk in the park! I remember well a colleague who had bought a misprint of the book which repeated pages 1-100. Such was the complexity of the text that my friend didn't even notice this! He read the same hundred pages of writing twice over and didn't notice! Despite all this, The Children of Hurin is a wonderful, easy to read novel, and also a huge publishing success, with over a million copies in print in only the first two weeks of its release.

It is this Super Deluxe edition of The Children of Hurin that can be credited for tempting me to seriously collect Tolkien's work. I hadn't followed Tolkien publications for two or three years, so imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when I happened upon this fantastic luxury release: I was immediately in love!

The book is bound in dark blue leather and has marbled endpapers. It has a gilt stamped Helm of Hador on the front cover in red and gold, and the clamshell case is covered in the same leather, lined in blue felt. The Tolkien monogram is stamped in gold gilt on the front, in much the same way as the 2001 Harper Collins Deluxe LOTR. The Helm of Hador reappears, this time just in gold, on the clamshell spine.

Inside the book itself are twenty five pencil sketches and eight colour paintings by Alan Lee. On top of this is a new black and red fold-out map of Belerian, drawn by Christopher Tolkien.

For me, this is one book which will remain shrink-wrapped. As time goes on I hope to pick up an opened 'reading' copy for a good price, but this one will be staying sealed for future re-selling purposes, and I'll tell you why.

As I peruse the Internet and marvel at the various rare and collectible Tolkien books that now command a ridiculously high price, I am very conscious of the fact that they all, at one point, were new to market, and were priced reasonably. The Deluxe LOTR signed by Alan Lee and limited to 250 UK copies, and the Moroccan Leather Folio editions are two books I would give my left arm to buy at release price right now, but alas those days are gone. However, what I CAN say is that anything new to market from this point on will not get past me! Of course, the Super Deluxe Hurins are not new to market, being released in 2007. However, they are still available from the retailer, in this case Harper Collins. My own copy is number 379 of 500. I read online of someone buying number 260ish 6 months back, so at that rate they will all be sold out in a year or so, and then the real re-sale fun begins!

The retail price of this book is a whopping £350, making it (possibly) the most expensive official Tolkien book ever retailed. With the risk of blending my other blog with this one, I am reminded of the Bible verse 'you have not because you ask not'. With this in mind, I emailed Harper Collins and asked for the 30% discount they offered a couple of years back shortly after the book's release. To my delight, they agreed, and therefore I picked this book up for the bargain £245. I was sorely tempted to pick up two, but the fact is that this purchase has already been picked up with future funds, and I will be paying it off to myself at £50 a month until the new year, so I settled on just one copy.

With the limited nature of this book, its superior quality, and the fact that Christopher Tolkien is now well into his 80s (meaning his signature will not be on many new Tolkien books for much longer as he no longer partakes in book tours, signings etc), I am convinced this is a good investment for future resale. Anyway, it's my thought that this book will be worth at least £700 in five or ten years time, at which point I will make my own decision on whether to keep it or not! Considering I picked it up for £245, I am confident there is no way it will ever drop below that in value, so to have it sitting on my bookshelf in the meantime gives me that warm feeling!

Sealed, there isn't a lot I can say about imy own opinion of this edition. This is a big item- the clamshell case makes it stand a good inch above all of my other books. The Tolkien monogram in gold gilt lettering looks stunning on the front of the box, as does the helmet on the spine. David at tolkienbookshelf has been kind enough to let me use his photos to illustrate the opened edition, and by all accounts it is stunning -plush, luxury, rich and extravagant.

All in all, this is a great book to own. However, its price means it has sold very slowly, and has likely only found it's way into the hands of collectors and dealers. The slow sales of this and Sigurd and Gudrun (the 2009 release) sadly suggest there will be no more releases in this Super Deluxe range, which is a real shame. The price also makes it an unlikely reading copy, which is again a shame as a book like this really should be touched, read and enjoyed. Still, it sits with pride of place on my bookshelf, and rightly deserves its place there.   



  1. I agree - a glorious publication. I bought my copy in the early weeks after release. If they had priced the first release at £250 and allowed it to the American Market (this came later) the lot would have gone in a fortnight. Basically the launch of the super-deluxe was bodged.
    But don't keep it in its box! You paid for it so enjoy it! Just take care with the handling. There is no point in owning something like this never to actually see it.

  2. My edition is also sitting still sealed on my bookshelf.
    I´m torn between opening it or leave it sealed.
    Hmmm....who knows. :)

    Best regards,

  3. Hi. My copy is the number 376. How do you feel about the fact these have not sold out yet on the publishers website?