Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Children of Hurin - De Luxe Edition - 2007



This De Luxe edition of The Children of Hurin was published in 2007 by HarperCollins as part of the latest De Luxe range.Christopher Tolkien begins the book with a specially written introduction, and there is also an appendi of the history and writing of the book. It also contains a brand new red and black map of Beleriand which folds out at the back, although don't get your hopes up - it's just two (small) pages in size, and nothing compared to the sort of quality of previous work.

'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.

Inside the book itself are twenty five pencil sketches and eight colour paintings by Alan Lee. This is a step up from the Deluxe Sigurd and Gudrun (and Lord of the Rings) in the same range which have no such range of colour illustrations.

With 10,000 copies in print, this edition isn't rare at all, but the plus side of that is that it can be picked up at a very decent price due to market saturation. Proving that there is still a chance to grab a bargain on Ebay these days, I managed to pick this up (brand new and sealed) for £12.50 including delivery - a staggering fact when you consider that the RRP is £60. I'd like to think my bidding strategy is what won it for me (for those who haven't read it, see here: http://collectingtolkien.blogspot.com/2010/10/silmarillion-folio-edition-1997.html )

Probably because I have been spoilt with some of my more expensive editions, I can't help but feel this edition isn't particularly 'delue'. The blue slipcase and boards don't help, as they just look so much like carboard (and are clearly very easy to bump). The gilt helm is a nicer touch, but it's so small on the front of the case that it again doesn't exactly ooze luxury. Really, this is little more than a nice hardback edition, and I would have been disappointed if I had paid anywhere near £60 for it.

All in all a solid, sturdy edition which will make a good reading copy.



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Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun - De Luxe Edition - 2009




Part of the latest de luxe range from Harper Collins, this 2009 edition of The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun fits nicely into the collection alongside the Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, Silmarillion and Tales from the Perilous Realm.

The text itself was written before The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, during the 1920s and 30s. It is a rewriting of Sigurd the Völsung and the Fall of the Niflungs, Norse tales which Tolkien enjoyed reading as a youngster. It seems Tolkien was experimenting with writing in the old Norse metre, a challenge he has excelled in.

This edition is quarter-bound in brown with grey boards and contains a stamped gold foil motif of Sigurd's horse, Grani. It is also housed in a matching slipcase. Printed on luxurious thick paper, it contains a ribbon marker. One thing I find quite funny is the way the book looks so different in various photos. Many ebay auctions have it very dark in colour, looking almost leather in style, but I can confirm that it is quite a pale brown, certainly not similar to leather in tone. It has the distnict look of cardboard rather than leather!

At present I only have the De luxe Lord of the Rings in this series, and I have to say that I like this one being smaller - it's much more managable, and feels a more compact and usable book because of this. The whole thing is sturdy and steady, and has a good strong feeling about it. It sits in the hand comfortably.

Retailing at £60, this book can often be found for around £20 on ebay, and indeed hasn't seemed to be very popular at all, as it always seems to be the cheapest of the de luxe editions. Of course, a book composed mostly of verse is not for everyone, and the market audience for this must be remarkably low, but for those who like to have a nose at everything Tolkien they can get their hands on, there is something of interest in this. The foreword and introduction give some interesting insights into Tolkien, and it's an interesting challenge to try and find influences in this work for Middle Earth.

All in all a nice book, and one which makes a good reading copy for those who don't want to touch their super deluxes.