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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 April 2007, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
'New' Tolkien novel goes on sale
JRR Tolkien
Tolkien's son has spent 30 years working on Children of Hurin
A new book by The Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien has gone on sale, 34 years after the writer's death.

The Children of Hurin has been completed by his son Christopher from a series of unfinished manuscripts.

Christopher said the story, set long before the events of the Rings trilogy, represents the last major work by his father about Middle-earth.

The book has been illustrated by Alan Lee, who worked on the movie series and helped launch the book in London.

Tolkien's grandson Adam, who worked as assistant editor on the book, was also at the launch.

It is very much the same world but it is a more serious tale
Adam Tolkien

He said he was "sad" at how some fans have forgotten about who his grandfather actually was.

"Everyone talks about the brand , the franchise and the films. People obviously forget there's a man behind it, that he wrote it for his reasons and the books are wonderful," he added.

"I'm certainly not unhappy about the success they've had, but it's a shame that it should become a brand. It's a work of art."

'Life changing'

One fan at the launch, Australian Asher Solomon, was buying a copy for his older brother who introduced him to The Hobbit when he was 10.

"It was a life-changing moment because it was the first sort of real book that I ever read. He introduced me to the whole genre of fantasy, but the first one's always the best one," he said.

Fans will recognise several passages from the book that have already been published separately.

Christopher Tolkien previously edited another of his father's unfinished works, The Silmarillion, in 1977. This outlines the mythology of Middle-earth and includes individual tales, including that of The Children of Hurin.

Adam Tolkien worked as assistant editor on the book
Adam Tolkien worked as assistant editor on the book

"After a long study of the manuscripts, I tried to build a coherent narrative without editorial invention," Christopher said of the latest work.

Speaking to BBC Two's Newsnight Adam said the book had a different tone to the Rings trilogy.

'Beautiful tale'

He said: "It is definitely a tragic tale. I don't know what people will make of it.

"It takes place in a part of Middle-earth that doesn't exist any more when Lord of the Rings takes place but it is very much Middle-earth, it is very much the same world but it is a more serious tale."

He added: "It's a beautiful tale in itself but it may not strike a chord because people feel there aren't enough hobbits in it - because there aren't any."

The Lord of the Rings has sold more than 150 million copies worldwide and was made into three hugely successful films.

The first broadcast of a JRR Tolkien interview

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