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« FR. RICHARD MCBRIEN AND LIMBO | Main | POPE BENEDICT IN BRAZIL »

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Thank you Msgr. Barr for your great website and blog. I stumbled across it and noticed you were in the Rockford diocese. I will be heading to major seminary in August (God willing) for the Rockford diocese (one of Fr. Daniel Deutsch's parishioners).

I have not read any Tolkien yet and would like your suggestion as where to start?

God Bless,
Ryan

Msgr. Barr,
When the latest Tolkien book came out, I had to read it right away. It seems that he had a way to grasp a reader's attention from one book to another. Today, I finished The Children of Hurin and I enjoyed it but I have a few questions that are sort of unanswered. Why did Morgoth decide to release Hurin at such an old age? I noticed that the death of Turin and his sister were like Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Did Tolkien base some of his work off of other stories of the time? One of my favorite parts of the book were the forgiveness Thingol had for Turin through the whole book. I also liked whenever they had Turin come out of the darkness or shadow. The one part I didn't like is when the story left you wondering what ever happen to the people of Middle-Earth. How far did Morgoth get before he was conquered? Was Thingol's kingdom ever discovered by Morgoth? Did Tolkien write any other books that explain more of what happen after the story. If there is please tell me. Thank you and God Bless, Wolfgang.

Bravo Msgr! Wonderful insight!

Wolfgang:

Your questions are all answered in The Silmarillion, the history and legends of the First Age, in which an abridged form of Turin's story occupies one chapter.

In brief: Morgoth releases Hurin because he knows Hurin has become so twisted, so bent on revenge and hate, that he will best further Morgoth's aims if free; and indeed Hurin's vengeful visits to Brethil and Doriath lead to the fall of the first directly and of the latter indirectly.

As Msgr. Barr has observed, Men and Elves do not have the strength to overcome Satan: their war is ultimately hopeless. One by one the strongholds fall, even Gondolin- but from Gondolin comes Earendil, son of Turin's cousin Tuor by an Elf-princess, who will eventually win back to the Uttermost West and persuade the angelic Valar to take pity on Middle-earth.....but you'll have to read it for yourself!

Wolfgang: The Children of Hurin is a small subset of the much larger tale told in The Silmarillion. If you want the whole story of what happened in that First Age of Middle-Earth, that's where you should go.

Ryan: If you're just starting out with Tolkien, I would suggest first The Hobbit and then the Lord of the Rings. After that you might try the Silmarillion. That's the order the books were published and the way many of us came to be Tolkien fans. I also think it's the best way to dive in.

Ryan and Wolfgang: Thanks for your comments.

Ryan: I agree with Domenico on the order in which one should read Tolkien. Have fun and God bless you in your vocation.

Wolfgang: Great questions but William answered them already. All I would add is that you might want to try The Silmarillion--difficult but very rewarding. Try another posthumously published Tolkien work called Unfinished Tales which has a version of the Turin story and other stories that will shed light on your questions.

Msgr. Barr,
I have just ordered Unfinished Tales and Silmarillion and will have them in less than a week. I want to thank Domenico and William with their help explaining some of my questions. Right now I am reading the Iliad and Odyssey. I would like your opinion of the two books and how they are alike to LOTR. Also, do you recommend any medieval/sci-fi books for summer reading especially any other LOTR books . Thanks again, Wolfgang

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