Arwen and Aragorn were not the only star-crossed lovers in Middle-earth’s history. Before Arwen chose the mortal life to live with the true King of Gondor, Beren and Lúthien were miles (and centuries) ahead of them. And a new book set in the world of Middle-earth will reveal their untold story.
J.R.R. Tolkien, the mastermind behind The Lord of the Rings universe, has written a book vital to the history and mythology of Middle Earth, Beren and Luthien, from beyond the grave. Granted, it’s not really Tolkien publishing or editing (it’s HarperCollins and Tolkien’s now 91-year-old son Christopher, respectively), but Tolkien did write it. And, now, we’ll be getting another Tolkien masterpiece in 2017, a century after it was first written.
The story of Beren and Lúthien takes place in the First Age of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, about six thousand five hundred years before the Fellowship gets together in The Lord of the Rings. Beren and Lúthien’s story, one of romance and adventure, is super important in understanding Middle-earth’s mythology and chronology. Both characters are featured prominently in the book The Silmarillion where they even get their own chapter in Middle-earth’s history.
This new book will undoubtedly fill in the minimal blanks and canonize some of the ever-changing information surrounding this part of Middle-earth’s history. No one ever accused Tolkien of letting sleeping dogs lie, and there have been several iterations of the story since he first wrote it 100 years ago.
Beren and Lúthien’s story is purposely echoed by Aragorn and Arwen in The Lord of the Rings — a mortal man and an elven princess fall in love. There have been four such pairings in the history of Middle-earth. Three times out of four, the elf chooses mortality to be with the man, though Beren and Lúthien’s story is slightly more tragic than Aragorn and Arwen’s.
A very, very brief primer on what we already know about Beren and Lúthien: The two met, fell in love, and Beren asked Lúthien’s father, the elven king Thingol, for her hand in marriage. Beren was commanded to go and retrieve one of the Silmarils — three hallowed jewels stolen from the elves by the root of all evil in Middle-earth: Morgoth — in order to be worthy of Lúthien. Of course, Lúthien ends up following Beren into the jaws of evil. They retrieve one of the Silmarils only to lose it (thanks to a werewolf), but are allowed to marry anyway due to Beren’s bravery, etc. Then Beren dies, is brought back to life, and Lúthien chooses to be mortal so they can live together happily ever after.
There’s a ton of other stuff: Lúthien’s a badass, Sauron can turn into a vampire, and there’s a prophecy about werewolves to name a few plot points. You can find all the details in The Silmarillion. Or you can wait until 2017 for Beren and Lúthien.
Either way: There’s a new Tolkien book on the way, and everyone should be freaking out.
Photos via Donato Giancola, actualitte.com