Harry Potter may be approaching his grand finale but he may still have something to learn from an older master of magic. According to The Guardian:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has, for the past 16 weeks, looked to be the invincible champion of the bestseller lists, despite being more than three months away from publication. But the wizardy whippersnapper hadn’t reckoned on the return of an even more popular author: JRR Tolkien has come back from beyond the grave to seize the throne of Amazon’s book charts. The Children of Húrin, based on uncompleted manuscripts by Tolkien, has been worked into a book by the author’s youngest son, Christopher: a labour of love that has taken him 30 years.
J.K. Rowling and Tolkien both have enormous appeal as authors, but judging from Salon.com‘s review, this last book of Tolkien’s is much darker and more tragic than The Lord of the Rings, not to mention a denser read:
Initially, “The Children of Húrin” has that ye-olde-homework feeling of Tolkien at his most laborious. Here is the third sentence of Chapter I: “His daughter Glóredhel wedded Haldir son of Halmir, lord of the men of Brethil; and at the same feast his son Galdor the Tall wedded Hareth, the daughter of Halmir.” (Furthermore, none of the people in that sentence ever reappear.) I still had to refer to Christopher Tolkien’s thorough and helpful maps, indexes and appendixes every few pages to keep the geographical and genealogical nomenclature straight — and I went back to “The Silmarillion” a couple of times to figure out the historical context — but I minded that less and less as the hours grew longer and Túrin’s fell struggle against innermost and outermost evil grew ever more dire.
It may have knocked Harry Potter out of the top spot on Amazon, but it would be interesting to know if the same readers are buying both books. Quillblog speculates that some Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings fans may graduate into an interest in the new Tolkien volume, but maybe only the best students of wizardry who don’t mind studying like Hermione.