A new J.R.R. Tolkien book hits shelves, 100 years after it was conceived

Good news for “Lord of the Rings” fans: A new book by J.R.R. Tolkien hit shelves Thursday, a century after the fantasy author first started working on it.

“Beren and Lúthien,” a story that Tolkien recounted in a chapter of his posthumously published “The Silmarillion,” was edited by his son Christopher Tolkien.

Christopher also edited “The Silmarillion” and has worked on other books published after his father’s death in 1973.

The novel contains illustrations by Alan Lee, the British artist who won an Academy Award in 2004 for art direction for the film “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

“Beren and Lúthien” is set in the Middle Earth world, several thousand years before the “Lord of the Rings” books. The novel tells the story of a romance between Beren, a human, and Lúthien, an elf.

Tolkien biographer John Garth told the BBC that the author conceived the story while recovering from trench fever contracted while serving in World War I.

“He’d lost two of his dearest friends on the Somme, and you can imagine he must have been inside as much of a wreck as he was physically,” Garth said.

The story was likely meant as a tribute to Tolkien’s wife, Edith. The headstone that marks the grave where Tolkien and his wife are buried is engraved with the names of Beren and Lúthien.

“Beren and Lúthien” was published June 1 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The book seems to be on its way to becoming a hit; as of Thursday morning, it was ranked No. 6 among all books on Amazon.

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