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Fans line up for new Tolkien tale

Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, lined up overnight in London and New York City to get the first copies of what is said to be his last book, The Children of Hurin, completed by his son.

Hundreds of fans of J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, have lined up for special editions of a new book by the late writer, completed by his son Christopher.

Autographed copies of The Children of Hurin went on sale in New York City and London on Tuesday. A spokeswoman for HarperCollins said Christopher Tolkien, who is not doing any media promotions, signed 750 copies.

The book, which is being considered the last Tolkien work,is available in Britain, the U.S., Canada and New Zealand.

"It's very much Middle-earth. Very much the same world [but] it's more of a serious tale than Lord of the Rings," said Tolkien's grandson Adam, who worked as assistant editor of the book. Adam is Christopher's son. "We hope it will strike a chord with people who know Lord of the Rings."

The book chronicles Turin and his sister Nienor and the curse cast upon them by the first Dark Lord Morgoth.

Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien's youngest son, assembled the work from his father's manuscripts.

"After a long study of the manuscripts, I tried to build a coherent narrative without editorial invention," Christopher said in a statement about The Children of Hurin.

J.R.R. Tolkien died in 1973 and his works, including The Hobbit, have sold more than 200 million copies worldwide. The Lord of the Rings books were also made into a recent top-grossing film trilogy.

Some fans said they lined up the night before to get their copy.

Asher Solomon was in line in London 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," Solomon told BBC News.

Book gets mixed reviews

The initial print run for The Children of Hurin was half a million — an enormous quantity for any author.

Reviews have been mixed.

"Fans will doubtless read on with passionate piety, but for others, it is an act of painful penitence," wrote the Sunday Times' Tom Deveson.

But Murrough O'Brien in the Independent called it a work with "universality and power."

Christopher Tolkien previously edited another of his father's unfinished works, The Silmarillion, in 1977. The Silmarillion sketched out the mythology of Middle-earth as well as individual tales, including that of the children of Hurin.

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