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New JRR Tolkien Story Hits Shelves a Century After It Was Written

Released by Tolkien’s son, the ”deeply personal“ Middle-Earth love story was written just after the author returned from World War I

Hardcore Middle-Earth fans got a special treat on Thursday, as Christopher Tolkien, son of famed “Lord of the Rings” author J.R.R. Tolkien, has released a never-before-seen tale written by his father 100 years ago.

The short story, titled “The Tale of Beren and Luthien,” is described as a “deeply personal” tale written by Tolkien shortly after returning from World War I. Struggling with trauma from seeing the horrors of war during the Battle of the Somme, Tolkien took to writing as a form of healing. Taking place centuries before the events of “Lord of the Rings” during the First Age of Middle Earth, the story tells the tale of Beren, a mortal man, and the romance and adventures he shared with the immortal elf Luthien.

If a romance between a man and an elf reminds you of Aragorn and Arwen, it’s not a coincidence. That famous “LOTR” couple is actually the distant descendants of Beren and Luthien. In the extended cut of Peter Jackson’s “Fellowship of the Ring,” there’s a scene where Aragorn, played by Viggo Mortensen, quietly sings an elven song (in the video above).

When Frodo asks Aragorn what the song is about, he tells him it is about Luthien and how she gave up her elven immortality so she could live a full, mortal life with Beren. The song hints at the internal conflict Aragorn feels over Arwen doing the same for his sake. You can watch that scene in the clip above.

But what makes Beren and Luthien a particularly personal couple for Tolkien is that he created the couple to express his love for his wife, Edith. Upon their deaths, Tolkien and his wife had the names of Beren and Luthien etched onto their gravestones.

“The Tale of Beren and Luthien” is now available in bookstores from HarperCollins.