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The hottest book release of the week is Beren And Lúthien, a 100-year-old romance novel from Lord Of The Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien. Set in Middle Earth thousands of years before the events of his legendary trilogy, Tolkien conceived this story of the love between a mortal human and a divine elf princess after returning from the trenches of World War I. Several versions of the tale have been published over the years, including in The Silmarillion, but this is the first time it’s appearing as a standalone book. As with many of Tolkien’s posthumously published work, this new edition, which was first announced last year, was edited by his son Christopher. It also includes illustrations by Alan Lee, who won an Academy Award for his concept artwork on Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings films.

Beren And Lúthien tells of the relationship between Beren, a mortal man, and Lúthien, a half-elf/half-divine princess. Naturally, her father, an elf king, doesn’t approve of their love and sends the two on an epic quest. While it draws inspiration from the Welsh folktale Culhwch And Olwen, it’s often speculated that the story was inspired by the real-world tension between Tolkien and his wife’s father, who is said to have disapproved of the author’s religion. What we do know is that the tombstones at the couple’s final resting place is adorned with the names Beren and Lúthien.

[via Los Angeles Times]