A few frequently asked questions... (cont'd)
Is there any point reading this book if I've already read Unfinished Tales / The Lays of Beleriand / etc. ?
This would have to be up to you. If you have read any or all of the above works, there may be little to surprise you in the actual storyline. You will however be reading a stand-alone version of the tale, constructed with the reader's pleasure in mind, rather than to give a precise and analytical explanation of how the story evolved, which is the approach adopted by The History of Middle-earth. As such, you may find that the flow of the story brings new pleasure and insight to your reading.
How does The Children of Húrin fit into JRR Tolkien's mythology ? When does it take place relative to The Lord of the Rings ?
The Tale takes place during the First Age of Middle-earth. Túrin was born in the year 464 from the first rising of the Sun after Morgoth destroyed the two trees of Valinor, and died in the year 499.
This would have been 5000 years after the awakening of the Elves in Middle-earth, and 978 years after Fëanor completed the forging of the Silmarils. The recorded coming of Men occurred at the first Sunrise, and Beren and Lúthien, who encountered each other the year of Túrin's birth, achieved their quest for the Silmaril when Túrin was a young boy.
Túrin died approximately 100 years before the Drowning of Beleriand which marked the beginning of the Second Age lasting for three and a half millennia. Sauron forged the One Ring around the year 1600 of the Second Age. Bilbo met Gollum in the year 2941 of the Third Age, and the Fellowship met up and formed in Rivendell in the year 3018. The One Ring was destroyed in 3019. Frodo, Bilbo, Gandalf and Elrond (who by that time was 6500 years old, and was born 33 years after Túrin's death) departed from Middle-earth in 3021, marking the end of the Third Age.
So, you can probably take it from there, and anyway it's safe to say that the Tale of the Children of Húrin took place "a very long time ago" !
A detailed discussion of the reckoning of time in the First Age can be found in Morgoth's Ring, and The War of the Jewels, Vols X and XI of The History of Middle-earth. (cont'd)