Really a lovely book, with not-at-all-cheesy, atmospheric b/w and color illustrations by Alan Lee. Worth mentioning, 'cause it's so rare to see a book with actual illustration these days it seems!
This, of course, is a story "put together" by J.R.R.'s son Christopher from Tolkien's copious unfinished writings. It's also featured in the Silmarillion, but this is a more complete version, including more details, and some revisions, about which Christopher Tolkien talks extensively.
As a novel, it's good, but not great ficton on the level of the Lord of the Rings. As Christopher notes, Tolkien's "other" tales tended to be written in a very distanced manner. They're supposed to be "ancient tales" and one gets that feeling from the story, as if a teller were relating a legend of long ago. It's similar to reading stories of the Mabinogion or the Eddas, or something from Arthurian lore.
The story itself lives up to that - it's high tragedy, and feels completely authentic. It really should be read by anyone who loves mythic fantasy. Still, it doesn't have the emotional immediacy - or the humor and charm - of Tolkien's better-known works.
My biggest gripe with this book is that CHristopher T. makes mention of the fact that Tolkien began writing two different forms of this story in verse, as well, and gives brief stanzas as examples. He says that they were unfinished - but also that they were epic-ly long. I really think that this volume should have included the poetic versions, perhaps as a long appendix.