‘The Children of Hurin’, J.R.R. Tolkien


“Sit now there; and look out upon the lands where evil and despair shall come upon those whom thou lovest. Thou hast dared to mock me, and to question the power of Melkor, Master of the fates of Arda. Therefore with my eyes thou shalt see, and with my ears thou shall hear; and never shalt thou move from this place until all is fulfilled unto its bitter end.”

It would seem that amongst the books not yet mentioned is also the piece of Tolkien’s writings last published (by the present reckoning). Indeed, ‘The Children of Hurin’ is a tale (a wonderful, tragic and dramatic tale) mostly compiled and fully edited (and in small parts written) by Christopher Tolkien, but that makes it lose none of its charm. Indeed, while reading it I most hoped that it would be possible to read a long copy of the other two major storylines of Beleriand as well.

For that is what ‘The Children of Hurin’ is supposed to be — one tragic tale that sealed the fate of the lands west of the mountains and east of the sea, but one of three : the other two being the Lay of Leithian (Of Beren and Luthien) and The Fall of Gondolin (roughly, Tuor and Idris, plus a few epic duels between Balrogs and Ecthelion/Glorfindel). Given that Beren and Luthien has the wonderful duel between Finrod Felagund and Sauron, then for the majority of reads of any First Age literature my favourite of these three has always been something else.

But the up-climbing is painful, and from high places it is easy to fall low.

But now, reading this book — it was the embodiment of something great, truly great. I enjoyed it for the depth and for the style; the way how “fate” turned the doors; the story of Turin, Master of Fates, who in the end mastered nothing and lost all.

‘False hopes are more dangerous than fears,’ said Sador, ‘and they will not keep us warm this winter.’

It would be hard to describe the book by anything less than an utterly sad and devastating storyline for anyone who keeps on expecting good endings… the only consolation here is that people are saved the death of Hurin though we see well detailed stories for both of the daughters as well as the son, Turin.

‘How shall an Elf judge of Men?’ said Turin. ‘As he judges of all deeds, by whomsoever done.’

The people who have previously read either the Unfinished Tales, or Silmarillion, or some of the Histories of Middle Earth (I think it’s Book 2 there) will know the gist of the story, which is what has put me off from reading it until now — indeed, content-wise there is not much added, but what is there is the depth that a book can have contrary to a chapter.

The Elves were driven back and defeated on the field of Tumhalad; and there all the pride and host of Nargothrond withered away.


One character whose presence I very much enjoyed was our favourite dragon, Glaurung. I noticed a comment on Amazon before buying the book that it added much depth and personality to a commander of Morgoth (Glaurung, specifically), and I quite wondered how it was done — in the end, I still can’t see the exact device but after reading I have to agree that Glaurung was a much different dragon than before (though no less malicious).

In many a sense (and what the reader can easily deduce from the quotes given) I found this to be a treatise on pride : for it was pride which led Turin forward, it was pride which destroyed the Elves of Nargothrond, and moreover, it was pride which allowed Hurin to withstand Morgoth. Yet, this pride took many different forms, though the outcome little changed of it…

Then he cursed his fate and his weakness; but he would not turn back.

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