Title: The Children of Húrin
Author: J. R. R. Tolkein, edited by Christopher Tolkein
My Rating: 5 of 5
The Children of Húrin is the first complete book by J.R.R.Tolkien since the 1977 publication of The Silmarillion. Six thousand years before the One Ring is destroyed, Middle-earth lies under the shadow of the Dark Lord Morgoth. The greatest warriors among elves and men have perished, and all is in darkness and despair. But a deadly new leader rises, Túrin, son of Húrin, and with his grim band of outlaws begins to turn the tide in the war for Middle-earth — awaiting the day he confronts his destiny and the deadly curse laid upon him.
Oh, boy. I think that’s an accurate place to start. If you love a good tragedy, this is the book for you.
The Children of Húrin is a part of the History of Middle-Earth, taking place long, long, long before the events of The Lord of the Rings as part of the world’s lore. This tale chronicles the life of Túrin son of Húrin, the one man who had dared to defy and scorn the Dark Lord Morgoth. (Familiar with the ‘Balrog of Morgoth’ from the trilogy? Yeah. It’s that Morgoth. The guy so bad that Sauron was his lackey back in those days).
Morgoth’s hatred for Húrin extended to his children, Túrin and Niënor, in a curse of doom, which was to follow them until the end of their days. Túrin suffered hardship and woe over and over again, dogged by the shadow cast upon him by the Enemy. His life was overshadowed by a dark doom since childhood, when his father was taken captive by Morgoth, his country forfeit to the Dark Lord and his minions, and himself sent away from kith and kin alone to escape thralldom. Yet even so he was determined to overcome the evil curse and master his own destiny. The strength of his will and his honor endeared him to many people, but even so he never stayed long in any one place ere something bad would happen that drove him away. Often enough it was his own temper that got the better of him, prompting him to do less-than-noble deeds, but he and Niënor both were deceived and manipulated by the evil dragon Glaurung, too; lied to and spited in an ever descending spiral of malice.
This tale marks Túrin’s efforts to master his destiny, but in so doing ends up succumbing to it; the epitome of ‘you can’t escape fate’. In that regard I say this is very much a tragedy, that despite his efforts, his desires, and his mighty deeds, Túrin yet fell, hated and grief stricken ─ but not altogether friendless and unmourned.
This is a sad story, but a good one; definitely worth reading. The world that Tolkein creates is vast, filled with beauty and sorrow alike, for what was and is now lost. The characters are vivid and diverse in personality, the narrative is easy to read, and the heart of the story is compelling. I am reminded of what makes Tolkein and his stories so great, and I am grateful to his son for his efforts in bringing to us what his father could not.