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Els fills d'en Hurin (2007)
de J. R. R. Tolkien
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I fell into a Tolkien well recently, which is surprising because aside from The Hobbit (and the PJ movies), I have almost nothing good to say about Tolkien's writing. I can quote a lot about the characters directly from them, and I've both read the books and listened to them, so I have beeen without some dedicated study to those opinions.
Children of Hurin sort fell squarely in a lot of the problems I had the trilogy, and the way men act. I was amazed how much it became a Greek Tragedy by the end, with the marriage, and with the parents. My favorite characters were Thingol, Melian, and Beleg. Which means, yes, I gasped loudly in my car when That Thing Happened. Sadly, though, Turin was so arrogant that I spent almost none of the book feeling bad for anything that befell him (though the reverse can not be said for either of his sisters).
I didn't think it was hard to get through compared to some other readers. It was a pretty tragic tale and it kept me interested throughout. I think Turin tried the best he could to be a good man and did the best he knew how to do. His pride and hasty ways did lead to many bad choices, but it's also another thing to be cursed and have the darkest of the dark lords play around with your fate.
"Behold! The shadow of my thought shall lie upon them wherever they go, and my hate shall pursue them to the ends of the world." - Morgoth to Hurin atop the
Poor Hurin had to watch it all unfold and couldn't do anything about it.
I recommend reading The Silmarillion first before you read this tale.
⋇⋆✦⋆⋇I have officially died of grief⋇⋆✦⋆⋇
“Then Morgoth stretching out his long arm toward Dor-lómin cursed Húrin and Morwen and their offspring, saying: ‘Behold! The shadow of my thought shall lie upon them wherever they go, and my hate shall pursue them to the ends of the world… Upon all whom you love my thought shall weigh as a cloud of Doom, and it shall bring them down into darkness and despair. Wherever they go, evil shall arise. Whenever they speak, their words shall bring ill counsel. Whatsoever they do shall turn against them. They shall die without hope, cursing both life and death.” - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Children of Húrin
This is going to be a long and passionate review (maybe sometimes bordering on ranting...) so please sit back and relax (if you can!). I really do hope this helps to ignite some curiosity toward Tolkien’s works at large, if not in particular with the First Age of Middle-earth, and give those of you who are already familiar with the Elder Days some new ideas to think about.
The Children of Húrin is by far one of Tolkien’s darkest and most twisted tales. If one simply skims it or reads it without much thought, it may not even seem like much, but the more one pays attention, the more one realizes the anguish and the struggle within. While The Hobbit and even the first third or so of The Lord of the Rings is quite pleasant (at least in comparison with everything else), Tolkien’s “greater” works, especially The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin have a vastly different style, one that hints that even while the written story is being told in glory and in eloquence, it is only a shadow of the "true" and complete tale.
By the way, this is going to come off as really random, but for those who are familiar with The Lord of the Rings but not with anything from the Elder Days, did you know that Túrin (the MC of this book) was Elrond of Rivendell’s great uncle? Weird, huh? Also, Celeborn and Thranduil were closely related to King Thingol of Doriath (another character in the book) and Legolas may or may not have been inspired by an even greater elven bowman by the name of Beleg Cúthalion (who was close friends with Túrin). Anyway, I hope that piqued your interest a bit!
The Children of Húrin tells the story of Túrin and his sister Nienor, who are, not surprisingly, Húrin’s two children. When Húrin was taken captive by Morgoth (the "Satan" of Middle-earth, basically), he defied him and Morgoth became angry and cursed his entire family. Unfortunately, the curse worked out quite well in the end, but I strongly believe that things didn’t go the way they went only because of the curse. Perhaps Morgoth's malice played a part in the decisions of the characters, but when it comes down to it, their decisions were still their own.
Túrin was the tragic hero of the story (I like him much better in that role than say… Romeo… I don’t even know…) and his story is based loosely on pagan legends, particularly on a work called The Kaleva about a man named Kullervo. Most of Tolkien’s stories illustrate how while darkness seems to win, light will eventually still triumph and overcome the darkness. The Children of Húrin, however, is exactly the opposite. Sometimes Túrin thinks he has overcome his fate and escaped Morgoth’s shadow, but every single time, he is dragged down once more until Morgoth’s ultimate plan is finally achieved.
On the surface, it seems like Túrin simply has horribly bad luck, but Tolkien may actually have something deeper going on here. In one passage, Túrin argued with Gwindor in Nargothrond’s court (p. 160-161), and Gwindor told him that they should all look to the Valar for help and wait for them to deliver them because Morgoth was much to strong for Elves and Men alone to defeat. Túrin immediately scoffed at this and said that the Valar had abandoned them all and that the only power they had to do with was Morgoth himself. He then went on to speak proudly of taking everything into his own hands and wanting his own way. This, in some ways, made me feel like it was almost like Túrin was, in a manner, denying God Himself and ultimately saying that God was dead and so everyone should be free to do whatsoever everyone pleased to do. And so if this theory is true, and it may well be since Tolkien was a devout Catholic, then The Children of Húrin is ultimately an illustration of the utter senselessness of life when God is not in the picture. Similarly, in The Silmarillion, even with all the glory and prowess of the Valinorian Elves, their war against Morgoth was
One more thing I have to say concerning The Children of Húrin in general is the lesson it has concerning pride. This message rang out the loudest above all others for me both times when I read the book. It is like Tolkien is telling us over and over and over again, "See how Túrin made this decision out of pride? See how Morwen made that decision because of pride? See how Niënor only did this because she was proud?" And so on and so forth. This was actually scary for me because I most definitely struggle with pride at times, and we can all sometimes be proud/arrogant/self-seeking.
I'll give you some examples to illustrate this theme of pride throughout The Children of Húrin. Húrin was proud in believing that he could withstand Morgoth’s evil, but instead he ended up falling into despair and utter hopelessness (not described in this book but it is in The Silmarillion) and even gave the location to Gondolin on accident to Morgoth because of it. Morwen was also proud and refused to go to Doriath for years because she didn’t want to humble herself to ask Thingol for leave to stay there. She was also too proud to listen to basically everyone else’s counsel and just had to go her own way because she didn’t want to admit she was wrong about her previous stance. Her actions ended up with her two children (Túrin and Nienor)
Okay, now comes some thoughts I have about a few of the main characters (not all of them, just the ones I’m most fascinated about). Please note the from here on, what I have written, I haven't had a chance yet to proofread.
Túrin - I loved Túrin’s childhood so very much, he was a sweet and curious boy even though he thought more than he talked. I loved the friendship he had with Labadal (awww, isn’t it so adorable he named him “Hop-a-foot”?) but I do strongly believe that Morwen and Húrin could’ve done a better job of raising the kid. Túrin barely ever even saw his father and his mother was often cold and distant and hard on Túrin as well. As he grew up, he gained more ambition and strongly wanted to make a difference in the world (by fighting against Morgoth’s troops). I enjoyed the first half of Túrin’s life more than the second half and that’s probably because the former is somewhat less depressing than the latter. I also found that I resonated deeply with him in the first half of the book (up through the fall of Nargothrond, actually). It’s a bit scary, but a lot of his thoughts are like my thoughts at times and even our personalities matched to some extent. I don’t feel like going into particular examples of this (the review is already too long) but I really, really hope my end will be different than poor Túrin’s was! See, this book made me think about myself as much as it did about others and our world. And if I blamed or put down Túrin’s actions earlier on during this review, it’s not because I think that he was an especially awful person or that I think none of us would have a similar thought process as he did but that all of us have a bit of “Túrin'' in us and I’m rebuking myself as well as him.
Morwen - Morwen was proud, beautiful, and elegant, the very picture of a Lady of the Edain. However, at times she seemed like she was only hard on the outside to hide the softness on the inside. She seemed to be extremely afraid of being vulnerable (I’m not sure why unless it’s because she thought it was going to ruin her pride). It was really, really sad to see how broken and small she became in the end.
Beleg - Beleg Cúthalion is my most favorite character in this book (and one of my favorites in all of The Silmarillion) by far!!! He was the captain of the march-wardens of Doriath and one of King Thingol’s most trusted subjects as well as a very good friend to Túrin (even when Túrin did a bad job of showing his love back). Beleg was literally so sweet and so wise and so selfless (and so tragic…), it just makes you want to be a better person just reading about him! And I’m so angry that he was only in like half of the book! That’s not even close to enough! I could talk forever about Beleg but probably no one wants to hear about it so… *sad face*
Mablung - Mablung was a captain of the guard and the chief hunter of Doriath. I totally agree with Beleg’s title for him as the “friend of truth” above all others (including Túrin). This was referring to Mablung speaking of what he had seen in front of Thingol’s court for a trial. However, in the end, Mablung said that he loved Túrin and that “thus with words have I slain [him],” which was referencing back to Beleg’s title for him and him always speaking the truth. I don’t know what exactly that entailed but it gave me shivers.
Melian - Queen Melian the Maia was, to put it simply, one of the lesser “gods” of Tolkien’s world but she took on a physical form permanently because of her love for Thingol. Melian’s counsel is always, always, always good but what frustrates me is that barely anyone listens to her! Not Túrin, not Morwen, not even Beleg! So I feel quite bad for her because she has foresight (meaning she knows at least in part of some of what is going to happen in the future) and although she can’t really force anyone into doing what is right, she still counsels them dutifully but they don’t listen!!! Which is so annoying! So annoying! Did I already say it was annoying?
Gwindor - Awww I don’t even know what to say about Gwindor... Personally, I pitied him very much and his counsel almost always proved to be wiser than Túrin’s except everyone always listened to Túrin instead of him because Túrin was younger and stronger (so stupid!). And yet even though Gwindor had suffered for years and years at Morgoth’s hand and was shamed because of it after he escaped, he still endured and fought bravely and stood up for what he believed was right, which I found very admirable. I just wish his life could’ve been happier! I mean, the first part probably was, but all the rest was nearly all torment!
Sorry if I ranted a bit with the characters! Ultimately, The Children of Húrin is a tale masterfully told as well as one that readers can go back to again and again and never tire of. I don’t think any of us will ever figure out how in the world Tolkien managed to make his characters and his world so real, so deep, and so beautiful, but he did and so we should most certainly seek to draw inspiration from all of it. This book won be for everyone and personally it took me multiple tries to get The Silmarillion down but it was more than worth it. So if you are thinking you want to give this book or any of the professor’s works a try, I would highly encourage that you do! Don’t be afraid, just do it! And if you have any questions about anything relating to Middle-earth (anything at all!), feel free to message me about it here and I will be more than happy to try to help you out.
I'm always open to conversations for anyone with thoughts on this book or anything Tolkien-related. Namárië, nai aurelya nauva mára.
««Recommended for those who love...»»
☐ High fantasy
☐ The Lord of the Rings and/or The Silmarillion
☐ Epics and/or dragons
☐ Tragedies and tragic heroes
☐ Books that make them depressed?
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... So there's something very pagan about Tolkien's world, and it gets more pagan as we go further back. The Children of Húrin is practically Wagnerian. It has a lone, brooding hero, a supremely malicious dragon, a near-magical helmet, a long-standing curse, a dwarf of ambiguous moral character called Mîm and - the clincher, this - incest. Which is here a disaster and not, as in Wagner, a two-fingers-to-fate passion. Readers will already have come across the story in its essence in The Silmarillion and, substantially, in Unfinished Tales, which came out in 1980. One suspects that those who bought the latter book will not feel too cheated when they buy and read The Children of Húrin. ...
Christopher Tolkien has brought together his father's text as well, I think, as he can. In an afterword, he attests to the difficulty his father had in imposing "a firm narrative structure" on the story, and indeed it does give the impression of simply being one damned thing after another, with the hero, Túrin, stomping around the forests in a continuous sulk at his fate, much of which, it seems, he has brought upon himself.
As to whether the story brings out the feeling of "deep time" which Tolkien considered one of the duties of his brand of imaginative literature, I cannot really tell, for I do not take this kind of thing as seriously as I did when I was a boy and feel that perhaps the onus for the creation of such a sense of wonder is being placed too much on the reader. Actually, the First Age here seems a pretty miserable place to be; Orcs everywhere, people being hunted into outlawhood or beggary, and with no relief, light or otherwise, from a grumpy, pipe-smoking wizard. But it does have a strange atmosphere all of its own. Maybe it does work.
Inspired by the Norse tale of Sigurd and Fafnir, Tolkien first wrote a story about a dragon in 1899, at the age of 7. At school he discovered the Kalevala, a Finnish epic poem, and by 1914 was trying to turn the tale of Kullervo into “a short story somewhat on the lines of Morris’s romances”. By 1919 he had combined these elements in what became the tale of Túrin Turambar.
The book is beautiful, but other than the atmospheric illustrations by Alan Lee, and a discussion of the editorial process, much of what lies between the covers was actually published in either The Silmarillion (1977) or Unfinished Tales (1980). Yet this new, whole version serves a valuable purpose. In The Children of Húrin we could at last have the successor to The Lord of the Rings that was so earnestly and hopelessly sought by Tolkien’s publishers in the late 1950s.
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Painstakingly restored from Tolkien's manuscripts and presented for the first time as a fully continuous and stand alone story, the epic tale of The Children of Húrin will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, dragons and Dwarves, eagles and Orcs, and the rich landscape and characters unique to Tolkien. There are tales of Middle-earth from times long before The Lord of the Rings, and the story told in this book is set in the great country that lay beyond the Grey Havens in the West: lands where Treebeard once walked, but which were drowned in the great cataclysm that ended the First Age of the World. In that remote time Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, dwelt in the vast fortress of Angband, the Hells of Iron, in the North; and the tragedy of Túrin and his sister Nienor unfolded within the shadow of the fear of Angband and the war waged by Morgoth against the lands and secret cities of the Elves. Their brief and passionate lives were dominated by the elemental hatred that Morgoth bore them as the children of Húrin, the man who had dared to defy and to scorn him to his face. Against them he sent his most formidable servant, Glaurung, a powerful spirit in the form of a huge wingless dragon of fire. Into this story of brutal conquest and flight, of forest hiding-places and pursuit, of resistance with lessening hope, the Dark Lord and the Dragon enter in direly articulate form. Sardonic and mocking, Glaurung manipulated the fates of Túrin and Nienor by lies of diabolic cunning and guile, and the curse of Morgoth was fulfilled. The earliest versions of this story by J.R.R. Tolkien go back to the end of the First World War and the years that followed; but long afterwards, when The Lord of the Rings was finished, he wrote it anew and greatly enlarged it in complexities of motive and character: it became the dominant story in his later work on Middle-earth. But he could not bring it to a final and finished form. In this book Christopher Tolkien has constructed, after long study of the manuscripts, a coherent narrative without any editorial invention.
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Classificació Decimal de Dewey (DDC)823.912Literature English & Old English literatures English fiction Modern Period 1901-1999 1901-1945
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