J.R.R. Tolkien,
The Children of Húrin
(Houghton Mifflin, 2007)

In 1951, J.R.R. Tolkien named in a letter three key stories of Middle-Earth: The tale of Beren & Lúthien, the tale of the children of Húrin and the tale of the fall of Gondolin. Christopher Tolkien has intensely studied the manuscripts of his father and now edits The Tale of the Children of Húrin (Narn I Chîn Húrin) anew. The book has been illustrated by Alan Lee and features a coherent narrative without any editorial inventions.

The initial story was written during the First World War and was completed by 1919. It was then called "Turambar & the Foalóë" (Turambar & the Dragon, Túrin Turambar being one of the names given to Húrin's son) and we can find this version in Christopher Tolkien's The Book of Lost Tales 2. A long version of this story was posthumously published in J.R.R. Tolkien's Unfinished Tales. The new edition is composed of different passages expressly written by Tolkien for the Narn and some extracts from The Silmarillion and differs from the Unfinished Tales version by its complexity and continuity.

Húrin, son of Galdor from the House of Hador (Lord of Dor-lómin) and Hareth from the People of Haleth of Brethil, wedded Morwen of the House of Béor. Thus the three houses of the Edain, the Elf-friends, were united in Húrin's children, Túrin and his two sisters Urwen and Niënor. Urwen died as a little child when the first dark lord Morgoth sent an ill wind, called The Evil Breath, which was pestilent. Húrin lifted up his hand toward the North and threatened Morgoth, claiming revenge; soon afterwards he left his home and his family, Morwen being again with child, for the great Battle of Unnumbered Tears.

This battle was a great triumph for the dark lord and he killed thousands of valuable warriors, men and elf. In the end only one elf king escaped and Húrin was taken prisoner. Morgoth chained Húrin to a chair of stone and forced his prisoner to look through his own eyes at the destruction of the lands and the fulfilling of the curse he had laid on Húrin, Morwen and their children. "The shadow of my thought shall lie upon you and Morwen and your offspring wherever they go, and my hate shall pursue them to the ends of the world."

Soon tidings came to the house of Húrin and Morwen sent her son to the land of the elf king Thingol, where he became a foster son. Thus the fate of Túrin, his mother and his unborn sister took Morgoth's way. The story tells about Túrin's struggle to defy his destiny and to overcome Morgoth's curse. To what end this leads you will read in this brilliant sample of Tolkien's writing.

Those who know the story will be amazed by the beautiful illustrations and the new editing. New readers will discover that Tolkien's world covers much more than the battle of the One Ring. In any case the book is a must for those who would like to dive deeper in this fascinating universe. Explore Tolkien's vision of Middle-Earth at www.tolkien.co.uk or at www.tolkienestate.com.

review by
Adolf Goriup

23 August 2008

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new