The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien


The Children of Hurin was first written as a condensed version in other Tolkien’s books, i.e. Unfinished Tales and The Silmarillion. The longer version of the tale was put together by the help of Christopher Tolkien, the third son of J.R.R. Tolkien, who in his own words wrote that the reason for the long version was so that:

“…a window might be opened onto a scene and a story set in an unknown Middle-earth that are vivid and immediate,...: the drowned lands in the west beyond the Blue Mountains where Treebeard walked in his youth, and the life of Turin Turambar, in Dor-lomin, Doriath, Nargothrond, and the Forest of Brethil.”

The long version of The Children of Hurin opens up the fate of one of the earliest human family in Middle-earth during the Elder Days and what becomes of the family.

Hurin, the lord of Dor-lormin and husband to Morwen, departs for war with his allies against Morgoth, a Valar who escapes from the Blessed Realm of Valinor. Morgoth captures Hurin in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears then curses Hurin and his children 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.”

Then Morgoth forces Hurin to sit on a high place, bound by his evil so that he may not stand, and watch the evil and despair that will come over his family.

As Morgoth’s army floods Dor-lomin in numbers, Morwen, wife of Hurin, sends Turin to the elves in Doriath for protection from his father’s enemies. While Turin lives in Doriath, Morwen gives birth to a baby girl whom she names Nienor.

For many Turin lives in Doriath in relative peace until he mistakenly kills Saeros who dislikes the young man’s presence in an elf land. Turin runs away and joins a band of outlaws. He soon becomes their leader. For many years, Turin wanders across the land. Meanwhile, Morwen leaves Dor-lomin for Doriath with Nienor, seeking her son.

When Morwen learns of what happened in Doriath, she leaves to search for her son with help of the elves. Nienor follows her mother despite Morwen’s warnings. The party encounter Glauraung, Morgoth’s dragon, at the ruins of Nargothrond and he attacks them. While the party scatters in confusion, Glauraung meets with Nienor. The dragon discovers Nienor’s identity and hypnotises her so that she does not remember who she is.

Nienor runs into the woods and is lost. Turin finds her and brings her to his new home in Brethil. Turin does not know Nienor’s real identity as they have never met before. Nienor regains her speech and mental powers but not her memory. Turin marries her and they live in Brethil.

After some period of peace, Glauraung prepares to attack Brethil. However, Turin leads a small group of men and attacks the dragon as it crosses the ravine of Cabed-en-Aras. Turin stabs Glauraung as he faints with exhaustion and pain. Glauraung, in the throes of death, sees Nienor who comes out in search of her husband. There the dragon reveals the identity of her husband as his brother.

Nienor commits suicide by throwing herself off the cliff. Turin is told of Nienor’s fate and the truth of Glauraung’s words. He commits suicide by falling on his blade. Hurin witnesses all these events where he sat in Morgoth’s domain.

Morgoth releases Hurin after these happenings. Hurin immediately made for his children’s grave. He meets Morwen at the graves where she dies in his arms.

The Children of Hurin is a tragedy of a family who falls under the curse of a fallen Valar. It mirrors the struggles of the early human inhabitants of Middle-earth. 

The book is not a must-read to understand the main Lord of the Rings saga, but it is still an interesting reading for lovers of Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

The Children of Húrin


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