The Children of Húrin

Cthulhu

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AKA
Yop
#1
I finished this book earlier, so here's a new thread about it.

The Children of Húrin is one of Tolkien's 'Great Tales', tales that make up an important part of Middle-Earth's mythology, but which weren't published officially - until his son, Christopher, finished it. The Children of Húrin was first conceived in 1910 - many years before the epic Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books - and revised and rewritten in various forms over the years, as is described in one of the appendices to the books - if I recall that correctly, it was rewritten twice as a large poem (one 4000 and the other 6000+ lines) and as a novel once or twice, but, as those appendices written by Christopher state, those were 'abandoned' before being completed. Not only The Children of Húrin itself, but several other stories, most of them a part of the complete history of Middle-Earth, of which part was described in The Silmarillion. I'm pretty sure there was note on Húrin and his children in that one, but I can't remember.

Anyways, The Children of Húrin is a book that focuses mainly on his eldest son, Túrin (also referred to as Túrin Turambar (where the latter one is a self-awarded title, 'Master of Doom', one of many in the list btw)), with his daughter, Niënor, having an important role, but more of a side-character. The book starts out with a bit of history on Húrin himself, his marriage with Morwen, and his eventual demise in the Nírnaeth Arnoediad, the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, where he was captured and put on a throne where he could see everything by Morgoth / Melkor. The story then focuses mainly onto Túrin himself, his youth, his leaving of his hometown to the Elven stronghold of Doriath and his stay there. From that, he leaves after issues with some cocky Elf and his personal shame, joins a band of outlaws from there, takes over, etc etc etc - you'll just have to read the book yourself, and if you're reading this thread, chances are you already did. Let's talk about the book itself.

The Children of Húrin is, in essence, a highly epic book, with a well-developed and rather disturbed character, a dramatic ending, and a wide range of stories and experiences contained in the story itself. However, (dun dun dunnn!), the story is told in a manner that, imho, doesn't do the story any good.

Like the Silmarillion, the story is told in what I personally consider a 'biblical' fashion, a narrator of sorts listing the important facts without adding much detail about progress, environment or what-have-you. It's like saying 'and the Fellowship traveled from Bree to Weathertop' (or whatever) without the loads of details that were in between in the first book of the LotR triology. This, imho, doesn't do the story any justice, and if it was narrated in a manner similar to that in LotR or other fantasy books that are any good, the book would've been at least twice as long.

Now, this is probably due to the original manuscripts also being lacking in such content, and Christopher probably being (justly) afraid of adding too much to his father's original stories, but still, I don't think it does the story any justice. Not to mention it doesn't read nicely - it doesn't flow, doesn't progress in a smooth arc but in a serrated manner, certainly at the start of the book that sounds most like the Silmarillion, with choppy facts listed in matter-of-fact sentences that really don't flow well or give much sense of the epic scale of events described therein.

As for the plot, well, I quite enjoyed that. It mainly follows Túrin, whom is pretty much cursed by Morgoth to a life where either he doesn't feel right or where he or the people he hangs around with get screwed. Doriath? He has a squabble with an Elf whom he puts into place, but who accidentally dies whilst he chases him through the forest, causing him to be ashaemed and leave that place (even though he gets redeemed afterwards as the true tale gets known to king Thingol of Doriath). He joins a band of outlaws, who meet up with a Dwarf (Mîm) who takes them to his mountain stronghold, but Mîm betrays them and they all get killed - minus Túrin, off course, who gets captured. He's released again by his then best friend (or something) Beleg, but he kills him accidentally, thinking he's an Orc or something.

Next he goes to Nargothrond, another Elven stronghold where he falls in love with the elf girl Finduilas, but as you can imagine by now, Nargothrond falls, Finduilas dies, and the shit hits the fan all over again. Screwed, once again.

He then meets up with his sister again, but since he hasn't seen her for a dozen years or so and she's in a stupor or something induced by Glaurung the dragon, they don't recognize each other, fall in love, bone, and Niénor gets pregnant and all that. Incest right thar btw. But, and this is Túrin's final doom, as he defeats the dragon (which is a classic btw, lolz), Niénor realizes / gets told who he is and throws herself off of a cliff in shame (or something), and Túrin eventually kills himself after he finds that out, too.

So basically, ever since he's a kid, everything he knows gets fucked, everyone he knows and gets close to dies, and eventually he kills himself - just what Morgoth wanted, especially considering Húrin (The Dad) eventually escapes (although I dunno how anymore) and finds out about his children's doom, just when his wife (Morwen) dies as well.

Ergo, Morgoth >>> Húrin and his family.

But yar, good story, but the narrative style doesn't do the story justice. They could make a book at least twice the size if they would manage to fill up the gaps - which isn't likely unless they add to Tolkien's works - and probably a good movie as well. Also of note is that the story's a lot more 'gritty', so to speak, as the LotR trilogy is - or that might just be me. Not everyone's as high and mighty as in those books, Elves aren't Jesi in disguise but hardened warriors and abused wretches, and Everybody Dies.

Now you.
 

Joker

We have come to terms
AKA
Godot
#2
Haven't read it (yet..?), though I've read The Silmarillion at least four times, so I recall the story well enough. Sounds like a pretty good read.

Reminds me of the Oedipus plays of Sophocles, actually. Yeah, incest and all, but the rest, too - the way it feels (well, the way that CoH SOUNDS like it feels).
 

Ⓐaron

Factiō Rēpūblicāna dēlenda est.
AKA
The Man, V
#4
I picked it up a few months ago in hardcover for $5. Still haven't read it.
 

Cthulhu

Administrator
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Yop
#5
Reminds me of the Oedipus plays of Sophocles, actually. Yeah, incest and all, but the rest, too - the way it feels (well, the way that CoH SOUNDS like it feels).
Actually, it was in part based on that. Tolkien himself in a letter, quoted from Wikipedia here, said the following:

Tolkien said:
There is the Children of Húrin, the tragic tale of Túrin Turambar and his sister Níniel – of which Túrin is the hero: a figure that might be said (by people who like that sort of thing, though it is not very useful) to be derived from elements in Sigurd the Volsung, Oedipus, and the Finnish Kullervo.
followed by Wiki itself:

Wikipedia said:
The story is mainly based on the legend of Kullervo, a character from the Finnish folklore poems known as Kalevala. Túrin also resembles Sigmund, the father of Sigurd in the Volsunga saga, in the incestuous relationship he had with his sister. In Richard Wagner's opera, Die Walküre (also drawn in part from the Volsung myths), Siegmund and Sieglinde are parallels of Túrin and Nienor. Túrin further resembles Sigurd himself, as both achieve great renown for the slaying of a dragon of immense power and magic.
 
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