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

Date of Publication: 2007, Houghton-Mifflin Company

Illustrated by Alan Lee

This is the latest book to be published under Tolkien’s name. It is the story of Húrin and his family, and the curse laid upon them by Morgoth. It’s one of the most tragic stories that Tolkien ever wrote, and it is appearing now in its most complete form, since its first appearance in The Silmarillion.

Húrin starts out as the lord of Dor-lómin, an enclave of Men in the north of Beleriand, but is captured by Morgoth after The Battle of Unnumbered Tears, who questions him about the whereabouts of the hidden kingdom of Gondolin, where he knew Húrin had been. When Húrin refuses to talk, Morgoth sets him at the top of Thangorodrim and curses him and his family. His plan is that Húrin should know all that his family suffers because of his defiance.

This curse follows Húrin’s son, Turin, his wife, Morwen, and even his unborn daughter, Nienor for the rest of their lives. But it is not simply that Morgoth assails Turin and his family with war and pestilence. Tolkien ensures that the curse works in a much more subtle way: through the twists of fate, the rash decisions they make, and the very stubbornness of their natures. Because of all of these things, evil befalls all of them.

The book mainly follows Turin’s adventures, as he becomes a great warrior, an outlaw, and a dragon-slayer. The black fate that follows him, as he seems to carry the brunt of Morgoth’s curse, eventually consumes him and his family. It is said in some of Tolkien’s other writings as they appear in The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, that the sufferings of Húrin’s family, particularly of Turin and Nienor are considered one of Morgoth’s worst crimes, and that when the end of the world finally comes, Turin will be the one to defeat Morgoth in battle and finally vanquish him forever.

This book is a relief to many of Tolkien’s fans, as it relates the story of Turin in an easy to follow narrative, as opposed to the broken writings of earlier publications. The illustrations by Alan Lee are beautiful, the writing is fluid, and the story is more realized than it has ever been. Now, if only Christopher Tolkien can do the same thing for the story of Beren and Lúthien…

Rating: 9/10

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