The Children of Húrin (or Narn i Chîn Húrin), J.R.R. Tolkien
The Chidren of Hurin is the tale in full of the deeds of Turin, son of Hurin. This tale is told in part in ‘The Silmarillion’, but is much reduced. This is Tolkien’s full writing (edited, and in some places completed) by his son Christopher Tolkien. This book comes among my collection of Tolkien’s works, and is a very enjoyable read. As you all know, I am a great fan of the history and lore behind Lord of the Rings, and this is a part of it.
It is not an easy feat to write a concise summary of TCoH, as it is a complex tale and a long. Hurin, father of Turin is taken by Morgoth, and Turin is raised by his mother in Doriath his home. When Morgoth sends his men to take over Doriath, Morwen (mother of Turin) sends him away to the elven realm of Doriath, where Thingol is king. Turin spends much time there, learning fair speech and elven ways. He finds a good friend in the elf archer Beleg Cuthalion. Events transpire, and Turin flees Doriath having caused the death of an elf. Beleg, sets out to look for him, and from there things become more difficult.
I apologise if this is hard to follow, as I do not want to give away much plot detail
The story of TCoH is an epic and enjoyable tale. It has little to no bearing on the events of Lord of the Rings, which most people relate all of Tolkien’s works back to, but it is a very enjoyable read. The pace of the story is smooth, but it is not overly fast. Tolkien is a classical fantasy writer, and does not embellish so much in the battles and great deeds that are the focus of modern fantasy (as described in a post I will soon write up). Tolkien’s delight is in the telling of the story, the intricacies of friendship and relationships. The story is a serious and a sombre one, and I would not proclaim it as a light read. It is not, however, as hard to read and winding as the Lord of the Rings itself. This is where Christopher’s influence comes in: his writing style is not the same as his father’s, it is lighter, yet similar enough to integrate with the rest of the book smoothly. The story takes itself seriously, and I would not say it is a happy tale: it will not be a great disclaimer to say that Turin does not survive the book. I really enjoy the way the plot of this book flows; it is neither fast nor slow. It takes it’s time to make sure that enough detail is given on events, but does not dwell over-long.
The characters of the book will likely be new to all. These characters may be mentioned in the Lord of the Rings, but if so, little information is given. Just as with LotR, little information is actually given on the characters; we surmise and make our own judgements from their actions. I very much like this way of being introduced to characters. Tolkien was of an age where lineage was far more important than it is now, which is why most of his characters are introduced under their father’s names (if relevant). We meet a fair few characters in this book, but only few are important, and thus given focus. I’m not sure what else I can really say about the characters. They’re really great, and fascinating to read about.
I’d just like to put a little note in about my copy of TCoH. I don’t know whether this is standard for the book, but my copy is beautifully illustrated by Alan Lee. At the beginning of each chapter there is a sketch relevant to the body of chapter, and the book is interspersed with beautiful colour pictures depicting various scenes and characters. Strangely, the only image of Turin is on the sleeve of the book (mine is a bit battered, unfortunately). This does make the book a really nice read, as you can get an image of the scenes as depicted and imagined by Alan Lee. Books done in this manner can be ruined by depictions that are rather sub-standard, but Alan Lee is a very talented man, and I am sure he was chosen with care to illustrate this book. I’ll add some photos of these images. It also has Appendices filled with information that has not made it into the main body of the texts, and family trees if you get lost as to whom somebody is! I love this approach to books, giving the reader that little bit more information. One of the reasons I love Tolkien.
I really like the Children of Hurin. It is a very worthy addition to the lore of Tolkien’s legendarium. If you’re hungry for more information, history and literature based in the Lord of the Rings universe, this is definitely worth reading. If you’re looking for a good, in depth novel to read, this one is great. You aren’t required to have any extra knowledge before you read it. It’ll be a great choice unless you are looking for a light/easy read, which this is not. If you have not read any Tolkien before, this is a good one to start with.
The Children of Hurin gets a 9/10 from me. I really enjoyed reading it, and I don’t think it could be added to in any way. It’s another one of those miscellaneous stories from the Lord of the Rings. Pure Tolkien.