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

A Review by Scott finished June 21, 2009

This review will contain spoilers!

In many sentences:

I've had Children of Hurin for over a year now, but was always afraid to actually read it. For some reason, I didn't think I would enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the other "first age of Middle-earth" books I read in college. I'm not sure why, exactly, but I thought I might have moved on from my love of the more obscure Tolkien literature and would find this dull. Fortunately, these fears were entirely uncalled for. The book was, from beginning to end, excellent. I'm not sure if it says something about me, as a person, or if Tolkien is simply an excellent author, but his sense of scale and grandeur with the destiny of characters is unmatched. I am drawn to books that deal with fate in general, but Tolkien's books capture my imagination far more completely than anything else.

In spite of a subject material that is extremely sad, Children of Hurin did not leave me mired in depression. Instead, it left me with a clear sense of "this is what happens when you allow pride to cloud your judgment, and when you refuse to listen to the council of others". Though Morgoth is certainly powerful, and was the cause of much of Turin's suffering, it seems clear that were Turin more patient, more humble, and more willing to listen to others the vast majority of his suffering could have been avoided. His life may have still been difficult, and he may have suffered a different doom, but I doubt that he would have murdered his best friend or unknowingly married his sister.

In this database, I will often attempt to analyze or explain what I think a book, or a portion of a book meant. With this work, however, there is little to explain. It is straightforward in its lesson to us - pride of the level of Turin's is a bad thing. It can be used to bring ruin to you and those who love you. What makes the book so interesting, and worth reading, however is the level of scale to which Tolkien takes it. Turin does not simply murder his best friend, or cause some hardship for himself and his family (which he does). Instead, he brings ruin to entire groups of people not just once, but three separate times (his band of outlaws and the petty-dwarves, the elves of Nargothrond, and the men of Brethil). No one else tells a story the way Tolkien does - there is no need for fancy literary devices, he just tells us a story and that story is so real, and so interesting that it carries itself along. More than anyone else, it really seems like Tolkien was just relaying a history of events that happened, rather than inventing a story.

Finally, I would like to mention that the appendix that Christopher Tolkien puts together here was particularly interesting. In it, he goes into detail about how this book came to be in its current form. After all, his father had not completed it as we see it. However, we learn that none of the events were fabricated - instead Christopher had pieced them all together from various writings, revisions, and versions of the same story. It is not worth recapping everything he went through here (it's a very short read) but it offered an interesting insight both into how Tolkien wrote, as well as how this "unfinished" story came to be in an apparently complete edition.

Favorite Quote

"Let the unseen days be. Today is more than enough."

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

First Line

"Hador Goldenhead was a lord of the Edain and well-beloved by the Eldar."

J.R.R. Tolkien the First Line of The Children of Hurin

Last Line

"The sun went down, and Morwen sighed and clasped his hand and was still; and Hurin knew that she had died."

J.R.R. Tolkien the Last Line of in The Children of Hurin

Originally Published April 16, 2007

Hardcover edition:

313 pages - April 17, 2007

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