This novel is Tolkien’s darkest tale. Just like his other books, this novel is furnished with an elaborate map of the land to help the reader trace the protagonist’s path. The illustrations in the book by Alan Lee enhances the reading experience. There are even geneaology charts in the book to help the reader have a good understanding of the relationships of the characters.
The novel opens with a brief history of the men of the House of Hador. Hurin, the grandson of Hador fights valiantly in the battle of Unnumbered tears and is captured by the servants of Morgoth, the dark Lord. The Dark Lord in his stronghold tries to persuade Hurin to divulge the whereabouts of the elves. Hurin openly defies Morgoth and becomes the victim of his curse–
“Upon all whom you love my thought shall weigh as a cloud of Doom, and it shall bring them down into darkness and despair.”
Hurin is immovably placed on an elevated place and is forced to watch the doom that befalls his kin through Morgoth’s eyes.
Turin, Hurin’s son spends little time with his mother, Morwen, as he is sent to live among the Elves safe from the darkness that was advancing from Morgoth ‘s fortress. The time he spends in Doriath is the only time he experiences bliss untainted by misfortune as Morgoth’s designs cannot penetrate Doriath. But before long, ill-fortune seeks him, as he engages in a duel with an Elf , humiliates him and inadvertently causes his death. Turin, weary of the Elven-halls fears that he might be punished for his supposedly rash act by the Elven king. He turns his back on Doriath for the last time and wanders aimlessly in the woods surrounding it. There he comes across a band of outlaws and joins them. He soon takes the title as their leader and leads them to a hill where he and his followers takes refuge in the ancient house of a petty-dwarf. Then when his companions are killed by the servants of the Dark Lord he escapes to Brethil. In Brethil, the people of Haleth are impressed by his prowess in handling the sword immediately accept him as their own. Turin slays Glaurung, the dragon sent by Morgoth to terrorize people who defy him. The story comes to an end with Turin taking his own life when he fathoms the magnitude of a crime he has done to his own family.
Turin Turambar, the son of Hurin and Morwen, is both the harbinger of ill-fortune and its embodiment. Turin is described thus when he reached his full manhood : ” tall,dark-haired and pale-skinned, with grey eyes, and his face more beautiful that any other among mortal men, in the Elder Days.” He is valiant and skilled in warfare.
Turin is constantly chased by darkness as he unwittingly leaves a trail of chaos and destruction wherever he goes. He is proud and commits rash deeds only to repent later. Aware of the curse upon him Turin struggles to take the right decisions, He renounces his name “Turin” and takes up “Turambar” hoping to lift the shadow that follows him. But every step he takes brings him closer to his doom. Turin’s fate has been designed by the powerful Lord of Darkness , therefore escape is not an option.
In the major part of the book Nienor, Turin’s sister is absent; but her presence in the final few chapters intensifies the tragedy that ensues on Hurin’s children.
I have read Tolkien’s The Hobbit which is a classic in children’s literature. This novel is nothing like The hobbit except for the fact it is set in Middle-earth and involves magical creatures. In The Hobbit Tolkein says:
“Now things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome may make a good tale”
The children of Hurin is one of the most darkest tales I have read. It is a series of unfortunate events brought out by a powerful adversary. To the simple question “How bad can life be in a magical world?
This book gives you the answer.
This tale can rightfully be called as an epic fantasy.
I would recommend this novel for fantasy lovers and those of you who would like to have a taste of a a good , solid tragedy.