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Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien (edited by Christopher Tolkien)

Buy The Children of Hurin at
Húrin is a Man, a king, living towards the end of the First Age, by Middle-Earth reckoning. He is unfortunate to bear the brunt of Morgoth's conquest. Húrin is captured and a curse is placed on his family. His son, Túrin, is main focus of the story. Túrin is a brooding warrior, much like his mother. His affect is wrought early by the death of his lovely sister, Urwen. As a youth, he is forced from his home and is fostered in the forest halls of Thingol, a king of elves. He will soon have a sister, for as he departs, his mother is with child.

Túrin soon becomes very wise in the ways of the forest and the world as taught by the elves, but he still bears the curse of Morgoth and is a bitter friend to the elves. His adventures take him through battles and strained partnerships across Middle-Earth. He has taken The Black Sword, a cursed blade, and is effective with it in his battles. But the curse also is deadly to friends of the bearer. As the Orcs of Morgoth spread across the land, Túrin lands in Nargothrong, another elven stronghold, and becomes the military leader. He is soon confronted with Glaurung, the Great Worm, the father of the dragons.

Túrin's death, along with his sister, Niënor, and mother's death fulfill the tragedy of the curse placed upon Húrin's family.

The Children of Húrin is one of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth projects that never fully made it to the world until after his death. His son, Christopher, has been the executor of his father's library of works and has previously produced works like The Silmarillion. The tale of Túrin was a favorite of Tolkien's. As Christopher explains in the Introduction and in the Appendices, his father's background works (Lost Tales, Silmarillion, Húrin) were often interrupted by other more popular works, like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but he was always wanting to make his fantasy world very rich with tales of people and their triumphs and tragedies.

As in most recent publishings, Alan Lee is the artist for the books. Lee is a master at capturing the essence of the stories with his illustrations.

After reading other, more modern books, it's takes a moment to orient myself to the older language of Tolkien, but it is a very pleasurable thing to turn the pages of his romantic writing. Tolkien's mastery of words and names (real and made up) brings its own illustrations in your mind and you follow his characters. This is an excellent story of a tragedy that took place at a pivotal point in the history of Middle-Earth.

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