I’ve decided to pick up some more of the works of Tolkien. I liked the Lord of the Rings when I first read it in High School, and even liked the Silmarillion as it touched the ‘history lover’ in me perhaps more than most people. The era when the subsequent posthumous books were coming out were times when I had less money than now and I never picked them up. With the appearance of a number of these books in a discount bookstore nearby I started to pick up a few, and the ‘completist’ urges are starting to get stronger.
The Children of Hurin is a tale from the First Age, when the elves were less majestic remnants in hiding and more fiery characters. A number of them broke out of the elvish ‘Heaven’ to recover some jewels stolen by Morgoth, a god. For a time they contended as equals, but eventually Morgoth’s powers grew and theirs faded. This story is shortly after a climactic battle that broke much of the power of the elves. Hurin’s father was captured and is being held prisoner by Morgoth, and he curses his family and allows him to watch as it plays out.
Turin grows up in a land occupied after the defeat, and soon is sent for safety a kingdom of the elves, where he makes friends and enemies. His mishandling of his enemies and mistrust of his friends leads to a self-imposed exile. Since he is a hero, he performs great deeds, but since he is cursed, even the great deeds leave wreckage behind. Eventually the wreck extends to his own family and himself as well.
It is not a very happy tale. It has a Götterdämmerung feel to it, even more so than the Lord of the Rings does, because the story ends before the events leading to Morgoth’s ultimate defeat.