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Children of Hurin

June 1, 2007

I just finished the new Tolkien book (yes, new – the story was written a while ago, but it hasn’t been published as a single book until now), Children of Hurin.  I loved the book.  I had read the story before, but I never realized what an epic story Turin Turambar is until now.

One of the interesting things about this story is how Anglo-Saxon this story is.   You have the idea of the Hall as a foreshadowing of the story.  At one part, Turin returns to the home of his youth.  He finds the Hall, from which his family ruled, in an oppressed state, beset by evil.  His arrival sets into motion a chain of events that gets it burned down – foreshadowing the destruction that his family’s house is going to suffer only a short time later – a complete destruction of his family line.  You have the idea of honor – those who died defending their lands are looked upon as true heroes, and running away in cowardice is sure to come back around to you in the end.  I love these Old English elements of the story.

I read somewhere that Tolkien wrote this story because he was tired of every dragon slayer being a heroic character with no flaws whatsoever.  Think St. George and his slaying of the dragon – nothing was wrong whatsoever with George – he was basically a cookie cutter good guy to beat a dragon.  Tolkien wanted to see a flawed dragon slayer, and so he goes about creating a tragic character, Turin, and he puts this character under the active curse of Morgoth, the powerful Dark Lord of the time.  As Turin ages, he tries desperately to escape the curse of Morgoth.  He ends up leading a nomadic existence, running from one city to another, spending time with outlaws, and generally trying to defeat Morgoth’s curse on his life.  In the end, he is unable to do so, and ends up betraying his friends and family and following the wishes of the very dragon he slays.

Wow, does that sound like the human condition before we are saved.  In any event, I highly recommend the Children of Hurin.

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