Review: The Children of Hurin

The Children of Hurin
The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hurin, a typical Tolkien hero who is a renowned warrior and a good friend of Elves, is captured and cursed by his nemesis Morgoth (proto-Sauron, for those familiar with Lord of the Rings), imprisoned in a chair on a mountain where he’s forced to watch tragedies befall the family he left behind when he went to war. Namely, those tragedies happen around his son Turin, who is a great warrior who means well yet cannot escape the grim curse he lives under. Everything Turin does pretty much ends badly for all involved.

It’s a reeeeeeal downbound train, this one. It starts ominously, gets bad, and then gets worse. This is not the happy-go-lucky romp through the forest of The Hobbit, although there is a dragon! (And a good one, too.)

Christopher Tolkien did a great job putting together this novel, which he fashioned from assorted fragments let by his father. After a clunky opening dumps a dizzying number of names on the reader, the story settles down and becomes quite readable and engaging. The thematic repetition of the attempt to jump across a chasm was a very nice touch. And, as always, the detail of the world is delightful. Turin is a nicely complicated character.

Overall, it feels a bit like a bridge between the more optimistic worldview of The Lord of the Rings and the more nihilistic of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series.

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