The Children of Hurin
By: JRR Tolkien (edited by Christopher Tolkien)
Being the Tolkien fanatic I am, when I heard that The Children of Hurin was going to be released, I was beside myself. Granted, this story has shown up twice (well, when I was reading anyways) in The Silmarillion and The Unfinished Tales but seeing as Tolkien’s son Christopher had pieced the story together using all of his father’s notes, I figured it was going to be more fleshed out than the other two versions. And personally, I think it was more fleshed out and far more exciting to read than the previous versions.
For those of you who haven’t read either versions, this story is considered the longest of the “Lays of Beleriand”, stories from the First Age of Middle Earth. It focuses around the family of Hurin, a man who had descended from one of the three houses of Men (I hope I got that right, it’s been a while) and who challenged Melkor (who is even more sinister than Sauron) head-on. His defiance caused Melkor to place curse on all of Hurin’s family, particularly his children, that they may suffer all throughout their life. And his children—Hurin and Niniel—did suffer greatly. It’s a very tragic story; no matter what Turin did, he just could not escape Melkor’s curse.
There were certainly a lot of parts that I don’t remember having been in the story from the other versions, especially those involving Morwen and especially at the end, which I won’t mention of if you’ve never read any of the versions. What’s great about this story is that, although it is set in an earlier age of Middle Earth when none of the defining places we know from LOTR exist, it’s still relatively easy to follow and you don’t need to have read The Silmarillion to understand events that have happened before, really. But technicalities and chronology aside, the heart of the story is still as intact as it was in the other versions (maybe even more so than in the other versions—then again, I haven’t read the story for a few years now): the tragedy of Hurin’s family is very poignant and despite of Turin’s rash decisions and attitude and Morwen and Nienor’s stubbornness, you really feel for this family. I think that’s the key to this entire story: the tragedy of it all. Alan Lee’s illustrations spread throughout the hardcover edition is a plus; his artwork is always a pleasure to skim through and the images he contributed to this story really helps bring the story to life, really. Overall, this is a very enjoyable book to read (all bias aside) and well worth checking out.