I'm about halfway through the book. It...it's good...just so sad (since I know the story from the Silmarillion). I also have the audio-book and it is read by Christopher Lee. I like his voices, especially for Mim. I'll give a full review after I complete it.
Post by Glorfindel on Apr 15, 2009 14:45:23 GMT -5
I finished the audio-book version of TCoH yesterday. I wanted to read it, but with an hour commute to work everyday, I ended up listening to it instead.
Those who have read The Silmarillion will be very familiar with the story, but there are some details and differences that are very interesting. I will have to research to find out how the story evolved and how it was incorporated into The Silmarillion.
The extra details give so much more weight to the story and make the tragedy more...tragic. I found myself loving Mr. Lee's voice and his reading style. I think that he did a very good job on all the parts except maybe for Glaurung (I liked Mr. Shaw's voice on the audio version of The Silmarillion better).
I got bored with Chris Tolkien's intro and fast-forwarded through it. I then felt bad that I did and went back and listened to it in its entirety. I now think that he did a fairy good job of reviewing and explaining the back story and his dad's intentions. I guess that I was just impatient and just ready to get to the story when I first started.
I won't go into further detail for now but I will post a "spoiler alert" review post on Friday.
Post by Glorfindel on Apr 17, 2009 10:03:06 GMT -5
The Children of Hurin
I would say that about 75% of the story would be known to the readers of the Silmarillion but there is some additional information and story content that makes this a worth while read. As Christopher Tolkien explained in the introduction to TCoH; the story of Hurin and his kin is the longest lay "story" in all of the back myths of the Elder days and for that reason, and others, seem to warrant it having the complete tale told in full. Indeed the story is full of twist and turns, ups and downs, that the overview in the Silmarillion, while being very informative, does not give the proper weight to the story. It is hopeful, entertaining and very much so...a tragedy.
To be honest, I really did not have a great interest in reading it when it came out a few years back. I had freshly finished reading the Silmarillion book, and the story that resonated with me the most was "Beren and Luthien". After finding this website and getting involved, I end up acquiring the audio-book for the Silmarillion and listen to it several times (up to about 5 times now for the complete book). After the second or third time around, I really got into the story of Turin. I think when I first read it in the book, I glossed over a lot to get through to what was happening in Gondolin. I'm glad that the eye gate and ear gate combination of going over the story, allowed be to refocus my perception of TCoH, and granted me the ability to really appreciate it. The review is as follows:
Quality: The book and audio-book are both well made. I'm partial to the hard-cover book (to display in my library) and the product is done well with a map and some illustrations that seem to match the mood and settings of that time in Beleriand. The editing is nicely done and I don't think that a reader that likes the Silmarillion will be disappointed with the style and flow of the text. The audio-book, like wise has been professionally done with great skill by Chris Tolkien and Christopher Lee. Chris's intro to the book seemed a tad long to me at first, and think it is because I have read/listened to the Silmarillion quite a few times and it's just telling me what I know already, again. I do like the insight that he gives as to how his father perceived the stories and the meanings behind some of the intrigue in TCoH. Mr. Lee does a wonderful job as the reader and was on point about 90% of the time with the voice characterizations. There is some music at the beginning and ending of each chapter that rises to a "boldness" without being overbearing.
Story: The story begins with the background being told about men and the three great houses of the Edain. Genealogy is given to the reader/listener in order to connect the lords/leaders of each house down to the present generation of men that inhabit this story. Their connection to the Eldar is also explained and the general geopolitical landscape is laid out. Morgoth is presented and the battles against him mentioned. Finally, after the getting back Hurin and Huor from Gondolin by the eagles, you get on with the story, well not quite yet. The taking up the lordship by Hurin, the marrying of the two brothers and the settling down of the men's families is put forth. After that, you get some dialog from the characters.
The tragic death of Lalaith, Turin's sister, is featured as the first main turning point. The effect on the family is very pronounced. Also, the establishment of the friendship between Turin and the house servant Sador (Labadal) is completed. Shortly after this, it's off to the Nirnaeth!
I liked the beginning, but here again I found myself a little impatience to get beyond the "review" information. It would definitely be great for the person that had casually read the Silmarillion, or not even read it at all. Those only familiar with LOTR would benefit also and would be brought up to speed quickly with the intro and background review.
The Nirnaeth is explained/presented well enough with some information left out. It focuses mostly on what Hurin had to deal with and the major points of the battle. The following chapter marks one of the major additions, with the conversation between Hurin and Morgoth.
I was not displeased about this version of the Nirnaeth. It was pretty much the same one that you get in the Silmarillion. I had one question though. I thought that Gelmir had his hands and feet cut off and then his head by the orcs which sparked Gwindor to rush down with the Noldor from Nargothrond. Here, it tells that he had his arms and legs cut off and was left to die. Not a giant issue if they are different though.
Sorry, but I'm short on time, so I'll finish my review on Monday. Have a good weekend. ;D
Last Edit: Apr 17, 2009 10:03:50 GMT -5 by Glorfindel
Post by Glorfindel on Apr 21, 2009 10:57:44 GMT -5
The Children of Hurin
Review Continued: Hurin and Morgoth speak
Hurin defies Morgoth. This is told in the Silmarillion and is detailed in TCoH. One can easily tell that Hurin was well learned in the lore of the Eldar and is able to make some solid defenses against Morgoth's pressuring. You could say that Hurin may be a tad too prideful in his replies to Morgoth but his comments are based solid truth, albeit he speaks them with great boldness. Even when Morgoth takes him to the Haudh-en-Ndengin to look out and breaks a sword which splinters and cuts his cheek, Hurin remains steadfast, but we all have a weakness, and Hurin's was his concern for his family. The verbal confrontation between Morgoth and Hurin was done well and sheds even more light on Morgoth's mind, his fears, as well as displaying Hurin's character.
Morgoth curses Hurin's family. Although diminished at some levels, Morgoth is still of the Valar and his curse is put out with the will and power of a Valar. Still, some of the misdeeds may have been adverted if it were not for the stubbornest and pride of the members of Hurin's family.
I would say, that it seems to me, as if Turin and his mother had some slight shadow on them even before the curse, and that Morgoth just increased its darkness and scope. Were Turin a happier child, light-hearted in nature, or even just more wary, Morgoth's curse might have come out half-baked. Indeed, pride cometh before the fall, and much of the suffering that Turin endured and gave out was because of his own pride. I remember going to Sunday School when I was in grade school, and learning about Moses and Pharaoh. Pharaoh would not let the Hebrews go and it is told how God harden the Pharaoh's heart. I thought that it was kind of unfair to "harden" the Pharaoh's heart back then, but with further study and growth, the truth became plain. The Pharaoh was not going let them go in the first place, not without some major intervention. He had a predisposition against letting them go and would have been more unkind to the Hebrews for even mentioning leaving. God helped him along a path and direction that he was already headed. This was done so that the power and wonder of God's hand in the liberation of the Hebrews could be seen brightly and plainly against the increasing dark backdrop of the Pharaoh's stubbornest. I don't mean to imply "Jehovah" status to Melkor or draw any other unattended comparisons than the fact that Turin seems destined to have a rough type of road in life, and even if he was not cursed by Morgoth, he would have had a self made curse laid on himself. He might have been able to save Finduilas and avoided going back to Dor-lomin and causing grief to those who remained there; the marrying his sister could have been avoided too. Yet still, there was his ego and pride that was a constant hindrance to him and those around him.
Among the expanded information given in TCoH, is the dealings of Turin in Doriath. One of the key things would be his relationship with Nellas, the elf maiden, in the forest of Doriath. This would play majorly when it came to King Thingol pronouncing his doom on the matter of the death of Saeros and the fleeing of Turin after that. Oh yes, Saeros, what a nasty dude! I'm surprised that Thingol had him as a counselor in his court, but I have to remember that it was only the deeds and Beren, and the deep love that Beren and Luthien shared, that warmed Thingol up to the idea of considering that some men are worth while and could be noble. So I guess that Saeros represented what the old thinking of Thingol might have been prior to Beren. Evil was done in Doriath through Saeros and though Mablung suggested that this seemed like the work of the enemy, nothing was shown or said to prove this out, so it seemed to be an original work of evil. Regardless of the curse, those events may have still played out as they did.
I'll finish up tomorrow with the review and cover Mim, the death of Beleg and Glaurung.
Last Edit: Apr 21, 2009 11:07:58 GMT -5 by Glorfindel
Post by Glorfindel on Apr 29, 2009 10:06:02 GMT -5
Continuing with my rambling...I mean, reviewing, TCoH and concluding ;D
The struggle that Turin has with his compassion for those in desperate need and his desire to fit in and be a leader (ego) are realized in the chapters covering his "Outlaw" life after Doriath. I think many have been in that situation where they are with a group that may not uphold all of their values, but for various reasons (comradary, ego, compassion, wanting to be an agent of change, etc.) they hang around overlong. For readers of the Silmarillion, it is well known that Turin joins up with the outlaws but their deeds are brought to light as well as the loathing that the peasant folk of that region had for them. No more than Highwaymen of the south they seemed, yet Turin called them his fellows. Beleg's visit sobers up Turin to admonish his fellows to rise above the orcish deeds that they were commenting, but it was not enough to turn Turin's stubborn mind back to Doriath.
The encounter with Mim leads up to the middle point of the story for me. He is not to be trusted (at least I would not) but Turin does his best to honor and respect the petty dwarf, maybe out of a sense of guilt and pity. There are very nice detailed descriptions of surroundings and attitudes in this part of the story. Foreboding and dark, yet there are sparkles of hope when once again Beleg comes on the scene. Even though the land of Bow and Helm had success, it is still Morgoth that has the final victory through the treachery Mim; although Turin's advertising himself by wearing the Helm of Dor-Lomin was almost as bad a betrayal.
I think with Beleg, you really get to know him, and makes his accidental death even more profound and sad. His death is only trumped by Turin's and Nienor's tragedy. Gwindor comes into play and Turin ends up in Nargothrond. The whole "love triangle" thing is laid out in Nargothrond; well not quite a triangle because Gwindor loves Finduilas, she loves Turin, but Turin loves Turin. He does respect and care for both Elves in his own way. The over arching thing that follows Turin is his pride and stubbornness. This is what allows his doom to gain ground on him. Morgoth's curse would still have a disastrous effect on Turin's life, but Turin's pride amplifies the scope of the dark doom.
There is much more that can be said about the story, like the "naked" run of Nienor that seems to have it's genesis in the run of Saeros, but I'll think I'll stop here. TCoH is well done. It puts meat onto the skeleton story that was described in the Silmarillion. It's not LOTR or the Hobbit, but it is enjoyable as an adventure and dark journey through the lands of the Elder Days. Happy reading or listening!
Last Edit: Apr 29, 2009 10:54:53 GMT -5 by Glorfindel
P.S. Haven't had a chance to read all of this, but intend too, just not tonight because it's late and I desperately need sleep as I've been up until 1:30 or 2:00 every night for days studying and just can't do it again tonight. As soon as I can I will read and comment.
Post by Huinesoron on Jul 22, 2012 21:16:50 GMT -5
Interestingly I couldn't have commented on this before now anyway, as I only just managed to read the book... well, I'm not a big Turin fan.
I found the most interesting thing about Children of Hurin to be - and you already mentioned this, Glorfindel - the expanded characterisation of Morwen and Turin. Morwen Edhelwen comes across as a really stubborn type - a bit like Miriel mother of Feanor, actually, in that everyone who tries to persuade her away from her course only makes her resolve stronger.
And Turin... oh dear Nienna I still dislike that man. He's just so... well, so like his mother. But when he's being stubborn - "You say your messengers from Ulmo, but I really like my bridge!" - he brings down entire nations.
I was somewhat disappointed that CoH ended where it did. Tolkien wrote a great deal about What Hurin Did Next, and none of it's in there. As such, while the Lost Tales account doesn't really match up with the current story, I highly recommend following CoH with the story found in HoME XI: The Wanderings of Hurin, which tells of the massive destruction brought by Hurin to Brethil when he finally got there.
(Oh, and -- based on the way Christopher wrote the Intro and Notes, I'm really hoping that he's now busying himself putting together a Beren and Luthien novel...)
~He came never back among the people of the Elves~