The Children of Hurin: Deluxe Edition

by J.R.R. Tolkien

Other authorsChristopher Tolkien (Editor), Alan Lee (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2007



Call number



Houghton Mifflin Company (2007), Edition: Deluxe, 320 pages


Painstakingly restored from Tolkien's manuscripts and presented for the first time as a fully continuous and stand alone story, the epic tale of The Children of Húrin will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, dragons and Dwarves, eagles and Orcs, and the rich landscape and characters unique to Tolkien. There are tales of Middle-earth from times long before The Lord of the Rings, and the story told in this book is set in the great country that lay beyond the Grey Havens in the West: lands where Treebeard once walked, but which were drowned in the great cataclysm that ended the First Age of the World. In that remote time Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, dwelt in the vast fortress of Angband, the Hells of Iron, in the North; and the tragedy of Túrin and his sister Nienor unfolded within the shadow of the fear of Angband and the war waged by Morgoth against the lands and secret cities of the Elves. Their brief and passionate lives were dominated by the elemental hatred that Morgoth bore them as the children of Húrin, the man who had dared to defy and to scorn him to his face. Against them he sent his most formidable servant, Glaurung, a powerful spirit in the form of a huge wingless dragon of fire. Into this story of brutal conquest and flight, of forest hiding-places and pursuit, of resistance with lessening hope, the Dark Lord and the Dragon enter in direly articulate form. Sardonic and mocking, Glaurung manipulated the fates of Túrin and Nienor by lies of diabolic cunning and guile, and the curse of Morgoth was fulfilled. The earliest versions of this story by J.R.R. Tolkien go back to the end of the First World War and the years that followed; but long afterwards, when The Lord of the Rings was finished, he wrote it anew and greatly enlarged it in complexities of motive and character: it became the dominant story in his later work on Middle-earth. But he could not bring it to a final and finished form. In this book Christopher Tolkien has constructed, after long study of the manuscripts, a coherent narrative without any editorial invention.… (more)

Media reviews

... So there's something very pagan about Tolkien's world, and it gets more pagan as we go further back. The Children of Húrin is practically Wagnerian. It has a lone, brooding hero, a supremely malicious dragon, a near-magical helmet, a long-standing curse, a dwarf of ambiguous moral character
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called Mîm and - the clincher, this - incest. Which is here a disaster and not, as in Wagner, a two-fingers-to-fate passion. Readers will already have come across the story in its essence in The Silmarillion and, substantially, in Unfinished Tales, which came out in 1980. One suspects that those who bought the latter book will not feel too cheated when they buy and read The Children of Húrin. ...

Christopher Tolkien has brought together his father's text as well, I think, as he can. In an afterword, he attests to the difficulty his father had in imposing "a firm narrative structure" on the story, and indeed it does give the impression of simply being one damned thing after another, with the hero, Túrin, stomping around the forests in a continuous sulk at his fate, much of which, it seems, he has brought upon himself.

As to whether the story brings out the feeling of "deep time" which Tolkien considered one of the duties of his brand of imaginative literature, I cannot really tell, for I do not take this kind of thing as seriously as I did when I was a boy and feel that perhaps the onus for the creation of such a sense of wonder is being placed too much on the reader. Actually, the First Age here seems a pretty miserable place to be; Orcs everywhere, people being hunted into outlawhood or beggary, and with no relief, light or otherwise, from a grumpy, pipe-smoking wizard. But it does have a strange atmosphere all of its own. Maybe it does work.
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1 more
Inspired by the Norse tale of Sigurd and Fafnir, Tolkien first wrote a story about a dragon in 1899, at the age of 7. At school he discovered the Kalevala, a Finnish epic poem, and by 1914 was trying to turn the tale of Kullervo into “a short story somewhat on the lines of Morris’s romances”.
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By 1919 he had combined these elements in what became the tale of Túrin Turambar. The book is beautiful, but other than the atmospheric illustrations by Alan Lee, and a discussion of the editorial process, much of what lies between the covers was actually published in either The Silmarillion (1977) or Unfinished Tales (1980). Yet this new, whole version serves a valuable purpose. In The Children of Húrin we could at last have the successor to The Lord of the Rings that was so earnestly and hopelessly sought by Tolkien’s publishers in the late 1950s.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member anterastilis
The Children of Húrin is Christopher Tolkien’s much-anticipated completion of an unfinished tale of Middle-earth by his father, J.R.R. Tolkien. This story takes place in the lands in the west (beyond the Grey Havens of the Third Age), and during the First Age – a time and place explored in
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more depth in The Silmarillion. Morgoth is a rebellious Vala who terrorizes the men and elves. Húrin, lord of a group of men, raises an army to fight Morgoth. He is captured and imprisoned, and Morgoth puts a curse on his children: Túrin and Niёnor. The Children of Húrin focuses on the misadventures of the two ill-fated humans.

Although J.R.R. Tolkien set this story aside (to write The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings) and it was heavily edited by his son, one can still hear his voice. The Children of Húrin seems ancient and is written as an archaic narrative. It is somewhat biblical in feel (like The Silmarillion), doesn’t have the whimsy and rhythm of some of his other short works (Tom Bombadil, the Unfinished Tales,etc.) and lacks the depth and characterization of his large works (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit). However, I very much enjoyed taking a short trip back to Middle-earth. I would recommend this book to fans of Middle-earth and Tolkien – especially those who have read and enjoyed The Silmarillion.

I enjoyed this little trip back to Middle-earth, depressing as it was. The book focuses largely on Túrin, who seems to run into nothing but trouble. It’s wonderful, however, how J.R.R. Tolkien’s voice comes through in this story. The writing is kind of odd…I’m not sure why Christopher Tolkien chose to edit it into prose instead of keeping it as rhymed verse the way his father had written it. It does work, though. Just more Silmarillion than Unfinished Tales.

Speaking of The Silmarillion, he mentions in the appendix (one of several – writing extensive appendices must be genetic) that he left out some of the story because it was already covered in The Silmarillion. That’s just another tidbit of how this book fits into the canon.
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LibraryThing member DCArchitect
'The Children of Hurin' - in many ways an expanded chapter of 'The Silmarillion' - is the dark and tragic tale of Turin, the great Hero of Men in the First Age of Middle Earth.

Thousands of years before the events of 'The Hobbit' or 'The Lord of the Rings' the race of Men is proud and the Elves have
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yet to start their long decline which culminated with their leaving Middle Earth at the end of LOTR. The struggle between Morgoth and the Free Races in 'The Children of Hurin' is the struggle between great powers at their height. There are no reluctant heros in this tale.

After 'The Battle of Unnumbered Tears' Hurin, Human King of Belirand, was captured by Morgoth. When Hurin refused to give Morgoth the location of the hidden Elven city of Gondolin, Morgoth cursed Hurin's children. 'The Children of Hurin' is their tortured story.

Other reviewers have recounted the basic plot and I won't bore you by rehashing it. Instead, I'll give you my impression of the book.

'The Children of Hurin' is Tolkien at his darkest. You imagine this Middle Earth as a dark and frightening place, where even the power and fierceness of those on the side of 'good' is terrifying. This is the story of a cursed man. There are no bright spots, no comic turns, no Samwise Gamgee or Pippin to lighten the mood. This is a story where every character is some version of Boromir, Farimir, and the Last Steward of Gondor. Pride, deceit, struggle, violence and defeat dominate.

The language is slightly more archaic than that of 'The Lord of the Rings' but far less so than 'The Silmarillion,' giving us a very readable story. 'The Children of Hurin' is full of all the same detail and history that we are used to from Tolkien's other works. This story is every bit as good as the rest of the Tolkien canon. The Dragons, the swords, the magical cities and power of fate that Tolkien gave us in 'The Lord of the Rings' is here in spades.

For any true Tolkien fan, 'The Children of Hurin' is unmissable. For those who enjoyed 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'The Hobbit' but failed to get through 'The Silmarillion' this new posthumous release is a great inroad into the history of Middle Earth.
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LibraryThing member Atomicmutant
I am first struck by the terseness of the language. It’s Tolkien, yes, but much more utilitarian. He really has a handle on this certain type of sentence construction that adds gravitas to every statement. It feels as though you’re reading a true history of something. This works both for and
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against him in this case, because essentially we’re reading a family saga here. The formal quality of the language served to distance me from the characters and so blunt my empathy for them, however tragic and grand their circumstance.

Moreover, the tale has such a pervasive inevitability to it, that at times I felt as though I was watching a poisoned animal die. Turin shows only impetuousness and blindness to the overall situation, and I never had the sense that he would be able to turn the curse, or that he’d ever succeed in anything that he did. That robbed the tale of tension for me. Moreover, his actions for the most part take place in a vacuum; he’s off by himself, away from his people and his family, messing up other people’s lives for the better part of the story. I guess we’re supposed to remember that Hurin has been placed in a position to “see” him all the time, but some tension would have been added by developing his character and seeing Turin’s struggles through his eyes.

The business with the dragon, and Turin’s overall saga, had a lot of echoes of Beowulf for me, and I’m not entirely certain what Tolkien was trying to get at, beyond plucking the historical zeitgeist, by riffing on that tale. (Maybe it was just me who thought there were similarities in the shape of the tale, though). He can also be seen, retroactively, as sort of an “anti-Aragorn”, who never really figures out what he’s supposed to do and how he’s supposed to grow. To that extent, I’m found lacking in empathy for him as well. His eventual end is not so much tragic as pathetic, I thought.

The deception of the dragon, and marriage of brother and sister was a neat turn, though. I am trying to recall other mythic precedent for that part of the tale, where people do not know who the other is. For a time I thought perhaps their offspring would live and become some part of the big picture, but then over the cliff she goes, and with it that supposition. Splat.

I’m not certain what this story does to inform us of the overall Middle-earth saga, either. I guess it illuminates the fact that Elves and men have always had a rocky, on-again, off-again relationship. Basically, they never really know what to do with each other. That hasn’t really progressed by the time we get to LOTR.

So, I’ll go with a critical thumbs-up, for the sheer bravado of the world-construction, yet again, and the shoot-the-moon idea of the density of this invented history. I felt as though I was reading a real history. However, the story construction, though echoing with elements of Greek Tragedy, didn’t quite get at the “moral” point of such tales in an obvious way for me. And the characters remain ciphers or “event movers” for the most part, that I felt were all externally rather than internally motivated. (Here noting that inner dialogue is not a characteristic of classic myth in general, and so further serves the illusion that this is a “found” myth from an ancient time and not a 20th century scholarly invention).
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LibraryThing member sidesho
A myth from the Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales is brought to life in this tragedy.
Although i have read these books many times over the years; i was glad to find some areas fleshed out- such as Turins time among the outlaws.
I wouldn't say this is a stand-alone book as its history is quite
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important (esp. The Lay of Beren and Luthien).
Each time you read this it becomes a little easier until you don't need to cross-reference any more.
Some parts differ from the Silmarillion (depending on which version you own.) but as this is all from 'myth' i would expect discrepancies anyway.
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LibraryThing member MrDowney
Very sad story, but rich with Tolkien complexity.
LibraryThing member Choccy
I cannot imagine a darker Tolkien story than Children of Hurin. In the introduction part, Christopher Tolkien (JRR's son cum editor) mention something about this novel as a fairy tale. Well, a gruesome one indeed.

People should read The Silmarillion first, I guess, although the ending of the
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Children of Hurin is told there. Their story was one of the most memorable ones, besides the tale of Beren and Luthien. The details of the journey of Hurin's cursed children, Turin and and Nienor...more I cannot imagine a darker Tolkien story than Children of Hurin. In the introduction part, Christopher Tolkien (JRR's son cum editor) mention something about this novel as a fairy tale. Well, a gruesome one indeed.

People should read The Silmarillion first, I guess, although the ending of the Children of Hurin is told there. Their story was one of the most memorable ones, besides the tale of Beren and Luthien. The details of the journey of Hurin's cursed children, Turin and and Nienor, is described with the usual Tolkienese narrative with vividly breathtaking (or sometimes frightening) landscapes, unforgettable, daunting characters and such an elegant, poetic parlance.

The elves, ah the elves! One of the most mysterious creatures in Tolkien's lore, which have had me spellbound since I first read the Lord of the Rings. Here, the elves were the Noldors, who had forsaken Valinor (the land of the Gods) and chose to stay in Middle Earth. Their wars against the Enemy, Morgoth, lasted for hundreds of years, and involving other beings such as Men as their allies. Turin was the son of one of Houses of Men who fought against Morgoth and his evil minions. His bravery was legendary and posed an excellent reading. A certified badass who dared to denounce all bonds and even the Elven high kings.

I shall not waste my time writing about the lineage, the history and all (as I've said before, read Silmarillion first!) so I will directly comment about the story. Well, it is heartbreaking indeed. Utter horror. It is so sad that you could not shed any tears because you feel too overwhelmed. I kid you not. The sorrowful adventures of Turin and Nienor are certainly not for the fainthearted.

Back to Tolkien, I must applaud him for this excellent work of art. I do not read much fantasy, but I think his might be the greatest of them all. The feeling you have when you're reading one of his works is indescribable. He did not just blew me away, but he imprisoned me in the novel's realm and forced me to watch his characters live, fight, love, suffer and ... die.

Suffice to say, Children of Hurin will take you to the dark side of the Tolkien's lore. The evil is nigh, enjoy the ride!
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LibraryThing member jveezer
I was pretty excited to read The Children of Hurin but it took a while because I was in the middle of another book (Life of Pi) and because I had pre-ordered the Deluxe Edition and so had to wait for it. The wait wasn't too bad since I already knew the story so well from The Silmarillion and
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Unfinished Tales. The Deluxe edition was a pleasure to read and hold after having the regular edition in my hands a couple of times.

Anyway, I love this story along with practically all things Tolkien. It was nice to have it in it's own setting instead of the brief and chopped up forms I've read it in multiple times before. Even with those multiple readings, I still found myself hoping/wishing Turin would make a different decision or something would turn out better. I mean, who pulls a sword out of a still breathing dragon? Doh!

Alas, a tragedy is a tragedy. Although the Greek comparison is appropriate, I couldn't help thinking of Hamlet. I had just read that again recently, so Shakespeare's tragedies were a little fresher in my mind than the Greek.

It's interesting how Morgoth seems to have "won" on the Hurin side of the House of Hador but "loses" in part due to Tuor's side.
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LibraryThing member mielniczuk
Long, cmplex, and a great escape.
LibraryThing member ResAliens
The Children of Hurin, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Reviewed by ResAliens

Tragic ending. Yet offering a thin sliver of hope.

For this reason, I not only came away satisfied with the tale, but can recommend it to those who are not die-hard Tolkien fans. The Children of Hurin is a story that mirrors life. In our
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world, as well as Middle Earth, there exist flawed heroes, betrayals, heart-breaking misunderstandings, veiled truth, self-deceived leaders . . . and that occasional glimmer of hope.

This drama has all of that – plus the orcs, elves, a few dwarves, a dragon, and of course Morgoth, the original dark lord and master of Sauron, which are familiar to the readers of Tolkien. But the story also has Turin, the son of Hurin, the embittered protagonist.

The character of Turin is a refreshing alternative to the ‘reluctant hero’ we’ve come to expect from our epic fantasies. Turin isn’t so much reluctant as he is psychologically ambivalent (he could give a damn either way) – and you’ll find he isn’t much of a hero. Nevertheless, I cheered for him and wept for him (okay, maybe not literally). I struggled with him to make sense of it all – life, death, war, evil. And you will too. But I suspect that you won't be satisfied with the conclusion. We’ve been too conditioned by ‘fairy tale’ endings of good triumphing over evil (especially us Tolkien fans) that this story seems…too real for us?

So if you're expecting a prequel to The Lord of the Rings I think you'll come away disappointed. But if you want to breathe in that prequel First Age air (6000 years before The Hobbit) – and journey along in a more accessible epic than The Silmarillion – then this story delivers.

But it's not perfect. Son Christopher Tolkien, now over 80 years old and very much the mantle bearer of his father, did a good job stitching together unfinished portions of the story left unfinished by J.R.R. But there is an occasional patchwork feel to the telling. I got thrown out of the story a few times. But then, I was thrown out of LotR a few times as well (all that mythological background poetry gets a bit tedious, don’t you think?). Still, a tremendous addition to the opus.

My Rating: 8 of 10 (4 Stars)
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LibraryThing member 5hrdrive
Admittedly not my favorite tale from the First Age, I much prefer The Fall of Gondolin or the story of Beren and Luthien. This is much too sad and depressing. However, the artwork by Alan Lee is fantastic and really helps to bring the story to life. I also appreciate the way that the map is
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incorporated - makes it extremely easy to follow along.
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LibraryThing member JonArnold
Of all the mythology of Middle Earth, this is probably the darkest tale. It’s essentially a tale of original sin, with Tolkien’s version of Satan rewarding Húrin’s defiance with imprisonment and a curse on his family which is enacted whilst all he can do is watch. The dark side might lose a
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few bodies and a battle or two but overall win the day. This isn’t even about some capriciousness of the gods, it’s about the cost of doing the right thing.

Where Tolkien excels is in how Túrin almost always acts with the best of intentions but how his actions turn to darkness. As the author’s aiming for the breadth and sweep of European myth the unlikely coincidences of the story can be put down to chance being corrupted and the curse working its dark magic. Essentially we’re told up front that this will be a depressing read, but the hope that the characters can defy their decreed fate leaves a spark of hope to the end. It’s no spoiler to say that that hope goes unrewarded, with the last few scenes being as heartbreaking as Tolkien gets. Túrin does achieve some minor victories, but the misery he often unwittingly spreads tends to outweigh that. Powerfully written stuff, to the point you wouldn’t know it had to be reconstructed by the author’s son. It won’t convert those who find Tolkien forbidding and off-putting, but for those of us who grew up reading him and have never quite lost the taste for his works, it’s thrilling stuff and arguably a better place to start than The Silmarillion (a more coherent story), The Hobbit (more depth and breadth) or the weightiness of his most famous trilogy.
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LibraryThing member willowcove
Similar to the the Silmarillion in that it's a slower read than the Ring Trilogy, but a good story
LibraryThing member sloopjonb
This book is a swiz. Anyone who has got Unfinished Tales has already read everything in it. Completists only.
LibraryThing member okmliteracy8
This book was tragic tale of adventure and conquest. It was gripping but it didn't keep me on the edge of my seat, but overall it was a great book with lots of interesting characters and plot twists.
- Colton W.
LibraryThing member colbud
I somehow missed that this book was being published and found out the day it ran out of stock at every bookstore in Seattle! I had to wait a couple days for B&N to get it in, then finished it in two days. Tolkien's epic fantasy style is like liquid chocolate, rich and full with a pleasant
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aftertaste!If you loved the Silmarillion, you will love this book. If you thought the Silmarillion was too long with too many names, this might be more tolerable for you because it chronicles a very short time frame in Middle Earth.
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LibraryThing member Karlstar
If you are a Tolkien fan, you will enjoy this book. It isn't long, but that does not mean it is an easy read. This is a heroic tragedy, not a happy story. Despite the title, this is primarily the story of Turin, son of Hurin, who lived long before the events of The Lord of the Rings. His story was
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summarized in The Silmarillion, and expanded and enhanced here. Turin is a human hero, leading elves and men against whatever foes he encounters, and achieving both great and infamous deeds, while fighting against the curse on his house.

The book is written in typical Tolkien prose, which for me was wonderful to read again. In its way, this book is 'dark', but in the sense that tragedy is dark, long before dark was a description of books. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member themulhern
More enjoyable than "The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian". Christopher Lee speaks the various names in the various languages with gusto, which helps the book along. Basically, this is just a grim Scandinavian/Germanic myth of doom and battle, with a side-dressing of Morgoth and Elves and extra gods.
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It is unusual for one author to write such different kinds of books about one imaginary place. "The Hobbit" is a very different kind of book from "The Lord of the Rings" and this book is substantially different from both.

Morgoth (and Sauron), never seem to be sufficiently goal oriented to be "good" bad guys.
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LibraryThing member lsepulveda
I'm a huge fan of Tolkien and deaply interested in first age history. The children of Hurin is one of the best complete tales held in first age. Here Cristopher collected all his father's papers and turned it in a book, revealing in details the tale of Túrin and the curse spelled upon his kin .
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This tale is so dramatic, with a dreadful ending. I think all the fans should read this one, don't expect deep details as we could see on LOTR, however it's a full and strong story held on first age with maybe the most influencer Tolkien's characte
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LibraryThing member JapaG
The tale of Turin Turambar from Silmarillion, much fleshed out. The tales of Turin and Beren and Luthien are the most finished ones in the Silmarillion, and it has been a huge work for Christopher Tolkien to gather all his father's references to Turin and incorporate them into this larger,
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novelized work.

Although the tale is almost exactly the same as the one of Kullervo from the Finnish national epic, Kalevala, it is a great work of fiction in the tales of Middle-earth. A very tragic tale in a Shakespearian fashion.

So, not recommended for anyone wishing for a happy read, but highly recommended for the people that have read The Lord of the Rings and want to know more about the first age.
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LibraryThing member mamathiessen
I've been reading this book for almost a year! It's a serious slog, it actually hurts my brain to read it! It's a good story and gives lots of back story to LOTR, but I have to constantly cross-reference with the maps, appendices and other things to understand it and it's time lines. Maybe that's
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just me!! I will finish this book...
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LibraryThing member danconsiglio
Very entertaining fantasy that does not require a background in other Tolkien to fully appreciate. This is one of the smaller stories from the history of The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien buffs will enjoy the difference between the general tones of the Second and Third Ages. For everyone else there
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are blood drinking swords, fire-breathing lizards, and a seriously screwed up hero who will put the beat down at the slightest provocation.
This is a fun, classical tragedy complete w/ family grudges and absent father figures. While you can pretty much call every plot twist well in advance (especially if you have read The Silmerillion and know the whole story in it's shorter form anyway) this is still a pleasant breezy read w/ some pretty awesome fights scenes and an incredibly bad-ass dragon.
I was skeptical of a story edited by Christopher Tolkien, but as long as you stick to the narrative and ignore the scattered and redundant preface and appendix you'll be in good shape
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LibraryThing member Zare
Story of Turin Turambar, ill-faithed son of Hurin, descendant of the last great House of Man that defied The Great Enemy.

Following the tradition of old ballads and tragedies (not unlike Nibelungs, Beowulf and, why not, Greek tragedies) this one is story of a man whose life was not his own, but one
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manipulated by forces beyond his control.

Where Turin walks, great sorrow and destruction follows - he is aware of this but just can do nothing about it. Even when he realizes that his harsh temper brings misery to those around him and decides to calm down and live normal life greatest tragedy of all occurs. But even then Turin manages to strike at the heart of the Enemy and bring hope to the troubled lands.

Great read if you are interested in the lore of Tolkiens "universe", one he created as a backstage for his Ring trilogy.

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LibraryThing member bevangelista
This is a really nice book to read if you love getting into a good fantasy world, and are familiar with the LotR series and other Tolkien books. This is about Turin, son of Hurin and his doom. It goes from
LibraryThing member Cvijaxo
Very touching and sad story from Tolkiens pile of unfinished works. This time Christopher Tolkien edited exciting, dark tale from the second age which is more mythic, and more mature than Tolkiens Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Pretty large push for all which doesn'r read Silerillion to do so. In
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combination with Quenta Silmarillion this jewel shows to reeaders of The Lord Of The Rings a whole different dimension of Tolkien's writing. Not particulary redeble but very exciting and rewarding.
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LibraryThing member npl
Turin, the son of human lord Hurin and elven lady Morwen, is a crucial force in the battle between good and evil in this epic, fantasy adventure full of intrigue and exciting battle scenes which include the familiar elves, dwarves, orcs, a wily dragon and a malicious dark sorcerer. Begun in 1918,
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revised several times but never published, this tale of Middle Earth during the Elder Days (thousands of years before the action of The Lord of the Rings) was reconstructed by the author’s son Christopher.
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Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

320 p.; 8.5 inches


0618904417 / 9780618904419

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