The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien

Title: The Children of Húrin.
Series: The Great Tales of Middle-Earth #1.
Writer(s): J.R.R. Tolkien.
Editor(s): Christopher Tolkien.
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Format: Hardcover.
Release Date: April 16th, 2007.
Pages: 313.
Genre(s): Fantasy.
ISBN13: 9780618894642.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.


Originally conceived as a long poem structured with the ancient English alliterative metre, epic fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien abandoned this ambitious writing project known only under the provisional title of “Túrin son of Húrin and Glorúnd the Dragon” and turned toward penning a legendary tale with an extended and elaborated narrative format. Although unfinished before his death, his son Christopher Tolkien took it upon himself, after countless hours of studying the original manuscripts, to provide readers of his father’s legendarium with a continuous narrative from start to finish, without a single addition of elements deemed inauthentic in concept. Published independently post-humously, the first of the three Great Tales of Middle-earth known as The Children of Húrin, considered the chief narrative fiction of Middle-earth after The Lord of the Rings, this book, also highlighted by the staggering and beautiful artwork of Alan Lee, shares a tragic First Age tale of doom and demise.

What is The Children of Húrin about? Following the devastating Battle of Unnumbered Tears, also known as Nírnaeth Arnoediad, Húrin, lord of Dor-lómin confronts Morgoth only for him and his family to be cursed by the Master of the fates of Arda, the first Dark Lord, so that great evil befalls upon the lives of his family and himself. Young, Túrin, son of Húrin, only nine years of age, living in Dor-lómin without knowledge of his father’s fate, is sent in secret by his mother Morwen, pregnant with her daughter Niënor, to find refuge under the care of King Thingol, hoping to save the heir of their land instead of falling into the hands of thralls. What follows is a tragic tale of survival, honour, heroism, and courage, as Túrin attempts to escape the threads of fate only to resurge from the shadows with immediacy and confront his identity with shock and awe.

“A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Despite being succinctly recounted in The Silmarillion and featured as an incomplete version within Unfinished Tales, the story in this complete edition remains the definitive version for readers of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, offering an accessible entry point into a tale set within Middle-earth without necessarily having any prior knowledge of the world itself. The narrative structure also provides a very linear story-telling approach as it goes on to cover the entire life of Húrin who sets off on an identity-molding journey until destiny reels him back to his origins and delivers the brutal and mind-numbing twist of fate. Despite the story being driven by the evil principle of Morgoth’s curse, it is often Húrin who, out of decisions and personal beliefs, capitalized by reckless pride and heroism, dooms those around him to tragedy, unlike anything anyone has witnessed before.

Although Húrin isn’t gifted with a peaceful upbringing brimming with love and admiration, instead scurrying into Middle-earth looking for a life that fits his character and desires, desperately trying to avoid his roots and his past, his journey offers readers the opportunity to witness the many communities within this world, especially outlaws and elves, all abiding by different rules and customs, as they all continuously try to survive the ever-evolving evil in their world, taking the form of a dark mist brought upon them by the master of Sauron. Taking place within Beleriand, writer J.R.R. Tolkien also does a brilliant job, as always, in developing his story within the geographical landscape he’s envisioned for his world. Despite being more human-centric and tragic at heart, the fantasy elements also elevate the epic journey to the more mythological qualities attributed to the professor’s work, whether it would be Glaurung’s calamitous and manipulative deeds or the destructive powers of the Dark Elf’s sword Anglachel.

The Children of Húrin is a twisted, turbulent, and tragic tale of Túrin and Niënor, the children of Húrin, the lord of Dor-lómin, featuring a merciless amalgam of evil, doom, and madness.



30 thoughts on “The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien

  1. A fascinating account about one of Tolkien’s projects. I recall the passage in The Silmarillion and wincing at the tragedy of it. I haven’t read the poem, but honour the painstaking effort and work going into it. Thank you for your article, Lashaan:).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A friend of mine read this and told me I should not read it. There wasn’t much chance (I’m just not a Tolkienophile) but now there is zero. I don’t do well with the main characters doing the stuff Tolkien ascribes to them.

    It sounds like it has only whetted your appetite for more Tolkien though 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so happy you’re enjoying all the different stories of the Legendarium! It can be hard to get into these stories, as there are so many variations and some are so fragmented, but there is just so much there and there are so many layers that you can keep looking for new stories of this character or that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, Kim! I’m having a blast working my through all of his work and still can’t enough of his tales, even having read all those more fragmented versions out there. I believe I’ll get more of this story in particular in one of the three big complete volumes of the History of Middle-earth too. I can’t wait! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I did buy this book when it came out but (shame on me!) I simply looked at the gorgeous illustrations from Alan Lee and promised myself to read it, so that I could appreciate the tale in its entirety after reading the two incomplete versions in the Silmarillion and the U.T., and then placed it on my “Tolkien Shelf” and never went back to it. So I will take your enlightening review as a reminder… 😉
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahah I hope you end up checking this out after a reread of LOTR in the future! Let it also be known that you can totally tackle this without rereading; Christopher Tolkien does a good intro to contextualize the story and the story doesn’t require you to know things outside what it tells you too! 😀 Thanks for reading, Eustacia! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It was pretty good, although very dark for a Tolkien novel. I would have liked to see Beren and Lúthien turned into a full-length narrative as well, to be honest as that is one of my favorites. Anyway, is it just me or are there disturbing parallels between this story and The Hobbit?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A thoroughly insightful review, Lashaan. I was unaware of this book (though I did own a copy of The Silmarillion back in the day). As much as love LOTR and have read the trilogy multiple times, this one sounds a bit too dark for me. I imagine, however, that Tolkien’s use of language is ever lyrical and poetic.

    Liked by 1 person

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