Unfinished Tales – Part One: The First Age – II. Narn i Hîn Húrin – The Tale of the Children of Húrin – The Childhood of Túrin

A large part of Unfinished Tales is dedicated to the Narn i Hîn Húrin, or The Tale of the Children of Húrin.  In fact, it says in The Silmarillion, “Thus was the fate of Túrin woven, which is fulltold in that lay that is called Narn i Hîn Húrin, or The Tale of the Children of Húrin, and is the longest of all the lays that speak of those days.”  This is, of course, the unfinished version as the completed The Children of Húrin was published back in 2007.  Even so, this is still greatly expanded over what we got in The Silmarillion, and as such, we’ll be spending a good deal of time with it for this project.  For simplicity’s sake, I’ll simply call it “the Narn,” though I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t help but think of Babylon 5 every time I do.  I have to keep reminding myself, Túrin was no G’Kar.  Then again, G’Kar didn’t have to face Glaurung… *ahem*

Back on point.  Christopher Tolkien explains in the introduction that the first section of the Narn, “to the end of Túrin in Doriath” (the 4th subsection), required a feat of editing on his part before he could publish it here.  Much of what appears in The Silmarillion was derived from these extraordinarily complex writings by necessity.

The first part of the tale, “The Childhood of Túrin,” covers the lineage of our titular character from Hador Goldenhead, a lord of the Edain.  We’re specifically given more detail on Túrin’s mother, Morwen, from whom Túrin gains his looks and temperament.

In reference to the fairness, “but briefer,” of Túrin’s sister Urwen, called Lalaith, Túrin learns of death when Urwen is claimed by pestilence out of Angband.  In his grief, he turned to only one friend, Sador, one of his father’s servants whom he called Labadal, “Hopafoot.”  From Sador, Túrin learns of the Gift of Men, and it is to him that Túrin confides his wish to be one of the Eldar.  Morwen expresses her desire to go to Gondolin, and Húrin confesses he doesn’t know where it is.

Túrin receives an Elven knife for his birthday, along with a warning that it should be respected and feared.  He re-gifts the blade to Sador, who understands well the value of it and swears fealty whereby he might do what he can to be of some value in return.  Túrin’s actions are questioned by his parents, but accepted.  Being immersed in sword culture as I am, and thus knowing the value of a good blade myself, something about this entire section haunts me.  The lessons of love and pity, with that of the blade being the least of Túrin’s gifts… it gets to me.

Húrin is summoned to Barad Eithel, and off to the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, which we now know is the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, 5th battle of the Wars of Beleriand.  The subsection closes with Morwen and Túrin by the doors until he could be seen no more over the hill, and the horn called faintly on the wind.

2 thoughts on “Unfinished Tales – Part One: The First Age – II. Narn i Hîn Húrin – The Tale of the Children of Húrin – The Childhood of Túrin

    • I was reserving comment until I had something really to offer. The Narn is just getting started, and it feels like it. Still, it is really good to have this expanded version. I have trouble pictuing telling this story without copious amounts of notes, which Tolkien didn’t seem to have. So mostly my thoughts are my standard awe and admiration for what he does.

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