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

In Húrin’s absence, times are rough for Morwen.  She is poor, but she bitterly accepts alms to squeak by for the sake of Túrin and her unborn child.  The house slips into decay, and it is only by the aid of Aerin, a kinswoman, that she survives.  Aerin was taken by force by Brodda, an Easterling raider.  Though he put her people into slavery, she was taken instead as a wife, and there were those among the thralls who stood ready to aid, unbroken.

For his part, Túrin remained quiet about his father until the Easterlings came.  To protect Túrin from a fate of slavery, Morwen sends him to King Thingol in Doriath.  In the following year after Túrin sets forth, Morwen gives birth to Nienor, “Mourning.”  Túrin makes his way and encounters Beleg, informing him that he would be a knight of Thingol, to bring the fight to Morgoth so as to avenge his father.  Thus he was guided into Doriath, and Thingol accepted him as a foster son.  This was not done by kings, and never again to a Man by an Elf-lord.  In short, the foundations of a legend.

Word, along with invites and gifts reached Morwen, whose pride would not allow her to accept them.  She sent her last riches in return, including the Helm of Hador.  Interesting that it’s gilded with the image of Glaurung.  The Helm is given by Thingol to Túrin to honor his father, but Túrin was too young to heft it, and too sorrowful in the knowledge his mother would not be coming.

In my hardcover, this subsection is only 8 1/2 pages or so, and yet there is a wealth of story here, not unlike how it was in The Silmarillion, only with more dialogue.  Tolkien’s inspirations are showing.  This has an incredibly Medieval feel to it, not just in setting and such, but in the writing style.  It feels to me very similarly to the writings in Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur.  It’s not that I’m ever unaware of this; indeed, that was the feeling I got for the whole of The Silmarillion.  But even the dialogue feels elevated in like manner here.  If I didn’t know the stories or the authors, I would swear if you put them side by side, these had come from the same pen.  Tolkien’s voice is undeniably his own, even with such influences, so I have no explanation for why I draw this connection so clearly right now.

Beyond that, I’m loving how much character detail is here versus what’s found in The Silmarillion.  The styles of the two works are different, but complimentary, also not unlike reading differing versions of the Arthurian legends.  Perhaps that was Tolkien’s entire aim.  Seems reasonable given everything we know.

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

  1. The details in The Unfinished Tales are fantastic. I love the descriptions, the way Tolkien makes them very rich, very intricate. It also strikes me how much more succinct The Silmarillion is — the whole of it, in comparison to The Unfinished Tales.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed. Unfinished Tales so far feels more like a novel rather than the “Biblical” account The Silmarillion was. Still medieval in its feel, though. I can’t shake how close it feels to reading Le Morte d’Arthur in places.

      Liked by 1 person

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