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Concerning Hidden Realities and Human Destiny

The Silmarillion - A Beginner's Guide (Redux) - Part 29 - Of Túrin Turambar (1 of 2)

John Carswell | Thursday, February 01, 2018

Thus was the fate of Túrin woven, which is full told in that lay that is called Narn i Hîn Húrin, the Tale of the Children of Húrin, and is the longest of all the lays that speak of those days.
(The Silmarillion, 198)

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This post continues my chapter-by-chapter walk through of The Silmarillion. This time, I examine the first part of the 21st chapter of The Silmarillion, "Of Túrin Turambar". You can see all the posts in this series by clicking here. You can also find other Silmarillion resources here.

Turin and Lalaith by rysowAnia

"Turin and Lalaith" by rysowAnia © 2010 - 2018.

The tale of Túrin Turambar is a long one, rivaling “Of Beren and Lúthien” and “Akallabêth” as the longest chapter in The Silmarillion. It is also quite tragic, as we shall see. After giving a bit of background on Túrin’s ancestry, it picks up where the last chapter left off, with Túrin’s father Húrin imprisoned in Angband. The chapter focuses in on Túrin’s life.

download Getting Started on The Silmarillion

Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien

Key Figures

  • Túrin: Son of Húrin and Morwen, he is raised in Menegroth and fostered by Thingol.
  • Beleg: Túrin’s companion in arms, he is a great warrior and nicknamed “Strongbow.”
  • Mîm: One of the last survivors of an early race of dwarves.

Key Events

  • The Death of Lalaith: Lalaith was Túrin’s sister, whom he much loved. She dies at the age of 3, from a pestilence “borne on an evil wind out of Angband.” This casts a shadow over the young Túrin.
  • The Death of Saeros: One of the Nandor elves and a counsellor of Thingol, Saeros is jealous of Túrin and often taunts him. He dies after a confrontation with Túrin, leading Túrin to feel responsible for his death.
  • The Death of Beleg: When Beleg attempts to rescue him, Túrin accidentally kills him when he thinks Beleg is an orc come to torment him.

Key Takeaways

  • Eöl’s Handiwork: Thingol gives Beleg the sword Anglachel, but Melian sees “malice in the sword.” It is the work of Eöl the Dark Elf, and it would seem that the blade brings misfortune to its wielder.
  • Pitiable Petty Dwarves: The dwarves of Mîm were the first dwarves to come into Beleriand, a banished people, and they were often hunted by the Sindar. They hate elves as much as they hate orcs.
  • Túrin Is No Beren: Gwindor sees Finduilas’ love for Túrin and does not begrudge it, yet he warns her that though Túrin is great, he is not Beren, and a “dark doom” lies before him.

Key Quotes

  • Túrin the Fated:
    Thus was the fate of Túrin woven, which is full told in that lay that is called Narn i Hîn Húrin, the Tale of the Children of Húrin, and is the longest of all the lays that speak of those days. Here that tale is told in brief, for it is woven with the fate of the Silmarils and of the Elves; and it is called the Tale of Grief, for it is sorrowful, and in it are revealed most evil works of Morgoth Bauglir. (198-199)
  • The Pride of His Heart:
    But in the pride of his heart Túrin refused the pardon of the King, and the words of Beleg were of no avail to change his mood. And he for his part urged Beleg to remain with him in the lands west of Sirion; but that Beleg would not do, and he said: ‘Hard you are, Túrin, and stubborn. Now the turn is mine. If you wish indeed to have the Strongbow beside you, look for me in Dimbar; for thither I shall return.’ (201)
  • Húrin Cursed:
    Thus ended Beleg Strongbow, truest of friends, greatest in skill of all that harboured in the woods of Beleriand in the Elder Days, at the hand of him whom he most loved; and that grief was graven on the face of Túrin and never faded. (208)
  • Húrin Cursed:
    It is not fitting that the Elder Children of Ilúvatar should wed with the Younger; nor is it wise, for they are brief, and soon pass, to leave us in widowhood while the world lasts. Neither will fate suffer it, unless it be once or twice only, for some high cause of doom that we do not perceive . But this Man is not Beren. A doom indeed lies on him, as seeing eyes may well read in him, but a dark doom. Enter not into it! And if you will, your love shall betray you to bitterness and death. For hearken to me! Though he be indeed agarwaen son of úmarth, his right name is Túrin son of Húrin, whom Morgoth holds in Angband, and whose kin he has cursed. Doubt not the power of Morgoth Bauglir! Is it not written in me?’ (210-211)

download Getting Started on The Silmarillion

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this chapter in the comments below.

Tolkien's Requiem Concerning Beren and Lúthien by John CarswellWant to learn more about The Silmarillion? My book Tolkien's Requiem explores the stories of Middle-earth's First Age through the prism of Tolkien's most personal tale: Beren and Lúthien. It's designed to work as a "back door" approach for those who struggle to get a start on The Silmarillion. Click here to learn more!

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