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Concerning Hidden Realities and Human Destiny

The Silmarillion - A Beginner's Guide (Redux) - Part 30 - Of Túrin Turambar (2 of 2)

John Carswell | Thursday, February 15, 2018

Then Glaurung died, and the veil of his malice was taken from her, and she remembered all the days of her life. Looking down upon Túrin she cried: ‘Farewell, O twice beloved! A Túrin Turambar turun ambartanen: master of doom by doom mastered! O happy to be dead!’
(The Silmarillion, 223)

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This post continues my chapter-by-chapter walk through of The Silmarillion. This time, I examine the second 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.

Nienor and Glaurung by DonatoArts

"Nienor and Glaurung" by DonatoArts © 2013 - 2018.

In this post, we continue examining the tragic tale of Túrin Turambar. After losing his sister at a young age and accidentally killing a devoted comrade, Túrin is now residing at Nargothrond, just as it receives a message from Ulmo.

download Getting Started on The Silmarillion

Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien

Key Figures

  • Orodreth: The king of Nargothrond since the death of Finrod.
  • Nienor: Túrin’s other younger sister, she will forget everything she ever knew, and be re-named Níenel, "Tear-Maiden."
  • Glaurung: We’ve seen his immense power of battle in other cases; here we glimpse his psychic abilities.

Key Events

  • The Sack of Nargothrond: Glaurung the Dragon and an army of orcs slip behind the armies of Nargothrond and ransack the once glorious city, sending its inhabitants elsewhere.
  • Túrin Slays Glaurung: Túrin eventually tracks down Glaurung and kills him while he sleeps, though he is injured by the venomous black blood that issues forth from the beast.
  • The Tragedy of Túrin and Nienor: Through Glaurung’s mind-games with them, they live a brief romance that will result in both of their deaths.

Key Takeaways

  • Túrin’s Pride: Though Ulmo had warned them not to leave Nargothrond, and Orodreth had been willing to heed this word, Túrin’s pride leads the armies of Nargothrond out, and leads to the end of the city.
  • Glaurung’s Spell: Glaurung is able to weave a spell of forgetfulness upon both Túrin and Nienor, leading to their incestuous marriage.
  • The Black Blade Broken: As he is about to kill himself, Túrin speaks to Gurthang, the blade bequeathed him from Eöl, which seems glad to have the task of slaying him. Once Túrin dies, the blade is broken.

Key Quotes

  • Ulmo’s Warning:
    'Hear the words of the Lord of Waters!’ said they to the King. ‘Thus he spoke to Círdan the Shipwright: “The Evil of the North has defiled the springs of Sirion, and my power withdraws from the fingers of the flowing waters. But a worse thing is yet to come forth. Say therefore to the Lord of Nargothrond: Shut the doors of the fortress and go not abroad. Cast the stones of your pride into the loud river, that the creeping evil may not find the gate.”’ Orodreth was troubled by the dark words of the messengers, but Túrin would by no means hearken to these counsels, and least of all would he suffer the great bridge to be cast down; for he was become proud and stern, and would order all things as he wished. (202)
  • The Death of Glaurung:
    Then Turambar summoned all his will and courage and climbed the cliff alone, and came beneath the dragon. Then he drew Gurthang, and with all the might of his arm, and of his hate, he thrust it into the soft belly of the Worm, even up to the hilts. But when Glaurung felt his death-pang, he screamed, and in his dreadful throe he heaved up his bulk and hurled himself across the chasm, and there lay lashing and coiling in his agony. And he set all in a blaze about him, and beat all to ruin, until at last his fires died, and he lay still. (222)
  • Glaurung’s Last Laugh:
    Thereat Glaurung stirred for the last time ere he died, and he spoke with his last breath, saying: ‘Hail, Nienor, daughter of Húrin. We meet again ere the end. I give thee joy that thou hast found thy brother at last. And now thou shalt know him: a stabber in the dark, treacherous to foes, faithless to friends, and a curse unto his kin, Túrin son of Húrin! But the worst of all his deeds thou shalt feel in thyself.’ Then Glaurung died, and the veil of his malice was taken from her, and she remembered all the days of her life. (223)

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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