REVIEW SUMMARY: Don’t like your name in Middle Earth? Make up a new one; but don’t expect your luck to change!
PROS: The story of Turin Turambar is one of the best stories from the First Age of Middle Earth. Christopher Tolkien has done an admirable job of fleshing out this tale.
CONS: Readers of The Silmarillion may be distracted as they pick out the familiar phrases from the original text.
BOTTOM LINE: A nice read, especially for those not familiar with The Silmarillion.
Hurin is a human from the First Age of Middle Earth. He fought alongside the elf lord Turgon of Gondolin against Morgoth (the main bad guy of this age and Sauron’s “boss”). For his valor, Morgoth rewards Hurin by chaining him to a chair in the mountains above Morgoth’s stronghold and forcing him to observe as Morgoth torments Hurin’s children. Many challenges and ill turnings await Hurin’s son Turin and daughter Nienor. (Another daughter, Urwen, dies in childhood, before Hurin was bound by Morgoth.) As Turin attempts to deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, he keeps changing his name. The following is a list of names that Turin is called, all in an attempt to elude the doom that awaits him.
Turin, son of Hurin
The Dragonhelm of Dor-lomin
Neithan, the Wronged
Agarwaen, the son of Umarth (Bloodstained, son of Ill-fate)
Mormegil, the Black Sword of Nargothrond
Adanedhel, the Elf-man
Thurin, the Secret
Wildman of the Woods
Turambar, Master of Doom
But, as Gwindor of Nargothrond tells him and as Turin eventually discovers, “The doom lies in yourself, not in your name.” Turin’s sister, Nienor, also suffers under the curse of Morgoth, but she only rates one additional name, Niniel.
Like most of the tales in The Silmarillion, the tale of Turin Turambar does not have an “and they lived happily ever after” ending. Regardless, the story is entertaining and filled with adventure and great deeds. I enjoyed reading The Children of Hurin; although I did find myself picking out the key phrases from The Silmarillion. The expanded dialog and information that swells the portions of three chapters in The Silmarillion to 259 pages is certainly adequate and worthy of the Tolkien name. For dedicated readers of the original text, you may find yourselves somewhat distracted as the original words seem to jump out of the new text. I imagine that someone who has not read The Silmarillion will find The Children of Hurin to be quite good. Christopher Tolkien has done a fine job as editor of his father’s works. The three chapters are woven together nicely into one complete story.