Probably the most readable of all Tolkien’s lesser known works, The Children of Húrin is deeply disturbing and tragic in a manner which almost rivals Macbeth (I select Macbeth because it’s the only one of the great tragedies which I have fully studied in depth (also because the ents are supposed to be inspired by the coming of ‘Birnam Forest… to Dunsinane’ 5•4•61 (as I write this Isengard Unleashed begins to play))). This is Tolkien as you have never, ever, read him before. The tragic (and quite frankly disturbing) fates of Túrin and his sister Niënor, brought upon them for the grudge Morgoth bears their father (don’t piss off a dark Valar, people—they’re powerful and live forever) are brought vividly to life in one of his only full prose posthumously released works. Love and loss intertwine as friendships and jealousies transform the world around Túrin and Niënor, children of Húrin.
One of the best parts was the way in which Túrin and Niënor seemed to be only a means to an end, in the wider scheme of things. The book started with Húrin, and ended with him, as his wife died over the grave of their children (hey! I never pretended it was a cheerful book). This is, honestly, one of the most heart-breaking death scenes I have ever read. She sits there, on her childrens’ grave, and she waits for years, and she doesn’t die until she sees her husband again, and holds his hand, and lets him share her sorrows. The Children of Húrin is not simply a book about madness and loss, it is about friendship and fellowship, and keeping faith that you will see your loved ones again. Thus Morwen waited for Húrin, thus Beleg searched for Túrin. This is a story about life, about searching for what you have lost, but never finding it as you left it. This is a story to shock you, to make you laugh, and, ultimately, one to make you cry. This is a story which I would recommend to anyone who has read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and who loved them. This is a legend.