Unfinished Tales : Part One : The First Age : II. Narn I Hin Hurin

Wow.  I did not budget my time appropriately for the length of this chapter.  Almost 100 pages plus notes.  Whoops.  Also, it seems that while Emily was doing a subsection every two weeks, I thought we were doing the whole thing in two weeks.  So I'm both late and early on this I guess?

For my next statement I also need to beg forgiveness, because I could very well be completely off the mark.  But this section reminds me of a Greek tragedy.  But maybe it's just the incest?  Regardless, the story of Turin is that of a Tragedy.  The tale of Tuor is one of gold and light, that of Turin is of dark and tarnish, though great deeds happen in both.

He is born of Hurin, in a house of legacy and sorrow.  His sister dies young and her name to never be spoken but he remembers her still and speaks of her in his own way to a man of the house, Sador.  Tragedy continues, as Hurin himself is lost to Morgoth, and then the Easterlings come and Turin at nine is sent away for his safety to find Thingol's lands, his mother behind with child.

The way is not easy, but in the end he finds his way and is made a foster-son of Thingol and Melian.  He's raised and taught by the Elves, earning reknown among them, and jealousy of some.  Meanwhile, Morwen, his mother, gives birth to Nienor, and lives under the shadow of the Easterlings and Morgoth.  They are invited to leave and come to the protection offered by the Girdle of Melian, but again and again they refuse.  And so he and his legacy continue to grow, but at the same time friction between himself and Saeros, one of Thingol's counselors, grows as well.  Until at one point Saeros pushes things too far, attacking Turin in the streets only to be bested, and chased off, running until he falls off a cliff and dies.  The blame falls squarely on Turin, who does not defend himself, but instead flees in part in pride to refuse to submit to judgement for something he did not do.  It is only after he is out of reach that his innocence is proved and a pardon issued.

And so he spends his life as a no-one, but one of skill, with a helm and sword of legacy.  He falls in with a band of outlaws, hiding his identity but holding onto what honor he can.  His skill at arms earns him a place of regard, but when he comes across the leader sexually assaulting a woman, he kills him, and tells the men they can leave or they can follow him.  Meanwhile, Belag follows, seeking his friend from Doriath.  Belag catches up while Turin is away, and the outlaws treat him poor until Turin comes back.  But though he begs, Belag fails to convince Turin to return with him.  In the parting Belag mourns "Alas, child of Men!  There are other griefs in Middle-earth than yours, and wounds made by no weapon.  Indeed, I begin to think that Elves and Men should not meet or meddle."

The next part of the story was familiar from the Silmarillion, the meeting of Mim the Dwarf and the coming to Bar-en-Danwedh, the House of Ransom.  Then is a break as we jump forward in time and are referred to the Silmarillion for what happens in the meantime.  But after some time, he returns home, seeking his mother and sister who have long left for Doriath.

The land of his childhood is much changed.  The tongue he spoke as a child is now that of the thralls, treated as a low language, one spoken in private and with fear.  He handles what he finds there with a brashness that makes me cringe.  Yes, he triumphs and takes out the local lord of the land who forced his aunt into marriage.  This scene, where he confronts Brodda.  I just... I can't.  It is clear that Lady Aerin is not treated well in her marriage, and reading someone actively provoke an abusive spouse, even if the goal is to kill him, is just really unpleasant to me.  In the end, the gesture is little more than that, a small revolution that leaves the people who cannot fight and flee in a worse position and his Aunt soon dead as she fires her home when they come for her.  Turin is told repeatedly "Go and do not return unless you come with strength to deliver us."

From there he finds his way to Brethil, where he rescues a band of woodsmen from Orcs by the reknown of his sword and by sheer chutzpah.  This being successful, heroic, and manly, he is accepted into Brethil and allowed to restart his life under the name Turambar.

Meanwhile we learn of the tribulations of his family, his mother Morwen and sister Nienor, both who sought him in his absence.  Morwen goes against the wishes of Thingol, and against the advice of Melian who says "this doubt is of Morgoth.  If you go, you go at his will."  Nienor goes against not only the King and Queen's wishes, but her mother's.  Despite saying they would go alone... the King sends an escort along with Morwen to watch over her, though in the end things still go ill.  In the end, Morwen is lost, and Neinor lost under the fog of Glaurung, forgetting herself.

If you read how I opened this, I think you can guess where it was going.  I'm bad at names so when characters both switch names and it's not a story I'm really familiar with, I have trouble parsing things.  So while I had read a more succinct version of this story, I wasn't 100% sure of the details, which meant I had that feeling of growing squicky dread as I figured out where things were going. They meet, they develop feels, they are warned off for unspecified reasons but ignore it and get married.  And things went OK for a bit... until Glaurung returns and Turin Turambar faces him.  Brandir who loved Niniel goes to her, believing that Turambar has fallen to the Dragon and that they must escape.  When she realizes that he believes Turambar has fallen, she flees, running until she finds her husband/brother, weeping when she sees him as dead and shaken with horror as the flog laid on her by Glaurung breaks as he died.  She flees again, throwing herself to her death into the river.

Brandir returns to Brethil, and breaks the news that Nienor is lost, and (to the best of his belief) so was Turambar.  So too is the knowledge of their identities known to Brandir, though he soon learns that Turin still lives.  The men clash angrily, Turin blaming Brethil for his wife's death and accusing him of ill deeds before cutting him down.  The people of Brethil turn from him after this, and Turin leaves, wandering witless through the wilds until finally Thingol's men find him.  He curses all involved in his fate, and flees to the river where Nienor leapt to her death, and asks his sword to take his life.  Gurthang, the sword answers, "Yea, I will drink thy blood, that I may forget the blood of Beleg my master, and the blood of Brandir slain unjustly.  I will slay thee swiftly."  The Elves are left with nothing but his body, breaking his sword, destroying the body of the dragon (which on reflection must have been a serious amount of work, he was huge), and seeing to the funeral of Turin and the memory of Nienor.

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