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Literature / The Children of Húrin

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Sit now there, and look out upon the lands where evil and despair shall come upon those whom thou lovest. Thou hast dared to mock me, and to question the power of Melkor, master of the Fates of Arda. Therefore, with my eyes thou shalt see, and with my ears thou shalt hear; never shalt thou move from this place until all is fulfilled unto its bitter end!

A Dark Fantasy novel by J. R. R. Tolkien, it was edited posthumously by his son Christopher. Together with Beren and Lúthien and The Fall of Gondolin, this is one of Tolkien's "Great Tales" of the First Age of Middle-Earth—one of the earliest and most elaborated tales. It exists in many versions, both in prose and in poetry, some almost complete and some as fragments. The various versions and parts have previously been published in The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, and The History of Middle-earth known as Narn i Chîn Húrin (aka "The Narn"), but The Children of Húrin is the first publication to compile it all into a single complete text.

Following the cataclysmic destruction of the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, Húrin, the greatest of all mortal warriors, was captured by the forces of Morgoth. The Dark Lord offered Húrin freedom in return for revealing the location of the Elvish city of Gondolin. Húrin refused and the enraged Morgoth cast a curse upon him and his family for all eternity. The remainder of the plot follows Húrin's struggling son Túrin and daughter Niënor as the curse winds its way toward a terrible conclusion.

The Children of Húrin is one of Tolkien's darker works and is less well-known than The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and overturns the common conception of Tolkien as a writer of Black-and-White Morality. There is no happy ending here.

An audiobook edition was recorded by Christopher Tolkien (preface, introduction) and Christopher Lee (text).

This novel provides examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: Happens to Beleg at Túrin's hands (he'd just been rescued from sadistic Orcs, was barely conscious, and thought he was still in enemy hands, only waking when accidentally pricked.)
    • Before that, Túrin kills Forweg without recognising him. However, as this was because Forweg was chasing a woman, this makes Forweg an Asshole Victim.
  • Always Save the Girl: Averted. While Túrin is held by Glaurung's magic spell, Finduilas is dragged off by the Orcs. They enslave her before they kill her. She both screams for his help as they drag her away and begs that he learn of her fate as she dies.
  • And I Must Scream: Húrin's imprisonment in Angband, bound to a chair on one of the peaks of Thangorodrim, unable to move or sleep, and forced to watch visions of his family suffering under Morgoth's curse, with Morgoth making sure the visions miss out their good moments.
  • Anti-Hero:
    • Túrin, in one of the first fantasy examples. J.R.R. Tolkien was inspired by the tragic anti-heroes of Norse and Finnish mythology when he wrote the character of Túrin. At first, he's a Pragmatic Hero as his negative qualities mostly boil down to pride and his gruff nature, but as the novel progresses, he steadily slides down the scale, finally becoming a Nominal Hero when he murders Brandir in cold blood.
    • Andróg, Túrin's Lancer, is a Nominal Hero, a convicted murderer who crosses the Moral Event Horizon early on by attempting to rape a woman and subsequently killing Mîm's son. Then he tries to murder Mîm in cold blood. He does have a few redeeming qualities such as his loyalty to Túrin, and he even uses the last moments of his life to save Beleg.
  • Anyone Can Die: And almost all the characters do. Though not covered in this book, The Silmarillion states that Húrin is said to have eventually thrown himself into the sea.
  • Archer Archetype: Beleg "Strongbow" is famous for his archery and has a named bow (Belthronding). He's an independent wilderness-ranger sort — though he certainly had companions in arms on the marches of Doriath, he does just fine on his own out in Beleriand, and being an Elf, he has excellent stealth and woodcraft. However, when he leaves the Hidden Kingdom to search for Túrin, he recognizes that a bow alone isn't enough and asks King Thingol for a sword.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Saeros, an Elf of Doriath, hates Túrin and insults his people, causing Túrin to throw a goblet at him, breaking Saeros's mouth. Later he ambushes Túrin and tries to kill him; Túrin turns the tables on him and chases him through the forest, only to accidentally cause his death when Saeros tries to jump over a ravine but falls to his death. When Thingol hears the full story, he pardons Túrin.
    • Dorlas mocks Brandir for being lame and a shame to the House of Haleth, only to be proven a Dirty Coward when faced with the dragon. When Brandir confronts him for his cowardice, he tries to strike him, only for Brandir to get him first with his sword.
  • Attempted Rape: Túrin's heroism first emerges when he rescues a girl from being raped by Andróg.
  • Badass Normal: Both Húrin and Túrin are solid examples. They're mere mortal humans with none of the Dwarves' and Elves' long lives and superhuman endurance. They're still among the most renowned and impressive heroes the First Age ever saw.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Even though Túrin takes down Glaurung, the dragon gets the last laugh while Morgoth succeeds in ruining Húrin's family, destroys most of his enemies and in part, thanks to Túrin, ends the novel stronger than before and very much alive. Oh, and now Doriath and Gondolin are doomed, too.
  • Berserk Button: DO NOT insult Túrin's family to his face. Especially not Morwen.
    • Túrin is content to swallow all of Saeros's insults until the latter sarcastically asks whether the women of Hithlum "run like deer clad only in their hair", at which point Túrin throws his cup at him with such force that it breaks his jaw.
    • Similarly, although he already hated Brodda for usurping Dor-Lómin and enslaving his people, Túrin was content to let him be as long as he led Aerin to tell him where his family went. When Brodda tries to prevent this and calls Morwen a "thrall", Túrin throws him across his own table in rage, killing him instantly.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Beleg has mentored Túrin since he was a young child growing up in Doriath.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: Túrin tries his best to be a great hero but is constantly hounded by his temper and inflexible moral views, not to mention having a convicted rapist as his second in command. The antagonists are often just as ambiguous, especially Mîm, having lost nearly all his people to the Elves and one of his sons to Andróg. That said, Glaurung and Morgoth aren't ambiguous by any standards.
  • Blatant Lies: Morgoth claims he made the world, rules Arda, and there is nothing outside the world. Húrin makes it clear to Morgoth that he knows this.
  • Bloody Murder: Glaurung's blood is either a highly corrosive acid, scalding hot, or both. When some of it splashes on Túrin's hand, he's badly burned.
  • Bookends: In the beginning, Túrin is a friend to a servant who accidentally cut off his own foot, whom he calls "Hopper Foot" out of pity and love. In the end, he serves a minor lord who had accidentally cut off his own foot and eventually calls him "Clubfoot" with scorn, mockery, and disdain.
  • Broken Bird: Poor Niënor, thanks to Glaurung. She quite understandably kills herself when she learns the truth about her life and identity.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Túrin and Niënor, unknowingly. When they find out, they kill themselves.
  • Butt-Monkey: Túrin is a decidedly non-humorous example, to the point of being Cosmic Plaything. As a result of Morgoth's curse, the entire universe essentially is out to get him, and he knows it.
  • The Cassandra: Melian, Beleg, Gwindor, and Brandir try to warn Túrin that his course of action is leading to a bad end. He ignores all of them.
  • Character Witness: Nellas, a Sindarin elf maiden who befriended Túrin when he first came to Doriath. She preferred the forest and was never comfortable in the caves of Menegroth, and as Túrin got older and spent more time there they grew apart, though she would secretly watch him whenever he ventured into the forest with Beleg. She witnessed what actually happened when Saeros died, and Beleg calls her to Menegroth to stand before Thingol, where she very nervously gives her testimony, exonerating Túrin.
  • Chick Magnet: Túrin. Let's see: Nellas, Larnach's daughter, Finduilas, and Niënor. One of them already had a fiancé, and another was his sister!
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Done by Morgoth to the captive Húrin. Later on, Beleg is tortured by Andróg and the other outlaws.
  • Compelling Voice: Glaurung, who uses it to create amnesia in Niënor.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: As a boy, Túrin likes to protect his younger sister Urwen, but she dies from a plague thought to be caused by Morgoth. It is from this early traumatic experience onward that he develops a grim and bitter personality. Lampshaded by Urwen's symbolic nickname, Lalaith ("Laughter"). He then kills himself after the death of his other little sister.
  • Darker and Edgier: You could say that again. This is the darkest and most depressing story in The Silmarillion, set as a standalone story and expanded in length.
  • Dark Fantasy: Could have been the Ur-Example, if only J. R. R. Tolkien hadn't kept it in Development Hell so long (the first version of the story was written around 1917, and a version similar to this book's text was first published in 1980 as part of Unfinished Tales).
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Túrin, the main hero, wears black, wields a black sword (that may or may not be alive and somewhat malevolent), and often hides his face behind a fearsome mask. Somewhat played with in that while not an evil man himself, evil tends to follow wherever he goes anyway.
  • Death Seeker: Brandir towards the end after Niënor dies.
  • Defiant to the End: Húrin never gives in to Morgoth, even after spending almost half his life in torment. Morgoth breaks his sanity but not his will.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Most of the characters spend the majority of the book teetering on the edge of it. And then they all cross it at the end.
  • The Determinator: Húrin the Steadfast never yields. After the army had been defeated and routed and his troops massacred he kept fighting. His enemies needed to use their own corpses to just stop him. Then Morgoth kept Húrin tied to a chair for decades, forcing him to watch as he turned his family's lives into Hell, and Húrin never gave in. Finally, Morgoth let him go because he realized that he would never get anything from Húrin willingly.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Brandir to Niniel.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Do Not Call Him Túrin. He doesn't like that. And he has a hair-trigger temper and a nasty sword. No seriously, don't! ...Well, we warned you.
  • Downer Beginning: The plot is kicked off by the Nírnaeth Arnoediad or Battle of Unnumbered Tears, the single greatest defeat that the forces of good ever suffered.
  • Downer Ending: The whole story is pretty much one downer ending after another. Túrin being exiled from Doriath, the Orcs attacking Amon Rhud and killing all the outlaws except for Túrin, Beleg finding Túrin only to be killed by him, and the fall of Nargothrond to the Orcs. Basically, every time it seems like Túrin is going to have a happy and peaceful life and escape his fate, something bad happens. In the end, The Hero kills The (literal) Dragon, ridding the world of one of the greatest evils it has ever seen. Then his sister commits suicide when she finds out about the incest, and Túrin does the same after he killed an innocent man. Hard to be happy at that. The book ends with Morwen dying at her son's grave, and though it's not said in this book, Húrin will end up accidentally giving Morgoth almost everything he wants anyway, and Húrin realizes his heroic sacrifice just made things worse and all the torture and suffering he and his family went through was for nothing. He finally kills himself, the last of his family, alone and in utter despair.
  • The Dragon: Glaurung, both literally (he's the father of all Dragons) and as in this trope (to Morgoth, the Big Bad).
  • Dragon Hoard: After Glaurung has destroyed Nargothrond, he sweeps all the gold together into a heap and lies down on it to rest for a while.
  • Doom Magnet: Túrin. Lampshaded by Brandir: You are a curse on your own lineage and those who want to help you.
  • Driven to Suicide: Aerin, Niënor, Túrin, and Húrin, though technically the latter doesn't die in this book but he does in the sequel chapter in The Silmarillion. After everything that has happened, it's not hard to understand why.
  • Easy Amnesia: Glaurung can use his evil eye to cause this.
  • Empathic Weapon: Gurthang is a talking sword unless Túrin was hallucinating that. It is confirmed to "mourn" for its previous owner, Beleg.
  • Enslaved Elves: Gwindor escaped from an entire underground economy based on using captive Noldor.
  • Evil Cripple: Túrin accuses Brandir of being this.
  • Evil Overlord: Morgoth rules Angband and, by the time this book starts, has conquered a big chunk of Beleriand too. He's the source of all evil in the universe; basically, he's Satan.
  • Evil Weapon: Whether or not the black sword Gurthang is evil is up for debate, but it's certainly unpleasant, and Melian (a Physical God, or, rather, angelic being) specifically remarks upon seeing it that there is malice in it.
  • Failure Hero: Poor Mablung ends up as this. All his best efforts fail thanks to forces outside his control. The trip to Nargothrong ends with Morwen lost in Glaurung's mist and Niënor under a dragon-spell, an orc raid separates him from the amnesiac Niënor, and he ends up unknowingly giving Túrin the confirmation of Brandir's words that drives him to kill himself. The guy bitterly lampshades it.
I also have been meshed in the doom of the Children of Húrin, and thus with words have slain one that I loved.
  • Fan Disservice: A nude woman in the woods happens to be out of her mind, and the man who has a Naked First Impression of her is her brother.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The human Túrin grows up among the Elves of Doriath. Many of these are hostile to mortals, but others are perfectly civil to him (being the King's foster-son tends to work wonders in that department, as does being related to varying degrees with some well-known mortal heroes). (In a previous story "The Tale of Beren and Lúthien", it is shown Thingol used to be like this but Took a Level in Kindness due to Beren.) One of the less friendly types, Saeros, pushes him one step too far...
    • Mîm the Petty-Dwarf and his sons are viewed with superstitious loathing by everyone, including other Dwarves. It's mentioned that the Elves used to hunt the Petty-Dwarves like animals for sport note , and now only three remain alive. Likewise, the Petty-Dwarves apparently hated everybody, and they greeted the first Elves in Beleriand by hunting them. Mîm especially despised the Sindar, but he became friends with Túrin since he felt the same about Doriath.
  • Fatal Flaw: Hurin and his entire family seemingly share the same one, which is their stubbornness. Though it was originally a virtue in Hurin's case, with his refusal to bend to Morgoth's torture and demands, the rest of the story shows how it goes ill, with his son, wife, and daughter all scorning advice, aid, and requests in favor of taking their own path, which ultimately leads to disaster.
  • First Girl Wins: Averted with Nellas. Of course, some might consider Túrin going completely out of her life and being forgotten a win.
  • Foreshadowing: Saeros quips that Túrin's folk are wild and fell and their women run naked like deer. The last bit happens to Nienor.
  • From Bad to Worse: It starts with the single greatest defeat the forces of good ever suffered, and things get much, much worse from there.
  • Gideon Ploy: This is how Túrin joins the Men of Brethil. He comes across a group of them being attacked by orcs in the forest so he hides in the bushes making enough noise to sound like a small army and leaps into action acting like a captain leading his troops. The orcs run away and are killed by Túrin and the Men of Brethil who then get confused as to why Túrin's men are taking so long to join the battle.
  • Godhood Seeker: Morgoth already is a godlike being in physical form, but his dialogue with Húrin clearly shows he has "Big-G God" aspirations on top of that.
  • God of Evil: Morgoth is the Devil and the cause of all evil in the universe, and has vast godlike powers. (Despite having gone through canon Villain Decay and Shapeshifter Mode Lock he is still a terrible threat to Middle-Earth.)
  • Hannibal Lecture: The whole chapter "The Words of Húrin and Morgoth" is basically a double Hannibal Lecture between the two characters. Glaurung is good at this, too.
  • Hate Sink: Saeros is a racist Elf in King Thingol's court who resented the presence of Túrin as a ward of Thingol. One evening Saeros made insulting remarks about Túrin's people, causing Túrin to injure Saeros. The next morning, Saeros attempted to murder Túrin over the last night's events, provoking Túrin into stripping him and accidentally killing him by running him off a cliff. When Thingol heard of what Saeros had done, he pardoned Túrin , while it was stated that Saeros would be held in Mandos, the land of the dead, for a long time due to his misdeeds.
  • The Heavy: Glaurung. Morgoth is the Big Bad, but Glaurung is a much more visible villain who is more directly involved with Túrin and Niënor's story.
  • Hero Antagonist: Brandir is actually a nicer, wiser, and more sensible guy than Túrin, which of course puts them at odds.
  • Heroic BSoD: Túrin, after he accidentally kills Beleg.
    • He has a second one after he fails to save Finduilas.
  • The High Queen: Melian, in her own way.
  • Hobbes Was Right: Played with. With the collapse of the Edain chiefdoms, they've dissolved into petty brigands capable of anything from petty thieving to rape. Averted later as Túrin's militant, domineering personality and leadership lead to the destruction of Nargothrond and his personal demons drive him to suicide mere hours after being proclaimed ruler of Brethil in place of the crippled but much more sensible Brandir.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: Glaurung, who gives Niënor amnesia.
  • I Have Many Names: Even for Tolkien characters, the people here seem to pick up a lot. Túrin has more than everyone else put together, it seems — every time he flees his current situation and moves somewhere new, he re-names himself in an attempt to escape his past. He receives several epithets from others, too. Most of these names are rather...gloomy.
    • Neithan, "The Wronged" (self-named)
    • Agarwaen son of Úmarth, "Bloodstained son of Ill-fate" (self-named)
    • Gorthol, "The Dread Helm" (self-named)
    • Adanedhel, "The Elf-Man," bestowed by the Elves of Nargothrond
    • Mormegil, "Black Sword," also given by the Elves of Nargothrond
    • Thurin, "Secretive," bestowed on him by Finduilas
    • "Wildman of the Woods" (self-named)
    • Turambar, "Master of Fate" (self-named)
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • Finduilas, who is pinned to a tree with a spear and left to die.
    • Glaurung and Túrin are both impaled on Gurthang:
      Then he fled from them, like the wind, and they were filled with wonder and fear. But Mablung said: "Some strange and dreadful thing has chanced that we know not. Let us follow him and aid him if we may: for now he is fey and witless." But Túrin sped far before them, and came to Cabed-en-Aras, and stood still; and he heard the roaring of the water, and saw that all the trees near and far were withered, and their sere leaves fell mournfully, as though winter had come in the first days of summer. "Cabed-en-Aras, Cabed Naeramarth!" he cried. "I will not defile your waters where Níniel was washed. For all my deeds have been ill, and the latest the worst." Then he drew forth his sword, and said: "Hail Gurthang, iron of death, thou alone now remainest! But what lord or loyalty dost thou know, save the hand that wieldeth thee? From no blood wilt thou shrink! Wilt thou take Túrin Turambar? Wilt thou slay me swiftly?" And from the blade rang a cold voice in answer: "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." Then Túrin set the hilts upon the ground, and cast himself upon the point of Gurthang, and the black blade took his life.
  • I Want Them Alive!: Morgoth has Húrin taken alive, thinking he can do him more evil this way.
  • Klingon Promotion: When Túrin first meets the outlaws and one shoots at him, he kills them by throwing a stone at their head. He then becomes a member. Later he becomes Captain this way: Túrin kills Forweg when he sees them chasing a woman. He then becomes captain of the outlaws.
  • Jerkass: Túrin, Oh, Eru, Túrin. Basically, his poor impulse control, invincible self-pity, and very bad decisions bring disaster upon all around him. Who needs a curse?
  • Last Girl Wins: Finduilas, in some regards a perfect match for him (and who, unlike Lúthien, has a very understanding father who considers Túrin deserving of her), doesn't manage to make him fall for her. The woman who finally does, though, accomplishes that feat within moments of their first encounter, and she's the last woman of note he makes acquaintance with and his long-lost sister.
  • Last of His Kind: Mîm and his two sons are the last Petty-Dwarves in the world. All of them are killed.
  • Laughing Mad: Downplayed with Brandir, who starts losing it after Níniel's death. Túrin follows not long after.
  • Lightning Reveal: Immediately after Túrin kills Beleg mistaking him for an Orc in the dark, a flash of lightning illuminates his face.
  • Love Triangle: Gwindor, Finduilas, and Túrin. And later, Brandir, Níniel, and Túrin. Both end badly. All members of the triangles are dead by the end.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Glaurung has a highly developed ability to push buttons and get people to do exactly what he wants, totally against their will and better judgement, even before he breaks out the mind-control eyebeams.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • Does Túrin encounter so much misfortune because he's actually 'magically' cursed, or because of 'regular' bad coincidence, or because he's stubborn and bullheaded and doesn't know when to give up or admit he's wrong? Or is it a little bit of all?
    • Is Gurthang really a sentient Evil Weapon, or is the "malice" in it simply a function of its being a weapon that can be used to kill indiscriminately, and anything more is just in Túrin's head? And did it really speak to Túrin before he killed himself, or was he just hallucinating from extreme emotional distress?
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard:
    • Okay, Beleg was more of a Big Brother Mentor, but he still gave Túrin plenty of help and advice, and still got killed before everything was said and done.
    • Sador was Túrin Big Brother Mentor in early childhood, before he left for Doriath. When Túrin sets off a doomed rebellion among his people in Dor-lómin, guess who bites the dust?
  • Might Makes Right: Repeatedly subverted. Túrin's flashy heroics and skill as a warrior gains him greater prestige than more level-headed cautious characters like Gwindor and Brandir, but his millitant strategies do little but rouse the attention of Morgoth, leading to the destruction of Nargothrond and Dor Cúarthol.
  • Momma's Boy: Túrin loves and worships his mother, and a lot of his psychological hangups stem from the fact that she sent him away at a young age.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: Glaurung certainly didn't intend to die, but boy, did he have one zinger of a parting shot. He reveals the truth of Niënor's and Túrin's identities and Surprise Incest, and his death undoes the spell of forgetfulness he put on Niënor so that she knows it's true.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: See Heroic BSoD above. Also, after Saeros dies.
  • Mysterious Waif: Túrin finds Níniel naked and alone on an Elven woman's grave with no memory of her past. Beautiful and vulnerable, it's no wonder that Túrin falls in Love at First Sight.
  • Naked on Arrival: Túrin's first meeting with his Love Interest Níniel is of her lying naked on the grave of the Elf who had an unrequited crush on him. He takes this as a sign and later they get married. It's a pity then that she's actually his long-lost sister Niënor.
  • Named Weapons: Many special (and less special) weapons having names exist in Tolkien's stories and this is no exception: Beleg's bow Belthronding, and the sister-swords Anguirel and Anglachel, the latter renamed Gurthang by Túrin.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Túrin helps the Elves of Nargothrond fortify their city against their encroaching enemies, including the addition of a giant bridge in front of their gates across the River Narog, and encourages them to give up secrecy and go to open warfare. This just shows Morgoth's armies exactly where to find the hidden fortress-city, and he sends the dragon Glaurung to literally smoke them out. The bridge turns out to be just the right size for Glaurung, and too sturdy to destroy quickly...
    • Everything Túrin does goes awry, all the good he does ends in evil, and he loses everything he loves. That is the whole point of the tale and Morgoth's cruel curse on Húrin, who himself, greatest of all mortal warriors and unbending even by Morgoth, still does his handiwork by breaking the people of Brethil and bringing the Nauglamír to Doriath.
      • And, being one of (up to that point) only two mortals to ever set foot into Gondolin (he was blind-folded and led there in his youth with his brother), Húrin later tries to backtrack his steps because he wants to give Turgon one big What the Hell, Hero? speech because he didn't adequately protect his family. And though he doesn't find the hidden city, his desperate cries at the foot of the mountain give Morgoth a big enough hint about Gondolin's whereabouts, with the result that the watchposts he's set up there later find and capture Maeglin, who almost immediately snaps under a mix of threats and promises, thus dooming Gondolin as well. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero indeed.
      • The only thing Hùrin gained from his determination, was to hold Gondolin secret long enough to make sure his brother`s son Tuor got there in time, married Idril, and became father of Eärendil. His determination did eventually pay off, even if neither Húrin or Túrin lived long enough to see it.
    • Later, Túrin returns to the northern homeland he was exiled from as a child, now ruled by an Easterling chieftain who usurped his father's lordship. He kills this chieftain out of revenge, which sparks a rebellion from the enslaved Edain. This just makes the Easterlings oppress the Edain even harder.
  • Nice to the Waiter: One of the first things noted about Túrin in his childhood was his compassion for his father's handicapped servant. Especially noteworthy in that he was one of the few people that was nice to him.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The events of the book are kicked into motion by Morgoth cursing Húrin's family for refusing to reveal the location of Gondolin.
  • Nominal Hero: Andróg. His record includes everything from manslaughter and murder to rape. Túrin arguably becomes one by the end, despite his attempts to be better than that.
  • No-Respect Guy:
    • Gwindor becomes this after his return to Nargothrond as Túrin overrules his counsel and calls for more open military efforts. Gwindor's words are eventually vindicated because Nargothrond's militarization results in its location being revealed, Nargothrond's destruction, and the woman they both love dying.
    • Brandir goes from respected community leader to this when Túrin undermines his influence.
  • Obvious Beta:
    • And Tropes Are Not Bad, but it was plain Tolkien intended to do more work on it, both in adding to descriptions and in filling in certain (sometimes fairly long) gaps between scenes. May also qualify as What Could Have Been, as one of the "longest tales of the Elder Days" could likely have been even longer if it had been brought to its final completion.
    • The version of the story in the Silmarillion of 1977 is less detailed and more chronicle-like, but because of that, it feels more complete than this more novelistic treatment.
    • This version is largely based on the version in Unfinished Tales, a more Obvious Beta. For example, Christopher Tolkien's notes state that his father intended to change Saeros's name to Orgol which coincidentally meant pride in Old English. However, Saeros ended up being the character's name in The Silmarillion and became too late to change.
  • Oh, and X Dies: The very sentence that introduces Túrin's sister Urwen also states "she was called Lalaith, which is Laughter, by all that knew her in her short life."
  • One-Man Army: Húrin was the greatest warrior between the Men. He fought alone a massive army of Orcs after his men got killed. When his weapon shattered, he picked the axe from a slain enemy and mowed dozens of enemies down until his axe melted in his hands. He slew seventy trolls in that battle alone.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Glaurung breathes fire, has no wings, is highly intelligent, and possesses incredible mind-bending magic. He also has an incredibly foul stench to the point where it takes an act of willpower to endure it.
  • Physical God: Melian and Morgoth are angelic, god-like beings who take physical form in Middle-Earth.
  • Pride: Thingol completely forgave Túrin for accidentally killing Saeros and sent Beleg to bring him back to Doriath with honor. Túrin could have gone back home at any time, but he was too proud to accept a pardon for manslaughter.
    • Also the reason Morwen refused to flee her lands for a long time. This was part of the reason for Túrin's misery.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Saeros already had it out for Túrin, but a series of misunderstandings between them bring forth tragedy that could have been avoided with a few simple words or assumptions. When the latter sits on the elf's seat in Thingol's hall, Saeros assumes it was out of spite when in truth it was just an honest mistake from a warrior who was too exhausted and battleworn to worry about proper decorum. Later on, Túrin starts thinking about his mother and other unhappy things, prompting him to frown, which Saeros further assumes was aimed at him. This causes tensions to boil and sets in motion the chain of events that lead to Saeros' death and Túrin self-imposed exile from Doriath.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The roving band of outlaws in the Brethil forest who are joined by the exiled Túrin. He takes over as their leader and organizes them into La Résistance against the Orcs. He tells Beleg he believes there is some good in them.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Thingol, in contrast to his Jerkass persona from Beren and Lúthien. Somebody learned his Aesop, it seems.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Mîm eventually sees Túrin as one for his murdered son.
  • The Resenter:
    • Morgoth lives in an eternal state of this.
    • Mîm towards Androg for killing one of his sons and towards the Elves for wiping out nearly all of the Petty-Dwarves.
    • Brandir, when Túrin subverts his command and weds Níniel, whom he loves.
  • Screw Destiny: Averted. Túrin tries so hard, even taking on the name "Turambar" ("Master of Doom") during his best attempt at living a normal life, but the curse catches up to him in the end. As Niënor said, "master of doom by doom mastered."
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog Story: Big time.
    • The absolute worst part? This all started because Húrin refused to reveal the location of Gondolin to Morgoth. And then after all this happened, Húrin inadvertently lead Morgoth's forces to it anyway. All the suffering he and his family endured was for nothing.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: The talk between Húrin and Morgoth is a long string of Morgoth trying to intimidate Húrin and Húrin telling him where he could shove in his threats and boasts. The last exchange is especially powerful:
    Morgoth: You have learned the lessons of your masters by rote. But such childish lore will not help you, now they are all fled away.
    Húrin: This last then I will say to you, thrall Morgoth, and it comes not from the lore of the Eldar but is put into my heart in this hour. You are not the Lord of Men and shall not be, though all Arda and Menel fall in your dominion. Beyond the Circles of the World you shall not pursue those who refuse you.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The Children of Húrin is easily the most cynical thing J. R. R. Tolkien has ever written. There is barely an idealistic bone in its body.
  • Surprise Incest: Between Túrin and Niënor — they'd never met, he kept his identity secret, and she'd totally lost hers thanks to Glaurung.
  • Surprise Witness: Just before Thingol pronounces Túrin's doom, Beleg brings in Nellas, who tells Thingol Saeros had attacked Túrin.
  • Talking Weapon: Gurthang speaks only once. When Túrin wants to kill himself and asks his sword if it will do the job, it answers him. If it actually spoke or if he just imagined it is not known, as this is the only time any weapon spoke.
  • Thunderbolt Iron: Anglachel and Anguirel, made of black metal from a "star that fell from the sky."
  • Tragic Hero: Túrin, who achieves many great and heroic deeds during his lifetime, but is undone by his Fatal Flaw - the inability to take the good counsel of other, wiser people.
  • Unbuilt Trope: Let's see, it's an epic Dark Fantasy novel featuring incest, the fate of a family over the course of an epic struggle, a morally ambiguous dwarf, loads and loads of Black and Grey Morality, a sinister supernatural force encroaching from the north and a serious downer ending. And it's got nothing to do with George R.R. Martin.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Nellas. Or rather she was the lucky one, given Túrin's Doom Magnet status.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Túrin finally finds some measure of peace living in Brethil with his wife Niënor, thinking that all of his misfortune and woe is finally behind him. Turns out his treasured happiness is a lie - his wife is actually his sister.
  • You Do Not Want To Know: When Húrin and Morwen are finally reunited at their children's grave, Morwen asks him: "If you know, tell me! How did [Niënor] find [Túrin]?" Having witnessed the extent of their tragedy, Húrin tells her nothing.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Túrin tries so hard to get things right, and he even tries several times to completely quit his heritage in an attempt to escape, but in the end, nothing works out.
  • You Have No Chance to Survive: Morgoth, gloating to Húrin about his family's terrible fate. Of course, being a Physical God, he's right.
    Morgoth: Sit now there, and look out upon the lands where evil and despair shall come upon those whom thou lovest. Thou hast dared to mock me, and to question the power of Melkor, master of the Fates of Arda. Therefore, with my eyes thou shalt see, and with my ears thou shalt hear; never shalt thou move from this place until all is fulfilled unto its bitter end!
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Húrin and his forces, including his brother Huor, who is killed, hold back those of Morgoth long enough for the forces of Gondolin to escape back to their city. His men all agree to Hold the Line there, because it was their ancestral land, and they'd resolved to either win it back from Morgoth or die on it.

'Can I not, can I not, Mablung?' cried Túrin. 'But why no! For see, I am blind! Did you not know? Blind, blind, groping since childhood in a dark mist of Morgoth! Therefore leave me! Go, go! Go back to Doriath, and may winter shrivel it! A curse upon Menegroth! And a curse on your errand! This only was wanting. Now comes the night!'