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Tear Jerker / The Children of Húrin

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The Children of Húrin is a long, depressing tale.

  • The entire premise of the book is a tragedy through and through. Húrin was the greatest warrior of men of the First Age. In an otherwise crushing defeat for the good guys, he managed to break through the gates of Angband, slaughter one hundred trolls, and is only captured when he's trapped under the massive pile of orcs and trolls he's just killed. When he's brought to Morgoth for interrogation, he maintains enough willpower to spite The Great Enemy, refusing to sell out one of the last free strongholds of Middle Earth. His reward? He's chained to a chair beside Morgoth and Forced to Watch for decades as everything and everyone he ever loved is tormented and destroyed, until he's left a broken old man whose last acts are to watch his wife die and repay the king who raised his son before he kills himself in grief.
  • Pretty much the whole thing, but Beleg's death, and Niënor's and then Túrin's suicides probably beat all else out.
  • When Húrin and Morwen are speaking of what will happen in the coming days of war and then:
    "That night Túrin half-woke, and it seemed to him that his father and mother stood beside his bed and looked down on him in the light of the candles that they held, but he could not see their faces."
  • Lalaith's death from sickness.
  • The epilogue. Húrin, released from Angband by Morgoth to live out his last miserable days, makes his way to his children's grave. He doesn't need to read the memorial standing stone — he knows what it says — but huddled beside it is his wife, starving, haunted, and bitter. It's the first time they've seen each other in twenty-eight years. She starts to tell him what happened but he already knows. She chides him for being gone so long, he can only reply he returned as soon as he could. They spend a few moments together embracing before she dies in his arms. You've got to be made of pretty stern stuff to not find that the most aptly tragic end to a story.
  • Húrin has to watch the whole thing unfold without being able to do a single thing to prevent it. And Word of God states that he could have turned away from it all and not watch, but he didn't, because he was just that desperate for news about his loved ones.