Ossus Library Index
Fantasy Index


by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien
(2007, Harper Collins)

Great Tales of Middle-Earth, book 1

The son of a famous warrior searches for justice when his father disappears, and ruins his welcome everywhere he goes, from elvish lands to those ruled by men.


-- First reading (hardcover)
April 13th to 23rd, 2020


Although I am very familiar with the short version of this story, as told in The Silmarillion and the various outlines given in The History of Middle-Earth, and I remembered vague details as shown in Unfinished Tales, I gained some new insights when reading this unified, uninterrupted version of the tale. I didn’t realize what a bad person Turin actually was. His pride comes naturally from his father and mother both. He is a natural leader, and he leads also by example. Even the elves ended up taking him as their leader.

Spoiler review:

Thingol has changed since Beren came into his realm, and maybe because of that. But I agree with his council members who try to remind him of how badly that encounter turned out for the elven king. Still, Thingol goes way beyond the call of duty to search for Turin after the man stomps off, humiliating his councilor. Beleg does, too. I guess it’s because of the loyalty Turin has for all who believe as he does. On the other hand, although he mocks Brandir often in his fight against the orcs, he still respects the man. Is it because of his experiences in Nargothrond and among the outlaws? It’s nice to see that he has some decency left, though, especially when letting Mim live when his companions want to kill the petty dwarf, and in killing his leader when the man is found attempting to kidnap and rape a farmer’s daughter.

Turin’s loyalty and strength, but especially his lineage, mean that he is accepted everywhere, even when people all know that he and his advice will doom them.

But it’s worse for his sister, Nienor, who loses her mind because of the dragon, and eventually ends up taking Turin as a husband. Of course, by the end, she’s pregnant, making the tale even more poignant and tragic. That they both end up killing themselves shows how powerful the curse of Morgoth is. And yet I don’t think the curse was necessary. Turin by temperament was never happy sitting in one place for too long, and he was too prideful to take mocking from anybody. He thought only of himself, which also comes naturally. If Morgoth was only going to curse Turin and Nienor, my main question is why? Why not curse everybody so they all go around killing themselves in the end?

That doesn’t really have any bearing on the story as told, though.

I was expecting something similar to the story of Beren and Luthien, and the different versions told in that book, but was pleasantly surprised that it was one long tale. The analysis at the end was interesting, too, and I enjoyed the way it was in an appendix, rather than interrupting the text all the time. Of course, that makes it more difficult in other ways, as the context is gone unless I could remember all the little details the author was talking about.


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