Yours truly finds it hard to review a book like this. The Children of Hurin unrolls a beautifully tragic story. Yet, tragic beauty is not something I typically appreciate in literature–especially not as much as this blog’s co-author, Thomp D. James. (That Euripides sometimes gives the audience a happy ending makes him my favorite of the Three Athenian Tragedians.) With The Children of Hurin, like in your classic Greek tragedy, our hero, Turin, has many noble qualities twisted by tragic flaws–melancholy and pride in this case. These two faults drag him down from every happy circumstance he finds and lead to his demise.
For all that, the work scores well in terms of beauty. It combines certain motifs from Oedipus Rex, but frames them in a style reminiscent of a Viking saga. The prose stands as one of the most beautiful parts of the novel, as it’s hard to find modern works so approximating the mood and feel of a Norse saga. All of the characters would well fit into a legendary saga; though, I do view Turin as a kind of Oedipus. He is deprived of his father and family when yet young, and one of his tragic mistakes comes about because of this.
So, should you read this book, dear reader? That depends on your affinity for tragedy, sagas, or Tolkien. I’d encourage any fan of Tolkien’s to read this book, though its lack of eucatastrope might be off-putting to lovers of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings. I could see a lover of the sagas or tragedies taking to this work even if they don’t care for Tolkien’s other books. The person who loves none of the above should naturally give this book a wide berth, unless complaining counts as their chief pleasure in life.