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Remember Hurin and Huor, the heroic brothers who play an important role in Nirnaeth Arnaediad? There’s more to their story than visiting Gondolin, fighting beside Turgon, and Hurin being captured by Morgoth. They also have very important children. The first we’ll discuss: Turin, son of Hurin and Morwen. (It’s another long story, so prepare yourself.)
Quenta Silmarillion: Chapter 21 part 1
Nirnaeth Arnaediad — the battle known as Unnumbered Tears — has ended, and times are hard. Easterlings have taken over plenty of land, oppressing the Men who had first come out of the East and befriended the Elves. Among those facing the Easterlings is Morwen, Hurin’s wife. After his capture, she has been left alone with their son Turin, daughter Lalaith (who sadly dies at 3), and their unborn child. While the Easterlings, especially their leader Brodda, bother everyone, they’re afraid of her. Her husband used to be the leader of her people, and she manages to hold her own against the Easterlings, thanks in part to Aerin, Brodda’s wife and friend of Morwen.
However, as Turin turns eight and after Lalaith dies, even Morwen has a hard time keeping Turin from being sold into slavery like the other children. Knowing that she has few options, especially with the new baby, Nienor, to care for, she sends Turin to live under King Thingol’s care in Doriath. Since Morwen is related to Beren (who’s now Thingol’s son-in-law), she knows that the Elven King will help.
Which, of course, Thingol does. He treats young Turin as his own and promises that he will continue to until Hurin is released from Morgoth’s clutches. Thingol offers Morwen a place under his roof too, but she refuses, wanting to stay where she and Hurin lived before everything fell apart.
For nine years, this arrangement continues. Morwen and Nienor frequently send messages to Turin and Thingol. But one day, unexpectedly, the messages stop. Turin is worried so he takes the Dragon-helm (an heirloom of his people that his mom sent for him) and leaves to join the war against Morgoth. But he doesn’t go alone. Remember Beleg, one of the only Elves from Doriath to fight in Nirnaeth Arnaediad? He cares a great deal about Turin, so he goes with him and they fight on the front lines together.
Three years after leaving Doriath, Turin returns alone. He’s a bit bedraggled (probably an unshaved beard, long hair, and some quick repairs to his clothes done on the road), and a counselor named Saeros (who’s always been a bit jealous of this Man receiving such favor from Thingol) actually taunts Turin about it. Bad idea. Turin hurls his cup at him, hurting him. The next day, Saeros takes it a step farther by trying to waylay Turin. When he does, Turin becomes angry enough to strip Saeros naked and run him off. Saeros is so afraid that he falls off a chasm and dies. Other Elves (namely Mablung, also from the last chapter) tell Turin that he should go talk it out with Thingol. But Turin considers himself an outlaw for this and runs away.
Not too long after, Beleg returns from war too. Thingol tells Beleg all about what happened with Turin and how Turin isn’t in trouble: Thingol agrees that Turin was wronged and is clear of any charges. After offering to bring Turin home, Beleg sets off on a yearlong journey to find him.
When Beleg does, he’s in for a surprise. After leaving Doriath, Turin joined a group of outlaws, became their leader, and changed his name to Neithan (the Wronged). Turin isn’t home when Beleg arrives, so the outlaws think that Beleg is a spy sent from Doriath. They’re quite cruel to him until Turin arrives. Then Turin recognizes his old friend and feels awful for what he’s done.
Once he’s comfortable, Beleg delivers the good news that Turin isn’t in trouble and can come home, but Turin isn’t interested. He wants to stay with his band, which has just dedicated itself to harassing Morgoth’s friends instead of everybody. Beleg tries every tactic he can think of, but nothing will sway Turin. So, regretfully, he returns to Doriath.
There, Beleg comes up with a genius plan. He’ll protect Turin so that he and Thingol can feel at peace with the situation. Thingol agrees and gives Beleg some special gear. One of the things Beleg picks: a sword called Anglachel. It’s made from “iron that fell from heaven as a blazing star” (241) and is only one of two made from this rare metal. The problem: this sword was forged by Eol, the Dark Elf. Melian tries to warn him not to take it: “There is malice in this sword. The dark heart of the smith still dwells in it. It will not love the hand it serves; neither will it abide with you long” (241). But Beleg doesn’t listen and takes it anyways. (You would think he would know better after meeting Maeglin, Eol’s son!) Melian also gives Beleg (and, by proxy, Turin) lembas, magical Elvish waybread. It’s a gift that only a queen can give, and it’s the first time that a Man has been given such an honor.
With gifts in hand, Beleg finishes his business on the front lines and hurries back to find Turin, his new charge.
Next week, what Turin’s been up to since Beleg left and why he might not be the best at picking friends.