“The Children of Hurin” is a hidden gem for “Game of Thrones” fans

By Sean Kranske, Contributing Writer

Game of Thrones has finally returned in all of its bloody and depraved glory. Much like thousands of other Thrones fans, I spend my week anxiously waiting for Sunday night to arrive for another serving of the most sadistic show in the history of television.

What are we to do with the six days a week that we’re not watching the HBO spectacle? Fans of Game of Thrones should turn to the often-overlooked novel, The Children of Hurin by J.R.R Tolkien.

Tolkien is most associated with his massively popular Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was published in the mid-1950s and had a resurgence in popularity in the early 2000s when the film adaptations were released.

While Game of Thrones clearly takes inspiration from Tolkien’s trilogy, Children of Hurin has more thematic and tonal similarities with the HBO spectacle.

The Children of Hurin tells the story of Turin Turambar’s life, from childhood all the way through to his death. From early childhood, the evil god-like Morgoth curses Turin to a life of difficulty, which leads to Turin being banished from his home and live a vagrant life as a child. As Turin grows, he becomes a skilled soldier even as his life consistently crumbles around him.

The novel is set in Tolkien’s ‘Middle-Earth,’ the same fantasy world that has been popularized by The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. However, no prior knowledge is required to understand the happenings in Children of Hurin.

What separates this novel from Tolkien’s more popular work is the tone. There are no hobbits, wizards, or joyous celebrations to be found in Children of Hurin. Instead, the novel delivers a much bleaker and tragic story that Thrones fans are sure to enjoy, even if they found Tolkien’s other work too sappy or bizarre.

While the novel is relatively short (around 250 pages), it throws a lot of meaningless fantasy jargon at the reader very early on. This weakens the novel’s introduction and will prove to be a small hurdle for some, particularly those who are not familiar with Tolkien’s writing style.

The Children of Hurin may not be as popular or as polished as Game of Thrones, but it tells a similarly bleak and tragic story that Thrones fans are sure to love.