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Sil discussion of Turin Turambar: Prophesy and Premonition
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Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 14 2013, 2:59pm

Post #1 of 65 (595 views)
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Sil discussion of Turin Turambar: Prophesy and Premonition Can't Post

This chapter is fraught with prophecy and tragedy. It is the tale of Turin, the Tale of Grief, but it involves the entire family of Hurin: the house of Hurin pays the blood price for the sheltering of the Star in Gondolin, as Hurin, a Man of pride, will not betray Turgon and the Hidden Kingdom. A part of Men not only in the bloodline, but in the ability of Earandil to survive and to sail West for the salvation of Arda. It is Morgoth's fear of Turgon, with a Vala's foresight of what the Hidden Kingdom may potentially mean, leads Morgoth to torture Hurin by watching the drama of the curse of Morgoth play out. Much of Turin's tale is based in part upon the ancient Finnish epic of the Kalevala, which JRRT was quite entranced by in 1912-13:
"The germ of my attempt to write legends of my own to fit my private languages was the tragic tale of the hapless Kullervo in the Finnish Kalevala. It remains a major matter in the legends of the First Age (which I hope to publish as The Silmarillion."

Æ J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 257

A good place to start, as there is much of it to be discussed:

PROPHESY AND PREMONITION:

**In Turin's life, we will read of two lost sisters: though one is lost early and one is lost later. But consider their names; the death of Laughter (Lalaith) is followed by the birth of Mourning (Nienor). Morgoth has a distant hand in both of their deaths. Are the names and the order of naming a foresight? Or is Nienor born to Mourning because of her sisters untimely loss and Hurin's capture?

**Melian prophesies about Anglachel to Beleg: "It will not love the hand it serves. Neither will it abide with you long." Beleg the Elf still chooses to take this blade. But is her prophesy fully correct? Indeed it does not abide with Beleg long - but we read that after Beleg's death the sword apparently mourns him. Consider this excerpt from Kalevala:

Desperate and self destructive Kullervo returns home and attacks Untamo and slays him. After the killing he talks to his sword, and says that it has bled a lot of innocent blood, and tells it that now the sword can bleed some guilty blood as well. The sword replies:
Thus his trusty sword makes answer,
Well divining his intentions:
"Why should I not drink thy life-blood,
Blood of guilty Kullerwoinen,
Since I feast upon the worthy,
Drink the life-blood of the righteous?"

After the sword replies, Kullervo thrusts himself to the blade and dies.

So what can we say about Melian's prophecy? Does this blade, made from other-world metal and imbued with the spirit of Eol its maker, simply chafe at ownership and resent any master, though it loves war and loves slaying the forces of Morgoth? Is it only capable of caring for one's whose blood it has already tasted? Is it something to do with Beleg himself? Or like Kullervo's blade does it seek to equalize innocence and guilt with its appetite? Before it takes Turin's life, it says "Yea, I will drink thy blood gladly, so that I may forget the blood of Beleg my master, and the blood of Brandir slain unjustly. I will slay thee swiftly."

**As they head for Amon Rudh with Mim, Turin's men see 'blood' (the growing seregon) on the crown of Amon Rudh. While at Amon Rudh Turin's eye drawn to Amon Obel over and over - we read that he knew not why. If these things are foresight, do we think that Turin as an Edain simply does not perceive them for what they are? Yet Turin seems to be sensitive to the signs: is it his nature as a human not to understand them, or is it Turin himself, either in hubris, in grief or inner distraction and turmoil, that cannot divine the meanings?

**Gwindor makes two prophesies to Turin: when he reveals Turin's name to Finduilas: "The doom lies in yourself, not in your name." And then when he lies dying, beseeching Turin in the old-style Biblical language, to save Finduilas: "She alone stands between thee and thy doom." Additionally Glaurung has a bit of inside information: his mandate in the misdirection of Turin comes from Morgoth ("the errand of his master"), and thus he guides Turin towards his doom by convincing him to seek his mother and sister instead of the Elfmaiden, whose screams ring in his ears. Is this all an example of the higher vision and comprehension of the Firstborn and a Vala, and how it all tells against the hapless, clueless Edain?

**Is there premonition in Niniel's refusal of Turambar's proposal? We have already read of pure, uncorrupted love in the immediate connection of Beren and Luthien. Do we have its moral opposite here, deep yet sadly corrupted love, unknowingly impure at its base, in the hesitation of Niniel?

**Ninel, conceiving Turambar's child, becomes sad and wan, not happy or joyous, though her husband has her heart. Is it a statement here about the impurity of the child and their love itself that makes her wan and unhappy? And is there foresight here - almost yet not quite stronger than Glaurung's amnesia spell? A premonition? Do we think that the child Niniel carries, because of its incestuous paternity, is assurance that death is her only option in the tale? Perhaps she could have survived the grief and shock of the incestuous love itself, but does this child define the impossibility of her continued existence?






Coming soon!- The first TORn Amateur Symposium, starts Sunday 21st July in the Reading Room. Closing date for essay submission Sunday 14th July, but even if you don't submit, join us for some interesting discussion on some different and personal ways of looking at Tolkien's work.







noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jul 14 2013, 5:04pm

Post #2 of 65 (421 views)
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Great start - you'll be "Hurin" from me when I've read the chapter! [In reply to] Can't Post

 Hopefully "Durin" that time, you'll have plenty of other contributors to be "Turin" the chapter with.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 15 2013, 12:12am

Post #3 of 65 (395 views)
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Indeed, "Morwen" you get back Furincurunir! // [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Hopefully "Durin" that time, you'll have plenty of other contributors to be "Turin" the chapter with.


Coming soon!- The first TORn Amateur Symposium, starts Sunday 21st July in the Reading Room. Closing date for essay submission Sunday 14th July, but even if you don't submit, join us for some interesting discussion on some different and personal ways of looking at Tolkien's work.







CuriousG
Valinor


Jul 15 2013, 1:31pm

Post #4 of 65 (411 views)
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Of Turin and warnings [In reply to] Can't Post

Bravo, Breth! Great dissection of this most important tale in addition to a great big picture view.

What's an epic tale without prophecy? Re: Turin and his vague warnings. Possibly there are different explanations. He's under Morgoth's curse, so perhaps that strives with messages from Ulmo and obscures them. Possibly he's just not very bright. Or he could be just another Edain who isn't capable of clear perception like the Eldar. (Or maybe he's was overly influenced by Thingol with his "Bah! Prophecy! No thank you.") Doesn't it deepen the anguish of every Greek tragedy that the hero is given and discards numerous warnings?

Curses: why does Morgoth successfully curse only this family? Why not curse all the Noldor or their leaders? Does he need to be face to face with the cursee?

Girl names:they're open to multiple interpretations. To me, they're symbolize the bigger picture of the Noldor/Edain having hope, then sliding inevitably to sadness and loss, and this cultural pessimism hung over Hurin's household.Though clearly on a personal level, it reflected Morwen's change in status too. What strikes me as odd is how Morwen, who's so cold and made from unloving steel, could have ever named a child "Laughter." That must have been Hurin's choice.

Anglachel: While not evil, there's something sinister about this sword, or darkly brooding. I'm not sure of the right words, but it makes me uneasy, given Melian's prophecy. It seems to have a slumbering sense of treachery in it from her words, though events will prove it doesn't. When it agrees to kill Turin, it almost seems merciful in saying to kill him swiftly. Or maybe "swiftly" meant "gleefully."

Nienor: yes, she seems to have intuition that conflicts with her emotions. She knows it's wrong to love and wed Turin, but she doesn't know why. That same instinct tells her the baby is wrong. Yet I also think her premonition extends to perceiving the fates awaiting her and Turin. Getting married and having a baby should make you happy about the future, but they're part of the fulfillment of the curse, and seem to accelerate their miserable endings.

Great questions!


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea

Jul 15 2013, 2:53pm

Post #5 of 65 (425 views)
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On the topic of the curse. [In reply to] Can't Post

I read the Sil version before the CoH came out. When I enjoy a book throughly, I immerse myself into it.

Mindful of the rest of the book, I had always thought that the "curse" was a powerful part of "fate", set in motion by Morgoth. As a more powerful being, he could definitely set things in action, calculated to bring an end. Contrast his schemes for Evil to the Valar's for the Will of Eru. These dominating forces could be described as "fate makers" if you will.

Also, consider the trend in the Professor's works, that "will" is often shown to be true power, over brute strength.

Accepting the former supposition as true, remember Eru's gift to the Atani, "to shape thier lives beyond the FATE of the world" (emphasis mine) . Eru also said that nothing could be done in his despite, but it would redound to his glory. His, the ultamite "will".

Taking these views as fact, certain things are "willed" or "fated" to happen, by higher powers. These things bind both world and Elves, as part of it, to obey them. The Atani however, have it inside of them, to defy these "willed fates", benevolent or otherwise. A truer "free will" then, is theirs.

That said, I believe the true tragedy of the CoH, lies in the fact that Turin could not master his own will to shape his fate beyond Morgoth's dark designs. He came close, as it is said that Morgoth's scheme "almost came to naught", but Turin was never able to realize the power within him. He took the epithet 'Turambar', in his own pride perhaps, but his own free will, given by Eru, had already given him that title.

His downfall: His inability to master himself, before he mastered his fate.


Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 15 2013, 7:05pm

Post #6 of 65 (393 views)
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Excellent point Rembrethil! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

His downfall: His inability to master himself, before he mastered his fate.





I do wonder about that 'curse' of Morgoth's - if perhaps what it really is in his Vala foresight into possibilities, seeing in advance what choice Turin *may* make, and obligingly putting obstacles in his way to stumble over.

Coming soon!- The first TORn Amateur Symposium, starts Sunday 21st July in the Reading Room. Closing date for essay submission Sunday 14th July, but even if you don't submit, join us for some interesting discussion on some different and personal ways of looking at Tolkien's work.







CuriousG
Valinor


Jul 15 2013, 7:18pm

Post #7 of 65 (381 views)
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Superb commentary, Rembreth. Thanks. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea

Jul 15 2013, 9:20pm

Post #8 of 65 (388 views)
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Much thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank-you for your kind words, Brethil and CuriousG

I may not post much, but I try to calculate and weigh each thought, before I do.

@Brethil

Perhaps, that is a dimension that I had not considered. In the music, the Ainu had a prevision of the entire history of Arda.
I had always imagined that Mandos was one of the first to falter in his song, and that he studied the themes of Illuvatar, thus his deep understanding of his will.
Melkor, I had imagined, was self absorbed in his own theme, but he could have gleaned more in a shorter period of time, being more powerful, than we could.

@CuriousG

My Deepest thanks.


(This post was edited by Rembrethil on Jul 15 2013, 9:22pm)


CuriousG
Valinor


Jul 15 2013, 9:51pm

Post #9 of 65 (388 views)
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Well [In reply to] Can't Post

Certainly up to you, Rembrethil, on how often you post or not, and of course we have ZERO pressure on anyone to post here or how often. But with such quality thinking and careful reasoning, please be assured that your comments are most certainly always welcome whenever you'd like!


elaen32
Gondor


Jul 15 2013, 10:07pm

Post #10 of 65 (380 views)
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I agree... [In reply to] Can't Post

and this basically is the truth of Gwindor's foresight that the doom is within Turin, not within his name. Turin feels that he is cursed because he is the son of Hurin who was cursed by Morgoth. But he is not bound by that curse- he has it within him to break free of that fate, but unfortunately he does not listen to counsel and fails to see his rightful pathway.


Coming soon!- The first TORn Amateur Symposium, starts Sunday 21st July in the Reading Room. Closing date for essay submission Sunday 14th July, but even if you don't submit, join us for some interesting discussion on some different and personal ways of looking at Tolkien's work



Rembrethil
Tol Eressea

Jul 15 2013, 10:07pm

Post #11 of 65 (382 views)
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An Invitation graciuosly accepted. [In reply to] Can't Post

I have much going on in my life at the present moment( and hopefully starting university in the fall).

In addition, I have been niggling endlessly with my Symposium submission, but it is in its final form.....hopefully.

We will see what life allows.


Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 15 2013, 10:41pm

Post #12 of 65 (372 views)
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Happy to have you around Rembrethil! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I have much going on in my life at the present moment( and hopefully starting university in the fall).

In addition, I have been niggling endlessly with my Symposium submission, but it is in its final form.....hopefully.

We will see what life allows.




All around the RR! Smile (I understand the 'niggling' - thrilled to have your piece though!!!!!)

Coming soon!- The first TORn Amateur Symposium, starts Sunday 21st July in the Reading Room. Closing date for essay submission Sunday 14th July, but even if you don't submit, join us for some interesting discussion on some different and personal ways of looking at Tolkien's work.







Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 16 2013, 1:25am

Post #13 of 65 (366 views)
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Points in response ... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Bravo, Breth! Great dissection of this most important tale in addition to a great big picture view. Thank you Richard...! Wink

What's an epic tale without prophecy? Re: Turin and his vague warnings. Possibly there are different explanations. He's under Morgoth's curse, so perhaps that strives with messages from Ulmo and obscures them. Possibly he's just not very bright. Or he could be just another Edain who isn't capable of clear perception like the Eldar. (Or maybe he's was overly influenced by Thingol with his "Bah! Prophecy! No thank you.") Doesn't it deepen the anguish of every Greek tragedy that the hero is given and discards numerous warnings? I like your point here about learning form Uncle Thingol: he certainly could have picked up some of the 'my universe is my eyes and my ears: anything else is hearsay' world-view. I never thought of that connection in the sense of how Turin perceived the world. Wonderful point!

Curses: why does Morgoth successfully curse only this family? Why not curse all the Noldor or their leaders? Does he need to be face to face with the cursee? I have a sneaking feeling, like I replied to Rembrethil, that the 'curse' is merely Morgoth seeing, with his enhanced vision, what the outcomes may (and likely may) be, and cannily claiming the power of placing a 'curse' and all the ill effects for himself. Yes it might be a lie, and not too nice at all precious, but hey its MORGOTH here, after all.

Girl names:they're open to multiple interpretations. To me, they're symbolize the bigger picture of the Noldor/Edain having hope, then sliding inevitably to sadness and loss, and this cultural pessimism hung over Hurin's household.Though clearly on a personal level, it reflected Morwen's change in status too. What strikes me as odd is how Morwen, who's so cold and made from unloving steel, could have ever named a child "Laughter." That must have been Hurin's choice. Mmmm. Good point. Hurin is away when she names Nienor...so I guess she owns that name.

Anglachel: While not evil, there's something sinister about this sword, or darkly brooding. I'm not sure of the right words, but it makes me uneasy, given Melian's prophecy. It seems to have a slumbering sense of treachery in it from her words, though events will prove it doesn't. When it agrees to kill Turin, it almost seems merciful in saying to kill him swiftly. Or maybe "swiftly" meant "gleefully." Its odd here - because I get the sense of menace too, yet it serves Beleg and even mourns him...it happily (it seems) kills Glaurung, and the sword seems to take offense at what it thinks of as the wrongful slaying of Brandir. So it has a sense of 'ethics' in there...I'd never want to carry it though I can tell you. Still sort of reaching for a full sense of what Anglachel is all about.


Coming soon!- The first TORn Amateur Symposium, starts Sunday 21st July in the Reading Room. Closing date for essay submission Sunday 14th July, but even if you don't submit, join us for some interesting discussion on some different and personal ways of looking at Tolkien's work.







noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jul 16 2013, 5:49pm

Post #14 of 65 (362 views)
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Hśrin treats his doom like it's an opponent [In reply to] Can't Post

Sometimes he seems actively to fight it. And one at least one occasion he pridefully boasts that he's beaten it.

His Pride - which we Have a separate thread on - is the character flaw which drives him towards his doom despite warnings, in good Tragic fashion. Though on other occasions he seems to want to avoid it by being a bandit captain.

Who wins in the end, if it can be seen as something which can be won? Things don't seem to have gone completely to Morgoth's plan, with a dead dragon as well as a dead hero by the end of the chapter.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jul 16 2013, 6:18pm

Post #15 of 65 (349 views)
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Darn, I meant "Turin", not "Hurin"! Sorry! / [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jul 16 2013, 9:26pm

Post #16 of 65 (353 views)
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Yes, One does wonder how much Morgoth actually has to do… [In reply to] Can't Post

…to make his curse stick.
I'm reading it that the curse has been placed by the time Turin arrives chez Thingol. So we don't find out whether he starts becoming unluckier then. Turin knows nothing of a curse, as far as I know, until Gwindor tells him about it, and he,Turin says the idea is believable. But he's already well set in the pattern of his career by then. Knowing there's a curse about doesn't seem to affect his behaviour.

One could argue that he can feel the curse without needing to know its source (perhaps like someone might realise that they were inexplicably drunk without needing to know who'd spiked their drink?) But I do think it's plausible that Morgoth is only predicting, and opportunistically helping things along, rather than really knobbling Turin supernaturally.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 16 2013, 9:43pm

Post #17 of 65 (347 views)
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Starting to feel like that's true Furincurunir... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

But I do think it's plausible that Morgoth is only predicting, and opportunistically helping things along, rather than really knobbling Turin supernaturally.




...and that maybe the whole force of the Curse (similar to the Oath) is powerful but ultimately internal; and that it seems a very Morgoth way of business - if he can claim control over that plague of locusts, for example, he will (even if he's never seen a locust before and they don't take orders well anyway.)

Coming soon!- The first TORn Amateur Symposium, starts Sunday 21st July in the Reading Room. Closing date for essay submission Sunday 14th July, but even if you don't submit, join us for some interesting discussion on some different and personal ways of looking at Tolkien's work.







Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 16 2013, 9:44pm

Post #18 of 65 (341 views)
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If I'm "Hurin" you correctly, you need to start "Thorin" out your frozen "T" on the keyboard...// [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Coming soon!- The first TORn Amateur Symposium, starts Sunday 21st July in the Reading Room. Closing date for essay submission Sunday 14th July, but even if you don't submit, join us for some interesting discussion on some different and personal ways of looking at Tolkien's work.







CuriousG
Valinor


Jul 16 2013, 9:54pm

Post #19 of 65 (334 views)
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Are we dragon out the puns again? // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 17 2013, 12:09am

Post #20 of 65 (327 views)
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Aman to that...done it once, Anduin it again // [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To


Coming soon!- The first TORn Amateur Symposium, starts Sunday 21st July in the Reading Room. Closing date for essay submission Sunday 14th July, but even if you don't submit, join us for some interesting discussion on some different and personal ways of looking at Tolkien's work.







noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jul 17 2013, 6:32am

Post #21 of 65 (320 views)
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Thanks for Beren with my stupid typo… [In reply to] Can't Post

Or maybe I'm Lśthien my marbles…

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


CuriousG
Valinor


Jul 17 2013, 10:45am

Post #22 of 65 (318 views)
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Well, seems a one-off to me [In reply to] Can't Post

Given how adapted this story was from another source, I suspect Tolkien needed a demonic character to originate the curse that hangs over the Hurin family that showers them with fateful choices that they tend to disregard in their exercise of free will. There seem quite a few one-offs in Tolkien (Caradhras is the only sentient mountain we know of), and I guess the Morgoth curse is one of them. Though I equally agree that Morgoth would take the credit for a plague of locusts he had nothing to do with.

Not that the curse was all-powerful. Glaurung had to deliberately help it along. So its potency is in doubt.


CuriousG
Valinor


Jul 17 2013, 10:53am

Post #23 of 65 (330 views)
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Nienor's intuition and suicide [In reply to] Can't Post

You've touched on her intuition in other areas, Breth, but what do you think about her and that last desperate leap to death? Her ultimate despair "Oh, happy to be dead!" is one of the haunting lines from Tolkien that never leaves me. How spiritually destitute do you have to be that death seems a source of happiness to you? It seems to me that people commit suicide because they see only a hopeless future for themselves, not happiness in death.

Was her intuition operative in perceiving that no matter what she and her family did (and Turin appeared lost to her), it would come to a bad end, so that prompted her to seek an end to this unrelenting curse? Was happiness in death her only "hope" in escaping it? Or did she just plain give up, overwhelmed by emotion and not making any rational decisions? I wish I could peer into her mind as she gathered herself for that leap. Was there any way to talk her out of it?

Meanwhile, I don't question Turin's suicide. He was overcome by guilt many times over in addition to realizing that he'd been caught up in the curse; he understood that much more fully than his sister did. I don't need to see inside his mind; his motivation is all on the surface.


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jul 17 2013, 12:13pm

Post #24 of 65 (314 views)
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Finduilas: "She alone stands between thee and thy doom." [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm wondering how to read that...
  • Is there some happy alternative joint future for Finduilas and Turin, in which she knocks some sense into his silly head?
  • Is it that if Turin and Finduilas are an item, he doesn't accidentally marry his sister (which is the final straw for them both, as things work out)
  • Is Gwindor really just trying to save the woman he loves, and making the only kind of argument that would matter to Turin (i.e, that it is to the benefit of Turin...)
  • (Related to the last one) is the idea that if Turin saved Findilas as a kind gesture to his mate Gwindor, then this might set Turin's life along a new happier road.

or many another theory, no doubt!

BTW - is this another gnomic "last hope" comment: we've found a few as we've gone through this book

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jul 17 2013, 12:23pm

Post #25 of 65 (309 views)
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.."how adapted this story was from another source" [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't know about this other source - would be interested to know more.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"

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