II: The Book of Lost Tales part 2, II: TURAMBAR AND THE FOALÓKË (2/2)

This is the second post on the tale of Túrin Turambar and Glorund the Dragon. The influences of legends and stories from the Nordic coutries are apparent. For comparison, look at the tale of Kullervo from the Kalevala (there is going to be a new Tolkien book on this august -2015) and the Völsunga saga  (also see Tolkien’s Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun). 

While Túrin lived with in Rodothlim, which was a long time, Nienóri had grown to adulthood. She and Mavwin was living in the regions of Brodda. When an aged Gumlin, one of Túrin’s guardians who had stayed with Tinwelint, found Mavwin she learnt of Túrin’s departure. She and Nienóri decided to depart to Artanor and the halls of Tinwelint. Gumlin had died before they left. Once coming to Tinwelint they learnt that he had been captured by orcs. Tinwelint thought that he must be a prisoner at Angamandi. Mavwin and Nienóri started to wander in the woods in hope of finding Túrin. However, they met a group of gnomes who told them about Mormakil who lived in Rodothlim, a man fled from Tinwelint who had been captured by orcs. At this, their hope was lit, but the gnomes told them about how Glorund had ransacked Rodothlim and that the only ones alive was captives in Angamandi.

Mavwin turned to Tinwelint to seek aid against the dragon. Tinwelint who had interest in the treasure hoard left put together a band of warriors that would accompany Mavwin and Nienóri. Once near Rodothlim the dragon tricks the group and after some accidents Mavin and Nienóri was alone. When Glorund found them Nienóri asks about Túrin, who they believed to be in the dragon’s bonds. Cunningly, by bending his words, Glorund hinted at the death of Túrin, which Mavwin believed. Glorund cast a spell of blackness and forgetfulness over Mavwin and Nienóri and the two got separated. Nienóri strayed lost in the woods and had forgotten who she was and all her memories. She came upon a band of orcs who started to hunt her, but she was saved by none other than Túrin (henceafter Turambar).

They did not recognize each other, they had never met as older than children. Since she could not remember who she was Turambar decided to call her Níniel. She joined him to live with the woodfolk. She stayed in the house of Bethos who was chief of the folk. After some years he died and Turambar was elected chief. Since Turambar had started to sove Níniel since they met, they wed and lived together for a long time in happiness. The woodfolk was undisturbed for a long time, but the dragon heard rumours about men living peacefully and decided to move closer, leaving Rodothlim.

Turambar, Níniel and a group of men decide to try and kill the dragon. Past the dragon’s lair flowed a stream with a waterfall known as the Silver Bowl. There did Turambar hid himself and when Glorund went over the stream Turambar stabbed the dragon from beneath with Gurtholfin. While suffering from a killing wound, Glorund looked upon Turambar and by his gaze Turambar fell in a swoon. Níniel and Tamar who was waiting further away, not engaging in the fight, started to wonder what had happened. They went to look and Níniel found Turambar lying on the ground and she thought him dead. Glorund, in his last living moment, told her that she had found her brother. The moment the dragon died the spell of forgetfulness was lifted. Out of grief Nienóri cast herself down the waterfall to die. Tamar who witnessed this told Turambar when he woke up. At this Túrin took his own life by casting himself upon Gurtholfin after having spoken with it. A great mound was raised over him and a memory-stone was erected on top with his name and Níniel’s.

Here Eltas finish his tale and the listerners were all weeping. They ask about the fate of Mavwin and Úrin. Of Mavwin nothing is known for sure, but Úrin was released by Melko and he came to Rodothlim. There he found a dwarf called Mîm guarding the treasure. He had cursed it but Úrin brought part of it to Tinwelint although bitterness had grown inside Úrin toward the elflord. Úrin then left to search for Mavwin, and nothing more is sure than that they both died and ended up in the halls of Mandos together. Túrin and Nienóri however, they were not allowed in the halls of either Mandos or Fui, because they had taken their own lives.

Characters to note

  • Tamar – A lame half-elven living with the Woodmen/Woodfolk. He is attracted to Nienóri/Níniel. Son of Bethos and an unnamed gnome woman.
  • Bethos – Chief of the Woodmen until slayed. Hosted Níniel to live in his house. Father of Tamar.
  • Mîm the dwarf – The dwarf that guarded the treasures of Rodothlim while Glorund was away. After Glorund died, Mîm had magically bound the treasure to him and cursed it.

Places to note

  • Sirion – The principal river.
  • Silver Bowl – The waterfalls where Nienóri took her life.

Features to note

  • Treasure of Rodothlim – The treasure that Glorund greedily took after the assault on Rodothlim. Guarded by Mîm and then some was taken by Úrin.

Comments

For me, this is one of the best Middle-Earth related stories of all. In all versions. The overall themes and events are quite similar between the different versions. There are some details that differs. For example, in later versions Glorund points out the incest that happened between Túrin and Nienóri.

What becomes apparent in this tale is all the influences that Tolkien draws from. I am most familiar with the norse influences from the legend of Sigurd Fafnesbane (Völsungasagan). There are many, let’s say, references to that one. We have the dwarf cursing a treasure, how the dragonslayer is hiding and striking the dragon from below etc. The story is also closely influenced by the Kalevala story of Kullervo, a tragic story where the themes of incest and suicide are featured as well as the sword taking the life of its owner in the end.

One of the most interesting aspects of this story that I can find, throughout the versions, is that question of is it really the curse of Melko that forms the fate of Túrin? Or is it mainly his self-chosen actions? Discuss!

Have you read this chapter or do you want to know more? Please comment and tell me what you think of this part or if you have something to ask! 

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