Saturday, August 18, 2012

30 Days of Genre - What Is the Saddest Scene in a Genre Novel?

It has been a little over a year since I last visited this meme, and as I said before, no one said that the 30 days had to be in a row. I'm thinking that what will work best would be for me to make this the 30 Saturdays of Genre, which means I'll be posting these for the next twenty-one weeks. I can live with that.

So, on to the question of the saddest scene in a genre novel.

Túrin Turambar's Suicide

Túrin is the most screwed character in all of Tolkien's works. His parents were Húrin, the ruler of the Hador and Morwen. When Túrin was eight, his father led the men of Hador to contest Morgoth's encroachment into their homeland of Dor-lómon, but they were defeated at the Battle of Unnumbered Tears and Húrin was captured by Morgoth who places a curse upon him and his entire family. Morwen sent Túrin to safety in the elven land of Doriath. After Túrin went to Doriath, Morwen had another child, Túrin's younger sister Nienor.

After some adventures, Túrin was recured by the marchwarden Beleg and escorted to Doriath. In short order he was adopted by King Thingol because of his kinship with the hero Beren and taught by Beleg, who became his closest friend. After Dor-lómon was overwhelmed, Túrin  sought revenge and, with Thingol's blessing took a force out to fight Morgoth, becoming a scourge of the orcs who identified him by his dragon-helm. Tú was a man, and therefore mortal, and some of the elves made fun of him for this, specifically Saeros. After a dust-up in which Túrin injured Saeros, the elf set an ambush for Túrin, which Túrin foiled. Túrin chased Saeros who attempted to jump a cliff to safety, but stumbled and fell, dying on the rocks below.Túrin fled without waiting for Thingol to decide whether he was guilty or innocent, taking up with a band of brigands called the Gaurwaith.

Thus far, Túrin's life has been difficult, but not particularly so. But he was cursed by Morgoth, and this would soon change. Thingol pardoned Túrin, and Beleg set out to tell him. Beleg found Túrin's band, but Túrin was away and the badits treated the elf badly. When he returned, Túrin gave up banditry and changed his band to a force to oppose Morgoth. They captured the dwarf Mîm, who they forced to allow them to use his dwelling as their base. Soon Túrin and Beleg had an army, but Morgoth figured out who Túrin was and sent a host of orcs to fight him. The orcs captured Mîm and compelled him to lead them to his home, there they ambushed Túrin's forces, captured Túrin, and slaughtered the rest except Beleg, and Andvír.

Beleg and Andvír met Gwindor in the forest of Taur-nu-Fuin, and  tried to rescue Túrin. Unfortunately, when they were cutting Túrin free from the chains that bound him, Beleg accidentally cut Túrin's foot with his sword, whereupon Túrin, not recognizing Beleg in the dark and thinking he was an orc come to torment him, took the sword from Beleg and slew him.Gwindor took Túrin to his home in Nagothrond, where Túrin rose to become the chief counselor to the elf-king Orodreth. Even though Gwindor was in love with Orodreth's daughter Finduilas, she fell in love with Túrin, but he didn't realize it. Gwindor gave Túrin Beleg's black sword Anglachel, which he had reforged and renamed Gurthang. This became Túrin's signature weapon, and he hid his true name and became known as Mormegil, the "Black Sword".

Túrin advised the elves to stop acting in secret and built a bridge so that they could lead armies against Morgoth's forces. Morgoth sent an army of orcs led by the dragon Glaurung and at the Battle of Tumhalad the elves were defeated, Gwindor was mortally wounded, and Túrin was entranced by the dragons Glaurung's power. Glaurung suggested to Túrin that Morwen and Nienor were in danger in Dor-lômon.Túrin abandoned Nagothrond and returned to Dor-lómon, finding that Easterlings under a leader named Brodda had taken his ancestral home. Once there, Túrin discovered that Morwen and Nienor had left Dor-lómon before the Easterlings arrived. Enraged, Túrin slew Brodda and returned to Nagothrond to find Finduilas and fulfill the promise he had made to the dying Gwindor to take care of her. But after following her trail into the forest of Brethil he learned that she had been captured by orcs what had slain her when the men of Brethil ambushed them in an effort to rescue the prisoners.

Túrin found Finduilas' grave and collapsed upon it in grief. He was found and taken to Ephel Brandir and met their ruler Brandir the Lame. Túrin decided to change his name and renounce his ancestry in an effort to escape the curse of Morgoth. He called himself Turambar, meaning "Master of Doom", and stopped fighting with the sword Gurthang, instead taking up the spear and bow in an effort to remain incognito. Soon he was regarded as a great war captain by the men of Brethil, and pushed Brandir to wage open war against Morgoth.

Meanwhile, Morwen and Nienor having journeyed from Dor-lómon and taken up refuge in Doriath, decided to set out looking for Túrin. Accompanied by a band of elves, they searched for him, but were set upon by the dragon Glaurung, who entranced Nienor and caused her to lose her memory and flee both the orcs and elves. Nienor wound up in Brethil where Túrin found her, naked and unable to speak. Túrin called her N&iacuteniel, the "Maid of Tears", and took her to Brandir who healed her, but was unable to restore her memory. Predictably, Túrin fell in love with Níniel and asked her to marry him, agreeing to forsake war unless it was to protect her. She agreed, and soon had conceived a child.

But Morgoth was not finished with Túrin, and an army of orcs led by Glaurung invaded Brethil. Túrin resumed fighting with the sword Gurthang, and led the men of Brethil in battles which scattered the invading orcs. When Glaurung himself entered the conflict Túrin took two companions and set out to ambush the dragon. Hiding under a rock in the ravine of Caben-en-Aras, Túrin was able to mortally wound the dragon with Gurthang, but was overcome by the beast's venom. Níniel went looking for her husband, and found him, but Glaurung was not yet dead. The dragon got his final revenge by undoing his spell so that Níniel realized that she was actually Nienor, and her husband was her brother. Horrified, she threw herself into a river and died.

Túrin awoke and was informed by Brandir that Níniel was actually Nienor, and that she had killed herself when she found out. Enraged, Túrin slew the lame and helpless Brandir and ran to Finduilas' grave, where a helpful elf confirmed Brandir's story. In despair, Túrin returned to Caben-en-Aras and threw himself on his own sword. A lot of Túrin's troubles could be laid at his own feet: his rash and impulsive desire to always meet Morgoth's forces in open war resulted in the destruction of two entire countries and the death of all of his Gaurwaith followers.However, much of his doom was beyond his control. His father was captured by Morgoth before he turned ten. He slew his best friend as a result of a tragic mistake. He married his sister, who he had never met, and only did so because a malicious dragon had stolen her memory. But the hardest truth to face had to be the anguish of knowing that his entire life had been in vain. Despite struggling against Morgoth's forces his entire life, all he had caused was the ruin of those who followed him. His own family had been wrecked. His wife and child died. So, for being the tragic end of the most screwed character in Middle-Earth, Túrin Turambar's death is the saddest scene in a genre novel.

Go to Day 8: What Is the Best Fan Soundtrack?

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