Six Degrees: From Muurgh to Beleg Strongbow
The Six Degrees band marches on this week with a jump from one well known universe to another, from science fiction to fantasy, from a galaxy far far away to the forests, hills, and plains of Middle Earth. Last week Jenelle Schimdt talked about Han Solo and his exploits in the Han Solo trilogy by A.C. Crispin. As she ran down the principal characters, it took me quite some time to come up with one that seemed reminiscent of a character from another book. They were all so unique.
In the end I stumbled upon a character that I thought was a good enough match for Muurgh the Togorian. Jenelle described this cat-like alien as a “bodyguard of sorts” for Han Solo, but also someone to keep him from “deviating from his appointed tasks”. Han and Muurgh end up becoming fast friends and Muurgh proves himself to be “incredibly honorable, extremely loyal, and unfailingly honest.”
The sorts of qualities Muurgh demonstrates reminded me of Beleg Strongbow from The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien. In this posthumously published work, Beleg proves to be perhaps the most faithful friend to Turin Turambar, the ill fated protagonist of the novel. Beleg stays true to Turin through thick and thin, risking his life for his friend and fighting alongside him in their hopeless battles against the forces of Morgoth. An elf of Doriath, Beleg possesses cat-like reflexes himself and is renowned for his marksmanship. Though unlike Muurgh his service to Turin is voluntary, Beleg’s friendship does serve as a bit of a corrective influence similar to Muurgh as he tries to help Turin return to the noble warrior he once was after falling in with a band of rough and tumble warriors.
Turin is a truly tragic figure, who, despite his obvious gifts and strength as a warrior is fated to always make the wrong decision. He is generally good intentioned, but his hot temper and pride lead him down the wrong path time and time again.
Thingol is the lord of Doriath and king of the elves who remained in Middle Earth and never followed their brethren into the West. He takes in Turin as his foster-son after Hurin, Turin’s father is captured and imprisoned by Morgoth. Thingol is in his own way quite proud, but generally more wise and level headed than Turin.
Hurin is considered to be the greatest warrior amongst men of his time. Working closely with the elves, he earns their trust and thus his family is welcomed in Thingol’s court. When he is captured by Morgoth he refuses to give in to the dark lord’s promises of freedom if he will serve him, causing the Morgoth to pronounce a curse upon him and all his family.
Villains with a capital “V”
Morgoth is by far the most evil character in the novel and the most evil being in all of Tolkein’s grand mythos, having rebelled against the creator of all of Arda (the name of the world of which Middle Earth is but a part) from the foundation of the world. He it was who created the orcs and bound the balrogs, dragons, and other terrible monsters to his service. If you thought Sauron from The Lord of the Rings was the greatest evil to ever threaten Middle Earth you would be sadly mistaken. Sauron was a mere lieutenant in Morgoth’s army and possessed but a fraction of his power. Morgoth seeks to bend all of Arda to his will, corrupting its creatures and seeking to dominate and subjugate all who oppose him.
Though Morgoth’s power and perdition are without equal, he does not play as influential a role in the Children of Hurin as one of his servants, the dragon Glaurung. As Morgoth is to Sauron, so Glaurung is to Smaug, Tolkien’s other, much more famous dragon. Glaurung is so powerful and wicked he makes Smaug look like a sleeping saint. Like most dragons he has a way of using his words to enthrall people and trick them into believing what he wants them to. He uses that power to tragic effect on Nienor, Turin’s innocent sister, causing her to forget her identity and start a new life away from her family. Though Nienor is gentle and kind and wishes no one any harm, she is swept up in the doom which Morgoth has pronounced on the children of Hurin and ultimately meets a tragic fate along with her brother.
If any of the characters in this, one of Tolkien’s lesser known works, sparked your imagination and made recall a character from some other book, we’d love to hear what you come up with. For details about the Six Degrees series and how to join in on the fun, as well as a list of all the fabulous books we’ve featured thus far, be sure to visit the Six Degrees home page.
Until next time, remember that “it does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations!”