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June 29th, 2013

30 days of headcanon – Hurin of the Keys

Originally published at Faith Seeking Understanding. You can comment here or there.

The LOTR_Community_GFIC group is doing a meme called “thirty days of headcanon.” I think the idea is you answer a question each day about your headcanon – those details that you swear are in the books, or should be and in either case form your own private canon. Day #1 was to share a detail about a minor character.

So here’s my answer:

In The Lord of the Rings, Hurin of the Keys is a *very* minor character. He rides out with Imrahil during the Battle of Pelennor fields to help the Rohirrim, and he’s the guy they leave behind in charge when the appointed company ride to the Black Gate.

In my head, though, he has a rich and well-developed life. He’s a product of Gondor’s civil service. His father was a lord of minor importance; at one point they’d had holdings in Ithilien but had lost their power and money when that land went kaput. Hurin himself was trained as an archivist (the best his family’s fortunes could hope for) but he was spotted as having a keen political mind and so eventually became personal clerk to the steward’s heir (Denethor), and and the two men became close because he had culture and good breeding but very little of his own power, making him “safe” for Denethor to rely on.

Hurin also fell in love with one of Denethor’s sisters (Caladhwen) but of course didn’t think he could ever offer a suit worthy of her hand, even though she was the third of three daughters and, since she had a brother, had no prospects of her own children becoming heirs. However, at one point the three of them (Denethor, Hurin, + Caladhwen) were walking along the beaches of Dol Amroth and had to take refuge from a bad storm in a cave. Several hours, Ecthelion and Adrahil found Denethor sound asleep and the other two stripped to their skivvies because their clothes were soaked and had been laid out to dry. Ecthelion was naturally outraged and insisted the two get married immediately to save the family honor. Naturally, neither of them corrected the old farts thinking this was finally their chance.

Hurin was on hand for both Ecthelion’s and Finduilas’s death, and he actually moved into Denethor’s house after the latter to help watch out for him for a few weeks. But it was Caladhwen who saw Denethor had become distant and that Faramir was suffering the loss of his whole family (Boromir had recently become a knight’s paige and often stayed nights with his new master). After that, Faramir had a standing invitation to family dinners (they raised a whole crop of sons to rival Imrahil’s family) and Hurin became a kind of godfather to Faramir.

He also maintained his relationship with Denethor and became the closest thing Denethor had to a confidant and, while he eventually moved past it, Hurin was never quite able to forgive Denethor for what he’d put Faramir through. When Faramir married Eowyn, Hurin stood in for his own father, and the two of them built the cairns to honor Denethor and Boromir on Mindolluin – by hand, rather than just giving the orders. His two oldenst sons led the the recolonization of southern Ithilien, becoming lieutenants in the Ithilien rangers, but Hurin never left Minas Tirith, and he and his wife were buried a little ways off from Denethor’s cairn on Mindolluin.

Oh, you just wanted the one fact. Oopsie!

For the interested Hurin features in Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady and That Which They Defend” (that last one probably the most character work I’ve ever done on his character; I have several bunnies…) and is also mentioned in Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair Pt IV, Nor the Battle to the Strong, and The Days of the King.



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December 2020



  • 5 Dec 2020, 12:53
    PM me your address. I have a card set aside for you, but need name and address to get it going.

    - Erulisse (one L)
  • 5 Dec 2020, 12:04
    What a lovely idea!
  • 4 Dec 2020, 17:56
    Mmmm, ginger snapses!
  • 4 Dec 2020, 17:37
    I don't send out cards anymore, but I was drooling over all the pop-up ones Amazon had and wondering if it might not be time to resume the tradition (I decided no).

    Not much help in the Hallmark…
  • 25 Nov 2020, 14:52
    That's great! Happy Thanksgiving to you and thanks for the marching, musical cats. LOL

    - Erulisse (one L)
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