Tuor is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is the grandfather of Elrond Half-elven and one of the most renowned ancestors of the Men of Númenor and of the King of the Reunited Kingdom Aragorn Elessar. Along with Beren Erchamion and Aragorn, Tuor was one of only three Men ever to marry one of the Eldarin Elves.
Tuor's story is one of many told briefly in the 23rd chapter of The Silmarillion. A very early version, written circa 1916–17, is found in The Book of Lost Tales II, part of The History of Middle-earth. Unfinished Tales contains the start of a more mature and complete narrative, which Tolkien began after finishing The Lord of the Rings in the 1950s. However, it gets no further than Tuor's first sight of Gondolin.
Tuor was a great hero of the Third House of Men in the First Age, the only son of Huor and Rían and the cousin of Túrin Turambar. Huor was slain covering the retreat of Turgon, King of Gondolin, in the Nírnaeth Arnoediad in Y.S. 472. Rían, having received no tidings of her husband, became distraught and wandered into the wild. She was taken care of by the local Grey-elves, and before the end of the year she bore a son and called him Tuor. But she delivered him to the care of the Elves and departed, dying upon the Haudh-en-Ndengin.
Tuor was fostered by the Elves in the caves of Androth in the Mountains of Mithrim, living a hard and wary life. When Tuor was sixteen their leader Annael resolved to forsake the land, but during the march his people were scattered and Tuor was captured by the Easterlings, who had been sent there by Morgoth and who cruelly oppressed the remnant of the House of Hador. After three years of thraldom under Lorgan the Easterling, Tuor escaped and returned to the caves.
For four years he lived as an outlaw, but never saw a way of escape from Dor-lómin; he slew many of the Easterlings that he came upon during his journeys, and Tuor's name was feared. Meanwhile, Ulmo, Vala of Waters, heard of his plight and chose Tuor to bear a message to Turgon, Lord of the Hidden City of Gondolin, and give a hope for the Elves and Men. By Ulmo's power a spring near Tuor's cave overflowed, and following the stream Tuor passed through Dor-lómin to Ered Lómin. Under the guidance of two Elves sent there by Ulmo, Gelmir and Arminas, he passed through the ancient Gate of the Noldor (Sindarin Annon-in-Gelydh) into Nevrast, where Tuor is said to have been the first Man to come to the shore of the Great Sea, Belegaer the shoreless. Thence he was led by seven swans, and came at last to the old dwellings of Turgon at Vinyamar.
Tuor found arms and armour in the ruins of Vinyamar left there centuries ago by Turgon at the command of Ulmo, and then met Ulmo himself at the coast of Belegaer. He appointed Tuor to be his messenger and told him to seek King Turgon in Gondolin, and sent him an Elf Voronwë, saved by Ulmo from a shipwreck, to guide him. Voronwë led Tuor along the southern slopes of Ered Wethrin, and they caught a brief glimpse of Tuor's cousin Túrin near the Pools of Ivrin, the only time the paths of the two ever crossed. Journeying through the fell winter, they eventually reached Gondolin in Y.S. 495. They were admitted, but Turgon did not hearken to the counsel of Ulmo and would not forsake the Hidden City.
Tuor remained in Gondolin, and wed Turgon's daughter, Idril Celebrindal. This was the second union between the Eldar and the Edain, after Beren and Lúthien. Their only child was Eärendil the Mariner. Tuor was the leader of the House of the Swan Wing, one of the twelve houses of Gondolin, and won the hearts of the Gondolindrim. During the sack of the city Tuor defended his wife and son from Orcs and Maeglin, whom he slew. With the remnant of the people of Gondolin he escaped the sacking of the city by a secret way contrived by Idril, encountering a Balrog in the mountain heights; saved but by the valour of Glorfindel, chief of the House of the Golden Flower.
At last they reached Nan-tathren and the Mouths of Sirion. Tuor eventually felt a longing for the Sea, and built the ship Eärramë (Sea-wing). The Mouths of Sirion were now held by Eärendil and Elwing, but Tuor sailed to the West with Idril, and it was a tradition under the Eldar and Edain that they arrived in Valinor, bypassing the Ban of the Valar, and that Tuor alone of Men was counted as Elven kindred, still living there now. In a letter Tolkien indicated that Tuor's "conversion" was allowed by Eru Ilúvatar as a unique exception, just like Lúthien's assumption of a mortal fate.
Names and titles
Concept and creation
In the original Fall of Gondolin Tuor is said to have carried an axe, called Dramborleg "Thudder-Sharp", that "smote both a heavy dint as of a club and cleft as a sword". The Axe of Tuor is referred to in later writings as preserved in Númenor as an heirloom of the Kings, though the name must have been rejected as unfitting later language conceptions.
In early versions of the story Tuor was supposed to have travelled all the way from Dor-lómin along the shores of the Sea to the Mouths of Sirion. There he met Voronwë (or "Bronweg"), and in Nan-tathren Ulmo appeared to them. The journey to Gondolin was thus up the River Sirion.
In some texts Tolkien spells his name Tûr, but finally decided on Tuor.
Descent of Tuor Eladar
|Half-elven family tree|
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1977), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Silmarillion, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Ch. 23, "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin", ISBN 0-395-25730-1
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1984), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Book of Lost Tales, 2, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "The Fall of Gondolin", ISBN 0-395-36614-3
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien, ed., Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin", ISBN 0-395-29917-9
- Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. (1981), The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, #153, ISBN 0-395-31555-7
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1994), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The War of the Jewels, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "The new genealogies of the Edain", ISBN 0-395-71041-3
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien, ed., Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "A Description of Númenor", note 2, ISBN 0-395-29917-9
- "Tuor". Tolkien Gateway.