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September 6, 2013
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Aerin by TurnerMohan Aerin by TurnerMohan
Aerin, daughter of Indor, close kin of Hurin Thalion, and wife of Brodda the Easterling.

I wanted to do another tolkien female, as Beruthiel and Tar-Miriel were both so well received, and Aerin stood out to me when reading 'the Children of Hurin.' one of Turin's kinswomen, taken by Brodda to be his wife, and in truth no less a slave and captive than the rest of her people under easterling rule.

Here we have the moment were Turin, having slaughtered Brodda and his men, rounds up the surviving slaves of the household to make their escape from Dor-Lomin. Aerin, given the offer to come with them, chooses to stay behind, and burns Brodda's hall to the ground, choosing death rather than "freedom" in the frozen wilderness with little food, less hope, and a long, sorry past behind her.

The ruin of the once proud House of Hador serves as the backdrop for the tragedy of Turin Trurambar, and the meeting of these two remnants of Hador's people, long since broken and brought low, was for my money one of the most powerful moments in COH (a book heavy on powerful moments) and the image of it really stayed with me. I don't think my effort here quite does it justice.

I wanted Aerin, despite the reality of her position as essentially a captive and many-year rape victim, to be dressed like a queen in the easterling manner; all decked out in heavy furs and gold finery. i had debated how 'sexy' to make her attire (of all the scenes tolkien ever wrote, one could argue that the scene in Brodda's hall is his most Frank Frazetta-esq set piece, with the tall, grim, white hero hacking into a throng of writhing barbarians, and a blonde, barely-cald sexpot on the side in some pose of terror) and had played around with the idea of having her forced to walk around the hall and serve drink to her husband's retainers in some scant, princess jasmine type bikini (lending a further element of shame to this un-looked-for confrontation with her long lost but rightful lord and kinsman) but in the end i decided to go for something more reserved, and matronly; i figure after more than twenty years she is (despite herself) pretty legitimately brodda's wife, and would accordingly be allowed some dignity in her dress. besides, it gets damn cold in dor-lomin in wintertime. she's aged and battered by this point but must have been quite the beauty when she was younger, being chosen by the local top dog out of all the women of Hador's people (of whom, it is often remarked, many were real lookers) I imagine the easterling chief would have chosen a special white wolf pelt for her, matching her pale skin and hair.

Turin is (as every single person I've shown this drawing to has pointed out) a rather close self portrait. it was not done intentionaly, but I must say of all tolkien's characters there's something about turin I really identify with (though i doubt i could kill someone with a small stone from a riverbed, more's the pity)

Part of my weekly tolkien sketchblog (sorry for the long hiatus guys, I'll be posting more regularly again)
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Libra1010 Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2014
 I've finally gotten around to reading 'The Children of Hurin' and I must say that while it's rather beautifully-written I STILL like 'Beren and Luthien' better (partly because I've always been fonder of plain Heroes than of any Anti-Hero I have ever read, partly because it makes 'A Song of Ice and Fire' look downright CHIPPER by comparison).

 Reading it - along with perusing your excellent gallery once again - did cause me to realise that you seem to have illustrated almost all of Tolkien's First Age heroes of Humankind in some form (well done!), except for Tuor son of Huor; might I ask if you have any opinions on how that character ought to be depicted? (the somewhat unfair thought "rather like Turin, son of Hurin but with the hubris replaced by humility" did occur to me but that's hardly a strong visual concept!).
TurnerMohan Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2014  Professional General Artist
tuor's not my favorite character, mainly because he's harder to get a handle on as a real person with a real personality than turin or beren (turin leads the pack in that arena, as we get to see his whole life front to back, and tolkien's descriptions of his emotional and physical nature, both as a child and an adult, is some of his best actual character-centered wirting) but also because, unlike with beren and luthien, in whose story the implications of mortal and immortal pairing is given it's full due, everything's just so damn easy for tuor; he falls in love with idril, they marry, have a son, turgon's totally fine with it, they survive the fall of gondolin, move to the havens, and end up sailing to valinor where tuor is granted immortal life, wait a minute WHAT THE HELL??? how come idril gets to return to valinor? how come tuor, without a drop of elven blood in him, gets to basically switch species? It never made any sense to me. That and, well, Tuor's just sort of this bland guy. Beren has this sort of scruffy, underdog appeal to him (i always saw him as quite a bit smaller and less impressive than the two hadorian cousins, but with plenty of heart; his major accomplishment seems to have been knocking a celegrom off his horse and scoring the most beautiful wife in the world, luthien and huan having done pretty much everything else) and turin is this seemingly god-ordained (or morgoth-ordained perhaps) natural born hero like achilles in troy, seemingly incapable of missing or faltering in battle (that bit with the stone in the riverbed always stood out to me) but a tragic hero with a tragic destiny, and kind of a perpetually exposed nerve emotionally, ranking up there with Sandor Clegane and Bruce Wayne for "biggest, toughest emo kid of all time," but tuor just seems like this sort of sunny,optimistic blonde guy. sure he's bold and all, but beren is "underdog bold" and turin is "tragic, predestined bold" so they interest me more.

I guess it's kind of like superman and batman; if you like superman better, you'll probably prefer tuor, if you're a batman fan you'll go for turin.
Libra1010 Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014
 In all honesty I like both Batman and Superman, but Big Blue is unquestionably my favourite since he seems much more friendly! (although I will maintain that he isn't the Messiah, he's the Good Samaritan - as recognised by the most excellent Mr Kurt Busiek, when he named his own ASTRO CITY superman 'Samaritan'). 

Concerning Tuor, to be fair he did not enjoy the same degree of development as Turin and is arguably less central to the tale in which he features most ('Children of Hurin' really is Turin's tale, while 'Beren and Luthien' is as much of a double-header as the title would indicate but 'The Fall of Gondolin' is really more the tale of a city's fate than that of a single hero); I will note, however, that his life is hardly absent hardship and tragedy - he loses his father before he is even born, his mother abandoned him to the care of a foster family, he was driven out of his homelands as a youth and captured as he tried to make his escape, with the result that he was raised a SLAVE in part (rather than a King's Foster-Son), managed to escape only because he was friendly with the hound-pack that pursued him (one wonders if this was a friendship deliberately cultivated on his part?), was obliged to fend for himself with not a single soul to help him before making a long journey to an uncertain welcome through a terrifying harsh winter with only one guide and the words of Ulmo to deliver to an uncertain reception amongst their intended audience.

 Quite frankly Turin has very little on Tuor when it comes to hardship in his early life; HE was raised in safe Doriath, for all that some of it's residents disdained him and raised as a prince to boot - Tuor was in the power of his people's blood-enemies, even before he was made their slave!

 Admittedly after he reaches Gondolin he does get something of a lucky break; Turgon seems to have drawn wisdom from the lessons of Thingol Greycloak (to be fair Beren and Luthien do make an excellent precedent by which an Elven-King might justify the wedding of his heiress to a mortal man) and Tuor does rise high indeed in the King's Favour (but that's no more than Hurin and Huor did or Turin in Nargothrond), but he also wins Maeglin as an enemy for life and … well, look what comes of it.

 The first home Tuor has ever known is destroyed; his friends are slain, his child comes within a knife's edge of death and his wife of rape, the closest thing he has known to a father dies in the ruin of the King's Tower, the refugees he leads are saved only the sacrifice of one of Gondolin's greatest heroes (Ecthelion, Glorfindel et al are the heroes of the Fall of Gondolin, not Tuor who saves only his wife and son, even if he did lead those saved by others to temporary safety) - basically things go to Hell, in part BECAUSE of Tuor.

 Then he sails to Valinor and his plea for Elves and Men is REFUSED (I'd also like to note that Tuor was abandoned by his last human connection - his mother - then raised by elves, taught by elves, wed to an elf, lives as an elf … quite frankly the Power's decision looks less like a gift and more like a recognition of the blatantly obvious*).

 Looked at from his perspective Tuor's life looks less like a triumph than a series of tragedies borne with fortitude and humility; HE doesn't know that he has the power of PLOT on his side, but does his best not to blame others for his own tragedies (Turin doesn't QUITE fall so low as that either, but he does seem to flirt with it - almost as if he knows he's being written as a Tragic Anti-Hero and cannot help but live the cliche!).

 Perhaps I wax on a little too thick in defence of Tuor, but from what little I know of him I rather like him; he can't do anything to prevent the great tragedies of his life, but he does what he can to ameliorate the small ones that follow from them anyway (the fact that I can easily imagine him being played by Mr Chris Hemsworth DOES help, since it adds more definition to my mental image of the character).

*One thought that has occurred to me is that it might be interesting to depict Salgant, Chief of the House of the Harp, as a MAN not an Elf (he's only mentioned as a 'Gnome' in the original Fall of Gondolin for the record); for one thing it gives him a better reason to side with Maeglin, for another making the House of the Harp Gondolin's human contingent fits the symbolism (courtesy of Finrod Felagund), it helps give context to Tuor's ready acceptance into Gondolin society (remember Hurin and Huor; Turgon is more than willing to accept Men into his service, unlike Thingol), but also show just how far apart he has grown from those that should technically be his own kind (apart by reason of his upbringing, if not necessarily alienated) and add a certain complexity to Maeglin - he doesn't despise Tuor just because he's human, but because he has stolen a share of Turgon's affections AND taken the Lady Idril to wife, leaving Maeglin that much more alone in the world (that's how Maeglin would see it, at least - I think he's as interested in being recognised as Turgon's son as he is in winning the love of Idril and more than he ever was in a Crown).

 I hope you don't mind my nattering, Master Mohan!
Libra1010 Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014
 I'd just like to say that into this image you've managed to pack an entire Shakespearean Tragedy into a single facial expression and body language. Put simply that expression makes quite an impression (and the very posture of Turin hints at the forthcoming sequel to that tragedy, writ in the 'Houseless Wilds' upon the remnant of Dor-Lomin).

 I have taken the liberty of including a link to the work of another artist, who seems to approached the Easterlings of the First Age from a similar perspective (he has some fine Feanorians in his gallery to boot!):…
TurnerMohan Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Professional General Artist
there's a lot i could say about the poses and the feelings involved in the scene as i see it (this one had me crying) but I think it might be smarter just to take the compliment and say thank you :)

I will add though that this piece started in my mind as a single frame of the entire sequence of turin returned to dorlomin - beginning with his coming up over the mountains and visiting the gutted, roofless remains of his childhood house alone at night, and ending with aerin's suicide - that I've wanted for years to do in a graphic novel/storyboard format, but i usually find myself lacking both the skill and the stamina for anything but the most primitive sequential art.
Libra1010 Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014
 I shall do my best to read that part of 'The Children of Hurin' with particular attention when I get to it; perhaps I'll be able to express my ideas with sufficient eloquence to make some interesting reading for both of us!
Artigas Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014
Amazing piece! I love the work in the maille here! I like the fadding effect in the drawing, that unfinished treatment is somewhat laconic as if you said: I already shown what is important, the rest don't matters. I love it. The design is superb, as always and also your hand is specially great in here, it glows with personality. there is something like Barry Windsor Smith going on here and that particulary is really great !
TurnerMohan Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thank you, and I'm especially glad you think the choice to end it where I did worked, as that decision troubled me for a long time (originally I'd wanted to do the whole page, with the pillars of the halls and some of the hadorian thralls in the background and all) knowing when to stop can really affect how a piece comes out, plus, as I'm sure you know, everything's a lot more unforgiving in pen.

glad you like it bro!
Artigas Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2014
You always choose the right moment to say: done. This "unfinished" quality of your work just add to its greatness. Specially with pen. You can't tame it, you have to cooperate with the media.You just do it very well!
Sirielle Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014   Digital Artist
The best of your women portrayal for me. I'm glad you decided to have her well clothed, I don't imagine Brodda would expose his both possession and wife to others, humiliate the way you wondered about. Though I admit I don't remember that scene. That could have been done to any other pretty captive, but wife, even forced wife has to have higher status - in the end role of a wife is to bear heirs, so such captive has to be treated better than any other slave. Aerin looks noble and sad, well done. And I love all the details in both figures, the stylization of Easterling influenced clothes, jewelry, fantastic job!
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