Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Last Ringbearer

The Last Ringbearer is based on the premise that The Lord of the Rings was a history written by the victors, to make them look noble and justified in their actions. It is written as a revisionist history of the events following the War of the Ring.

It's a very different picture. Mordor had been a peaceful civilization, developing technology and on the verge of an industrial revolution. Barad-Dur was a thriving city of poets, writers, and intellectuals. Then the traditionalist forces of the west, spearheaded by Gandalf, pushed Gondor and Mordor into war. It's very well done - the author has an excellent knowledge of Tolkien's world, and the War of the Ring, but paints an entirely new picture.

The main characters are Haladdin, a human Field Medic in the Mordorian army; Tzerlag, an Orcish scout, and Tangorn, a Gondorian noble. They are given a mission to try to stop the Elves from dominating middle-earth, so that humans, orcs, and trolls can live peacefully together and progress towards a technological civilization.

As a novel, it's a bit clunky in places; parts of it are somewhat anachronistic, even given the premise that it a modernistic, revisionist take on the Lord of the Rings. Parts are a bit difficult to follow - when the various secret services are battling it out in Umbar, I found it somewhat difficult to work out who was on which side. But, as a huge Tolkien fan since my early teens, I found it a fascinating take on the story, and I'll find it hard to think about Tolkien's world in the same way again.

The original is in Russian, by Kirill Eskov. It has been translated into English, and is downloadable here: It's a fan translation - the author apparently has no intention to publish an official english translation, due to the litigious nature of the Tolkien estate. It's a sad indictment of modern copyright law that a work like this can't be published - LOTR has become a part of our culture's shared imagination, and these laws prevent us building freely on these shared ideas.


Krin said...

My first thought was "this would make an interesting game setting/premise". Thanks for sharing.

Danzilla said...

I was thinking the same thing as I was reading it - it would be an interesting way to run a MERP campaign.