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The Last Ringbearer

Translated from the Russian, this book first relates the events of LoTR as seen from the other side (Mordorians, orcs, Haradrim, etc.) and then segues into What Happens After (conspiracy, espionage, secret missions, etc.)

It's probably a good idea to read the author's essay on Salon.com before tackling this book. He's a Russian palaeontologist and wrote it because he was puzzling over some geological oddities of Middle Earth -- e.g., single continent but no mid-continent mountain range, and also what's on the rest of the map south and east of Morder that you never see?? (There's also another good article on salon.com that preceded the author's piece.)

The first part, where LoTR is recapped from the Mordorians' perspective, was interesting and rather creative (who knew it was all a plot by the elves to take over Middle Earth??), but then it turns into a military/spy thriller dealing with the quest to destroy Galadriel's mirror and send the elves back where they came from. At that point I got bored with it, since spy thrillers aren't a genre I like. f you like Tolkien, military-oriented fantasy, and John Le Carre & Co., you'll probably enjoy it. Since I only like the first of those three things, I didn't get much out of it and in fact didn't finish it.

Some people have suggested it's fanfic, but I'm not sure it qualifies as that since it's actually been published and won a couple of awards in Russia. The translation was done as a labor of love by ymarkov in his spare time, just because they thought it was interesting, so no professional editing, which it would have benefited from -- for example, the tense shifts all over the place, which drove me crazy. Presumably it isn't this way in the award-winning original Russian.

Worth reading, particularly if you write fantasy as well as read it, is another essay that the author mentions in his piece on salon.com, by another Russian fantasy author and critic. It's called "Must Fantasy Be Stupid?" and is an exploration of why so many fantasy authors seem to think their readers are idiots, or are willing to pretend to be idiots. His scathing attack on authors who create special one-off rules solely for the purpose of being able to do something they need/want to do in their story, like making lava flow uphill, is pretty funny ("well, in general lava always flows under the incline, but in this place of the Earth there is a geomagnetic anomaly, connected with sunken Atlantis, because of which..."). I couldn't find an English version, but the article in the original Russian is here and you can use babelfish to get a comprehensible, though exceedingly rough, translation into English.


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Jul. 7th, 2011 06:53 pm (UTC)
That sounds rather interesting. I shall have to give it a try.
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