Long Live Mordor

Let’s take the viewpoint that LoTR is a rose tinted piece of propaganda for a romatic view of pre industrial Britain that ignores the inequities and squalor of real life. That’s what Kiril Yeskov did with his book, The Last Ringbearer, reviewed by Laura Miller on salon.com:

In Yeskov’s retelling, the wizard Gandalf is a war-monger intent on crushing the scientific and technological initiative of Mordor and its southern allies because science “destroys the harmony of the world and dries up the souls of men!” He’s in cahoots with the elves, who aim to become “masters of the world,” and turn Middle-earth into a “bad copy” of their magical homeland across the sea. Barad-dur, also known as the Dark Tower and Sauron’s citadel, is, by contrast, described as “that amazing city of alchemists and poets, mechanics and astronomers, philosophers and physicians, the heart of the only civilization in Middle-earth to bet on rational knowledge and bravely pitch its barely adolescent technology against ancient magic.”

The protagonist of “The Last Ringbearer” is a field medic from Umbar (a southern land), who is ably assisted by an Orocuen — that is, orc — scout, who is not a demonic creature like the orcs in “The Lord of the Rings,” but an ordinary man. They’re given the task of destroying a mirror in the elf stronghold of Lorien before the elves can further use it to infect Middle-earth with their alien magic. Meanwhile, the remnants of Mordor’s civilization fight a rear-guard guerrilla campaign to sustain the “green shoots of reason and progress,” in opposition to the “static” and “tidy” pseudo-paradise of Middle-earth under the elven regime.

The translator Markov has a less literary and more interesting explanation, just as likely to appeal to gamers, methinks:

More than 15 years ago Russian scientist Kirill Yeskov tried to settle certain geographical problems in Tolkien’s fantasy world. One thing led to another, and he tackled a bigger project – what if we assumed that it’s no less real than our world? His conclusion was that in such a case, the story of the Ring of Power is most likely a much-altered heroic retelling of a major war – but what was that war really about?

It’s free online and I am downloading it to the Kindle now..
Russian version here.

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