Middle-earth according to MordorA newly translated Russian novel retells Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" from the perspective of the bad guys
As bad lots go, you can't get much worse than the hordes of Mordor from J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings." Led by an utterly evil disembodied entity who manifests himself as a gigantic, flaming, pitiless eye, and composed of loathsome orcs (or goblins), trolls and foreigners, Mordor's armies are ultimately defeated and wiped out by the virtuous and noble elves, dwarfs, ents and human beings -- aka the "free peoples" -- of Middle-earth. No one sheds a tear over Mordor's downfall, although the hobbit Sam Gamgee does spare a moment to wonder if a dead enemy soldier is truly evil or has simply been misguided or coerced into serving the dark lord Sauron.
Well, there's two sides to every story, or to quote a less banal maxim, history is written by the winners. That's the philosophy behind "The Last Ringbearer," a novel set during and after the end of the War of the Ring (the climactic battle at the end of "The Lord of the Rings") and told from the point of view of the losers. The novel was written by Kirill Yeskov, a Russian paleontologist, and published to acclaim in his homeland in 1999. Translations of the book have also appeared in other European nations, but fear of the vigilant and litigious Tolkien estate has heretofore prevented its publication in English.
That changed late last year when one Yisroel Markov posted his English translation of "The Last Ringbearer" as a free download. Less polished translations of brief passages from the book had been posted earlier on other sites, but Markov's is the "official" version, produced with the cooperation and approval of Yeskov himself. Although the new translation's status as a potential infringement of the Tolkien copyright remains ambiguous, it may be less vulnerable to legal action since no one is seeking to profit from it. Read the rest on Salon.com.