Art by awesome Jon Hodgson
A while back I wrote about this new book i found: The Elven Blade by Russian author Nick Perumov.
What makes it special is that it is an unofficial sequel to LotR, written in Soviet before the Iron Curtain fell.
The book takes place in the 4th Age, 300 years after the War of the Ring. Middle Earth is different. The Elves have sailed to Valinor. The Wizards are gone. Arnor have been re-settled and are now known as The Twin Kingdoms – an alliance between Arnor and Gondor. Most of the orcs and goblins have been hunted down and eradicated from the earth. Peace have prospered for several hundred years, and everyone has become complacent. And the Hobbits are the most complacent of all.
Our protagonist is Folco Brandybuck, a late relative of Meriadoc Brandybuck of LotR fame. Like Frodo, he’s tired of being a farm boy, and dreams of the adventures of old. In a secret chest, he has Merry’s old Gondor sword and a copy of the Red Book of West Mark.
One day, a Blue Mountains dwarf named Thorin comes to the village, in search of the famed Red Book that is rumored to be among the Hobbits. He’s looking for historic clues, as Moria has been overrun by something dark and evil from the deep, and the Moria dwarves have been driven out. Again. Thorin is looking to get some information of what the threat might be and is trying to gather a party to go investigate the new Moria threat.
Of course, Folco becomes Thorin’s follower and together they embark on an epic journey, where they find that the Darkness indeed is stirring, not only in Moria…
I can’t speak of the Russian original, but at first I was a bit annoyed by what I felt was teen-ish language. However, after a while it settled down, and became a quite nice read. Physically, the book is about 550 pages, and it became my pool reading buddy the first week of my holiday in Crete. Now, my son and wife are battling who’s gonna be the next one to read it 🙂
I think the author does Middle Earth justice, and in my opinion it’s a worthy saga for Middle Earth. I especially liked that it is more adventure focused than LotR. No poems, songs or any such things. In fact, it would work quite well as a fantasy RPG adventure. It’s also much darker in style than LotR. The characters aren’t pure good or evil. Rather, they are all shades of gray, and the gloomy Russian literary tradition shines through here and there. Apparently, there has been some controverse in the Tolkien fandom over Perumov’s deviation from Tolkien’s good vs. evil story, towards a morally more dubious world. Personally, I don’t see the problem, but if you expect a Tolkien clone maybe you will be disappointed.
The book is the first in a trilogy called “The Ring of Darkness” (Mörkrets Ring in Swedish). Part two, “The Black Lance” recently came out and is a beast of 700 pages. The third part isn’t available is Swedish yet, but I’m surely going to read them, and I heartily recommend them for anyone interested in fantasy and Middle Earth.
Sadly, the books are only available in Russian, Swedish, Polish and some other Eastern European languages at the moment. Hopefully, they will be translated into English.
An added bonus is that I’ve gotten back the urge to play some traditional high fantasy again. In fact, I’ve started designing a home-brew world for that!