J.R.R. Tolkien's new book: We know the plot (that we made up)!

Lordoftherings_lWhen the news came down yesterday that a heretofore unpublished book by J.R.R. Tolkien will be hitting bookstores in May, I was a little surprised that I, an avowed Tolkien dilettante, felt a genuine twinge of excitement. Although I have never read Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, Idid love me Peter Jackson’s LOTR moving pictures something fierce, and I’m quite twitterpated to see what directorGuillermo Del Toro and exec producer Jackson have cooking for The Hobbit. Maybe this new Tolkien story — which the good professor reportedly wrote before spinning his tales of furry-footed Hobbits and ring-seeking dark lords – would prove just as richly filled with fodder for a sweeping fantasy epic that wins oodles of Oscars.

But then I learned the new book’s title: The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun. Ooo. And that it’s written in verse. Eeep. And it’s a retelling of old Norse epics. Yikes. Sounds more like The Legend of the Strenuously Humdrum to me.

Of course, I should know better than to judge a book by its title. (I learned that lesson long ago when I  started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer only after it had moved to UPN.) So in the spirit of fair-play-that-is-in-no-way-fair-whatsoever, after the jump I’ve completely concocted a plot summary of The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun based solely on its title. To wit:

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"In the faraway land of Noårdski, a curly-haired, furry-toed land-tiller named Sigurd is returning one fair eve to his mound-hut when he trips over a mysterious gourd half-buried in the muck-mud. ‘O ho,’ exclaims Sigurd as he puffs on his pipe-stick, ‘what in the name of Blæbleblurski is this?’ No sooner does Sigurd tear the gourd up from the muck-mud, however, than the entire land of Noårdski is plunged into the Black-Darkness. Sigurd’s hands — the strongest in the valley-plains — have unwittingly cracked the gourd and awakened soul-spirit of the fiendish overlord of the troll-ogre clan, Gudrun. Long dormant these 1,000 years after the pixie-sprite-imps of Eldørski unleashed all their magic-making and bound him to the Great Gourd, Gudrun is now free to relaunch his campaign to reclaim dominion over Noårdski and all who inhabit it. Sigurd must take the Great Gourd back across the Æfelflürdski Sea and the frigid dust-desert of Fjrvbrski so the last remaining pixie-sprite-imp can repair it. Can Sigurd get there before the second moon-star of Pvœski reaches its apex, with Gudrun and his army of troll-ogres hot on his trail? What is Sigurd to make of the sudden aide of the seemingly wise mage-wizard Ganrdelfski? Will our hero ever see his mound-hut again? And will all these quasi-Nordic names be able to fit into this tale’s metered verse?"

So, PopWatchers, think you can do better? Or would you rather rake me over the coals for my heartless desecration of Tolkien’s good name? Lo, the comments await you below!

Comments (27 total) Add your comment
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  • Anonymous

    Did this person seriously just say they never read Tolkien… Just the biggest “pop” books of the last century… Sigh.

  • Thor

    LOTR is already borrows from Norse legends to a large degree. Even many of his dwarf names are taken right from the Prose Edda.

  • Stella

    hahaaa…… Æfelflürdski
    {below} some people don’t have the time. or patience.

  • lol

    has anyone here read the HArvard LAmpoon’s ‘Bored of The Rings”—–hysterical, with actual brand names in place of characters’ name. For instance, Gandalf was GoodGulf, Pippin was Pepsi, Frodo was Frito, and Aragorn was ArrowShirt…..a riot…..

  • Anonymous

    Oh, I understand. They are long works, but it seems that it should be something that people pay their dues with if they want to talk about pop culture, considering the impact it has on literature and everything around it.
    It’s like talking about movies and never seeing Godfather or Star Wars.

  • Anonymous

    Why not do a new series telling us about your experience reading the book and what you think as you go through it. Since you are coming from the perspective of loving the films, you might have some interesting insights on both the books and the choices made in the movies.

  • Court

    This has been going around for three or four weeks, actually. And you obviously haven’t read any Norse epics, or you would know that they are decidedly NOT humdrum, as well as the fact that Tolkien used many elements from them in his already published works.

  • lizkdc

    What makes it funnier is that “Gudrun” is a girl’s name. Really.

  • izikavazo

    I know that this is beside the point but I loved the Silmarillion. I found it way more entertaining that the trilogy or The Hobbit.

  • Sam

    Old Norse epics are actually really exciting and action packed. Tolkien, as an Old English and Old Norse scholar, pays homage to them in extremely creative ways (I like to imagine what Tolkien would have thought about the horrid Beowulf movie screwing up the amazing epic). Old English and Old Norse epics are extremely important pieces in the development of literature. Please don’t knock such important works right off the bat, even if they aren’t your preferred entertainment.

  • Tim Lade

    How can be a “dilettante” as you claim to be which is defined as an admirer or lover of Tolkien and then claim to have not read the books. Can’t be both Adam.

  • Joe

    Uhhh don’t you have to read the books in order to consider yourself a Tolkein ‘dilettante’?

  • Justin

    Jeez, I can’t believe I’m defending a guy who brags about his ignorance, but:
    dil*et*tante – noun – a person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge
    So he’s saying he’s really into Tolkien (i.e., the movies), but without the commitment to reading the books, or knowledge of Tolkien’s work. Pretty cut and dried — he clearly CAN say he’s a dilettante. Ironically, the people who’ve been arguing he can’t say he’s a dilettante appear to be dilettantes themselves.

  • Ariella

    Love the over-hyphenation. Really set the right tone!

  • Nix

    I’m starting to smell “Bob Marley Licensing” shenanigans from the Tolkien Estate. Sure, “The Children of Hurin” was a major work of his life, but the fact is, there’s a reason none of the Silmarillion tales got published before the Hobbit and LOTR—he loved them so much he couldn’t let them go, so they never were “finished” and never the kind of thing he really expected anyone else to read. I’m glad for the summary that is the published “Silmarillion”, but the endless excavations of Tolkien’s minutest jottings is starting to look less like dutiful scholarship and more like–well, when is Tupac’s latest album coming out? Dead geniuses, man. You can’t escape them.

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