During the Battle of the Somme in 1916, author J.R.R. Tolkien was wounded. He spent his convalescence writing a book set in the Middle-Earth we'd come to know so well.
This book, The Fall of Gondolin, remained unpublished. We all know that Tolkien went on to write The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Fall of Gondolin manuscript was later edited by Tolkien's son Christopher, and this August, HarperCollins is finally releasing the The Fall of Gondolin, complete with lavish illustrations and high expectations.
I'll read it, of course, because it's a chance to return to Middle-Earth one last time. Despite the opportunity to farm out the LOTR universe and literally roll in the piles of cash dumped daily upon them, the Tolkien estate has kept the literary border of Middle-Earth closed tight. Honestly I don't blame them.
Imagine, if you will, a timeline in which the Tolkien estate allowed other writers to work in Middle-Earth, or that the setting had passed into the public domain. I'm sure some good books would have emerged, but I'm equally sure we'd see titles such as Love-Slave to Gollum, Book 34 and Legolas in LA: Hot Elf In the City.
Who knows what well-established authors might have chosen to add their own entries to the stories of Middle-Earth?
What if Raymond Chandler, for instance, tried his hand?
The Return of the King's Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
It was morning, mid Winterfilth, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain, called ulo by the Elves of Quenya, in the clearness of the Misty Mountains. I was wearing my mithril mail-suit, my Elven leaf brooch, and my Elven cloak, which is by turn green in sunlight or grey in twilight or dusk-silver in the night. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I gave no care to whom might know it. I was everything a son of Gondor should aspire to be. I was calling on Thorin Oakenshield.
As I Lay Dying In Mordor by William Faulkner
Darl, Son of Deowin Ironfist
Jewel, called the North Star in the tongue of the Sindarin, and I come up from the field, following the Hobbit-path in single file. Although I am five ranga ahead of him, anyone watching us from the Shire can see Jewel's frayed and broken Dwarf helm a full head above my own.
The path runs straight as a plumb-line of Gondor, worn smooth by hairy Halfling feet and baked brick-hard by the Afterlithe sun, between the green rows of laid-by pipe-weed, to the inn in the center of the field, where it turns and circles the inn at four soft right angles and goes on across the field again, worn so by sturdy Hobbit feet in fading precision.
Fear and Loathing in Mirkwood by Hunter S. Thompson
We were somewhere around the Barrow-downs when Bombadil's 'special' lembas began to take hold.
Battlefield Isengard by L. Ron Hubbard
“Man,” said Terl, “is an endangered species.” Terl paused long enough to complete the script for the worst movie of the 20th century. "You'll be sued for even bringing this up." Insert 300 pages of relentless gibberish here.
A Clockwork Palantir by Anthony Burgess
There was me, that is Alex, son of Borothyn, of the House of Eldar, and my three Orcs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, Dim being half goblin and not a bright goblin, and we sat in the Prancing Pony at Bree making up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening, a flip dark Ringwraith chill in the air though not with ulo as the Elves call rain.
So maybe it's for the best Middle-Earth has remained under the control of the Tolkien estate.
Speaking of books -- I could use a small favor. I lost nearly all of my Amazon reviews after Samhain Publishing went out of business. The re-issues of the Markhat books are back out there, but lacking reviews. If you read Hold the Dark, for instance, and you liked it, please consider taking a moment and leaving a review on Amazon. Mama Hog will thank you personally, and also dispel any haints, willer-wisps, celler-goblins, or night spooks that might be plaguing your household.
See you next week!