Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's masterpiece can re-experience the epic journey from a new point of view -- but they're going to have to brush up on their Russian. An alternative version of the Middle-earth tale was published in 1999 and while several attempts to translate it to English were attempted, they were abandoned out of fear of the Tolkien estate. However, a roughly translated version of the story was published via Livejournal for our reading pleasure.
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The Last Ringbearer is a Russian fantasy novel that provides an alternative take on the events described in the original book. In it, author Kirill Eskov reimagines Tolkien's work as history written by the victors and focuses on depicting a version of Mordor that is on the brink of an industrial revolution before being plagued by Gandalf's interventions.
In The Last Ringbearer, the Orcs are non-violent -- in fact, they are intelligent, driven and invested in developing their community's independent power. The Ring is seen as an arbitrary ornament designed to distract Gandalf and the Elves while Mordor builds its army, instead of an all-powerful tool for domination. The line between good and evil is blurred as the Elves, threatened by the competition, prevent Mordor's growth through the use of violence. It is only through their deliberate cleansing of historical narratives that they come to be remembered as heroes.
Using themes such as genocide, ethnic cleansing and the deliberate erasure of history, The Last Ringbearer adds another layer of complexity to Tolkien's original work. While The Lord of the Rings represented Gandalf's mission as an important journey being obstructed by the evils of Mordor, Eskov's work transforms the narrative into that of a story of war and oppression.
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