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The Good, The Bad, and the Orc-ly

01 May

OK. I apologize for the above title. Really. It was the best I could come up with at the time. I needed to get your attention so you’d check out middle_earth_according_to_mordor-460x307this post. I mean, this is important. We’ve all been mislead.

It seems that Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” was nothing but Western propaganda. Did you know that Gandalf was actually a bad guy out to destroy technology and science? And that the elves were out to rule the world? Further, Mordor was a progressive center of science and rationality, the very essence of enlightenment as compared to the pie-in-the-sky West. That is evidently the premise of a book newly available in English. “The Last Ringbearer,” by Kirill Yeskof, was originally published in Russia back in 1999, but an English translation has just become available (via a FREE download, no less!). It tells the story of the War of the Ring through the eyes of Mordor.

I haven’t read it yet, but Laura Miller over at Salon.com has and I’m linking to her review here so you can check it out. Viewing things from the bad side’s perspective isn’t exactly groundbreaking stuff, though it has become even more prevalent these days in books and in television. What strikes me about this book is that it seems to want not only to make the bad guys sympathetic, but to present the good guys as the ones who are evil. Is this taking things a step further?

I don’t know yet, but I’d be interested in  hearing your opinions on this. Whatever your view, it looks like a fascinating read.

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4 Comments

Posted by on May 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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4 responses to “The Good, The Bad, and the Orc-ly

  1. Chris

    May 2, 2014 at 3:28 am

    Sorry, I can’t do it. I understand the rejection of technology, and it is a theme represented in the trilogy, but it is a rejection in the sense of technology in the progression of evil and certainly as a representation of a dehumanizing or depersonalizing progression. The series does not at all examine technology as a positive. Weapons and advancements do not exist as a positive, and only the ancient advances exist as positive. Look, as a modern person, even though I have no wish to further the ideals of feudalism nor of sexism, we need to examine these themes under the Tolkien lens. When was the series written? Look, fanfic is fun, it has its place, and so does the source material. We can read all we want into it, but truly, yes, we’d all go to Middle Earth in a heartbeat. We read the beauty of the story, but look, aren’t we jaded? We know what we know, and we can use it to our advantage in Middle Earth. (you’ve thought of it in Middle Earth or Oz, whatever, an AK could be a serious gamechanger.).

    Sorry folks, too long. Technology sucks in the hands of evil, but kicks butt in the hands of good.

     
  2. Rob

    May 2, 2014 at 5:32 am

    You’re absolutely right, Chris. I don’t believe Tolkien viewed technology as a positive at all. But I think he saw its main problem as being a certain moral annulment that its use brought about. Humans fall under technology’s spell far too easily, and there’s the danger.

    BTW, another of my favorite authors, Harry Turtledove, used modern weaponry (maybe even an AK) to great effect in one one of his alt-history novels of the Civil War. Just wish I could remember the name of the book!

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It’s greatly appreciated!

     
  3. jubilare

    May 7, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    My first reaction, in all honesty, is to chuckle. I’ve no objection to someone exploring such an idea, and there’s more than one way to view themes in a mythos. This sort of thing is the purpose of fan-fiction and parody.

    I think there are a few things that bear remembering, though, especially for those of us who love Tolkien’s world of Hobbits.

    1. Tolkien was writing a myth or legend, woven from strands of more ancient stories, myths and traditions. He actually said as much. Therefore, anyone taking his story as wholly literal or even as intended to represent realism, is rather missing the point.

    2. Yeah, Tolkien was pretty anti-industrialist, but he was never anti-education or knowledge, as evidenced many times in the story.

    3. If Yeskof was moved by, or cared enough about, Tolkien’s work to write a spin-off, that actually speaks well of the original work. If I ever get published, and no one cares enough, one way or another, about my work and the worldview expressed therin, I will know for certain that I have failed to create anything good.

    4. Middle Earth can take all kinds of criticisms and explorations. It’s been hammered every-which-way from its very first moment in the public eye, and it is still going strong. I fancy it will still be going strong in a hundred years, maybe more. 🙂 I’m probably more offended by the sloppy, money-grubbing defilement of The Hobbit movies than I am about the idea of Yeskof’s book.

    The exploration of bad as good and good as bad is something I am rather torn about. In myths, which is what I consider Tolkien to have written, when one attacks the question of what is good or evil, one is not attacking characters, but philosophies and beliefs. That is a much more violent thing to do than questioning the actual morality of characters who represent actual people. I haven’t read Yeskof’s book, so I have no idea what he is intending. I know, though, that what I will call “story-flippers” have all kinds of motivations.

    Now that is a long post. But hey, Tolkien is involved. I can’t be expected to be brief.
    😉

     
    • Rob

      May 7, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      I agree. I don’t think the author was attacking Tolkien so much as he was trying to portray what we consider good as being evil in today’s world. A clash of worldviews. Of course, I haven’t read his book either, but based on the review I linked to that seems to be the case.

      And why should you be brief about something you’re passionate about?

       

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