Someone must’ve raided Smaug’s hoard (or sold their soul) because a new JRR Tolkien story is set to hit bookstore shelves in October. Because this always ends well, I’m going to withhold my opinion on the post-humous publication of writer’s work and just embrace my bubbling excitement that we will get to see a story that supposedly lead Tolkien to Middle Earth so many years ago.
Brought up in the homestead of the dark magician Untamo, who killed his father, kidnapped his mother, and who tries three times to kill him when still a boy, Kullervo is alone save for the love of his twin sister, Wanona, and guarded by the magical powers of the black dog, Musti. When Kullervo is sold into slavery he swears revenge on the magician, but he will learn that even at the point of vengeance there is no escape from the cruellest of fates.
There are also a few more salient details to keep in mind. Tolkien wrote the story in 1914 while still in school. It was inspired by the Finnish epic poem Kalevala, and the English author William Morris. In Tolkien and The Great War, biographer John Garth addressed Tolkien’s inspiration from the poem, saying, “He was ‘immensely attracted by something in the air’ of this verse epic of dueling Northern wizards and lovestruck youths, beer-drinkers and shape-changers’, then recently published in English in a popular edition.”
Another tidbit from the Amazon background on the story includes this intriguing fact that allows the story was one of the first things to lead Tolkien into Middle Earth, given the statement that Kullervo is clearly an ancestor of The Silmarillion‘s Túrin Turambar. Interestingly, this is not actually the first time this manuscript has been published—it was also included in Verlyn Flieger’s Tolkien Studies: Volume 7 in 2010. However, this is the first time that it will be released individually and with author commentary.
Regardless of how you feel about posthumous publication, it will be pretty exciting to see a new road through Tolkien’s imagination. Do you think the Finns have Orcs in their mythology? Tell me in the comments below!