The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun – J.R.R. Tolkien
More than 35 years after his death J.R.R. Tolkien’s son and his publisher’s have unearthed a previously unknown work by the undisputed master and creator of modern fantasy. The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun predates The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and is the re-telling, in verse form, of two old epic Norse legends. Fans of Tolkien will of course know of his interest in Norse mythology and the influence these stories had on his later writing. It’s safe to assume that The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun played a very large part in directly shaping the world of Middle Earth.
The new book is composed of two separate legends. The first, The Lay of the Völsungs is the tragic story of the great hero Sigurd, the slayer of Fáfnir most celebrated of dragons, who entered into blood-brotherhood with the powerful Niflungs but was later betrayed and murdered following the dark interventions of an enchantress. The second, The Lay of Gudrun, details the revenge of Sigurd’s sister Gudrun for the murder of her brother. Already, astute Tolkienites will have recognised the similarity to another recently released Tolkien story, The Children of Hurin, which was one of the earliest stories written for the Silmarillion and a seminal story for other tragedies played out in Middle Earth.
This is not a book for the faint hearted or occasional fantasy reader. The verse applies as strictly as possible in English to the rhythms and alliteration of the ancient Norse poetry from which these stories originate. And, if the Children of Hurin is anything to go by, this will not be a happy story. If, like me however, you are fascinated by Tolkien’s writing or share a love of traditional story-telling, this is an absolute must have book. For the ultra-enthusiast there is a special 500 copy limited edition available only from the publisher’s website at www.tolkien.co.uk.