I read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy between Christmas and New Year’s Day, 1966, when I was a senior in high school.  My best friend Malcolm gave me the books for Christmas.  When the “black riders” first appeared, I was utterly transported to a different world.  (The only other novel that did that for me was Shogun.)  I had a term paper due as soon as Christmas Break (as it was then called) ended, but I was so enthralled, I couldn’t even consider researching and writing the paper. The only solution was to read almost nonstop when I was at home.  I then ran out and bought The Hobbit, to boot.

Now, a Russian author has cleverly re-envisioned the tale, telling the story from Sauron’s side.  From a blog report:

Eskov treats the Tolkien version of Middle Earth history as pious myth and propaganda. The real conflict, in his version, was between the anti-technological Gandalf using barbarous and brigandish men as his cats’ paws against the rational and scientific civilization of Mordor.

Mordor, as you see, is much more favorably portrayed:

Barad-Dur rose six centuries ago, that amazing city of alchemists and poets, mechanics and astronomers, philosophers and physicians, the heart of the only civilization in Middle Earth to bet on rational knowledge and bravely pitch its barely adolescent technology against ancient magic. The shining tower of the Barad-Dur citadel rose over the plains of Mordor almost as high as Orodruin like a monument to Man – free Man who had politely but firmly declined the guardianship of the Dwellers on High and started living by his own reason. It was a challenge to the bone-headed aggressive West, which was still picking lice in its log ‘castles’ to the monotonous chanting of scalds extolling the wonders of never-existing Númenor. It was a challenge to the East, buckling under the load of its own wisdom, where Ying and Yang have long ago consumed each other, producing only the refined static beauty of the Thirteen Stones Garden. And it was a challenge to a certain someone else, for the ironic intellectuals of the Mordor Academy, unbeknownst to them, have come right up to the line beyond which the growth of their power promised to become both irreversible and uncontrollable.

In other words, it was religion versus rationality!  What fun.  Richard Dawkins must be so proud...

HT: The Corner

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