There Once Was A Man From Kirkjuvágr

“…Whose flerhghrn was so long he could sklargk it!”

More info about Tolkien’s “new” book of harsh, frigid, Nordic verse, “The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún,” if you follow this link:

In the notes that accompany the manuscript Tolkien basically says, “I was looking for a way to practice being more long-winded and-my-axeand boring in an effort to stifle the flow of my narratives, so I tossed off some Norse poetry (obeying all the standard harsh and bitter guidelines) on these pages. It should be regarded as cat box liner or perhaps tissues to clense the anus.”

OK, that’s a little harsh, but he does state that the “NEW FABULOUS PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN TOLKIEN WORK!!!LOLONE” was merely an exercise in a new (boring) medium for him. I’ve gone on record (especially on the HE Podcast) as saying Peter Jackson SAVED “Lord of The Rings” from Tolkien’s own inane rambling. He turned those stories into something a human person could actually digest in one life time. The mass of material he cut out, while of vital importance to some, did nothing for me but strangle the story. When I finally read LOTR: TFotR AFTER seeing the films, I was struck dumb at the level of unnecessary and distracting detail the “Hobbitpedia” went into.  Not that I would want to, but rest assured I know how best to cultivate Pipe Weed, what type of soil to use, when to plant, when to harvest, how much to put in a dime bag, etc etc.

My point is, just because it has the “Tolkien” stamp of approval, doesn’t mean it’s fit for release or mass consumption. Tolkien himself probably never intended for the public to read it. It reminds me of 9th grade when I was obsessed with Foo Fighters. This was pre-internet so I was tracking down every B-Side, import and rarity on CD in record stores, at record conventions and in catalogs. A year or so and a few hundred dollars later I had every song they had ever released (and many they hadn’t). Lots of the Japanese B-Sides and rare live recordings were actually pretty crappy. I was just being a completest. There was a reason these songs didn’t make it to the albums. So if this is Tolkiens B-Side, I hope the Hobbit-hungry public treats it as such.


A Reddit commenter finished the limerick:


Posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .


  1. Man I tried so hard to like those books. I knew people that spoke elvish in MIDDLE school, which makes me feel like a total smartness pussy.

  2. Dude, you just lost a ton of nerd cred. I mean, yeah, I agree that some of LOTR (like the council of Elrond) is hard to wade through, but without the immense detail that Tolkien provided Jackson wouldn't have been able to make such a fantastic trilogy. In my mind, all Jackson did is filter something awesome down into bite-size (okay, maybe king-size) chunks that the masses could consume. The general public as a whole does not have the follow-through or focus to read and enjoy something as richly detailed as LOTR.

      • Awful? One of the most highly-regarded fantasy epics of all time? What then, Josh, would you deem as a good book?

              • Good god, I know this is 8 weeks ago, but I just recently read Dracula for the first time, and I had to chime in. This is so absolutely frakking true. The worst part? Dracula, the book that made vampires famous, the book that made DRACULA famous, has about 20/200 pages that have Dracula, the titular character, "on screen". Dracula was the best character in the book, and he has about 10 lines, and 8 of those are in the beginning when he's hiding his true character.

                The only thing that made the book readable was the constant hope that it would get better, that I would finally understand why this book of all books took the world by storm. I finished it and I still don't understand.

                • Dear sweet Ea, the beginning of the Two Towers dragged on. And on. And on. That's the bit I appreciated about the film. I didn't need to see an hour of "we're running and it sucks there's a rock in my foot and I'm hungry and cold and we're running and it sucks the way to Mordor sure is long I'm hungry we're running and it sucks".

                  It's funny that bit got stuck in my head. It was the fourth horror of the Fire Swamp.

          • Tried to read it. I Read most of it, but couldn't finish it. It was SO boring, I seem to remember he spent an ungodly amount of time talking about the food he ate while he traveled.

        • I'm sort of between you and Josh on this one. The books are incredibly interesting, but I can't stand Tolkein's writing style. The books are all history and plot, with pretty poor character development and pacing.

          • "Oh, great, another 30 page 'song' about places and people that have no bearing on the story…"

    • I'd have to side with Josh on this one. The books themselves are awful simply because Tolkien was not a writer.

      As a linguist and creator he is, without question, one of the greatest minds that's ever graced this planet. Therefore, as a technical manual describing every fibre of Middle Earth the books are superb, allowing true storytellers (such as Jackson) to produce their masterful works.

      At least J.K. Rowling grew into the role as writer, Tolkien never did…

  3. It's so true, I read the books in highschool and really enjoyed them, but the Council of Elrond alone took me a month to get through. And does anyone know anyone who's made it through the entire Silmarillion? It's like trying to read a bible, but with elves.

    • I have a friend who made it through the Silmarillion, but even he recommended _NOT_ reading it. I tried to listen to it on tape once while driving. I had to turn it off for fear of falling asleep at the wheel.

    • This may be 8 weeks late…
      I've read everything LOTR/middle earth related, including the silmarillion (and I really liked it). SilMil isn't a good read for everyone, though.
      JRRT may not have been a writer by profession, but he is one of my favorite authors. I could just like him because I'm the type of person who loves details, but for me the books are pure magic.

  4. I don't know I thought the movies were a bit long winded as well. Also my girlfriend owns the silmarillion, is a huge LOTR geek, and a voracious reader but said it was like reading an encyclopedia.

  5. I slogged my way through the books. I felt I had to as a librarian. I ten watched the movies. I almost cried because it was just too much Tolkien in too short of a time. My brain hurt after being stuffed with all that detail.

      • Yeah, when I read FotR, and they got to the chapter where the Hobbits and Tom were chillin' at his crib, singin', dancin', and getting high, I thought "Wait, hold up! Aren't you guys on abig important quest to save the world from unltimate doom? Why are you smoking wacky weed instead of getting the One Ring to Elrond? Get off your 4-ft. asses and move it! Double time!"

        • Aww, take it easy on ol' Tom. He could blast yer arse from the memory of history if he could but find the motivation.

  6. I actually made it through the Silmarillion back in high school. It's an interesting read, but it's ridiculously dry. I've tried to reread it a few times (in fact, I started trying again a few days ago), but I haven't made it through again. It's basically a history textbook for Middle-Earth and it reads like one, not like a novel.

  7. Well, Josh thinks the books suck. That's just his opinion. It is no more or less valid then anyone else who has an opinion. The books were popular before the movie, and I imagine will stay popular. I'm not a big fan of Elvis, if I were to say Elvis sucks, that's just my opinion. It does not change the fact that he is hugely popular and charismatic. Same thing with Tolkien, you might think the book sucks, it does not change the fact that LOTR's has sold 150 million books and the Hobbit 100 Million books…. Different people like different things…

  8. It has been a little while since I read it.
    If you dig into the book expecting something like the movies you might be disappointed. The major hurdle will probably be the narrative style Bram Stoker chose (Mary Shelly's Frankenstein will probably be more accessible to most people than Bram Stoker's Dracula.). The narrative takes place in the form of letters, diary entries, journal entries, newspaper clippings, etc. which makes the story less immediate than a first person narrative would have been.

  9. the Hobbit was actually much better written than FOTR, TTT, and RoTK

    I finished FOTR, and made it about 3/4 the way though TTT – I stopped because that was where the movie ended and I didn't want to spoil RoTK

    It was readable but Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchet, Tolkien was not. What kept me reading was the sheer epicness, that I couldn't not find out what happened… I cared little for the characters.

    I haven't picked the books back up for the reason that the movies followed the books so closely that you didn't miss anything by not reading them, and you saved yourself a few weeks to read something else.

    Peter Jackson should be sainted for managing to prove that you can make a movie that is faithful to the book, without sacraficing anything important.

    Lets hope he Directs World War Z

    • Oh god yes. World War Z is my favorite book though I think it would do much better as a mini-series then it would a full movie. Far to many stories to tell for a movie.

  10. Check out "The Hunt for Gollum". It's a LOTR fanvid of amazing quality that was released last weekend.

    Personally, I love the books more, but if I want to re-immerse myself in LOTR I'd probably rewatch the videos. Jackson won my admiration in the last 20 minutes of ROTK where he showed me that he recognized how central Samwise is. Sam is Tolkien's proxy.

  11. You know, after you jumped on the Obama train I almost quit reading on this site, not because of who I supported, but because I thought you had lost a lot of integrity peddling your ideas on the masses, but I stayed on enjoyed some, but now, now this is just distasteful, I mean what is it with you man? It's The Lord of the Rings, it's an all time classic that has inspired so many, and gave so many more a complete book, full of rich characters and lands. It bothers me that you would rip through this because it was long winded, sorry there aren't any spark notes for you, and I realize this generations need for quick and simple, but if you don't like something because of your youtube attention span, don't try to fault the author, just hop back on the internet and plug back in to digg or whatever trendy sites you regurgitate all of your info from. This is just downright disrespectful to one of the greatest literary minds of all time.

    • You're not going to get a lot of sympathy from me or the other readers by taking that kind of tone. Normally I would address your concerns about my "controversial Tolkien opinions", but you were disrespectful. You are in "my house" and this kind of comment is not appreciated.

      One thing I will address, regarding Obama, is that it is my duty as an American and a minor (extremely minor) person of influence to "peddle my ideas to the masses." Thats the whole point of what Im doing. If I helped even one voter make a decision based on the information I presented (notice I didnt say "Vote for Obama," I said "make a decision") then Ive done what I set out to do.

      All Im giving you is opinions. What do you expect? Why would I be impartial? Every HE comic you have ever enjoyed was a fruit of my opinions.

      I suggest you learn to be OK with the fact that you arent going to agree with everything I say. You arent me, therefor we dont think exactly alike.

      The next time you want to insult my attention span or my intelligence, feel free to email me ( and we can handle your issues one on one.

    • stow the tude dude…
      most of the people here who critiszed tolkiens work READ most of it…therefore the proplem wasn't their attention span, the problemwas that tolkiens writing style is lacking in that he didn't provide stable flow and character development. Tolkien's work is no match for authors such as Douglas Adams, hell I enjoyed Steven Hawkin's A brief history of time a hell of a lot more than the LOTR series.

      these are the people who even though they didn't find his work as enjoyable as others, still managed to plow through it to find nuggets of delight and interesting information.

      watching 12 1/2 hours of film is also not equvilant to a 10 minute or less youtube clip.

      the only movies I personally like better than the book, are the LOTR movies.

      Your short attention span comments don't hold water with us, but maybe you should look in the mirror my friend because a decent attention span in reading the above comments would have saved you looking a fool from accusing everyone who had read the work, of not reading the work due to their short attention span.

        • Most of us follow the "be respectful when you disagree" rule, so I have to support Luke's response. I don't want to speak for the Fancy Bastards as an entire group, but I think basic kindergarten ethics should be applied here – if you want to try to embarrass someone publicly, then you should apologize publicly as well.

          • Hindsight's a mutha. Dude was all hot over LOtR and your comic wasn't even based on that, just on JRR's son basically looking for SOMETHING, ANYTHING of his father's to chop up, reassemble and publish as "new material". Making a surfboard out of his old man's laurels.

            That said, I'm a LOtR geek myself. Alright, I didn't learn Sindarin. You got me there. But really, considering not just the story itself (which is amazing), or the setting it bore, or it's purpose … think of the impact it had on all things fantasy. Without LOtR, you've got no D&D. Warhammer Fantasy probably wouldn't have existed. On and on.

  12. When I saw the title ending with "Kirkjuvágr," I was pretty sure you were doing another Trek comic. 'Cause it has "Kirk" in it.

    Wouldn't Josh be reading the Tolkien on his Kindle? I'm pretty sure he doesn't bother with boooohaaakghhs any more.

    I agree with you completely on Tolkien. You want a good _story_? Read Narnia. Or watch the LOTR movies. You want a world created in such excruciating detail that the _story_ gets annihilated? (Try to) read the books.

  13. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to see other people agreeing with you on the intense snooze-fest that is Tolkien's work (with the exception of The Hobbit). For years, I've felt not liking the LOTR books was one of the things that outed me as a geek poseur — I'm so relieved to hear I'm not alone!

  14. Tolkien's a hell of a drug.

    I'm a Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett fan to the extreme, having met both authors in book signings and getting my copy of Good Omens signed by both authors. I guess the difference between Tolkien's son publishing old stuff his dad wrote, and Osamu Tezuka's old manga volumes being translated into English 20 years after his death, is that Osamu Tezuka had every intention of making his work a globally accessible scope of art, and Tolkien probably didn't want to publish this stuff.

    That said both Osamu Tezuka and Tolkien have been deceased, and I don't have the same personal connection to those dead dudes (at least in the "I've met that guy" sense) because I will never be able to meet either Tezuka or Tolkien. I was lucky enough to meet two of my living heroes, and Terry Pratchett is so strong despite his "embuggerance" which he has to deal with, Neil Gaiman is healthy and happy right now, but he'll get old just like Pratchett and everyone else.

    So I'm aware of Tolkien's influence but sadly I'm not "feeling" it so much anymore now that guys like Gaiman, Tezuka and Pratchett and Douglas Adams made their genres move on.

  15. I'd read the hobbit back in grade school and I spent a lot of time in high school and college looking for the LOTR books. I live in here in the Philippines this was a few years before the films came out, so I really had a hell of a time finding them. When I finally found them, and read through them, I was impressed with the scale of the books, and the heroism, and the battles, but I found the rest kindof boring. It doesn't really take a whole chapter to describe a forest, or a field. I'm exaggerating, I know, but thats what it felt like.But in the end, after spending years looking for the damn things, they were worth it. i still think the films were a big improvement over the books though. Books should be entertaining, not read ike textbooks.

  16. I was nine when I read Lord of the Rings, and I utterly devoured all three books. I did give up on the Silmarillion after just a few pages though – it was vaguely interesting in an academic way, but unbelievably dry.

    I don't want to knock the films, they were amazing in their own way, but it was a doomed effort from the very start to try to cram such a vastly epic tale into a cinematic medium. I'm not even going to defend Tolkien's writing, it's flawed in places, but the genius is in the story itself.

    This is just my own opinion of course, and I'm intrigued to see that yours is so different, despite the fact I'd agree with the majority of the viewpoints you espouse here!

  17. I tend to be a bit of a stickler for my own rule that I have to read the book before I see the movie, particularly if it's an "important" book/movie. LotR, Watchmen, and Hitchhiker's Guide are prime examples.

    Because of that, I still have not seen Return of the King. I'll give you a minute to let that sink in.

    I read Fellowship and Two Towers, and had much the same reaction many others here seem to have had – it was a great story, with very vivid description, but sometimes the description got in the way of the story. Originally I thought it was just because I went right from one book to the next, but I have now read the first 50 or so pages of Return on five separate occasions over the past eight years. Eventually I will make my way through it, but more out of a sense of duty than enjoyment.

    I think Tolkien had a great literary mind (my first exposure to Tolkien was his analysis of Beowulf) and he was brilliant when it came to language…hell, he INVENTED a few…but I also think he recognized what his strengths were, and carefully chose what was published and what was not. Some of the things that came most naturally to him were not as appealing to most people, although to quote Abraham Lincoln, "People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like."

  18. Man.

    Just, wow.

    I hate to say it, folks, but literacy might not be your thing. High language well spoken seems to bore you. I get that. It's kind of sad to see an anti-intellectual congregation patting itself on the back, though.

    My dad read us Tolkien when I was a kid. I've read it tens of times. I've read it out loud to my wife. I know that the pacing is not Dan Brown — in fact, I really appreciate it.

    The movies are painful to me — not because I think they're bad, or childish, or that Jackson did us a disservice — but because they fail the books so tremendously. There's no way it could have happened otherwise, really. I have re-watched them recently, and can barely even handle the extended versions. So much time to say so little. I can be through Fellowship and Towers in the same 10-11 hours.

    I'm not a fanboi — I know no Elvish or Dwarvish, I don't memorize sections of the books, I don't play RPGs or hang out with fans. I just love the language and characters, and come back to visit when I miss them.

    I tried reading Silmarillion as a kid as well. Gave up. Came back as a late teen — and realized that it was compelling and gem-like. Challenging, of course, but immensely rewarding. The story of Beren and Luthien … marvelous.

    You're not a bad person if you don't have the chops for them. It's OK. Don't celebrate the fact as a badge of pride, though — makes you look silly.

    • "Just, wow.

      I hate to say it, folks, but literacy might not be your thing. High language well spoken seems to bore you. I get that. It's kind of sad to see an anti-intellectual congregation patting itself on the back, though."

      "You're not a bad person if you don't have the chops for them. It's OK. Don't celebrate the fact as a badge of pride, though — makes you look silly."

      Be respectful or do not comment. If you want to insult me, feel free to do it via email, but don't make yourself look like a jerk in front of the rest of the community. This kind of behavior isn't tolerated here and one more like this will get you banned.

    • Dude, it's got nothing do with not "having the chops for them". I have plenty of chops to go round – Arthur C. Clarke and Frank Herbert can be quite challenging at times, but the difference is Clarke and Herbert are capable of delivering their complex and layered messages with creative flair enough to keep you hanging on.

      Simply put, they are authors, Tolkien never was and that is the simple truth. I'm happy that you had no problems reading his work but you are in the minority.

  19. Ah. Sorry. I thought this might be the sort of place where scathing critique wouldn't raise eyebrows. Please consider paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 8 retracted and apologies all around.

  20. I thought the books were INCREDIBLE, and no disrespect Joel, you rock, but if you read the books and watch the "making of" documentaries of each movie you'll see just how much the level of detail that Tolkien put in the books was translated into the movies by Jackson and company. The only difference is that while in the book you had to read through 20 pages describing Minas Tirith, in the movie you simply SAW Minas Tirith, but it was so faithfully reproduced BASED on what Tolkien wrote, that I don't think the movies would've been so rich had the book not been so excessively detailed.

    • What is this crap? Someone who loves Tolkien's work, and can intelligently express their reasoning while respecting other people's views? I'm sorry, Mr. Caliche, but we simply can't have this type of thing on the internet. Refer to the previous poster to see the proper way to express your opinions.

      OK, seriously, good point. I never looked at it from the other direction before – that the very thing that makes the books so painful to read also makes the movies equally brilliant.

  21. I have to step in and add another factoid; Tolkien's absolute dedication to complete and utter mastery of (admitedly excessive at times) detail is exactly what gave birth to such a specifically constructed Fantasy universe; if he had been more relaxed with his methods it would have been much more dificult for others (authors, game designers, etc.) to draw inspiration from his work and begin to craft their own worlds by using the incredibly fine-tuned mold that is Middle Earth. As a writer myself, I have to say that it is settings that are well defined both in breadth and depth that really catch my attention and pull me into the story; the greatest settings are remembered because of how they are different and unique in comparison to others, there are thousands of Fantasy settings, but JRR's has always been remembered for a reason.

    On the other hand, DAMN ARE THOSE BOOKS LONG!! I freaking grew up reading Don Quijote de La Mancha and Cien Anos de Soledad, and I still almost gave up on ROTK.

  22. Big fan of the books here, I think they're an order of magnitude better than anything else in the genre. They weren't written for the ADD generation, that's for sure.

  23. tolkien is not,I repeat,not J.K.Rowling.He is not dan brown.He is not (great eru!!!) an (alleged ) writer whose initials are S.M(no points for guessing).

    Tolkien never tried to write an easily digestible,fun to read,happy fantasy.LotR isn’t what you can call a nice book.It passes off on wild tangents;It’s filled with mind-numbing and boring details.Yet we must remember that jrrt never saw his works as mere novels;for him they were experiments in creating records for new worlds with mythology and literature as rich and gloriously detailed as ours.

    Besides,lotr is meant to be read as a translation of frodo’s writings.If tolkien used medieval records as a model for this,I think he succeeded(i believe that’s the understatement of the century).

  24. I hate the movies. They are beautiful, the costumes are incredible, the acting was great…. but they bastardized the books. Ad not just through edition… I fully understand that not everything could be included…. but the changes to the story itself (having Gandalf and Strider change sides in the argument about going in to Moria, or the scene they added with the warg-riders where Aragorn falls into the river, are the first 2 that spring to mind) are unforgivable.

  25. Read LoTR in 3 days. Took me 8 years to read the book of the film of Star Wars 'cos the first page was so boring I kept giving up.
    Tolkien wrote in different styles in each of his works. LoTR is a great piece of writing craftsmanship and a relatively mediocre work of storytelling as it meanders to much from the main thrust of the story to keep it's readers wrapped up. Did miss Tom Bombadil in the films though.

Leave a Reply