unfinished business

An Unfinished J.R.R. Tolkien Tale, The Story of Kullervo, Is on Its Way [Updated]

“Kullervo.” Photo: Amazon/Amazon

The estate of J.R.R. Tolkien, late author of the timeless Lord of the Rings saga, is set to release one of the scribe’s unfinished and largely unknown works of prose, according to reports. Titled The Story of Kullervo, the tale is one of Tolkien’s earliest efforts at original world building, one that ultimately paved the way for The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and the Rings. “It remains a major matter in the legends of the First Age (which I hope to publish as The Silmarillion),” Tolkien long ago wrote of his story, according to the blog io9.

Here’s what that story’s about, according to Amazon:

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 cruelest of fates.

Tolkien — and especially Rings — fans will recognize the reference to the First Age and The Silmarillion, and possibly Kullervo. The latter was published a few years ago in Tolkien Studies: Volume 7, as part of an annual scholarly review. This is the first time it will be bound for mass consumption. As the Daily Dot points out, Kullervo is the ancestor of Túrin Turambar from The Silmarillion, meaning Kullervo’s story technically fits into the Rings canon.

Tolkien, often hailed as a doyen of fantasy literature, reportedly started writing Kullervo while he was studying at Oxford (circa 1914), and he based it off the Finnish epic poem “Kalevala.” The story will be bundled in a package that includes Tolkien’s original draft as well as nonfiction about the source material. HarperCollins is publishing the U.K. edition on October 27, while Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is handling the U.S. release next April.

Correction: This story originally stated that HaperCollins is publishing the U.S. edition this October. In actuality, HarperCollins is publishing the overseas edition this fall. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is publishing the U.S. edition next spring.

Unfinished Tolkien Story Is on Its Way