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Stephen W. Potts

JRR Tolkien’s Unfinished First Novel, Kullervo, Lays Seeds for Middle Earth

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Even legends have to get their start somewhere. Long before The Lord of the Rings became a worldwide phenomenon, JRR Tolkien started his fantasy career with a dark retelling of a Finnish poem called, “The Story of Kullervo.” This unfinished story, written in 1915 when Tolkien was only 23 years old, was published for the first time internationally on October 13. The Story of Kullervo (Harper Collins, August 27) is significantly darker than Tolkien’s later work. It focuses on the “Hapless” Kullervo, an orphan with unexplained powers. He grows up in the home of an evil magician who killed his father, kidnaps his mother, and tries to kill Kullervo three separate times. When he’s eventually sold into slavery, Kullervo vows revenge. But…

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