Even dead, he’s more productive

JRR Tolkien is releasing a new book, The Fall of Gondolin, which sounds right up my alley.

In the latest sad episode of the saga of George R. R. Martin’s next book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter, never being published, legendary deceased author J.R.R. Tolkien has reportedly finished another book before Martin could complete Winds of Winter. Not only is the legendary Lord of the Rings author publishing a new book before Martin, but he’s publishing them at a faster rate in general. Tolkein’s new book, The Fall of Gondolin, which will be published in 2018, follows 2017’s Beren and Lúthien, meaning despite being dead since 1973, Tolkien is somehow able to release books at a rate of one per year, while Martin hasn’t released a new ASOIAF book since 2011’s A Dance With Dragons.

The Fall of Gondolin is billed as the first “real” story of Middle Earth, and tells of the fall of the titular city to dark forces. Edited by Tolkein’s 93-year-old son, Christopher Tolkien, the book was reportedly written while J.R.R. Tolkien was convalescing after the Battle of the Somme. The Guardian, which broke the story, provides a summary of the story:

The book, said publisher HarperCollins, sets the “uttermost evil” of Morgoth against the sea-god Ulmo. Morgoth is trying to discover and destroy the hidden city of Gondolin, while Ulmo is supporting the Noldor, the kindred of the elves who live in the city.

The story follows one of the Noldor, Tuor, who sets out to find Gondolin; during his journey, he experiences what the publisher described as “one of the most arresting moments in the history of Middle-earth”: when Ulmo, the sea-god, rises out of the ocean during a storm.

When Tuor arrives in Gondolin, he becomes a great man and the father of Eärendel, an important character in Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. But Morgoth attacks, with Balrogs, dragons and orcs, and as the city falls, Tuor, his wife Idril and the child Eärendel escape, “looking back from a cleft in the mountains as they flee southward, at the blazing wreckage of their city”.

It might seem shocking that a deceased author could publish two books in his popular fantasy series in just two years, while Martin has taken over 7 years to provide fans with the penultimate chapter of his series and seems unlikely do so before HBO finishes Game of Thrones, the television adaptation that had to chart its own course after lapping Martin. However, it’s worth noting that, being dead, Tolkien needn’t be distracted by things like LiveJournal or WildCards books, so he has a distinct advantage.

Look for The Fall of Gondolin sometime this year. Don’t bother looking for The Winds of Winter. It’s never coming out.

They may well be right. I strongly suspect that George RR Martin simply can’t write at the same level as his previous books in the series anymore, and he knows it. Being a gamma, he’d rather not even try than take the risk of trying, failing, and destroying his literary legacy.

That’s my current theory, anyhow. And it’s totally not based on any concerns about the rest of A Sea of Skulls living up to the first two-thirds….