Monday, April 30, 2018

Tolkien's Take on a Finnish Myth

The Story of KullervoThe Story of Kullervo by J.R.R. Tolkien
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A take on a Finnish myth by J.R.R. Tolkien similar to his Silmarillion, only much shorter, narrower in vision, and a good deal more unfinished.

Since my father's side comes from Finland, my ears perk up whenever Finnish things get mentioned. It happens that infrequently. Sort of like how when I grew up in the country and only a handful of cars would drive by our house everyday, so I'd prairie dog it every dang time. Anywho, back to the review...

This edition, edited by Verlyn Flieger, goes the extra length to recoup and curate the essence of Tolkien's attempt at The Story of Kullervo. There is a helpful introduction that sets up the story nicely for the uninitiated. There are reprints of Tolkien's handwritten notes. Following the actually story, which is about 40 pages long, are nearly a hundred pages worth of plot synopses notes and essays regarding Finnish myth. There is more written about the story than the story itself. That's due diligence.

The story is fairly brutal in the good, ol' fashioned sense of the word. Like many old fairy tales, people die often and often in horrible ways. However, in keeping with tradition, Tolkien alludes to the horror rather than give you every bit of the gory details. Sometimes the alluded to scene is so fleeting you have to stop, go back, and reread. On two or three occasions I had a "wait, what?" moment.

The story is not "one for the ages", but it does have that classic and epic mythological feel to it. For story enjoyment, this gets 3 stars from me. But from a production value standpoint, I've bumped the book up a star.

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