Early, Unfinished J.R.R. Tolkien Story Headed To Bookshelves

Kullervo centers on a tragic character -- an orphan protected by his magical dog Musti.

While A Song of Ice and Fire fans twiddle their thumbs, waiting for George R.R. Martin to buckle down and write, J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate will release a fantasy story to whet their appetites for geekery.

Called The Story of Kullervo, it’s one of the author’s first works of prose. Although he never completed it, it’s full of ancillary materials, and includes a character who’s closely related to the Lord of the Rings universe. 

The presentation of the book is refreshing relative to certain works by classic writers released earlier this year. The estate doesn’t pretend that the story is polished or complete, but rather offers it up as new material for fans of Tolkien’s central works to chew on. 

Kullervo centers on a tragic character -- an orphan protected by his magical dog Musti, and his twin sister Wanona. A dark magician tries to kill him and sell him into slavery, and a revenge plot ensues.

Tolkien began writing the story when he was in college, inspired after reading the "Kalevala," a Finnish epic poem. According to io9, the author was drawn to the poem’s “dueling Northern wizards and lovestruck youths, beer-drinkers and shape-changers.”

Though the story is imperfect and incomplete, Tolkien himself wrote that the tale set him off on a journey of world-building and fantasy-writing. Fans can follow along the author’s first steps into the world that would become Middle Earth next April.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said the release date for Kullervo was this October. While the international editions will be available this year, the US edition will release in April, 2016. 

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