Follow TV Tropes


Fanfic / The Last Ringbearer

Go To
A The Lord of the Rings fanfic by Kirill Yeskov, offering an examination of the War of the Ring from Mordor's point of view, based on the assumption that Tolkien's account was propaganda written by Gondor.

The story describes Mordor as a small, but prosperous and peaceful constitutional monarchy, a land of Free Men that celebrate the institutions of art and science, and which is now on the verge of ushering in an industrial revolution. But the feudal and warlike Gondor and the conservative Elven Kingdoms, whose rule over their lands is enforced by their mastery of the ancient art of magic, see Mordor's rapid sociological and technological advancement as a threat to their respective bases of power, and decides that something must be done to put the upstart kingdom back in its place.

Originally written in Russian and published in Russia in 1999, it has been translated and sold in many languages, although the Tolkien estate has prevented the work from being commercially released in English. As such, the English translation can be downloaded for free here.

This work provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Éowyn, ostensibly. In practice she doesn't get to do much actual fighting. Most notably, her duel with the Witch-king of Angmar is omitted entirely, and referenced only as a punch line.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Mordor and Umbar are depicted as peaceful trading democracies that just want to be left alone, but that the elves and wizards target for destruction for ideological reasons.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: In addition to his other Adaptational Villainy, Aragorn is deliberately taking advantage of Eowyn's feelings for him and stringing her on despite having no intention of marrying her; canon Aragorn, in contrast, let her down as gently as he could.
  • Adaptational Job Change: Several characters who weren't kings in the original LotR become them in Last Ringbearer, including Saruman, Denethor and Cirdan.
  • Adaptational Species Change: Of a sort. The Army of the Dead are turned from ghosts into zombies.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In this version of the story, Gandalf is a genocidal fanatic, Aragorn a loutish usurper, and the Elves in general are racist would-be conquerors.
  • Adaptational Wimp: In LotR, Sauron is a demigod Sorcerous Overlord who has existed for millennia and is arguably the single most powerful being on the entire Middle-earth supercontinent in the late Third Age. In Last Ringbearer, he's a human king who doesn't even come across as all that strong a ruler in his own country, and is killed off early on without much ceremony.
  • Adaptation Deviation:
    • In the original novel, Galadriel's Mirror is a basin she has to fill with water and breathe on to recreate every time she uses it. Here, it's a large crystal mirror connected to the palantiri.
    • Eriador and the North in general seem to be much more populated in Yeskov's Middle-earth than Tolkien's, with Amon Sul being a living town important enough for the White Council to meet there rather than a ruined watchtower, and a few references to Angmar that seem to indicate it still exists in the present rather than having fallen centuries ago.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: In Last Ringbearer, Umbar has places in the city named for Castamir. Castamir in Tolkien's canon was The Usurper to the throne of Gondor who was overthrown after a civil war; his sons fled to Umbar, then a Gondorian province, and took it over, and their descendants controlled it as an independent nation at war with Gondor proper for the next several centuries. In Last Ringbearer, Umbar and Gondor's shared Numenorean heritage, and Umbar's time under Gondorian control, is removed, so we're given no idea why anything in the city would be named for a Gondorian king.
  • Adaptation Name Change: The Witch-king of Angmar becomes the Commander of the South.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: The palantiri and the Mirror of Galadriel are depicted as related objects in Last Ringbearer. In the original canon, there is no indication they're connected.
  • Adaptation Species Change: Orcs, trolls and hobbits all become simply human ethnicities. Elves, however, remain nonhuman, and the status of dwarves isn't clear.
  • Adapted Out: A number of characters, objects and concepts from the origin story - including everyone in the Fellowship other than Gandalf, Aragorn, and Boromir, the entire hobbit race (the Shire gets a cursory mention, but is presented as simply a backwater inhabited by humans), and the concept of Numenor - are either dropped without fanfare or written off as in-universe legends. Downplayed with the One Ring itself, which does exist as a legendary object, but doesn't actually have powers and is not connected with Mordor (except insofar as it's used as part of a Mordorian disinformation campaign) .
  • All Trolls Are Different/Our Orcs Are Different: The Orocuen and Trolls are described as different ethnicities of humans, rather than different races.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Subverted with the orcs (or "Orocuen") and trolls, who are slandered as such by their enemies but are actually perfectly ordinary human ethnicities. Played straight with the elves, who are more Always Lawful Evil but are nonetheless arrogant, backstabbing bastards to a one.
  • The Atoner: Tangorn, even though all he did wrong was write a report that was misused by others. Eventually gets Redemption Equals Death, but never knows he'd been redeemed. It's that kind of story.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Gandalf and Galadriel are the main antagonists of the story, working to destroy Mordor and put their puppet Aragorn on the throne of Gondor.
  • Black and Nerdy: Halladin. Sort of; his people's appearance does not fully correlate to any modern Earth race.
  • City of Spies: Umbar is a city that thrives on political intrigue and is full of spies from every faction.
  • Darkest Africa: The depiction of Harad is seemingly modeled on the most racist, colonialist, and otherwise prejudiced portrayals of Africa Yeskov could find.
  • Decadent Court: Lothlorien is depicted this way, full of scheming elven nobility who are constantly trying to one-up each other.
  • Decomposite Character: Mithrandir appears to be a Gondorian knight and a completely separate person from Gandalf.
  • Demonization: Of Elves, Valar, and magic in general.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Sauron, here depicted as merely the latest in a dynasty of perfectly human kings, dies early on at the Battle of the Morannon and is rarely mentioned afterwards.
    • Elrond appears only briefly in a flashback of Aragorn's and is hardly ever mentioned.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation:
    • It's heavily implied that someone - possibly Gandalf - assassinated Denethor to bring Aragorn to power, instead of him dying by suicide.
    • Sauron is killed at the Battle of the Morannon, an event he wasn't even present for in the original story.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Applied somewhat inconsistently; Sauron becomes simply an ordinary human king (albeit the last of a dynasty of identically-named kings) and Mordor a normal, if advanced, nation, the Witch-King becomes a mundane general, the One Ring itself is a legend that has no actual power (but becomes the object of a disinformation campaign) and the existence of Eru, the Valar, and Morgoth as actual beings is left entire ambiguous. Similarly, with the exception of the elves and possibly the dwarves, all the canonical nonhuman races are just human ethnicities (including orcs, trolls and hobbits) and Numenor is just an in-universe myth. On the other hand, the elves and wizards do have real magic, and the Nazgul actually are undead wraiths with rings of power (though in this version they retain their intelligence and free-will and chose their state willingly).
  • Don't Like? Don't Read!: The epilogue ends by leaning on the fourth wall to explicitly tell the audience not to read the work if they don't like it, though one would have to read the entire work already to reach this line.
  • The Dung Ages: Gondor and Rohan, especially if compared to enlightened Mordor. The text constantly stresses how backwards and boorish these countries are, and much of their canonical history and achievements are Adapted Out.
  • Evil Prince:
    • Eloar, who enjoys massacring civilians, including women and children for no reason.
    • Also Eomer, who was apparently planning to kill his uncle Théoden and steal the throne of Rohan, and the only reason he didn't was because Théoden died on his own during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
  • False Flag Operation: It's heavily implied that many of Mordor and Isengard's atrocities from the original novel, including the deaths of Boromir and Theodred, the burning of Rohan, and the coastal attacks of the Corsair fleet, were actually this instead.
  • Fantastic Racism: Elves think of humans like about animals, and value their human allies not more than domestic animals.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Arwen is manipulative, ambitious, incredibly racist towards humans, and openly despises Aragorn, whom she married solely for his crown.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Sharya-Rana says that many humans will find elves' dominance quite comfortable and pleasant.
  • Henpecked Husband: Aragorn is treated by his wife as a mere puppet. He isn't.
  • Interspecies Romance: Defied. Arwen openly mocks the concept of a human/elf romance, explicitly comparing it to bestiality, and considers her marriage to Aragorn a political necessity rather than a relationship.
  • The Magic Goes Away: Achieving this is the goal of the story's heroes. They succeed.
  • Magic Is Evil: Or most of the people who use it, such as elves and wizards, are, anyway, and are presented as responsible for holding humanity in stagnation to preserve their own power.
  • Magic Versus Technology: Thanks to Mordor's embrace of science and rationality, the kingdom has made rapid technological process, to a degree where it is on the cusp of to become a match for the Elves' ancient magic. The Elves don't like that idea.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Gandalf becomes one as the grand architect of the "final solution to the Mordorian problem".
  • Necessarily Evil: How Haladdin views himself.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The story is not actually about bearing a Ring of Power anywhere; the main McGuffins are the palantiri. Haladdin is given Sharya-Rana's ring when they meet, but it plays only a small, if important, role in the story and isn't much focused on. Per the first appendix, the original Russian title carried a more appropriate meaningnote  that was lost in translation.
  • Oh, My Gods!: Regardless of what side they're on, characters swear by the Valar and/or Eru Himself fairly liberally. All the more striking because it rarely happens in the original canon (and invoking Eru directly can apparently be dangerous, if Feanor's oath is anything to go by).
  • Omniscient Morality License: The White Council, and especially Gandalf, think they have this, since they can use the Mirror (which was theirs before they gave it to Galadriel in this story) to see the future. Like its canonical self, the Mirror only shows possible futures and isn't infallible, but the wizards are content to ignore that.
  • Our Elves Are Different: Elves are smug, racist, genocidal, and arrogant.
  • Perspective Flip: Downplayed. The fic is typically described as LotR through the eyes of the orcs; however, the actual events of LotR are covered in the first few chapters, and most of Last Ringbearer takes place after the War of the Ring.
  • Puppet King: The Elves and Gandalf put Aragorn on the throne with the intention that he be this; he's less than happy about the arrangement and the epilogue indicates that after the magic goes away, he manages to wiggle out from under their thumbs.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Saruman is depicted this way, as a well-meaning if somewhat arrogant man who mostly just wants peace.
  • The Republic:
    • Mordor is presented here as a constitutional monarchy with a figurehead king, but a parliament holding real power.
    • Eventually, Gondor also becomes this, per the epilogue.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: The narrative is very pro-Enlightenment, in direct contrast with the original book which was actually balanced and held that both mindsets have good and bad sides.
  • Scary Black Man: The Haradrim, in contrast to their canonical depiction as Noble Demon Proud Warrior Race Guys, are here described in an extended tangent late in the second part as violent savages (and this exact word is used unironically in the English translation) with no redeeming qualities.
  • Science Is Good: Mordor is a democratic, highly-enlightened, technology-using human civilisation, and they're the good guys. The Elves, meanwhile, are a bunch of smug, genocidal pricks who want to conquer Arda, enslave or exterminate humanity and stop all progress forever by enforcing their oppressive brand of mysticism. The whole point of the work is an examination of the War of the Ring from Mordor's point of view.
  • Screw You, Elves!: The Elves are arrogant, smug, corrupt, self-righteous imperialists who think they have the right to control all of Middle-earth as they see fit. The plot of the story involves stopping them.
  • Shining City: Barad-Dûr.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Compared to the original work, the depiction of the Free Peoples is much more cynical, while the depiction of Mordor, Isengard and Umbar (but not the Haradrim and Easterlings, who are portrayed negatively) is much more idealistic. The overall tone of the story, with a grittier focus on soldiers and spies, tends largely, but not completely, towards the cynical.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: As the Scouring of the Shire is completely omitted, Saruman appears to survive this version of the story; at least, he is not shown to be killednote .
  • Stupid Sacrifice: The charge of the Rohirrim at the Pelennor Fields is depicted this way; Théoden got himself killed achieving no real objective out of a misguided attempt to prove he was still strong despite his age (and possibly stave off Eomer's ambition).
  • Take That!: The narrative is interrupted repeatedly to directly attack aspects of the original LotR that the author doesn't like, starting with the Quest of Mount Doom itself and going from there. The epilogue, a historical survey written in-universe millennia after the events of the story and in something closer to the author's own voice, further includes Take Thats on a variety of topics.
  • The Usurper: In Last Ringbearer, Denethor was a king and not a steward and Aragorn has no legitimate claim to the throne, coming to power only via his predecessor's death (which it's implied her actively arranged).
  • Written by the Winners: The entire premise. The trope is Invoked in a mean-spirited example by Aragorn, who challenges a Mordorian general to an honorable duel, only to have him shot in the back, quipping "the history books will say you got shot by a midget and a broad".