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The Last Ring-bearer - Еврей без ярлыков Page 5
October 3rd, 2010
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The Last Ring-bearer
UPDATE: Second edition!

More than 15 years ago Russian scientist Kirill Yeskov tried to settle certain geographical problems in Tolkien's fantasy world. One thing led to another, and he tackled a bigger project - what if we assumed that it's no less real than our world? His conclusion was that in such a case, the story of the Ring of Power is most likely a much-altered heroic retelling of a major war - but what was that war really about?

The result of this re-appraisal was the publication in 1999 of The Last Ring-bearer - a re-thinking of Tolkien's story in real-world terms. Dr. Yeskov, a professional paleontologist whose job is reconstructing long-extinct organisms and their way of life from fossil remnants, performs essentially the same feat in The Last Ring-bearer, reconstructing the real world of Tolkien's Arda from The Lord of the Rings - the heroic tales of the Free Men of the West written in that world. We have a pretty good idea how well heroic tales map to reality from our own world...

I was impressed enough by this work to spend a few dozen lunch hours translating it to English. (Reportedly, some publishing houses have considered a commercial translation of this book, which had been published in several major European languages, but abandoned the idea out of fear of the Tolkien estate, which doesn't countenance any derivative works, especially in English. Witness the history of its relationship with New Line Cinema. This translation is non-commercial. The Russian original can be found here.) I have been fortunate to establish communication with the author and have the translation vetted (and much corrected) by him. I now offer this work for your perusal. At 139,000 words, this 1 Mb PDF is about 80% of the length of The Fellowship of the Ring. Suggestions for corrections will be appreciated. Please mention how you heard about this translation when commenting. Errata will be published here soon.

UPDATE: I have translated an essay Dr. Yeskov wrote after the first publication of this book. It may answer some of your questions about his motivation and method.</b>

One user has reported a virus intercepted during downloading. The PDF itself is Javascript-free and ought not to have any payload other than the text. It was likely a false positive when a stub of the file matched some virus signature during download. Sendspace has informed me that my account has gone premium thanks to all the downloads, and users should now see no ads prior to downloading. One user has reported encountering Captcha; I've never seen any, but suspect that Sendspace puts them up when the download request comes from a domain associated with bots. There have been thousands of successful downloads; if yours fails, please try again. .odt and .mobi versions are available here thanks to Matthew Wilcoxson.

I have to disappoint the fans of Sauron: His Majesty Sauron the VIII rates only a few mentions in this work, having been nothing more than an enlightened king. Nor does the Ring of Power rate more than a passing mention. Likewise the Hobbits: unlike LOTR, this story is not about them. Finally, no attempt has been made to imitate J.R.R. Tolkien's style - it is deliberately modern and down-to-earth.

I am now working on a second edition, with some corrections (very few, the author was thorough) and, hopefully, smoother prose.


  • Page 5: read "consciousness" for "conscious." I'm considering a different expression altogether, as it's hard to walk while unconscious. Same on page 71.

  • Page 53: read "Those may very well be needed more than the rest." for "Seemingly, those will be needed no more than all the rest."

  • Page 108: read "had decided to call them Mountains of Shadow" for "had decided to cal then Mountains of Shadow"

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Page 5 of 6
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Date:February 22nd, 2011 10:41 am (UTC)

Dr. Yeskov essay

Why was I denied access to your translation of Dr. Yeskov's essay? Keep up the good work. I think this is a wonderful project.
Date:February 22nd, 2011 12:30 pm (UTC)

Like signature «carsurf» above,

I was denied access to your translation of Dr Yeskov's essay. Why is this and is there any way 'round this problem ? I've now downloaded the novel (in translation, my Russian is, alas, inadequate) and hope to discover that it is better written than Professor Tolkien's orginal. Tolkien knew a great deal about languages, but his prose leaves rather much to be desired....

Date:February 22nd, 2011 02:32 pm (UTC)

Original English source code?

Matthew Wilcoxson converted the pdf into various ebook formats, for which I thank him. From those ebook formats I can usecalibre to make one for my ebook reader. But he had no success converting the .pdf versin, and the .html version he actually used had its own problems, primarily the lack of accents of all kinds in the character set.

Now presumably you didn't hand-code the translation as a .pdf file, and instead machine-generated it from some other, more editable, file format (which I'll call its source code).

Would it be possible for you to release a copy of the original source code?
The file you actually edited? With the accents? It might be the best starting point for creating e-book and other versions.

-- hendrik
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Date:February 24th, 2011 03:24 pm (UTC)

Re: Original English source code?

Thank you! That was enough of a hint for me to find Matthew's .mobi conversion.
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Date:February 22nd, 2011 02:44 pm (UTC)
I can't get it to download.

When I click on the Sendspace link, it downloads a small XML file instead.
Date:February 22nd, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC)

Translation error

I heard about this book via an article on slashdot.org.
The final sentence on Page 5 reads:
He regained conscience as the sergeant was carefully leading him to the fabric-lined hole.
It should read:
He regained consciousness as the sergeant was carefully leading him to the fabric-lined hole.
Date:February 24th, 2011 02:04 pm (UTC)

I made an ePub version

Don't know how good it is, but maybe someone can use it?

Date:February 24th, 2011 08:04 pm (UTC)

"Must Fantasy Be Stupid?" Pereslegin

in the essay, Dr. Yeskov references another essay by Pereslegin called "must fantasy be stupid?" i've tried searching for this essay on the web, but couldn't find it. do you happen to know where it is published or how i can find an english copy of it? i'm interested in reading more about this subject, and since Dr. Yeskov mentions it more than once in the essay i thought it'd be good to read it. thanks.
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Date:February 25th, 2011 12:09 am (UTC)

Re: "Must Fantasy Be Stupid?" Pereslegin

I am unaware of an English translation. The Russian version can be found here. It's longer than Dr. Yeskov's essay, so I have no plans to translate it yet. (I do have a family and a regular job.)
Date:February 25th, 2011 07:34 am (UTC)
I wanted to let you knwo that we'll be discussing Dr. Yeskov's book in your translation at FOGcon in San Francisco in March. Thanks very much for your work in translating this book and making it available to English readers!
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Date:February 25th, 2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
I found a link to this page on Techdirt.com. I am excited to read this!
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Date:February 26th, 2011 02:38 pm (UTC)
Looks very interesting! I'm going to read it soon. Too bad though it is a PDF file, that is rather inconvenient. Could there be an EPUB or HTML version? That would be much nicer for my ebook-reader, too.
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Date:February 26th, 2011 02:57 pm (UTC)
Ah, I found some other versions, linked from earlier comments. Thanks!
Date:February 26th, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC)

Thank you, and a few things I spotted...

I found your translation noticed in a thread of the discussion board of the Mythopoeic Society (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mythsoc/message/21889]), which in turn linked to the Salon article which many here have cited.

I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, although I will refrain from extolling its merits, here. I do wish for the opportunity to be able to purchase it, and for what good it will do, I will petition Harper Collins to see it in print.

Forgive me, but my knowledge of Russian is non-existent. I can intuit, however, that this is a carefully-considered and sensitive translation, and you have my sincerest thanks for all of the obvious work put into it and for making something available to me which I could not have appreciated, otherwise.

I have glanced over the previous pages of posts to get a sense of possible errors that have been noticed, and I do have a few to humbly add, below. First, however, I am curious as to the frequent use of the present-perfect verb tense when it seems that past-perfect would be called for. This usage is fairly consistent in its application, and I gradually became accustomed to it as I progressed through the novel... I have a feeling that it must be translating some Russian nuance of which I have no knowledge. I don't have specific examples noted to hand, however I will try to compile a few.

Again, please note that the following are offered from a strictly English-speaking standpoint, without benefit of knowledge of the original. I've given page numbers in the format: as-paginated/pdf page. I've tried to avoid any "spoilers", but in certain cases reference to names is unavoidable, and conclusions might be drawn, so I'll throw out a SPOILER ALERT:

  • The use of "conscience" for what seems to be "consciousness" on pg. 5/6 has been noted by others and in your main post. There is an identical application of the word at the top of pg. 71/2: "He came back to conscience still in the thrall of darkness and speechlessness".

  • pg. 108/9: "cal then the Mountains of Shadow" has also been previously noted.

  • pg. 135/6: "he cares nota whit which criminal cartel his ‘partners’ belong to"; this should, I believe, read: "not a whit".

  • pg. 138/9: "an blazing protuberance"; article agreement. Should read: "a"?

  • pg. 140/1: "where it gathered dust with the Faramir’s intelligence service’s other reports"; uncomfortable wording. It's fairly clear that "Faramir's intelligence service" is being treated as a compound unit, however the use of definite article in conjunction with the proper name and double-possessive feels awkward. Perhaps: "where it gathered dust with the other reports of Faramir’s intelligence service"?

  • pg. 148/9: "[...]carefully selected information)."; appears to be a stranded closing parenthesis (possibly left over from the preceeding paragraph?).

  • pg. 157/8: "one of Umbar police operatives"; possesive or article needed? Possibly: "one of Umbar's police operatives"; or "one of the Umbar police's operatives"; maybe "one of the operatives of the Umbar police"? I am of course in the dark as to the exact sense of the original.

  • pg. 172/3: "an dried-out barrel"; again, article agreement.

  • pg. 187/8: "and doze the pain just so"; I believe this should be: "dose"?

  • pg. 189/90: "Not only did the customs inspectors appeared about to fall asleep"; verb agreement/tense. I think it should be: "did [they] appear".

  • pg. 211/12: The colon-separated expalnation concluding the sentence beginning "The company leader, who had personally commanded that operation ..." could possibly benefit from having its elements split by semicolons. It contains several complete sentences which become a bit convoluted and hard to distinguish. Again, I am unsure whether the sentence works better in Russian as-translated, and this may be precisely the way it should be.

  • [Continued due to character limit...}
    Date:February 26th, 2011 10:14 pm (UTC)

    Re: Thank you, and a few things I spotted...


  • pg. 238/9: "I do wish that it turn out to be a joke"; verb agreement/tense. This should perhaps read: "turns out to be" or "would turn out to be". As written, "that it turn out to be" does make sense as an archaic dropping of "would" from the conditional tense ("would turn out to be",) however archaicism seems out of character for the author, here.

  • pg. 246/7: "I personally fear no damn thing". I think this should be: "no such damn thing"; unless the author is indicating that the speaker feels nothing at all, rather than nothing like the sensation described just previously?

  • I hope that these suggestions do not sound niggling or pedantic. Again, I have enjoyed your work tremendously and would earnestly wish for it to see print in the most perfect possible form.
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    Date:February 27th, 2011 08:51 pm (UTC)

    So much to do...

    User trewesterre referenced to your post from So much to do... saying: [...] . I'm making my way through the Lord of the Rings once again so I can read The Last Ring-Bearer [...]
    Date:March 2nd, 2011 11:11 am (UTC)

    Misspelled names

    A throughly enjoyable read!

    I was a bit distracted by a couple names that had been changed strangely: "Cereborn" (obviously same person as Celeborn in LOTR) and "Kirden the Ship-builder" (presumably Círdan the Shipwright). I guess it could be intentional, as names in old documents _are_ often spelled in various ways, but that doesn't quite fit with the style of the text otherwise (no other signs of intentional linguistic trickery), so I suspect they've simply been re-transliterated from Russian back to English without checking the original.
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    Date:March 3rd, 2011 02:48 am (UTC)

    Re: Misspelled names

    Aha! You are right, this was not intentional - those were the names I couldn't easily find in the Encyclopedia of Arda. Unlike Dr. Yeskov, I was unable to get through Silmarillion.

    Thank you very much!
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    Date:March 3rd, 2011 07:53 am (UTC)
    Just read the article on the MovieFone site, so looking forward to reading this!
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    Date:March 4th, 2011 07:42 pm (UTC)

    Book Review: The Last Ringbearer

    User wiredferret referenced to your post from Book Review: The Last Ringbearer saying: [...] by Kirill Yeskov, translated by ymarkov [...]
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    Date:March 5th, 2011 10:14 pm (UTC)
    Found this via http://www.salon.com/books/laura_miller/2011/02/15/last_ringbearer/index.html via a friend on Facebook.

    I am so looking forward to reading this!

    And yes. I know. No hobbits. :-)
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    Date:March 6th, 2011 04:45 pm (UTC)
    Awesome work. Would it be possible to sell bound copies of this through something like lulu.com? I would put it up there myself (non profit, naturally) but that might be dodgy from a copyright perspective. You should do this! I would definitely buy one.

    Also what's with all the people insulting Tolkien's prose style? His style very much suits LotR, and in many places it's very beautiful. If you're complaining about the lengthy plot expositions, well, without this Middle Earth would be not a vivid world at all, and we wouldn't be here discussing it.
    [User Picture]
    Date:March 6th, 2011 05:15 pm (UTC)
    Way I see it, the moment any sale activity happens (non-profit or not), you open yourself up to legal action. So I'm not going to, sorry.
    Date:March 9th, 2011 02:22 am (UTC)

    Where I heard about this

    I ran across this on Arts and Letters Daily. I look forward to reading it.
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    Date:March 17th, 2011 07:23 am (UTC)

    FOGcon panel notes: Good Reads

    User vito_excalibur referenced to your post from FOGcon panel notes: Good Reads saying: [...] Then last quarter of book is basically straight up Western fantasy. Alas! The Last Ring-bearer [...]
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    Date:March 20th, 2011 02:57 pm (UTC)
    Отличная работа! Спасибо за вклад в мировую культуру ) Только бы толканутый фонд не начал бузить... (Нашёл через Афишу)
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    From:Periklis Begzos
    Date:April 7th, 2011 05:36 pm (UTC)

    thanks for sharing this!

    Hi, thank you for your effort.
    I became aware of Dr. Yeskov and your translation through an article on a local(greek)newspaper, last saturday.
    Here's the link: http://www.enet.gr/?i=news.el.article&id=264306
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    Date:April 22nd, 2011 11:34 pm (UTC)

    can't wait to read it

    I got a blurb about this awhile back on the sci fi channel's Blastr.com sight. just downloaded it and can't wait to read it. thanks for making this available.
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    From:Krishanu A. Ray
    Date:April 28th, 2011 10:04 pm (UTC)

    Author's Name

    Thank you for this translation! I am very excited to get started on this, on my new Kindle (Thanks to Mr. Wilcoxson for that)

    Unfortunately I cannot recall where I heard about this, but I believe it was word of mouth.

    The only minor issue I take so far (I have not yet been able to start reading it), is that the author has already published (scientific) works in the English speaking domain (prior to the release of this translation) and his name was romanized as Eskov, K. Y.

    Would it not make sense for the sake of consistency with his other published works, to credit him as Kirill Y. Eskov, instead of Kirill Yeskov [Eskov, Kirill Y.]?
    Date:May 12th, 2011 07:43 pm (UTC)

    Spanish version

    Hi, I´m reading the book rigth now and it is really great.

    I´m peruvian and my mother-tongue is spanish.

    I would like to translate the book, and my translation to be the "official" one

    What do I have to do in order to?
    [User Picture]
    Date:May 13th, 2011 02:42 am (UTC)

    Re: Spanish version

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    Date:June 8th, 2011 08:08 pm (UTC)

    a day with the kindle

    User dewayne_mann referenced to your post from a day with the kindle saying: [...] never heard of the Last Ringbearer. So, uh, go here: http://ymarkov.livejournal.com/270570.html [...]
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