Tolkien estate settles with author of the novel it tried to kill

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012

Remember that novel we told you about a couple of months ago, the one the J.R.R. Tolkien estate tried to kill? The one that featured J.R.R. Tolkien himself as a fictional character? Looks like you'll be getting a chance to read the book after all.

Stephen Hilliard's Mirkwood takes place over the past 40 years and features six characters, five of which are fictional. The sixth, however, is Tolkien, and as a result the estate sent off a cease-and-desist letter in February alleging that only it had the right to commercially exploit Tolkien's name and likeness.

Hilliard, however, claimed that his novel was an exercise in literary criticism protected by the First Amendment and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, "is said to take issue with the lack of female characters in Tolkien's works, including The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series."

While we have no idea of the exact settlement terms, since Aaron Moss, attorney for the Tolkien estate, has said that "the settlement terms are confidential, but the agreement adequately addresses the Estate's concerns about Mr. Hillard's book," we do know the Mirkwood will now be published with the disclaimer "This is a work of fiction which is neither endorsed nor connected with The JRR Tolkien Estate or its publisher."

Here's how the book is described over at Amazon:

Enter Mirkwood, the Great Forest of Doubt Bold new author Steve Hillard's wildly original debut, Mirkwood, re-invents J.R.R. Tolkien as a man haunted by the very myths he rewove into his famous works. As much literary criticism as boisterous epic, this episodically-driven plot explores the blurred borderlands where ancient tales, lost heroines, and epic journeys are stalked by dim monsters that will not be still. In 1970, Professor Tolkien makes a little-known visit to America-and sets in motion elvish powers embodied in a cache of archaic documents. Destinies are altered, legends become real, and two heroines must race for their lives in vastly different worlds.

So now that Hilliard and the Tolkien estate have made nice, do you think you'll be giving Mirkwood a read?

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