The Tolkien estate hopes to block the publication of “Mirkwood," a novel somewhat critical of J.R.R. Tolkien.
We absorbed the idea of an unauthorized "Catcher in the Rye" sequel. We could handle exploring "Gone With The Wind" from a slave’s perspective. But J.R.R. Tolkien as a fictional character? Is this going too far?
It’s certainly too much for the estate of the “Lord of the Rings” author, which wants to block the publication of “Mirkwood: A Novel about J.R.R. Tolkien” by Steve Hillard. The Hollywood Reporter reported that Hillard filed a lawsuit claiming First Amendment and fair use rights to publish the book, after the Tolkien estate sent him a cease-and-desist letter objecting to the cover art, typeface, and use of Tolkien’s name and personality.
In legal papers filed in Texas District Court, included in the "Reporter" story, Hillard’s book is described as “both a work of fiction and a critical analysis” of Tolkien’s work. It focuses in part on the role of heroines, and the idea that his famed series has almost none.
Then came the surprising part, at least to me: The Hillard book wouldn’t be the first time Tolkien was used as a fictional character. The lawsuit noted that a fictional Tolkien previously appeared in the 2006 children’s book “Here, There Be Dragons,” one in a series by James Owen, and in last year’s “Looking for the King: An Inklings Novel”, by C.S. Lewis scholar David Downing.