The world first publication of a previously unknown work by J.R.R. Tolkien, which tells the epic story of the Norse hero, Sigurd, the dragon-slayer, the revenge of his wife, Gudrun, and the Fall of the Nibelungs.
"Many years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien composed his own version, now published for the first time, of the great legend of Northern antiquity, in two closely related poems to which he gave the titles The New Lay of the Voelsungs and The New Lay of Gudrun.
In the Lay of the Voelsungs is told the ancestry of the great hero Sigurd, the slayer of Fafnir most celebrated of dragons, whose treasure he took for his own; of his awakening of the Valkyrie Brynhild who slept surrounded by a wall of fire, and of their betrothal; and of his coming to the court of the great princes who were named the Niflungs (or Nibelungs), with whom he entered into blood-brotherhood. In that court there sprang great love but also great hate, brought about by the power of the enchantress, mother of the Niflungs, skilled in the arts of magic, of shape-changing and potions of forgetfulness.
In scenes of dramatic intensity, of confusion of identity, thwarted passion, jealousy and bitter strife, the tragedy of Sigurd and Brynhild, of Gunnar the Niflung and Gudrun his sister, mounts to its end in the murder of Sigurd at the hands of his blood-brothers, the suicide of Brynhild, and the despair of Gudrun. In the Lay of Gudrun her fate after the death of Sigurd is told, her marriage against her will to the mighty Atli, ruler of the Huns (the Attila of history), his murder of her brothers the Niflung lords, and her hideous revenge.
Deriving his version primarily from his close study of the ancient poetry of Norway and Iceland known as the Poetic Edda (and where no old poetry exists, from the later prose work the Voelsunga Saga), J.R.R. Tolkien employed a verse-form of short stanzas whose lines embody in English the exacting alliterative rhythms and the concentrated energy of the poems of the Edda."
- Christopher Tolkien
"Will appeal strongly to readers already haunted by the deeper, more sombre musics of Middle-earth" The Times
"This is the most unexpected of Tolkien's many posthumous publications; his son's `Commentary' is a model of informed accessibility; the poems stand comparison with their Eddic models, and there is little poetry in the world like those" Times Literary Supplement
"The compact verse form is ideally suited to describing impact... elsewhere it achieves a stark beauty" Telegraph