The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrún, by JRR Tolkien

The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrún is an English rendition of the Poetic Edda, through the writings of Snorri Sturluson in the 12th century. It’s a heroic tale of Sigurd (also known as Siegfried), a warrior held in high regard. The book has been edited by Christopher Tolkien, though the introduction by JRR is proof of a master philologist at play. It’s a little known fact that he taught Old Norse in his preliminary years as a professor. We all know him as the father of modern High Fantasy, he was in reality, much more. But I digress.

The tale contains many of the inspirations for Tolkien’s later works. Be it “the sword that was broken”, a feud between two brothers for a red-golden ring or the slaying of a mighty dragon jealously guarding a cursed treasure hoard, the Poetic Edda can be taken to be a great inspiration for the Lord of the Rings Saga. Indeed the name Middle-earth is a loose translation of Midgard, which denotes earth in Norse mythology. It’s a rich & rewarding book for any Tolkien fan opening the paths to Norse mythology for the uninitiated, while being a (very) loose historical account of Scandinavian & Germanaic history from the Age of Heroes.

Broken Republic, by Arundhati Roy

The polemic writing leans too far to one side and fails to deliver a well balanced approach to the subject. The author has undertaken painstaking research into the subject of Maoist insurgency. Alas, in many of the cases, she has chosen to over-emphasize the facts/comparisons/connections that lend themselves well to her narrative and fails to explore the other part of the story in sufficient detail. There is a dire need for more balance in the narrative.