Many thanks to Caroline who came through for us with this translation of the story on the Tolkien’s Gesellschaft website:
“Knaur withdraws “Tolkien’s World”
Someone once said that Tolkien fans would never amount to much anyway ;). One of the best examples of “how to make the most money out of the film with as little investment as possible” has to be Michael Nagula’s “Tolkien’s World”. What most people don’t realise is – the nonesense in his book comes from Tolkien fans themselves!!!!
“Extracts like this one from Michael Nagula’s book Tokien’s World led to roars of laughter:
“The Lord of the Rings Synopsis Nagula, p. 113:
(…)The tone of the book becomes rapidly more serious as the black riders, under the leadership of the Witch-King, make their appearance and chase the Hobbits through the forest. Frodo realises that they have destroyed the village of Bree. When the Witch-King threatens to cast a spell on the house of their friend Tom Bombadil, Frodo – enraged – wants to turn back and fight against them, but at a mountain called Weathertop he meets a nobleman called Aragorn who convinces him to continue on to the Elf Dwelling of Rivendell, offering to lead them there himself. The small group is wading through the last river separating them from Rivendell when the Witch-King casts a spell on the water, causing it to rise up and threaten to drown everyone. Only Frodo’s quick reaction saves them – he uses the magical power of the ring to turn the water to fog. The fog is so thick that the black riders become hopelessly lost, allowing our heroes to reach Rivendell. (…)
Many Tolkien fans asked themselves what was going on, and the news quickly spread in forums like the Lord of the Rings at Film.de and the forum of the DTG (German Tolkien Society) and Middle Earth Online: Nagula had COMPLETELY COPIED one of the funniest Tolkien sites on the internet, the Tolkien Sarcasm Page. This internet site is a contact point for those who like to take the mickey out of Tolkien now and again, the above synopsis is of course one big joke. When fans pointed this out to the publishers and Nagula, Knaur moved quickly. The book, at one point prominently displayed on the fantasy site of the publishers, disappeared into the depths of the database, and the following statement was put online on Janauary 11th of this year:
“On behalf of the Publishers and the Author: 11.1.2002
Dear readers of “Tolkien’s World”,
To our great regret, Michael Nagula, the author of the book “Tolkien’s World”, made errors in describing the story action in his synopsis of “The Lord of the Rings” (page 112 to 117). Both the author and publisher apologise whole-heartedly for this oversight. Although the rest of the book is marked by conscientious research and great care in its treatment of the subject, the publisher has decided to withdraw from bookshops the edition of “Tolkien’s World” that contains the errors and replace it with an edited version. This is expected to be available in the shops from May 2002. We are certain that this action will meet with the agreement of our readers and are already looking forward to appraisals that will include the whole of the book (see the review of the Badische Neueste Nachrichten (newspaper) from the 10.01.2002 which can be read among the reviews for the book). A correct summary of “The Lord of the Rings” has been available on our homepage since 31.01.2002. We will gladly ! replace the old edition of “Tolkien’s World” for an up-to-date book; please remove the cover from the book and send it to us along with where it was purchased to the following address: Verlagsgruppe Droemer Weltbild, Keyword “Tolkien’s World”, 80632 Munich.
Knaur Taschenbuch Verlag, Publishers for Michale Nagula, January 2002″
Like so many other companies whose names we will of course not mention here ;), Knaur provide a legendary example that you can get carried away pretty quickly when it comes to bad products about Tolkien. Apart from possible copyright implications on the part of the Tolkien Estate, the publishers should really get every copy of the book pulped – or pass them on to Tolkien fans for a fortune, because THAT book is already a collector’s item!!!
P.S.: Many of the Nagula’s contributions are really good – well-researched and, for a German book on Tolkien, pretty excellent. What a pity that he shot himself in the foot trying to make a quick deutschmark (sorry, I mean euro)”
Personally I have trouble imagining that the rest of the book could be as insightful and conscientiously researched as the publishers claim, since I fail to see what insights you could gain about Tolkien’s work if you weren’t familiar with what he’d written! – Tehanu