First published in 1969, Bored of the Rings quickly became a cult book for its relentless, slapstick pastiche of The Lord of the Rings. Gollancz's 2001 edition marks the first appearance in Britain and in hardback.
Authors Beard and Kenny carry irreverence cheerfully beyond the borders of good taste. For some, it's a hilarious antidote to uncritical worship of Tolkien. For others, it's outright blasphemy. You choose...
Here's the formula. Take the rough plot of The Lord of the Rings. Give everyone daft names: Bilbo Baggins becomes Dildo Bugger, Sauron is Sorhed, and the hobbits Merry, Pippin and Sam are now the boggies Moxie, Pepsi and Spam. Make them all cowardly, dumb, self-serving and/or insane. Cram Middle Earth with droll American brand names, some now rather dated...
Bored of the Rings lurches drunkenly through Tolkien's narrative, scrawling graffiti on noble citadels and firing off gags with such machine-gun speed that something hits the funny bone on almost every page. A warning: "The halberd has fallen! The fewmets have hit the windmill!" A doom-laden prophecy: "Five-eleven's your height, one-ninety your weight, you cash in your chips around page eighty-eight."
Some pokes at the original are quite shrewd. The tiresomely lyrical Tom Bombadil mutates with hideous plausibility into dope freak Tim Benzedrine: "Toke-a-lid! Smoke-a-lid! Pop the mescalino!" Tortuous arguments about the disposal of the Ring are neatly condensed to: "'Alas,' explained Goodgulf." (Guess who?)
Cheap laughs abound despite occasional misfires. Even the map is chuckleworthy. But as the US paperback jacket warned, those who revere Tolkien "will not touch this gobbler with a ten-foot battle-lance". --David Langford