We’re not strangers to sequels; they happen all the time.  Ghostbusters, Star Trek, Back to the Future, Men in Black, Star Wars – heck, even Starship Troopers earned a few low budget sequels.

But sometimes, something gets a sequel that isn’t quite on your radar, or anybodies radar, really.  In other cases, something is so good you can’t imagine anyone ever doing a sequel to it because, let’s face it, sometimes down is the only way left to go (can you say ‘Matrix Revolutions’?).

One of the craziest sequels I only recently learned about was for the Lord of the Rings.

Ironically, the Lord of the Rings was, in itself, a sequel to The Hobbit.  I don’t have to tell you (but I will anyway because I have a whole post to fill here) that the story took place after the events of The Hobbit and followed the journey of Bilbo Baggin’s nephew, Frodo, as he attempted to sneak into the Dark One’s own lands to destroy the ring of power.

Tolkien himself planned a sequel to the Lord of the Rings that would be set in the Fourth Age (notes were found which confirm this).  When he died in 1973, there were only notes and maps and as yet, nothing has come from them (His son may or may not do something – you never know).

In 1977, another author tried his hand at writing a sequel.  His name was Big Balls McBallsy Balls, aka Dennis L. McKiernan.

McKiernan had been in a car accident and, while convalescing, starting writing.  his story was good enough that his publisher did attempt to get permission to publish, but the Tolkien estate said, “Uh… No.”

SO, what’s a writer to do?

Probably write another book.  But if you’ve got a publisher going, “But – we like this book!” something else is probably going to happen.  And did.  They asked him to rework the whole thing so it became an original piece that they could publish.

Thus was born The Iron Tower Trilogy.

The trilogy feels very much like a Tolkien book except Hobbits are now Warrows.  If you read through it, you can draw parallels between Middle Earth and Mithgar.

Kraggen-Cor is Moria, for example.

I knew none of this when I first read the books and I enjoyed them immensely.  I still do, having reread them a few times.

Had McKiernan stopped there, I think people would have perhaps written the books off as an oddity, but he didn’t stop there.  Once he got going, he didn’t stop.  He wrote more books, expanding the world and the mythology of Mithgar.  He gave it its own voice, separate and apart from Tolkien’s.

Comparisons are still drawn and rightly so considering the origin of it all, but each book has taken it further and further away.

Another odd sequel

When you wander through bookstores the way I do, you come across all sorts of strange things.  Take, for example, the film ‘Willow’.

Willow didn’t make a ton of money, but I loved it.  Still love it.

Willow follows the story of Willow Ufgood, an aspiring sorcerer who is trying to return a baby girl to her people, then finds himself having to protect that baby from the evil queen Bavmorda.

He ends up getting some help from a soldier / rogue named Madmartigan, Cherlindrea, queen of the fairies and brownies, the sorceress Fin Raziel and a pair of (hilarious) Brownies named Rool and Franjean.

Together, they have to save the baby, overthrow the evil queen and set the kingdom right again.

All in all, a great flick.  Really love it.

Which is why it blew me away when I learned there was a sequel.

Well, a trilogy of sequels.

The Chronicles of the Shadow War, written by Chris Claremont based on some sort of outline by George Lucas, contains three novels: Shadow Moon, Shadow Dawn & Shadow Star.

I read the first two books, Shadow Moon & Dawn and I have to say, what the fuck?

I like to think I’m an intelligent guy, but I just didn’t get it.

Willow becomes this hard ass with a new name (Thorn Drumheller), Madmartigan & Sasha get killed in the opening moments, all this weird stuff keeps happening – I just didn’t get it.  Heck, I still don’t get it.

Even wikipedia doesn’t get it because no one has ever bothered to add plot summaries to the book pages.

The official schpeal makes it all sound so simple:

“In Shadow Moon, war and chaos have gripped the land of Tir Asleen. An ancient prophecy reveals one hope: a savior princess who will ascend to the throne when the time is right. But first, a Nelwyn wanderer must face forces of unimaginable malevolence and dangerous, forbidden rites of necromancy that could bring back a powerful warrior from soulless sleep.”

I swear to you – the book (in my mind) bears little resemblance to that little paragraph.

Shadow Dawn didn’t get any clearer:

“The momentous Ascension of Princess Elora Danan should have brought peace to the Thirteen Realms. Instead, an intense Shadow War rages, spearheaded by the evil Mohdri. He has dispatched his dread Black Rose commando assassins to capture Elora and her sworn protector, Thorn Drumheller. But Mohdri himself is just a facade for a more dangerous entity: the Deceiver. But who–or what–is the Deceiver? And how can Elora, Thorn, and their ragtag band defeat this unspeakable force? The answer lies in a perilous journey to a land undisturbed since the dawn of time. A journey that will end at the unbreachable citadel of the dragon, where a chilling betrayal will change the fate of Elora, Thorn, and the Thirteen Realms forever.”

And finally, Shadow Star (which I never bothered to read because, honestly, I was so confused…):

“To prevent the great dragons from falling into the hands of the Deceiver, Elora Danan, warrior, mage, and savior of the Twelve Kingdoms committed a desperate act, slaying the great creatures over the objections of her trusted companions. Spellbound to her friends in order to preserve the two remaining dragon eggs and guarantee their future survival, Elora discovers that she has opened herself to an unexpected evil and placed herself in danger of becoming that which she most fears.”

Having read as much of the sequels as I did, I was sort of glad that Lucas never tried to take it to film; I think it would have been a disaster of Jar Jar proportions…

Anyway, there are a couple of sequels I thought you may not have known about before.