Sanrock Reviews

looking at things from a literary viewpoint

The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun Review

If there is one thing you should know about JRR Tolkien is that this guy loved mythology. Hell, this guy not only taught it, he created his own which has a ton of crap. Because of this, he created some mythology before he wrote The Lord of the Rings. One of these was a poem called The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun.

the story is about tow wealthy Britons, Aotrou and Itroun, who don’t have any children. Aotrou seeks to remedy that by asking a fairy to give them children. She does by giving them a potion that bears them twins, but when she comes back to get her fee, Aotrou must make a choice between his marriage and his life.

Plotwise, it’s the typical plot you hear in mythologies that basically say “don’t make deals with magical bearings unless you’re willing to face the consequences.”  Despite that, it’s an OK story told in the ABAB style poem. The rhyming is fine, you do get into the rhythm after a while and the poem does flow.

The two “Corrigan” poems that lead up to it are much better. They basically give a sort of background to each of these characters. They are written in the same ABAB style, but they seem to come off as more personal to the reader. They’re something that seems to ring true to readers.


The edition I have (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) does have scans of the original hand-written copies which is always a nice touch for any fan’scholar. There is also a fair copy manuscript version of the poem included which basically is the same except for some minor changes. The only reason to read it is to see what changed.

While this review may sound like it’s bashing this poem, I do feel that it is worth reading for mainly academic reasons and, of course, if you’re a huge Tolkien fan. This can also be an inspiration for anyone thinking of going into mythology because this poem is a great resource that shows people how stuff like this is written.


Categories: Novels

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