The Iron Tower Trilogy written by Dennis L. McKiernen bears a strong resemblance to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings as seen in the overall story-line, the general theme, and most of all - "the little people."
In Tolkien's novels the overall story is rather basic. The evil necromancer Sauron has arisen from the depths of time and his minions are unleashed upon the vulnerable earth. The forces of good gather a group of companions to travel to Sauron's tower in Mordor and stop him before he recovers a powerful magic artifact and dominates the world. The members of the group consist of humans, dwarfs, elves, and hobbits.
McKiernen writes with the same basic ideas in mind. The evil necromancer Modru arises form the mists of time, sends forth a horde of evil monsters to wreak havoc upon the earth. The forces of good call forth a group of people who represent the four major races: humans, elves, dwarfs, and warrows to journey to Modru's tower of evil and stop him before he can find an ancient mystical artifact and raise his king, Liege Gyphon, from the dead, after which the two of them will take over the world.
The theme is almost exactly the same in both trilogies. In both stories the world is currently in its longest term of peace ever. An ancient evil is renewed and sends its claws to ravage the earth. The forces of good develop small groups to end the evil threat, and after many hardships and even deaths, the remnants of the original groups succeed in their quest for good.
However, the biggest similarity between these stories is "the little people." Tolkien created a race of people called Hobbits, a peaceful race who make their homes in holes under hills in a small rustic country. They have large furry feet and are about four feet tall. They also have exceptional hearing and sight. In the The Lord of The Rings, it is the Hobbit characters who are the final heroes and the other races are pushed into the background.
McKiernen describes a race called Warrows. Warrows are between three and four feet in height, they have large furry feet and their jewel-like eyes and overly sensitive ears grant them special powers of clairvoyance and clairaudience. They live in burrows in a small out-of-the way land called Warrowhome. As in Tolkien's work, the Warrow characters become the final heroes and the other races become obsolete.
It should be painfully obvious that these two trilogies are so close as to be almost interchangeable. McKiernen writes his story with barely enough minimal changes to avoid a lawsuit.
As I am an avid fantasy reader, I have great respect for J.R.R. Tolkien (and his son Christopher, who touched up the story and had it published). I am, however, filled with a strong feeling of disappointment in Dennis L. McKiernen for what I consider near plagiarism and the destruction of a beautiful work of art. To me the mark of a superior fantasy writer is originality. Mr. McKiernen does not fit into this category.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.