More than 15 years ago Russian scientist Kirill Yeskov tried to settle certain geographical problems in Tolkien's fantasy world. One thing led to another, and he tackled a bigger project - what would happen if we assumed that it's no less real than our world? His conclusion was that in such a case, the story of the Ring of Power is most likely a much-altered heroic retelling of a major war - but what was that war really about?
The result of this re-appraisal was the publication in 1999 of "The Last Ring-bearer" - a re-thinking of Tolkien's story in real-world terms. Dr. Yeskov, a professional paleontologist whose job is reconstructing long-extinct organisms and their way of life from fossil remnants, performs essentially the same feat in "The Last Ring-bearer", reconstructing the real world of Tolkien's Arda from the heroic tales of the Free Men of the West written in that world. We have a pretty good idea how well heroic tales map to reality from our own world..."
Essentially, the Last Ringbearer is a post-Lord of the Rings story written from the perspective of the "bad guys", an idea I've always thought was interesting. After all, nobody ever thinks they're doing "evil". Even guys who are doing some not-very-nice things have good intentions. I haven't read the book yet, but it's next on my list after I finish the Odyssey and my re-read of American Gods.