THE PROFESSOR'S BOOKSHELF #6: THE SAGA OF ERIC BRIGHTEYES - ILLUSTRATED. Rider Haggard is among a small selection of Victorian and Edwardian writers whom Professor J.R.R. Tolkien acknowledged by name. Professor Tolkien once enthused in an interview that 'Eric Brighteyes' was 'as good as most sagas and as heroic'. Haggard's classic is an action-packed adventure filled with Viking feasts duels, battles on land and sea, romance, treachery, magic, beautiful women and brave heroes. Haggard writes that Eric 'was strong and great of stature, his hair was yellow as gold, and his grey eyes shone with the light of swords.' This could be a sentence from 'The Lord of the Rings'. For both authors, landscape plays as important a part as any character, and is described in concise yet evocative language. Haggard plunges his readers among the dizzying precipices, waterfalls, fast flowing rivers, icy winters and stormy seas of his fantastic Iceland, much as Tolkien sweeps us into Middle-Earth. Lancelot Speed, whose striking images enrich this volume, was a highly accomplished and prolific fantasy illustrator during Tolkien's lifetime. He illuminated many titles Professor Tolkien is known to have read, and there is no doubt Tolkien was familiar with his vibrant drawings. A dwarf-forged sword wrested from Barrow Dwellers, its bright blade engraved with runes; the appellation: 'Ring-giver'; poetry and song; a hero with grey eyes - these and many more resemblances of style and content exist between Haggard's classic tale and 'The Lord of the Rings'.