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A Good Intro to Tolkien

Mark Horne has written a good introduction to the life and thought of J.R.R Tolkien, the acclaimed writer of the Lord of Rings Series. A few of the highlights that I found in the book were Horne's discussion of Tolkien's part in WWI. Not only did Tolkien fight in the Battle of Somme, but he was taken back to England due to Trench fever. I also did not know that Tolkien earned some extra money doing some work on the Oxford English Dictionary (71). Overall, Horne gives the impression that Tolkien was a man of keen sensitivity to language, a man who was brilliant by any standard and who strove for the precision in his writing and teaching.

On pp.2-3 Horne writes that Tolkien included the spiders of Millwood in his books not because of his boyhodd encounter in South Africa with one, but because his son Michael completely hated spiders and so Tolkien thought this would give me a good scare. I read this and laughed out loud because of the keen sense of humor Tolkien had and also being a father, trying to do things that get our kids frustrated. I was amazed to find also that Tolkien neve published any of the original research required of him by Oxford (86). In a world of many books and many poor ones at that, Tolkien was hell-bent on revising and revising in order to bring out his best work.

Overall, this work was very good at introducting us to Tolkien. You get an insight into his relationship with C.S. Lewis, his marriage, his life at war, and most importantly his life as a writer of great fiction. Although the series itself is lent to being short, this does not rule out this book's value.

Much thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy.


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