J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien
Mark Horne
Thomas Nelson, 2011

When I saw this up for grabs on BookSneeze, I knew I wanted to review it. Even though I am crazy about The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, I know very little about their author. Having previously discovered that the Christian Encounters biography series is a great way to get a 'crash course' introduction to someone, I settled in for a 'get-to-know-you' session with Tolkien.

Horne does a wonderful job of breaking Tolkien's life into manageable chapters, and corresponding them with Tolkienesque chapter titles that made my inner geek smile. Beginning at the very beginning, Horne looks at Tolkien's life from a dual-perspective: how it impacted the man, and how it influenced the writing. Drawing from previously written, more extensive biographies as well as Tolkien's letters and writings, Horne creates a biography that is condensed without feeling lacking - an enjoyable read, but also substantive. And, of course, there's attention paid to Tolkien's faith and its role.

The writing of the biography is such that I am led from chapter to chapter - not just in the text, but in Tolkien's life as well. Spanning cultural and political changes (Tolkien 'came of age' during WWI, losing all but one of his closest friends), it's interesting to look at how his life experiences may have shaped his writing -- and I'm a literature major who hates to superimpose meaning on texts! In this instance, there's a compelling case. With this informative, though necessarily brief, introduction to the personal story of one of my favorite authors, I now feel compelled to track down some more in-depth information -- and I'm probably starting with Horne's own bibliography!

Book provided by publisher for review.

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