logankstewart's Reviews > J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien by Mark Horne
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's review
Aug 01, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: from-publishers, own, nonfic, 2011-read
Read from July 21 to 31, 2011

The Christian Encounters series is a biographical series from Thomas Nelson Publishing House. The purpose of this series is to highlight the faith of each person presented. I am not a fan of biographies, having only read one my entire life (Bob Dylan) and not planning to read another. But then came along the chance to review the Christian Encounters book on J.R.R. Tolkien. Since the book was small and about someone I had more than a passing interest in, I decided to give it a go.

Mark Horne does an admiral job of highlighting Tolkien's life in just over 120 pages. The focus of the biography is to present readers with insight into Tolkien's life and the eventual development of his seminal works in the fantasy genre. Horne is quick to remind us that Tolkien was a believer in the Faith, but he never ventures more than that. Personally, I thought I would get to see more of Tolkien's faith in action, or at least some idea of how he believed. Instead, I'm reminded (more than once) that Tolkien was a "sincere" Roman Catholic, that he forced his wife to convert from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism, and that he raised his children in the Catholic church. One is left wondering what type of faith Tolkien really had. No doubt he believed, and Horne includes how Tolkien shared his faith with C.S. Lewis in hopes of convincing Lewis to abandon skepticism, but this about as much of the action as we get to see.

Instead, this brief biography spends a handful of pages for each era of Tolkien's life and reads like a Wikipedia article. We learn of his upbringing and his orphaning at an early age. We then follow Tolkien's examination process to gain entrance to school, and then further studies to become a professor at Oxford. We read about the Great War and its affects on Tolkien, and then suddenly we're diving through publishing and finishing his works. All in all, if one is not looking for depth (and truly, I can't say that I was), then this little book is great for a casual Sunday afternoon read. Its brevity is testament to that. But if one is looking for a more thorough examination of Tolkien's life, there are definitely more available biographies of the man out there. (Horne cites these quite often, and lists the books in the back of his work for further reading.)

All in all, it was an interesting experience to read about J.R.R. Tolkien. I'm still not much of a fan of biographies, but I didn't expect to be won over by this, either. If you're looking for some lite-Tolkien bio, Mark Horne's J.R.R. Tolkien in the Christian Encounters series is it. Otherwise, look for something deeper.

*FTC Thingy: This book was provided free of charge. Yep, I didn't have to pay for it. All I had to do was read it and write an honest review. I'm required by law to post this FTC Review Thingy for tax purposes or something. So I like to change it up every time I tack it onto the books I receive. I also like requesting baked goods, but as of yet, no one's obliged.

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Reading Progress

07/26/2011 page 40

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