Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues: Exploring the Spiritual Themes of the Lord of the Rings” as Want to Read:
Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues: Exploring the Spiritual Themes of the Lord of the Rings
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues: Exploring the Spiritual Themes of the Lord of the Rings

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,206 ratings  ·  57 reviews
For Christians who are fans of Tolkien, Smith compares the tales of the Hobbits to those of spirituality, wherein God calls those that listen to embark on a journey.
Paperback, 141 pages
Published February 1st 2002 by InterVarsity Press (first published December 21st 2001)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,206 ratings  ·  57 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues: Exploring the Spiritual Themes of the Lord of the Rings
Laurel Hicks
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Much of what Smith has to say was obvious to me but well stated, and it is always good to find people who agree with me.
Nov 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-topics
Reading this little book was somewhat akin to having a book club discussion on the Lord of the Rings with Christian friends. Although each brief chapter focuses on a particular virtue, the book's organization is chronological according to the trilogy. Thus, it can also serve as a reminder of the story's outline and where certain details fit.

Like a book club, the discussion here is more organic than comprehensive. Smith shares insights he has had from multiple readings of the books, but the cont
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, owned, faith
Great analysis! It just makes me also very aware that it's been way too long ago that I last read the Lord of the Rings, plus that I probably read it when my English was not actually good enough to fully understand it.

I should read the Lord of the Rings again soon!
Donald Owens II
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Friendly, thoughtful, and just long enough.
I would probably have given this easy guide to the many theme's in LotR 5 stars if not for the many religious comparisons.
Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: home-library
3.5 stars. Very approachable, and great for quick reference and clear explanations. I would have loved if each chapter had been more fleshed out.
Aaron W. Matthews
Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: chirp
This little book is a gem! Loved every page.
Moriah Leech
Sep 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Any fans of the LOTR book trilogy
Not as good as "Walking with Frodo" or "Walking with Bilbo", but very very good! This is geared to fans of the books, and doesn't really include anything about the movies, which is actually a very good thing for fans of the books. Particularly "older" fans. (People who read and loved the books before the movies came out.) If you love the books, you will enjoy this one as well.
Jori Kandra
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays-prose
Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues was nothing to write home about. While Mark Eddy Smith does a sufficient job of identifying and characterizing the main themes or "virtues" in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, there was much to be desired. First and foremost, I would have loved more: more incorporation of the text, more analysis of the text, more correlation and relevance to the bible, I just wanted more. Additionally, much of Smith's analysis seems to be very half-assed. Some virtues he included text fr ...more
It was a beautiful, wholesome read. I was transported back into the beloved world of Tolkien. It was as if I was talking with an ardent lover of Lord of the Rings about places and deeds and gems that overwhelmed us, that brought tears into our eyes, that we delighted in while reading this exquisite treasured story.
I really liked that the author chose to structure the exploration of virtues maintaining the chronology of the trilogy, it really flows so smooth, it's a great way to revisit the stor
Kerstin Gunia
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was encouraging and relatable. It highlights the "ordinary virtues" that people of integrity embody and are sadly no longer ordinary in our society. I especially enjoyed the thoughts on friendship, that alone makes this book worth reading and even gifting it to a close friend. Of course if one has not read "The Lord of the Rings", the references to names & events will not resonate but the virtues discussed are still relevant. (If you plan to read the LOTR trilogy, this book is full of ...more
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's amazing to me how many profound spiritual insights are packed into this slim book. I will be re-reading and referencing this one for years to come. It is beautifully and sensitively written for any Christian who is drawn to LOTR for its many deeply Christian parallels. One of the biggest reasons that I love the LOTR so much is how it compliments scripture so deeply, and even amplifies the mysterious and unknown qualities of the Bible (as in The Simarillion) in awesome ways.
This was a very interesting little book. One point it made I had never considered before, was that there was temptation in the garden before the fall. I know and believe that being tempted is not in itself sinful, but I had never made that connection before.
Josiah Rex
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Technically I would consider this book more of a 4.5 as there was one brief moment that I think the author slipped into a personal pet peeve. And it jarred me slightly for that brief moment. but it was brief and did not come up again. Over all a very good read.
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thoughtful analysis of Tolkien’s Christian an moral themes. Jim Belcher should have read this book.
RB Worley
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love the fact that this book goes into great detail about Tolkien’s faith being an inspiration for him to write the LotR trilogy, and gives examples of that, both in the books and in scripture.
Simone Gordon-hall
Although this was obviously written by a Christian, just as Tolkien was, I thoroughly enjoyed it as just a philosophical work.
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
Explores light religious themes while mostly reminding me of how great The Lord of the Rings is.
Apr 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Listen to the audio book while working from home during the COVIC19 lock down. It was comforting.
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A short book, but not without depth. A useful resource to appreciating the biblical themes in one of the greatest works ever penned.
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Written kind of like a book report for each virtue, it was fabulously helpful to my understanding of Tolkien’s works as reflecting biblical references.
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio-listen
Mind opener narration of what Tolkien’s great work and legacy.
Nathan Albright
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge-2019
This book is a classic example of a secondary work whose whole reason for being depends on the primary existence and popularity of an existing work, namely the Lord of the Rings.  The author has clearly read the Lord of the Rings multiple times and views it as a worthwhile book in ethical instruction, and this book has the added benefit of being far shorter than the book it happens to be about, making this a comparatively easy book to read for those who are interested in the Lord of the Rings an ...more
Feb 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Mark Smith's book, Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues, is filled with interesting and thoughtful insights into the moral and ethical foundation of J.R.R. Tolkien's books. I listened to the audiobook version, just after finishing The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, and it certainly gave me a better appreciate for the lessons embedded in the book. For the reader who wants to gain a better understanding of these aspects, I would recommend Mr. Smith's books.

Having said that, I gave the book 3 star
John Martindale
Jul 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: christian, audiobook
I really enjoyed hearing Mark Smiths reflections on various virtues throughout the book. He has done what hope to do sometime off in the future, that is to read the LOTR books more contemplatively and draw from them the richness that is there. What I like is the LOTR story was fresh in my mind, so it was almost like having a conversation with a friend who is sharing with me what they liked from the book, and since they have a different perspective from mine, when they share there reflection from ...more
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've read a couple of other books about Tolkien from a faith perspective, but didn't care for them all that much. The austere Catholicism that imbues his work almost imperceptibly was not well-served by the others' overt evangelical Protestantism, although I certainly have no objection to the latter as a thing in itself.

This book is insightful and strikes just the right note, in my view. Eddy devotes different chapters to spiritual virtues such as generosity and sacrifice, introducing the occas
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In this book, Smith shows how the actions of Tolkien's characters exhibit common virtues that we all should strive to develop. Some of these virtues I had found myself, others add more meaning to the Tolkien's masterpiece.

I have long struggled to articulate why I despise Peter Jackson's movies. This book has given me the means to do so. Like Mark Smith when I was young I recognized something of the Bible in Tolkien's work--especially after I read the Silmarillion. These books have become a part
Nov 02, 2007 rated it it was ok
This is a nice devotional type of book, one that gets you into the mode of thinking of the virtues inherent in Tolkien's trilogy The Lord of the Rings. It contains no special insight into Tolkien's own life, beliefs, or intent. Rather, it consists of Smith's own thoughts as he applies LOTR to life. Any religious person could come up with the same ideas. Still, it enjoyed this book and the points it brings out. ...more
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful work which explores the common gems we ought to glean from the landscape of Tolkien's Middle a Earth in his Lord of the Rings storyline. I would live to read this again and again, especially coupled with reading the trilogy itself. Smith captured exactly what every reader discovers each time they read: a deeper understanding of who they are. The author then finishes this with faith and scripture and little quests for the reader to utilize in practicing his or her newfound understandi ...more
Audrey M
Jul 28, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-own
I read this book when doing research for my undergraduate thesis, and it really did not contain anything I hadn't seen already or knew myself. Smith stays close to the surface of each virtue that he explores, only giving two or three pages to each section. If you are a serious Middle-earth lover, I would suggest passing this one over. If you're new to Middle-earth and haven't done much extra reading, this might be a good place to start.
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Mt. Lebanon Publi...: Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues 1 1 Jun 09, 2020 01:03PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Reflections on the Psalms
  • The World According to Narnia: Christian Meaning in C. S. Lewis's Beloved Chronicles
  • The End of Christendom
  • Together is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration
  • What Christians Believe
  • The Church
  • Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
  • The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Their Friends
  • Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear
  • The Bhagavad Gita: A Walkthrough for Westerners
  • All Loves Excelling
  • English and Literature
  • A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18
  • The Christian in the World
  • The Search for God
  • Philosophical Thoughts
  • Education and History
  • Mr. Bliss
See similar books…

News & Interviews

From independent presses, to tales in translation, to critical darlings and new debut novels, these books (all published in the U.S. this year)...
31 likes · 3 comments
“Strength is not created by adversity; it is merely awakened by it.” 6 likes
“The main thing we can learn from The Lord of the Rings is that we who are in a position to save the world (by which I mean all of us) do so primarily to save our friends.” 0 likes
More quotes…