On the bookshelf: J.R.R. Tolkien (Christian Encounters Series) by Mark Horne

The world of the Middle Earth is vast and intricate, filled with iconic characters and epic landscapes.

This brief biography of the mastermind of the Middle Earth? Not so much.

Horne offers an overview of Tolkien’s life, with a fair amount of the focus resting on the author’s formative childhood years. Along the way, Horne draws connections between incidents, people and locations in “the real world” to the scenes, characters and settings of the epic Lord of the Rings.

The biography was at its strongest when it shared the stories of his life – his widowed mother who dies of complications from diabetes, his struggle to remain focused enough to take his Oxford entrance exams and his fear of telling his guardian about his impending wedding.

At times, however, Horne goes into detail about the writing and/or publishing process, perhaps at the cost of exploring more of Tolkien’s experience more deeply. More than once, a statement or a paragraph hinted at something deeper, something interesting about Tolkien’s life, but it was left hanging.

Granted, there isn’t much one can do in under 150 pages to explore the influence of the people and landscape of the author’s life on the epic work he created. Yet, the work would have benefited from a better balance between the personal and professional elements of Tolkien’s life.

Generally, Horne’s work is a good introduction to a literary giant, but it is only that.

Thanks for Thomas Nelson for providing me with a Kindle copy of this book through their Booksneeze program. Click on the button on the sidebar for more information.

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