Read J.R.R. Tolkien by Mark Horne Online


Christian Encounters, a series of biographies from Thomas Nelson Publishers, highlights important lives from all ages and areas of the Church. Some are familiar faces. Others are unexpected guests. But all, through their relationships, struggles, prayers, and desires, uniquely illuminate our shared experience. Born in South Africa and growing up in Great Britain, J.R.R. ToChristian Encounters, a series of biographies from Thomas Nelson Publishers, highlights important lives from all ages and areas of the Church. Some are familiar faces. Others are unexpected guests. But all, through their relationships, struggles, prayers, and desires, uniquely illuminate our shared experience. Born in South Africa and growing up in Great Britain, J.R.R. Tolkien, or Ronald as he was known, led a young life filled with uncertainty and instability.  His was not a storybook childhood- his father died when Ronald was three years old, and his mother died just before he reached adolescence.  Left under the guardianship of his mother's friend and priest, Ronald forged his closest relationships with friends who shared his love for literature and languages.As Tolkien grew older, married, served as a soldier, and became a well-respected Oxford professor publishing weighty works on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Beowulf, the Christian faith that his mother had instilled in him continued as an intrinsic element of his creative imagination and his everyday life.It was through The Hobbit and the three-volume The Lord of the Rings that Tolkien became a literary giant throughout the world.  In his fiction, which earned him the informal title of "the father of modern fantasy literature," Tolkien presents readers with a vision of freedom- nothing preachy- that a strong, unequivocal faith can transmit....

Title : J.R.R. Tolkien
Author :
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ISBN : 9781595551061
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 160 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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J.R.R. Tolkien Reviews

  • Alexis Neal
    2019-05-16 23:29

    A decent--if unimpressive--biography of Tolkien, ostensibly focused on his religious beliefs and the impact they had on his life and work. Based on this account, however, it seems that Tolkien, though a Christian, was less affected by his faith than by his relationships--with his wife, his children, and his various friends and colleagues. Horne portrays Tolkien as a gifted man (to the surprise of no one), but also conveys the idea that, as with many geniuses, he was irritatingly idiosyncratic and at times quite infuriating to those around him. The end result is a complex and full-bodied picture of a literary legend.I was honestly surprised by the lack of information on Tolkien's faith, though that may not be the fault of the author. Horne identifies Tolkien as a Catholic, but his loyalty to that faith seems to have largely resulted from what he perceived as his mother's martyrdom and his close relationship to the priest who served as the guardian for Tolkien and his brother after their mother's death. It seems that it was this relational loyalty, rather than any particular theological conviction, that lead him to pressure his future wife to convert to the Catholic faith prior to their marriage. However, I was encouraged to read about some of Tolkien's more annoying attributes (geniuses--they're just like us!), and was struck by his wife's patience with the man--first converting to Catholicism (a faith she never fully embraced) and then living and moving in academic circles (another source of discomfort for her) and enduring the 12 year wait for Tolkien to finally finish his three-part opus. While Tolkien may have referred to her as the Lúthien to his Beren (a romantic idea, to be sure), it had to be frustrating to deal with the day-to-day challenges of living with the man. This welcome glimpse into the reality of Tolkien's life and personality invigorated an otherwise unexceptional biography. [NOTE: For more information on Tolkien, his life, his work, and the effect he's had on fantasy literature, I recommend The Modern Scholar's audio lectures Rings, Swords, and Monsters: Exploring Fantasy Literature, by Michael D.C. Drout.]Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.combook review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  • Jamie Fugate
    2019-05-08 01:24

    EvaluationThis was a good but not great book. It gave a good sketch of the life of Tolkien. It gave a good explanation of how the experiences of Tolkien’s life effected his writing. However, it was simply too short. I really liked what was there but there just wasnt enough. The role of his friendships were mentioned but simply werent explored. The role of Edith was explained in terms of their courtship and there were some indications that she wasnt happy with the academic world that she was placed in, but after they were married there was little or no discussion. So a good book but I kept making mental notes of the names of the bios that Horne kept referencing, so that I could read them to get the rest of the story.TakeawayOne of the things that really stuck out to me from this book was a new awareness of the perfectionism of Tolkien. I did not know that he kept rewriting and rewriting all of his books and actually struggled to finish any of his books. Where does this perfectionism come from. I would have liked this to be explored in this book, but this perfectionism nearly crippled his ability to write and this is sad since I would have liked more books from Tolkien. But how many of us suffer from a similar crippling perfectionism. How many of us are mediocre or struggling because we are unwilling to do our best and live with whatever that is. Any standing we have is by grace, our performance needn’t impress man because God loves us. And we can’t impress God because He knows us truly and completely and He already loves us with a perfect love. So let’s do our best and leave the results to God.***I want to thank Thomas Nelson for providing my review copy. I appreciated it, but did not allow it to influence my review.

  • John
    2019-04-23 02:35

    This is a good, short biography of J.R.R. Tolkien that does a very good job of connecting his life to his writing. Horne clearly admires Tolkien, but he acknowledges his weaknesses and paints a very human picture of the man and his life.There are surely more lengthy, and thorough accounts of his life, but for most, this will be a great way to learn more about him without having to dig into a book two or three times as long as this.

  • Valerie Kyriosity
    2019-04-25 20:34

    I'd never read anything on Tolkien's life except for the bits that wandered into a C. S. Lewis bio or two. This was a great little way to get to know the man behind the masterpieces.

  • Stanley Turner
    2019-05-08 22:34

    Excellent biography...An excellent biography of J.R.R. Tolkien. I knew about some of his actions but reading Horne's biography of Tolkien answered some of the questions I still had about the writer of The Lord of the Rings...

  • MC
    2019-05-11 20:32

    J. R. R. Tolkien is one of the most popular authors of modern times, and arguably the most popular author of fiction in the twentieth century. The question is, what lead to this? What were the factors that combined to form the basis of his epic? And finally, what was the meaning behind his tale? In his book, *Christian Encounters: J. R. R. Tolkien*, author and pastor Mark Horne attempts to grapple with these questions. Up front, I have to preface this by saying that I greatly enjoyed one facet of the book that *may* cause some Tolkien fans to dismiss it. Mainly, the fact that Horne was actually willing to write about the negative aspects of Tolkien. As well, he was willing to write about the areas of Tolkien's political beliefs that most authors treat as quaint and narrow-minded. While not necessarily agreeing with these beliefs of Tolkien's, he still treats them respectfully, and makes an effort to fairly explain why Tolkien believed what he did believe. Tolkien's childhood was filled with tragedy. He spent his first few years as a child in a relatively prosperous houselhold in South Africa. The crucial factor to consider is that it was "relatively" prosperous. When Tolkien and his brothers accompanied his mother to England, their father stayed behind to finish up some business matters before joining them. Unfortunately, the elder Tolkien fell sick, and later died in South Africa. After this point, the family was dependant upon the extended relations for help. The sad part was that this help dried up when Tolkien's mother converted from the Anglican to the Roman Catholic Church. The family was denied any further financial assistance. Indeed, they were scorned, and when Tolkien's mother died a few years later, he viewed her as having been a martyr. She had worked herself to death, in his view, and likely in reality, in order to provide the children with a genuine Catholic education and upbringing. This view of Tolkien's about his mother's sacrifice would impact him later on. This impact came with the situation of his wife to be, Edith. He insisted that she convert to the Catholic Church, and she agreed, but she also suffered for this choice. Though her family did not disown her, she still had a difficult time of it. She had no friends in the Church, and she had no friends in Tolkien's academic life. She was the faithful fiance, and later wife, of J. R. R. Tolkien, and didn't have as much of a social life as she should have had. This lead to some sadness on her part, and Tolkien certainly noticed it. Many folks have theorized, based on letters and statements by Tolkien, that the Beren and Luthien story was based upon her life, and sacrifice in marrying into Tolkien's Church. *That* was the source of Tolkien's inscription of Beren and Luthien on his and Edith's tombstone. The other most significant aspect of Tolkien's early life was the advents of the two World Wars and the political changes wrought by them. while insisting that many of the ideas in the Middle-Earth Legendarium were from his imagination, he also admitted that they were influenced by his war experiences in the first World War, or the "Great War", as Tolkien always called it til his dying day. Moreover, his views on monarchy and government in general, the use of machines without morality to twist violate nature and commit evil, were influenced by rapid, and in Tolkien's view, inhumane, industrialization, as well as warfare. The above is just a few of the insights that Horne gives his readers. While it is clear that he admires Tolkien, he is also able to criticize him, and to point to Tolkien's blame in the rift with C. S. Lewis. This really impressed me as i really humanized Tolkien and took away the cloak of hero-worship. This gave me the honest view of the man whom I truly admire, and am looking forward to seeing, in Heaven someday. Great book. Highly Recommended. -----I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers. I am obligated to read it and give a review to the best of my ability. Thomas Nelson emphasizes their desire for honest reviews, whether positive or negative, in order to help them create a better product. The opinions above are my honest viewpoint. I want to thank Thomas Nelson for allowing me to review this book, and thank you all for reading this.

  • logankstewart
    2019-05-21 00:48

    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.

  • Mark Nenadov
    2019-04-25 00:40

    I made a fairly late entrance into the world of J.R.R. Tolkien. In the last couple of years, I’ve begun to devour some of his works and also various critical and biographical works about him and his literature. I must admit I’ve got a long way to go and I’m still learning a lot of new things. One thing that has become clear to me is that writing a book about Tolkien is a daunting task. There’s just so much already out there and there seems to be so many potential pitfalls. In some areas, there is a veritable waterfall of information and in other areas, mum’s the word!In my Tolkien reading lineup, the book that immediately preceded this one was by a really cranky literary critic in the 1960′s who had what one might call a few choice words for Tolkien. And the choice words weren’t so positive. So, knowing that Mark Horne was going to deliver a more appreciative assessment of Tolkien was rather comforting to me. But I wouldn’t be satisfied with flaky and soppy hagiography either. It turns out, that my reading of this book left me very satisfied. Mark did marvelous job with this one. He mixes a warm, conversational style with simple, easy prose and a scholars attention to detail as he combs through relevant and revealing episodes and characteristics of Tolkien’s life and world. I think this is a marvelous place to begin for a person who seeking to get better acquainted with Tolkien. To be honest, I sort of wish it was the first Tolkien bio I read.Since this is a part of the “Christian Encounters” series, one might expect this book to be very focused on reading a certain theological emphasis into Tolkien’s life works or teaching certain morals through his life. But the book is much like Tolkien’s work, it is not moralistic and not trying to make a particular theological or denominational point, but rather help its readers encounter a great author in a very human and down-to-earth way. And it succeeds at this objective. This is not to say that Mark does not point out virtues and themes in Tolkien, it’s just that he lets them be for what they are and isn’t driving toward a rhetorical point.It wasn’t until I finished this book and saw the concluding bio that I realized that not only does Mark share a name with me, but we are both married to Jennifers and he and my wife went to the same college. Go figure! This book is really well-done and I must congratulate Mark Horne for doing a fine job of tackling a really hard project and giving the Tolkiensphere a great resource!(Disclosure: I received this book for free as a review copy through the program. Apparently the FTC requires this disclaimer. The opinions I’ve expressed are fiercely independent. They gave me the book with the understanding that I would give an honest review. I would refuse to enter any arrangement where I wasn’t free to tear a book to shreds–after all, negative reviews are more fun. )

  • Steve
    2019-05-09 03:38

    This book by Mark Horne is a welcome addition to the series of short biographies in the Christian Encounter series published by Thomas Nelson. Others include J. S. Bach, D. L. Moody, Schweitzer, Columbus, Newton and Galileo. J. R. R. Tolkein (1892-1973) needs no introduction, he is the author of one of the most popular books of the previous century, The Lord of the Rings. In this short, accessible and well-written book we are introduced to Tolkein the man. The biography is chronological and chronicles Tolkein's life from birth in Bloemfontein, South Africa to his death in Oxford. This book breaks no new ground, but that is not its aim. It's aim is to provide a simple introduction to the life of Tolkein. Horne recognises that 'Tolkein's faith is important to understanding his works.' Unfortunately, this aspect is not fully developed. We are told that 'Tolkein's faith helped him to persevere in the midst of severe losses and taught his patience as he forced himself to work at his job and support his family.' His father died while Tolkein was young. Horne makes the interesting observation that Tolkein's religious imagination and faith would have been different if his father had lived. Tolkein's mother later converted to Catholicism and brought up her two children as Catholics. The influence of Catholicism was also evident through Tolkein's guardian Father Francis Morgan, who took over his care when his mother died.The role of the TCBS (Tea Club and Barrovian Society) is expounded in some detail but little is made of the Inklings - the group that comprised Tolkein, C. S. Lewis, etc. The fellowship and camaraderie of small groups was obviously important to him.As Horne concludes: While God calls Christians to proclaim his truth in a variety of ways and situations ... we can learn from Tolkein that sometimes a mere story can change lives.This book provides a good brief introduction to the life of Tolkein. If you like Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit then this book will help you understand a little more the man behind them. There is a helpful short appendix on the bibliographical sources.

  • J.S.
    2019-04-30 01:22

    J. R. R. Tolkien was born in South Africa but grew up near Birmingham, England. His father died when he was three and his mother when he was 12, but he was strongly influenced by her Roman Catholic faith. His love of poetry and northern European languages and mythologies became a guiding passion that directed his life - from Oxford through the French battlefields of WWI and back again. But Tolkien is known best for his books, and I love the fact that The Hobbit began as a story for his children. It was only when he shared his writings with some friends (like C. S. Lewis) that it eventually was published and he was asked to write more about hobbits - both by his publisher and his new fans! Tolkien is frequently called "the father of modern fantasy literature," but in my opinion, his books transcend mere genre. I tried reading other "fantasy" books but couldn't get into any of them (I've never even been able to finish The Silmarillion). And that wide appeal, according to author Mark Horne, is part of what makes The Lord of the Rings such a powerful story. Rather than being overtly religious (as Lewis' Narnia series was), it presents the struggle between good and evil and leaves the reader to "apply" it as they will. Tolkien was devoutly Catholic, but disliked the idea of pushing his beliefs upon his readers. For several years now I've had a couple of books about Tolkien on my to-be-read list, but somehow they never seem to percolate to the top. So when I saw this short bio in the Christian Encounters Series from Thomas Nelson Publishers (I received the book through their blogger program) I knew it could fit into my reading schedule. My foremost concern was that it might be overbearing or preachy, but to Mr. Horne's credit, he is as modest as Tolkien was. He never assumes too much or overstates the role of religion in Tolkien's life, but explains perfectly how the books were influenced by his faith. And if there's any fault in this short bio, it's that it's too short - 130 pages just doesn't seem enough.

  • Katherine
    2019-05-05 21:24

    ** I received this book free from Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze program in exchange for an honest review.**It seems everyone is familiar with the name J.R.R. Tolkien, especially after the most recent film productions of his work. Growing up, myself, to be familiar with Tolkien’s works (we even read The Hobbit in class in… eighth grade, I want to say…), it is rewarding to be able to get a closer glimpse at the man behind the works, at his life and how it shaped him, in turn shaping the books so many have come to love, which have themselves shaped the very face of literature, leaving a lasting impression on the genre that we still feel today.And this book does an excellent job at giving us a basic look into the life of this great author. Shorter than a typical biography, it divides his life into various periods of time (for example, his childhood, his early schooling, “coming of age”, time in Oxford, the war, etc), and appears to give an overview of Tolkien’s life at the time, where he lived, issues that he faced at the time, important people in his life. We are revealed the struggles (like his almost inhabilitating perfectionism) and pains (deaths of his parents and friends) of this great man, no longer able to take for granted the work he left us without understanding and appreciating the person who gave them life.Interesting, for me, was to see where various aspects of his life may have influenced his writing. Various locations or people, images he may have incorporated... I also thought it was clever how the author gave the various sections of the book titles like “Between the Shire and Mordor, Part One” and “Hobbits and Epic Heroism”.This book is a great, quick, look into the life of one of the greatest authors mankind has ever known. It was an enjoyable read, and despite being a “Unitarian nonconformist”, as the author would probably call me, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the life of J.R.R. Tolkien. In fact, I’d love to get the chance to read any of the other books from the series.

  • Matt Bianco
    2019-05-02 01:44

    What a great little book! Author Mark Horne presents the life of J.R.R. Tolkien succinctly. It is a quick, easy read. Horne gives you enough information to love Tolkien--if you didn't already--and to make you thirst for more. Reading it made me want to read more about Tolkien and to read more of his works, besides the most obvious ones: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, both of which I've already read.The book was obviously well-researched, as Horne brings in information from Tolkien's books, stories, and personal letters. Through this, he helps you to understand the mind of Tolkien (as much as one can), so that you feel his pain with the struggles of a woman he cannot have, then can have but she's not a Catholic, then has as his wife, yet the results of his struggles play an important role through the rest of their lives. He also helps to understand the relationship between him and his sons and him and his friends, like Charles Williams and CS Lewis. What better way to know a man than through the relationships he has with others? What is most interesting about the book, though, is the final chapter, "Legacy." In concluding, Horne, having introduced you to the man Tolkien, shows you the impact the man had on this world--the very thing, Horne writes, that Tolkien's college club, the TCBS, wanted for its members. Horne's writing is engaging and interesting, making for an easy read, but it's his observations, in the end, that make the difference. He is not so quick to dismiss the little things that may have impacted Tolkien, and he wants us to see what those things were with him.

  • Kirsten Pilkerton
    2019-04-30 02:19

    I am sure that by now, most people are at least vaguely familiar with J.R.R. Tolkien; or at least perhaps his books and/or movie adaptations. (Small confession: I never finished reading LOTR. I did, however, manage to read The Hobbit) I did find this book somewhat enjoyable to read. Horne did present a clear biographical sketch of Tolkien's life from the death of his parents, his service in WWI, and of course, the writing of his stories and novels. There were a few things that I would have approached differently (i.e. the first of two Harry Potter references was completely unnecessary, as in, a pot calling the kettle black situation), but these were thankfully restrained in number. I did learn slightly more about Tolkien's relationship with C.S. Lewis, and was instructed about its' cooling over time. Overall, I found the book to be quite accessible and would recommend it Tolkien fans as a short introduction to the man behind the hobbits. Disclaimer: Recently, I signed up to be a "book review blogger" for Thomas Nelson publishers and/or BookSneeze, and was provided a copy free of charge to read and review. The thoughts and opinions are my own, and do not reflect those of Thomas Nelson or BookSneeze. This is disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

  • Mary
    2019-04-20 03:31

    This is a short biography of John Ronal Reuel Tolkien. He was born in 1892. He was an English writer, poet, philologist, (lover of learning and literature) and university professor. Horne wants his readers to know Tolkien’s Christian faith impacted his writing.Born in South Africa he and his mother moved to England after the loss of his father. The beautiful landscape of England and his mother’s Christian influence shaped his writing style. He lost his mother when he was 12 years old, but he credited his love of language to her as she taught him Latin and French. He also learned Greek and Finnish in school.Tolkien lived through WWI and WWII spending a short amount of time in a war zone. Even though the time was short, it also influenced his writing.Tolkien became an English professor at Leeds, where he met and befriended C.S. Lewis. Lewis complimented Tolkien on his book The Fellowship of the Ring after reading the manuscript. In this short biography, Horne wants his readers to know that J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing not only entertains but could challenge and inspire his readers.Tolkien died in 1973. He is best known for the classic fantasy books, The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings.Book Review by Mary Crocco

  • Brenten Gilbert
    2019-04-30 21:42

    Confession time. I’ve never read The Lord of the Rings trilogy all the way through. I know, I know. It’s absolutely crazy. Everybody and their mother have read those books. (Well, I’m not sure if my mother has read them, either.) I have read The Hobbit and at least some of the first book of the trilogy. (And I have watched the movies). I have fond memories of reading The Fellowship of the Ring while holding my son for his evening nap. And I’ve always meant to go back and finish the books, but never have.Along those same lines, I didn’t know much about J.R.R. Tolkien before reading this biography. I knew of his relationship with C.S. Lewis (whom I have read a lot) and I knew the four key books of his career. That was about it. Having read this, I have a greater appreciation for the struggles he faced in mustering the confidence needed to write and get published. And gaining a clearer understanding of the vision that drove him to write is uniquely inspiring as well.I did feel like the book was somewhat thin on details and what was presented was often repeated. Be that as it may, I’m glad that I read it and I suppose I have a renewed interest in revisiting those books. . . after I get through the other stack of books waiting to be read.-from

  • Clark Goble
    2019-05-12 01:44

    This brief biography of J.R.R. Tolkien offered as part of a series titled "Christian Encounters" is a wonderful little read. Author Mark Horne tracks Tolkien's entire life highlighting the relationships he had with his friends, mentors, and wife. Along the way Horne manages to touch on aspects of Tolkien's faith. Of particular interest to me were insights on how Tolkien helped lead his friend C.S. Lewis into a relationship with Christ by addressing Lewis' hesitations concerning Christ's resurrection. Considering Tolkien was Roman Catholic and Lewis eventually became a Protestant in the Church of England, entire books could probably be written on their relationship. Such an examination, however, would be out of this little book's scope which I found slightly disappointing. However, the author manages to fill that void by including tidbits concerning Tolkien's creative process. This book serves as a good introduction into the life and faith of J.R.R. Tolkien that fans of his work are sure to enjoy. In my case, it also managed to instill in me a desire to read more about Tolkien. Fortunately, author Mark Horne offers some recommended titles for additional reading.

  • Aymee
    2019-05-16 04:44

    Fantasy lovers all over the world know who J. R. R. Tolkien is and what he wrote. But what we don’t know is why he brought Middle Earth to the world around us. Nor, did we have any clue what inspired him to create the characters we so dearly love. This short yet informative biography answers all those questions and sheds light on many things I’d never even thought about before now. Having fallen in love with The Hobbit as a kid, I was fascinated by all the hardships and changes Tolkien endured during his lifetime. From surviving World War I to fighting for the right to marry the woman he loved, he met every obstacle with the faith of a true believer and the patience of a man with a greater plan. His dedication, bordering on obsession, to only produce the absolute perfect work, also shows through in his writing. J. R. R. Tolkien will forever be an inspiration to this writer’s heart. He gave his all to bring both his faith and the love of the written word to all that surrounded him. In my world, there is no greater accomplishment. Note: As per the FTC’s new regulations, I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookSneeze® in exchange for this review.

  • Cami
    2019-05-07 23:40

    I really enjoyed this book! Mark Horne portrays J.R.R. Tolkien in such an enduring way that makes you love the author of The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit even more. :) This is a great short biography of the author, Tolkien; you see how his life experiences helped shape Middle Earth and how he played a huge role in contributing to the fantasy genre. Here is one of my favorite parts of this book: "Tolkien's use of his own private experiences in creating his epic fantasy give us more evidence that the key to his success lies in his humility in refusing to moralize to his readers. He did not wish to dominate his readers because he wanted them to be free to see their own lives in the adventures that he described. His enduring impact on the world shows us how a Christian artist can be most effective when he offers himself rather than when he tries to 'help' others see the truth. While God calls Christians to proclaim His truth in a variety of ways and situations - some which are unavoidably confrontational - we can learn from Tolkien that sometimes a mere story can change people's lives."

  • Neville Ridley-smith
    2019-05-09 02:44

    If you want a quick read about Tolkien's life, this is great. Don't read it for too much insight into the protracted development of The Lord of the Rings. It is talked about but not in minute detail. It spends a lot of time on his childhood and 'early' life. Which makes sense, considering The Hobbit wasn't published till he was 45 and the LOTR at age 52! I learnt lots of fascinating stuff.While this is supposedly a Christian focused book, it's very minimal in that regard. Most of the content is purely biographical (the Christian stuff is just a matter of his life that would be included in any biography). It's really only the last chapter that contains any sort of analysis of the consequences of his Christian outlook and philosophies and how they influenced LOTR.

  • Scott Moonen
    2019-04-24 20:23

    Like very much. A good, brief introduction to Tolkien's life, it whets my appetite for more (so I'm very grateful for the bibliographical appendix).One of Horne's key insights is how Tolkien's creativity was shaped, not just by some rote list of experiences transported into his writing, but by his enduring significant suffering, grief and loss. More and more I have been aware of Tolkien's keen insight into creation's patterns of death and resurrection, and the corresponding Christian calling to self-sacrifice.My favorite quote is from the closing paragraph, emphasis added: "[Tolkien's] enduring impact on the world shows us how a Christian artist can be most effective when he offers himself rather than when he tries to 'help' others see the truth."

  • Alisa
    2019-04-20 21:28

    I confess: I haven't read Tolkien. I've tried...honestly I have. Unfortunately, I was given The Silmarillion as an introduction. I found the book impossible. Peter Jackson's trilogy of Lord of the Rings piqued my interest again, knowing the book is always better than the movie. This biography gave me a glimpse into the writer's life. It's not fair to make an opinion after only one bio, but my impression is that of a gifted, but in many ways tragic figure. I hurt for his wife's loneliness (my perception gathered from information presented). Now I must be off to visit a hole in the ground where lived a hobbit.

  • Heidi Paulec
    2019-05-04 20:29

    Following the motion picture experience on New Year's, I realized how familiar we are with the setting, characters, & plot structure of his work... But I knew too little about the man who conceived their distinctive, yet universal-ness. I appreciate how the author tenderly unfolded Tolkein's life of loss into his uncanny ability to create another world full of details we can almost swear it is real along with details of his friendship with CS Lewis.

  • Dale
    2019-04-23 23:22

    A nifty little biographyMark Horne's J.R.R. Tolkien is an enjoyable biography of the famed writer of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is not a large biography (130 pages) but, if you are like me and knew the a little about Tolkien and wanted to know a bit more, this biography fits the bill perfectly...Read more at:

  • Paul J
    2019-05-20 00:46

    This is not a thorough biography, but rather a solid chronology of the important events of his life. If you want to understand the impact Tolkien's faith had on his writings, this will be helpful. Horne also does not hide Tolkien's negative qualities - overly obsessed and perfectionistic - which almost derailed his literary projects. Nevertheless, Horne is a fan and has a certain appreciation (along with me) of the impact Tolkien has made in our own lives.

  • Anne Marie Gazzolo
    2019-05-10 02:26

    I love the way this series of Christian Encounters is introduced: "We learn about life through the lives of others. Their experiences, their trials, their adventures become our schools, our chapels, our playgrounds." This is true of many who have ventured into Middle-earth, myself included. The best part of this book is the last chapter on Tolkien's legacy and how the world he sub-created teaches us how to live in and deal with our fallen world. Recommended!

  • Sheryl
    2019-04-20 23:43

    Never knew much about Tolkien. The book is not very long but seems to be a good overview of his life. I enjoyed it and have a better understanding of why he wrote the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Also want to read his "unfinished works" and the books his son wrote as well. His son finished his unfinished works.

  • Terence
    2019-05-14 21:43

    Didn't know what to expect from this book. It didn't really deliver. I thought it would be a biography focused on Tolkien's faith but it wasn't. It is simply a short biography. There is value in that but it wasn't memorable. I would recommend picking up a true/official biography of Tolkien. Unless you simply want a cliff notes version.

  • Samara
    2019-05-18 03:23

    As much as I LOVED learning more about the details of Tolkien's life and the background to his writing, I was a bit disappointed (especially near the end) by Horne's way of telling it. I still enjoyed this book a lot and now want to read another Tolkien biography, and, of course, more of Tolkien's works.

  • Vanessa Eccles
    2019-05-21 03:30

    This was an amazing biography of Tolkien. I found this book almost impossible to put down, partly because of my deep love of writing. I could completely relate to Tolkien's thoughts and feelings. It was also emotional for me. More than once it brought tears to my eyes. His life and work will continue to be an inspiration for years to come.

  • Chris Griffith
    2019-05-18 21:27

    This is a welcome addition to the short list of bios on the modern master of the heroic epic. I first read Humphrey Carpenter's biography on Tolkien when I was in 9th Grade (about 25 years ago). This is a much shorter book than that one but very well written and covers the important things. It's a fantastic introduction to Tolkien and his life and I very much recommend it!