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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Review: The Real J.R.R. Tolkien - The Man Who Created Middle-Earth

The Real J.R.R. Tolkien - The Man Who Created Middle-Earth
Author: Jesse Xander

Publisher: 28th February 2021 by Pen & Sword White Owl

Pages: 136 pages

How I Read It: ARC book

Genre: nonfiction, biography

My Rating: 3 crowns


The Real JRR Tolkien: The Man Who Created Middle Earth is a comprehensive biography of the linguist and writer; taking the reader from his formative years of home-schooling, through the spires of Oxford, to his romance with his wife-to-be on the brink of war, and onwards into his phenomenal academic success and his creation of the seminal high fantasy world of Middle Earth. "The Real JRR Tolkien" delves into his influences, places, friendships, triumphs and tragedies, with particular emphasis on how his remarkable life and loves forged the worlds of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Using contemporary sources and comprehensive research, "The Real JRR Tolkien" offers a unique insight into the life and times of one of Britain's greatest authors, from cradle to grave to legacy.

My Thoughts

‘Over the twelve years Tolkien dedicated to writing The Lord of the Rings, so many influences came and went, and although revisions were made, the whole remained largely intact.’

Being a huge fan of Tolkien’s work, I had never really delved into much about the man himself. For a short book, it sure packed a punch in terms of detail and research. It was so enlightening to learn about the man who created such iconic works as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

‘There is much about The Lord of the Rings which speaks to the truly gargantuan task Tolkien imposed on himself in discovering this part of his world’s history. Not only the sweeping explorations of danger, grief and hope, but also in the minutiae. At one point he did a series of rewrites to make sure he had accurately charted the phases of the moon for the whole journey.’

This book covers from his birth until his death with some of the key influences in his life and ultimately his writing. The author is obviously a fan of Tolkien and that was evident through the passionate prose. At times, however, it read more like an academic essay as opposed to a biography and this made some sections rather heavy going.  Still, I learnt a great deal about his life and I acknowledge the author’s unbiased approach in delivering details that would appear unseemly eg. Tolkien’s probable racist views. 

‘Tolkien not only wrote imperfect characters, but he wrote from their imperfect perspective, reflecting the complexities of both our world and theirs.’

If you are a fan of Middle Earth and wish to learn more about the man behind the words, then you cannot go past Jesse Xander’s book. It is sure to provide fresh insights into the places, people and events that shaped the man that made the legend. 

‘Middle-Earth … what a spectacular legacy to leave. Not just a book, or a series of books, but a whole world, which has delighted people in the decades.’

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This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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