Friday, January 11, 2013

Book Review for J.R.R. Tolkien: The Making of a Legend by Colin Duriez

Though a huge fan of Tolkien's works, this is the first biography of the author that I have read. While not an avid reader of biographical works, I enjoyed this portrayal of the famed author and creator of The Lord of the Rings

            I would consider the greatest strength of the work to be by far the portrayal of Tolkien's early life. Losing both parents at a young age, then experiencing the trauma of World War One, and being separated from the love of his love for an extended period of time all contributed greatly to the psyche of the man who would emerge as such a brilliant author. Duriez also does a nice job of dealing with Tolkien as a human with human inconsistencies and flaws, such as his struggle in maintaining close relationships with other human beings, a trait often possessed by those with brilliant intellects. The biography as a whole was also pretty readable, and keeps the attention fairly well. 

            The book possessed a few weaknesses. While being pretty readable, it also got choppy in places and was hard to follow chronologically. Also, Tolkien's faith journey was not well documented. As an evangelical Christian, I felt the work left to question whether Tolkien ever exhibited a conversion to genuine Christian faith or remained steeped in the Roman Catholic Church for his entire life. I also thought that Duriez relied pretty heavily on other works done on Tolkien to the point that the book gives off an air of not being composed of original research.

  Overall, this was an enjoyable read in which the positives outweighed the negatives.

 I would give J.R.R. Tolkien: The Making of a Legend 4 stars out of 5.

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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