I have to preface that I am not a big Tolkien fan, but my son is, and I thought this would help me to appreciate his work more.
I had to force myself to get through this book. I love to read, but this did not keep my attention what-so-ever. I did just recently read The Hobbit with my children, so I was aware of the story, but I felt like some of the authors conclusions were a stretch.
I received this book free from Tyndale. 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
This book is about J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit but it's also about the author's own personal insights and how to appreciate and apply them to our everyday lives.
When I first started this book I was finishing up The Hobbit, so everything was still very fresh in my mind (I would definitely recommend re-reading right before reading this book, it helped my concentration a lot better than if I hadn't read it in quite a while).
This is not a book you read before reading The Hobbit. If you haven't read The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings trilogy you would be lost.
I wanted to read this book 1 chapter a day, but since I was a little cramped for time it didn't always happen, but it would make a wonderful devotional!
At the end of each chapter (which are really short) there is a little thought to reflect on that basically sums up that chapter. I really liked those, they kept me thinking for most of the day. I liked the insights and I found myself loving The Hobbit even more.
I think this book is really deserving of another re-read! It was a really cool read I highly recommend it to fans of The Hobbit!
This book was provided to me by Tyndale House Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are entirely my own.
What a nice surprise this book was for me! I was expecting the usual allegory and not much else, but I can say happily that I was disappointed. And I am glad of it. Disappointments aren't all bad, it seems.
What delighted me was watching (reading) how a person steeped in the word of God and the other areas that Tolkien knew so well allowed those interests rise to the surface almost effortlessly and to shape the entire work. Ware captured me from the first page as he identified possible connections that Tolkien may have made, connections that totally eluded me when I read The Hobbit.
This is not a book that could be classified page turner. Instead it reminded me more a meditation by Ware. In fact, if you read large portions of this at one sitting, you will not enjoy this at all. The style will begin to annoy you and you will put it down. There's the nit for those that need one. So sit back and think a little when you read this book. Maybe use more like a devotional.
I do recommend this book as one to nibble on, one to think on, and one to possibly remind you of how "unsteeped" many of us are in any sort of literature.
I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for a review.
This book is like a Hobbit, small and full of unexpected wisdom. Jim Ware shows us things in Tolkiens books that I never would have seen. Let us start with something Tolkien was very familiar with, something we see often in the adventures of Bilbo and Frodo, something that enriches my world here having met it there in Middle Earth. It is the Eucatastrophe, or good catastrophe. A eucatastrophe is defined as "rather than an invasion of sorrow it is the surprise of joy bursting onto a seemingly hopeless situation, the certainty of death and destruction undone by the unexpected intrusion of life and resurrection. In a word, the Gospel." Yes, the Gospel is in Middle earth, and not because Tolkien wrote a wooden allegory, but because all good books are about the themes of this world, and this is one of the core themes. We find this theme as the Gospel in God's word, and we find this theme coming out in books by discerning men. Tolkien was a discerning man, and he knew that the Gospel came into his books. He wrote a letter to Deborah Webster in 1958, saying "I am a Christian," and this "can be deduced from my stories." And that is what Jim Ware does. He deduces the Christian Truth in these wonderful stories. As a student of both Scripture and The Hobbit, we will find our time in Middle Earth and our time in our earth richer after seeing what Jim Ware saw. There are problems in our world that Middle earth will help us solve. The eagles are one of those. In the Hobbit, and in the Return of the King, when the hobbits are in danger and there is no way out by their own strength, the Eagles come flying in and carry them away. In most fantasy stories this might be the author's way of getting his heroes out of a corner he wrote them into, and we would have to enjoy the story but know that that rarely happens in life. Also, in most stories there would be a glaring contradiction, because as one of Jim's friends points out "If the eagles can fly anywhere and save the heroes, why didn't the elves just have them fly the ring to the mountain and drop it in the crack?" That at first seems unresolvable. But study resolves the question. What at first seems a slip of the author turns out to have profound truth in it. "There is a pattern to the eagle rescues that dot the pages of Middle earth history. This pattern points to a certain wonderful and startling conclusion. It suggests that we might be justified in seeing these majestic birds as a beautiful symbol of Grace, Free and Sovereign Grace... Because Grace isn't something you can control. Like Bilbo and Frodo, you can only look up and receive it with a sigh of relief. You can only give thanks and shout Hallelujah! when it swoops down to save you out of a hopeless impasse. To experience Grace is to be left speechless and awestruck- not wondering how you might have found a way to take advantage of it earlier on."
The Eagles are not ordinary eagles, they are the Eagles of Manwe, and they are controlled by the King of the earth. They are not for hire, by Elrond or anyone else. Their Master knows the Hobbit's plight, and when he wills he sends them to save. In Biblical terns the eagles can be compared to The Eyes of the Lord, that run to and fro throughout all the earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." 2 Chronicles 16 verse 9. "They function as executors of the divine will, extensions of Love that defies mortal comprehension and reaches down to men and elves from a place beyond the boundaries of the world." These Eagles also will only save when their Master commands them to, and for reasons not understood by man the eagles could not carry the ring. Frodo and Sam had to carry it for a time.
Another beauty of this book is the same thing that made Tolkien beloved of all of us. The "good liking" in his books. The love of hearth and Home, the love of pipe and supper and stories and slippers. Stephen Lawhead called Tolkiens work a Praise Hymn for the Goodness of Creation, the goodness of the physical universe. This book celebrates that. from the Hobbits who loved the good comforts of Home to the dwarves who loved skillfully worked gems to the Elves who loved beauty and purity.
Read this book. Read it in one evening on a comfortable sofa in December, with a woodstove burning, and a few Christmas lights glowing. Read it and marvel at all you will be enjoying next time you read the Hobbit that you never saw before. Tyndale House gave me this book for an honest review.