Do we need another book about JRR Tolkien, the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings?
Whatever your views of how successful Peter Jackson was putting The Hobbit on screen, you have to admit the franchise is a financial success. Multibillion-dollar movie trilogies do not come along every day. And it is only natural people will want to piggyback on its success. Smart artists know themselves and their own limitations, and they also know their audience. You give the people what they are interested in at the moment.
Some of the piggybackers are mere opportunists manufacturing cheap knockoffs to make a quick buck. The producers of animated “mockbusters” are of this ilk. There are also those who try to build an audience by infringing on a title. Remember The Asylum’s Age of the Hobbits?
Devin Brown is not that type of opportunist. He is smart enough to know what people are interested in, but his books about JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis and their works are not mere knockoffs. (This is the first in a series of planned reviews of these books by Devin Brown. See the end of this article for a list.) As a Professor of English at Asbury University, he knows his stuff. But is another book about the author of The Hobbit really needed?
The short answer to that question is probably “No.” There are plenty of books out there which provide good information about JRR Tolkien. However, the better question is whether Brown’s Tolkien is a good choice for someone looking for such a book. If you are looking, here are a couple things to consider:
Devin Brown knows his stuff.
Dr. Brown is no hack. He knows what he is talking about, and has researched the best sources. You can trust the information in this book.
Devin Brown is accessible.
He knows how to “put the cookies on the lower shelf” without being simplistic. Newcomers will find him easy to understand, and Tolkien aficionados will find his perspective deep enough to keep them interested. This new biography is definitely worth adding to your Tolkien library—great or small.
You may be also interested in these books by Devin Brown:
- Hobbit Lessons: A Map for Life’s Unexpected Journeys
- The Christian World of the Hobbit
- Inside The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
- Inside Prince Caspian
- Inside Narnia
- Bringing Home Narnia