66 of 74 people found the following review helpful
Inspiring and vivid account of Anglo-Saxon magical history,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Real Middle-earth: Magic and Mystery in the Dark Ages (Hardcover)
This is a superb book. Vividly written, it explores the magical and spiritual beliefs of people who lived in the 'real' Middle-earth. This was the Anglo-Saxon and Norse cultures of a thousand years ago and more, which so inspired Tolkien. The author Brian Bates is well-known for previous books on this subject (especially his best-selling novel The Way of Wyrd). It is different from other books purporting to compare Tolkien with ancient mythology, because the world it reveals is one in which people saw their EVERYDAY LIVES as being charged with a mysterious power they called Wyrd. It was manifested by a magical landscape, in which trees, plants and animals all had powerful symbolic presences. Elves, dragons, giants and dwarves were encountered in reality as well as in dreams and stories. Shapeshifting, spellcasting and healing are explored as they happened in real life.
Bates also explains really well how such a magical outlook on life relates to our own perspectives. In a time where The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter confirms the potency of magic for our lives, we see how we once had a wisdom lost over the centuries as first Christianity and then science became dominant world views. But Bates does not paint a utopia - he makes clear that life was hard in Anglo-Saxon times. Yet he shows how we can still learn from these ancestors.
The book is refreshingly written, free from academic pomposity and dry argument. He offers vivid anecdotes, examples, and beautiful descriptions which make the reader feel present in those times. And for those readers who want to follow up topics in more detail, there is an excellent list of sources, with guidance for the specialist academic books that cover the material best.
'The Real Middle-earth' is a deserving bestseller, and I recommend it very highly.
(6 customer reviews)