Top positive review
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"The road goes ever on and on..."
on 23 July 2013
Whilst this is not an easy read, it gives a fascinating insight into the long journey Tolkien took when he started his own 'Road to Middle-Earth' in his youth. A gifted scholar, this quiet linguist would go on to create one of the most famous literary works of modern times. He has influenced many fantasy authors who have followed him and can be seen to have lifted the genre to new heights.
As Shippey states in his title for this book, Tolkien did not just write fantasy stories, he 'created a new mythology' and that is his greatest gift and the source of his genius. Whilst his first commercial foray was the children's story The Hobbit, he soon found himself writing a sequel and it was this that would propel him to literary greatness. Tolkien had begun creating his new mythology during The Great War of 1914-1918, work that would evolve into The Silmarillion. When sitting down to write a sequel to The Hobbit, he found himself writing The Lord of the Rings - a different beast entirely although some familiar faces and places crop up in its many pages. The epic feel of LOTR gave us the new mythology, a new fantasy epic never before seen and whose popularity allowed Tolkien to further explore his earlier tales.
Shippey's research is great and he gives us a real insight into the tale which 'grew in the telling.' We began 'In a hole in the gorund' with a friendly, hairy-toed Hobbit and ended up in totally different territory. We travelled with Tolkien on an amazing journey into his imagination and genius and we are extremely lucky that he shared his wonderful, inspirational tales with us. Like Bilbo said, "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."