Category Archives: Tolkien

Book review: ‘After the King’ edited by Martin H. Greenberg

After the King is a collection of nineteen short-stories written by nineteen different authors, in honour of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Halfway through reading After the King I decided that I wanted to review all of the stories individually. However, because I had already read half of them, it would be very difficult for me to review all of the ones I had already read, having either forgotten what happened or forgotten how I felt about them.
Truth be told, this review is going to hard enough doing the book as a whole. I can’t remember many of the stories from the book, let alone what happened in them.

I suppose the best – and only – way for me to do this is to simply review the ones that I can remember, and then give my thoughts on the book as a whole.

Revolt of the Sugar Plum Fairies
Revolt of the Sugar Plum Fairies was, by far, my favourite tale in this book of many. Everything about it I found funny, from beginning to end, from top to bottom, this short story was interesting, hilarious, and so random and simple that it made it all that much better.

Reave the Just by Stephen R. Donaldson
Reave the Just was full of knights, magic (false magic), story telling, damsels in distress and brave (but foolish, and, quite frankly, useless heroes). Add a dragon to this and it’s not much short of anything that I love in stories. It’s humorous, intricate, complex – maybe even a little confusing in places – and full of implicit meaning.

Troll Bridge by Terry Pratchett
I can’t remember too much of Troll Bridge, but then, I don’t think there is all that much to remember. All I recall is a guy and a troll meeting and having a conversation. But, I digress. I do remember enjoying this tale, though there is very limited action and excitement in it.

The Decoy Duck  by Harry Turtledove
Ew. Ew ew ew ew ew. The Decoy Duck was, by far, the worst story in the book. Full of pompous language, unnecessarily complex and out-of-the-ordinary-names, pretentious writing, unbelievable boredom, a lack of economy, and basically everything else that could be wrong with a story; I hated it from the first sentence.

The Conjure Man by Charles De Lint
The Conjure Man, I think, was the most interesting and capturing story from the book. A very light-hearted, gentle story, it was a pleasure to read. Using the inventive characters so well to progress and tell the story, and with such an important message, and wonderful writing, describing, and story-telling, it is a fantastic piece.

The Naga by Peter S. Beagle
The Naga is a difficult one for me, not being able to decide whether I like it or not. While it was well written and had an interesting story line and characters, the story itself seemed rather strange and pointless. With or without the events of the story, the outcome would have been the same, or at least something similar. I also thought the ending was quite unfulfilling. However, I think I am mostly in favour of this story, more than being against it.

Winter’s King by Jane Yolen
Not even going to lie, all I am picturing when I read about these white, ice people, is Whitewalkers from Game of Thrones. The story, just like The Naga, seemed very pointless, though not for the same reasons. With this story it just seemed to me that nothing at all happened. Now, unless I completely misread this story and missed either something happening during the course of the story, or some implicit meaning behind it all, there really was no point to it.

Silver or Gold by Emma Bull
A little long, perhaps, or maybe just full of irrelevant text, this story seemed to drag on a little. If found it rather confusing, this story, but still rather enticing. The ‘plot twist’ was rather obvious, and I guessed it a while before its reveal. It had its ups and downs, and a very interesting and meaningful ending, with little subliminal life lessons for any young and or naive readers.

Up the Side of the Air by Karen Haber
This story, while innocent and simple and gentle, had some very important, not so much messages, but it had importance to it, dealing with important real life issues in a fantasy, story-telling way – not unlike Harry Potter. A thrilling short-story, complete with action, humour, stuggles, adventure, sadness, and wonderful story-telling.

That’s all of the ones I remember enough to write about. I’ve had to flip through the book to actually remind myself of the different stories that were in it, if I hadn’t I’d have a much shorter list. The book was actually very good, despite all of the bad stories it contained. With stories from some of the best fantasy writers of their time, it was never going to be bad, was it. It was quite refreshing to read short-stories for a change, and also to read so many different authors, many of whom I had not heard of beforehand.




Book review : The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (edited by Christopher Tolkien)

For so long I have been wanting to read this book, and around two weeks ago, I finally did it. I have had it for almost a year, and it has been on my TBR list for I don’t even know how long. Having now read it, I have so many thoughts on the book; but not that many that I can put into a book review.
This book is actually a little hard to review, as the book (or at least my copy – I don’t know if they all do); while having a key story and narrative; it is actually compiled of a number of, what I could probably call short stories. There also aren’t chapters in this book, rather just sections. And then there are also sections containing those sections, and more sections for those sections… Yeah, I know right.

Anyway, I have a review to write!

Being a Middle-Earth book, The Silmarillion naturally interests me right off the bat. For me the book actually began with notes from both Christopher, and John Tolkien, as well as a letter written by the latter, sent to a  publisher. From this point, to the very end, I found this book to actually be very educational on the topic of book writing. I feel having read this, I now have much more potential to become a professional writer.

Other than being a lesson in writing for myself, the book was very interesting, from cover to cover. All of the stories gave such a history to Middle-Earth (in fact, this novel is actually more like a history textbook), and were all so interesting. All of the background of characters and places and ideas were all so original, and worked so well. Reading something like this; with nothing else like it, just makes you want to never stop reading; because you never know what could come next.

I also absolutely love that this book uses our world’s history, and incorporates and alters it to suit the stories of Middle-Earth. After all, Arda (the world containing Middle-Earth, is based on ours). This also gives such a sense of realism to the fictional world.

The book has everything. From violence, blood lust, and darkness; to romance, and light, and beauty. All of the small tales add up to one epic history, and novel, and is definitely something I could read again.

I had no problems reading this book whatsoever, and got through it in about 2 or 3 days. However, if you aren’t used to the world, or the writing style, or just books of this caliber, then you may need a lot of time to read this book. However, you will be so captured by it, that if you don’t read it fast enough, then you may find yourself not moving or eating or sleeping for days on end…

My favourite part of the entire book was Of Beren and Luthien. This is once of the romance tales from the book, but also contains snippets of so many other genres. The tale is absolutely astounding, and is the best love story I have ever read. I am not ashamed at all to say that it brought tears to my eyes. I cannot overstate how much I enjoyed this tale; I am actually planning on getting a tattoo based upon it, I love it that much!

Overall the book was absolutely amazing, and I cannot think of a single fault with it. Tolkien writes yet another masterpiece (credit must also go to Christopher Tolkien, for editing and finishing the book), and the world is in awe.

I recommend this book to absolutely anyone and everyone – providing you are over the age of around 13, lest you get terrifically bored of it, or fail to simply read it. I particularly urge aspiring writers, and anyone interested in that sort of field, as it will teach you so much. I personally think this – along with his other works – should go down in history as classic books: and I do believe they will.

Entertainment rating – 4.7/5
Literary rating – 5/5


Book review: The Hobbit (There and Back Again) – J.R.R Tolkien

I read this masterpiece when I was a young child, and have long anticipated the re-reading of it. My plans were, however, stumped by the release of the movies, as I had forgotten large portions of the book, and didn’t want any more spoilers than I already had. Now however, the movies are finished, and I have at last re-read this most wonderful tale.

Tolkien is my favorite author of all time, and he is my inspiration for writing, and is the reason I do what I do. To me, his works are – perhaps not flawless – but are perfect nonetheless. And The Hobbit is no exception.

The book is a continuous adventure, always bringing in new characters, plots, twists and turns, and numerous other unexpected things. There is never a dull page, and each page is much beyond ordinary. The very way the story is written is fascinating to me, as it is one of the few story books for a wide demographic readership, that is actually told as a story, as though you would tell your children a story before bedtime. This is no doubt due to the fact that Tolkien originally planned for this tale to simply be a story for his children, and never expected it to become a worldwide phenomenon.

The book takes the reader through an emotional ringer, and will have you in tears of joy, and sadness, and laughter, and will at times have your mouth forming a perfect ‘O’. It is hard to say what kind of readers this book is meant for – whether it be old, young, male, female, or even readers of certain genres; this book has it all. The simplicity of the book does suggest it is for a younger readership; however, the emotions and language used could aim it at an older audience; and the conflict of light and dark moments keeps all readers enthralled.

It is actually hard for me to form an intelligent, coherent thought on this book, as not only did it leave me emotionally in shambles; but there is so much to this book, that it would be an impossible task to talk about all of it, or to even to select certain moments.

Anyone who is a regular reader and film watcher such as myself, shall know that there is always differences between the version on paper, and the version on screen. This is especially true for The Hobbit. As I have said, I cannot quite put my finger on specific points about this book, but if there was ever a good enough reason to read this book, it would be to see the story as it was meant to be told.

If I am really honest, I expect most readers have actually already had their mind blown by this book, and so there isn’t much to say that you don’t already know. What I can say is that this book serves as both an entertaining pass-time, and a perfect partner for literature. There are literally dozens of interesting literary points and themes within this book, and I feel that even the most esteemed writers could learn something from Tolkien’s work.

Though his descriptions in this novel are not quite as detailed and vivid as that of his other works, or of other authors, you still have enough to build a good image in your mind of what is happening; and realistically, this book is so interesting, that you could probably enjoy the entire story without knowing a single character’s name, and with absolutely no knowledge of what they look like.

Something that I think all readers can agree on about this book, is that even though the world is fantasy, and has actually begun its roots as a permanent mythology, it actually doesn’t seem too far-fetched when you are reading it, as Tolkien has put in so much time, and effort, and detail, and structure to this world, that it almost seems real.

I would recommend this book to all readers – not only for its brilliance and entertainment, but also because this book can be enjoyed by anyone, and it is a perfect work of literature, and has made its mark on the reading world, and rightly so.

I give this book a 4.7/5 for entertainment, and the same for its literary review.

I understand this review isn’t too helpful, and isn’t up to my usual standard, but honestly! if you wish to know what this book is like and what it is all about, and why it has caused such a commotion in the reading world, you need to read it for yourself.

Book review: The Lord of The Rings – J.R.R Tolkien

The Lord of The Rings – arguably one of the most well known, and loved stories of all time, is both my favorite book, and favorite movie series, and the story is one I cherish very dearly. This book is my biggest, and first inspiration, not just for writing, but for my entire life. I grew up with this story, and my love for it has never wavered – not even for a second. In my opinion, Tolkien is the greatest writer that has ever lived, and his story is one that should, and will go down in history.

These books have more of a personal meaning to me than any other book (or any other thing, for that matter), and so I could easily get sidetracked, and go on in great lengths about things, that shouldn’t be in a review; and so I will try and avoid anything that doesn’t need to be here.

The way in which Tolkien writes is astounding. Now, I know this book was written many, many years ago, and so a lot of the language used in  the books was quite common for someone of his generation, but nevertheless, the language used is such a big part of the story, and really helps keep things in the fantasy world of Middle-Earth. Also, the language used makes keeps these books interesting, as a lot of readers will never have come across some of the words and terminology used, and so the book is like nothing they’ve ever read, and always has the qualities of originality and difference.

However, it isn’t just certain words that Tolkien uses that keeps the books interesting with its use of language. The Lord of The Rings is easily the most detailed, descriptive, vivid book that I have ever read, and when you are reading it, you can not only imagine and picture what you are reading, but it is like it is actually there, and that it is actually happening around you.

You can clearly see every last inch, of every single person, or landscape, or building, or creature, and that is something that I have never experienced with another writer. Other than the fact of wanting to write like this, and wanting to make a good book; I read something online that Tolkien intended for his work on Middle-Earth, to become like a new religion, or legend, that would go down generations, and be remembered as more than just a story. I think he has exceeded any expectations and hopes that he had in this, as he has created a world so vast, and a story so original, and detailed, and filled, that it definitely comes across as more than just a story.

Another reason I love these books is that Tolkien puts detail into more than just his descriptions. He dedicated most of his life to his work with Middle-Earth, and it definitely shows in his work. He has created so much in these worlds: lands, creatures, people, languages, histories, back stories, myths, legends, tales, songs, and so much more, that it is actually like reading a mythological bible.

Now, I am trying to keep this review short, but it clearly isn’t working. There is just so much to write about! Do bear with me though…

Okay, I’ll move on from his language and such, and move onto my actual thoughts on the book.

The Lord of The Rings, even when split into three separate books, is still rather long, and so most people do tend to stop reading before they reach the end. Those people are idiots. Though some may consider my opinion biased because I love the book so much; this book is well worth the time it takes to read. The book is interesting, intriguing, and simply great, for so many reasons. It does of course have its dull pages – usually when a scene is being set – however, don’t all books have dull pages? There are so many reasons to get through them, and read the rest of the book.

The story is constantly becoming more interesting, as new characters, new locations, and new events come to take their part. There is always something happening.

Another thing that makes this book so good, is the relationships that it holds. Frodo and Sam; Merry and Pippin; Legolas and Gimli; Aragorn and Arwen; and so many more. Each one is unique, and each one has its own story to tell. The relationships also give the reader something to relate to in the fantasy world, and so this makes the story more personal for a lot of people.

The book, like most good books, tackles many important issues that affect the real world. One of the biggest themes in this book is industry. I won’t go into it, but the basic idea is that industry and war are destroying our world, and that it needs to change, and Tolkien uses his world to show us what will happen if we don’t. However, the biggest theme; I believe, is hope.

Anyway, I’m getting off topic again. I will end this most strange of reviews here, for I will go on forever if I can.

I think this book deserves a 5/5 from a literary point of view, for so many reasons, and I believe this to be one of the most important writings of all time. And from me personally, I give it a 6/5, because I can, and it is above everything else that I know.