"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."
J. R. R. Tolkien was born in South Africa but grew up near Birmingham, England. His father died when he was three and his mother when he was 12, but he was strongly influenced by her Roman Catholic faith. His love of poetry and northern European languages and mythologies became a guiding passion that directed his life – from Oxford through the French battlefields of WWI and back again. But Tolkien is known best for his books, and I love the fact that The Hobbit began as a story for his children. It was only when he shared his writings with some friends (like C. S. Lewis) that it eventually was published and he was asked to write more about hobbits – both by his publisher and his new fans!
For several years now I've had a couple of books about Tolkien on my to-be-read list, but somehow they never seem to percolate to the top. So when I saw J. R. R. Tolkien (Christian Encounters Series) from Thomas Nelson Publishers (I received the book through their blogger program) I knew it could fit into my reading schedule. My foremost concern was that it might be overbearing or preachy, but to Mr. Horne's credit, he is as modest as Tolkien was. He never assumes too much or overstates the role of religion in Tolkien's life, but explains perfectly how the books were influenced by his faith. And if there's any fault in this short bio, it's that it's too short – 130 pages just doesn’t seem enough.