I was introduced to Tolkien's work as a child through The Father Christmas Letters, and The Hobbit, which my father read to me before bedtime. Like many children, I loved The Hobbit and couldn't wait for the next installment! This led me to read The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a young teenager, and although I sometimes found it a struggle, I still thoroughly enjoyed it, and felt a real sense of achievement when I finished the final volume, along with sadness that the epic story was at an end. I haven't read anything by Tolkien in about ten years, so I was particularly excited about the prospect of reviewing Christian Encounters: J. R. R. Tolkien for BookSneeze.
Mark Horne's biography about the author of "the best book of the twentieth century" is concise and easy to read, but informative and thoroughly engaging. Horne presents Tolkien's life in a way that would appeal to a wide readership, including a younger audience. As the title suggests, Horne's focus is Tolkien's religious and spiritual life, and this recurs throughout the book. Horne writes this well, and in a way that both Christians and non-Christians can relate to. It has a good Christian message throughout, and Horne weaves this into the biography well.
As an aspiring author, I enjoyed reading about Tolkien's writing habits, and how past experiences may have influenced his stories and inspired his characters, alongside the long and sometimes frustrating journey of a writer trying to get his work to a publishable standard. I could definitely relate to Tolkien's perfectionism!
What came through was Horne's admiration for Tolkien, which I am sure many readers will also share. This is definitely a book for Tolkien fans, but may also be enjoyed by people who haven't previously read anything by Tolkien.